Ring, ring…why don’t you give me a call

MOTHER’S DAY!

Yep, and you know what that means….that long awaited phone call.

So here are my suggestions on some things you might want to include in on that conversation.

Believe me…you may think you have a grip on what you want to talk about, but when comes the voice on the other end, all thoughts flee and you become a babbling mess (well, maybe not for all of us, but it has been known to happen).

Here is that list. I posted this last Mother’s Day and at Christmas too…but always good to repost for those who may be new missionary mums and dads.

Downloadable version available at the end of this post…

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These suggestions are kindly shared by Betty Pearson, who hosts the LDS Missionary Moms Email Groups. If you have a missionary serving somewhere in the world and have not yet signed up for an email group, then you are truly missing out. Betty volunteers endless hours of her spare time to provide this free service, and there are literally thousands of missionary mums connecting every day because of it.

No matter where your missionary is serving in the world, there is an email group of missionary mums connected to his/her mission. The women in these groups are fantastic. I personally belong to two groups; one connected to the mission my daughter is serving in, and the other connected to the area I live in.

Now for that list…

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, I am sure there are many more ideas that can be added to it, but it is here merely to get you started. Also, don’t think that you have to ask all these questions in one sitting.

I would suggest that you have pen and paper on hand to record any significant responses your missionary may have.

The Church in Your Area:
How many members in your ward/branch?
What is the church building like?

The Area You Serve in:
What is the town like?
Rural, small town, small city, med. city, large city?
What does the area look like?
Flat? Rolling hills? A lot of trees?
How hot is it?
How cold is it?
How often does it rain?

About Your Companion:
How is your companion?
How long has he/she been out?
Is his/her family LDS?
Do they support him/her with letters?
Life member or convert?

Your Wellbeing:
Are you sleeping well?
How is the food?
What is the best food you’ve eaten?
What is the weirdest food you’ve eaten?
How many dinner appointments do you get?
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Lunch?
How are your clothes?
Shoes?
Socks?
How are your feet?
Any problems?
Do you need more toothpaste?
Deodorant?
Vitamins?

Your Surroundings:
What is your apt like?
Is it in a big building?
Are your neighbors friendly or scared of you?
How far away is the Mission Office?
What do you see outside your window?

Other Missionaries You Serve With:
How many in your District?
Where are they from?
Who is the District Leader?
Zone Leader?
How often do you have Zone Conference?

Your P-day Routine:
What do you usually do on P-day?
What service do you do?
How often?

The Work:
Who are you teaching at the moment?
What do they do for work?
What are some of the questions they ask?
How much door knocking do you do in a week?
How much teaching do you do in a week?

Another suggestion by one of the mums from our email group was to ask the missionary to open their journal at a random date and start reading.

Well, I hope these questions have been helpful. You may even be able to come up with some more.

Enjoy the call with your missionary and I would love to hear from you how the experience went.

Download and print a PDF of these questions – Questions to Ask on Mothers Day Use the back of the page to record any special comments or information your missionary shares.

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Advice to New Missionaries and their Mums…part 2

As mums and dads, most of us are prepared for the day our sons and daughters will leave us. But it is still not easy. Can we imagine how hard it was for our Heavenly Father to bid each of us farewell from his presence?

He knows what it is like.

But he also knows that it is for our good. Most certainly that it is necessary for our progression, and our ability to return to Him again one day.

As we prepare for the day our child/children leave on their mission/s, it is important for us to reflect on the scripture Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

There is so much more to this scripture than just a personal application. When we consider it in terms of all mankind, then the work of a missionary does not only involve a personal journey, but it brings with it an extension of salvation to all mankind. This is a truth that the Lord would have each of us understand as we prepare our children to serve Him.

As hard as it is to usher our children out the door as independent souls, if we can maintain just such a focus, then we are more equipped to anticipate the great blessings that can be theirs, ours, and all mankinds.

How easy will it be for you to say goodbye?

What parents can do to prepare themselves for their missionary’s departure:

I had to put this one in, as I have noticed that for many families it is harder for the parents to let go of their child than it is for the missionary to leave.

  1. Make sure you have a plan in place for after your missionary leaves. That may be as simple as deciding to not think about your missionary too much each day, or as complex as writing down a daily routine of things to do that will help you focus more on your life rather than theirs.
  2. Step back from your child’s life a little bit more each day leading up to their departure, and allow them to make more decisions on their own – even if it means they make some mistakes. Allow them to face those mistakes and work out for themselves how to correct them. This can be very hard when you have protected them all their lives, but it is critical to their independence and success as a missionary.
  3. Learn to nurture a positive attitude within your life. As you speak positive words, your missionary will feel that positive energy and feel that they are being supported in the choice they have made.
  4. Join a Missionary Moms email group for the area your missionary will be serving in. Connect with other mums out there. You will make some great friendships along the way as well as to talk to like-minded people. Many times also you will connect with MMs who are in the area your child will be serving, and you can have some unique contact experiences along the way.
  5. Focus on the work they will be doing, not on the date they will be returning home.
  6. Remember, in raising your child your aim has always been to prepare them for independence. This is the first big step towards that. Allow them to experience this, as it will set them up for success for the rest of their lives and into the eternities.

