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LDS Church Announces new Guidelines for Outgoing Missionaries

Church Releases Standard Missionary Interview Questions

Contributed By Camille West, LDS.org Church News

  • 20 OCTOBER 2017

A bishop interviews a prospective missionary. The First Presidency has released a set of standard interview questions to help ensure missionaries are worthy and physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service.

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Prospective missionaries can use the questions to gauge their preparedness and have candid talks with their parents and leaders.

The First Presidency has released a set of standard questions for bishops and stake presidents to use while interviewing prospective full-time missionaries.

“Church leaders desire that this sacred time of service be a joyous and faith-building experience for every missionary, from young men and women to senior couples,” according to materials that accompanied the official letter dated October 20 to stake presidents and bishops.

The questions are intended to help prospective full-time missionaries understand and better prepare so they are not only “worthy, but physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized the importance of having good mental and physical health while serving a full-time mission. “[Missionary] work is rigorous,” he said. “It demands strength and vitality. It demands mental sharpness and capacity. … Missionary work is not a rite of passage in the Church. It is a call extended by the President of the Church to those who are worthy and able to accomplish it. Good physical and mental health is vital, … for the work is demanding, the hours are long, and the stress can be heavy” (“Missionary Service,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 2003, 17–18).

Priesthood leaders use standard questions for baptism and temple recommend interviews, but until now, a list of specific questions for interviewing missionary candidates has not existed.

The questions do not indicate a change or addition to the requirements for full-time missionary service. They reflect the same standards found in the scriptures, Church handbooks, and other Church materials.

Those considering missionary service can use the questions to gauge their own preparedness and have meaningful conversations about the qualifications for missionary service with their parents and priesthood leaders.

Parents are encouraged to take an active role in helping children prepare for missionary service by helping them understand the qualifications and live the standards.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions document provided by the Church, information relating to the physical, mental, and emotional preparedness of the missionary candidate will be shared with medical professionals in the Missionary Department and will help in determining the best assignment opportunities for missionaries.

For worthy candidates not eligible for full-time service, priesthood leaders can help identify other appropriate service opportunities, such as serving as a Church-service missionary, volunteer, temple and family history consultant, temple worker, and more.

Parents and leaders can help youth understand that the Lord values all of the ways His children serve Him, share His gospel, and build the kingdom.

“Young men and young women with serious mental, emotional, or physical limitations are excused from full-time missionary service,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “They shouldn’t feel guilty about that. They are just as precious and important to the Church as if they were able to go into the mission field.

“But while they don’t serve full-time, they can take every opportunity to find and help people join the Church. They can be member missionaries in college, at work, and in their neighborhoods. They ought to go forward, have a wonderful and full life, and help build the kingdom wherever they are” (“How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era, Mar. 2007, 6–11; Liahona, Mar. 2007, 10–15).

Suggestions for priesthood leaders

  • Share interview questions with all prospective full-time missionaries and their parents before the interview and encourage them to review and discuss them.
  • Discuss the interview questions as a ward council.
  • Consider a fifth-Sunday discussion or other forum to share the interview questions with the adults and discuss ways parents can help youth prepare for missionary service.
  • Share the interview questions with young men and young women beginning at an early age to help them understand the standards and qualifications for full-time missionary service.

Suggestions for parents

  • Take an active role in helping your children prepare for missionary service.
  • Share the qualifications for missionary service with your children and help them in their efforts to understand and live the standards.
  • Use interview questions as topics for family home evening lessons and discussions.

PRIESTHOOD AND SCOUTING TOGETHER – A WINNING COMBINATION FOR MISSION PREPARATION

20170613_195549The Priesthood and Scouting together are great tools in missionary preparation for your young men.  Here is how one Deacon’s Quorum totally correlates all of their actions with their Scout troop.  Very impressive… check them out!  They seem to be doing it all right!

Meet the Scouting Missionary Warriors of Logandale, Nevada

Kevin Hunt

Ideas for Older LDS Scout Advancement

By Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Blogger and author

A couple of weeks ago I blogged  LDS Varsity and Venturing Changes Underscore need for Missionary Training on this site – an article about coming changes in LDS Scout units for older boys.  I commented about the need for even better missionary training at home following these changes.

A couple of readers commented and asked questions, so now I’d like to share some thoughts on Advancement and how that could happen with the changes.  (This article also appeared as a blog Making Older Scout Advancement and Leadership Opportunities Happen on thescoutingtrail.org.)

In the previous article, I talked extensively about the program planning function and how this will ever be key in creating an effective program for our older youth.  I would like to change gears a bit now to talk about how we might all work together to assist boys ages 14-17 still “be Scouts” and how we might help them become Eagle Scouts.   And I apologize that this blog is a bit longer than it maybe should be.  I will soon head to Scout camp for the summer so my blogging time is a bit limited as I anticipate a summer with little or no internet capabilities.  So, bear with me …  (Read it in installments if needed!)

Admittedly, the new look of older Scout programs will be a rather major challenge for us to face.   But, with our united efforts, it will still be possible.

The Original First Presidency Letter stated: “… Young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout … should be encouraged and supported in their efforts and should be properly registered as Scouts.  Adult leaders who are assisting with merit badges or rank advancement with older boys should also be registered and completed required training.”

Following the announced changes, a Questions and Answers section was added on LDS.org about the upcoming changes.  One question says,

”What if my son is 14 or older and still wants to earn his Eagle Scout? According to LDS Public Affairs, any Latter-day Saint young man over the age of 14 who “desire(s) to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged.” These young men will need to be registered with the BSA in order to work toward the recognition.”

In the aftermath of the LDS decision about Varsity and Venturing, the Deseret News published statistics that were rather interesting.  These statistical charts showed that the average age of youth achieving the Eagle rank nationally in the BSA is 17.3 years.

The Utah National Parks Council (located in a nearly all LDS Utah council) wrote on this subject and gave other interesting statistics:  “We look forward to providing Scout programs to all interested youth, including those age 14 and older who want to continue participating or are on the trail to Eagle. Of those who earn the Eagle Scout award in our council, 93% complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67% attain the Eagle rank after age 16.”

Pretty daunting news.  And with the coming changes, this means that we will all have to work harder to make it happen – and probably earlier.  So, what are we to do?  What is to be done?  How can the boys remain as Scouts and how can they achieve their advancement – and particularly the leadership requirements.  All good questions!

Well, I have had a few thoughts on the subject – and which I would like to share with you now.

First …  at the time of the annual BSA rechartering with the Church, the person in charge of completing the charter process should take extra care to contact each and every one of the boys turning 14 after January 1st (and their parents).  (This will be an ongoing question critical in the first year – but to be answered each successive year.)  Each boy should be willing to make a commitment right then about whether or not they want to be Eagle scouts.  And this will be kind of a major decision for them.  Do they want to follow the family and church tradition?  Or are they going to say that they are done and satisfied where they are?  All boys wishing to continue their Scouting connection (and adults who work with them) will still need to recharter with the troop.  That will mean new applications for all older boys.

It is very important that the registration remain current without any break.  If there is a lapse, they may not be able to ensure that they have tenure and leadership for the necessary time.  Boys can’t wait until they are seventeen plus and then suddenly reregister to become a “death-bed eagle” before they turn 18.  One of the saddest days of my life was having to tell a Scout in such a situation that it just was not possible for him to complete his Eagle award requirements before he turned 18.  He was a sad young man.

Another key for the leadership requirement – and tenure – is to remember that the time for these can start as soon as the Scout has earned his Star or Life awards.  Remember too, that a Scout needs to have six months between Star and Life and again from Life to Eagle.  But say a young man gets Life three or four months before his 14th birthday.  That three or four months can count toward the next rank IF the Scout is both registered and in a troop leadership position.  So, it is rather critical to make sure that every young man is in a troop leadership position.   Good record keeping is paramount.

Another key will be working with the council to make sure that all of the current advancement records – from whatever unit – are all transferred to those registered in the troop – after the rechartering decisions.

For many years I have been the advancement chairman for all three units – Scouting, Varsity and Venturing – in my own ward.   And I believe that we have a pretty strong Scouting program and support in our ward.  We have a fabulous 11-year Old Scout leader in Jonathan Nichols.  That guy is a saint!  He has worked overboard to ensure that each boy (who wants to) graduates from his program as a First Class Scout.  And the Scout troop leaders have also been great.  Most of the boys graduate from Deacon/Scouts as Star or Life Scouts.  And then they all struggle to get the other requirements completed.  A few boys get it done about age 15 – which is excellent.  And still, like the National BSA statistics, the majority still get ‘er done when older still.  And this is always a challenge … since by that time, the “fumes” have all kicked in (that’s car fumes and perfumes) and this makes for a major impact on the boys and their advancement.

As I conduct Scout board of reviews for our Scouts, I always ask them two or three questions at the end of each review.  One is “If we pin this badge on you at the court of honor … will you feel that you have EARNED the badge?”  (And discussion follows.)  And the other question (usually just before the “have you earned” question) is “Do YOU WANT to be an Eagle Scout?”  And then there is a follow-up question to that.  It is, “Whose job is it to make you an Eagle Scout?”

This questions kind of shocks some of the newer kids.  We then talk about how parents, leaders, and others can assist them, but in reality, it is their own personal decision to become an Eagle Scout – and it is their own personal duty to take charge and make this happen.

So, in light of the coming changes, it still boils down to this.  Does Johnny, himself, REALLY want to be an Eagle Scout?  And in spite of changes, is he willing to do anything that may be required (even acting independently) to make it happen?  (And we can’t rely simply on over-zealous mothers to make Johnny an Eagle Scout!)

After that decision time, older Scouts can push themselves forward to make it happen.  But, we have seen that often this doesn’t happen on their own.  It will take help from all of us to achieve the goal.

Next then, is that it will probably take a strong advancement person or someone else to help the youth stay on track.  The advancement chair can (as always) continue to encourage and talk with the boys individually in the hall etc. to help motivate and inspire.  Being ready with the updated advancement records of merit badges and rank dates can be very helpful.

That brings us to the subject of how to stay in the troop and how to achieve leadership requirements.

I guess this is a time to share my own personal experience.  I earned my own Eagle Scout award just before I turned age 14 (and so did my four Eagle brothers – and I admit that I didn’t have to be prodded by Mom and others to do it).  As per the church system, I moved up into the next upper level – Venturing Exploring (that was before Varsity Scouting).  In that program we had grandiose plans.  We planned to go to Hawaii.  But, after all of that planning – and a steady diet of basketball – we ultimately didn’t even make it to the giant Arizona metropolis of Sunflower, Arizona.

I lasted only about six months in that do-nothing program.  I then made the choice to go back to the Scout troop and remained there until I went on my mission.  Now, I know that I was a bit unique, but it was a glorious time for me.  I conducted merit badge classes for my younger troop brothers.  I kept the troop records.   I became the troop’s Junior Assistant Scoutmaster – a fabulous title and truly wonderful job for an older Scout.  I served more like an adult in the troop.  I did not report through the SPL but he reported through me to the Scoutmaster.  I have already blogged recently about how I became the catalyst to take our entire troop from Arizona up to the National BSA Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho.  I became the Webelos Leader – and then 11-year old Scout (Blazer) leader when legally too young to do so.  And it was all a grand experience for me – and my fellow Scouts.  I loved the leadership opportunities.

In our upcoming situation, I believe strongly that the Troop Guide position is perfect for some of our LDS older Scouts.  This BSA position counts for Eagle advancement and is actually quite flexible in its job description.  And you can have every boy – if needed – be a Troop Guide.  It is flexible enough that you can use the position – and the boy – to help meet the needs of the older Scout himself – as well as other Scouts in the troop while getting in his own leadership requirement time).

Now you have probably not even heard of this Troop Guide position because it really has not existed in the LDS church – because all of our boys have moved up to Varsity and Venturing at the specific ordination ages – and thus have by-passed the Troop Guide opportunity.

The Troop Guide is a fabulous position but no one knows about it.  The way it works, an older Scout is registered with the troop.  And he is assigned a patrol – either a new-Scout patrol or even an older-boy patrol – or he serves at large in the troop to multiple patrols.  He is an instructor.  He is preassigned specific troop or patrol meetings to teach Scout Skills – or even merit badges.  He does not have to attend every troop meeting but would be there at least once a month – but perhaps more.  (If this is to occur, the troop meetings may need to be on a night other than the Teacher/Priest meetings so that he can go to both – or he would have to miss his Teacher/Priest meetings when assigned as an instructor in the troop.

The Troop Guide can be found with various job descriptions on-line as I found after spending an evening researching it in preparation for this blog.  Again, I believe that it is a flexible position that you can mold any way that you wish.   Here is a description that was written for a Scout with other older Scouts in an older boy patrol.  (And again, every one of the older boys can be Troop Guides and be given specific tasks or roles.)

  • Create activities that are fun and interesting to the older boy patrols.
  • Work with ASM for the Older Boy Program in selecting merit badges to work on at weekend campouts.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Refresh older boy patrols in the basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

The Troop Guide description for an older boy assigned to a New Scout Patrol is very similar:

  • Help all first year Scouts earn advancement requirements through First Class (serving in a role similar to a Cub Scout Den Chief – but assigned to the 11-Year Old or New Scout Parol
  • Help older boys who have not completed First Class – assigned to help specific Scouts needing his individual help (probably on a hike or a meeting separate from the troop.  (Two older Scouts – Troop Guides – could also be assigned together to one or multiple Scouts interested in advancing)
  • Advise patrol leader on his duties and responsibilities at Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings with the New Scout Patrol Leader.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Help Assistant Scoutmaster train new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Guide new Scouts through early troop experiences to help them become comfortable in the troop and the outdoors.
  • Teach basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

So, in summary, the Guide would be a leader kind of between the Patrol Leader and the adult leaders.  He could work specifically with the new Scout patrol – and in this role (kind of like a Den Chief – but to older Scouts) he would teach and train Scouts in specific Scout skills.  He could do this with a group or with a couple of boys on their own.  He could be perfect to work with two or three boys who are behind and need some individual attention.  He could be preassigned to teach specific skills at troop meetings or campouts. If on a camp-out, he should not be there to goof off but again to teach specific skills, be the example, wear the uniform, etc.

If you have a group of these older Scouts, they could be their own patrol in troop meetings and on outings.  Of if you have only a couple of them, let them cook and hang out with the adults.  Plan ahead and give them specific leadership tasks.  With advance notice, they can plan ahead and be prepared to be a true teacher and guide.  The Troop Guide is flexible enough for the troop to kind of custom design a role for each young man – with definite things that they should accomplish in their service – new Scout patrol, scout skills training at troop meetings and/or campouts, or by individual assignment to specific Scouts.

Older Scouts can also attend Scout Camp (again not as a goof off – but as a troop leader).  And older Scouts can also be encouraged to attend NYLT and other youth leadership training opportunities through the council and the troop.

