Missionary Parents

Of the 419 missions (as of March 19, 2016) in the world, some are very expensive, some are very cold, some hot, some humid, some dry.

But some are just plain DIRTY.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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
  4. Indonesia Jakarta Mission
    • 109 million people lack access to sanitation in Indonesia
  5. Vietnam Hanoi Mission
    • 22 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in Vietnam
  6. All the Philippines Missions (There are 21)
    • 22 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in the Philippines
  7. Democratic Republic of Congo (3 Missions)
    • 50 Million don’t have access to proper sanitation in DR Congo
  8. Ghana (4 Missions)
    • 20 million in Ghana don’t have access to proper sanitation
  9. 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?

  1. Keep your hands clean with HAND SANITIZER.
    • 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Exercise!
    • 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.
  5. Pray
    • 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.

Top Countries Without Sanitation
Via: TakePart.com

Infographic and information from Takepart.

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.

Full story at LDS Living.

Image via LDSliving.com

The Church recently updated their dress and grooming guidelines for missionaries, allowing missionaries to wear conservative sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats in order to help them better protect against the sun.

One of the examples of the conservative sunglasses approved for missionaries found on lds.org
One of the examples of the conservative sunglasses approved for missionaries found on lds.org

The Church holds its missionaries to high standards—both spiritually and when it comes to dress and appearance. As servants of the Lord, they represent Him in every way.

Missionaries are told, “as an ambassador of the Lord you are to wear professional, conservative clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling and that will clearly identify you as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Dress and Grooming Guidelines for Missionaries).

Read about even more updates that have happened over the years at LDS Living.

The Bonsrahs, Ghanaian triplets, just returned from three separate missions

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)

From left to right Dicken, Dickson and Dick Bonsrah Ghanaian triplets who just returned from serving missions in Nigeria
From left to right Dicken, Dickson and Dick Bonsrah Ghanaian triplets who just returned from serving missions in Nigeria

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.

 

21 Questions to ask on your Mothers Day Missionary Phone

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?

Missionary phone call questions
eldermitchellridd.blogspot.com

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?

Missionary Christmas Phone Call
missionsite.net

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?

manonamissiontony.blogspot.com
manonamissiontony.blogspot.com

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?

lytlemomma.blogspot.com
lytlemomma.blogspot.com

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?

elderinman.wordpress.com
elderinman.wordpress.com

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?

eldernathanturner.com
eldernathanturner.com

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?

www.thismissionarylife.com
www.thismissionarylife.com

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?

 

missionaries.arring.com
missionaries.arring.com

 

What are some other great questions that you will ask your missionary?

 

 

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image via lds.org

The state Department of Commerce Thursday received a report of a scam targeting the grandparents of LDS missionaries with a ploy that their grandchild was in trouble and needed them to send money.

According to the report, Idaho grandparents of a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received a call to send $3,885 via wire transfer to an alleged bail bondsman for bail and court fees to help their grandson, who supposedly was facing DUI charges.

The details of the family’s account mirror reports of others who have also reported the “grandparent scam” calls to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. The con has drawn concern from the LDS Church.

READ FULL STORY AT DESERET NEWS

Image via Deseret News.

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.

Read the full article at Deseret News.

6 Ways to help a friend win the battle with pornography
image from thereturnedmissionary.com

This article was originally published on The Returned Missionary and has been republished in it’s entirety on this blog with the author’s permission.

Winning the battle with pornography isn’t easy. This post isn’t the answer to all the questions about overcoming pornography addiction, but I hope to at least share things that have helped me and my friends, who have battled with pornography, to WIN that battle. Way too many returned missionaries struggle with this, and too many of them do it silently, and completely alone. I have known of YSA wards where up to 90% of the young men struggle with this. This should not be. We can help them, and instead of shrinking away from them out of fear of the stigma, we need to reach out to help them, in love. You can help your friends who are struggling, and if YOU are that friend that needs help, then I hope I can be your friend and help you with this post.

