Nothing is awaited with more excitement, apprehension, fear and joy than the envelope containing a call to serve a mission for the Church of Latter-day Saints. Dreams of faraway places, strange languages, and interesting food experiences inspire the imagination and fuel the suspense. But a lot goes on both for the youth and at Church headquarters before that white envelope can be mailed. Let’s look at a few of them.

When Can Papers be Submitted?

Papers may be submitted up to 120 days before your availability date; which is high school graduation, and your 18th birthday if you are a boy, or your 19th if you are a girl. There may be college semesters, health treatments or other reason that can affect availability dates as well. The bishop can help determine ahead of time when the submission date should be and can get the ball rolling for the necessary forms and interviews in preparation for filling out the papers.

How are Mission Assignments Made?

The first thing that happens, once the papers are received by the church is that those members of the Quorum of the Twelve who are making assignments will pray for Divine guidance. They will then look a photo of each prospective missionary on a computer screen, and according to Elder Ronald A. Rasband, it was as if each of them were standing in the room with them. They will study comments from stake presidents and bishops, notes regarding medical conditions and anything else that relates to the candidate. They will then look at a map of missions and areas around the world, and then, prompted by the Spirit; they will make the assignments. This process can take some time, as there are hundreds of youth waiting for calls on any given day.

How Long Does it Take To Receive the Assignment?

The number of missionaries is huge, but the process is streamlined, so the mailing out of the calls is routine. In general, it may feel like forever, but it will only be two to three weeks between the time your bishop clicks “Send” on his computer and the time you retrieve the big white envelope from your mailbox.

There may not be much point to starting to purchase items for the mission until you know where they will be serving. It may be a nerve-wracking wait, but the time may be better spent continuing to earn toward the mission or making family memories. As soon as the call arrives, you may want to order an LDS Mission Tracker to follow your missionary through this amazing experience.