Another idea that I have been toying with is to be a catalyst – to start my own “Super High Flyin’ Eagle Battalion troop.  In such a troop, I could invite any and all older boy Scouts (from all around our town) who very seriously have decided they want to become Eagle Scouts.   I am still thinking of this option since it could be real fun with a team of die-hard dads who loved Scouting and want to give their sons the opportunity to also achieve the Eagle Scout Award.  I haven’t committed to this yet, but it is making me think and dream a bit.

I hope that these ideas may be helpful to you.  I would welcome comments about your own thoughts and how to make a success of the coming opportunities.  Let’s all take a personal interest in the older Scouts and give them opportunities to be true leaders – using the skills and training they have already received as Scouts.  Help each young man customize a plan for his leadership requirements and the growth of him and his fellow Scouts.  It could be exciting!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

 

 

 

Journal Writing can be a Blessing now and Forever

Journal keeping is a sill that all prospective missionaries could or should develop in preparation for a mission.  And a journal as a missionary is a special blessing – both now and forever after.  Journals can bless ourselves and all of our family members – and maybe others too.

I began keeping a journal on May 20, 1973 – when I was age 18.  On that Sunday morning, I was in a young adult Sunday school class taught by a former Bishop, J. Darwin Gunnell.  On that occasion, he taught us from the words of the current prophet – President Spencer W. Kimball.

The Lord Jesus Christ himself emphasized the great importance of record keeping to the Nephites and Lamanites.  “And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing.”

“I am glad that it was not I who was reprimanded, even though mildly and kindly, for not having fulfilled the obligation to keep my records up to date.

“Early in the American life of the family of Lehi, his son, Nephi, said:

“Having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. …

“And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.” (1 Ne. 1:1, 3.)

“This great record included not only the movements of his people but events from his own personal life.

“Accordingly, we urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their antecedents in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives. Your own private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant.”

“No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you cannot learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity.

“As we read the stories of great men, we discover that they did not become famous overnight nor were they born professionals or skilled craftsmen. The story of how they became what they are may be helpful to us all.

“Your own journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

“Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are “made up” for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative.  The good biographer will not depend on passion but on good sense. He will weed out the irrelevant and seek the strong, novel, and interesting.

“Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life. There may be a flash of illumination here and a story of faithfulness there; you should truthfully record your real self and not what other people may see in you.

“Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.

“A journal is the literature of superiority. Each individual can become superior in his own humble life.

“What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?

“Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity.”

And then here was the clincher … the challenge from a prophet (and just as good today as it was back then):

“Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.

So, my friends, I took the challenge from my former Bishop and from the Prophet.  I went home that day and found a little notebook and began writing.  Later I began purchasing nicer journal volumes.  And the truth is that from that day forward – from May 20, 1973, I have literally made a DAILY entry in my journal for EVERY day since that time.  That now equates to over 150 volumes and 30,000 plus pages on my life and those I love or whom I come in contact with.

My first 100 volumes were hand written and I loved handwriting in the journals.  It was fabulous.  Then I started doing weekly packages on the computer.  (And when I get another 200 pages, I print these and put them into a bound volume.)  Now I admit that I have not made the final journal entry for every day of my life.  I now write daily notes at the end of the day – on my characteristic 3×5” index cards.  And then when I get time, I type these up into the full entries (and the notes give me the detail to do so).  This system has worked real well for me.  (When I had missionaries out, I typed the full week’s entry package in time to e-mail to them on their P-Day.)

These journals have been a great blessing to me and to our family.  We are very frequently found researching past volumes and it is amazing and wonderful to read these entries.  There has been much that is mundane that has been recorded but in the process of daily entries, there is much that is fabulous.  The journals show my progress made in life, how the Lord has guided my life and the great blessings given us of the Lord.  And this has been magnificent!

A suggestion for any missionary: …  Keep a detailed journal of your experiences.    Then on your weekly P-day, use your camera or a scanner and take pictures of each journal page.  You can actually do this the night before the P-Day.  You can then send this home as your weekly letter.   (And this will save you time at the computer on your actual P-Day.)  Several of my children did this while on their missions and it worked wonderfully.  (And as Dad, I typed up the entries and sent them out in e-mail messages to a large list of their friends – both family, members and friends (including as many non-members as possible.)  I highly recommend this system to you.

Some suggestions for your journal writing:

  • Decide TODAY to write and to do it each day
  • Develop a set time each day to write and do this religiously – this could be at lunch time, study time, just before dinner, at the end of the day, etc. The key is to be VERY CONSISTENT!
  • Write even when you feel too tired to do so
  • Carry the journal with you everywhere and write whenever you have a few spare minutes (especially as you’re waiting for something or someone)
  • Don’t read past entries until six months or a year has passed … then the trauma will be over and you can see it all in perspective and can recognize the growth, progress, and blessings that have come in that time
  • Keep consistent in the type of books or files that you keep – so that you can keep them together and can research them easily
  • Develop a plan for archiving the records – and giving copies to key people or organizations (children, BYU, Church History Library or whatever)

Well, there you have it!  There is your challenge!  I hope you will take up the journaling challenge (at whatever your age) and that you will find great joy and happiness through the years as you and your posterity reap the blessings of such an effort.

Kevin Hunt

 

LDS Varsity and Venturing Changes Underscore need for Missionary Training

Today the LDS Church made a historic announcement about its plans to drop the Varsity and Venturing programs previously held in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.

You can read about these changes on my recent blog as published on thescoutingtrail.com (Trapper Trails BSA Council in Ogden, Utah) at this link:  Varsity and Venturing Changes in the Church.  The article also contains some helpful information about program planning – still the heart of programs for church youth – under whatever name or program.  These are still correct and true principles!

The LDS/BSA changes for older boys again underscores the need for home and family missionary training.  This website is dedicated to the principle of home missionary training and specifically the Missionary in Training program.  This program can help parents and families fill in gaps and take more control and management of the training of their/your own missionaries.

I encourage you to take another look at it – and contact with questions about the program opportunities.

 

Kevin Hunt

info@missionaryintraining.com

 

Vision of the Missionary in Training Program

 

THE VISION OF THE MISSIONARY IN TRAINING PROGRAM

 By Kevin Hunt

 It is interesting how the Missionary in Training Program began.  It started in October of 2012 when President Thomas S. Monson announced in the General Church conference that the missionary service age would be lowered to age 18 for young men and to age 19 for young women.  As this announcement was made, it was obvious to all that parents now would need to take a much more pro-active role in the training of their young children to be future missionaries.  Having sent out many children as missionaries, and having served many years in various missionary roles, this subject often presented itself in my mind.   But, no action was taken at that time.

On March 6, 2013, the subject took on a front-burner role with experiences that I had that day.   On that date, I recorded in my journal some things that happened just a few months after President Monson announced the new missionary age.  The entry reads:

MARCH 6TH – WEDNESDAY

“My morning as a school bus driver [in Mesa, Arizona] was rather routine.  I went walking on Date Street, read my Book of Mormon and enjoyed having no kids to drive for one school.  I had a late start for the junior high school so was a half hour later than normal getting back to the bus barn.  I clocked out for a big 45 minutes.

“I decided to walk over to the Deseret Book store – located just over a half mile away.  I had wanted to buy some “future missionary” badges for the children of our daughter, Kaylea and husband, J.D. – since they just bought mission-looking suits for their five boys.

[As I walked into the store to make the purchase, I had no idea of how this little visit to Deseret Book would impact my life in the future.  That impact was not evident but came to light later through subsequent events.]

“As I looked for the badges, I could not see them immediately.  But on another shelf, I saw some badges which said, “Missionary in Training”.  As I read the badges, my mind was instantly inspired to send a “call to serve letter” to the kids along with the badges.  And right behind that thought came a literal flood of inspiration for a much bigger program entitled: “Missionary in Training”.   My mind was enlightened and I became very excited with the thoughts that came.  And for the rest of the afternoon I was flooded with more inspiration.  This proved to be a really cool experience with the Spirit.  Wow!  [So, I began writing, writing as fast as I could and didn’t stop writing for six months.  The information literally flew through my pen to the paper.]

“And as this program and details of it came to me, I realized that it was much bigger than I am.  I realized that God was going to give me something special and that I had a work to do for Him and was grateful that I was found worthy of it.”  [Leaving the journal …]

That moment in Deseret Book was super powerful.  It was as if my head was opened and the whole program poured down into me.  I literally saw a vision of the whole program – with a lot of detail – in just that second.  And then for months I wrote and wrote and wrote.

So, with that revelation of the Spirit, the program (in spite of me – but and only through the Holy Ghost) is very exciting and wonderful.  And I am sure that it needs to be used by families everywhere.  But, like most things that I create – even though they come of the Spirit, I have had difficulty in figuring out what I am to do with it.

I printed seven copies of the book package and had a meeting with seven different families – whom I hand picked (including three of my own children) and none of them ever did anything with the program.  (Though just this week I received a message from a daughter in Ohio – who was before in Germany – saying that they are going to start it with their family.  I believe firmly that it is an inspired program and that it will work miracles for anyone who does it – and am still seeking that special family who will take it and run with it – and then write (or allow me to) their experiences on my Missionary In Training website.

Families can Plan Activities to Promote Family Faith

 

By Kevin V. Hunt

On this site, I have published material from the Missionary in Training program which I have written.  And there will be more to come.

In our mission preparation of our youth, we – as parents – need to make a conscientious effort to specifically plan and incorporate mission training and faith promoting experiences into our family life.  In doing this, not all mission preparation needs to be scripture reading and church stuff – though that is all important.

One of the great things that Lou and I did for our nine children as they were growing up was to participate in Church pageants.  For many years we were in the cast of the “Jesus the Christ” Easter Pageant at the Mesa Arizona Temple.  This had a major and very wonderful long-term effect of testimony building for the children.  Through our participation, each one has developed a very strong testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ – as our Savior and Redeemer, His life and mission.  This has had a profound effect on each of them individually and together as a family.

Two different times we made the effort and sacrifice to travel to Nauvoo, Illinois to participate in the pageant there.  And of course, the focus of this pageant is Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel.  I could write a lot about our Nauvoo trip – and maybe will – but here is an article about the beginning of our Nauvoo experience and our train trip to get there.
Nauvoo …  Our Adventure begins with a train ride.

A general interest story …  Years ago, our family had a glorious adventure together.  We were able to travel via train to participate as cast members in the pageant held annually in historic Nauvoo, Illinois.  Volumes could be written of that experience, but I’ll begin with a rendition of our train trip back there.

First off, I note that my wife and I have nine children.  So, taking nine children on a train and doing the Pageant was truly an interesting adventure – to say the least.

Prior to the pageant – for almost a year, we worked to build, create, and collect articles for our costumes.  Unlike the Easter Pageant, we had to come up with our own – take photos and submit them for clearance and authorization.  We looked everywhere to collect the many costumes – and especially the accessory items – the hats, the glove, the scarves, the ties, the socks, etc.  This was a major effort. But finally, the big day of departure came.

Going on the train meant that we had to get on it at Flagstaff to go east.  Our journey started as our neighbor drove our big van with all of us to Phoenix.  We thought that we were to go to the Greyhound station in West Phoenix to catch a bus to Flagstaff.  We got there and found a sign that said that the station had recently closed and that we were to meet a shuttle bus (run by the Indians) from the airport.  So, we were now a bit pressed for time but we rushed over there just in time.

At this point I should say that we had 25 pieces of luggage for our crowd.  This included all of our costumes, sleeping bags and bedding for all of us for the three weeks, regular clothes, food chests for two days of travel on the train – for our crowd, etc.  So, Brother Hale helped us get all of that loaded onto the bus and we were soon off on the charter connection.

Upon arrival in Flagstaff, the Indian bus line took us to a bus station – which was across the street from the train station.  He was kind enough to take us also to the train station.  We secured use of a giant old wagon on which we put all of our stuff.  The train folks assured us that we could leave the whole trailer in an open bin of the station – until our departure the next morning.

Another guy in our ward had a cousin in Flagstaff who owned a motel.  When Scott told his cousin of our service trip, he offered to give us two rooms in his motel for free for the night.  (Another great “tender mercy” of the Lord).  The hotel “The Pony Soldier” was located down the road about two miles.  (And our kids ranged in age from 1 1/2 to 17).  We had arranged for two taxis to come for us.  We learned that 5 was the maximum number of people to be in a taxi so that is why we had two.  And learning that there were 11 of us, they almost made us take a third.  But, they decided that the baby could sit on mom’s lap.

So, we had a grand time there in the hotel that night.  This was a first for us and the kids loved it.

Next morning early, the two taxi cabs returned to take us to the train station.  We were told that Flagstaff “law” would only allow any train to stop for a total of six minutes (so as not to hold up traffic – or whatever).   And if this was not met, the train conductor would be arrested and a new conductor would have to be sent to Flagstaff from New Mexico.  (True statement!)  We were told that the off-coming folks would have three minutes to disembark and us on-coming passengers (more than just our crowd) would have three minutes to get on the train with all of our stuff.  We were told that we could just go in as fast as possible, drop our stuff and then go upstairs – and then in a little while, we could return downstairs to the luggage area to organize and store our stuff properly.

We lined up all of our 25 items on the sidewalk and put with each person one – or multiple items – the kids whom we thought could best handle that part of the stuff.  One of the children was to take the baby and others were to have one or more items to be in charge of.  The children were all very psyched up and ready for the challenge.  When the train stopped our adrenilain (however you spell that) was high.  The folks coming off just kind of took their time and the second that they were off, we blew the whistle (not really) and the signal was “Run!”  And it was real crazy.  (There were multiple cars so groups could pick whichever one they thought best – so there were a lot of people lined up on the sidewalk by different cars.)

We somehow managed to get all of the stuff and us into the train – and then it was off full steam ahead.  We went upstairs and found the seats to be giant recliners – like the ultimate in movie theaters or the first class section of a big airplane.  Wow!  We found seats all in the same area – another miracle.  And after a little while, we were able to go down to get our stuff put together.

The ride was absolutely fabulous.  The kids had a grand time going to the dining car (which we could not afford) or to the “recreation room” at the other end of the train.  Our nine-year old son was then into balloon tying (and was excellent at it) and he went up and down the train making balloon creations for young and old).

The train went 72 MPH in the daytime and 90 at night.  And we had to spend a night on the train.  We wished that we had known that the A/C would be blasting full blast or we would have planned and packed better so as to have blankets with us for the ride.  We drove through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas City and then got off at Fort Madison, Iowa – located up-river about 15 miles from Nauvoo.

