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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Seminary Teacher Offers Practical, Spiritual Advice for RMs in Second 10 Questions Book

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints changes people.  How can it not?  When you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 1 1/2 to 2 years of your existence focused solely on bringing others to Christ, it transforms you.  Because of the intensity of the experience, it may be difficult for young returned missionaries (RMs) to make the transition back to "civilian" life.  Often, they feel lost in the "real" world, unsure what to do with themselves without the strong focus and purpose that guided their missionary service.  My mother-in-law used to joke that RMs need a halfway house to help them make the shift from full-time missionary to regular person without driving everyone around them insane!  (Interestingly enough, the church just came out with My Plan, an online course that helps missionaries make and achieve goals throughout their missions and beyond.  A virtual halfway house?)

Benjamin Hyrum White, a Utah seminary teacher, wrote 10 Questions to Answer After Serving a Mission to help RMs make the most of post-mission life.  "Blueprints for success as a missionary on the mission are not too different than the blueprints for success when you return home (2)," he assures.  White encourages RMs to continue to practice the good habits they established over the last 18 months - 2 years by studying their scriptures, attending church meetings (including Institute classes), engaging in temple work as often as possible, keeping the law of chastity, serving others through callings, etc.  Further, he insists that while it may seem selfish, this is the time for RMs to focus on what comes next in their lives.  By pursuing an education, faithfully serving in their wards, and dating with the intent of marrying in the temple, they are, in fact, preparing themselves for "lifetime service in the kingdom of God" (15).  

Using a quick, easy-to-read format, White proposes ten questions RMs should ask themselves.  These include, "How Will I Adjust From Preach My Gospel to Live My Gospel?"; "How Will I Accomplish My Educational Pursuits?"; and "How Will I Endure to the End through the Grace of Jesus Christ?".  In each section, White explores the different topics using scripture, quotes from General Authorities, and personal experiences.  At the end of each chapter is a list of resources (talks, websites, books, etc.) for further study.  Although 10 Questions to Answer After Serving a Mission remains short and to-the-point, it covers a lot of ground, always focusing on what is most important (hint: it's not video games).  Written with a sensitive, upbeat tone, the book should help RMs feel both inspired and reassured.  It's a thin book, which can be read quickly and easily; however, a slow savoring would be most beneficial.  Frequent typos and other editing errors, which I find often in books from this publisher, distracted from the volume's message.  Still, it's a useful, unintimidating resource that will help returning missionaries remain close to the Gospel while navigating the day-to-day practicalities of moving on with their post-mission goals.  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for discussions of sex (although they are respectful and non-graphic)

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of 10 Questions to Answer After Serving a Mission from the generous Benjamin Hyrum White via the folks at Cedar Fort.  Thank you!

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