Dear Parents and mentors of New Texas Houston South Missionary:
Please carefully review all the information that was included in the booklet from the Church Missionary Department that was sent to your missionary. What follows emphasizes some points and provides some additional detail. You may want to keep this for future reference.
All ELDERS and SISTERS are required to have a bicycle, bicycle lock (cable & u-style type – key locks are preferred) and helmet. They will get much use out of their bikes while they serve the people of Texas. A kickstand is optional but recommended.
Bicycle and accessories must be purchased prior to the missionary’s arrival at the Texas Houston South Mission (THSM). To order your bike, please call 713-777-5333
Keeping cost in mind, the THSM has contracted with a local bike shop to provide reliable and durable bikes to our missionaries at a bulk price. The bike dealer assembles and tunes the bikes before the missionary arrives. He also provides a free tune up after 90 days, and keeps all parts in stock for quick repairs. Experience has shown that the models selected do well with the rigors of missionary work. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to purchase a bike and accessories (helmet, lock and kickstand) through this dealer. A price list and contact information is enclosed. Please call the dealer and make the purchase over the phone (by providing a credit card) and then let the THSM vehicle coordinator know of the purchase (281-565-7117). Please be sure that the bike has been ordered at least 2 weeks before the missionary enters the MTC.
While new or used bikes may be purchased at home and shipped to the THSM, we highly discourage you from doing so. Shipping costs are significant – usually around $100.
Additionally, bikes need to be assembled and ready to use before missionaries arrive from the MTC – there is no time for assembly upon their arrival. Accordingly, bikes shipped to the THSM must be sent to a local bike shop where they can be assembled for a fee – again, not inexpensive. It is often difficult to find parts for bikes shipped from home. Generally, any money saved by shipping a bike from home is lost in the shipping and assembly costs, and then the hours and costs lost in repairs.
The THSM does not coordinate the purchase of used bikes here in the mission. We recognize that the cost of a bicycle is not insignificant. If purchase of the bike and accessories would be a financial hardship for the missionary or his/her family, we encourage you to counsel with your stake president about a solution. Please also feel free to call the THSM vehicle coordinator at 281-565-7117 or email the mission president at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
BOOKS AND OTHER LITERATURE
The following books in addition to Preach My Gospel and the Standard Works are authorized for missionaries in our mission. LDS Distribution Center catalog numbers are in parenthesis following the title.
Jesus the Christ – James E. Talmage (80352000)
Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (35448000)
Our Search for Happiness – M. Russell Ballard (80870000)
True to the Faith (36863000)
No other books or literature are authorized. Please do not send any books not on the list to your missionary. Any unauthorized books or literature brought or subsequently received will have to be sent home.
With your missionary, carefully review the Dress and Grooming Guidelines section of the booklet he or she received from the Church Missionary Department. Remember that summers in this part of Texas are quite hot and humid. Winters can have days that feel quite cold also due to the high humidity. Select clothing that is “wash and wear” and “wrinkle free” whenever possible. In addition, please note the following:
Cotton blouses and tops are recommended for summer wear.
At least one dress or skirt and blouse to wear to Church meetings and missionary conferences.
Bring a warm, dressy, jacket or overcoat.
Most of your white shirts should be short-sleeved.
4 to 5 pair of slacks in addition to your suit pants. All suits should be conservative.
Bring a light-weight overcoat for winter and a raincoat that can be worn while on a bike.
Missionaries are to bring “shoulder bags” to carry their proselyting literature and supplies while working. (See https://missionary.lds.org/dress-grooming/elder/dress/shoes/?lang=eng.)
Please DO NOT bring backpacks into the mission field.
BEDDING & TOWELS
Missions are now approved to provide a blanket and pillow for young full time missionaries, so please DO NOT bring all your own bedding. Please DO bring 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel and 2 washcloths. [Additional Information on Bedding]
Missionaries are instructed to write a letter home every week on preparation day (usually on Monday). They may correspond with both family and friends by email and regular mail.
Your missionary will anticipate your letters with equal excitement. They are very important for your missionary’s morale. Please limit your letters to once weekly unless there is some special need or occasion. It is important that letters include good news from home. Please avoid burdening them with family problems. If there is a major illness, injury or death, or other difficult news in the family, please contact the mission president who will work with you to inform your missionary. Letters from home should be encouraging and uplifting and express an interest in the work, investigators, and things that are important to the mission. Let your missionary know that he or she is doing an eternally important work, helping save the souls of the children of God. If you share your missionary’s letters with others (such as on a blog), please edit out names of investigators, members and missionaries.
DO NOT BRING THE FOLLOWING
Computers of any kind and electronic games are not approved for full-time missionaries. Personal headsets of any kind are prohibited and should not be brought to the mission field.
Full-time missionaries are provided a monthly allowance that is adequate for essential needs. This includes food, haircuts, laundry, and essential personal care items. Your missionary will need to carefully budget these funds. Apartment rents, furnishings, utilities, and car expenses are all provided by the mission.
Expenses for clothing, personal luxury items, cameras and film, photo development, souvenirs, traffic fines and penalties, bicycle repairs, luggage and other similar items are not authorized from Missionary Support Funds. These expenses are to be paid from the missionary’s personal funds. It is recommended that you establish a debit card account for your missionary with a financial institution in your local area where you can deposit the additional funds he or she may need. These additional funds, if any, should be kept to a minimum. Too much disposable income for a missionary is a temptation that can lead to improper purchases and behaviors inconsistent with their sacred callings.
