Black name tags dot the globe as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share the message of the restored gospel. The statistical report at April 2016 General Conference reported there were more than 74,000 missionaries in this vast Army of Helaman.
But every army needs a leader. Each of the 422 missions of the LDS Church is presided over by a mission president and his wife. According to Mormon Newsroom, each president presides over approximately 175 missionaries at a time, with 600 missionaries passing through their mission during their three-year calling.
These mission presidents give of their time and talents to help spread the work. Get to know these leaders through some numbers gathered from mission presidents serving in January 2017.
1. Returning to the field
Only 11 percent of mission presidents did not serve as full-time missionaries in their youth. Of the mission presidents who served missions, 32 percent are serving in the same country they served their mission.
Read the rest of the interesting mission president statistics on Utah Valley 360.
This list is by no means comprehensive and doesn’t mean that there are unsanitary conditions even in some of the mission apartments in Provo, Utah. Ahem…P-day cleaning! However, we wanted to come up with a list to help missionaries who are preparing to serve in some of the least sanitary countries so that they can know what to look out for and how they might avoid getting sick.
If an elder shakes hands with 20 people per day (on average) and has a 23 months in the mission field (after their time in the MTC), they have shaken hands with 13,800 people by the time their mission ends. For sisters thats 10,200! That’s a lot of hands! We don’t want to make moms nervous or anyone nervous for that matter, but there are things you can do to make sure you are keeping yourself healthy during your mission. But first, here are the missions in the countries with the least overall sanitation:
The Least Sanitary Mission Countries
Brazil (There are 34 Missions)
I listed Brazil as #1 because not because there are 39 million people without proper sanitation, but because there are 34 missions. That’s more missions than any other country other than the US (124 missions) and Mexico (tied at 34), but both the US and Mexico have much better sanitation than Brazil.
India Banaglore and India New Delhi Missions
818 million people in India don’t have access to a toilet connected to a septic tank. That’s a lot of squatters. Toilet paper? I don’t think so. And without a toilet are there places to wash hands?
The 6 Nigerian missions (Benin City, Calabar, Enugu, Lagos, Owerri and Port Harcourt)
103 million people in Nigeria don’t have access to proper sanitation
Indonesia Jakarta Mission
109 million people lack access to sanitation in Indonesia
Vietnam Hanoi Mission
22 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in Vietnam
All the Philippines Missions (There are 21)
22 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in the Philippines
Democratic Republic of Congo (3 Missions)
50 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in DR Congo
Ghana (4 Missions)
20 million in Ghana don’t have access to proper sanitation
Kenya Nairobi Mission
27 Million in Kenya don’t have access to proper sanitation
This information came from takepart.com (see the infographic at the bottom of the article).
What can you do to stay healthy in these missions?
PureBioGuard is the best hand sanitizer we have found. In countries where running water is not clean or is not available, hand sanitizer is absolutely key. PureBioGuard is way inexpensive and one pack can last an entire mission (per missionary). You can read more about it here. With just one use, it is engineered to keep your hands clean all day long no matter how many hands you shake and even if you wash your hands. PureBioGuard is alcohol-free, Triclosan-free, non-toxic, and completely safe for kids, pets, and the environment. It will last 12+ hours and has been proven to maintain effectiveness through up to 10 hand-washings! It will then shed naturally as the skin regenerates a new layer. This brand is actually used by many missions around the world already who buy it in bulk (but is not officially endorsed by the Church).
Just say NO to meals that are not sanitary.
Be kind to members who cook, but if it comes down to it, it really is okay to say no to a meal that you know was not prepared with properly sanitized hands or in a sanitized home. This can be very difficult because you don’t want to offend the members or investigators. However, remember that over 10,000 hours of proselyting time were lost in just 4 months (according to one study from the BYU department of health sciences) because of illness/injury. Prayer does work, but God expects us to be as wise as serpents so we shouldn’t eat food that we know is not clean.
Keep YOUR apartment clean.
Even in these countries, mission presidents do all they can to find apartments that are in good places and that have access to sanitation. Take advantage of that! You don’t have to live like the people to come to love the people. Yes, the Lord will bless you, but you need to do all you can to be part of the answer to your parents’ prayers to keep you safe and healthy. Do your laundry, shower, keep the mission rules about hygiene.
Obedience. Yes. It works. If you take the time to exercise each day, your immune system will be much more prepared to fight off anything you do pick up while shaking hands or using a random bathroom while in a pinch in your area.
Yes, please keep asking for help to stay healthy and strong. You are being prayed for in every temple around the world. You are being prayed for in your family’s and friend’s and ward’s prayers. Add your prayers to theirs.
Elders and sisters, please, be wise. The Lord needs you to be healthy and strong and you can do your part by staying clean. We hope this helped you.
