Be Prepared – A Newsletter for Prospective and Current LDS Missionaries (March 2013 Issue)

What an exciting time we live in brothers & sisters!

The age for missionaries has been lowered to 18 for men & 19 for women.  A new MTC will be created in Mexico City.  “Some of the 347 existing missions will be divided to form an additional 58 missions.  These creations will bring the total number of Church missions to 405.” [1]  Though evil continues to grow & intensify worldwide, the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to grow & strengthen… and in great part because of your faithful efforts as missionaries of the Lord’s church.  To those of you preparing to serve your mission, your efforts will further strengthen the work to bring others into the fold of Christ.  What a privilege!

As a reminder, each issue of Be Prepared  will feature a spiritual thought & provide information on a variety of topics to help you become more prepared before & during your mission.   Some of the topics I will address are basic cooking (including inexpensive, easy-to-make & delicious meals/desserts), cleaning, laundry, food safety, personal safety, first aid, time management, money management, conflict resolution, self-defense, how to stay warm in cold weather & vice vs., simple car/bike repairs, physical & emotional health education (with a disclaimer) how to encourage members of the church to share the gospel with others, & more.  Beginning with the 2nd issue of BE PREPARED, an index will be provided on topics covered in the current newsletter & all previous issues.  This will make it easier for you to find topics you are interested in.  Keep up the fantastic work!

Sincerely, Valerie J. Fulmer



Spiritual Thought

Prophet’s Teachings Often Focus on Helping Others[2] 

President Thomas S. Monson’s five-year anniversary as Prophet & President of the Church was February 3, 2013. Following are highlights of his teachings during the past five years.  Charity:  “Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out” (“Charity Never Faileth,” 2010 General Relief Society Meeting).  Courage  “As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone? As holders of the priesthood of God, it is essential that we are able to face—with courage—whatever challenges come our way. Remember the words of Tennyson: ‘My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure’ ” (“Dare to Stand Alone,” October 2011 general conference).

Note:  The article also addresses other topics President Monson has spoken about such as gratitude, Jesus Christ, optimism, rescue, service and the temple.  I would encourage each of you to read the entire article when you get the extra time.

First Aid Kit Items

Each missionary should have a first-aid kit.  You can purchase one already put together, or you can make one yourself.  Some important items to have are:  sterile first-aid dressing, large sterile dressings, rolled gauze bandages, compression bandages, triangular bandage, safety pins, 1 roll adhesive tape 1 inch wide, sterile gauze pads, adhesive bandages of various sizes, 2 elastic bandages 2-4 inches wide, cotton-tip swabs, sterile eye wash, disposable moist towels for hand-cleansing sealed in airtight package, tongue depressors, sharp scissors with rounded tips, thermometer, mild soap, hydrogen peroxide, syrup of ipecac & activated charcoal (use only when emergency personnel tell you to), children’s aspirin substitute (use only when a doctor tells you to), ice pack, hot water bottle, Orabase or Orabase B mouth bandage, topical anesthetic with Benzocaine, toothache drops with oil of cloves, paper cups, flashlight with batteries, 1 pair of tweezers, 1 package of splints…the long or short board or inflatable type, 4 oz. of rubbing alcohol, chemical cold pack, chemical heat pack, 2 gallons of water, 1 blanket, 2 large bath towels, prescription medications and a mask for assist breathing[3].

Your first aid kit should be easily accessible.  If you drive, take it with you.  When you get back home, take it in with you.  This seems inconvenient, but if you end of up needing it, you will be happy you took that extra time to bring it with you.  If you ride a bike, carry the first aid kit in your back pack, or a smaller version of it.   Be safe!

Money-Saving Tips[4]

Note:  Regarding choices which affect all missionaries in the same apartment/home, please respect one another’s opinions and compromise (such as setting the temperature of the thermostat)