It was then that we really wished that we had our big family van.  We had to rent a car and could not afford to rent a big van.  So, we rented a little car.  And somehow we got all eleven of us in the car.  (We left our collection of stuff at the train station – with the promise that we would be back for it soon.  And we then didn’t even know how we would get back for the stuff.  But, we were like Nephi and “went forth with faith”.  We drove in our squished condition to Keokuk, Iowa (because from my Nauvoo mission experience), I wanted to enter Nauvoo from the South.  We went to a fast food joint to eat.  Some folks there – maybe store employees – were shocked as our large crowd came pouring out of the car and into the store.  We were afraid that they were going to report us to authorities or something for child abuse or whatever.  So, we quickly got our food and headed out – across the river and up-river to Nauvoo the beautiful.

We drove to the campground where we were to stay.  This campground – owned then by the RLDS church and rented to our church – had places for RV’s, tents, etc.  We had saved up enough money to rent a single cabin – with bunk beds – for our crowd.  The place also had a dining hall.  It was much like a Scout camp or similar.

We checked in and got our assigned cabin.  We then walked around looking for someone who might have a truck and who could help us.  We knew absolutely no one.  But, we found a couple of trucks and talked to the folks.  It was instant connection – just as it was with everyone in the pageant – and the guys – new friends and brothers – were more than willing to assist us.  (Yet another major tender mercy of the Lord.)

So, I left my wife and most of the kids at the campground and I headed off with my new friends back to Ft. Madison.  We loaded all of the stuff into their vehicles and returned back to Nauvoo.

We got all of the stuff to the cabin and began to take inventory.  To our shock and horror, our main large trunk – that had most of our accessory items (which we had so painstaking worked to but and accumulate) was “missing in action”.  We did not know what to do.  We knelt and prayed as a family.

I went to a pay phone – and after getting a large supply of quarters – began to make phone calls to the train company and everyone else to try to locate our trunk.  I was on the phone literally for about two hours through this process.  With the passage of time, I learned that our trunk had not made it off of our original Indian contract bus that we had taken from Phoenix to Flagstaff.  But, it gets better (or worse) …  The trunk was not discovered by the bus line and it remained on the bus.  And after our departure, it remained on the bus undiscovered and was touring all over Arizona – and had been for three days.

The folks (with my calls) finally located the trunk out in the middle of no-where Arizona somewhere.  They then made the necessary arrangements to get the trunk back to Flagstaff and onto the train.  So, we had to wait another three or four days for it to catch up with us.  Luckily we were just in show practices at that time and didn’t yet need the costume items.

So, can you see the Lord’s hand in all of this?  We certainly did … and with grateful hearts, we gave thanks to the Lord for all of his many tender mercies in our behalf.  We were ready to hit it with the show!

 

A Christmas Conference Program for your Family

Anyone who has been on a mission knows that one of the highlights of the mission experience is the Christmas zone conference.  Each missionary looks forward to this gathering with great expectations.  The conference offers some time to reflect upon the birth, life and mission of Jesus free of the usual commercial distractions.   Each such zone or mission conference that I have participated in has been a glorious and wonderful experience.

Some of the great elements of the Missionary in Training program are agendas and program materials for special conferences – like real zone conferences in the mission – but designed for families to  stage in their own home missionary training gatherings.  So, as a special Christmas present to each you, I now present this conference package to you.  I am sorry for the short notice, but a prepared family can still pull it together for presentation on Christmas Eve or Christmas.

logo-mit-color-4-inch

 

 “JESUS THE CHRIST”

Christmas Conference

SPECIAL MISSIONARY CONFERENCE

Planning Worksheet

This is a special Christmas Conference.  It can be staged just for the MIT family or it could be expanded to a much bigger group to include friendshipping families, grandparents, extended family and others.  If others are invited, give them food and other assignments.  Involve them in the various elements of the program with advance assignments.  (Friendshipping families might especially enjoy this program and might feel strongly of the Spirit of Christmas, or the Light of Christ.  They will feel of your family;s testimony and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conference Date: ________________   Time: _______

Person to be in charge and to coordinate the plan: _____

Location:  ____________________________

 

ADVANCE PREPARATIONS TO BE MADE

Special guests – family and friends – to be invited:

____________________________________________________________________________________

Invitations to be created and delivered by: _________

Invite special guests to participate and give presentation materials or subjects to cover.

Plan stirring and energetic songs for opening and closing and perhaps in the middle of the program.

Special Physical Arrangements: ____________________________________

Materials Needed: __________________________________________

Person(s) to Prepare Special Food: _________________________________

Special Musical Numbers: (What music, and by whom) ________________________________________

Arrange for an accompanist and conductor for all music of the conference.

Remind all family and special guests that this is a special missionary conference and that full-dress missionary attire is to be worn.

“JESUS THE CHRIST”

 SPECIAL MISSIONARY CONFERENCE

CONFERENCE AGENDA

Conference Date: ________________   Time: _______

Person to be in charge and to coordinate the plan: _____

Location:  __________________________________

(Note: Special food or meal can be presented before the Conference, in the middle, or at the end)

Welcome and Introductions of Special Guests and all Future Missionaries

Stand and recite together the MIT Motto and sing the Anthem.

Conference Theme Introduction              By Whom: ______

This is a joyous season of the year.  The Christmas season gives us opportunity to think and learn of Jesus.  Christmas lets us think again of our Savior and his birth, life and mission in service to us.

Opening Song:  “Joy to the World”         Led By:   _______

Song Source:  Hymn # 201 in Hymns”

Opening Prayer by: ___________________________

Invite all participants to record notes in their “Study Journals”

Opening Talk and Inspiration              By Whom: _______

Key Points to Cover

Read together the following scriptures.  Take turns reading the verses.  You may wish to act these out and have a “family nativity”.  (These could also be assigned reading for each family member before the conference.

             Luke Chapter 2

            Matthew Chapter 2, Verses 1-14

            Helaman 14:1-12

            3 Nephi 1:8–21

Program Features – Special Activities or Instruction:

Before the conference, assign family members to talk on these subjects:

Jesus as Jehovah and his pre-mortal work of the Creation

The royal birth of Jesus as literal Son of God and mortal mother, Mary

The circumstances of the birth of Jesus – the star, the Shepherds, wisemen, etc.

The Life and Mission of Jesus

Jesus as Savior and Redeemer

Special Christmas Musical Numbers:

Presented by:

Stage a “Christmas Reader’s Theater” using the script, “Christmas Is” (Attached with this Conference Agenda) Pre-assign parts so that participants can learn their parts well.  If you have a small group, double up on parts – or cut material from the script.  If you have many family and friends, use a variety of people for the various parts.

Note:  You may wish to have musical accompaniment in the background as the various poems are read.

Share a formal Christmas meal together.  Have the table gaily decorated for Christmas.  Have a framed picture (or pictures) of Jesus as a part of the table centerpiece.

Additional Program Features:

Give each family member a Christmas card – or have materials and let them each create one at this moment.  Then invite them to write their testimonies into the cards – using extra paper if needed.  Give them some string or ribbon and let them hang their card on the Christmas tree – as a decoration.  Then on Christmas, after all of the other gifts have been opened, have each family member, in turn, remove their card (or have it removed and read by a family member).  Have each family member read the card and share their testimonies with the family.  [Note too, that testimony cards could be created and presented or sent to grandparents with instructions to hang these on the tree and open them on Christmas.  If there are any missionaries serving form the family, each family member could also create a “testimony card” for the missionary – again with tree hanging instructions.  And the missionary should be encouraged to create their own card to be sent to the family for opening as “the last gift” on Christmas Day.]  This is a great activity and can become a great highlight of the Christmas season.  And the card activity could be designated as a new family tradition to be followed year after year.

Prior to the conference, invite parents and grandparents to prepare special gifts for each family member.  These should not be purchased gifts – but things such as poems, a musical presentation, a special story, a picture of Jesus, etc.  Have a presentation of these gifts at this time.

Divide the family group into smaller groups of from 4-6 people.  Have each group prepare a short Christmas skit (of 3-5 minutes in length).  Try to have these focus upon some religious facet of Christmas.  Give time (like a half hour) for the creation of these skits and then let family and friends perform them.

Gather the family around the piano (or use recordings of hymns).  Sing several Christmas songs together.

Other ideas:  Dress the family members in the roles of the Nativity (wise men, shepherds, Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, etc.).   Make some treats (can be done before the conference) and go dressed in the Nativity costumes and deliver the treats to selected friendshipping families.  Sing a Christmas carol as you knock on the door to deliver the gift.

Come back together for a few more home activities

Snuggle together in blankets, around a fire, etc.  Read a [short] Christmas book or story together.

Key-Note Talk and Challenge         By Whom: _________

Subjects or key points to be included:

Invite family members and guests to share their own testimonies of Jesus

Have a special guest (Returned missionary, grandparent, home teacher, Bishop or other special person) talk on “The Life and Mission of Jesus”.

Closing Song:  “I Believe in Christ”   Led By:  _________

Song Source:  Hymn #134 in “Hymns”

Closing Prayer by: ___________________________

Notes: _________________________________________

_________________________________________

Record this study session into your “Home and Family Missionary Training Center Log”

CHRISTMAS IS …

A Reader’s Theater for Christmas Worship

Narration and Lyrics @ by Kevin V. Hunt

PROGRAM BEGINS WITH SHORT MUSICAL FANFARE (can be recorded music)

(MALE NARRATOR WITH STRONG VIBRANT VOICE):

CHRISTMAS!  CHRISTMAS!!  CHRISTMAS! … !  The very word invokes tender memories and cherished times.  Whether young or old, Christmas time holds a special nostalgia.  We relish in the memories of Christmas times past and look forward with great anticipation to the Christmas of the present and those to come.  Christmas is a time to give to others – to reach beyond our usual selves to brighten the life of someone else.

Christmas is a glorious time of year – a beautiful season.  It is a time for family, a time for togetherness, connecting with loved ones.  It is loving and giving and sharing and serving.  Christmas is memories and traditions.  It is music, a feeling, an attitude.  Christmas is surprises and smiling faces.  Christmas is hearing anew the Christmas Story.  It is rejoicing in the Spirit of Thanksgiving.  It is being grateful for our many blessings.  It is thinking of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and His life and mission.  It is having “The Spirit of Christ” with us in our lives.

IN JOY WE CELEBRATE THE DAY

In joy we celebrate the day,

When Jesus Christ, our Lord was born.

We join in song along our way,

With hearts aglow though world be torn.

 

We celebrate at Christmas time,

With love for others, thoughts of peace.

We serve in every land and clime,

And in each heart does faith increase.

 

We join with friends and family, too,

The Light of Christ in every soul.

His sacrifice brings life anew,

Eternal joy becomes our goal.

 

Christ’s life and mission bring us joy,

Forgiveness when we’ve lost our way.

And resurrection we’ll enjoy,

So we rejoice in Him this day!

 

He came to us to show the way,

Eternal life to us, did bring.

The mission of our Lord and King,

In joy we celebrate this day!

 

In all our getting, we get lost,

Caught up in things that matter not.

We think that good gifts come with cost,

Though best gifts really can’t be bought.

 

We go to parties not a few,

Run ragged in the season’s rush.

Places to go, so much to do,

We do not feel the Spirit’s touch.

 

The world would have us lose our sight,

And vision of eternal things.

With hustle, bustle, day and night,

While doing all the season brings.

 

There’s Christmas shopping, much to buy,

As running to and fro we go.

And we forget the reason why,

Though in our hearts, we really know.

 

He came to us to show the way,

Eternal life to us did bring.

The mission of our Lord and King,

In joy we celebrate this day!

 

There’s reindeer, snowmen, all so cute,

But draw away from Jesus’ light.

Again the Spirit’s call they mute,

So far away from Holy night.

 

There are distractions, worldly ways,

But we can rise above this all.

Within our hearts, our Christmas days,

Can bring us peace and joy and calm.

 

We can feel Jesus’ love, indeed,

As in our giving, we do share.

And His commandments we can heed,

As unto others we show care.

 

We can draw close through family ties,

Traditions, and the season’s glow.

Reflection on the Christmas rhymes,

Can help within, the Spirit grow.

 

He came to us to show the way,

Eternal life to us, did bring.

The mission of our Lord and King,

In joy we celebrate this day!

 

In joy we celebrate the day,

When Jesus Christ, our Lord was born.

We join in song along our way,

With hearts aglow though world be torn.

 

We celebrate at Christmas time,

With love for others, thoughts of peace.

We serve in every land and clime,

And in each heart does faith increase.

 

We join with friends and family, too,

The Light of Christ in every soul.

His sacrifice brings life anew,

Eternal joy becomes our goal.

 

Christ’s life and mission bring us joy,

Forgiveness when we’ve lost our way.

And resurrection we’ll enjoy,

So we rejoice in Him this day!

 

He came to us to show the way,

Eternal life to us did bring.

The mission of our Lord and King,

In joy we celebrate this day!

(FEMALE NARRATOR):

Christmas times are Family!  It is being together, “hanging out” together – just basking in the joy of being together.  It is making things together.  It is enjoyment of the family relationship – and knowing that the Lord has given us families – that we can be together forever.  Christmas is loving each other and being there for each other.

Christmas is a time for togetherness!  It is a time to connect with family, loved ones and friends.  Christmas is a time to renew bonds of brotherhood and to build new ones.  Christmas is a time to go home – or to stay home – with loved ones – enjoying the best of love and happiness – joy and peace.  Christmas is just being together – doing things together – enjoying one another – in the best of family (and all that implies) and the hope of eternal love – binding us together forever.

FAMILY GROUPS SPEAK – WITH FAMILY MEMBERS ALTERNATING WITH PARTS

OUR GOD BELIEVES IN FAMILIES

First Family says:

Our God believes in families,

That’s why He gives us Christmas times.

Our God gave us, our families,

For Christmas joys throughout our lives.

 

That first of Christmas nights began,

In a stable, with family.

Joseph and Mary were there when,

God sent His Son to a family.

 

With family, the bells do chime,

It’s Christmas Day, give thanks to thee.

We celebrate at Christmas time

Because it all is family.

Second Family says:

As a family, we often go

To parties, dinners, special things,

Its all part of the holiday glow,

Such fun to families, Christmas brings.

 

We hustle round, go to and fro,

So much to do, so much to see.

But it’s with family we do go,

And gather round the Christmas tree.

 

With family, the bells do chime,

It’s Christmas Day, give thanks to thee.

We celebrate at Christmas time

Because it all is family.

Third Family says:

We buy our gifts, we do so much

And in traditions we do boast.

We give, we share, the Christmas rush,

It’s family time that means the most.

 

It’s Christmas and with family,

We celebrate the special days.

We do so many things with glee,

And sometimes don’t give God the praise.

 

With family, the bells do chime,

It’s Christmas Day, give thanks to thee.

We celebrate at Christmas time

Because it all is family.

Fourth Family says:

When home for Christmas we enjoy

Times together and having fun.

