Part of the reason I have A Peculiar Girl is to share the process and my experience of preparing to serve and serving a mission, and so my friends and family can follow and be involved in the process. The whole process of preparing for a mission can be confusing – heck, most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing! – and so I thought I’d write a post outlining the process of receiving a call, how it works, etc. so that what I’m doing and how I’m doing it makes a little more sense.
After someone decides to serve a mission (men serve for 2 years, and women for 18 months; senior missionaries serve for various amounts of time), they meet with their bishop, who conducts an interview. Essentially the prospective missionary talks with their bishop about their desire to serve, their personal worthiness, and any physical, emotional, or other limitations or restrictions.
Because I attend a student congregation (ward), which does not support missionaries because the members of the ward fluctuate with every semester, my Bishop had to contact the bishop from my ward in Connecticut as well as my mom’s bishop in Virginia Beach. I got a call over my Thanksgiving break that I had been approved to send in my application to Salt Lake City (definitely something to be thankful for!).
The application process is relatively simple, if time consuming. There are intermittent interviews with your bishop and stake presidency, doctors and dentists appointments, rounds of vaccines, and the actual paperwork (which thankfully, is now completely online, expediting the process). In addition to the logistical side of the papers, a prospective missionary is also expected to prepare personally by studying the scriptures and keeping the covenants that they have made, attending Church meetings and fulfilling callings, as well as studying from the guides that are given to missionaries in the field. Missionary applications can be sent in only 4 months before his/her availability date, or the date that they can enter the Missionary Training Center before heading to their mission they are called to serve in. My availability date is 1 August, 2013, so I am sending my papers in on 1 April. I can hardly wait!
Sending in your papers is how you declare your candidacy and your willingness to serve a mission – to leave your home and your family, to go somewhere you’ve never gone before, to share the Gospel and to serve those people. There are around 405 missions around the world, from the United States to Papua New Guinea. The Church recently reorganized these missions to create 58 new missions to accommodate the amount of missionaries entering the field, and to reach more people throughout the world.
Unlike other churches and denominational organizations, when you apply for an LDS mission, you have no idea where you will be called. You know you’ll be going, but until you receive your call in the mail, you have no clue. Each individual call is assigned by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after prayer and revelation. This excerpt from a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring at the MTC in 1997 illuminates the spiritual aspect of receiving a call:
I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.
Living in the United States, your call comes in the mail a few weeks after you send in your application. It’s a big event in LDS culture – friends and family gather to support you as you open your call, and photos and videos and phone calls abound. You receive an envelope filled with not only the information concerning where you have been called, but also a list of items to pack and bring with you, as well as the date that you are to report to the MTC.
As it gets closer to 1 April, I get more and more excited about sending in my papers and receiving my call. I spend a lot of times in the scriptures, on my knees, and studying Preach My Gospel. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to serve, and I am eager to do so, no matter where I am called. I have friends serving everywhere from Brazil to Oregon, and have friends that have been called to serve everywhere else in between, and know that each mission is just as important as the other, and that each missionary is called to that specific mission for a very special reason by the Lord.
If you would like to read more about the missionary call process, check out this article by David A. Edwards and this blogpost for more information! Also, if you would like to see a post on A Peculiar Girl about a specific subject pertaining to missionary work, the process, etc. just let me know! After all, this is a way for me to reach out to you.