Going on an LDS Mission is a life changing experience. Missionaries are introduced to new cultures, languages, and peoples throughout their journeys. However, the experience doesn't come without its challenges. Moving from place to place and being far from home are just a few. Whether you’re a veteran or a first timer, one of the biggest frustrations is packing. Missionaries end up living out of a suitcase for eighteen months to two years (depending on gender), so packing smart is essential for someone who wants to be prepared!
Apart from doing extensive research, it’s always best to learn from someone who’s “been there, done that”. Lucky for you, we interviewed Jesse, an EzPacking customer who just returned from an LDS Mission trip herself! In the interview below, Jesse discusses her best packing hacks that helped her on her mission as well as other tips soon to be missionaries should know. If you want to know more about missionary preparation, continue reading!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Jesse: I am 21 years old, and I live in Western Idaho.
For those who don't know about LDS, can you explain a bit about the community and the culture around going on a mission after high school?
Jesse: Missionaries are one of the most recognized things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They go all over the world and are easily recognizable with their black name tags and smiles. The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel, and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ.
Most missionaries are under the age of 25, because the majority start missionary service right after high school. Single women can go as early as 19 years old, and single men can go at 18, so frequently most missionaries are straight out of high school, with maybe a few semesters of college under their belt, although there are exceptions.
What are some of the packing restrictions for participating in a mission? Can you elaborate a bit on needing to pack in 3 suitcases and moving around every few months (and sometimes on a two day notice)?
Jesse: When you serve a mission, you move around a lot, but you're moving into a fully furnished apartment. You take less with you than if you were going to college for that reason. It's really just clothes, bed sheets, personal toiletries, pillow, etc. that you have to take, everything else is provided. You're limited to three suitcases just out of practicality, you don't need more than that, and it makes moving easier.
Each mission has different areas in it, and two missionaries of the same gender are paired up in a companionship, with the exception of couples, who work with their spouse, and are assigned to each area. Single women serve for 18 months, and single men serve for 2 years. As new missionaries enter the mission, and finish and go home, different missionaries are assigned to and move in and out of the different areas. The missionaries getting moved receive a phone call a few days before and have just enough time to pack everything up before they are transferred to their new area.
Do you remember how you found EzPacking? What made you seek out a packing solution?
Jesse: With packing up everything (for the most part) that I would be using for the next eighteen months of my life, I wanted a way to be able to stay organized and keep everything together and clean. A friend of mine, who was also going on a mission had found EzPacking and recommended it to me. As soon as I looked online I was excited to order some of the packing cubes, and as soon as they came I ordered several more since I loved them so much.
What potential problems did you think you would have (packing wise) on your mission and how did EzPacking help solve those problems?
Jesse: I thought I would have problems keeping track of everything, staying organized, keeping clothing folded and clean, being able to pack quickly, etc. EzPacking made it so when I opened my suitcase, everything was in easy to handle, organized packages. It was easy to categorize everything with the different sized cubes fitting each different need, and I could pack quickly.
"Also, if I ended up needing something, I didn't have to unpack and repack my whole suitcase, I just had to locate the right cube and pull it out. It also helped with problems I didn't foresee. Once, my suitcase was left in the rain, and none of my clothes were wet afterward, because they were all in cubes."
Since you moved around multiple times in the 18 month period, do you have any packing tips that you can share?
Jesse: Keep it simple, don't over-complicate things. Put heavy, sturdier things where the bottom of your suitcase will be, and lighter, more delicate or breakable things at the top so when you stand it up everything will be balanced. Group things together the way you use them, shower stuff, nighttime things, morning routine, workout clothes, casual clothes, dressy clothes, etc. It makes it easier to find everything you're looking for and to unpack everything neatly.
Are there any essential items that a soon to be missionary needs to pack?
Jesse: Missionaries go all over the world, and every mission is so different, even in the states, so there's really no guarantee that you should take this advice, haha. I served in the states, though, and something I wished I had been better prepared with was music. Uplifting music can be a great benefit on your mission when used during the appropriate times.
I also wish I had taken less street clothes, I didn't end up wearing them as often as I thought, since we were in Sunday dress all the time, and only wore normal clothes to do service, and I ended up having to send a lot home.
To make packing easier, really follow the guide that the church sends you about your mission and the specific things you should take. Also get on Facebook pages from your mission, talk to people that have returned from that specific mission and ask them what would be good to take or not take, they'll know better since they've been there and back with 18 months-2 years of experience.
Would you recommend EzPacking to other soon to be missionaries? Why?
Jesse: Yes!! I loved having EzPacking on my mission so much. It made getting out there and back again, and having transfers throughout my mission so much easier. It's convenient, affordable, easy to clean, and I love it! Also, the cubes are a really sturdy product. I'm pretty hard on stuff, and they're still in almost new condition. Since I've been home, I've been able to reuse them over and over for weekend trips, week-long vacations, and now moving to college. It's a great buy for right out of high school.
When did you come back from your mission and what are you doing now?
Jesse: I returned home from my mission a little over six months ago, now -- June 2017. I just moved away from home to work for a semester before getting married to the love of my life and starting college.
Every LDS mission trip is different but it’s always best to learn the basics. Packing is not supposed to be complicated but it's definitely not a walk in the park if you aren’t prepared... Spending time doing a little research can make your trip that much easier, more exciting and less stressful.
We are so thankful for Jesse’s interview and hope you can use some of these helpful tips for your LDS missionary preparation!
Best of luck to you! Have a safe trip!