God gave us Christmas for our joy,

Together, family, every one.

 

Christmas is special ‘cause we’re home,

It’s special with our families.

Rejoice at Christmas, love at home,

For God gave us our families.

 

With family, the bells do chime,

It’s Christmas Day, give thanks to thee.

We celebrate at Christmas time

Because it all is family.

(GRANDFATHER NARRATOR):

Christmas times are for connecting with loved ones – both near and far.  It’s cards and letters.  It’s phone calls to parents, children and grandchildren, to missionary sons and daughters too.  Christmas is extended family together – visiting – visiting parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins.  It is recognition of all in the family circle – acknowledging that the family can be and is eternal – that family is who we want to be with, give to, and share with.  Just being together creates and maintains special bonds – even when little is said.  It means that there are people who love us and whom we love.

Christmas time is Loving!  Christmas is love.  It’s pure love for others.  It is wanting to share something special for someone we love.  It is charity – the true love of Christ.  It is giving love – because we love and because we are loved.  Christmas is the love of Christ – radiating through us to those in our circles around us.

TEEN GIRLS gather as a group and alternately say:

THE CIRCLE OF OUR CHRISTMAS LOVE

The circle of our Christmas love,

Extends to us then circles round.

As we reach out to those we love,

And hear the bells – the joyful sound.

 

We reach beyond, with others share,

And then their love comes back again.

The circles ripple here and there,

As every one serves fellowmen.

 

The circle of our Christmas love,

          Is Father’s love for one and all.

We feel his love – shed from above,

          With glowing hearts, we heed his call.

 

The Father’s love brought Jesus’ birth,

          That all might come to feel and know:

Love’s circle here upon the Earth –

          The love of Christ, the Christmas glow.

 

With love we serve with love, we reach,

In Christmas circles, family, friends.

The Light of Christ, we share with each,

Share peace and joy that never ends.

 

In service, Christmas circles grow,

Expanding out in love and light.

We share God’s gifts, the season’s glow.

And in our hearts, the love burns bright.

 

The circle of our Christmas love,

          Is Father’s love for one and all.

We feel his love – shed from above,

          With glowing hearts, we heed his call.

 

The Father’s love brought Jesus’ birth,

          That all might come to feel and know:

Love’s circle here upon the Earth –

          The love of Christ, the Christmas glow.

 

The more we help, the greater joy,

The more we give, the more we love.

As others give, they too, enjoy,

Expanding circles, Father’s love.

 

We all are brothers – born on high,

To Earth we came, to love and share.

In Christmas circles, we can try –

To show God’s children that we care.

 

The circle of our Christmas love,

          Is Father’s love for one and all.

We feel his love – shed from above,

          With glowing hearts, we heed his call.

 

The Father’s love brought Jesus’ birth,

          That all might come to feel and know:

Love’s circle here upon the Earth –

          The love of Christ, the Christmas glow.

(TEEN GIRL NARRATOR)

Christmas time is Giving!  It is giving to those we love and to some we don’t.  It is sacrifice for the happiness of others.  It is meeting the needs of others and putting those needs above our own.  Giving brings inner joy to the giver and to the receiver.  Giving is planning, finding or making something special for someone special.  Christmas is showing gratitude for all that Christ and others have done for us.

A group of MALES gather and alternately say: 

WHAT CAN I GIVE IN THANKS FOR HIS BIRTH

What can I give Him in thanks for His birth,

His sacred appearance as King of the Earth?

What I can give, is my heart and my hands,

In service to others, their simple demands.

 

What can I give Him in thanks for His light,

The joy of His Gospel, the hope in His life?

What I can do is be faithful and true,

Have joy and be happy, in all that I do.

 

What can I give for His life he did give,

His Atonement, witness we too, may live?

What I can give is the will to do right,

And to serve Him each day with all my might.

 

What can I give Him in thanks for this earth,

The beauty, wonder, each day a new birth?

What I can give Him is love for a child,

That he might know beauty, and grow undefiled.

 

What can I give Him in thanks for each breath,

The life he now gives me and life after death?

What I can give Him is my simple faith,

To walk in His footsteps, and follow his path.

 

What can I give Him thanks for His truths,

For His commandments, and chances to choose?

I can share with others His Church anew.

And be an example in all that I do.

 

What can I give Him in thanks for His word

Through prophets, the Scriptures,

His voice we’ve heard.

What I can give Him is study and prayer,

And then, with His Spirit, I’ll show I can

 

What can I give Him in thanks for His love,

His help, His blessings, His hands from above?

What I can give is thanksgiving for all,

Rejoicing each day for help to stand tall.

What can I give Him in thanks for His peace,

The joy of forgiveness, comfort, release?

What I can give Him, is my broken heart,

A simple commitment each day, do my part.

 (GRANDMOTHER NARRATOR):

Christmas time is Sharing!  It is reaching beyond one’s normal outward self – but drawing from within one’s true feelings, inner self, values and innermost desires to love and serve others.  It is recognition that we are all brothers and sisters – children of one God who created us and put us within our earthly circles.  Christmas is sacrifice for someone special or others that we love.  It is giving to the overall brotherhood which allows us to share even outside the bounds of those we normally include as ours.  It allows us to be our best selves – in the true Spirit of Jesus Christ – the great Teacher of human relations, love and the brotherhood of all.

Christmas time is Service!  It is looking for those who need our help, our Spirit, our strength – our resources.  It is being in tune to the Spirit which can tell us who needs our help.  It is service to parents, siblings, children and grandchildren.  It is service to neighbors and special friends – and even to strangers.  It is service to those we don’t yet know.  It is service to God’s children – as if He Himself were here to serve.

CHRISTMAS IS SERVICE

When we were young, our parents taught,

That we should serve at Christmas time,

Our friends and neighbors, love a lot,

That joy be felt this special time.

 

We took some cookies, drop and run,

To family, friends, and loved ones too.

And we staged parties, so much fun,

With Christmas food and games to do.

 

Most all were old folks on our street,

We tried to bring them Christmas cheer.

We felt such joy as we’d repeat,

Christmas traditions every year.

 

We’d also serve our family,

As we drew names for gifts to give.

We did our home jobs with such glee,

For dimes and nickels, more to give.

 

Christmas is service, love to all,

Caring and sharing, giving too.

Christmas is service, joy to all,

Loving Jesus, in all we do.

 

For “Twelve Days” we did give our gifts,

We cooked and baked so we could share.

With friends and kin, that we might lift,

Their spirits, and to show we care.

 

In service we did try to be,

Kinder, gentler, and joyful too.

The Light of Christ we felt, did see,

As we served others, Jesus too.

 

We gave our best, to fellow men,

As Christ-like lessons, we did learn.

From father, mother, way back then,

And now, as parents, it’s our turn.

 

As we now serve, we share, we teach,

New generations, what to do.

We show through service, we can reach,

The hearts of all with joy anew.

 

Christmas is service, love to all,

Caring and sharing, giving too.

Christmas is service, joy to all,

Loving Jesus, in all we do.

 

Christ taught us how to love and serve,

By His example, walk each day.

It’s Christmas and a time to serve,

With all our hearts, in every way.

 

As we serve other, we serve God,

That Jesus taught, in word and deed.

And as we serve, we show to God,

Our gratitude, true love indeed.

 

So many ways to serve, to give,

With open eyes and hearts that care.

As we do serve, gain hope to live,

Feel Christmas joy each time we share.

 

Christmas service brings us great joy,

For through our service, all are blessed.

Lord, Let us serve thee, life enjoy,

At Christmas, always, we be blessed.

 

Christmas is service, love to all,

Caring and sharing, giving too.

Christmas is service, joy to all,

Loving Jesus, in all we do.

(ORIGINAL MALE NARRATOR RETURNS AND SAYS):

Yes, Christmas time is a time for serving.  It is for visiting the elderly, going to rest homes, stringing lights, staging dinners and parties for those who are lonely.  It is goodies for neighbors and special friends and teachers.  It is doing for others in special ways, and going the extra mile to help those in need.

Christmas times are for Memories!  It is memories of our childhood and simple pleasures and simple treasures.  It is memories of special times with special folks.  It is creating traditions that perpetuate the special memories – passing the Spirit and special feelings from generation to generation.  It is photo moments – to be looked at, reviewed, smiled over, and always remembered.

Christmas times are times of grand tradition!  Traditions – no matter how simple, bind generations together as they are repeated year after year.  Traditions keep our memories of Christmas times alive as we think fondly of the past – and glory in those wondrous but simple days of yore.  Traditions keep us anticipating Christmas times as we look forward to what has always been and what we hope it will always be.  Traditions ARE Christmas – and Christmas is Tradition!  Our Christmas memories are based upon the traditions that have been maintained.  Traditions build feelings of the heart – often more poignant than the event or act itself.

Christmas is a traditional time to worship and rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christmas is a time to share and enjoy music about Jesus.  It is  wonderful familiar songs and carols sung or played on radio stations, traditional carols sung by choirs.  It is bells and chimes, soft tones to the heart.  Music is testimony of His birth and life – and knowledge that He lives – all expressed through the songs and feelings of the heart.  We can sing aloud with others or we can sing within our hearts.

 “THE MISSION OF OUR LORD REJOICE”

Oh that all the world might know,

At Christmas time and through the year,

God sent his Son to earth to show,

His love for man – that all might hear.

 

Before our birth He shared His plan,

He said that we could freely choose.

And though we’d sin, He’d give to man,

His Son, a Savior, gospel truths.

 

By Father’s Plan, the worlds were made,

Jehovah spoke, and it was done.

Creation splendor, hill and glade,

The earth and skies warmed by the son.

 

Adam and Eve were placed on earth,

They chose the way that man might be.

And from that day looked to His birth,

That from their sins they would be free.

 

The Son of God, came forth to earth,

     Rejoice, rejoice, His royal birth.

For Jesus came with life and light,

     With hope and joy, eternal life.

 

Jehovah, Lord of earth and heav’n

For ages spoke to prophets true.

Unto them His law was given,

Eternal truths to each anew.

 

Prophets long foretold His birth,

His death and resurrection too.

“As Son of God, he’ll come to earth,

And he’ll atone for me and you.”

 

As promised through the ages past,

True Son of God, through Mary born.

To man, redemption came at last,

No more in sorrow, sin to mourn.

 

He taught, he lifted, helped each soul,

A perfect life though pain he knew.

He taught through faith we can be whole,

If His example we will do.

The Son of God, came forth to earth,

     Rejoice, rejoice, His royal birth.

For Jesus came with life and light,

     With hope and joy, eternal life.

 

While here, He did His Father’s will,

Each day proclaimed, “Thy will be done!”

En everything, He did fulfill,

For in all things, they were as one.

 

In the Garden, he suffered sore,

Great drops of blood for one and all.

On Calvary’s hill, He suffered more,

That all might rise above the fall.

 

His life, the Savior freely gave,

For each of us, he did atone,

He died, to Father’s children save,

This sacred act, He did alone.

 

With death came resurrection, joy,

His mission done, a brighter day.

Now faith and hope all men enjoy,

Give thanks, rejoice, He lives today!

 

The Son of God, came forth to earth,

     Rejoice, rejoice, His royal birth.

For Jesus came with life and light,

     With hope and joy, eternal life.

YOUNG MOTHER NARRATOR:

Christmas is a time for special feelings!  It is an attitude – a feeling of love.  It is remembering Jesus and His “Golden Rule”.  It is bringing cheer to others.  It is joy, happiness and peace.  It’s a feeling of the heart – a witness to the soul.  It is a burning in the bosom – a knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior and Redeemer.

Christmas is a time for surprises!  Christmas is creating special surprises for special people – keeping secrets.  It is making door drops – the “12 Days of Christmas” – giving anonymously – giving and sharing without credit for the task accomplished.  It is wondering what is in presents under the tree – and trying to guess.  It is giving and receiving the unexpected.

Christmas is a time for Smiling Faces!  Christmas is the smile of a child receiving a simple gift.  It is bringing joy to old folks – or to those who are alone.  It’s making someone happy with that special gift or service.  It is joy to the giver of a special gift – seeing the joy of the gift received – and the smiles of those who receive.

Young Children gather together and alternately say the lines:

“OUR CHRISTMAS JOY”

Jesus was born so long ago,

He came for you, He came for me

That’s why our hearts are all aglow,

We think of Him, this day, you see.

 

Jesus taught us the way to live,

His light, it shines with us today.

That’s why we share with much to give,

This blessed and holy Christmas Day.

MALE TEEN NARRATOR:

Christmas is a time to hear anew, the Christmas Story!  It is a time to hear again of the birth of Jesus – the Son of God.  It is remembering that first Christmas – that centered around family – the babe in the manger – with Mary his mother – and Joseph, his step-father, protector and friend.  It is remembering the special star that shone so brightly.  It is rejoicing with the shepherds in Christ’s royal birth – as proclaimed by the Glory of God in their presence.  It is singing with the angels with joy at His birth.

THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHONE ‘ROUND

The Glory of the Lord shone ‘round,

As God our Father came to Earth,

And shepherds bowed on holy ground,

And heard the news of Jesus’ birth.

 

In radiant glory, Father came,

To herald news of His Son’s birth,

To shepherds, not to kings, he came,

Transcendent tidings to the earth.

 

Glory to God for His Son’s birth,

And peace, Good will to all on earth.

 

The shepherds saw, with ears they heard,

As God proclaimed the royal birth.

And by the Spirit, their hearts burned,

As Father testified on Earth.

 

The hosts of heaven, with Him came,

In loud acclaim their voices rang.

Glory to God!  – they praised his name,

“Good will and peace to men,” they sang.

 

Glory to God for His Son’s birth,

And peace, Good will to all on earth.

 

God’s brightness, glory filled night sky,

With backdrop of a great new star.

And humble shepherds wondered why,

In fear they stood with hearts ajar.

 

“Fear not!” Said God, “For now behold,

I bring good tidings of great joy.

For born this day, is Christ the Lord,

And to all people, he’ll bring joy.”

Glory to God for His Son’s birth,

And peace, Good will to all on earth

 

“In David’s City, he is laid,

In swaddling clothes on manger hay.

To men a Savior, Christ the Lord!

Born my Begotten Son today.”

 

In haste, the shepherds went to see,

And found the babe as God had said.

By Spirit’s whisper, knew ‘twas He,

The Son of God in manger laid.

 

Glory to God for His Son’s birth,

And peace, Good will to all on earth.

 

By Father’s love, he sent His Son,

His own Begotten, born that day.

‘Twas sent to die, that death be won,

And sin be gone in Father’s way.

 

He came, according to God’s plan,

That all mankind might get to choose.

Thus Heavenly Father came to man,

Announcing Jesus – joyful news!

 

Glory to God for His Son’s birth,

And peace, Good will to all on earth.