On the peaceful side of Oahu, in a place not very populated, are three Church-owned entities—the Laie Temple, BYU-Hawaii, and the Polynesian Cultural Center that together are acting as a quietly powerful gateway to missionary work in Polynesia and Asia.
Not very many people realize what is happening for it is a movement beneath most of our radars, but the Laie Temple Visitors’ Center is the second busiest LDS visitors’ center in the world and much of the strength of the Church in Polynesia comes through Laie.
Why Laie? It is not entirely clear, but like so many things the Lord does, it has been in the works for a long time. In fact, in 1865, Elder William W. Cluff was walking along the beach early one morning in Laie when Brigham Young appeared to him in a vision and said, “This is the place, and upon this land we will build a temple unto our God.”
To understand how unusual this is—Brigham Young was still living. At that time the Church had no temples beyond the one that had been abandoned in Nauvoo. St. George, the first temple completed in Utah, wouldn’t be announced until six years later in 1871. Hawaii was just a set of tiny islands in the most remote place in the Pacific.
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand this week and members of local wards are chipping in to help with the situation. Roads have been severely damaged and in some areas the only means of transportation is helicopter.
Though one member’s home was destroyed in the quake, no missionaries or members were killed in the disaster.
The Area President of the Pacific Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder O. Vincent Haleck has sent his message of strength to the members and community in the area as reported by the Mormon Newsroom:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people in the affected communities,” he said. “Our local leaders are continuing to assess needs, providing immediate support to individuals and families, and organizing volunteers from our Christchurch congregations. The shipment of relief supplies that will be flown by helicopter to affected areas this week will include donated items from Christchurch Latter-day Saints, as well as purchased supplies paid for by the Church. As further needs are identified, we will continue to provide support.”
If you would like to help or donate to helping with this cause, please do so through the Church’s humanitarian fund.
Within Mormon culture, there are quite a few myths about missionaries and missionary work, some of them are awesome stories about the early days of the church, but there are a few myths that are not acceptable and that we need to stop believing. Specifically, there are 6 myths about missionaries that members need to stop believing.
1. You Are A Bad Missionary If You Go Home Early.
A lot of missionaries return home early from their mission, some for medical reasons and others for worthiness reasons. Coming home early does not make you a bad missionary. A cultural problem in the Church whether we want to admit it or not is that fact that a lot of judging and shaming happens to early returned missionaries. It is so bad that some of these RM’s I have talked with have told me that they avoid going to church because of how awful the members treat them.
Some people assume that when they are told someone came home for medical reasons it is really a cover for a worthiness problem. To that I will address the root problem, so what if they came home for worthiness? Are you upset that someone has started the repentance process by confessing their sins? The whole point of the gospel and the atonement is to allow people to repent and be forgiven of their sins. Missionaries who come home as part of repentance are the definition of living the gospel, I would rather they repent and come home than serve unworthily.
Instead of judging and shaming early returned missionaries, let us help them fulfill their potential! They need friends, family, and leaders who will love and support for them. President Monson once quoted Mother Theresa who said. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
RIO DE JANIERO — People from around the world are visiting Brazil for the 2016 Olympics, adding to the country’s normal population of about 200 million.
Brazil also is home to approximately 1.2 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of them is taxi driver Manoel Bezerra.
“I really love it. I love driving,” he said. “(I’m) never in the same place, always moving around, always talking to people.”
Driving may be his job, but he said he’s found his true calling in talking to people.
“Usually, people talk when they are in a cab. They open up their lives, and also the cab driver talks to them,” he said.
Bezerra calls himself the cab driving missionary, handing out a Book of Mormon to whoever is willing to take one.
“I have Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, German, English, Portuguese, of course, and I think this is it. I think this is good enough — eight languages,” Bezerra said of all the various copies of the Book of Mormon he has.
In “Sir Galahad” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the title character says, “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”
I am convinced that physical health affects spiritual health and vice versa. The Lord would have His missionaries be as healthy as possible in order to best serve Him. Missionary work is just that: spiritual, mental, and physical work!
As a member of the Missionary Medical Committee, I am continually reviewing the physical health and medical problems of actively serving missionaries. Unfortunately, about 3 percent of LDS missionaries are sent home early due to unforeseen health issues. Let’s review several areas where appropriate preparation can mean avoiding many of the reasons why missionaries struggle physically.
Full-time missionaries must be able to walk an average of six miles per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles per day. The Missionary Handbook recommends exercising 30 minutes daily, Monday through Saturday. Avoiding fatigue and weakness helps to stave off the discouragement and rejection that come at times during missionary service. Getting off the couch and learning to put in a hard day’s work would be invaluable preparation for a mission.
