Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unsolicited Solicited Advice

I have had several people ask me for advice for preparing their children to serve missions. Each person and each mission is different. But here are five pieces of general advice that I share: 1. Review the requirements for serving a mission with your child well in advance of preparing the application to serve. Young men and young women will prepare if they know what they are preparing for. Those who come to the mission unprepared learned the requirements (personal conduct, committment, knowledge) too late in the process to properly prepare. The application process can take on a life of its own that the child often does not know how to, or want to stop. Sooner or later a lack of mental, physical or spiritual preparation will need to be addressed. The consequences can undermine your child's success, personal growth and in extreme cases disqualify him or her from being a missionary.

2. If possible, have your child live away from home for a period before he or she serves a mission. The experience of sharing space, time and resources should not be new to a missionary who will have a companion with him or her for 24 hours, 7 days a week during the mission. You can tell those who have had the prior expereince and those who have not. So can their companions!

3. Teach your child that a mission is about serving others and not others serving them. Service requires acceptance, patience and sacrifice. No matter where your child serves it will be different than "home". Different does not mean worse or means not the same. If your child does not appreciate the people he or she serves for who they are, they will not accept your child for who he or she is trying to make them become.

4. Prepare your child for the fact that a mission can be hard at times. It is called missionary "work" for a reason. People who have learned the virtue of committment, the skill of setting goals and have the experience of working through obstacles and solving problems will find a mission a rewarding experience. (Work and fun are not mutually exclusive) Those who have not had to develope these qualities will struggle until they do develope them.

5. Be supportive of your child's decision to serve a mission. Every child wants the support of his or her parents. Before and during the mission when you communicate with your child be supportive. A negative email or phone call, or one that reminds your child of everything that is going on that he or she is missing may be informative but it is not supportive. Even though events may have already occurred or there is nothing your child could do to change circumstances, he or she will worry about them if you bring them up.

It is a privilege to serve a is a blessing to serve a second mission from the vantage point of the Mission President. I wish I had been as prepared when I served my mission at age 19 as the young men and women who are currently serving. I am sure every Mission President has his own advice to offer and my thoughts may change the longer I am here, but for now, that is my unsolicited, solicited advice!


  1. good thoughts. And yes, a mission can be hard and fun at the same time. I had the most fun when I worked my hardest!

  2. Hi Sister Heyman - this is Jeni Gochnour - Elder Gochnour's mom - I am sorry that I didn't know you were doing this but have spent the morning reading the blog and it has been so much fun to see it through your eyes - I can't imagine how much time it must take and with having to be the mom for all the missionaires - wow ! Thank you for sharing! I want you to know how much (Will) Elder Gochnour loves you both and how much he has learned from both of you - he tells me that you are are a great cook! Thank you for loving your missionaires - it means a lot to the mom's at home :)

  3. Hola Sister Gochnour! I wish I could take credit for our blog but my husband is the one who posts. He enjoys it. We love Elder Gochnour! Thank you for sending us a wonderful missionary. It is easy to love our missionaries. They are amazing and really are the very best!!

  4. haha - that is great - I love that President Heyman does the blog! We are so glad to find it - Will - Elder Gochnour mentioned it is passing and I finally got to looking for it! Anyway best wishes to all of you -


    ps I love the family photo - My youngest son loves lacrosse so we will now be watching for your son on the BYU team -