GRANDFATHER NARRATOR:

Christmas is a time for Nativity Scenes.  It is nativity scenes big and small that help to remind us of that first Christmas night.  It is reading, enacting Luke Chapter II.  It is feeling and knowing again that He was born, suffered, died and that He lives.  It is pondering the life and mission, His ultimate sacrifice – His Atonement for us – all flowing from that simple royal birth.  It is knowing that He came for us – as Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.

TEENAGE BOYS Say:

Song:  A STAR SHONE BRIGHT

Rejoice!  A glorious star appears,

With brilliance Earth had never known.

Foretold by prophets through the years,

With splendor, it is heaven’s crown.

 

It shines for Him who made the Earth,

The heavens and all things that are.

And heralds of a Savior’s birth,

Shine forth in beauty, wondrous star!

 

A star proclaims that Jesus came.

And heavens sing, “A King is born”,

All earth shout forth and praise His name.

“Hosanna to our God and Lord.’

 

On shepherd flocks the star shown bright,

As angel’s joyous praise was heard

“For unto us is born this night,

A Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

 

From east the wise men saw the star,

And they rejoiced in heaven’s light.

By moving star, they traveled far,

With gifts for King born on that night.

 

A star proclaims that Jesus came.

And heavens sing, “A King is born”,

All earth shout forth and praise His name.

“Hosanna to our God and Lord.’

 

The star shined too, in western sky,

Folks knew the day, their Savior’s birth.

Their prophets too, had told them why,

The glorious star would shine on Earth.

 

And still today we see His light,

Rejoice in life his birth did bring.

And in our hearts His star shines bright,

As Jesus Christ, our Lord and King.

 

A star proclaims that Jesus came.

And heavens sing, “A King is born”,

All earth shout forth and praise His name.

“Hosanna to our God and Lord.’

GRANDMOTHER NARRATOR:

Christmas time is a time for rejoicing!   It is in rejoicing in the Spirit of Thanksgiving.  It is knowing within us that God is our Father – that we are His children.  It is knowing that God knows us, our circumstances, our needs.  It is wonder and amazement as He inspires others to meet our needs – or inspires us to meet the needs of others.  It is counting our blessings and recognizing all that’s been given to us.  It is giving thanks for special feelings, for special people and even things.  It is personal joy and happiness for all that we are and all that is ours.

“THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS”

There’s miracles at Christmas time,

When open hearts are all aglow.

As folks from every land and clime,

Revere the Christ, born long ago.

 

With loving hearts, we serve and give,

As Light of Christ, we feel and know.

And with this light, give hope to live,

As miracles within us grow.

 

Rejoice in Christmas miracles,

Give thanks and know that Christ is near.

Within our hearts, the miracles,

Build faith and give eternal cheer.

 

It may be us, the miracle,

That helps a brother in his need.

God’s hands through us, the miracle,

As we reach out, give Spirit’s heed.

 

Through us, a little child is blessed,

As we reach out, make dreams come true.

We’re better when we give our best,

With answered prayers, their faith renew.

 

Rejoice in Christmas miracles,

Give thanks and know that Christ is near.

Within our hearts, the miracles,

Build faith and give eternal cheer.

 

 

At other times, we might receive

The miracle, to us is given.

As hearts reach out, and we believe

That God is watching down from heaven.

 

Though we have need, we do not share,

But angels know and come to give.

With open hearts, they show they care,

With miracles of love they give.

 

Rejoice in Christmas miracles,

Give thanks and know that Christ is near.

Within our hearts, the miracles,

Build faith and give eternal cheer.

 

The miracles are ours to share,

To give with love, or to receive.

By miracles, God shows His care,

To all who hope and do believe.

 

The Light of Christ inspires, guides,

So we rejoice in Jesus’ birth.

Through Christmas miracles, he abides,

Within the hearts of men on earth.

 

Rejoice in Christmas miracles,

Give thanks and know that Christ is near.

Within our hearts, the miracles,

Build faith and give eternal cheer.

ORIGINAL MALE NARRATOR:

So, if Christmas is times together, grand tradition, sharing and giving, then Christmas is also family, it is music.  It is serving and loving.  Yes, Christmas is all of that.  And Jesus also, is all of that.  And He wants each of us to be all of that.  So, doing those things, year after year, brings us closer to Him and to our families.  And if Christmas helps us radiate the Spirit of Christ – and to feel it in our hearts, then Christmas is good.  We can emulate traits of our Savior and thus keep Christmas in us – while also sharing it with others.

LET ALL THE WORLD BREAK FORTH IN PRAISE

Let all the world break forth in praise,

Rejoice in Jesus Christ, our King.

In joyful strains, let voices raise,

Rejoice and with the angels sing.

 

Rejoice in Him of royal birth,

Though Son of God, a humble babe.

Rejoice in God’s son, sent to earth,

Amidst the heavens, he had made.

 

Rejoice for Jesus came to Earth,

Rejoice, he came, that man might live.

Rejoice in Jesus’ royal birth,

Rejoice He came!  His life to give!

 

“Rejoice,” said Angel Gabriel,

To Mary, as he came from God.

“Ye blessed woman,” he did hail,

“Thou woman favoured of the Lord.”

 

“Fear not, Mary,” Gabriel said,

“Thou shalt conceive, bring forth a son.

His name be Jesus, He’ll be great,

Son of the Highest, God’s own Son.”

 

Rejoice for Jesus came to Earth,

Rejoice, he came, that man might live.

Rejoice in Jesus’ royal birth,

Rejoice He came!  His life to give!

 

To Joseph, also, Gabriel came,

“Rejoice, for Mary shall conceive.

Emmanuel shall be his name,

From death and sin, He will relieve.”

 

Then to Judea, Joseph went,

With Mary, who was great with child.

Then came the babe, when she was spent,

No inn would house the Holy Child.

 

Rejoice for Jesus came to Earth,

Rejoice, he came, that man might live.

Rejoice in Jesus’ royal birth,

Rejoice He came!  His life to give!

 

To humble shepherds, Father came,

His glory ‘round about them shone.

“Rejoice, said he, “glad tidings come,

For unto you, a Savior’s born.”

 

“Glory to God,” the angels sang,

as they praised God, in glory then.

“Rejoice in God,” their voices rang,

“With peace, good will, toward all men.”

 

Rejoice for Jesus came to Earth,

Rejoice, he came, that man might live.

Rejoice in Jesus’ royal birth,

Rejoice He came!  His life to give!

ORIGINAL MALE NARRATOR:

CHRISTMAS!  Christmas time is …

FEMALE NARRATOR SPEAKS AGAIN:

Christmas is thinking of the birth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  It is looking beyond His birth to His life and mission.

GRANDFATHER NARRATOR:

Christmas is having “The Spirit of Christ” with us in our lives – becoming “a new creature” – more prepared for service in His Kingdom.

TEEN GIRL NARRATOR:

Christmas is being and doing better.

GRANDMOTHER NARRATOR:

Christmas is emulating the Lord Jesus Christ in thought and action.

TEEN BOY NARRATOR:

Christmas is a commitment for the future – commitment in heart, spirit and actions.

YOUNG MOTHER NARRATOR:

Christmas is moving forward with a renewed spirit of love and charity and wanting to serve and love family and others around us in that Spirit of Christ.

YOUNG CHILD NARRATOR):

Christmas is loving Him – because He loves us!

MALE NARRATOR:

That’s what Christmas is … and that’s what Christmas times are – and can be – for all of us – for all of God’s children.   To this, and of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we testify …

Above narrators together alternate and say parts:

Let all the world break forth in praise,

Rejoice in Jesus Christ, our King.

In joyful strains, let voices raise,

Rejoice and with the angels sing.

 

Rejoice in Him of royal birth,

Though Son of God, a humble babe.

Rejoice in God’s son, sent to earth,

Amidst the heavens, he had made.

 

Rejoice for Jesus came to Earth,

Rejoice, he came, that man might live.

Rejoice in Jesus’ royal birth,

Rejoice He came!  His life to give!

@ Kevin V. Hunt 2010

For a print-friendly copy of this program, send an e-mail message to Kevin Hunt: info@missionaryintraining.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missionary in Training Program Elements

There are a variety of programs and missionary preparation activities in the Missionary in Training Program.  There are planning guides for each of these.  The various program elements are described below:

PROGRAM PREPARATION AND KICK-OFF LESSONS

As you begin using the Missionary in Training program, you will want to start with six different lessons to help lay the foundation for the program.  And it will be best not to share details of these lessons, the “Call Opening Gathering” or other program elements with your children until after the “Call Opening Gathering”.  It will be more effective if the children do not know ahead of the Call Gathering what is going to happen.  Older children can be invited to present some of these lessons – but don’t give them a vision of the whole big picture.

The first Program Prep lessons will lead up to the “Call Opening Gathering”.  These four lessons are:

Preparation Lesson #1:  “What is a Missionary?”

Preparation Lesson #2:  “Temple and Mission Preparation”

Preparation Lesson #3:  “Who Wants to Commit?”

Preparation Lesson #4:  “Preparing to Receive a Call”

After these lessons, there will be a “Call Opening Gathering”.  This is where all children and parents will receive a “Call to Prepare”.  The event should be a real big deal as it will help to generate enthusiasm and momentum for your future home and family Missionary in Training program.  More detailed information on this gathering is included elsewhere in this MIT package.

Following the “Call Opening Gathering”, you will have two kick-off lessons to help the children understand the coming program.  These lessons are:

Kick-off Lesson #1:  Introduction to the home and family MIT Center

Kick-Off Lesson #2:  The Introduction lesson will take two weeks so                   for this lesson you will want to continue what you started until the                     lesson and material has been fully taught.

Following these introductory lessons, you will be ready to start the Missionary Study Sessions on a weekly basis.

THE MISSION CALL OPENING GATHERING:

This is a special conference or gathering held to jump-start your Home and Family Missionary Training Center program.   This is a gathering staged to get everyone enthused and excited about participating in the Missionary Training program.  Grandparents, home teachers, Bishops, teachers and others may be invited to your gathering.  Make this gathering a special one – with special food, and a unique missionary setting or atmosphere.  All participants should be dressed in missionary attire.  At the gathering, all participants – including Parents, teen Ammonite trainers, and all missionary training participants receive “calls” to “prepare for missionary service”.  This gathering will set the stage for an effective and exciting long-term missionary preparation program in your home.  It should be a very fun and exciting program to be enjoyed by all participants.

RE-COMMITMENT GATHERING:

This gathering is similar to the Mission Call Opening Gathering but is to be held in subsequent times – like a year after you initiate the Missionary in Training program.  This is a time to recharge batteries of all program participants.  It is a time to recommit to using the Missionary in Training program.  Certificates can be awarded for participation during the past year.  New “calls” can be issued to new participants in the Missionary in Training program (like when young children become old enough to be involved).  Children who turn twelve can be “promoted” to be Ammonite trainers – and can be recognized appropriately with new “calls”.  This gathering can be held any time that the family deems it appropriate or beneficial.  There is no set time for it.

MISSIONARY STUDY SESSIONS:

These are the weekly missionary training meetings – formerly AKA – also known as “Family Home Evening”.   Most of the study sessions use “Preach My Gospel” as their main source and are referenced on the planning guide for each session.  There are some additional lessons that do not use “Preach My Gospel” as the reference.

These study sessions from “Preach My Gospel” use materials that missionaries use to teach to their investigators.  There are also study sessions on other reference material in “Preach My Gospel”.

In addition to the “Preach My Gospel” study sessions, there are other study sessions on a variety of subjects that will introduce the children to the missionary life and aid in their preparation.  Some of these will introduce at your Monday gathering what you will explore in greater detail on a Missionary Preparation Activity day – probably to be held on the Saturday of the same week.

It is recommended that you plan the study sessions two weeks in advance – so that you don’t have last minute lessons that you have to come up with.  You should have a weekly planning meeting – and it doesn’t have to be a long meeting – to plan upcoming lessons or study sessions.  These could be held right after your study sessions – or on a separate day.  So, for this week, for example, you would review the lesson plan for next week.  And you would do the initial and more detailed planning for the week after that.  If you follow this plan, you will be able to relax and enjoy the lessons and you won’t be pressured to come up with lesson material.

If you have Aaronic Priesthood or Young Women age youth, it is highly recommended that you use them almost weekly to give the lessons.  Let them be a part of the planning process with you – or even on their own.  Let them be responsible each week for the scripture reading in preparation for the lesson.  They can “study by subject” through the week and make note of key scriptures that they want to share with the family.  They could also research the subject on the Church websites to find material from current Apostles and Prophets and other leaders that supports the ideas of the lesson.

Each lesson planning sheet is the same format.  Routine is good.  But, you can have the flexibility to change things if you decide to do so.  But you will find that having a set plan to follow will greatly help you in your lesson planning.

Most lessons will begin with an introduction designed to be given by even the youngest of children.  A parent, Ammonite or other sibling can work with the child to memorize the sentence for the picture that they will hold up.  Each lesson calls for a picture.  Some of the pictures can be found in “Preach My Gospel” in small pictures.  You could also find some of them on-line.  Use photos from your own family if applicable.  There does not need to be a great amount of discussion after the child shares his picture – but there can be.  Let the child ask his/her question and then have the other family members respond to it.  Then an older person can introduce the main idea for the lesson that evening.

The lesson plans will work the best if a number of people participate each week.  If you have multiple children, give each of them a part on the program.  If you have one or two, give them whatever assignment – or multiple assignments they can handle – and parents can take the rest of the plan.

You may find that some lessons will take a couple of weeks to cover the material.  You could bump into a second week – or just cover what you can in one week and come back to that subject for the rest of the material in a few months or next year.

There are a multitude of study sessions.  You will find that there are more than enough to last an entire year – even giving a lesson every week.  Pick and choose which lessons you will use and when they will be given.  They can be given at any time – though they appear in the book/program materials in the order that they appear in “Preach My Gospel”.  Those that don’t use “Preach My Gospel” can be inserted into the plan whenever you want to use them.

And with so many lesson subjects, you can go for a very long period of time before you give them all a single time.  But, if you do make it through them all, simply start over.  The children will be a year older the next time – and their circumstances will have changed.  Repetition is a very good teacher.  Don’t worry about using the same lesson over again.  And some subjects are covered multiple times in “Preach My Gospel” so are repeated again as separate lesson topics.  And remember too, and remind the children that missionaries will use “Preach My Gospel” through the whole duration of their missions and they will go through the book many times as a missionary.  If they become familiar with the book now, they will be able to recall your home and family MTC lessons and will be able to share personal experiences “in the very hour” as they need to draw upon what you have taught them.

It is best to plan for the entire year and assign lesson numbers to each week of the year.  But, what happens if you suddenly have a family, school or other activity that pre-empts your calendar plan.  No worries …  You can slide the whole calendar to accommodate the lesson next week – or just drop it and put it back on the calendar for next year.

