The idea is simple: On P-days, a missionary calls a toll-free number, talks to a machine for five minutes, then hangs up. A link to the recording is then emailed to the missionary’s friends and family.
The implications are exciting: Families can hear their missionary’s voice, the missionary doesn’t have to spend as much time on email, and the process is well within LDS mission rules (the missionary never speaks to a live person, and calls are toll-free). The family can download the messages as a missionary voice journal or order a CD from the company at the conclusion of the mission. The service is called Listen to the Mission, and it’s up and running now.
“As we’ve talked to mission presidents, they’ve told us, ‘We hear so often from parents that they’re not hearing enough from their missionaries,’” says Kim Scoville, who came up with the idea for Listen to the Mission. “This helps solve that problem. And one of the common conflicts between companionships is how to spend P-Day time — to not have to spend the time to take a trip to the library and email home but to be able to just use the mission phone to record an update on your way to the zone or district activity makes it easier for them as well. We’re really excited about it. It solves some problems for mission presidents and for missionaries, and missionary moms love it.”
Listen to the Mission is a voice recording service for full-time missionaries. It’s an idea Kim had for years, but one she didn’t act on until she had a missionary of her own.
Parker Strong, a 19-year-old from Centerville, Utah, sat on a tro-tro in West Africa. The Ghanaian public transportation was overcrowded and passengers began to pass their goods back for others to help hold. Strong was handed a goat to keep on his lap. It breathed on his face and he looked out the window at the rain forest he was driving through.
“In that moment it just hit me,” Strong said. “‘I’m in the middle of West Africa.’”
Strong, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was called to serve in the Ghana Accra Mission in 2013. Although he would eventually get used to the culture and learn several different dialects of the language, upon arriving in Ghana, Strong had some major adjustments.
The first three months Strong viewed as an adventure. Waking up each morning to fetch water, using a bucket to shower and living life without electricity seemed exciting. However, the excitement began to wear off as the reality of his new circumstances settled in. Along with longing for the luxuries he had at home, Strong began to have doubts that Ghana was the place he could share the gospel the best.
“I think it’s natural for most missionaries to feel that way,” Strong said. “‘Is this really where I’m supposed to be? Is this what I should be doing with my life?’”
My eyes were too eager as I opened my mission call. No matter how earnestly I tried to read line by line, I couldn’t help but read ahead to see the words “Zambia Lusaka Mission”. I could hardly squeak the words out with all of my emotions, but behind the immediate joy, I felt a little scared. Throughout high school, I had traveled to Africa a couple of times, and though two weeks there were life changing, I was apprehensive with the thought of living there for 18 months. What kinds of sicknesses and physical hardships would accompany the already strenuous work of daily preaching the gospel?
Packing was quite the feat, trying to fit 18 months worth of supplies I would not be able to find in Zambia and Malawi. My parents included in the supplies 18 months worth of the capsules that they had personally used for several years. I had tried it once or twice before in liquid form and felt my body respond well to it. Though my luggage weight capacity was limited, I felt that bringing those capsules would ease my fears of sickness. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that something so small inside my suitcase could, and would, play such a big part in my mission.
Within the first couple of weeks in the field, I saw just how often I could potentially eat or drink things that were not very clean. Despite our best efforts, we could never carry enough water from our apartment to last us the entire day of walking, so we inevitably had to ask people for water. While our apartment had a filter on its tap, most of the people we got water from took it from wells in their backyards. Often times it was slightly brown, but when we were totally parched and it was between 90 and 100 degrees, we didn’t have much of a choice.
Others were not so preserved, however. One sister struggled with constipation her entire mission while my last three companions always felt bloated, constipated, or had diarrhea almost the entire time we were together.
Often times when I was ready to go they took extra time because they weren’t feeling well, or we had to stay in for part or all of the day for them to rest. Most of the time these sisters would want to soldier on and push through the pain during the day, but this often led to lost time in transition and extra time for lunch breaks.
Our mission president’s wife was always very aware of the missionaries’ health. As I was a sister training leader most of my mission, I was called upon more than once to take a sister to the hospital that was having stomach issues (whether this was from the water, food or previous health problems I am not sure).
Unless there was a serious issue, we were usually told to just avoid the water and street food and go on the BRATs diet where you only eat bananas, rice, apples, and toast. Stomach or intestinal discomfort was practically commonplace.
