Shirts, shoes, skirts, luggage, the endowment session, passport, blood tests… The joy of opening that white envelope can be overcome with the stress of the missionary getting ready to serve. It doesn’t have to break the bank – or your spirit. Here are a few tips to help you make it through this busy time without letting yourself or the rest of the family suffer.
Tips for Making Mission Preparation Less Stressful
•Talk to Someone With Experience
Ask around and find someone who has served in the same mission, or has a missionary serving there, and learn all you can from them. Discuss the list of supplies suggested and use the good advice of someone more experienced. Speak with mothers of missionaries, older couples, and returned missionaries for help.
For instance, when my son was called to serve in South Africa I learned that I should not buy him any expensive shirts. Why? Everything had to be hand-washed in a bucket, ironed dry to prevent insects from laying eggs in the wet fabric overnight, and the shirts were as likely to be given to a poor native missionary who had nothing when time came to transfer. They could only have one suitcase and his coat was going to take up half of it – We were advised that if he were a hot-body at all, to forget the coat. We were so glad we did.
•Separate the To-do List Into Categories: Travel, Medical Issues, Clothing, Etc.
Put the category that is likely to take the most time first, such as getting a passport if needed. Then add the next longest – likely medical. Sometimes a booster cannot be given for a couple of months after the first so get that started. It is like the principle of putting the large rocks in first – the other stuff will work its way in.
•Don’t Feel That Everything has to be New
If the missionary is serving stateside, you might do well to wait until they get there and see what is actually needed before loading them up with a bunch of things they will never use. Start by choosing existing items from the missionary’s closet. It is likely that a fresh wash with bleach, a hot iron, and a new button or two replaced will clean up a dress shirt. Skirts can be hemmed or embellishments removed to make them useable. Shop second-hand stores as well for good bargains. Be a bit humble and things will fall into place
•Take Time to Make Memories
Choose one trip, get-together or other memorable event each week to do with your missionary. Don’t get so busy that you forget how important memories are in sustaining a lonely missionary’s heart when they are in the field. Take photos and make a small, but meaningful album they can look at whenever they need a lift. Do something to help yourself cope with them being gone. A Mission Tracker is an excellent way to feel that you are right alongside them supporting their efforts.
Getting organized and sticking to a schedule can actually free up time and prevent the panic of last-minute preparations. It will eliminate the angst that can permeate the home of a prospective missionary and bring more joy joy and peace as they prepare to leave.