“Physical and mental preparation should begin at least two years before a full-time mission. . . .
“Today about 3 percent of missionaries have their missions shortened by either physical or mental health problems. Losing three out of 100 missionaries may not seem like very many–but to the individual and his or her family, having a mission cut short is a significant event!
For more than a year, I have served in a calling in which I observe the health problems missionaries encounter. Based on my experiences in this assignment, I would offer the following information to help young people who are preparing to become missionaries reduce the likelihood of developing these health problems.
Fortunately, many of the health problems that missionaries encounter are preventable with proper preparation. . .”
This is an excerpt from an excellent article written by Donald B. Doty, M.D., Chairman, Missionary Department Health Services.
Here are 12 tips to help LDS Missionaries become fluent in their mission language.
Learning your mission language can be difficult, but it’s definitely possible. I truly believe that everyone called on a foreign-language mission has the capacity to master their mission language in the mission field. While all have the capacity there are usually a few missionaries who never master their mission language.
I believe that by implementing these tips and tricks, LDS missionaries will be able to confidently learn their mission language. It may be a good idea to try each of these ideas for few days and then focus on whatever methods work best for you.
1) Only speak in your mission language.
If you allow yourself to forget your native tongue and only speak your mission language, you will learn quickly. Speaking your mission language exclusively will help you start to think in your mission language and actively learn new vocabulary.
2) Pray for the Gift of Tongues.
The Gift of Tongues is real. With God anything is possible. I believe the Gift of Tongues may be manifest in many ways in the lives of Mormon Missionaries. As with many spiritual gifts, I believe the Gift of Tongues is predicated upon our faith in God, purity and willingness to act.
3) Write down new vocabulary and phrases.
When you are talking with someone and you hear a word you don’t recognize, jot it down. When you get back to your missionary apartment in the evening, you can look up the words you didn’t understand. You may also look up new words and phrases during your language study time.
4) Read The Book of Mormon out loud in your mission language.
I’ve heard of a group of missionaries who were promised by a General Authority that if they would read the entire Book of Mormon out loud in their mission language, in a certain period of time, that they would become fluent in their mission language. While that promise may have been directed at those present, I believe reading The Book of Mormon to be one of the best ways to learn to read in your foreign language and discuss the Gospel with investigators on your mission.
5) Memorize a few hymns in your mission language.
The process of memorizing words to your favorite hymns will help you to learn the meaning of words more deeply. It will also give you something to sing in your mission language when you are in the field and after your mission (I still sing some hymns in Spanish that I learned on my mission). Besides improving your language ability, memorizing a hymn will help you find comfort on your mission. A memorized song can be like a faithful friend you can constantly call on.
6) Ask natives for help.
Almost all native speakers will be delighted to help you to learn their language. Natives may be your most patient and helpful teachers. Besides helping you learn new vocabulary, native speakers can help you refine your accent and learn phrases unique to your area. Asking for help with your language-learning endeavors can even be an effective way to start a conversation with a stranger on the street.
7) Pray in your mission language.
If you make it a habit to have a prayer in your heart in your mission language, you will become fluent more quickly. Since we should have a prayer always in our hearts- what better way to learn a language than to have a prayer in your mission language always in your heart and mind?
An image of him is on the cover of chapter one of Preach My Gospel (as shown above).
Dan Jones baptized thousands of people while he was a missionary in the early history of the Church. His work in Wales became the foundation of the Church there, not to mention all the saints who came west to the Rocky Mountains.
So how can you prepare to be a Dan Jones type of missionary? Well, here are just three (of many) ways you can become a Dan Jones missionary.
1. Believe in and Seek for Miracles
The sooner you start to really believe in miracles, the better. During the mission you witness some of the most amazing miracles of your life. There will be nights when you come home to your journal and all you can write is “Wow” because you have no words for how amazing it was that just happened. You witness things that not many people do as a missionary. But that’s not because “normal” people can’t see miracles. We can and we should seek them out.
“I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”
You don’t have to wait to be a missionary for God to show you miracles. Seek for miracles now and seek them through the whole mission. And seek them after. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
2. Weave the Word of God into the Fiber of Your Soul
Feasting upon the word of God will activate the power of the atonement in a way that not many other things will. Activating this power will do more for you than any other thing as a missionary. There is actual power as we take in the words and put them deep within our hearts. How is it that Alma was a wicked priest of Noah who committed whoredoms and spent his strength with harlots 2 and then not long after, he was baptizing whole congregations in the waters of Mormon? 3 How is it that Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah were “the vilest of sinners” 4 and yet were able to make such a mighty change that they converted an entire nation of Lamanites, and later in life Alma was even translated? 5 It is because the word of God, planted deep within our souls, activates the power of the atonement.
“Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us…” 6
I believe that the word was literally IN them – a literal part of their physical and spiritual makeup. It was quite literally, like Jeremiah said “in their inward parts” written in their hearts. 7
The word written in our hearts and in our “inward parts” activates power unto transformation: the power of the atonement to make us very powerful missionaries, like unto Dan Jones.
3. Activate the Atonement by Receiving the Holy Ghost
The Lord Himself invited us to activate the atonement through the reception of the Holy Ghost. As we do any of the above, we are using our agency to choose God. And when we do this, the Holy Ghost comes. When we were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the person doing so confirms us and then tells us: “receive the Holy Ghost.” It is command, not an endowment. We are the ones who have to act to receive the Holy Ghost. And though we have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, the gift is only activated as we do the things that will bring the presence of the Holy Ghost. We get to choose to receive the Holy Ghost every day of our life, or not. And when we DO choose to receive the Holy Ghost, we activate the power of the atonement. I love what Henry B. Eyring said about this activation power:
“Receiving the Holy Ghost is the therapy which effects forgiveness and heals the sin-sick soul. Now that is a fact you can act on with confidence. You can invite the Holy Ghost’s companionship in your life. And you can know when he is there, and when he withdraws. And when he is your companion, you can have confidence that the Atonement is working in your life.”
There is no question in my mind that (among other things) Dan Jones did these things to make such an impact in his missionary service. What are other things that you make us powerful missionaries?