Olá! One of the first things I did after receiving my call was to Google everything I could about the Brazil Teresina mission and try to find RMs and blogs that could answer my questions. Now that I've been home for almost two years (what?!) I thought it was finally time to contribute to that advice. Feel free to comment if you have any specific questions and I'll get back to you! Boa sorte (good luck)!
Preparing to Serve
- Learn culture and country facts. You can just read up on Wikipedia about basic Brazilian (or whichever country) history. It helps understand and connect with people. I wish I would have done this!
- Prepare with Preach My Gospel. Study chapter 3 (The Restoration, Plan of Salvation, etc.) and look through the other chapters to get an idea of what is in there. Don't worry too much though, you'll learn what you need to in the MTC and as you go. All you need to serve a mission is a simple testimony and a desire to learn and serve. Don't panic, you'll do great! Don't feel the need to memorize everything before you get out to the field. A helpful way to practice, before and during the mission, is to write out lesson plans for unique investigators, and practice explaining the concepts in different ways, such as in 5 minutes, in 1 minute, to a 5 year old, etc.
- Look up or come up with object lesson ideas/helps. (Stack of cups, broken ball or puzzle for teaching the Restoration, three finger examples for the foundation of the Church, Plan of Salvation pictures, etc.) Research useful teaching tools for the missionary lessons. I can explain some of them to you!
- Set up email list and email posts to your blog- If you want a blog, you can use blogger and set it up to where you email your post to a "secret email" (a specific email address you set) and it will post it on your blog by itself. Instructions on how to do that here. I just created the secret email and added it and all my contacts to a mailing list (called "Weekly emails") and then BCC-ed everyone.
- Find key scriptures to share! Scripture masteries proved to be very helpful on my mission, so I recommend memorizing a few references of scriptures you love to share! I kept a post-it in the cover of my scriptures with the references to scriptures I quoted a lot (ex. Mosiah 18:10, Amos 3:7 etc) which was quite helpful too.
- Family history is AMAZING. Do you want to know an almost foolproof way to find new investigators? FAMILY HISTORY! Pretty much everyone has a desire to know about their family, ancestors, where they came from etc. and they love sharing and hearing stories about family members. A suuuuper easy and non awkward way to start a conversation with even the most hesitant listener was to show pictures of my family and explain that even though they were far away, God had created a plan that meant that my family could be together forever, even after death. Boom, instant segway to the plan of salvation. So bring a picture book of your family to show off and use as a teaching tool. Learn how to create a basic family tree so that you can teach your investigators. Family history is also a perfect way to keep recent converts and less actives strong in the gospel.
- Scripture tagging system. Thank you to my lovely MTC companion Sister Valentine for this trick. How to maximize your scripture tagging? Divide the bottom of the page into different columns and put the marker in the corresponding column, this way you can classify by color AND section to maximize topics. The way I did mine is by getting tabs and assigning a specific color to each of the lessons in PMG chapter 3, for example blue for the Restoration, orange for the plan of salvation, etc. (if they correspond to the colors already assigned in PMG it's even better!). Then choose topics to divide the bottom of the page. I did faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, life before/after death, promises, and commandments. Then I marked the scripture references listed at the end of the lessons with their specific color and topic! Example, Amos 3:7 talks about how God calls prophets, so I marked it in blue, wrote it on a blue tab, and put it in the "promises" category. I loved marking my scriptures this way, it was very useful for my mission!
Bottom of the page divided into sections
Things to Bring
- Spray-on sunscreen is a lifesaver. Bring regular sunscreen for face and then spray on for arms, legs, neck etc. Neutrogena (in the yellow bottles) was my favorite, as high SPF as possible. I would bring as much sunscreen as possible, as it is expensive there and I liked the American brands more. Buy it in bulk at Costco and look online for coupons.