And if you just get bogged down and need a break, go ahead and take it.  It is your program and you can be flexible when you need to be.

TESTIMONY BEARING:

Each lesson also calls for testimony bearing by each family member.  As a general rule in the Church, we do not do enough testimony bearing.  And having very little children get up in Sacrament meeting can prove to be a bit obnoxious.  Our Church leaders are frequently saying that children should be taught to bear their testimonies at home.  Also, missionaries need to bear their testimonies very frequently – often several times within a single discussion with those they teach.  So, for this reason, testimony is built into every weekly MIT program.

The program uses testimony every week in an effort to get the children (and even adults) used to testimony bearing so that they will be comfortable with the process and it will come across naturally.  At first, as you introduce the weekly testimony period, it will be rather uncomfortable for some family members.  They will hesitate to bear their testimony.  But, keep encouraging them and very soon they will be very comfortable and willing to share their testimonies frequently.  You will be amazed at the results that you will see – and the missionary will later thank you and thank you again for the training that you gave to them.

Also, the lessons invite the family members to bear testimony of specific principles as taught that evening.  Teach the children that they don’t have to always say the same three or four things, “I know the church is true … I love my family, etc”.  Help them to learn to bear testimony – as prompted in the lesson planning guides – to share testimony of specific principles – and not everything that they know – all at once.  If they bear testimony of the single principle, they will soon be amazed at how their testimony is growing and they will have a conviction of much more than they ever thought possible.

Teach children to begin their testimony with the words, “I know …” OR “I believe …” OR “I Feel ….”  And then add to that, “And this is why …”

Children and all family members can then share a personal experience or a spiritual experience with or for that principle.  It might be as simple as saying, “I read in a scripture last week about this and I felt that it is true …” The “And this is why … “ might be sharing feelings of the mind or heart.  “I prayed about this and received a warm feeling in my heart …” etc.  Simple testimonies are the best when given with love and sincerity.  If they will learn to bear testimony, the Holy Ghost will use their testimonies to touch countless investigators and they will truly be a successful missionary.   Try this out and you will reap wonderful rewards from your efforts.

See also, Bear Testimony Frequently, “Preach My Gospel”, Pages 198-199 and MIT Study Session #9.

SERVICE ACTIVITES OR EVENTS:

Missionaries have learned that some of their greatest teaching opportunities and contacts have come as a result from service given to the people – often even before they have been formally taught.  There are a million ways to give service.  Teach the children to always be looking for service to be given.  Help them to realize that they don’t need to do the major service things – like spending three hours on a lawn project (though they may do some like that). Teach them that they can do even 5-minutes acts of service – like taking out someone’s garbage can – or bringing it in.

Try to motivate the children to find some 5-minute type of service activities to do each and every day.  And make service a part of every family prayer.  Ask for service opportunities – and be ready to act upon impressions and opportunities to serve and soon this will become a very natural and rewarding thing for family members.  This may not happen on the first attempt – but if they think of service every day and find opportunities on many days, they will begin to find more and more opportunities.  Teach them of President Thomas S. Monson and how his whole life has been based upon service following quiet impressions.  He has learned how to listen to the promptings as they come – and he testifies that the Lord has come to know and trust “Thomas S. Monson” as one who will go and do.

As the children do service to their friends – and those who are not yet their friends, they will soon make more friends.  And through service, they will soon be able to make other conversation and will be able to extend invitations to their new friends to come and join in on missionary preparation activities, to attend church, etc.

In the MIT program, you are encouraged to schedule some “bigger” type service things – which the whole family can participate in.  There is no set number, but it would be great if you could calendar a service activity together with your Friendshipping Families at least once every two months.  It would be a great idea to invite non-members, less-actives, and others who need fellowshipping – to come and serve with you – at a common neighbor’s house, in the neighborhood, or even with the church group.  If you do this, you will reap great benefits and you will later be very grateful for the times that you “reached out” and included others.

PREPARATION “P-DAY” – MISSIONARY PREPARATION ACTIVITIES:

We all know that missionaries have a weekly preparation day.  This is the one day when they can clean their apartments, buy groceries, do the laundry, clean their rooms, write letters, visit cultural places, etc.  Make the “P-Day” a part of your full home and family MTC program and you will be amazed.  There is an Activity Package specifically titled “The Preparation Day Introduction”.   This should be taught or held soon after you start using the MIT program.  Then after that, it is recommended that you make every Saturday a “P-Day Activity” Day.  Do the home basics each week and then jump into other activities that you have planned for the day (as if they are a part of the actual Preparation Day plan).

In addition, The Missionary in Training Program includes a multitude of Missionary Preparation Activity packages and each package contains a plethora of sub-activities that center on the activity theme.  These also are recommended for Saturday activity preparation days.  You could do your regular routine of P-Day and then launch immediately into one of these activity packages.

Saturday Preparation Day Activities

What this means is that you could make EVERY SATURDAY morning a missionary “P-day.”  You know that if you tell the children that we are going to clean the bathroom, this will not be met with great enthusiasm.  However, if they know that it is “Our Missionary “P-day” – and that fun stuff can be done after the work, they will be more anxious to participate and do their part.  Make the P-day a regular routine.  We get up, we exercise together.  We have companion study.  We clean our own room and then help with one other – with a sibling or alone – and then we go shopping, and then we do a sports or other fun event together.

And the missionary preparation activities of “P-Day” can be things that you would probably be doing anyway – such as the laundry, going grocery shopping, etc.  Perhaps you have been the one to always do the shopping – alone – and it takes a lot of your time.  Now, look at shopping as a family P-day activity – combined with learning to plan menus and cooking – because they will need to do that as missionaries.  Wow!  Think of the results of such a concept!  The children will go for it with enthusiasm and you will accomplish so much more than you ever thought possible.  So what if they only get three rooms clean in the P-day cleaning.  That is three more than you would probably ever get with the cleaning as an independent activity.  And if they do three rooms together, that is three less rooms that you will have to clean yourself.

And teach the children to do their own laundry as a part of each weekly P-day.  Teach them how to do laundry and just expect that to be done – because it is part of the P-day routine.  Teach that P-Day (or more properly, the “Preparation Day” is like a Saturday – where they prepare for the Sabbath.  On the mission, the P-Day could fall on any day of the week but the missionary preparation activities of the day are still in preparation – preparation so that full missionary work can be accomplished on the other days.

A good idea would be to pair older children with younger children to accomplish your tasks.  Even laundry could be a “companion” activity – and would be a benefit since most children do not have enough soiled clothing (if washed weekly) to fill a full laundry load.  So, a shared thing between companions would have multiple benefits.

Note that there is one activity day program package that is centered on the real missionary “P-Day”.  This activity is to introduce the MTC participants to the P-Day concept.  It is to teach them the routines that should be a part of each future Saturday preparation day.  So, it is recommended that you use this early on in your program – and that is why it is included in your first three months program.  The sooner you get the children into the “P-Day” scene, the sooner you as the parent will reap the rewards.

So, find the lesson study guide.  Introduce the concept of the “P-day to the children.  Talk about what kinds of missionary preparation activities missionaries typically do.  Then tell them that after the weekly household chores are complete, then the whole family can go and do other fun missionary preparation activities as a part of the family “P-Day”.

The next section will discuss MIT “Activity Days.”  You will be encouraged to have frequent activity days – like every two months – or more frequently.  Even on your calendared activity days and programs, you can still incorporate the P-day concept and combine the activity with the usual P-day routine.  Just do the household stuff first and then proceed into the planned activity – rather then just randomly doing stuff.  The activity day will give missionary focus and will encourage the children to get the house cleaning stuff done first so that they can do the missionary preparation activities.

MISSIONARY PREPARATION ACTIVITY PACKAGES:

Activities as a family can be times to strengthen each other and to enjoy being together.  They can be a fun way to learn new things and to practice skills learned in missionary study sessions. Activities can help to build or create strong family traditions and brotherhood among family members.

A major component of the MIT program is the many “Activity Days”.  These program “packages” (a bunch of activities centered around one preparation theme) are all built around real live missionary stuff that missionaries deal with regularly – or that are needed to truly be prepared as missionaries – like “how to sew on a button” – or “how to buy clothes for my mission” – or “how to enjoy working with people of a different culture and language.”

There are many different activity program packages and you can choose which ones you work on and when.  With each activity, there are some basic guidelines that will teach the principles of the activity – the “what and why”.  And each package has a multitude of other FUN missionary preparation activities that can be done to learn further of the function or subject.  Again, you will find that you can’t do them all.   You will have to pick and choose.

Another idea would be to choose an activity theme package and then kind of use the list of possible missionary preparation activities and do one or two of them every day.  You could spend a week on each activity – or even a full month.  Or you could do some of the missionary preparation activities now and then others a year from now when you do the activity again.

After the children get into the action of your family missionary preparation activities together, they will really get into it.  They will find that the missionary preparation activities are FUN and they will want to do more and more of them.  They won’t want to quit after just a few of them.  And who knows, they may want every Saturday – or every night to become an activity day.  (And that could happen … you could do an activity from the selected theme each afternoon or evening as all of the family gets home in the evening – rather than TV or video games or whatever.)   Do one or two at a time and they will be begging for more.  Then you will be amazed at how much fun you really can have as a family.  You’ll do things together that you have never done before.

Altogether, you will find literally hundreds of missionary preparation activities that you can do together (and most of them don’t cost money).  Wow!  You’ll have such great times together.  You will look back and say, “Wow” (again) and “Why have we not been doing these things together before.

As with study sessions, and service functions, delegate out the planning and implementation of missionary preparation activities to your Ammonite children.  Teach them how to plan and conduct an activity – and let them have full reign (almost) to stage the missionary preparation activities for their younger siblings.  And think of the leadership experience this will give them.  They are capable of taking the bull by the horns and going for it.  If you give them basic training, guidelines, and parameters, you will see fabulous results as they soon “do it all” to make something happen – and to make it wonderful and fun. Wherever possible, delegate to and use your Ammonites.  They will grow so much through the experience!  And again, you will be truly amazed at their capabilities and results.

In the MIT program materials, you will be trained to know that every activity you do can become a missionary opportunity.  With each activity – no matter how large or small, ask yourselves, “Who do we know that we can invite to do this with us?”  Most non-members, part-members, etc. will have a limited social group (unlike us “Mormons” who have so many built in ways to have friends – just through the structure and activities of the Church).  They will welcome the opportunity to do things with you and your family.  And as you look at the various missionary preparation activities, you will see that most of them are not really “church things”.  The missionary preparation activities are fun things to do – but in this case, they are fun with a purpose – that of missionary preparation and training.

Whenever possible, throw in some kind of food.  Combine a BBQ or a park picnic with a Frisbee competition at the park – or after some other activity together.  Food brings people together.  Have the first BBQ and activity at your home.  Then, you plan the activity and let the friends host the BBQ afterwards at their place.  And after that, they will surprise you by saying that they have an activity you could do together – and they’ll provide the food.  They it will be time to invite them to the church service project or activity – and they will probably come!  (And that is another WOW!)

And again, with your children, call the activity a “missionary activity” – or a “P-Day activity” – anything to tie it to being a missionary – now and in the future.  And if you are upfront in the beginning about your home and family missionary training program with your friends, you can call your events “Another of our MIT missionary preparation activities” as you invite them to participate.  They’ll soon equate the activity with fun and friends – and together you can enjoy what the program (and the Church) has to offer to you and to them.  And like the above other elements of the MIT program, you will soon begin to reap wonderful and exciting blessings as you do the fun things together – as a family – and together with others.

SPECIAL HOME AND FAMILY MISSION CONFERENCES:

On missions, every missionary looks forward to zone conferences.  These are the greatest of times as they hear from the Mission President, receive training – usually centered around a specific theme for the day – a set of scriptures, a gospel topic, a teaching method, fellowship together, sing with gusto, hear good talks, and of course, FOOD – and lots of it.

So, that is what a Missionary in Training special conference is all about.  It combines and uses all of those elements.  Special conferences take some planning and extra effort but they will be very much worth it.  Do all that you can to go all out to make them extra special.  Have them at the home of grandparents, the Bishop, or at the Church – or on the Temple grounds – or some other cool place.  But, they can be great even in your own home – if you take some advance effort to make them special and unique.

Try to make the conferences different than the usual missionary preparation activities and study sessions.  Invite special guests.  Invite the home teachers, the Bishop, teachers, aunts and uncles and grandparents, returned missionaries, and others to participate with you.  They will bring a wealth of experience – and they will have new and interesting experiences to share with your children.  Delegate out the various program tasks to as many people as you can.

Note that for almost every special conference, you should have the children wear missionary shirts and ties (or dresses for the girls) and their missionary name tags.  Make these conferences more formal and your children will pack in the memories of their time in your Home and Family MTC.  They will brag of these special times later to their missionary companions.

WEARING MISSIONARY ATTIRE:

You will want to make a family decision about when to be in full-dress missionary attire.  You may decide that you want every study session to be in “full-dress” missionary attire.  You may decide that you want to be dressed as missionaries for most missionary preparation activities, as well.  You might want to decide that any time that you got out in public together (except for work projects and sports type events) that you want to be in full dress attire.  Doing so will help the children feel and act like missionaries.  They will act better when they know that they are wearing the missionary badge and are supposed to be missionaries.

You will enjoy seeing the eyes turn to your children when they look so wonderful.  And you will have great missionary conversations as the children are seen as missionaries – rather than a bunch of rowdy kids. Don’t just smile and say, “Yeah, they do look great” but smile big and tell the “why” they are dressed this way.  Talk about the MIT program, your home and family MTC, and the church – and your family’s plan of missionary preparation.  This will give you a lead-in to explore other Church conversations and to perhaps invite them to your home and family study sessions, an activity, etc.  You will be surprised at who might take you up on it and want to know more – just because of a white shirt, tie and a name tag.

As noted, many missionary preparation activities can be done when in missionary attire with name tags.  Look at each activity or function and determine together what missionary attire might be the most appropriate.  They – the children – will develop a special sense of missionary and family pride as they all do it together.  You might even want to have the children wear missionary attire to each home and family study session.  This will really help them catch the vision of being a missionary – now and later.  Ultimately, your family should determine together what the plan will be – and what the dress of the day is to be.  Talk of this a few days ahead so that clothes can be ready as needed.

MISSIONARY TRAINING CAMP – THE “MTC” – or “THE CAMP OF AMMON”:

This is a wonderful opportunity for teen boys AND girls who are preparing for missions.   It is a week-long (five day) camp held at a retreat facility or camp of some kind.  It is an intense missionary training program where youth receive missionary preparation training as they look, dress, act and LIVE as regular full-time missionaries.  The course content is taken from the regular “Missionary in Training” program but is compacted tightly to be received in one week.

