This has been an emotional week for me! We sent our oldest out to live far away from us and to teach people about Christ. It is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do, but I know she will be a fabulous missionary! She is filled with light and I know she will be blessed as she serves the Lord.
Coming from a large family of 14 children, some people are shocked to find out that all of us (even my parents) served missions for our church. You could say I was around missionaries most of my life. I loved to see my siblings go and come back a new, better person. My parents are inspired and they did some amazing things to influence my decision to serve as well as how I served as a missionary. Here’s a list of things they did growing up.
- We always prayed for the missionaries in daily family prayer.
- We always had a spiritual lesson every Sunday night. Monday was our “spend time together day”…where we usually watched a movie or went out for ice cream cones.
- My dad didn’t serve a mission when he was young, and he made sure to let us know how much he regretted that decision. His greatest desire was to serve with my mom when the youngest child was 18. They were able to serve in England.
- My dad held monthly father interviews and my mom helped us write in our journals.
- My mom would take us to visit elderly people in our ward. She was always taking meals and treats to people.
- My parents would share blessings that had come to them directly because of the missionaries that were out. Like, one time when 3 siblings were out at the same time, my mom was given some nice couches from 2 different states and they just “happened” to match. She told everyone they were her “Missionary couches”. We really could see the blessings that came to us because of our siblings service.
- My dad loved the scriptures and could quote any scripture (without any markings in his books) or answer my questions using the scriptures.
- My parents paid tithing and a large fast offering every month.
- We were encouraged to be nice to people who were different or believed differently and invite them to activities with us.
- My parents went to the temple every month. I realize now what a challenge that would be with a large family. That helped us see how important temples are.
- I never felt pressured to go on a mission from my parents. In fact, it was only after I fasted and prayed about if I should go that my dad said, “I always knew you would go.” He was the answer I was searching for.
- My parents treat missionaries like royalty…when you think about how they represent a King…it makes sense.
- My dad always said, “There is no school on earth that will give the kids the development a mission will, nothing.” He was big on education and going to college so that is a big statement.
- We attended church every Sunday together and Mom would have us write to our siblings on missions during Sacrament meeting. This helped us be quiet.
Both my husband and I served missions for our church. We saw the importance and life-changing impact it had on us and those we served so we wanted that for all of our children. While pondering my daughter’s mission in the early morning hours, I was thinking about what things we did to help prepare her to serve. The MTC began a long time ago in our home when the kids were little. Our goal has always been to make our home a place of peace and a little bit more like heaven. Here are a few things we did in our home while our kids were growing up.
- We always used the term “when” you go on a mission not “if” you go.
- We shared experiences-good and bad-about our missions and lessons that we learned from them.
- We prayed for the missionaries in our family prayers.
- We taught them how to talk to God (Pray). Prayer can begin very early on. You can help them learn to fold their arms and repeat what you say. Then they learn the basic steps and can begin to make it their own.
- We also taught them to recognize how God speaks to them (through the Holy Spirit). I remember when my oldest was 7. She could recognize the good feelings of the Holy Ghost and how they felt. Then she learned how to recognize and follow the promptings given.
- We taught them how to pay their tithing when they were little. We started teaching them how to have money to give, save, and spend. Here is my post about that.
- We like to do active things together. Exercise is great way to help prepare the kids for missions. We love hiking, biking, sports, and walking as a family.
- Sleep is very important to us. Our kids have always gotten 9-13 hours over the years.
- One of their chores early on was to help with dinner. This taught them valuable meal preparation skills. They really need to learn to be self-reliant on their missions.
- We made our kids shower every day. It’s important to teach them good personal hygiene routines. How to be clean, wear deodorant, and take care of their clothes so they are clean as well. That can be a distraction from the message they are sharing.
- We have no phone times during dinner or on Sundays. It’s important for kids to learn basic social skills. Can they put down the phones and have an actual conversation?
- Pray for missionary experiences as a family. We did this and my daughter was able to invite a friend to church and her and her brother later got baptized. Any invite is going to bring you feel the Spirit of the Lord even if it is not successful.
- Have a treat day. We made some lemon bread and asked the kids who they thought needed it. They came up with names that we wouldn’t have even considered. We took them around and had some great visits.
- We have done a lot of work as a family. We also love to do service projects and help others. Missionary work can be physically challenging. They need to experience work before they go out on their own. Missionaries are encouraged to serve others as it is such an easy way to help others feel of God’s love.
- We read the scriptures together daily. Even just a small amount makes such a difference in our home.
- Limit games and social media. I have seen missionaries that are addicted to social media and can’t stop. It limits their ability to serve the Lord. Yes they will use Facebook and Instagram as a missionary, but set time limits and if it gets out of hand, have a media fast.
- We like to go to the temple weekly and take the kids monthly (when we can get appointments). There is no greater place to feel close to the Lord and prepare to do His work.
- After our weekly spiritual lesson, we each share our testimony (even the kids) about the topic and the Savior. This is a great chance for them to learn what they believe and how to express it out loud.
Please don’t take these lists as a guilt trip or to feel bad because you aren’t doing all of them. These are just things that were helpful for me and my family. I would encourage you to pick a few out and give them a try. Really, the best time to start preparing your kids is now. Any efforts you make will be for their eternal growth! If they don’t end up serving, all of these things will help them become better people, more loving and Christlike, and will help the overall environment of your home.
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