Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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A Healthy Missionary

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FHE Scripture


Alma 53:20-21

“20 And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.
21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.”

FHE Lesson Hymn


Called to Serve- Hymn Book #249

1. Called to serve Him, heav’nly King of glory,
Chosen e’er to witness for his name,
Far and wide we tell the Father’s story,
Far and wide his love proclaim.

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name;
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name;
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing.
God our strength will be; press forward ever,
Called to serve our King.

2. Called to know the richness of his blessing–
Sons and daughters, children of a King–
Glad of heart, his holy name confessing,
Praises unto him we bring.

FHE Lesson


*For Younger Children* Use this short health quiz to begin a conversation about healthy habits.

Test Your Health IQ

I will keep my mind and body sacred and pure, and I will not partake of things that are harmful to me (My Gospel Standards).
Heavenly Father has blessed you with a body, and He wants you to treat it well. Take this quiz to see how well you are taking care of your body!

1. You and a friend are deciding what to do one afternoon. Which do you choose?
a. Watch TV.
b. Go do something active outside.

2. You’re reading an exciting book before bed, but it’s getting late. What do you do?
a. Put the book away and go to sleep.
b. Keep reading. Just a few more chapters!

3. Someone at school offers you pills and says they taste like candy. What do you do?
a. Say no.
b. Take the pills.

4. Vegetables with dinner—again? You want dessert instead. What do you do?
a. Try the vegetables. You might like them!
b. Start with dessert. You can eat vegetables when you’re older.

5. Bad scenes from a movie are going through your head. What do you do?
a. Keep thinking about the movie.
b. Sing a Primary song, read a book, or play a game.

Did you pick these answers?

1. b. Go do something active outside. One way to take care of your body is by exercising. Exercising gives you energy, and it can be fun! Try jumping, skipping, dancing, or kicking a ball.

2. a. Put the book away and go to sleep. It might be hard to put the book down, but you need your sleep. Did you know you grow in your sleep? Your body needs rest to recharge for the next day.

3. a. Say no. Don’t take pills or other drugs from someone who is not your parent or doctor. They can be dangerous and harmful to your body. If a person offers them to you, leave quickly and tell an adult immediately.

4. a. Try the vegetables. You might like them! Mom is right. Vegetables are good for your growing body. Give them a try! If you don’t like them, talk to your parent about finding other healthy foods you can eat.

5. b. Sing a Primary song, read a book, or play a game. Having bad thoughts doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. But sometimes it’s hard to get those thoughts out of you head. Focusing on something god will help push them out.

If you picked other answers, make a goal to take good care of your body. When you have a choice to make, choose to do what is best for a healthy body and a clean mind. Remember, your body is a blessing from God!


*For The Whole Family*  Read through and share some suggestions from Missionary Health Preparation. Talk about the importance of preparing for a mission physically as well as spiritually, and the things you can do now to be ready.  

During 35 years of practice as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, I performed thousands of operations on the heart. After cardiac surgery, patients would often ask me how they could prevent future surgery. And even if they didn’t ask, I felt obligated to advise them anyway. I would talk to them about the importance of a healthy diet, appropriate weight, aerobic exercise, adequate rest, and stress reduction. Those who acted on my advice were generally blessed with years of comfortable living. Many of those who lacked the resolve to make the necessary lifestyle changes had to face the surgical knife again—often sooner rather than later.

Starting Now

Preventive measures are also essential for young adults who are preparing to serve missions. Today about 3 percent of missionaries have their missions shortened by either physical or mental health problems. Losing three out of 100 missionaries may not seem like very many. But to the individual and his or her family, having a mission cut short is significant.

For more than a year, I have served in a calling in which I observe thehealth problems missionaries encounter. Based on my experiences in this assignment, I would offer the following information to help young people who are preparing to become missionaries reduce the likelihood of developing these health problems.

Fortunately, many of the health problems that missionaries encounter are preventable with proper preparation. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you goon a mission.” 

I recommend that health preparation begin at least two years in advance of the anticipated missionary service. Those who wait to prepare until the last minute or until after they have received the call to serve may not be ready and may even have their missions delayed.

Physical health preparation usually includes a routine office consultation with a medical doctor and a dentist. In some cases, mental health pSestersJoggingreparation may require evaluation by a mental health professional.