Every American remembers exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. Some were in school. Some were at work. Some were driving. And some were on full-time missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Very few of those missionaries were serving in New York City and this missionary and his companion were serving in the area where the twin towers fell. The following is the never-been-published, firsthand account of the missionary in this historic and haunting photo: Elder Joseph Seymour. 15 years later, he gave us permission to publish this image and his personal account.
It’s hard to believe it has been 15 years since 9/11. The experience Elder Fillmore and I had taught me lessons that have blessed me ever since. Our day started like any other at the time, getting ready and leaving early to go so service at Ellis Island. On the subway trip to the south of Manhattan we were alerted to “police action” at the World Trade Center and that we would be skipping that stop. Which was answered by loud groans of those who were inconvenienced by the change in plans (little did they know).
We arrived at the south of Manhattan to find both World Trade Center towers engulfed in flames. Obviously the result of a terrorist attack. We soon found out the weapon of choice were airliners used to crash into the towers. The plans for our day changed as we learned that all subway trains and busses stopped running, leaving us stranded. We met a member of the church who offered to take us to his apartment that was close by until we figured out our next step. We naively followed him closer and closer to the towers, the smoke pouring from each building growing larger and larger.At the apartment building we were prevented from going past the lobby due to the danger, being only three blocks away. As we waited an enormous rumbling shook the ground like a lightning fast earthquake. The building began filling with dust, the first tower had fallen just a stone’s throw away from us. As we left the building to be enveloped in the dust cloud there was panic in the street, but Elder Fillmore and I were as calm as a lake on a clear day. We knew we were on the Lord’s errand and had his protection.
We flowed into the human mass migrating south, away from the source of the choking dust. Arriving soon at the unyielding ocean, blocking any further escape. As we waited and the dust slowly cleared we watched as the second tower fell and a second dust cloud flowed out to envelop the crowd again. We met a new member of the church who decided the safest place would be wherever the missionsaries were, so we added a third companion for the rest of the day.
We were evacuated across the river to New Jersey and spent the rest of the day trying to contact our mission president and then figure out a way to get back home. At each step of the way we were remarkably calm and knew that everything would work out, which it did. We helped our new member friend get to an essential doctor’s appointment the next morning that they probably would not have made if not for our intervention.
I learned the Lord looks after his servants, both in times of duress as well as in times of ease. I’ve been able to rely on this lesson again and again in life, knowing that if I follow the Lord everything else will work out, just as it did on that fateful day 15 years ago.
My ears perked at this as I sat in a chapel filled with members. It was full to the point that there must be a baby blessing, homecoming, or farewell.
In this case, it was a farewell.
The speaker wasn’t the missionary-to-be. He was a member in my ward who had completed his mission some time ago.
As the speaker continued, relating the difficult parts of his mission—companions he didn’t get along with, people who were rude to him because his was a missionary—I wondered where he was going with this, especially during a farewell.
Then I understood. He wasn’t just sharing some of the difficulties he encountered on his mission; he was sharing how these experiences later strengthened his testimony or benefitted him in some way.
As I thought more about this, I decided to ask a few returned missionaries how they overcame difficulties on their mission and how it benefitted them later on.
Learning to Trust in the Lord
“Different things become hard at different times depending on where you are in your mission,” returned missionary Garrett Myers says.
As I contemplated serving a mission, I made a mental list of all the fears that could possibly plight me and my fears nearly buried my desire to serve. The list included having to be with another sister 24/7, never having alone time, never taking a nap, and finding myself stuck in a place or situation that made me sad. I had this strange vision and expectation of tear-stained pillows and prayers every day—the picture of hardship. What I didn’t expect was how much joy I would find in the midst of great challenge.
My Mission President once said about missions, “If it is not trying, it is not complete.” That one line got me through my initial fears and helped me overcome the number one fear we all have—rejection.
Rejection is one thing you can absolutely count on when you serve a mission. But the secret is that rejection is not a bad thing, it’s just part of the experience that actually ends up blessing you in numerous ways. Here are some ways you can turn rejection into refinement:
1.Say a prayer with your companion for the person that rejected you. The natural man’s reaction to rejection is to get angry or annoyed at someone who has just treated you rudely, but pausing to pray for that person is a reminder that they are not just an obstacle disguised as an investigator but they are a child of God and they are loved, no matter how rudely they turned you and your message away. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).
2.Take a moment to invite the Spirit again. Christ said, “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me,” (3 Nephi 11:29). Contention puts a pit in your stomach that makes it hard to teach any other person with the Spirit. It’s ok to take a moment of silence to read a few verses of the scriptures, pray, or share thoughts with your companion. Sticking to a schedule is important, but having the Spirit is more important than anything else.