Write an email to your missionary once a week.

What parents can do to support their missionary in the field:

  1. Email to your missionary once a week. Any more than that and it takes up their precious limited free time. Sending an occasional DearElder letter is a good thing too, as they love to get real mail in their hands. Try not to write more than once a week (unless you have been advised by the Mission President).
  2. Be uplifting, encouraging and inspiring in your words to them.
  3. Don’t give them details of problems at home. Don’t be secretive, but the missionary has no control over such issues, so keep it to a minimum, and focus on the positives/blessings of such things.
  4. Have a note pad handy that you can jot thoughts down every day – this could include things that you and your family have done through the week, or spiritual thoughts, scriptures or principles you have learnt in the week. Taking this note pad to church each week will allow you to record spiritual promptings you have had during class and meetings. Share these things with your missionary in your weekly email – or share them in a separate DearElder letter.
  5. Spend time with your local ward missionaries – prepare meals for them, assist in joint teaching opportunities etc – so you can feel of the spirit your son/daughter will be carrying with them in their service.
  6. Tell your missionary regularly how proud you are of them, for the sacrifice and commitment they are making.
  7. Send them photos of family regularly.

Some strong DONT’S:

  1. DO send care packages, but DON’T send frivilous toys or gadgets. Limit it to just food, spiritual material and letters of encouragement.
  2. Don’t cause them to break mission rules. This may be done in innocence, but the first law in heaven is obedience, and if they are forced to break mission rules just because you want to see them while they are in the MTC (or whatever else), then that is stopping them from being the best missionary they can be.
  3. Don’t send music or MP3 player, iPad, iPods etc to your missionary. These are items that are not approved for missionaries. Each mission decides what music is appropriate for missionaries to listen to, so abide by those rules, just as your missionary is expected to abide by them.
  4. Don’t make them feel that all you are interested in is when they will be coming home. The time they have in the mission field is so small compared to the time you have them in your care, so allow them to make the most of it.
  5. Don’t stress if they miss sending an email one week. It usually means they are extremely busy. If there is a problem you will be notified by the mission office.

I may have missed some other important points, so please share with us some of your thoughts.

You call that an email?

10 easy ways to get your missionary to communicate…

I remember a friend telling me once how frustrated she was that her missionary son only wrote two sentences each week to the family. She felt robbed of a sense of his mission experience and feeling a part of the growth he was undergoing.

While it is important for those of us who are at home to get news from our missionary, the lack of information, from time to time, is probably a sign that your missionary is working very hard, is highly focused, and enjoying the experience.

However, if your missionary finds it hard to write more than a sentence or two every week, or is persistently missing those weekly emails, then there are some things that you can do to encourage a better flow of news and information.

Before listing those things I wish to highlight something that each of us need to remember. In the July 2003 Ensign, Dallas and Marjorie Bradford wrote,

“Once your missionary enters the MTC, everything you say and do should help him or her stay focused on the task and challenges ahead”.

I cannot stress this point more. A missionary’s number one purpose for being where they are is to do the work of the Lord. So all our communications with them should be limited to topics that allow them to maintain their focus. But I will talk more about this in another post…

In doing some research for this post I came across an article from the March 1989 Ensign, under ‘Random Sampler’, that suggested missionaries could purchase, “some loose-leaf paper about half the size of an Ensign page” and slip a piece of carbon paper between a sheet and their journal. Then, by writing in their journal each day, they could also include a copy of their daily journal entry with their weekly letter home.

Well, we have come a long way since then haven’t we?

So here are the 10 top suggestions on how to get your missionary to write more interesting and newsy emails each week. You can try one, or all of them:

  1. Keep your emails simple. Don’t overload them with so much information that your missionary can’t work out where to start to reply to them.
  2. At the end of each email to your missionary, list three specific questions you would like them to answer in their reply email. This is for two main reasons:
    1. Firstly, by separating the questions from the body of your email, it becomes apparent to your missionary what you most want to know about.
    2. Secondly, by putting them at the end of the email, your missionary will be more likely to remember to answer them.
  3. Encourage them to keep a journal if they are not already doing it. Even if it is just a couple of sentences a day recording what they did.
  4. Ask them to bring their journal with them the next time they write an email to you and share one thing they have recorded in it over the last week.
  5. Ask them to attach at least two photos they have taken over that week and include a quick comment about each one.
  6. Ask specific questions, such as:
    • Where did you work this week
    • Name two people you contacted, and what were their responses
    • What is their apartment like, or what do they see out their bedroom window.
  7. Keep your emails brief so they have enough time to answer.
  8. If you can’t get them to write weekly, then get a loose-leaf binder for them to write in as their journal. Then get them to send home some of the pages each month through the mail…that carbon paper idea is looking better every minute.………
  9. …….
  10. …….

Ok, so I didn’t make it to 10 as promised. But I am sure that there are some great ideas out there. PLEASE share them with us here.

What is it that you do to encourage your missionary to write more?