First of all, what exactly does this "mission" entail? The main purpose of it is proselyting. I'm going to be with a "companion," another guy, and we're essentially in charge of going out and proselyting. You know the well-dressed guys with the name tags who come knocking on the door? That's going to be me - although knocking on doors is just one thing we do. We also look for opportunities for service and helping others. From lds.org, here is a description of a typical day: "A common morning for a missionary might consist of waking up at 6:30 a.m., studying the scriptures, and meeting new people to share the gospel with. The afternoon might include discussing gospel lessons with people they meet and volunteering for service in the community. A good night has them teaching the gospel to interested individuals and helping them learn and keep God's commandments or attending a baptismal service for someone who's decided to join the Church. They return home around 9:30 p.m. and fall into bed, usually exhausted and happy."
I'm nervous, but excited about that. I believe strongly in what I'm going to be preaching, and can't wait to share it with others. I've even gotten a chance to share it with many of you. It's the main reason I'm going on this mission - really, the only reason that's needed. It's going to be work, make no mistake, but the most rewarding kind. They call this "the best two years" for a reason.
So - what exactly DO we believe? That's the big question for those of you who don't know. There are so many misconceptions out there - I could list so many wacky ones, and I'm sure I'm going to see a whole bunch out in Ecuador. One small example: polygamy. We don't do that, but it's still a massive stereotype. But what about coffee? And Jesus? And this whole Book of Mormon thing?
Well...honestly, there's just too much to explain in one little blogpost. However, there are great resources out there, so I'll list them here. These are the official thing, and if you come across some crazy other website out there that says something else...think twice. It kinda frustrates me how hard some people try to spread misinformation. These links will give you the real deal:
And both mormon.org and lds.org have a ton of material to search if you have questions.
The temple in Guayaquil, Ecuador!
And finally here are some terms that I'll be using, and what the heck they mean:
Member/Non-member: Naturally, someone who is/is not a member of the church
Investigator: Someone who is investigating the church, usually being taught by missionaries
Ward/Branch: The smallest division of the church. A comparable term might be "parish." A ward is presided over by a "bishop," a branch by a "branch president."
Stake: An organization of several wards, presided over by a "stake president."
Call: The letter that officially "calls" a missionary to his mission. I got mine in early June, to go to the Quito, Ecuador North Mission.
Calling: The position a member in the church holds. We have no paid clergy - "callings" are doled out by the priesthood leaders, i.e. the bishop or stake president, etc. These callings are issued only after a lot of prayer, waiting for confirmation from the Spirit (you might want to take at the "what we believe" section). You could be stake president for years and then the next month get called to watch the nursery. God knows what he's doing.
Companion: One half of a missionary pair, or "companionship."
I'm going to add to this list as we go on, and if there are terms you want added, just let me know!
On that note, please, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me! Once I actually ship out in Sept., that'll be it. It's hard to contact missionaries, for obvious reasons (more details on how to do that later). We're there to work. In fact, my family is going to be handling this blog, uploading the e-mails that I send home here. But until then, I'd love to hear from you! I hope this is helpful. If you know anyone that might even be a tiny bit interested in knowing about what I'm doing, give them the link here! Spread the word!