1) Stick to your plans—You have a planner with plans for every half hour of the day. I have noticed that if you go where you planned to go at the time you planned it, the Lord knows where you’re going to be, and He prepares those people for you.
2) A skirt over a dress makes a new blouse—You can make lots of extra outfits by wearing a skirt over a dress.
3) Bring a USB full of music—I wasn’t really sure how to bring music to my mission. I didn’t know if I should bring it on CD’s or on an iPod. When I got there, everyone had all of their music on a USB that you can plug right into the car (at least in our mission). You could also put the songs you’re allowed to listen to onto CD’s later. I brought an iPod and lots of CD’s, but I feel like the USB is what I used the most.
4) Ponderize—I think ponderizing is a great tool to apply as a missionary. It is great when you are in a lesson and a scripture pops into your mind and you actually know where it is, and memorized is even better.
5) Do P-day activities—Do an activity with your district on p-days. I don’t remember the p-days I spent emailing, but I do remember the memories we made and the activities we did.
6) Memorize names of everyone in the ward—Right when you get to an area, get a ward list and memorize everyone’s name. Call them by name and you will gain their trust a lot faster and have stronger relationships.
7) Budget money—I suggest practicing living within a budget before you go out into the mission field. Make a list of 30–50 meals you can make for $120.
8) Buy groceries with your companion—I did this with some companions and some I didn’t. I think that it saves you a lot of money and you can have a lot more variety in your meals when you buy your food together. It’s fun to make food and eat together.
9) Here’s a good, simple common grocery list:
Ingredients for smoothies
Milk and cereal
10) Watch your weight and be healthy—Get in a habit of eating one serving at dinner appointments. Drink lemon water. Peanut butter in green smoothies is actually pretty tasty. We ran three times a week in our mission and I think that has helped me a lot to stay in decent shape. District sports in the morning are really fun. I liked playing dodge ball a lot!
11) Use a study journal—I started using a study journal about halfway through my mission and I wish I had started it earlier. It kept my studies more focused and it was a place I can turn to for things I wanted to remember from my studies.
12) Take pictures! —Take pictures with your investigators. I wish I could have taken pictures with everyone I taught. Taking pictures of doing missionary things (not just with your districts and zones and other missionaries) is also great.
13) Go through the sister’s closet—At our mission home there was a closet full of clothes that previous sisters had left. There are tons of skirts and it’s nice to change up your clothes when you wear things over and over again. I didn’t want to buy a lot of long skirts that I probably wouldn’t wear when I got home, so it’s nice to just wear other sister’s hand-me- downs.
14) Write letters—I wish I would have taken the time to write my nieces and nephews and other loved ones. We only serve a mission once, so I think it would have been cool if they could have gotten more letters from me. Also it’s so fun to get mail in the mission. It’s like Christmas!!
15) Teach short lessons—At the beginning of my mission we would teach hour long (or longer) lessons to our investigators. The lessons were less focused and dragged on. It made it so long that our investigators didn’t want to meet as often. Soon we taught about 15-minute lessons and were able to teach our investigators a lot more frequently. We give them brief overviews and have them review the materials in more detail on their own.
16) Write a family/group email every week—I was pretty lazy about this. Be diligent and you’ll be happy that you will have a nice little journal of emails of every week.
17) Write a personal journal—I think it’s a great idea to write three bullet points from your day if you are too busy to write a whole entry. One sister in our mission wrote “a miracle a day” on her calendar and it was almost like a journal because she had 18 months of miracles and could remember lots of experiences she had.
18) Decorate your planner cover—It makes your planner cover so much more exciting.
19) Deep clean your apartment—As soon as you get to an apartment, deep clean it. It feels so nice to live in a clean home and to go home to a place that you feel like is home. It also adds a nice spirit when the shelves are organized and there are not things all over the floor.
20) Keep a notepad in your bag—If someone tells you to do something you must write it down because if you don’t, you will forget it because of how busy you are (especially if the bishop or a ward member asks you to do something).
21) Make planning a priority—Make sure to finish all of the steps in weekly planning each week. Your week will go so much smoother.
22) Do something fun for yourself—Have a pedicure night or go to a fun restaurant with other sisters on p-day.
23) Get ready—When you look good, you feel good. Don’t get lazy about doing your hair and makeup. You are supposed to look your best.
28) Bring cute shoes—I bought a lot of ugly comfy shoes and when I got there I realized that I would prefer to have some cute shoes, especially for church.
29) Tract five houses—At the beginning of my mission, we would spend a lot of time driving from one place to another. To be a little bit more productive with your time, you should tract five houses to each side of each house you visit. I have found many investigators through tracting because I thought maybe the Lord is leading you to a certain area and the person He has prepared is actually the neighbor of the person you planned to go visit.
30) Bring plain clothes—You can’t wear conflicting patterns, so having a lot of basic shirts and skirts makes for more outfits. Bring lots of colors of cardigans.
31) Bring pictures from home—It’s fun to see pictures from your companions life, especially family pictures.
32) Don’t use a missionary voice—A lot of missionaries change voices when they start teaching people. Don’t get in a habit of that. Just talk to people how you talk normally.
33) Be smart with your laundry—Bring a laundry bag. Bring enough undergarments for two weeks so that you don’t have to spend too much money washing them weekly.
34) Establish a relationship with the bishop and ward mission leader fast—if you can, go visit the bishop and ward mission leader before your first Sunday in the ward.
35) Have and write thank you cards—Write thank you cards for people in your ward you’re serving in. They help so much and it’s good to show them some kind of appreciation.
36) Have meaningful studies—I think what helped me a lot to have meaningful studies was to do the activities in “Preach My Gospel.” It helps you stay focused and interested in what you are studying.
37) Be friends with your companion—Don’t get worked up over things that don’t matter. I liked talking openly and laughing and having fun together.
Rachel is currently serving a mission in Oakland California. She will return home Aug. 24, 2016.