Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Best Kept Secret

I just knew you couldn’t resist…

As we look forward to the arrival of twenty four new missionaries Monday I just couldn't let one more day go by without sharing a little something that I have learned.
The best kept secret is that…missions are………hard!


 I am not talking about hard, as in hard work, because that is definitely an understatement.  I am talking about hard as in not what you expected, frustrating, disappointing and yes sometimes depressing.  We as adults spend way too much time running interference for our children, in a means of showing love and trying to protect them.  I am sad to report that we have done them a HUGE disservice.   As a result we have incredible young missionaries arriving in the mission field totally unprepared for what is to come.  They spend days, even weeks trying to figure out what is wrong with them.  Why isn’t being a missionary a more positive experience, after all it’s supposed to be the best two years of their lives, right? They internalize their doubts and fears because they certainly must be the only one that feels confused, anxious, scared, stressed.  They have rarely experienced failure or rejection, after all we are all about praise and building their self esteem as a parent and as leaders and I will be the first to admit that I am guilty! What we should be spending more time on is teaching coping skills. Like it or not, we will not always be there to rescue them-nor should we.
"What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s stripling warriors, are “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity” and who are “true at all times in whatsoever they [are] entrusted” Alma 53:20
Elder Ballard-
"We don’t need spiritually weak and semi committed individuals. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot send you on a mission to be re-activated, reformed, or to receive a testimony.  We just don’t have time for that.  We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” Doctrine and Covenants 4:5
As you know stress is an unavoidable and normal part of life, but unmanageable stress is one of the main reasons some missionaries struggle with depression, anxiety, and a wide range of physical aches and pains. It breaks my heart when they have to be sent home due to stress related problems never knowing the blessings of missionary service. I wish I could tell you how rare it is, but it is becoming a HUGE problem.
Basically it all come down to one thing, knowing how to respond to stress.

I could go on and on about how to handle stress, but my point is simple:
Parents, leaders, friends, family teach your youth how to identify and manage stress before they submit their papers for a mission! Those of you that are returned missionaries I am not advocating that you tell stories to instill fear and trembling among prospective missionaries, only that you be truthful. No more sugar coating.  If you struggled with stress at any time during your mission admit it and share your solution. Being forewarned can be a valuable tool when it happens to them, and it will!  Missions are......HARD (But worth every second).

As a Senior Missionary, and I think I can speak for all of us, I promise you if you will help prepare your prospective missionaries to face the challenges ahead by teaching them how to manage stress and to learn to trust in the Lord now, I will do my best to take good care of them while they are here in the mission field.

Just my two cents......

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