1. Be informed and educated about it

I think before anything, we need to be informed about pornography addiction. Orson Scott Card once said that he is “a lover of goodness and a student of evil.” 1 Many people avoid learning more about the evil of pornography because it is evil. If we are going to help anyone we love to win the battle (or if we are trying to win the battle ourselves), we need to be more educated about pornography addiction, and specifically about why it is that men and women are even motivated at all to seek out pornography in the first place. Here are just a few resources that I have found helpful:

  • If you don’t know about Fight The New Drug, go to their site and learn more or just download their 2016 reference guide of the harmful effects of pornography. A comprehensive review of the most current and reliable, peer reviewed research on the harmful effects of pornography. This document is perfect for all individuals who want to dive deep into the research and gain a solid understanding of what science is teaching us about how pornography effects individuals, their relationships, and the world we live in.
  • Watch Johann Hari’s TED talk: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.

  • 7 Levels of Addiction. If your friend is battling pornography, don’t put him in the same boat (in your mind) as the person you hear about on the news who went to prison for committing some horrible sexual crime. There are many varying levels of addiction and your friend is most likely in a less extreme area of the continuum. Even if they are at level seven, it is good to understand that there are different levels of addiction. Here is a PDF where you can read about the 7 Levels of Addiction.
  • Read Donald Hilton MD’s book He Restoreth My Soul. As an LDS neurologist, Dr. Hilton doesn’t just write about why pornography is bad for you spiritually. He also gives an in-depth review of the modern science and brain chemistry that undergirds an addiction. It is fascinating to understand his research because he suggests that spiritual repentance does not equal recovery from addiction. This is very different from what I assume most people believe about someone who has an addiction. I used to believe that no one has truly repented of this until they have completely recovered from it. According to Hilton, this is not always the case. Here’s Dr. Hilton talking about some of these things at a BYU Pornography Addiction Conference:
  • Study the 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program with your friend and on your own. This is very informative and is not just about pornography addiction, but about addiction to anything and is really a great guide for anyone who wants to fully and joyfully repent of any personal vice.
  • Look up the studies of the growing body of researchers on this topic including Mark Chamberlain, Maurice Harker, Dan Gray, Jill Manning, Jason Carroll, Brannon Patrick, Tyler Patrick, Rich Tripp, Mark Kastleman, Geoff Steurer, Jeffrey Ford, Kathy Kinghorn, and many others. Just Google their names and you’ll start finding their work.
  • Go to a conference or watch the videos from the conferences. One conference I have found to be extremely informative is the UCAP conference. It is in Utah, so all of you reading this won’t be able to make it to this, but they post most of their presentation videos online and it is excellent information.
  • This presentation, from Dan Gray, changed the way I look at addiction and how I look at addicts. It goes right along with the information that Johann Hari presented in his TED talk above.
  • Look up the amazing resources and information at the SA Lifeline website.

There are a dozens of other resources to get educated and informed about it for your friend, for your children, or for yourself. The important thing is to learn about it before you dive into the fight or you will be fighting blindfolded.

2. P.E.R.M.A. VS. B.L.A.S.T. The power of the Science of Happiness (Positive Psychology)

If you watched Johann Hari’s TED talk above, you listened to the research about “rat park,” or heaven for rats where the rats were first put in an empty cage with two types of water. One water was normal water and the other water was drugged with heroin or cocaine. In the empty cage, the rats would consistently return over and over to the drugged water and die from overdose within a short amount of time. However, they redid the experiment and instead of putting the rats in an empty cage, alone, they put them in rat park where they had plenty of friends, toys, all the food they could imagine and could do whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted.

The results?

100% of the rats overdosed in the isolated cage. 0% of the rats overdosed in rat heaven.

Why? Because they were happier. Maybe you’ll debate weather a rat can be happier, but we all know that humans can be both miserable and happy.

Positive psychology is a growing field that doesn’t study what is wrong with humans. It studies what is right with humans. What makes humans flourish. Why are the happiest and most engaged humans they way they are? Why do they flourish? This is what positive psych aims to find out. I won’t go into detail in this post, but the father of positive psychology (Dr. Martin Seligman) has come up with what he called the Well-being Theory that can be summarized with the acronym PERMA. Every single one of the below areas has loads of studies on how this leads to human flourishing. Read his latest book, Flourish, about PERMA and Well-being Theory.

