We recently came across a cool company called Fresh Tie Supply that will send your missionary a new tie each month and is the perfect missionary care package idea. He can wear his new ties every day, and as a missionary you can never have too many ties! Recently they came up with some great ideas for every Missionary’s Christmas package.
Now is the time to start thinking about what to send your missionary far from home. Whether you pack a giant box, or send a small parcel, they are sure to feel loved, understood, and appreciated with these great ideas!
Our very own WHITE bag happens to be #16 on the list and is a really great Christmas idea and something each missionary may want to consider as a gift for their companion also.
Get some great ideas in this recent blog: 43 things to send in your missionary’s Christmas package.
We’re Spreading Out!
We’re committed to serving missionaries wherever they are. In line with this effort we’ve now reached out to www.preparetoserve.com. They, like us, are focused on having missionaries ready when they leave to serve. There’s much more to it than simply having all the supplies and with Prepare to Serve much more of that preparation is possible in one place.
When preparing for a mission the missionary, friends, and family want to know as much as they can about where they’re going. On the website there are many resources that make that possible. There’s basic information such as mission contact information and maps. Additionally, they’ve posted terrific videos about the weather, places, and culture of each mission. For example here (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo6WmFbBTUezZZFfmXMnN83mA-QPy971o) is a video playlist describing the climate in the Spain Barcelona Mission. The site also provides links to social media groups related to each mission so you can contact those that have already been there.
Among the most exciting features on the website are blogs and interviews. Here (http://preparetoserve.com/philippines-cebu-east-mission/#blogs) you can find several blogs from missionaries that have served or are currently serving in the Philippines Cebu East Mission where they recount their incredible experiences. Here (http://preparetoserve.com/indiana-indianapolis-mission/#interviews) you’ll find interviews with returned missionaries who served in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission as they discuss what Indiana’s like as well as what they learned, ate, and felt during their missions.
Preparetoserve.com The resources here will make mission preparation for any location in the world much more achievable. Be sure to explore their site!
Going on an LDS mission is an experience that brings much joy and requires considerable preparation. Here at Zion Bags, we want to help Mormon missionaries prepare ahead to succeed when they are in the mission field. To that effect, we will be posting weekly advice on the necessary preparations for elders and sisters going to each specific mission area in the world. This advice will be drawn from experience, official LDS sources, and guest bloggers. In continuation of this series, we will focus on Europe and each week will post about the countries within it. This week: Germany. Feel free to ask us questions or give suggestions in the comments! We welcome your input.
You might have heard that traveling within Germany (or other countries in Europe) is easy and inexpensive. The truth is traveling is not at cheap as you might think. Rates are equivalent or higher than the average price of transportation in the States. Furthermore, there are places in Germany that you can’t reach by train or bus – you might have to walk, or if you are lucky, use your bike to get places. Even if you have a car, gas can take up a considerable amount of your budget. Plan ahead for when you are traveling further than usual, and budget accordingly. In addition, bring sturdy shoes that can take the exercise.
Siesta and Sunday
We talked about siesta in one of our previous posts (link to Spain), but Spain is not the only country in Europe that takes a daily break of a few hours. In most of Germany, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM are considered quiet hours. People are vehemently against anything that breaks the silence during those hours, and they will let you know about it. Shops will close and the streets will be empty. On Sundays, almost all businesses are closed, which is great if you are LDS, but also means that there will be fewer people on the streets to talk to as a missionary. Plan your daily breaks to coincide with the quiet hours, and if you are going to visit a member or investigator on Sunday, plan ahead and be punctual.
Culture and Communication
The following are faux pas that you should avoid when communicating with Germans:
- Hitler jokes – while in the States these can be considered funny, in Germany the subject of World War II is best avoided altogether.
- Too much small talk – Germans prefer speaking about timely subjects and important issues, and generally have a distaste for small talk.
- Wishing someone happy birthday should be done on or after the day, but never before. Other countries can also share in a superstition that it’s bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before the actual day.
- Don’t tell people you would like to visit, or invite them to church or an activity with you, if you can’t make it. Germans will take your invitation as genuine, and will expect you to be there, on time.
Sturdy Clothing and Accessories
While you don’t want to break the bank with your mission spending, you should take into account that if something breaks, it will be difficult to replace because you won’t have too much time to go shopping, and you often won’t find something of equal quality easily. Sturdy shoes and durable clothing are a must, as is a sturdy bag. Check out our offerings for shoulder/messenger bag options and accessories.
Going on an LDS mission is an experience that brings much joy and requires considerable preparation. Here at Zion Bags, we want to help Mormon missionaries prepare ahead to succeed when they are in the mission field. To that effect, we will be posting weekly advice on the necessary preparations for elders and sisters going to each specific mission area in the world. This advice will be drawn from experience, official LDS sources, and guest bloggers. In continuation of this series, we will focus on Europe and each week will post about the countries within it. This week: France. Feel free to ask us questions or give suggestions in the comments! We welcome your input.
France is a popular tourist destination for both Europeans and Americans. You might have had the chance to visit it yourself before receiving your mission call. In any case, you should read on for advice specific to the missionary experience in France. Bon voyage!