Physical Health Preparation

Regular (daily) exercise. A missionary must be able to walk an average of six miles (10 km) per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles (19 km) per day. Prospective missionaries who aren’t walking more than from the car to a class or a job will likely get sore feet and blisters when they reach the mission field. Those who are not used to riding a bicycle regularly will also become very “saddle sore” when a bike becomes their primary means of transportation. A missionary who is out of shape will be fatigued by missionary work, and a tired missionary is more open to discouragement and health concerns than a missionary who is physically fit.

Prospective missionaries can prepare for the rigors of missionary life by establishing a regular pattern of aerobic exercise—walking, running, or cycling for one hour every day. Those whose primary form of exercise is playing electronic games or text messaging will take at least four months to achieve the level of conditioning that will allow them to actually enjoy a workout.

Adequate sleep. Although sleep needs vary, young adults generally need to sleep seven to eight hours per day. Ideally, they should be in bed by 10:30 to midnight and out of bed by 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. Staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and sleeping until 10:00 a.m. leaves a person feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep until noon. Staying up all night to cram for examinations, playing video games most of the night, or working a graveyard shift can be detrimental because keeping late hours resets the body’s clock. Missionaries live a scheduled life. They are in bed by 10:30 p.m. and up by 6:30 a.m. every day. This schedule will be difficult unless prospective missionaries get into a similar routine well in advance of the call to service.

Healthy eating habits. Rather than living on sugar and fat, young people should learn to enjoy meals consisting of protein and fiber, such as lean meat, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit. Also, drinking more than 12 ounces of carbonated beverage per day is too much.

The Missionary Department requires that missionaries have a body mass index no higher than 37. This is actually on the border between obesity and morbid obesity. Prospective missionaries should strive to keep their weight in the normal range, thereby avoiding obesity-related health problems. Being markedly under normal weight can also have serious health consequences.

Meal preparation skills. Parents can help their sons and daughters learn how to prepare simple, healthy meals. I stress the word simple because missionaries often cook food on a hot plate or a single gas burner and may not have an oven. Every prospective missionary needs to know the basics of cooking and sanitary food handling. Since dishwashers are rarely found in missionary living quarters, it is also important to know how to clean up after meals with hot water and dish soap.

Personal hygiene. Personal cleanliness and good grooming habits are vital to missionary success. Favorable first impressions are lasting. Clean hands also help missionaries stay healthy and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Skin problems. Acne is a common teenage problem. Those with a severe acne problem should get help from a medical doctor well before entering the Missionary Training Center. Some acne medicines require monitoring over time and are not used in the mission field.

Dental health. Prevention is the key to good dental health. This means a habit of brushing teeth at least morning and night, daily use of dental floss, and consistent visits to your dentist. Any required dental repair should be finished before the missionary recommendation is submitted. Orthodontic treatment—which often takes two years or more—must be completed before arrival at the MTC.

Chronic health issues. Headaches are a common, difficult health problem that may worsen during missionary service and that can be difficult to evaluate and treat in the field. Occasional stomach and bowel problems may also become chronic during missionary service. Heart problems and breathing problems such as asthma should be thoroughly evaluated before missionaries begin service. With proper treatment, many health problems become controllable, making missionary service possible if treatment continues throughout the mission.

Bone and joint problems resulting from injury may require surgery. Orthopedic procedures, even arthroscopic operations, usually entail lengthy periods of rehabilitation. Prospective missionaries must obtain appropriate orthopedic care well in advance (four to six months) of entering missionary service. A young man or woman who arrives at the MTC on crutches two weeks after knee surgery will not be able to walk the distance required in the mission field.

Immunizations. Those preparing to serve missions should obtain all available routine vaccinations and booster injections at appropriate ages. Well before beginning their missionary service, they should also receive any special immunizations required for the particular country where they will serve.

The advantages of immunization overwhelmingly exceed the minuscule risks of receiving vaccines. Immunization renders an individual resistant to disease for varying time periods. Maintaining immunity may require a booster injection.

Other Mission Opportunities

During the course of preparing to serve, prospective missionaries may discover serious physical or emotional issues. Prospective missionaries and their parents should be completely candid in disclosing all health issues and medications on the missionary recommendation application.