  • Positive Emotion – through gratitude, play, acts of kindness, mindfulness, awe, interest
  • Engagement or “Flow” – exercising your natural strengths/skills in activities that challenge you
  • Relationships – cultivating, strengthening and maintaining positive social relationships
  • Meaning – find your personal life mission & get involved in something bigger than yourself
  • Achievement – set goals, and work hard to reach those goals

I honestly believe that no matter how many ARP meetings you go to and how many books you read about the problem of pornography addiction, if we are not flourishing in life, we will never overcome any addiction. However, if we are flourishing, our life will be abundant and there will be no reason for us to go to the “drugged water” in our isolated rat cage. We can help our friends to create for themselves their own little rat heaven. A place where they can play, and become engaged with something they are amazingly talented at, be a part of many wholesome and meaningful relationships, find their life mission and do something that creates meaning for them, set goals and move with all their heart toward achieving those goals. I would honestly be surprised to see a person who creates their own personal “rat heaven” involved in level 7 pornography addiction or even level 2. This just wouldn’t make sense.

This will help them fight against BLAST, or the things that make viewing and seeking out pornography more likely:

  • Bored – or any form of apathy about life in general
  • Lonely – lack of social connection or any hope of social connection any time soon
  • Angry – at self, at God, at circumstances of life or at other people
  • Stressed – overwhelmed in thinking that it’s just too hard, not fair, or too much is expected, a sense of helplessness.
  • Tired – in a physically exhausted state all of the above are more difficult to overcome

When you are flourishing, you will rarely be bored or lonely. You may feel stress, but it will be the good kind. You won’t be paralyzed by helplessness because your learned optimism will help you push past thinking that your problems are personal, permanent or pervasive. Anger will be much less likely because you will train yourself to be filled with gratitude and self compassion. When you are tired, it will be at the end of very fulfilling days and there won’t be a need to find connection, because you already have it in positive and meaningful relationships you have built. And when you feel like you are working toward a goal that is larger than yourself, motivation will be more powerful to fight.

I really did not go into detail here, but read about PERMA and watch this TED talk on the happiness advantage by one of the most well known positive psychologists out there. I believe what he says about work directly applies to the desire to win the battle with pornography. You can’t just say “once I have overcome pornography addiction, then I’ll be happy.” That, my friend will never work. You MUST be happy and fulfilled first. Then you will overcome.

Your friend will have a great “happiness advantage” if they follow the principles of positive psychology.

I believe PERMA will always win in a fight against BLAST (and the research backs me up).

Want even more books that talk about the science behind boosting your levels of happiness? Here they are:

3. Destroy the shame, with LOVE

“Guilt is: I DID something bad. Shame is: I AM something bad. Guilt: I’m sorry I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry, I am a mistake. There is a huge difference.”  – Brene Brown 2

We need to remember that we should not be the messengers of shame to a friend who is battling pornography addiction. God will never deliver shame. None of us are a mistake. ALL of us have made mistakes. God is okay with us making mistakes, but He is not okay with us thinking that we are a mistake. 

Every person who has chosen to seek out pornography has made a mistake, but not one of them is a mistake. There is a huge difference.

Remember that there are multitudes of others who are either battling with pornography or who have battled and who are in recovery. If you don’t believe me, check out this list of blogs at LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs. These are all personal blogs of real people who are openly talking about their fight and recovery.

I’m one of them. So is Terry Crews (the crazy Old Spice guy). I have gone through the 12 step addiction recovery program. I used to think that only skid-row bums and ex-convicts had a problem with sexual addictions. I was wrong. Normal, sharp, attractive, successful, fresh-off-the-mission returned missionaries do too. I also used to believe that those who admitted to a flaw like this would ruin their lives forever because no one would trust them and they would no longer be able to be an example of the believers. Now I believe differently. Vulnerability is powerful and it opens the doors to immense growth and progress, not the other way around. Brene Brown, the evangelist of vulnerability said this: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” 3 If you are vulnerable enough to admit that you have a problem (whether you are at a level one or a level seven on the addiction scale mentioned above), you will see growth come of it. And I promise you that if you keep hiding and continue to hold back, it will only stagnate your progress, creativity and innovation in your life.

Don’t forget to be your own best friend in this process. You can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy as you battle.

