Decide now to write in your journal every day. That is how you will take your mission home with you. Even if the entries are short! Write down names, places, miracles, and especially spiritual experiences. Trust me. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t. I still have companions who ask me for details about different people or experiences because they know I took good notes! And make your journals interesting and colorful. Break it up into transfers if you need to, so that you can easily find specific things later.
Make writing to your family a priority. They love you. They miss you. And so they will listen to you. Obviously follow the mission rules and just write on p-days, but include spiritual experiences, tell them what you are doing, be honest and open! Don’t preach! Just be genuine and loving. Both my sister and I were promised in different blessings before our missions that we would be able to have a greater effect on our younger siblings while we were serving than we would have if we had stayed home. The same is true for all of you! I had a companion whose parents started taking the discussions because of her letters. And another companion whose boyfriend got baptized, and they are getting married in the temple next week! Miracles happen back home because of our service. Letters are just another part of missionary work. Use them to strengthen and edify.Learn a little about the 5 Love Languages and the 4 Color Personalities. Kind of a funny one, and totally not necessary, but it helped me a lot. I was able to figure out the love language and color personality of each of my companions, and that helped me to know how I could best serve them and help them to feel love. It really strengthened my relationships with them, and if you and your companion are good, then it is way easier to have the Spirit with you.
While you are in the MTC, make a list of who you want to be by the end of your mission. I did this at the beginning and kept the list in my journal. It was so cool to look back and to see what areas I had improved i, and what things I still needed to work on!
For each of your companions, make a list of 100 things that you love about them. Then give it to them at the end of your companionship. This was something my branch president in the MTC recommended, and I have to admit that I wish I would’ve been better at it. But I had a couple of companions who did it, and that meant a lot to me! We all need a little extra encouragement out there. And it helped me to notice good things about myself. The couple of times I did it for companions, it helped me to look for and focus on the positive things that I loved about them.
Get clothes that are good quality! Not everything needs to be, but there are a few staples you will probably wear a few times a week…like a black skirt. If there are things that you think you will wear a lot, get them from good stores. My favorites were Downeast and Mikarose. Those clothes lasted my entire mission and were definitely worth the price. I know Mikarose even offers a discount for sisters preparing to serve. Your call just has to be assigned!
Decide now that you will be obedient! Even if your companion isn’t. Even if other missionaries hate you because you are a stickler. Trust me. The Atonement is real. That is what will help you to do more than you thought possible. You will be blessed for being obedient even when you don’t understand the purpose of the rules. And faith grows because of obedience. You will feel successful when you are obedient, even if you aren’t having the outward success you would like.
Remember, it is all about love. Love your companion. Love the people. Love the Lord. Love the work. And LOVE yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Your capacity to show love to others is directly affected by the love you feel for yourself. And just remember…missions are wonderful! And the spiritual preparation is the most important thing you can do! Read conference talks! Study PMG and your scriptures! The Spirit can only call things to your remembrance if they are already in your brain ready to be remembered. Learn how the Spirit speaks to you and how you receive personal revelation. Go to the temple as much as possible. It helps you understand the Plan of Salvation better, which is one of the things you’ll be teaching the most. And you will hold onto those promises when times get tough. The temple is the Lord’s university. Memorize hymns that you can sing when you’re feeling down. Never underestimate the power of singing. Or smiling. Or chocolate.
All the experiences you have on your mission will work together for your good! Everything you experience will be preparing you for something greater! On my mission we were told by Elder Pearson, one of the area authorities, that we are being prepared to be the future leaders of the Church. That is one of the main reasons they send us out. So when times get tough, just remember that you are learning divine characteristics and qualities that will help you through the rest of eternity. The Lord loves you. You are never alone (Isaiah 41:10,13).