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Prospective missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now have a new tool available to assist them in planning for their missions.
The tool, which is available on LDS.org, is designed to help young men and women consider the timing of their service and leave when they are best prepared. Young men are eligible to serve as missionaries for 24 months beginning at age 18, while young women can serve for 18 months beginning at age 19.
“Prospective missionaries should be prayerful and thoughtful as they determine the best time to begin their missionary service,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the Missionary Department. “In some cases, they may leave as soon as they turn 18 or 19. In other cases, they may decide to spend a little extra time preparing. That decision is best left up to the missionary and their parents as they prayerfully consider their circumstances.”
Many missionaries have traditionally begun their service based on the school year, often leaving during the summer months. Yet, according to Elder Nielson, there are some advantages to leaving during non-peak times, especially between November and May.
“Missionaries who spend a semester at college or working can gain useful life experiences that will prepare them for service,” Elder Nielson said. “They can have more individual attention in the missionary training center and be assigned to a more experienced first companion as they arrive in the field when they leave at a non-peak time.”
The mission planning tool is easy to use. Prospective missionaries can input their desired release date and will be prompted when to submit their application forms to increase the likelihood of returning at that time. They can also input the date they anticipate submitting their application to see when they will most likely enter the MTC.
The tool is also designed to help reduce the likelihood of a missionary asking to return home a few weeks early for school, work opportunities, or family events.
“This planning tool uses actual data updating continuously based on the Church’s missionary needs worldwide,” said Elder Nielson. “While it does not guarantee a missionary will leave on a certain date, it will help our young men and women be more deliberate and thoughtful as they decide when they will be best prepared to serve the Lord as a missionary.”
More than 65,000 missionaries currently serve in 407 missions around the world.