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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Ray Paskett with the Missionary Training Center, far right, hands Bob Geddes the address information for his son who is being dropped off at the MTC in June 2009.

With the total number of LDS missionaries now at more than 75,000 with many more preparing to serve, some parents may be in uncharted territory — missionary preparation. Kelly Summers offered tips during BYU's Campus Education Week on Monday to help parents.

Summers, a returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mother of four missionaries, three of whom are currently serving, walked prospective missionary parents through the steps required for sending their sons or daughters on missions.

To help young people on their journey to elder or sister, Summers suggested family preparation can begin in the following areas:

Spiritual preparation

"They have to be spiritually prepared," she said. "You as Mom and Dad won't be there to hold their hand. They can lean on you, but they need to be strong."

The key, Summers said, is to start early by pointing out how to recognize the Holy Ghost in church meetings and in family discussions.

Temporal preparation

While a testimony is essential, equally important is the ability to learn as well as work hard, Summers said.

"I've talked to mission presidents, and they say they love missionaries who can work many hours a day, who are willing to get up and are willing to focus."

Summers also emphasized the importance of making the decision on how to pay for a Mormon mission, which currently costs $400 a month in addition to clothes and materials, and to plan accordingly.

A prospective missionary's mental and physical health also should be carefully examined before and during the process of completing mission paperwork and possible issues addressed, she said.

Opening the mission call

Summers' advice for opening the call when it comes? It's as unique as each missionary. Some missionaries prefer to open it quietly, or alone, while others prefer to be surrounded by friends and loved ones. Regardless, Summers explained, that young person should be allowed to do what's best for him or her.

While the list for missionary preparation is as extensive as the checklist that comes with the call — which, Summers emphasized, is important to read immediately — the best help parents can be for their children is to be an example.

Other resources to assist parents when preparing with their soon-to-be missionaries include the Missionary Training Center website at mtc.byu.edu and the LDS Youth website at www.lds.org/youth.

Emmilie Buchanan-Whitlock is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: [email protected] or on Twitter: emmiliewhitlock