What missionaries do

Editor's note: For more information about Mormon missionaries, including videos and interactivity, click this link.

Note dated July 19: Although these are elders in this video, you have to see The Washington Post's video showing the day in the life of a Mormon missionary. It'll give you a glimpse into what Brittany does when she's not at the Battalion Historic Site.

For some of you, you already know the answer. But this page is for those who don't.

Probably your normal view of missionaries, right? White shirts, ties, and that black name badge.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe we have a message so amazing that the world needs to hear it. And they don't need to hear it when it's convenient to hear it, they need to hear it now. If you had the cure for cancer, would you wait to let people know about it, or would you immediately share with the world so as many people could benefit from it as possible? That's what the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ means to me.

We believe that Jesus Christ himself restored His Church back to the earth in the exact mirror image of the way it was when He directed it here on earth. And because of that, all the blessings and ordinances that were enjoyed in the past are now on the earth today.  God speaks to men just as he did in the Old and New Testaments. These men are prophets, much like Abraham, Moses and Isaiah were in the Old Testament. The power and authority from God to "bind things on earth and in heaven" exists once again.

And just like He did in ancient times, He has commanded his followers to preach His Gospel to the world again.

So that's what we do: Young Mormon men spend two years preaching the Gospel, while young women like myself spend 18 months. Men, called Elders, can go once they've turned 19, while young women can go anytime after they're 21.

We don't get to choose where we serve — actually, we are called through Revelation where we are to go. Basically, we send in our biographical, health and spiritual information to Salt Lake City, where the Prophet and a few of our Apostles receive revelation directly from God where we are supposed to be.

We then get a letter in the mail to tell us where we are serving, when we are serving and in what language.

52,000 LDS missionaries are serving in 350 missions around the world. That means we're in hundreds of countries, speaking hundreds of languages. Missionaries that learn a language will prepare to preach in that language: for most, it's 9 weeks of intense training before they venture out into the world, while the tougher languages (Finnish, Hungarian, Asian languages, Russian) require 12 weeks. For me, I will spend a month before I head out.

Missionaries in the Missionary Training Center.
Unlike preachers of other faiths, we don't get paid to do what we do. We actually pay our own way to serve — that's how much we feel the message needs to be shared. We also don't watch TV, listen to the radio, or read the news. Our whole time in the mission is devoted to serving others and sharing the Gospel. Heck, we only get to call home to talk with family twice a year: Christmas and Mother's Day.

For more information, please go to this Mormon.org page, which has many interactive features to explain why we do what we do.

Women can go on missions, too. This is what I will look like.