  • During the winter, set your thermostat to 64 & turn it down to 60 at night. (higher, if needed)
    2. Use the phone book instead of directory assistance.
    3. Use coupons at the grocery store.
    4. Carpool (if missionaries have that option)
    5. Ask for generic prescriptions instead of brand name.
    6. Do your own nails. (Sister Missionaries probably do this anyways)
    7. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt.
    8. When/if you are allowed to make long distance calls at night and on weekends, instead of mid-day, mid-week.
    9. Throw pocket change in a jar and take it to the bank when it’s full.
    10. Always grocery shop with a list.
    11. Funds from the Mission for Car Repairs – Perhaps spare parts can be purchased at a junkyard.
    12. Purchase clothes at a 2nd hand thrift store.
    13. Take a shorter shower (within reason).
    14. Brown bag your lunch.
    15. Advice for the Mission:  Buy old furniture at yard sales and/or 2nd hand shops.
    16. Buy your clothes off season.
  • 17. Change the oil in your car yourself regularly (if mission rules allow this).
  • 18. Buy “no frills” vitamins.
  • 19. Make cards and gifts for friends.
  •  20. Grocery shop on double coupon days (if allowed on your mission).
  • 21. Shop around for eyeglasses.
  • 22. Recycle.
  • 23. Use low flush toilets or water saving devices in the tank. (if Mission can do this)
  • 24. Drop unneeded telephone services like call forwarding or caller ID.
  • 25. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.
  • 26. Avoid using your ATM card at machines that charge a fee.
  • 27. Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.
  • 28. Turn the hot water heater down and wrap it with insulation (if allowed on your mission)
  • 29. Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry.
  • 30. Shop around for prescriptions including mail order companies.
  • 31. Shop around for the lowest banking fees.
  • 32. Caulk windows and doors.
  • 33. Iron your own shirts. (That’s a no-brainer)
  • 34. Plan your weekly food menu before shopping.
  • 35. Purchase all of your insurance from the same company to get a discount.
  • 36. Use the library for books, video tapes, and music (if allowed)
  •  37. Don’t use your dishwasher dry cycle; let air dry.
  • 38. At the grocery store, comparison shop by looking at the unit price.
  • 39. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.
  • 40. If you are leaving a room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.
  • 41. Keep your car properly tuned.
  • 42. Search the internet for freebies (if allowed).
  • 43.  Since missionaries do not make money, utility companies may offer reduced rates.   (The Mission may have already done this).

Missionary Health Preparation[5]


Chairman, Missionary Department Health Services

Physical and mental preparation should begin at least two years before a full-time mission.[6] (Or as soon as you can)  Preventive measures are…essential for young adults who are preparing to serve missions. Fortunately, many of the health problems that missionaries encounter are preventable with proper preparation. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission.” [7]

I recommend (if possible) that health preparation begin at least two years in advance of the anticipated missionary service. Those who wait to prepare until the last minute or until after they have received the call to serve may not be ready & may even have their missions delayed.   Physical health preparation usually includes a routine office consultation with a medical doctor & a dentist. In some cases, mental health preparation may require evaluation by a mental health professional.

Physical Health Preparation

Regular (daily) exercise. A missionary must be able to walk an average of six miles (10 km) per day & ride a bicycle 12 miles (19 km) per day.  Prospective missionaries who aren’t walking more than from the car to a class or a job will likely get sore feet & blisters when they reach the mission field. Those who are not used to riding a bicycle regularly will also become very “saddle sore” when a bike becomes their primary means of transportation. A missionary who is out of shape will be fatigued by missionary work & a tired missionary is more open to discouragement and health concerns than a missionary who is physically fit. Prospective missionaries can prepare for the rigors of missionary life by establishing a regular pattern of aerobic exercise—walking, running, or cycling for one hour every day. Those whose primary form of exercise is playing electronic games or text messaging will take at least four months to achieve the level of conditioning that will allow them to actually enjoy a workout.

Adequate sleep. Although sleep needs vary, young adults generally need to sleep seven to eight hours per day. Ideally, they should be in bed by 10:30 to midnight and out of bed by 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. Staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and sleeping until 10:00 a.m. leaves a person feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep until noon. Staying up all night to cram for examinations, playing video games most of the night, or working a graveyard shift can be detrimental because keeping late hours resets the body’s clock. Missionaries live a scheduled life. They are in bed by 10:30 p.m. and up by 6:30 a.m. every day. This schedule will be difficult unless prospective missionaries get into a similar routine well in advance of the call to service.

Healthy eating habits. Rather than living on sugar and fat, young people should learn to enjoy meals consisting of protein and fiber, such as lean meat, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit. Also, drinking more than 12 ounces of carbonated beverage per day is too much.

The Missionary Department requires that missionaries have a body mass index no higher than 37. This is actually on the border between obesity and morbid obesity. Prospective missionaries should strive to keep their weight in the normal range, thereby avoiding obesity-related health problems. Being markedly under normal weight can also have serious health consequences.

Meal preparation skills. Parents can help their sons and daughters learn how to prepare simple, healthy meals. I stress the word simple because missionaries often cook food on a hot plate or a single gas burner and may not have an oven. Every prospective missionary needs to know the basics of cooking and sanitary food handling. Since dishwashers are rarely found in missionary living quarters, it is also important to know how to clean up after meals with hot water and dish soap.

