As a missionary trainer, I often talked in group settings with other trainers about their experiences and how their missionaries were doing. Often, one to two trainers would say something like, “It’s super easy training this one elder. He came pre-trained. He already knows how to be a missionary.” For that elder, home was the Missionary Training Center long before the MTC.
Most people think that when you enter the MTC, you magically gain a testimony of the gospel and a deep understanding of how to do missionary work. The truth is, you don’t. Those things must be learned, and preferably, learned early. President Kimball, in his talk “When the World Will be Converted,” reasserts this:
“I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. That is another challenge—that the young people will understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that “the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”
I am asking for missionaries who have been carefully indoctrinated and trained through the family and the organizations of the Church, and who come to the mission with a great desire. I am asking for better interviews, more searching interviews, more sympathetic and understanding interviews, but especially that we train prospective missionaries much better, much earlier, much longer, so that each anticipates his mission with great joy.”
Nobody has to go into the mission field untrained or unready. In the spirit of that, here are the top seven things, according to elders, sisters, and missionary presidents I’ve talked to, that you can to do to come “pre-trained” to your mission: