Monday, January 10, 2011

What DO They DO All Day?

So....Garrett's going on a mission.
What does that mean exactly?

I said it was okay to ask questions.
And Julianna from one of my favorite blogs - Surviving Boys
"OK. I am dying of suspense...

But you said it was ok to ask questions so...
You said they are self supporting missions. How does an 18 year old work (ie make money to live) find housing, learn the language, AND complete their mission?

And what is involved in a Mission? Is it an outreach to teach about Christ, about helping humanity, or both?"

I'll answer #1 in another post,
but here's a little bit about #2 -
What do missionaries DO all day?

You've seen them around.
But when you've seen them, they've been riding their bikes.
Do they just ride around all day?
Where are they going?

Let's look at the typical day for a missionary.
Circumstances vary by mission, so not everybody has the same typical day....but close.

Missionaries live with a companion - another young man usually between 19 and 21 give or take.
In most missions, they live in apartments that the church has leased.
Missionaries start their day (every day) early.
They get up around 6 or 6:30, exercise, shower, get dressed and eat breakfast.
Then they have study time.
They study individually and they also study with their companion.
Usually, they ready the scriptures or they read from "Preach My Gospel."

They usually head out the door around 10 or 10:30 and they are basically gone ALL day.
This is when you see them riding their bikes.
WHAT are they doing?

Many times, they have set appointments with people who want to learn about the church.
They go to peoples' houses and teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
How do they get these appointments?
Sometimes church members refer friends.
The missionaries contact the people and see if they would like to learn.
Sometimes people see an advertisement on TV or a show or video and they contact the church 1-800 number and say they would like to meet with missionaries.
These referrals are sent from Salt Lake to the local missions.
And sometimes (okay...a lot of times), missionaries go door to door and tract.
Surely you had them stop by and ask if you'd like to hear a message about Christ!

In some places - like Cambodia, it's illegal to go door to door.
Don't say it!
You're thinking it should be illegal here too! ;)
Anyway, the missionaries don't go door to door in Cambodia (and lots of other places as well)
They actually "street contact."

Street contacting is pretty common in European and Asian cities, where people are actually on the streets.
Missionaries just walk up to them and strike up a conversation.
Sometimes the people are interested and sometimes they aren't.
In Cambodia, the people (in general) are super friendly and it's not uncommon to strike up a conversation with someone at a stoplight.  You're on a bike and they are on a moto and you chat away!

Anyway, the missionaries teach or try to find people to teach from about 10:30 am until 9:00 pm EVERY day.
Yes, they eat (most of the time.)
They take breaks for lunch and dinner.
But most of the day is spent teaching or finding someone to teach.
They head back to their apartments around 9, call their leaders to report that they are home safe and then plan for the next day.
Lights out is 10:30 pm.
Some missions keep different hours.
Sometimes missionaries have to be home by dark - it depends.

They do have one 1/2ish day off.
It's called P-Day or Preparation Day.
After their usual breakfast and study time, they use the remainder of the day (until 5ish) to get laundry done, email home, go to the bank, buy groceries and supplies, get together with other missionaries to play sports or go siteseeing in their town.

They don't check Facebook, go to movies, go on dates, take university classes, travel outside their area. go to the beach, play video games or most things that "normal" 19 year olds do.

Yes - it's pretty rigid.
But there are more than 50,000 missionaries worldwide and if you've ever lived with, tried to raise, or hung out with 19 year olds, you know they need a "few" guideline.

Missionaries also spend time each week performing service - whether it be helping the elderly, helping families move, volunteering at a shelter or in Cambodia - planting rice in rice paddies or being a dental assistant. (That should scare you!)

Next time you see the missionaries.
Stop them.
You don't have to listen to their message.
But ask them "Why are you on a mission?  Why do you do what you do?"
Prepare to be amazed!
They will tell you what a privilege it is to serve. 
They will tell you that by far it is the best two years of their lives.
They will tell you they love your city, state, country and the people in it.
And they mean it.  They mean every word!


Rebecca Jo said...

I always say I wish I had a heart of missions... its not something God calls me to do. Youth is wild enough ;) ... so I totally am in awe of anyone who gives their time & energy into missions. I've had so many friends who have ventured into that field & it is WORK!!!! Spiritual, mental & physical... oh, the blessings a missionary receives as they bless others... so excited to hear how everything goes for Garrett!!!

Julianna said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! (You're the best imaginary friend EVA!)

I love learning about religions. I find them facinating. I have a hard time learning "real" answers because many people get defensive or want to sway my beliefs.

My own beliefs are deeply Cristian based, but don't "conform", so to speak, with any one traditional religion. I am in awe of anyone, your sons included, that can so selflessly devote so much of their time to their beliefs and a higher purpose.

Prehaps if more people did this, we wouldn't have near as many of the issues we do today. :)

Thanks again! -J

PS Still dying of suspence over here... where's he going?

Mama Badger said...

When I first moved to Albany, I lived in a building that rented the basement apartments to Morman missionaries. They had to be the sweetest boys, hands down. They had to be home by dark (it wasn't the safest town at the time) so they would hang out on the roof with us and just talk about the things young people talk about. How they missed their families, but loved being out on mission. They loved it when we brought friends around so they could show people that Mormons aren't crazy!

Christina said...

Thanks for sharing. That's a lot of info that a lot of us probably don't know.

Still anticipating the mission locale.

Stef said...

Well said. YOu forgot to mention that there is a lot of Ramen noodle consumption that takes place...not to mention a whole lot of burning least for the Elders. ELDERS!!
I remember on my mission I would pray that I would not have tracting dreams...those are not restful at all.
Good job. Now, for that call....

Dysfunctional Mom said...

No Facebook? I'm not even a teenager and I can't imagine that!
Seriously, you must be so very proud! Will you tell us where he ends up going?

Dysfunctional Mom said...

No Facebook? I'm not even a teenager and I can't imagine that!
Seriously, you must be so very proud! Will you tell us where he ends up going?