Attending the camp will not diminish interest in your home missionary training program.  On the contrary!  Youth who attend the “Camp of Ammon” will come home super excited and charged with an intense desire to prepare even harder and better for their missionary experience.  They will come home better able to serve in their role of “Ammonite Missionary Trainer” in service to younger siblings.  Participation in “The Camp of Ammon” will be well worth the financial sacrifice it will cost for your participating youth.  Youth can attend the camp year after year if you and they desire to do so.

INVITING “FRIENDSHIPPING FAMILIES” TO PARTICIPATE WITH YOUR FAMILY:

This is a very key element of the Missionary in Training program.  You and your family will have great opportunities and also great joy as together you share the Gospel with others.  It will be your blessing and opportunity to invite “Friendshipping Families” to participate with you in your Home and Family Missionary Training Center events, activities, service events, and special conferences as well as Church and community events.

A “Friendshipping Family” is a general term that is all inclusive.  A “Friendshipping Family” can include:

Non-Members of the Church

Less-Active Members of the Church

Part-member Families

New Converts

Investigators

Families with whom the Missionaries are Working

Anyone who needs friends

Family members of friends to your family

Member families who can assist you with the above families

THE “AMMONITE” PROGRAM FOR TEENS:

It will be more fun for your teens and they will get more out of the program if they are highly involved with you.  They should not just be passive participants.  They will have more fun and they will enjoy the program more if you use them for teaching, training, planning, preparation, bearing testimony, leading games, researching scriptures and talks from Church leaders, etc.

The Ammonite program is designed specifically for Aaronic Priesthood Young Men and Young Women.  There is a special training that parents should present to the Ammonites as you start with the program.    Train them in what they can do and help them to “catch the vision” of how they might be involved and participate.  Help them to realize that as they take on these tasks, they will help themselves and their siblings, they will learn a great deal through study and lesson preparation, and they will become familiar with and proficient in various leadership responsibilities.  In the beginning, help them plan Missionary Study Sessions.  Give them specific tasks within each session and then as they become more familiar with how to do their job, you can delegate to them and back off a bit to let them do it.  There will be great benefits to the youth and parents if the youth will actively participate in the program and be given responsibility – AND freedom to act, organize and implement.

THE AMMONITE PERSONAL RETREAT:

The Ammonite Personal Retreat is a very exciting opportunity for your Ammonite.  It will take some innovation to pull it off, but with some thought, you can make it happen.  And when it does happen, it can become possibly one of the greatest experiences your youth can have.  It can be a life-changing, highly motivating and spiritual time or event for them.

This is a personal retreat where your teen son or daughter has time and focus to ponder life and what he/she should do with it.  The concept is that the Ammonite goes to a place where he/she can be totally alone and where time can be spent thinking about their life, reading scriptures, praying, setting goals, and making commitments to Heavenly Father about their future – and hopefully, about their desire to serve a future mission.

The innovation part is the question of where to send them?  That is a good question.  Where can you send a teenager where they can be secluded and safe for a few hours or a day?  But, give it some thought and see what solutions present themselves.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  It could be as easy as a retreat to the woods near the family cabin, the hay loft at Grandpa’s farm, the back porch on a Saturday morning, under a big shade tree at the chapel or wherever.

 

Getting Started with the Missionary in Training Program

As noted previously in other blogs, the Missionary in Training Program is a home and centered program for missionary preparation.  Now that the program has been introduced, here are some ways to get started with the program.

  1. Parents review together the overall Missionary in Training Program and make a personal and family commitment to believing in and committing to the long-term plan for the family.
  1. Have/Conduct the FOUR preliminary missionary training programs – in home evenings – using the attached “Missionary Training Guides” and “Planning Worksheets”. Complete the missionary preparation activities and teaching as outlined.
  1. Obtain the MISSIONARY IN TRAINING package and other materials for the family and each participating family member.
  1. Prepare the program “mission Calls” as included in the program package – for each participating child or family member – including parent and youth trainers.
  1. Schedule a date and plan a special “Open the Call Gathering” to include siblings, friends of each child, Primary, Young Men and Young Women Leaders and even non-member friends and neighbors to get children, youth and parents committed and excited about the program.  (See the attached “Missionary in Training “Call Opening Gathering Agenda” and plan.)
  1. Set a date and make a plan for conducting the quarterly or annual family MIT planning conference. (See attached “guidelines”.)  Set a date, determine a location, and make assignments – without the children knowing of the plan.
  1. Prepare a place in the home for your Home and Family Missionary Training Center. This will be where you will stage future missionary training programs.  This could around a wall in the kitchen (by the dining table) or in the family room.  It needs to be a place (or bulletin board or wall) where plaques and planning worksheets can be posted and viewed frequently or continuously by family members.
  1. Create a box where MIT badges, training supplies and materials can be placed on a shelf or in proximity to the board or wall described above
  1. Tell family, friends, home teachers and church leaders about your program and plan. This will further commit you to the plan and will generate support and will commit them to periodic involvement with you in your program.  It will also generate enthusiasm for you and your family.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM ELEMENTS

There are a variety of programs and missionary preparation activities in the Missionary in Training Program.  There are planning guides for each of these.  The various program elements are described below:

PROGRAM PREPARATION AND KICK-OFF LESSONS

As you begin using the Missionary in Training program, you will want to start with six different lessons to help lay the foundation for the program.  And it will be best not to share details of these lessons, the “Call Opening Gathering” or other program elements with your children until after the “Call Opening Gathering”.  It will be more effective if the children do not know ahead of the Call Gathering what is going to happen.  Older children can be invited to present some of these lessons – but don’t give them a vision of the whole big picture.

The first Program Prep lessons will lead up to the “Call Opening Gathering”.  These four lessons are:

Preparation Lesson #1:  “What is a Missionary?”

Preparation Lesson #2:  “Temple and Mission Preparation”

Preparation Lesson #3:  “Who Wants to Commit?”

Preparation Lesson #4:  “Preparing to Receive a Call”

After these lessons, there will be a “Call Opening Gathering”.  This is where all children and parents will receive a “Call to Prepare”.  The event should be a real big deal as it will help to generate enthusiasm and momentum for your future home and family Missionary in Training program.  More detailed information on this gathering is included elsewhere in this MIT package.

Following the “Call Opening Gathering”, you will have two kick-off lessons to help the children understand the coming program.  These lessons are:

Kick-off Lesson #1:  Introduction to the home and family MIT Center

Kick-Off Lesson #2:  The Introduction lesson will take two weeks so for this lesson you will want to continue what you started until the lesson and material has been fully taught.

Following these introductory lessons, you will be ready to start the Missionary Study Sessions on a weekly basis.

THE MISSION CALL OPENING GATHERING:

This is a special conference or gathering held to jump-start your Home and Family Missionary Training Center program.   This is a gathering staged to get everyone enthused and excited about participating in the Missionary Training program.  Grandparents, home teachers, Bishops, teachers and others may be invited to your gathering.  Make this gathering a special one – with special food, and a unique missionary setting or atmosphere.  All participants should be dressed in missionary attire.  At the gathering, all participants – including Parents, teen Ammonite trainers, and all missionary training participants receive “calls” to “prepare for missionary service”.  This gathering will set the stage for an effective and exciting long-term missionary preparation program in your home.  It should be a very fun and exciting program to be enjoyed by all participants.

RE-COMMITMENT GATHERING:

This gathering is similar to the Mission Call Opening Gathering but is to be held in subsequent times – like a year after you initiate the Missionary in Training program.  This is a time to recharge batteries of all program participants.  It is a time to recommit to using the Missionary in Training program.  Certificates can be awarded for participation during the past year.  New “calls” can be issued to new participants in the Missionary in Training program (like when young children become old enough to be involved).  Children who turn twelve can be “promoted” to be Ammonite trainers – and can be recognized appropriately with new “calls”.  This gathering can be held any time that the family deems it appropriate or beneficial.  There is no set time for it.

MISSIONARY STUDY SESSIONS:

These are the weekly missionary training meetings – formerly AKA – also known as “Family Home Evening”.   Most of the study sessions use “Preach My Gospel” as their main source and are referenced on the planning guide for each session.  There are some additional lessons that do not use “Preach My Gospel” as the reference.

These study sessions from “Preach My Gospel” use materials that missionaries use to teach to their investigators.  There are also study sessions on other reference material in “Preach My Gospel”.

In addition to the “Preach My Gospel” study sessions, there are other study sessions on a variety of subjects that will introduce the children to the missionary life and aid in their preparation.  Some of these will introduce at your Monday gathering what you will explore in greater detail on a Missionary Preparation Activity day – probably to be held on the Saturday of the same week.

It is recommended that you plan the study sessions two weeks in advance – so that you don’t have last minute lessons that you have to come up with.  You should have a weekly planning meeting – and it doesn’t have to be a long meeting – to plan upcoming lessons or study sessions.  These could be held right after your study sessions – or on a separate day.  So, for this week, for example, you would review the lesson plan for next week.  And you would do the initial and more detailed planning for the week after that.  If you follow this plan, you will be able to relax and enjoy the lessons and you won’t be pressured to come up with lesson material.

If you have Aaronic Priesthood or Young Women age youth, it is highly recommended that you use them almost weekly to give the lessons.  Let them be a part of the planning process with you – or even on their own.  Let them be responsible each week for the scripture reading in preparation for the lesson.  They can “study by subject” through the week and make note of key scriptures that they want to share with the family.  They could also research the subject on the Church websites to find material from current Apostles and Prophets and other leaders that supports the ideas of the lesson.

Each lesson planning sheet is the same format.  Routine is good.  But, you can have the flexibility to change things if you decide to do so.  But you will find that having a set plan to follow will greatly help you in your lesson planning.

Most lessons will begin with an introduction designed to be given by even the youngest of children.  A parent, Ammonite or other sibling can work with the child to memorize the sentence for the picture that they will hold up.  Each lesson calls for a picture.  Some of the pictures can be found in “Preach My Gospel” in small pictures.  You could also find some of them on-line.  Use photos from your own family if applicable.  There does not need to be a great amount of discussion after the child shares his picture – but there can be.  Let the child ask his/her question and then have the other family members respond to it.  Then an older person can introduce the main idea for the lesson that evening.

The lesson plans will work the best if a number of people participate each week.  If you have multiple children, give each of them a part on the program.  If you have one or two, give them whatever assignment – or multiple assignments they can handle – and parents can take the rest of the plan.

You may find that some lessons will take a couple of weeks to cover the material.  You could bump into a second week – or just cover what you can in one week and come back to that subject for the rest of the material in a few months or next year.

There are a multitude of study sessions.  You will find that there are more than enough to last an entire year – even giving a lesson every week.  Pick and choose which lessons you will use and when they will be given.  They can be given at any time – though they appear in the book/program materials in the order that they appear in “Preach My Gospel”.  Those that don’t use “Preach My Gospel” can be inserted into the plan whenever you want to use them.

And with so many lesson subjects, you can go for a very long period of time before you give them all a single time.  But, if you do make it through them all, simply start over.  The children will be a year older the next time – and their circumstances will have changed.  Repetition is a very good teacher.  Don’t worry about using the same lesson over again.  And some subjects are covered multiple times in “Preach My Gospel” so are repeated again as separate lesson topics.  And remember too, and remind the children that missionaries will use “Preach My Gospel” through the whole duration of their missions and they will go through the book many times as a missionary.  If they become familiar with the book now, they will be able to recall your home and family MTC lessons and will be able to share personal experiences “in the very hour” as they need to draw upon what you have taught them.

It is best to plan for the entire year and assign lesson numbers to each week of the year.  But, what happens if you suddenly have a family, school or other activity that pre-empts your calendar plan.  No worries …  You can slide the whole calendar to accommodate the lesson next week – or just drop it and put it back on the calendar for ext year.

And if you just get bogged down and need a break, go ahead and take it.  It is your program and you can be flexible when you need to be.

TESTIMONY BEARING:

Each lesson also calls for testimony bearing by each family member.  As a general rule in the Church, we do not do enough testimony bearing.  And having very little children get up in Sacrament meeting can prove to be a bit obnoxious.  Our Church leaders are frequently saying that children should be taught to bear their testimonies at home.  Also, missionaries need to bear their testimonies very frequently – often several times within a single discussion with those they teach.  So, for this reason, testimony is built into every weekly MIT program.

The program uses testimony every week in an effort to get the children (and even adults) used to testimony bearing so that they will be comfortable with the process and it will come across naturally.  At first, as you introduce the weekly testimony period, it will be rather uncomfortable for some family members.  They will hesitate to bear their testimony.  But, keep encouraging them and very soon they will be very comfortable and willing to share their testimonies frequently.  You will be amazed at the results that you will see – and the missionary will later thank you and thank you again for the training that you gave to them.

Also, the lessons invite the family members to bear testimony of specific principles as taught that evening.  Teach the children that they don’t have to always say the same three or four things, “I know the church is true … I love my family, etc”.  Help them to learn to bear testimony – as prompted in the lesson planning guides – to share testimony of specific principles – and not everything that they know – all at once.  If they bear testimony of the single principle, they will soon be amazed at how their testimony is growing and they will have a conviction of much more than they ever thought possible.

Teach children to begin their testimony with the words, “I know …” OR “I believe …” OR “I Feel ….”  And then add to that, “And this is why …”

Children and all family members can then share a personal experience or a spiritual experience with or for that principle.  It might be as simple as saying, “I read in a scripture last week about this and I felt that it is true …” The “And this is why … “ might be sharing feelings of the mind or heart.  “I prayed about this and received a warm feeling in my heart …” etc.  Simple testimonies are the best when given with love and sincerity.  If they will learn to bear testimony, the Holy Ghost will use their testimonies to touch countless investigators and they will truly be a successful missionary.   Try this out and you will reap wonderful rewards from your efforts.

See also, Bear Testimony Frequently, “Preach My Gospel”, Pages 198-199 and MIT Study Session #9.

SERVICE ACTIVITES OR EVENTS:

Missionaries have learned that some of their greatest teaching opportunities and contacts have come as a result from service given to the people – often even before they have been formally taught.  There are a million ways to give service.  Teach the children to always be looking for service to be given.  Help them to realize that they don’t need to do the major service things – like spending three hours on a lawn project (though they may do some like that). Teach them that they can do even 5-minutes acts of service – like taking out someone’s garbage can – or bringing it in.

Try to motivate the children to find some 5-minute type of service activities to do each and every day.  And make service a part of every family prayer.  Ask for service opportunities – and be ready to act upon impressions and opportunities to serve and soon this will become a very natural and rewarding thing for family members.  This may not happen on the first attempt – but if they think of service every day and find opportunities on many days, they will begin to find more and more opportunities.  Teach them of President Thomas S. Monson and how his whole life has been based upon service following quiet impressions.  He has learned how to listen to the promptings as they come – and he testifies that the Lord has come to know and trust “Thomas S. Monson” as one who will go and do.