 4. PERSONIFY the porn star

The problem with pornography is that it has twisted and devalued the subject of the pornography to an object. Nothing more than a piece of plastic that can be viewed a billion times after the picture or video has been taken. What your friend may not think about when they are fantasizing with porn is that each one of those porn stars has a life. They all have a mom. Each one has a family, a past and a future.

Even if you feel like you are winning the battle with pornography, you may still have thoughts that are less appropriate or maybe you get frustrated when women wear clothes that show more than garment lines would appropriate. Well, they have lives too. The next time this happens, instead of fantasizing about an object, imagine that person’s future dreams and goals. Imagine them giving a talk in church or making dinner or changing their baby’s diaper or in a job interview or praying for the things that they need or desire in this life. Imagine them growing up and becoming a grandparent. Would you objectify Mother Theresa as she holds a dying baby or comforts a leper? Would you objectify Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt or Nobel Prize winning Marie Curie? What about J.K. Rowling or Abigail Adams or Martha Washington, Joan of Arc or Anne Frank or Lucy Mack Smith? What seed of potential greatness is not found inside each and every girl or woman, porn star or not???

Whether they know it or not, YOU can know it. Keep that truth inside of your heart. Remember that each and every woman is a real human being. A person, with feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, and who can experience joy in their own right. They are not an object. Period. Keep that locked in your heart. You’ll see the world differently if you do.

5. Find an ARP meeting and go with your friend to the meeting

ARP (addiction recovery program) meetings are powerful. Even if you have never struggled with an addiction to pornography, you should go to one of these meetings. It will change your life. And if you are struggling, you will benefit immensely from attending these (in person or by phone, but I highly recommend in person). You can find a meeting here.

I mentioned above getting a 12 Step Addiction Recovery book. The meetings follow these steps one by one for 90 days from beginning to end. If your friend really wants to win the battle with pornography, I would highly recommend attending these meetings.

The first time I went to one of these meetings, I thought it would be filled with ex-criminals and skid-row bums like I mentioned above. I was surprised to see that the guys at the meeting were impressive, hard working, successful, well-groomed men who were in the exact same stage of life that I was in, in many cases. Some of them had been recovered for years, but still come to strengthen others. For some of them it was their first time. The general feeling is an absolute love for each other, despite the battle with addiction and a total authenticity that is often hard to find anywhere else, including elders quorum. Every time I have gone to a meeting, I have left strengthened and full and true to my highest self. It is an inspired program. One of my friends who has gone through the program has made videos of each of the steps. Here is his video of Step 4:

6. Activate the power of the Atonement

atonement diagram

Remember where you are headed. The atonement isn’t just there to get you from sin to clean or from clean to saint. It’s there to get you from saint to god. I have received hate mail from people in other faiths about this doctrine, but I believe that it is one of the most inspiring doctrines we have, and the only way it is possible is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The only way for you to progress upward is by activating the power of the atonement in your life. If you haven’t read it yet, read 6 ways to activate the power of the atonement in your life.

 

Like I said, this list is not comprehensive, but I hope at least one of these things have helped you to help your friend (even if YOU are the friend). Don’t lose hope. Your friend is worth it. YOU are worth it.

 

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Image via Pixabay

Each week, the letters start coming in on Sunday night. First from Sister Chelsea Dunn who is serving in the Philippines Cauayan Mission. Several hours later on Monday, Sister Holli Dunn who serves in the California Arcadia Mission, Sister Lindsay Dunn who serves in the Arizona Tucson Mission, and Elder Taylor Dunn, a Spanish-speaking missionary in the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission, follow suit.

“Monday is the greatest day of the week,” said Chris Dunn. “You definitely get a unique perspective on a lot of different places. It’s interesting because they all just really love and appreciate the people wherever they are. They love that part of their mission.”

Ever since the announcement of the missionary age change for men from 19 to 18 and women from 21 to 19, many families have had multiple children serving missions at the same time. David and Chris Dunn of the Eagle 2nd Ward, Eagle Idaho Stake, not only have four children serving at the same time, but these children are quadruplets.

Read the full article at Deseret News.

