An LDS mission lasts for two years, and all young men who are worthy and able to serve are encouraged to. Young women can serve as will for 18 months. LDS missionaries do not select where they go, but rather submit an application that is reviewed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and who then assign them a mission. If you want to hear more about this, here's an article: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/the-divine-call-of-a-missionary?lang=eng
Hopefully that link works. ..
Anyway, so I was called to the California, Riverside mission. If you guys head over to the contact page I've got a map that shows the boundaries of my mission. This area is split into dozens of areas, each about the size of a small town (for reference for my friends back home, Norman has 4 areas, Mustang has 2, etc.). You will be assigned to one of these areas by your mission president, a man who has similarly been called to serve to manage all these missionaries. You may stay in an area for anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months depending on where the mission president feels you are needed most.
In each of these areas you will have a companion who is serving with you. This will be another Elder that you stay with at pretty much all times (showers and bathroom breaks are separate of course). Every 6 weeks there is a chance that you or your companion will be transferred to another area and a new person will come to replace that elder, so over the course of two years I could have as many as 18 companions if they switched me every single time.
But what will I be doing for the next two years you might ask? Here is what the daily schedule looks like for a missionary.
6:30 AM - Wake up, pray, exercise(30 minutes), prepare for the day
7:30 AM - Breakfast
8:00 AM - Personal Study. Read the scriptures, Preach My Gospel(basically a manual for missionaries), and other books in the approved missionary library.
9:00 AM - Companion Study. Share what you studied with your companion, prepare for lessons you will be teaching that day, practice teaching lessons.
10:00 AM - Start proselyting. This includes activities like teaching lessons, knocking on doors or talking to people on the street to find more people to teach, visiting inactive or less active members, doing service projects for members or investigators. Take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner whenever works for your schedule.
9:00 PM - return home(can be out until 9:30 if in a lesson)
9:30 PM - Plan for the following day
10:00 PM - write in your journal, write letters, pray
10:30 PM - lights out.
So as you can see, missionary work isn't a breeze, it truly is work. Missionaries are held to a very high standard and a very strict regimen in order to keep their focus. Missionaries aren't supposed to watch movies, or read books or magazines, access social media, or even listen to music unless it is based in the Gospel and brings an uplifting spirit. But a mission is still a lot of fun and it is immensely rewarding to be able to see the changes that the Gospel can make in the lives of people.
Though all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so missionaries do get to take a little bit of a break. Every week there is one day called P-Day or Preparation-Day. On this day, missionaries don't follow quite so rigorous a schedule. It is their chance to do laundry, buy groceries, repair bikes, write e-mails to family members, and maybe get together with some other missionaries to play some games or do a little sightseeing.
As of the posting of this article I have less than one week until I go to the missionary training center (MTC), and I'm am pretty excited to be getting out there after thinking about it for almost 4 months. Then it's only about two weeks until I am actually in the Riverside area somewhere.
The rest of these posts will be from excerpts of e-mails. As for the rest of the website, I've got an about page that tells a little bit about me, as well as letting you know where I've been and who I've worked with during my mission. The contact page has my address and facebook info, and if I get around to it I'll try to write a little glossary for those not so familiar with all the Mormon/missionary lingo I might start throwing around. I can't wait to be out there serving, and I hope to hear from a lot of you, and enjoy the blog!