Personal hygiene. Personal cleanliness and good grooming habits are vital to missionary success. Favorable first impressions are lasting. Clean hands also help missionaries stay healthy and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Skin problems. Acne is a common teenage problem. Those with a severe acne problem should get help from a medical doctor well before entering the Missionary Training Center. Some acne medicines require monitoring over time and are not used in the mission field.

Dental health. Prevention is the key to good dental health. This means a habit of brushing teeth at least morning and night, daily use of dental floss, and consistent visits to your dentist. Any required dental repair should be finished before the missionary recommendation is submitted. Orthodontic treatment—which often takes two years or more—must be completed before arrival at the MTC.

Chronic health issues. Headaches are a common, difficult health problem that may worsen during missionary service and that can be difficult to evaluate and treat in the field. Occasional stomach and bowel problems may also become chronic during missionary service. Heart problems and breathing problems such as asthma should be thoroughly evaluated before missionaries begin service. With proper treatment, many health problems become controllable, making missionary service possible if treatment continues throughout the mission.

Bone and joint problems resulting from injury may require surgery. Orthopedic procedures, even arthroscopic operations, usually entail lengthy periods of rehabilitation. Prospective missionaries must obtain appropriate orthopedic care well in advance (four to six months) of entering missionary service. A young man or woman who arrives at the MTC on crutches two weeks after knee surgery will not be able to walk the distance required in the mission field.

Immunizations. Those preparing to serve missions should obtain all available routine vaccinations and booster injections at appropriate ages. Well before  beginning their missionary service, they should also receive any special immunizations required for the particular country where they will serve.

The advantages of immunization overwhelmingly exceed the minuscule risks of receiving vaccines. Immunization renders an individual resistant to disease for varying time periods. Maintaining immunity may require a booster injection.

Mental Health Preparation

All people have moments of sadness, anxiety, and discouragement. This is normal, especially at times of loss and grief. However, any emotional difficulty that interferes with normal daily functioning needs to be dealt with before missionary service begins.

Any unresolved sins can affect both the mental and physical health of individuals. These should be resolved through full repentance as potential missionaries meet with their bishops before receiving a call. But once this is done, there still may be other conditions needing treatment.

Mood disorders. Those who suffer from chronic or recurring feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, or fear should be evaluated by a doctor or mental health counselor. Mood swings, especially when they involve temper and anger, should also be evaluated. Treatment, including counseling or medication or both, often reduces or relieves mood disorders, making missionary service possible.

Abnormal thought patterns. Excessive worry and guilt can seriously impair a missionary’s ability to serve. Perfectionism, which is a consuming need to be perfect, can also become a crippling mental health issue. Recurring painful thoughts and repetitive behaviors such as excessive hand washing are signs of obsessive-compulsive thought disorder. Counseling with a doctor or mental health professional can often effectively treat these abnormal thought patterns.

Learning disorders. Because the ability to learn and teach is the essence of missionary work, learning problems such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) can impair missionary success. However, evaluation and treatment of learning disorders may improve learning ability considerably. Some learning disorders may not be compatible with missionary life. Parents and prospective missionaries should prayerfully counsel with their bishop and professionals on the viability of serving a full-time proselyting mission.

Eating disorders. Because people can use food to comfort themselves and relieve feelings of depression or anxiety, eating can become an addiction leading to obesity. On the other hand, social pressure to be lean or even underweight can lead to anorexia nervosa or bulimia, both of which create serious health risks. These disorders will not resolve themselves during a mission. Because they are so difficult to treat, they may not be compatible with missionary service.

Homesickness. While mild homesickness is a normal part of the mission experience, leaving parents and siblings can cause anxiety so intense that it interferes with the ability to sleep or eat. Rapid weight loss is common among missionaries with severe separation anxiety. To prevent these problems, prospective missionaries should become comfortable being away from home. Extended camping trips or living in a dormitory at school can reveal any tendency for severe separation anxiety. Those who do have problems functioning when they are away from home should seek treatment from a doctor or mental health professional.

Social skills. Missionary work involves meeting and conversing with people of all ages and speaking before groups. Prospective missionaries should become comfortable talking to older people. They should practice being respectful and courteous, using proper table manners, and observing other social courtesies. Missionaries are also required to approach strangers and strike up a conversation. Therefore, prospective missionaries should learn to be comfortable in initiating contact and conversing with people outside their normal circle of family and friends. They should also be aware of cultural differences in the world.