- Bring good shoes. These are game changers. If sandals are allowed (which varies between missions) those are great, but new mission presidents might change the rules. That's what happened to me and I didn't have any good closed-toe shoes, and it was rough. Bring a few pairs of good quality, cute, comfy closed-toe shoes that you can wear for church, baptisms, dressy events, or whenever you don't want sandals. You can find good sandals to buy there (usually, depending on the city) but it's near impossible to find good closed-toe shoes for sisters there... Some RM sisters said to just buy shoes there, but I would come prepared.
- Sunglasses and umbrellas. I was so happy when they changed the rules to allow sunglasses! Sunglasses are great because the sun is really bright in Teresina. Also carry around a lightweight umbrella as a sunshade and for rain. You can buy cheap umbrellas there too.
- Half tees. These are great for layering, I wish I would have brought some! I was given one by my American companion and it was my favorite thing ever. Try to bring shirts that don't need layers underneath, but for ones that do, half-tees are wonderful.
- Mini sunscreen and bug spray. Good bug spray is a must, you can get some there though. Bring a mini sunscreen and bug spray for your bag!
- Bag. Bring something good for your back! You'll need enough room for a Bible, a few copies of the BofM (I didn't bring my triple on a regular basis because it was too heavy and we rarely used it), copies of pamphlets, planner, phone, water bottle, wallet, keys, umbrella. You can get replacement bags on the mission if needed, but bring a good one from home. Something small that can hold a lot.
- Scriptures. You'll be given Portuguese (or your mission language) scriptures in the MTC, but I liked having my marked up English scriptures for study until I became more comfortable in Portuguese. Get a good case for your Portuguese scriptures too, or else they will get beat up really fast.
- Post-its!! These were my favorite things to receive from home! I LOVED post-its for everything, and they were difficult to find in my mission. Bring a lot in various sizes. Another thing I did was make a list of things I wanted to include in my journal/email as they happened so that I wouldn't get to the Lanhouse (internet café) to send an email and not have anything to say.
- Suitcases. Bring two large and a carry-on in addition to your mission bag. Backpacks make good carry-ons and are nice for exchanges but you can't use one to proselyte.
- Music (sheet music and to listen to). If you play a musical instrument, bring sheet music! If you play the piano, you will be asked to play literally all the time. :) I taught weekly music classes and they were a fun tool for finding investigators and teaching members (more useful than English classes). Also bring music on a flashdrive and get a mini speaker to play it on. Check for mission specific music rules.
- Camera. I had a wifi camera and it was my mom's favorite thing because I could send pictures from church wifi to email without having to access any internet sites and it wasn't against the rules. Best thing ever! I was afraid to put my memory card on lanhouse computers and this way I didn't have to. My mission president okayed it, but be sure to double check. Since you don't access any internet websites it doesn't break any rules.
- Garment fabrics- I liked mesh best for the heat, even though I can't stand it at home haha :) Carinessa is too hot, I would recommend either cotton or mesh for tropical climates. Some sisters didn't mind carinessa, but I couldn't wear it on the mission, even though it's the only one I like at home.
- Fabric types- Anything light and that doesn't need layering. Rayon for skirts and anything spandex-y that isn't too tight were my favorite fabrics. Caution on flowy skirts, if you are in windy areas (aka the coast) your skirts may tend to um flow a little too much (missionary version of that classic Marilyn Monroe picture, awkward...). Make sure you have enough skirts that aren't too full or flowy so that you can avoid wardrobe malfunctions. ;)
- Ask for water. Be careful that you only ask for water from houses that have a water filter, but this is a great way to contact new people and make door approaches a little less awkward.
Places to Shop
- TJMaxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, Nordstrom Rack etc. These kinds of stores actually have a lot of skirts the right length! Good quality items (bags, shoes, clothes) for great prices.
- 6pm.com. This is heaven for shoes! You can sort by size, style, make, etc. Great brands (Clarks, HushPuppies, etc.) for better prices. I got a lovely pair of Clarks sandals for $30!
- If you're in Provo, Cozy (by Pizza Pie Cafe and Walmart) has SO MANY cute skirts, dresses, and shirts for great prices.
That's it for now! Please feel free to comment if you have anything to add or any concerns I didn't address. Thanks for reading and best of luck preparing! <3