As the children do service to their friends – and those who are not yet their friends, they will soon make more friends.  And through service, they will soon be able to make other conversation and will be able to extend invitations to their new friends to come and join in on missionary preparation activities, to attend church, etc.

In the MIT program, you are encouraged to schedule some “bigger” type service things – which the whole family can participate in.  There is no set number, but it would be great if you could calendar a service activity together with your Friendshipping Families at least once every two months.  It would be a great idea to invite non-members, less-actives, and others who need fellowshipping – to come and serve with you – at a common neighbor’s house, in the neighborhood, or even with the church group.  If you do this, you will reap great benefits and you will later be very grateful for the times that you “reached out” and included others.

PREPARATION “P-DAY” – MISSIONARY PREPARATION ACTIVITIES:

We all know that missionaries have a weekly preparation day.  This is the one day when they can clean their apartments, buy groceries, do the laundry, clean their rooms, write letters, visit cultural places, etc.  Make the “P-Day” a part of your full home and family MTC program and you will be amazed.  There is an Activity Package specifically titled “The Preparation Day Introduction”.   This should be taught or held soon after you start using the MIT program.  Then after that, it is recommended that you make every Saturday a “P-Day Activity” Day.  Do the home basics each week and then jump into other activities that you have planned for the day (as if they are a part of the actual Preparation Day plan).

In addition, The Missionary in Training Program includes a multitude of Missionary Preparation Activity packages and each package contains a plethora of sub-activities that center on the activity theme.  These also are recommended for Saturday activity preparation days.  You could do your regular routine of P-Day and then launch immediately into one of these activity packages.

Saturday Preparation Day Activities

What this means is that you could make EVERY SATURDAY morning a missionary “P-day.”  You know that if you tell the children that we are going to clean the bathroom, this will not be met with great enthusiasm.  However, if they know that it is “Our Missionary “P-day” – and that fun stuff can be done after the work, they will be more anxious to participate and do their part.  Make the P-day a regular routine.  We get up, we exercise together.  We have companion study.  We clean our own room and then help with one other – with a sibling or alone – and then we go shopping, and then we do a sports or other fun event together.

And the missionary preparation activities of “P-Day” can be things that you would probably be doing anyway – such as the laundry, going grocery shopping, etc.  Perhaps you have been the one to always do the shopping – alone – and it takes a lot of your time.  Now, look at shopping as a family P-day activity – combined with learning to plan menus and cooking – because they will need to do that as missionaries.  Wow!  Think of the results of such a concept!  The children will go for it with enthusiasm and you will accomplish so much more than you ever thought possible.  So what if they only get three rooms clean in the P-day cleaning.  That is three more than you would probably ever get with the cleaning as an independent activity.  And if they do three rooms together, that is three less rooms that you will have to clean yourself.

And teach the children to do their own laundry as a part of each weekly P-day.  Teach them how to do laundry and just expect that to be done – because it is part of the P-day routine.  Teach that P-Day (or more properly, the “Preparation Day” is like a Saturday – where they prepare for the Sabbath.  On the mission, the P-Day could fall on any day of the week but the missionary preparation activities of the day are still in preparation – preparation so that full missionary work can be accomplished on the other days.

A good idea would be to pair older children with younger children to accomplish your tasks.  Even laundry could be a “companion” activity – and would be a benefit since most children do not have enough soiled clothing (if washed weekly) to fill a full laundry load.  So, a shared thing between companions would have multiple benefits.

Note that there is one activity day program package that is centered on the real missionary “P-Day”.  This activity is to introduce the MTC participants to the P-Day concept.  It is to teach them the routines that should be a part of each future Saturday preparation day.  So, it is recommended that you use this early on in your program – and that is why it is included in your first three months program.  The sooner you get the children into the “P-Day” scene, the sooner you as the parent will reap the rewards.

So, find the lesson study guide.  Introduce the concept of the “P-day to the children.  Talk about what kinds of missionary preparation activities missionaries typically do.  Then tell them that after the weekly household chores are complete, then the whole family can go and do other fun missionary preparation activities as a part of the family “P-Day”.

The next section will discuss MIT “Activity Days.”  You will be encouraged to have frequent activity days – like every two months – or more frequently.  Even on your calendared activity days and programs, you can still incorporate the P-day concept and combine the activity with the usual P-day routine.  Just do the household stuff first and then proceed into the planned activity – rather then just randomly doing stuff.  The activity day will give missionary focus and will encourage the children to get the house cleaning stuff done first so that they can do the missionary preparation activities.

MISSIONARY PREPARATION ACTIVITY PACKAGES:

Activities as a family can be times to strengthen each other and to enjoy being together.  They can be a fun way to learn new things and to practice skills learned in missionary study sessions. Activities can help to build or create strong family traditions and brotherhood among family members.

A major component of the MIT program is the many “Activity Days”.  These program “packages” (a bunch of activities centered around one preparation theme) are all built around real live missionary stuff that missionaries deal with regularly – or that are needed to truly be prepared as missionaries – like “how to sew on a button” – or “how to buy clothes for my mission” – or “how to enjoy working with people of a different culture and language.”

There are many different activity program packages and you can choose which ones you work on and when.  With each activity, there are some basic guidelines that will teach the principles of the activity – the “what and why”.  And each package has a multitude of other FUN missionary preparation activities that can be done to learn further of the function or subject.  Again, you will find that you can’t do them all.   You will have to pick and choose.

Another idea would be to choose an activity theme package and then kind of use the list of possible missionary preparation activities and do one or two of them every day.  You could spend a week on each activity – or even a full month.  Or you could do some of the missionary preparation activities now and then others a year from now when you do the activity again.

After the children get into the action of your family missionary preparation activities together, they will really get into it.  They will find that the missionary preparation activities are FUN and they will want to do more and more of them.  They won’t want to quit after just a few of them.  And who knows, they may want every Saturday – or every night to become an activity day.  (And that could happen … you could do an activity from the selected theme each afternoon or evening as all of the family gets home in the evening – rather than TV or video games or whatever.)   Do one or two at a time and they will be begging for more.  Then you will be amazed at how much fun you really can have as a family.  You’ll do things together that you have never done before.

Altogether, you will find literally hundreds of missionary preparation activities that you can do together (and most of them don’t cost money).  Wow!  You’ll have such great times together.  You will look back and say, “Wow” (again) and “Why have we not been doing these things together before.

As with study sessions, and service functions, delegate out the planning and implementation of missionary preparation activities to your Ammonite children.  Teach them how to plan and conduct an activity – and let them have full reign (almost) to stage the missionary preparation activities for their younger siblings.  And think of the leadership experience this will give them.  They are capable of taking the bull by the horns and going for it.  If you give them basic training, guidelines, and parameters, you will see fabulous results as they soon “do it all” to make something happen – and to make it wonderful and fun. Wherever possible, delegate to and use your Ammonites.  They will grow so much through the experience!  And again, you will be truly amazed at their capabilities and results.

In the MIT program materials, you will be trained to know that every activity you do can become a missionary opportunity.  With each activity – no matter how large or small, ask yourselves, “Who do we know that we can invite to do this with us?”  Most non-members, part-members, etc. will have a limited social group (unlike us “Mormons” who have so many built in ways to have friends – just through the structure and activities of the Church).  They will welcome the opportunity to do things with you and your family.  And as you look at the various missionary preparation activities, you will see that most of them are not really “church things”.  The missionary preparation activities are fun things to do – but in this case, they are fun with a purpose – that of missionary preparation and training.

Whenever possible, throw in some kind of food.  Combine a BBQ or a park picnic with a Frisbee competition at the park – or after some other activity together.  Food brings people together.  Have the first BBQ and activity at your home.  Then, you plan the activity and let the friends host the BBQ afterwards at their place.  And after that, they will surprise you by saying that they have an activity you could do together – and they’ll provide the food.  They it will be time to invite them to the church service project or activity – and they will probably come!  (And that is another WOW!)

And again, with your children, call the activity a “missionary activity” – or a “P-Day activity” – anything to tie it to being a missionary – now and in the future.  And if you are upfront in the beginning about your home and family missionary training program with your friends, you can call your events “Another of our MIT missionary preparation activities” as you invite them to participate.  They’ll soon equate the activity with fun and friends – and together you can enjoy what the program (and the Church) has to offer to you and to them.  And like the above other elements of the MIT program, you will soon begin to reap wonderful and exciting blessings as you do the fun things together – as a family – and together with others.

SPECIAL HOME AND FAMILY MISSION CONFERENCES:

On missions, every missionary looks forward to zone conferences.  These are the greatest of times as they hear from the Mission President, receive training – usually centered around a specific theme for the day – a set of scriptures, a gospel topic, a teaching method, fellowship together, sing with gusto, hear good talks, and of course, FOOD – and lots of it.

So, that is what a Missionary in Training special conference is all about.  It combines and uses all of those elements.  Special conferences take some planning and extra effort but they will be very much worth it.  Do all that you can to go all out to make them extra special.  Have them at the home of grandparents, the Bishop, or at the Church – or on the Temple grounds – or some other cool place.  But, they can be great even in your own home – if you take some advance effort to make them special and unique.

Try to make the conferences different than the usual missionary preparation activities and study sessions.  Invite special guests.  Invite the home teachers, the Bishop, teachers, aunts and uncles and grandparents, returned missionaries, and others to participate with you.  They will bring a wealth of experience – and they will have new and interesting experiences to share with your children.  Delegate out the various program tasks to as many people as you can.

Note that for almost every special conference, you should have the children wear missionary shirts and ties (or dresses for the girls) and their missionary name tags.  Make these conferences more formal and your children will pack in the memories of their time in your Home and Family MTC.  They will brag of these special times later to their missionary companions.

WEARING MISSIONARY ATTIRE:

You will want to make a family decision about when to be in full-dress missionary attire.  You may decide that you want every study session to be in “full-dress” missionary attire.  You may decide that you want to be dressed as missionaries for most missionary preparation activities, as well.  You might want to decide that any time that you got out in public together (except for work projects and sports type events) that you want to be in full dress attire.  Doing so will help the children feel and act like missionaries.  They will act better when they know that they are wearing the missionary badge and are supposed to be missionaries.

You will enjoy seeing the eyes turn to your children when they look so wonderful.  And you will have great missionary conversations as the children are seen as missionaries – rather than a bunch of rowdy kids. Don’t just smile and say, “Yeah, they do look great” but smile big and tell the “why” they are dressed this way.  Talk about the MIT program, your home and family MTC, and the church – and your family’s plan of missionary preparation.  This will give you a lead-in to explore other Church conversations and to perhaps invite them to your home and family study sessions, an activity, etc.  You will be surprised at who might take you up on it and want to know more – just because of a white shirt, tie and a name tag.

As noted, many missionary preparation activities can be done when in missionary attire with name tags.  Look at each activity or function and determine together what missionary attire might be the most appropriate.  They – the children – will develop a special sense of missionary and family pride as they all do it together.  You might even want to have the children wear missionary attire to each home and family study session.  This will really help them catch the vision of being a missionary – now and later.  Ultimately, your family should determine together what the plan will be – and what the dress of the day is to be.  Talk of this a few days ahead so that clothes can be ready as needed.

MISSIONARY TRAINING CAMP – THE “MTC” – or “THE CAMP OF AMMON”:

This is a wonderful opportunity for teen boys AND girls who are preparing for missions.   It is a week-long (five day) camp held at a retreat facility or camp of some kind.  It is an intense missionary training program where youth receive missionary preparation training as they look, dress, act and LIVE as regular full-time missionaries.  The course content is taken from the regular “Missionary in Training” program but is compacted tightly to be received in one week.

Attending the camp will not diminish interest in your home missionary training program.  On the contrary!  Youth who attend the “Camp of Ammon” will come home super excited and charged with an intense desire to prepare even harder and better for their missionary experience.  They will come home better able to serve in their role of “Ammonite Missionary Trainer” in service to younger siblings.  Participation in “The Camp of Ammon” will be well worth the financial sacrifice it will cost for your participating youth.  Youth can attend the camp year after year if you and they desire to do so.

INVITING “FRIENDSHIPPING FAMILIES” TO PARTICIPATE WITH YOUR FAMILY:

This is a very key element of the Missionary in Training program.  You and your family will have great opportunities and also great joy as together you share the Gospel with others.  It will be your blessing and opportunity to invite “Friendshipping Families” to participate with you in your Home and Family Missionary Training Center events, activities, service events, and special conferences as well as Church and community events.

A “Friendshipping Family” is a general term that is all inclusive.  A “Friendshipping Family” can include:

Non-Members of the Church

Less-Active Members of the Church

Part-member Families

New Converts

Investigators

Families with whom the Missionaries are Working

Anyone who needs friends

Family members of friends to your family

Member families who can assist you with the above families

THE “AMMONITE” PROGRAM FOR TEENS:

It will be more fun for your teens and they will get more out of the program if they are highly involved with you.  They should not just be passive participants.  They will have more fun and they will enjoy the program more if you use them for teaching, training, planning, preparation, bearing testimony, leading games, researching scriptures and talks from Church leaders, etc.

The Ammonite program is designed specifically for Aaronic Priesthood Young Men and Young Women.  There is a special training that parents should present to the Ammonites as you start with the program.    Train them in what they can do and help them to “catch the vision” of how they might be involved and participate.  Help them to realize that as they take on these tasks, they will help themselves and their siblings, they will learn a great deal through study and lesson preparation, and they will become familiar with and proficient in various leadership responsibilities.  In the beginning, help them plan Missionary Study Sessions.  Give them specific tasks within each session and then as they become more familiar with how to do their job, you can delegate to them and back off a bit to let them do it.  There will be great benefits to the youth and parents if the youth will actively participate in the program and be given responsibility – AND freedom to act, organize and implement.

THE AMMONITE PERSONAL RETREAT:

The Ammonite Personal Retreat is a very exciting opportunity for your Ammonite.  It will take some innovation to pull it off, but with some thought, you can make it happen.  And when it does happen, it can become possibly one of the greatest experiences your youth can have.  It can be a life-changing, highly motivating and spiritual time or event for them.

This is a personal retreat where your teen son or daughter has time and focus to ponder life and what he/she should do with it.  The concept is that the Ammonite goes to a place where he/she can be totally alone and where time can be spent thinking about their life, reading scriptures, praying, setting goals, and making commitments o Heavenly Father about their future – and hopefully, about their desire to serve a future mission.

The innovation part is the question of where to send them?  That is a good question.  Where can you send a teenager where they can be secluded and safe for a few hours or a day?  But, give it some thought and see what solutions present themselves.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  It could be as easy as a retreat to the woods near the family cabin, the hay loft at Grandpa’s farm, the back porch on a Saturday morning, under a big shade tree at the chapel or wherever.