If you need to send your missionary additional funds by mail, send him or her a United States Postal Money Order. You can get these at any U S Post Office. Please do not send personal checks or other money orders to your missionary. No two party checks or any other type of money orders can be cashed in Texas.
While optional, missionaries have found it to be very helpful to have a Global Positioning System with them to find referrals and other contacts within their areas.
MAIL AND PACKAGES
Letters and packages sent to the mission office will be delivered to your missionary as soon as possible, usually within a few days. It is suggested that packages not be sent on a frequent basis. They can become a distraction and cause clutter.
Letters may be sent either to the mission office or directly to your missionary’s apartment once you have his or her actual address. If letters are sent to their actual apartment address this could result in delays when they are transferred to a new area.
Packages to your missionary may be sent via the United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service (UPS) or FedEx or similar carriers. In order to insure delivery, we request that they be sent to the mission office as follows: If sent to their apartment they sometimes have to pay a fee to get them from the leasing office. Please don’t send packages to their apartments!!
Elder or Sister (His or her full name)
Texas Houston South Mission
602 Eldridge Road
Sugar Land, TX, 77478
Every reasonable effort is made to safeguard the health of missionaries. In your letters, you should encourage them to follow the rules of good health and sensible diet. All medical care must be authorized by the mission president, or his designate, unless it is an emergency. At the time of medical care IF your son or daughter is covered by personal insurance, this should be the Primary Card presented for medical coverage and the Missionary Medical card presented as secondary coverage. Please send, with your missionary, a copy of your family health insurance card. He/she will need the front and back. If you should change insurance plans, please send, FAX, or e-mail a copy of your new card, and we will get it to your missionary. When missionaries arrive, they will be issued a medical card from the Missionary Medical/First Health Network. Medical expenses, including the cost of prescription medicines, incurred to treat illness and injuries that occur in the mission field are covered by this plan. Missionary Medical expenses are paid from the tithing funds of the Church.
The Church does not pay for dental care, eyeglasses, or medical treatments or medicines needed for pre-existing conditions. There is a $10.00 co-payment for doctor visits and prescriptions that are the responsibility of the missionary. These co-payments are not to be paid from Missionary Support Funds (MSF). If your missionary has a condition requiring notification to medical personnel, you may want to provide him or her with a Medical ID Bracelet. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
Also, it would be wise for your missionary to have his/her Social Security #...NOT the original card… just the number and have him/her put it in a secure place, but NOT in his/her wallet!!
MISSION FIELD VISITS
Do not plan family vacations or business trips to the area where your son or daughter is serving with the expectation that you will be able to see him or her. Such visits are strongly discouraged. If you are going to be in the area, it is recommended that you not advise your missionary of your presence as it can be difficult for them to know how close by you are.
The following music is authorized for use by missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission: music sold in the MTC Bookstore, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, non-vocal classical music, and official EFY music produced annually by the Church (this is not a type of music but the actual CDs produced for EFY by the Church). Other music is not authorized. Exceptions should not be requested. Digital media players with video or image capabilities of any kind are not permitted, and must be shipped home. This includes most iPods, personal DVD players, hand-held game devices, and every other digital media player that has a screen. Ipod “shuffle” and similar devices without viewing screens, along with CD players, are allowed. Headphones are not permitted; portable speakers must be used. Missionaries may not use computers to add or modify the music on their digital media players. Digital media players that contain music or listening materials that are not authorized must be shipped home for use after the mission.
Missionaries are now allowed to call, text, chat, Skype, their immediate family on preparation day.
Family is defined by the missionary department as the missionary’s immediate family (mom and dad and siblings living at home). Families may add siblings and extended family to the calls so long as the parents are also on the call.
Missionaries should be the only one to initiate all communication with their family. Missionaries may call home for parents birthdays.
Missionaries can call home for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas. All communications should be done only on Preparation Day and conclude by 6:00 pm.
Elders have been called to serve for twenty-four months. Sisters have been called for eighteen months. Please do not encourage your missionary to ask for an early release because of family vacation plans, work, school, or other personal reasons. As the time for his or her release approaches, please avoid distracting him or her from missionary labors by reminding them of plans and preparations for their return. Do everything you can to encourage them to serve with all their “heart, might, mind and strength” so that they can receive the blessing of serving with all diligence up to the last day. Missionaries are strongly encouraged to serve during the time period set by the call issued to them by a prophet of God,returning on the departure date set by the missionary department that marks the intended end of this sacred period of service. An early release should only be sought in rare circumstances, such as where a scholarship cannot be extended and will expire. Any such requests must be sought six months in advance of the scheduled departure date.
Your missionary will be transferred from time to time from one area to another. This is a normal part of full-time missionary service. These transfers are made after much prayer and evaluation of missionaries currently serving, those that are scheduled to return home, those that are arriving, and other needs of the mission. The assignment of missionaries to senior companion, district leader, zone leader, or assistant to the president is made in the same way. Missionaries usually gain renewed enthusiasm and energy as a result of these transfers and assignments. It can also be stressful as they adapt to new companions, assignments, or areas. As always, be supportive and encouraging in your letters. He or she is learning many important lessons that will benefit him or her throughout life.