Tuesday, August 4, 2009
When I was a missionary in Taiwan, the young men missionaries (Elders) rode big tall bikes with yellow signs on the side. The signs said, "Who are we?" in chinese. While they became a common sight in Taiwan, people throughout the world still wonder who they are.
You could recognize an LDS missionary by their clothing; white shirt and tie for men, dresses or skirts for women. But missionaries from other churches also dress this way. LDS missionaries also wear a nametag with the name of the church inscribed, as well as their own name. The young men are ordained as "Elders" in the Priesthood, and go by the title "Elder" while serving as missionaries. You will notice on their nametag that it says something like "Elder Smith". The young women go by the title "Sister", therefore you will see their nametag says something like "Sister Jones".
Here are some frequently asked questions::
"How long do missionaries serve?"
Young men serve for 24 months. Young women serve for 18 months.
"Do all church members have to serve a mission?"
Anyone wishing to serve a mission must first meet the worthiness requirements. Young men are specifically asked to serve missions out of Priesthood duty, although it is still their own choice. Young women may serve if they choose, but they are not specifically asked to serve. In addition, retired couples may volunteer to serve.
"How old are missionaries?"
Elders can begin their service from the ages of 19 to 25. Sisters must be at least 21 to serve.
"What do missionaries do on a daily basis?"
Missionaries focus the bulk of their time on finding people to teach. They also spend time volunteering service, and in personal preparation; including scripture study.
"Do missionaries choose where they will serve?"
Missionaries do not choose where they will serve. The Church mission department assigns missionaries based on need, and on inspiration.
"How much do missionaries get paid?"
Missionary service is volunteer. Missionaries do not get paid for their service, and are self supported. Usually their families help support their financial needs.
"Can missionaries date?"
The service of a missionary is a time to focus solely on missionary service. Missionaries do not date during their time of service, neither do they marry during that time. They also do not attend college, nor do they have employment. As soon as they finish their service, and return home, they can resume normal activities such as dating.
"What can I expect from a visit with the missionaries?"
The missionaries will teach basic gospel doctrine such as the nature of God, the Plan of Salvation, including the role of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the restoration of the gospel. They usually will encourage people to read the Book of Mormon and pray to God to know if it is true. They encourage them to also pray about the other things they teach. Those who are interested in learning more may desire to set up further teaching appointments.
One of the important characteristics of our church is the uniformity of doctrine and organization throughout the world. No matter where you go in the world, the missionaries will teach the same lessons and doctrine. Every congregation will follow the same pattern of worship, and teach the same doctrine. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to invite the missionaries; servants of God, in to your home to discuss the gospel. I think you will find that it is a spiritually uplifting experience.