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9 Things Missionaries Miss while They Serve


Mormon missionaries voluntarily leave the comforts of home to serve and teach people around the world about God’s plan of happiness and the good news of Jesus Christ. Young men serve for 2 years, and young women serve for 18 months.

Missionaries enjoy what they do, and the benefits of serving a mission are great, but there are things these normal, young adults miss. Before their missions, they spent their days as most young people do, working, going to school, playing sports, going to the movies with friends, and listening to music. However, missionaries live by certain rules while on their missions that keep them from some of their favorite activities.

1. Dating

Missionaries can’t go on dates while serving. They are expected to give their total time and devotion to the Lord. Mission rules prevent them from being alone with someone of the opposite sex, even if it’s someone they’re teaching.

Mormons, of course, think dating is a good thing, and once missionaries are home and released from being missionaries, they are encouraged to date.

2. Seeing and Talking to Family Every Day

It can be hard for young missionaries to be away from their families. Most missionaries leave when they’re only 18 or 19 years old, and a mission may be their first time away from home. It takes time to adjust and not feel homesick. Still, missionaries are not allowed to make phone calls home and may write or email only once a week. More frequent contact could distract missionaries from full-hearted service.

Missionaries are able to Skype or call their families on Christmas and one other day during the year, usually Mother’s Day. (These are two days both the missionaries and their families look forward to!)

3. Wearing Casual Clothes

Being a missionary is a sacred calling, one in which these young men and women want to be taken seriously. Their clothes are intended to match their calling and show respect for their message, which is why casual clothes aren’t worn except on preparation day, the one day a week that missionaries take a break from proselyting and prepare for the next week. On this day, missionaries can wear casual clothes, like jeans and a T-shirt, while they do laundry, shop for groceries, and email people back home.

A missionary’s appearance is neat, clean, and professional. They dress as though they’re going to church. Males wear either a suit or a pair of slacks, along with a white dress shirt, a tie, and dress shoes. Sister missionaries wear a modest dress, a skirt and blouse, or in some areas, dress slacks and a blouse.

4. Attending a College or Technical School

After graduating from high school, some missionaries postpone college or additional schooling until they return from their mission. Others attend a semester or two of classes, serve a mission, and then return to school afterwards.

This break in education can be difficult for some missionaries: when they finally go to college for the first time, they are older than other students in their classes. Or if they attended their freshman year, they are no longer in the same classes or life situation as their first-year friends.

5. Accepting Sports Opportunities or Scholarships

Some high school seniors receive academic, music, art, or sports scholarships. Others may have professional sports teams recruiting them. Sometimes universities or teams withdraw their offers because they aren’t willing to wait two years for a person to serve a mission.

There are numerous missionaries who miss out on amazing sports opportunities and scholarships because they choose to serve a mission. There are also some fortunate enough to still have a scholarship and a chance to play when they return home.

6. Having Alone Time

Missionaries are rarely alone. They are assigned to serve with a companion, and they stay with that companion all day, every day. They eat, study, attend church, proselyte, and run errands together. Having a companion is a bit like using the buddy system. While it may not always be fun or easy having someone around all the time, companions stay together to keep each other safe and to be a support system.

7. Eating Mom’s Home-Cooked Food

Imagine not being able to eat mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies for two whole years! Besides not being able to see or talk with family each day, missionaries miss the home-cooked meals. Responsible for their own meal preparation, some missionaries say it’s harder to leave Mom’s cooking than even their siblings or pets!

8. Watching TV and Movies

To keep focused on the Lord and His work, missionaries aren’t allowed to watch TV, go to movies, listen to the radio, or use the Internet for anything beyond mission-approved purposes. There’s no binge-watching shows or following sporting events on missions!

9. Swimming

Missionaries aren’t allowed to swim, play water sports, or go boating. Imagine being in Hawaii or Costa Rica and not being able to play in the water! It might seem excessive, but the rule is in place for safety reasons. Missionaries are encouraged to exercise and take part in recreational and cultural activities. They can play basketball, volleyball, and other sports to keep them active and fit during their service as a missionary.

Missionaries don’t have to avoid all forms of media. They can watch videos, listen to music, and read books, magazines, and other materials that have been approved for missionary use.

Missionaries may miss certain things while they serve their missions, but when they return home, many of them find they really miss their missions and the unique chance they had to immerse themselves completely in serving others and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.