At one point near the end of my mission I got a little lazy in taking the capsules and started feeling bloated all the time. I remember lying on the floor of my apartment with my companion during a lunch break and trying to find a comfortable position to relieve the pain. Soon after this I began taking the capsules again and this bloating went away. We often joked about our “food babies” and how big our stomachs would get when this bloating occurred.
We may have laughed, but it was really uncomfortable and sometimes took away from our focus.
One particular month during rainy season, flooding buried the city’s water pipes in sludge, preventing any running water from getting to the towns we were serving in. Our zone leaders scrambled everyday to provide water for the missionaries, but many times we were left having to collect rainwater that poured from our roof. As we walked the muddy streets and saw many houses with collapsed roofs or walls saturated with water, we saw mothers and young girls walking with buckets trying to find any source of clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing. The irony was that in such a torrential flood, there was no water to be found.
Again, my companion and I could not carry enough water to last us the whole day. Though we were warned of cholera and we did our best to avoid drinking the water, sometimes we had no other alternative. It was jarring to see such tragedy all around me. Families were desperate. I often wondered as I sat in people’s houses if the rains would make their walls collapse, too. With so much sickness and fear around me, my body still remained healthy.
Watching others get sick around me was a difficult part of my mission. The mission is a time where everything familiar is stripped away and you are left to rely solely on the Lord. It is vulnerable and can be extremely discouraging at times. Discouragement and stress only made these stomach issues worse.
When I had so many opportunities to be sick and stay home, I was healthy and strong and could continue to serve and teach. Many missionaries came home and continued to face stomach and intestinal issues, including diarrhea and constipation, but the only residual effect I’ve felt from my mission was an increased desire to use my health and strength to build the Kingdom.
Michaela’s “little green capsules” are called CTR Vital. If you would like to try them for your missionary, click here.
Editor’s note: this article is a sponsored post paid for by CTR Vital. And although this article is sponsored, Michaela’s story is very real, which is why we decided to publish it so that other missionaries can also benefit from this kind of health during their missions to obscure areas of the world.
My son Andrew (Drew) is due to receive his mission call literally any day now. He’s been checking the mail several times a day, hoping for that much anticipated white envelope. I remember going through the same anticipation with Anthony. I was a ball of nerves! Yesterday he checked the mail like four times, even though he knew the answer wasn’t going to change. Not today friend, not today. It’s killing us!
In the past few years, social media has let us share beautiful moments with those that wouldn’t otherwise get to be a part of watching a mission call being opened. Mission call parties are becoming a fairly common occurrence. With these developments, have come some unintended consequences.
This season of our lives always strikes up a lot of camaraderie with members all over the world. Get missionary parents in a room and proudly, it’s all we talk about. Mom’s are the worst. 🙂 This makes me privy to a lot of stories and experiences, some hilarious, some informational, and some very eye opening.
I share the following story with the permission:
After much self reflection and prayer, my friend’s daughter made the amazing and heart wrenching decision to serve a mission. Several appointments, interviews and hours spent on the computer later, she clicked “SUBMIT”. Everything in her life was about to change. How, when and where it would change, all depended on that “Great White Envelope”. Everyone was on high alert, just waiting for the word on when it arrived.
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.
My dad wasn’t a member of the LDS church. In fact, I’m not sure he was actually a member of any church. He was, however, a man of great faith, who thought that all churches had some truth to them, and enjoyed listening to their various sermons. On any given Sunday, he might attend one or two different churches in our small town in upstate New York.
After I was baptized as a teenager, and as I began to understand gospel principles more fully, I could see that the life philosophy of my father had prepared me in many ways to not just accept the restored gospel, but to understand how to live it.
Before I ever read the scriptures or had heard of living prophets, I was learning the philosophy of my dad, and after all these years, the great lessons he taught me still guide my life.
1. Sit Quietly and the Answer Will Come to You
My father was a building contractor, and a mechanical engineer. He was also an optimistic, inventive man, who, after pondering a problem for a while, seemed to have the ability to see the solution in his mind. The fact that he didn’t know all the steps to get him from where he was to where he wanted to be never seemed to slow him down.
Here at LDSMissionaries.com, We come across thousands of missionaries through our website and Facebook page and this set of Ghanaian triplets really stood out to us. They reached out to us (and sent us a cute picture) and we just had to publish their story on our blog.
Here is what they said:
“We are triplets and we just finished serving in 3 Nigerian missions. I feel it will be fun and above all we want to share our testimony with the world.”
