The nitty gritty

Remember that time I posted on Facebook about an RM panel? Well I hosted one. #youmissedout

Hashtag, not really because you knew I’d blog about it anyway.

It was an awesome night. Some of the most inspiring women I know told their stories about deciding to serve, what to expect in the field and how they prepared for the “greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

We had pretty small numbers in attendance that night, so the audience was able to have an intimate conversation with some of the best RM’s I know. But I’ll give you some of the highlights.

Don’t be mad, but I’m also including some answers to questions I frequently get from prospective sisters. #maybethisisyoutoo

But first, look. Pretty pictures.

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The nitty gritty:

How did you decide to serve a mission?

Well, if your name is Emmilie Buchanan, this is your story.

If you name is not Emmilie Buchanan, (Which it’s not. I did a Facebook search. I’m the only one.) there are a bajillion different ways to know whether or not you are supposed to serve.

Maybe you feel like the Lord has you cornered. Like everywhere you go, a terrifying spiritual sign in flashing red lights practically screams at you to “GO ON A MISSION!” You are not alone.

Maybe you opened your scriptures and read about the sons of Alma going to preach the word of God. Then all of the sudden, you stumble upon a gem like this: “And now it came to pass that the sons of Alma did go forth among the people, to declare the word unto them. And Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth.” (That’s Alma 43:1 in case you wanted to know) Suddenly, you have one of those out of body experiences where not only is God conspiring against you, but now Mormon, that ancient prophet himself,  has it in for you as well because you could bet your first unborn child that verse had never been there before. You are not alone.

Maybe you were called as a ward missionary. You opened your mouth. It was filled. Now, a fellow brother or fellow sister will soon enter the waters of baptism. And you got to help along the way. #welldoneyou #andthespirit You are not alone.

Maybe you broke up with who you thought was Brother Right. (Don’t worry. He wasn’t.) Suddenly, instead of becoming Sister Right, you are in fact seriously considering becoming Sister Missionary. You are not alone.

Maybe you have desires. Then ye are called to the work. (Look it up.) You are not alone.

The point, dear friends is that no matter where you are, how you are being directed, or what you think about it, you are not alone.

If you are wondering if God is directing you toward a mission, RELAX. You’ll know. Maybe all it will take is that moment of sweet, painful honesty with yourself. Listen to you and listen to God. You’ll know.

Pinky promise.

If you could go back to your preparation state, what would you do differently? 

Guys. I was a complete bimbo when it came to preparing for my mission. Yeah, a bimbo.

I made the biggest mistake of thinking I knew a lot about the gospel. Insert lots of laughter here.

The first 12 hours in the MTC taught me that I knew nothing. It was the most delicious slice of humble pie I had ever eaten. And I had never been craving it more.

Pride is the worst form of preparation. Don’t just assume that you know enough. You don’t. And that’s okay. No one does. That’s why you study your little mid-calf skirt off. (Not literally. That’s actually the opposite of what we try to do as missionaries. Don’t be weird.)

So, my advice is this:

If I could go back, I would humble myself more. I would learn that what I had at the time was enough, but was only scratching the surface of what God could help me to become. All I had to do was let him.

Now our esteemed panel of experts gave some stellar advice too:

• Become a missionary now


• Pray for your companions

• Pray to love the people you will serve

• Pray for your mission president

• Pretty much just pray. Like a lot. Pretty sure the Lord said something about pray always. Do that.

And this gem: Trust that you are enough. (Because you are.) And this: God will never set you up to fail. Ever. Ever. Ever.

How do you deal with a trial on your mission? 

Let’s be honest. When you ask this question you are more likely than not directly referring to a potentially horrific companion.

I will say this. I never had a horrible companion.

Now, I’m sure I probably felt differently in the moment once or twice. You may relate to this phenomenon a couple times as well.

But this is real life. There are people that are different than you. Thank goodness. If there were 7 billion Emmilie Buchanans running around the world that would be the equivalent of Voldemort taking over Hogwarts and replacing all the students with dementors. It would suck the life out of everyone. Luckily Facebook confirmed that I’m the original.

The point is this. You will be different from your companion. And because of this, you have the potential to perform miracles. Love your companion. No matter what. Love her.

Each and every time I had a problem with a companion, (which wasn’t often) I realized I was the one who needed to change.

Remember what I said about pride? Well get rid of it here too. Get on your knees and then go to work. Let the atonement of Christ change you and together, you can keep working miracles.

 What surprised you the most about your mission? 

This did.

I’ll give you a hint. L-O-V-E.

Love for the work.

Love for the people.

Love for my companion.

Love for the Savior.

Love for the gospel.

Love for the scriptures.

Love for strangers I met on the street.

Love for the people who told me no.

Love for the bad days.

Love for the best days.

Love for everything.

Our panel of experts said the same. Love. Love. Love. It’s astonishing the how your capacity to love increases 100 fold.

Now get out there. Love. Love with all your soul. The Lord will magnify you. Promise.

What should I bring to wear?

When you get on your knees to pray tonight, thank the Lord that the clothing requirements have been changed. It went from DI special to Down East models. #weareallthankful

This blessed change occurred while I was on my mission. That equaled Sister Buchanan still looked like a grandma.

But I did learn this valuable lesson: cardigans and scarves will be your best friends. Unless you are going to brazil. Then get cotton everything.

I left for my mission from Northern California. No. Not San Francisco. Like 5 hours north of there. It is in fact home of probably 78,000 hippies who all have dreadlocks with bugs in them. Yum.

Thanks to their contributions to the economy, there were about 18 hundred thrift stores. 25 cent skirts? Please and thank you. I’ll be honest. Not all of them were winners, but it still saved me a ton of money.

Here are some great finds that ironically enough, I found. See what I did there?

Not grandma-like sister missionary outfits

Awesome blog for hair tutorials

How to wear a scarf every day for 18 months

I’m sure you’ll have about a thousand more questions. Just ask. Ask anyone who has served a mission. They would love to talk about it.

Because there is something sacred about sacrificing everything for the Lord. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of it all, remember. You’re not alone.

I think the world of you, dear sisters. Thank you times a billion for serving.


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