Our son Cooper was recently called to serve a mission to Brazil. A pilot program for certain languages scheduled himfirst with three weeks in the Provo MTC as an English speaking missionary, thensix weeks in Sao Paulo for Portuguese language training.   He was thrilled to know he’d be in the Provo MTC for General Conference, and even more thrilled to be selected to sing in the MTC choir for the afternoon session. Of the many who wanted to participate, the approximately 364 singers were selected not by audition, but by written applications based on previous vocal experience. He, like the others, had sung in elementary, middle, high school and college choirs, and had also served as Primary Chorister. It was a tricky bit of timing as the opportunity had a tight window based on date of arrival at the MTC, eight required rehearsals and departure date. Cooper left just two days after the performance, so it was a tender mercy that only the Lord could have created for this young man who sang before he talkedand plays the hymns on the piano around the clock.

As a mother watching the session on TV, I was so thrilled and emotional watching him sing in the Conference Center that I missed what happened during the last song: the camera had quietly panned Elder David Archuleta, the American Idol finalist who has become such a phenomenally successful young pop singer. His choice to leave the fans and fame to serve a full-time mission has been media news for some time. TheFacebook messages and texts started immediately and it was very clear that others had seen what I had missed: Cooper had been standing in a very fun place.

Elder A and Elder ATwo days later, on his way to Brazil, we were able to visit with him on the phone at the airport. He reported that Elder Archuleta had arrived at the MTC on the Wednesday before Conference, March 28. He has been called to Chile. Unlike the other singers who were required to attend all the rehearsals, they popped him in at the end for the last rehearsal or two. As for the seating arrangements in the choir loft, they were not placed individually, but rather by section and height, as in: “Elders singing tenor 5’8″ to 6’2″ go NOW!” And they filled in the appointed seats.

Cooper said, “When they called my height, I just made a beeline for front and center – that’s where I wanted to be for the whole experience! Elder Archuleta had taken a seat to the side, but they moved him to the front, and when all was said and done, I was right behind him. He’s a very nice guy! He sat next to me and we chatted when we had our hair cut at the MTC. It’s crazy, though, because all the sisters want to sit next to him in the cafeteria!”
Big choir

These young missionaries are a marvel.   For members and non-members alike, their sacrifices and departure from home and family for two years (18 months for sisters) are a source of continual wonder. It’s often a wonder to the missionary and the families themselves that there is the strength to do something so BIG. Yet they have felt the gospel in their lives and want to share it. In addition, most have witnessed the lives of returned missionaries and can readily see how two years of leaving the world behind to serve the Lord creates a foundation for a far finer life, and that they stand in a different place for a lifetime because of a mission.

The average missionary cheerfully and willingly leaves behind family, school, work, friends and romantic relationships, sports, the comforts of home, computers, electronic devices, movies, casual reading, current events, Facebook etc. up for two years, (sisters 18 months).

A professional singer, gifted athlete or scholar gives up, it would seem even more.

A missionary’s daily life is not easy and it is not glamorous. It is aa testament to Elder Archuleta that he has chosen to be a humble missionary. Two years ago he sang as a soloist on the same stage with the Tabernacle Choir for their world famous Christmas concert. Two weeks ago he stood with a throng of other missionaries. He left behind his fans, his contracts, the prestige and magnified what President George Albert Smith taught, to not seek “the creature comforts, the honors of men, and those things that selfishness puts into our soul.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith, p. 72).

So they go! And why?Because two years changes lives – their own and many more. And where will they stand? For the most part, in quiet places: in homes and chapels, on the streets and anywhere within their service areas where they can make a difference. Then they come home andstand tall in a better, different place with1) experiences and relationships to inspire themselves and others for an eternal lifetime … and 2) the sacred knowledge of their incredible personal power to persevere and succeed with an assignment, with humility and help from the Lord.

There is so much to learn from our missionaries to inspire healthy living and helping us to let go of the foods and habits that hold us back. Following their example will also allow us to stand in a better, different place … for a lifetime!

What would happen if we decided that obtaining a new level of health was not too different than going on a mission… even as our young Elders and Sisters seek their calls? Think about it!Theyhumbly, voluntarily and willing give up their i-touches, music and other worldly things that bring them pleasure but distract them from their true purpose. In the same way, we could humbly give up the foods that impede our health, while adding exercise and the right foods. Like them, these “sacrifices” are not selfish, but for a higher purpose as we consider the impact our personal health makes on our loved ones.

Magic Words to Make It Happen: It’s Just What I Do

Cooper has what our family lovingly calls a “talent” for sleeping in and napping at will for great periods of time. Throughout his teenage years he has “worked hard” (that’s our joke) to develop this talent. I wondered about how he was going to handle the strict hours and no naps at the MTC. When I asked him about this during our phone conversation from the airport he said, “Mom! It’s just not a big deal! You just get up and get going, and that’s just what we do… It’s just what Idoand it feels good.”Period. No big deal.

