I get a lot of questions about mission papers, and the process for applying to go on a mission. So I thought I would use today’s post to explain and illustrate the process. These steps are based on the officially publicized information from the Church in the March 2007 New Era article titled Your Call to Serve.
The picture above is a good illustration of the step by step process for doing the paper work and getting the mission call. Below is more detail on each step:
Before the Paper Work
- Prepare spiritually: Study the gospel, read the scriptures, pray and build a testimony of the Savior, His Atonement and His restored Church including Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (so be sure to read it!).
- Prepare temporally: Save money, stay physically fit and remove any obstacles such as unpaid debts, legal issues, weight and health problems.
- Meet with the Bishop: At least four months before you’re able to leave on a mission, set an appointment with your bishop for a personal interview. He will give you the information you need to log on to the online missionary recommendation system or the paper work if the online system is not available in your area.
- Doctor and Dentist Visits: Make appointments with your doctor and dentist for evaluations. In the paper work the bishop will give you will be medical forms that they will need to fill out.
- Missionary Candidate Information: There are several sections of personal information to complete. You’ll fill out background information about yourself, including your desire and ability to learn a language, your schooling, and how your mission will be financed.
- Get a Good Photo: Make sure that in this photo you are dressed and groomed according to missionary standards (i.e. conservative hair and clothing styles, etc. see the MTC’s posted Missionary Dress and Grooming Guidelines).
- Meet with the Bishop Again: Set another appointment with your bishop after all of the forms are completed, and he will review the application. He will conduct a thorough interview to determine your worthiness, ability to serve, and your testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel.
- Meet with the Stake President: After your interview with the bishop, he will tell you how to set up and appointment with the stake president. Your bishop and stake president will complete some additional parts including their own written recommendations for your missionary service. This will be the final step before the application is sent to Church headquarters.
- Assigned to a Mission by Prophecy: Your mission application is received by the Church and you are assigned to a specific mission by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who has been authorized by the President of the Church. The mission assignment comes after prayer and revelation.
- Mission Call Letter: After the mission call is made, a packet is mailed to you. It will contain information on your assigned mission, the date to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC), a list of specific items you should bring with you, and other helpful information.
Though there are a lot of mechanical steps to go through in the process of filling out your mission papers, it’s important not to lose site of the spiritual: the spiritual preparation by the missionary and the spirit of revelation in the issuing of the mission call. Here is what President Henry B. Eyring said about the inspiration of each mission call:
“I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” (Pres. Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God,” address delivered at the Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997).
P.S. If you are looking for the actual forms to download, I’m sorry but the Church just does not make them available that way. You can try doing a Google search for Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation, and sometimes you’ll find people have posted them.