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, especially to South America. 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. To start off this series of blog posts, we will cover the best advice for missionaries going to the South American continent. Let the journey begin.
1. Know the Climate
An essential part of preparing for a mission is getting to know the climate of the country you are going to live in. Generally, South America has a humid climate, with lots of rain and high temperatures year round. The closer you are to the Equator, the warmer the weather. For missions like northern Argentina and Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru, you will most likely only need a warm jacket to get you through rainy days. Keep an umbrella with you at all times, as in some areas it’s sunny in the morning, but it rains in the afternoon.
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2. Know the Culture
An LDS mission comes with a good portion of culture shock for any elders and sisters who haven’t traveled outside the United States. Here are some differences you need to be prepared for:
- People value relationships above tasks – they will need to get to know you better before setting on a baptism date
- Most purchases are made in cash instead of cards, so make sure to carry enough around
- Non-verbal communication is highly valued and often comes in the form of hugs, handshakes, and cheek kisses
Your area will have a specific culture and history that you must research, but the above three behaviors are similar across the board.
3. Lesson Materials
In the States, Church materials are relatively easy to access in physical stores or online. You will find this harder outside the border, so bring with you a Plan of Salvation diagram in your mission language, or other similar visual materials. This will help your lessons be clearer, and it will capture the attention of your younger investigators.
4. Sending and Receiving Mail
The postal service is likely to be unreliable, and the mail you get (or send) from your parents or friends might often be late, or tampered with. To avoid tampering when expecting a care package, tell your parents to attach a picture of Christ or the Virgin Mary on top of the line where the box flaps close. This helps because it reminds people that they should do the right thing. DHL is pretty reliable and we have found it more reliable than USPS.
5. 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.