The Happiness Advantage

Editor’s note: This is a chapter from the new book for returned missionaries: Live Your Mission, 21 Powerful Principles to Discover Your Life Mission, After Your Mission, by Andrew Scot Proctor. Click here to read the the whole book for free on Kindle Unlimited!

I had just eaten lunch at the campus cafeteria at Southern Virginia University when I got a call (on a landline phone) from the school post office. The receptionist said in a very heavy southern Virginia accent, “You gotta a big white envelope here that you might want to come pick up.” It was my mission call. I had been waiting for weeks for this. I ran down to the post office as fast as my track star feet could carry me and grabbed the envelope. This was a moment I had been waiting for all my life. Inside this envelope awaited an assignment from a prophet of God that could take me anywhere on Earth! I had an a capella concert to sing in that night and a philosophy final the next morning at 7:00 am to prepare for. I didn’t have time to try to contact all my family and friends that night before my concert and my last final exam as a freshman. I decided to wait. I slipped my mission call into my desk drawer with a huge smile on my face and a sense of life-satisfaction that I had never experienced in my whole life. I studied for a few hours, sang my little heart out in the concert and then studied a little more. As I studied, it was as if I had an added ability to memorize all these philosophical proofs from Plato to Anselm to Aquinas to Aristotle. It was as if my brain were on fire! I don’t know if I had ever had as good of a study session as I did that night. I went to bed with excitement in my heart and philosophy in my mind. I woke up early the next morning to make it to my 7:00 am philosophy final. My brain recalled perfectly every single one of the theorems and proofs and concepts of each and every philosopher the entire semester as if it were a game. I aced my final and left the room with a big smile on my face. I was one happy nineteen-year-old.

The point of this story isn’t to brag about my ability to memorize philosophical proofs but to point out that my brain was aided by the fact that I was so happy. I believe I actually got a better grade on my final because of the incredible amount of positive emotion I was experiencing. I also believe that if I would have waited until after my philosophy final was over to soak in the happiness of the fact that I had received my mission call (because I hadn’t even opened it yet), I would have gotten a less than optimal score. This cognitive effect is what positive psychologists call “the happiness advantage.”

One of the most impressive evangelists of the happiness advantage is Shawn Achor, a young Harvard professor who has written a book about this phenomenon. Here’s Shawn:

New research in psychology and neuroscience shows that . . . we become more successful when we are happier and more positive. For example, doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19 percent faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive 1.

My whole life, I have been taught the exact opposite: wait until you are successful, then be happy.

Once I graduate, then I can be happy.

Once I get into grad school, then I can be happy.

Once I find a girlfriend (or boyfriend), then I’ll be happy.

As soon as I finish my book, then I can be happy.

As soon as I get that great job, then I can be happy.

Once I finish my paper, then I will be happy.

Once I’m done with my project, then I can be happy.

I have always thought this way until I read about the happiness advantage. The extra creativity, cognitive ability and innovation that we need to accomplish these things and to be successful could be acquired if we allow ourselves to be happy before we hit the milestones. Positive emotion may very well be the added edge we need to push ourselves to the top!

It’s not just theoretical or hypothetical either; it’s actually biological. Happiness gives us a real-life chemical edge. How does it do this? Here is Shawn again:

Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural connections, which allows us to think more quickly and creatively, become more skilled at complex analysis and problem-solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things. 2

This happiness advantage will accelerate your brain as you are trying to figure out your mission in life. So don’t just think that you can only be happy once you have figured out what to do with your life. Or that you will only be able to really relax once you are on the right track. This thinking is actually counterproductive. What makes you happy right now? What brings a smile to your face? Where do you feel like you can just play and relax? What activities make you glad to be alive? How often do you laugh? How often do you play? How much everyday happiness do you experience? If it’s not a lot, you should create more. Everyday happiness creates the positive emotion you need to give you the advantage.

Create more positive emotion in your life, and you will be given the happiness advantage to push you toward the discovery of your personal mission. And once you discover your mission, use the happiness advantage to make you even more effective and productive in accomplishing your life mission!

Be happy now. Don’t wait until you have everything figured out. Being happy now will give you the happiness advantage, propelling you toward your greatest potential in living your mission.

***If you liked this chapter, please click here to read the whole book for free with Kindle Unlimited!