Employment. Missionary work is just that, work. There is nothing easy about missionary work, so young people should develop the ability to work reliably. A regular job teaches such habits as getting to work on time, not missing work unnecessarily, doing assigned tasks well, looking for more work when the assigned

Missionary Health Preparation Continued…    task is completed, & not going home early. A job also helps young people understand the value of money. Where possible, prospective missionaries should plan to pay as much of the cost of the mission as possible rather than depending on parents or donations from others. Helping pay for their own missions will help prospective missionaries learn to live within the stringent missionary allowance.

Other Mission Opportunities

During the course of preparing to serve, prospective missionaries may discover serious physical or emotional issues. Prospective missionaries & their parents should be completely candid in disclosing all health issues & medications on the missionary recommendation application.

Unfortunately, some health problems can present insurmountable obstacles to serving full-time proselytizing missions. The First Presidency has stated: “There are worthy individuals who desire to serve but do not qualify for the physical, mental, or emotional challenges of a mission. We ask stake presidents and bishops to express love and appreciation to these individuals and to honorably excuse them from full-time missionary labors.”[8]  In such cases, service missions can be a great blessing[9], allowing individuals to live at home and receive appropriate medical care while growing and maturing in the service of the Lord. Parents, bishops, and stake presidents can help in encouraging and arranging appropriate opportunities.

Opportunities for service missions can also be found at the Church Web site  Select “Other Resources,” then “Mission and Service Opportunities.” Continuing higher education or technical training to allow better coping with chronic impairment is also an admirable alternative.

Here to Help /   When prospective missionaries prepare themselves well in advance of submitting their recommendation applications, they can identify and resolve health problems, improve their physical strength, and be better mentally and emotionally prepared to withstand the rigorous life required of missionaries. They will then be much more likely to complete a successful mission free of significant health problems.

Unfortunately, some missionaries unpredictably become ill or injured while serving. More than 50 health-care professionals are serving as full-time missionaries throughout the world, & 200 additional volunteers serving @ Church headquarters—all in support of missionary health. Speaking for this small army of health-care professionals, we will be there to help any missionary who becomes ill or injured. And we pray every day that our missionaries will remain healthy & safe from harm as they serve the Lord & His children.

I hope you have enjoyed this issue of Be Prepared.  Until next time, I send you all my love and prayers.

Note:  This newsletter is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Also, if any advice in this newsletter is in conflict with your mission rules, then disregard that particular advice/information.


Topic /Issue.

Bike Repairs (Simple)  /February 2013

Charity / March 2013

Courage  / March 2013

Creamy Chicken & Rotini Primavera  / February 2013

First Aid Kit Items / March 2013

Food Safety  / February 2013

Laundry Tips  / February 2013

Missionary Health Preparation / March 2013

Money-Saving Tips / February & March 2013

Newsletter (About)    / February 2013

Shopping Tips / February 2013

Trials (Mountains to Climb)    / February 2013



[2] Church News – 7 February 2013

[3] The Family Emergency Handbook, Playmore Inc. Publishers & Waldman Publishing Corp.

[4]Adaptation of Money Saving Tips as found on

[5] Adapted from Missionary Health Preparation, Ensign, March 2007

[6] Note from Valerie:  Please don’t feel stressed out if you are already serving a mission and you weren’t as prepared as this article has stipulated.  Just do your best. & use this information to improve yourself/ help yourself from this point forward.

[7] “Becoming a Missionary,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2005, 45.

[8] First Presidency Letter, Jan. 30, 2004

[9] Personal note from Valerie Fulmer:  Our 19-year old son is doing a service mission.  He has some health issues including Asperger’s Syndrome.  My husband & I have made it very clear to him that he is not any less of a missionary.  He contributes at the local Distribution Services near the temple & will continue to do so.  I admire & appreciate all missionaries, including those who are doing service missions

[10] Be Prepared – A Newsletter for Prospective and Current LDS Missionaries ©

4 thoughts on “Be Prepared – A Newsletter for Prospective and Current LDS Missionaries (March 2013 Issue)

  • Looks great, Val! My sister was just called to Arizona, but she will go to the new MTC in Mexico City to learn Spanish for 8 weeks. It’s such an exciting time to be a missionary, isn’t it?

    My one suggestion would be to keep the newsletters really, really brief. Preparation day time is so limited, and I know as a missionary I had a lot I wanted to get done in that precious “me” time. If I had a long newsletter in front of me, I’d probably set it aside in favor of using my time for laundry, cleaning, writing letters, and doing something recreational. But if it were short and to the point, I’d look it over!

    Good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *