Odds are you’ve talked to someone who is a returned missionary on the BYU-Idaho campus. This campus is also filled with students who plan to serve a mission sometime soon. Here is advice from students who have already served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Joshua Bunch, a freshman majoring in psychology, served in the Utah St. George Mission.
“I wish I knew how to communicate the gospel to people,” Bunch said. “We think, ‘we’re going to win this person’s soul for God.’ But we aren’t there to convince people to do anything; rather, we are there to help them understand.”
Rom Cooper, a sophomore majoring in international studies, served in the Uganda Kampala Mission.
“I realized that I didn’t put in enough preparation. Mission prep is a great class, but you can do more.” Copper said. “One’s heart has to be in it. I didn’t know much because of my lack of preparation. People wanting to serve should work with the missionaries for a full day and start preparing now.”
Mallory Wise, a sophomore majoring in special education, served in the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission.
“I wish knew the importance of people skills,” Wise said. “It is important to genuinely talk to people before bringing up the gospel right off the bat. Social skills are essential.”
Nathan Johnson, a sophomore majoring in biology, served in the Norway Oslo Mission.
“I wish I knew how to prepare to come home,” Johnson said. “That part isn’t spoken about much. Coming back to life was a challenge as you try to fit your new self back into your old life. I wish I was told how to keep those good patterns that are taught on the mission.”
Kiley Schow, a freshman majoring in special education, served in the Micronesia Guam Mission.
“One thing I wish that I knew was how challenging it would be,” Schow said. “Not in the work itself but with the other challenges that come with a mission. You go through a different kind of heartbreak because the people you love in the purest Christlike manner won’t always choose to listen, or they will progress well but then something happens.”
Peter Sheffield, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, served in the Ohio Cincinnati Mission.
“I wish I knew my true relationship with my Heavenly Father,” Sheffield said, “If you can know that God is there and that he knows you and wants the best for you, everything else falls into place.”
Emily Householder, a sophomore majoring in general studies, served in the Salt Lake City West Mission.
“I wish I knew as much about the importance of converting yourself as you are converting others.” Householder said. “And it is okay to not be perfect as long as you are improving.”
Joseph Patiño, a senior studying communications, served in the Ogden Utah Mission.
“It’s more important for me to know who I am than just catering to the mission culture,” Patino said. “When I first started my mission, I felt like I was following the crowd. But everything is about revelation, and no two areas are the same.”
Hailey Ashcraft, a sophomore majoring in English, served in the Virginia Richmond Mission.
“How to talk to strangers — what helped me was watching my companions and deciding not to make it a big deal,” Ashcraft said. “If I had to think about whether or not I would talk with someone I often would not. But not making it a big deal or justifying it made this easier.”
According to Preach My Gospel, “When you have done your very best, you may still feel disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”