A Mission President’s Wife’s Concerns:
- Feet. Many missionaries aren’t used to walking long distances and they don’t know how to choose proper footwear, which leaves them with foot problems and makes them less effective.
- Heavy backpacks. Missionaries are not used to carrying these and often don’t know how to wear them properly—this limits their usefulness and efficiency in the work of the Lord.
- Everyday medical emergencies. Missionaries need to be able to treat cuts, strains, bug bites, burns, stomach pains, colds, and flu.
- Extreme weather conditions. Missionaries often work in bad weather; they need to know how to persevere in harsh conditions.
- Coping with homesickness. With the lowering of the age requirement, many boys have not been away from home for long periods.
In September, Mac reflected on a time in 2009 when, as stake Young Men president and high council member, he was surprised at the report from a mission president’s wife. During her report she “… lamented about how ill-prepared some young men are when they enter the mission field. She was shocked at the things she had to teach the boys once they were on their missions that she felt they should have learned long before they embarked to serve the Lord full time.”
As she spoke Mac listed her concerns and was glad to see that Scouting could help. He wrote:
“…the Lord already had put in place a program to address each of this sister’s concerns. The Young Men program—if carried out as the Lord intends—is perfectly designed through Aaronic Priesthood quorum duties, Duty to God requirements, and Scouting activities to prepare a young man for every situation he may face on his mission.
“With the lowering of the age requirement to serve a mission, many young men are going straight from high school and the comfort of their homes into the mission field where they have to fend for themselves. As a Young Men leader you have numerous opportunities to help prepare your youth for the challenges they will face. Almost every endeavor in which you engage with your young men is a prospective missionary preparation experience. Help your boys to keep this in mind when planning activities. Instead of choosing activities that are merely entertaining or fun, they may be more inclined to focus on pursuits that will have greater benefit to them in the future as they serve an honorable full-time mission.”
Using this incident and his own Scouting experience, Mac posted five articles, sharing his understanding of the Scouting program in a uniquely LDS way:
- Mac’s Message #53: How Scouting Prepares a Young Man to Serve an Honorable Full-time Mission
- Mac’s Message #54: How Acquiring Merit Badges Helps Prepare Young Men for Missionary Service
- Mac’s Message #55: How the Scout Law Applies to Missionary Service
- Mac’s Message #56: How Scouting/Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Roles Prepare Young Men for Missionary Service
- Mac’s Message #57: How Boy-Led Scouting Prepares Young Men for Missionary Service
In one of these articles he reminds us that:
“Scouting is designed to toughen up young men before their missions. This is why I suggested in earlier blog messages that boys need activities that require them to do hard things, even in bad weather, so they know how to persevere in harsh conditions (see Mac’s Messages #22, #23 and #24).”
If you are looking for ways to deepen your understanding of Aaronic Priesthood Scouting, you might consider following Mac on his weekly blog; we do.
Author: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. As a high council member advising Young Men in his stake, he worked closely with wards and leaders to discover the value add Scouting can bring to the Duty to God and other Aaronic Priesthood programs.