So we asked them these questions, and got the following responses:
1. What are all your names, left to right?
Dicken, Dickson, Dick (Bonsrah)
2. What missions you served in, and your hometown?
Dicken served in the Nigeria Eunugu Mission
Dickson served in the Nigeria Porthacourt Mission
Dick served in the Nigeria Lagos Mission.
We are Ghanaians from eastern region of the country from a small town named Obosomase. We now stay in Adenta, a suburb of the capital Accra in the Adentan stake and we worship in Adenta Ward.
3. How did your parents, (particularly your mother), feel?
Our parents are not members of the church but our mum was very happy for our decision to serve our Heavenly Father.
4. Share with us your testimony.
“Our testimony is that we know fully and truly that there is a God in heaven and he loves us and the Book of Mormon is also another testament and the prophet Joseph Smith was called of God.
“So we found about the church through our guardians the Opare family. We came to school in their school and through that we became members. We knew everything about the church was true. I loved the plan of salvation. I had never heard of it so when I heard of it I was happy. My parents gave us the consent to be baptized. Like earlier said, our mentor has been the Opare family. I wanted to first broaden my knowledge or testimony about Jesus Christ and his church and I had the desire to share the restored gospel. My mother’s first name is Doris. Dick Bonsrah’s (favorite) scripture is king Benjamin. Dicken’s is also king Benjamin and Dickson’s is Moroni. Dick’s favorite scripture is Jacob 2:17-19. Dickson’s favorite scripture is Mosiah 2:41 and Dicken’s favorite is 2 Corinth 4:8-10.”
We were so glad to hear that they were strong in the faith and that they have returned with gratitude in their hearts and the fire of testimony.
Are you excited to talk to your missionary on Mother’s Day!?? Well, you should be. So what are you going to say on your missionary phone call? What will you ask your missionary? How can you spend your time best? What can you talk about without making them too homesick?
Well here are some great questions to help you help you help your missionary to keep their mind on the mission. This might help so that you don’t just cry the whole time and make them homesick.
***For some technology tips on how NOT to waste precious time with technology and a way to record your entire video call for free, click here. You may have seen also our 21 Questions to ask on your Christmas Missionary Phone Call. This article is our Mother’s Day version.
1. When was the last time you laughed with your companion and why? What makes you laugh in your area? How do you stay light hearted?
2. What has your mission president been doing to inspire the mission? What do you love about your mission president?
3. Tell us in person about the last miracle you witnessed…When was the last time you saw an answer to prayer?
4. What do you like about your companion? Do have fun in the work together? What time of day do you enjoy your companion most?
5. Are there any inside jokes in your mission? What is your current mission theme right now?
6. How are your clothes holding up? How are your feet?
7. Have you found any new investigators from your past investigators in your area book?
8. What was your favorite meal from members during the mission so far?
9. Are there street vendors in your area? Do they offer good food? Do you snack during the day between lessons?
10. What has been your favorite P-day activity so far?
11. Do you do a lot of service in your area? What service projects have you done?
12. How many progressing investigators do you have right now? Any new ones since the last email?
13. How much do you work on retention in your area? Are there a lot of less active members?
14. What is your favorite smell in your area right now? Least favorite?
15. How often do you do laundry? When was the last time you washed your sheets? 🙂 Are there cleaning checks in your mission apartments?
16. What is music like in your ward? Does everyone sing? Does it sound good? Have you had to help with music?
17. What are some of the local sayings and interesting things people say in your area? (if they are in a foreign mission)
18. What’s the scariest thing that has happened to you so far where you have felt protected as a missionary?
19. What do most people do for work in your area or is it pretty mixed?
20. Share with us how has your testimony grown since leaving home? (In your mission language if you want). How has the atonement strengthened you as a missionary?
21. What should we do to be better missionaries at home while you are gone?
What are some other great questions that you will ask your missionary?
Just over two years ago, Teresa Wang and her three children — Jill, 23; Christian, 20; and Cole, 20 — simultaneously embarked on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Now, after returning from their respective missions, the Wangs are grateful for those who made it possible for them to serve at the same time and for the lessons they learned.
“Just knowing that we all gained that knowledge and were able to come home having served honorable missions is a great strength because, for me, I know that what we did is the right thing, even though it seemed impossible at first,” Christian Wang said.
As her children approached the age at which they could serve, Teresa Wang was ecstatic. But then, reflecting on her LDS mission to Japan in her youth, she began to consider serving another mission, and she couldn’t shake the idea.