Formality in the Language
The French are more formal in their interactions, especially in larger cities, compared to Americans. They will use the polite form – “vous” instead of “tu” (plural “you” instead of singular) – to greet people they don’t know. In cities that are large metropolitan centers, smiling or speaking to people walking by is frowned upon. If street contacting is not yielding very good results for you, try different ways to spark a conversation, and understand that you will have to adapt your methods to the culture.
While speaking to people on the street is not recommended, it’s considered rude not to greet shopkeepers or clerks that are helping you out with your purchases. You can greet them with a simple “Bonjour madame/monsieur,” which can lead to short conversations on everyday topics, and small opportunities to share the joy of the Gospel.
Contrary to popular belief, most French don’t speak English, but they will greatly appreciate your attempts to speak French. If you have no experience with the language, and find yourself having a hard time the first few months in the country, don’t be discouraged. Try to speak as much as possible, whether it is when you visit members or investigators, and let them help you and correct you. It really is the best and fastest way to learn a new language.
Formality in Clothing
While in the States most people wear casual clothing unless required by their job, in France different activities require specific dress codes. You won’t have a problem looking professional because of the mission attire requirements, but in addition to wearing dark colors and suits or skirts, make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. You should be able to purchase a small clothing iron in France, which will be your best friend in helping you blend in.
If you will be eating at a restaurant, observe what people going in are wearing – this will help you gauge not only the appropriate dress, but also the price of the food (the more dressed up people are, the more expensive the restaurant). As mentioned before, make sure your clothes are clean and ironed for any occasion.
Differences in Food
The French place an emphasis on fresh food, and at least once a week you may find a type of farmers’ market in the city where you serve. You will also find many pastry shops where you can stop to get food when on the go. Take the chance to eat healthy by avoiding canned or super-processed foods, which are usually harder to find and best avoided entirely. Your body will thank you, and you will be blessed with the health and strength to do the Lord’s work, as promised in the Word of Wisdom.
Differences in Greetings and Behavior
As mentioned above, the French are more formal with their greetings, but they are also more likely to go for a cheek kiss than a hand-shake. They will usually do air kisses, not a full-on kiss on the cheek, but knowing this beforehand can help you avoid many an awkward situation. Another custom you should be aware of as a missionary in France is that you don’t acknowledge when someone sneezes. You’re better off pretending it didn’t happen.
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Going on an LDS mission is an experience that brings much joy and requires considerable preparation. Here at Zion Bags, we want to help Mormon missionaries prepare ahead to succeed when they are in the mission field. To that effect, we will be posting weekly advice on the necessary preparations for elders and sisters going to each specific mission area in the world. This advice will be drawn from experience, official LDS sources, and guest bloggers. In continuation of this series, we will focus on Europe and each week will post about the countries within it This week: Spain. Feel free to ask us questions or give suggestions in the comments! We welcome your input.
A Culture Within a Culture – Galicia
Spain can be split into Northern Spain and Southern Spain. These regions of the country are considerably different, starting from the weather up to the social norms. Northern Spain, or Galicia, as any proud native will call it, is characterized by rainy, humid winters with little snow. The region retains autonomy from other parts of Spain, having been a separate kingdom in the past. Galicians, or Gallegos, as they call themselves, have a different accent from the rest of Spain, and their culture is more introverted than the one of Southern Spain. They tend to talk in a roundabout way, never arriving at the heart of the matter from the start, while the southerners are more likely to be straightforward and hot-tempered.
Here’s a great video to introduce you to the Galician language and people, as well as Spain overall. It features interviews with natives subtitled in English, which should help you get a good idea of the language.
The Spain We Know – Andalusia
The first few things that come to mind when thinking of Spain are the hot weather, dancing, and maybe even bullfights. These parts of Spanish culture are typically found in the Southern region of Spain, called Andalusia, or Andalucia by natives. This is the most tourist-populated region of the country, so expect to see lots of movement and excitement, especially during the summer months. The Andalusian dialect is spoken in most of Spain to this day, as opposed to Galician. The weather is warm and dry, with lovely weather throughout the year. Andalusian culture is much less formal and straightforward than Galician culture. The region has been a melting pot of different religions and ethnicities during the centuries, including Islam, Judaism, and Romani people, making for a unique and colorful culture. These influences are reflected in the language, architecture, and traditions of Andalusia.
What Remains The Same
We described some of the differences between the two regions of Spain, but what are the similarities? Below we list a few things that remain the same, despite the part of the country where you end up serving.
- Wherever you are in Spain, you will need to use public transportation. Start to become comfortable with the language of transportation and look up the different possibilities as soon as you get there.
- Don’t worry about bringing too many clothes or shoes (but do bring a durable pair), since you will be able to find most everything there if you do need a replacement. Granted, you will not have much time to shop, but don’t panic if the need arises.
- Do worry about bringing an adapter for your electronics. If you are bringing a camera that needs charging, or hair styling items that require electricity, you will need to bring an adapter with you to use them, otherwise they will burn out. Unless you plan on buying those things when you get there, you should be able to find a reasonably priced one on Amazon.
- Spaniards have a different attitude towards time. They value taking their time to spend with family and friends, and will sit down around a meal for more than an hour. Learning to appreciate this difference in views will help you work in harmony with investigators and members alike. If the area where you serve has a siesta – a time when stores shut down for a few hours because of the heat – being aware of it can help you plan ahead as to how to spend your day most efficiently.
Tell us what you think in the comments!