Preparing for a mission is tough. After five months of waiting for August 7th it is finally almost here, and I feel as unprepared as ever. It is hard for any future missionary, whether they are called to serve in Japan, Brazil, or Montana to fully wrap their mind around what needs to be done in order to feel "ready" to serve the Lord for 18 months. I often ask myself the question: "how could I better prepare myself spiritually for this journey that I am about to embark on?" After months of gathering insights into mission life and the best ways to prepare I thought I might share what I have learned for myself and from others who have prepared or who are preparing to serve missions.
1. How can I best prepare myself spiritually to serve a mission?
One of my best friends who is currently serving in the Arizona Mesa Mission said "read the entire Preach My Gospel and Book of Mormon before you go. That will help more than anything else." Even though this tid bit of advice may seem like a "duh" moment for some, it is always a good reminder to go back to the basics. While finding random sites about missionary work might help you feel more at ease about moving to Indonesia for 18 months it will not help as much when you get into the field. The missionary department and General Authorities of the church created Preach My Gospel to be read, pondered, and diligently studied by all members of the church, especially future missionaries.
The greatest help to me so far as I prepare myself for the overwhelming spiritual experience that I am bound to have in the CTM and in the mission field is getting to know my Savior and Heavenly Father more fully. As I have diligently sought to become closer to them over the past few months I can honestly say that I have never felt happier about life in general. Last week I went to teach a young man with the sister missionaries in my ward. We taught him about the restoration, and as Preach My Gospel outlines, we began the lesson by reassuring the investigator that he has a loving Heavenly Father who knows Him personally. Telling Him this powerful truth would not have been easy if the sisters and I did not know, without a doubt, that it was true. KNOW FOR YOURSELF. If you aren't sure about a gospel principal because you have never quite gained a testimony of your own, do as James 1:5 directs, "ask of God". I have heard many missionaries say that one of the most powerful stories you can share with an investigator is the story of your own conversion, and how you personally came to know that the principals that you have been teaching them are true.
Begin good habits NOW! Start waking up earlier than ususal and going to bed at a decent hour. This is one of the most common tips that I have received from my friend who are out in the field. Adjusting to mission life can be hard so start now. A few other good habits to strengthen include not only reading your scriptures everyday, but STUDYing them! Don't be afraid to take a lot of time to really get to know your scriptures. They will be your best friend on your mission. Praying morning and night (if you are not already doing so will help as well).
Learn to listen to the spirit and follow it's promptings. When you are out in the field with investigators, remember that the spirit does the converting and you need to be in tune with that spirit in order to help those you are teaching come closer to Christ to reach their spiritual milestones.
Go out with the missionaries in the ward and attend any mission preparation classes that you can get your hands on. Any opportunity to practice bearing your testimony, answering gospel related question, and hearing what other people have to say about missionary work or the gospel in general will help a ton.