A favorite internet author of mine, Christine Kane, elaborates:

My college boyfriend – an athlete and a perfectionist – would have these “flash!” moments. All of the sudden he would decide he was out of shape.

“I’m disgusting!” he would proclaim.

Then, the next morning, he would jump out of bed and run for miles and miles. As if he could catch up for a sedentary semester in one quick spell. The day after that, his body would be so sore he could barely move.

Compare that with my friend Suzi who lost over 65 pounds in one year. She made health a habit.

And even after losing all that weight, she has a deliberate daily practice of health, working out, eating well, watching her mindsets and living consciously.For Suzi, it wasn’t an event. It was a system.

Now, consider any goal or dream or business idea you have.

What systems or habits or practices (different words, same outcome) do you need to put into place to create success?

Here’s how I explain this to the women I coach:

A system or habit makes you less prone to reactive thinking, to the “whinies,” to the “I don’t feel like it’s,” and to the Panicky Flash moments (like my college boyfriend used to have).

Your mantra becomes: “This is just what I do.” No big deal.


The alarm goes off at 5am. You don’t have to ask yourself if you feel like getting up from the flannel sheets. (Of course you don’t!) You say, “This is just what I do.” No big deal. You head to the gym.

Every Thursday evening at 6pm, you spend 30 minutes in QuickBooks, reconciling, analyzing and getting clear on your finances. This means you don’t race to your on-line banking account in a fury when you catch a piece on CNN about the economy. “This is just what I do” means you have a system, and you don’t have to react. You’ve got it covered every Thursday.

It’s 9am and that means it’s time to spend an hour writing a blog post even though you don’t feel “inspired.” “This is just what I do” means you sit down and write. It’s part of your business. It’s a piece of your art.

It’s 5:30pm. Time for most people to go home from work. You’ve started a network marketing business, so you stay at your desk for an hour to generate ideas and connect with contacts. “This is just what I do” means that you’re thinking long-term about your income and opportunities, rather than rushing out for a second job to get that extra cash right now. “This is just what I do” also ensures that you’ll continue the practice, rather than giving up after one or two phone calls!

If you tend to fall prey to moods, emotions, or negative thoughts, then creating systems, habits and practices will teach you more about success than success itself! Remember, the meaning of Creativity is choosing to be the Creator, not the Reactor.

When you wait until you’re inspired or until something outside of you makes you happy or until you feel terrified of the chaos in your life before you take action, then you’re creating a Domino Effect Life. A life based on Reactivity. Not Creativity.

I started this blog post with not one single idea in my head. My cat is sick, and I had to go to the vet. By the time I got home, the gremlins in my head told me the well was dry, there were no ideas left, and perhaps I’d be more inspired tomorrow.

Then, I just sat down to write.

This is just what I do (The link to her site is below).

OK! For emphasis: What would happen to your health if you humbly called yourself – with the Lord’s help on a six-month, 12-month, 18-month or 24-month mission and gave up the things you know are holding you hostage, i.e., soda, candy, chips, a certain restaurant/fastfood, baked treats etc. What if you, like a missionary set a schedule for exercise?And accountability?

Where would you be standing at the end of your mission? And what would that position lead to?

I know, and so do you! You would be standing in a very healthy place! Relieved, humbled and grateful for what you had achieved! Trimmer! More energetic! Able to play with children and grandkids! More self-confident and spiritually in tune as you achieve mastery over the physical body.

Oh, the blessings of going on a mission!

The missionaries know that there is nothing like music to bring the spirit and enthusiasm for a difficult task, so sing with me now (and perhaps we can mentally add Elder Archuleta and Elder Allen to improve the vocal quality …


Called to Serve a Mission for my body
Worth far more than any worldly wealth
Called to know these blessings for my future
Come from choices made for health

Onward, ever onward as I leave those foods behind
Onward, ever onward as true en-er-gy Ifind
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song I’ll sing
Health my strength will be, press forward ever choosing carefully

Ready to stand? Me too!

Link to Christine Kane

www.MyMiracleTea.com: A beautiful way to start any healthy eating changes as it cleanses your inner body and curbs craving. Put “Missionary” as a discount coupon code for 10% savings on all orders this week!

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success – One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She is the owner and president at MyMiracleTea.com, an herbal detox tonic in keeping with the Word of Wisdom. She is the mother of five and the grandmother of a growing number of delightful grandsons and granddaughters and lives with her husband, Bob, in Springfield Virginia, where she serves as the Visiting Teaching District Supervisor. She has been writing for Meridian since 2007. Her favorite foods are broccoli — lots of it! and chocolate frosting … just a taste every now and then. Her book is available at both Amazon.com and her website, www.mymiracleTea.com