thought the day would never come, but the letter is here. You've been

called to the (fill in the blank) mission. You wish you could just go

ahead and leave, but your Missionary Training Center date seems like

forever away. And in some cases, it could be months before you put on

that Mormon-missionary name tag.

Take a deep breath, then get to work on making a checklist of things

to do before you're really ready to leave. A sister-in-law — let's call

her Mindy — produced a good rundown for finishing those preparations

and is willing to share. You'll probably need your parents' help, so

don't leave everything until the last minute — plan backward and count

  • the days until departure.

Arrange for all necessary paperwork —

passports, visas, driving record, driver permit, FBI background checks,

fingerprinting, etc. Follow church and mission guidelines exactly.

Make kits and learn how to use everything you plan to take. Among the kits:

Pictures of your house, room, workplace, friends, family, school, city and church to show to people you meet and teach.

Needles, thread, spare buttons and safety pins.

Camera, batteries, memory cards, cords and chargers.

Pens, pencils, paper, stapler, tape, glue, journal, stamps and addresses of family and friends.

First aid supplies.

Bank account information, credit cards and debit cards.

Laundry bag — and learn the difference between washing dark and white clothes.

Items for personal hygiene.

Sheets, blankets, sleeping bags and alarm

clock. While you're at it, start getting up early and going to bed

early so it won't be such a shock to your system your first few days in

the MTC.

Appropriate clothes — follow your mission's guidelines and take just what you will need.