A missionary, called to serve for a period of 18 to 24 months as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, returns home with well-used clothes, a hole or two in the soles of the shoes and a set of well-studied scriptures.
Returning missionaries carry home a wealth of knowledge and experiences that set the course of their life: firm faith in God; an increased knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel; an exposure to cultural diversity, even when serving in their homeland; a new language competence, possibly with a foreign language, but often with an improvement in their communication skills; an increase in confidence; and an overwhelming love for the people with whom they have served.
Missionaries also acquire abilities to set and reach goals, to gain a sense of responsibility for themselves and others, to concentrate on their educational studies and to build positive relationships with people of varied backgrounds.
The purpose of missionary service is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen. But the experience of that service, for the individual missionary, becomes a strong foundation for the future, both within the family and the Church and in academic and professional pursuits. Many missionaries credit their full-time service with influencing the direction for the rest of their lives.
Some move on to successful business pursuits; others find usefulness in the service, education or technical fields. Most also continue church and community service, with a focus on family.
By the Numbers
Those members who choose to go on missions for Church serve on a volunteer basis at their own expense.