Unfortunately, some health problems can present insurmountable obstacles to serving full-time proselytizing missions. The First Presidency has stated: “There are worthy individuals who desire to serve but do not qualify for the physical, mental, or emotional challenges of a mission. We ask stake presidents and bishops to express love and appreciation to these individuals and to honorably excuse them from full-time missionary labors.”  In such cases, service missions can be a great blessing, allowing individuals to live at home and receive appropriate medical care while growing and maturing in the service of the Lord. Parents, bishops, and stake presidents can help in encouraging and arranging appropriate opportunities.

Opportunities for service missions can also be found at the Church Web site ( Select “Other Resources,” then “Mission and Service Opportunities.” Continuing higher education or technical training to allow better coping with chronic impairment is also an admirable alternative.

Here to Help

When prospective missionaries prepare themselves well in advance of submitting their recommendation applications, they can identify and resolve health problems, improve their physical strength, and be better mentally and emotionally prepared to withstand the rigorous life required of missionaries. They will then be much more likely to complete a successful mission free of significant health problems.

Unfortunately, some missionaries unpredictably become ill or injured while serving. More than 50 health-care professionals are serving as full-time missionaries throughout the world, with 200 additional volunteers serving at Church headquarters—all in support of missionary health. Speaking for this small army of health-care professionals, we will be there to help any missionary who becomes ill or injured. And we pray every day that our missionaries will remain healthy and safe from harm as they serve the Lord and His children.


FHE Treat


Sweet Potato Chips & Caramel Apple Cider

Baked Sweet Potato Chips


  1. 1 sweet potato
  2. non-stick spray
  3. 4 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt
  4. 2-2 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)


  1. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the glass plate inside your microwave.
  2. Slice sweet potato with a mandoline and lay slices in a single layer on the parchment.
  3. Spray lightly with nonstick spray and sprinkle very lightly with the salt mixture.
  4. Microwave on 50-60% power for 8-10 minutes*, but keep an eye on them after bout 5 minutes) until sweet potatoes start to very lightly brown.
  5. Let cool completely before eating and store in an airtight container.*Note this time and cooking length is for my microwave, definitely experiment to find the perfect combo in yours, as all microwaves are different and cooking time will depend on the thickness of the potato slices.Rosemary Salt:  Combine salt, rosemary, and garlic powder in a food processor and process until granules are evenly sized (this can take a few minutes).   Note: you will not use all of this mixture.  Place it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it to season other foods!

(From Our Best Bites )

Hot Caramel Apple Cider


  1. 1/2 gallon apple cider (64 oz or 8 C)
  2. 1/2 C orange juice, fresh squeezed or good quality bottled like Simply Orange
  3. 1 orange
  4. 8 cloves
  5. 2 cinnamon sticks (if yours are more than a year old- buy new ones!!)
  6. 1/4 t ground allspice
  7. 1/3 C jarred caramel sauce* more to taste if needed
  8. optional: caramel flavored syrup, sweetened whipped cream (or from a can is fine!)
    *For a delicious twist, substitute maple syrup for the caramel sauce in this recipe.


  1. Pour 8 cups of apple cider into a large stock pot on the stove pot. Set heat to medium-high. Add orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and allspice.
  2. Thoroughly wash your orange and then gently stab the whole cloves into it. If you find it hard to do that without destroying the cloves, use a toothpick to poke little hole first and then insert the cloves.  (If you are doubling the recipe, you can still just use one orange, just double the number of cloves you poke into it).
  3. Gently drop the whole orange into the pot. Bring cider to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer on low for 60 minutes and longer if you wish. If you’re keeping the pot on the stove for an extended period, keep an eye on the orange. If at any time it splits open, remove it from the pot. If the white pith is exposed it will add a bitter taste to your cider. If you’re going to have the pot warming for hours on end, take out the orange.
  4. After you’ve simmered for an hour, add caramel sauce and stir to combine and dissolve. Add more caramel to taste if needed.When ready to serve, ladle into mugs, top with whipped cream, and give it a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

(From Our Best bites )

FHE Game / Activity


  1. Create an obstacle course and time family members as they perform tasks from several of the sections in the article: for example, physicalhealth preparation—go up and down stairs; healthy eating—peel a carrot; personal hygiene—tie a necktie; dental health—brush their teeth; and so on. Using the article, discuss how to prepare for a future mission. Have each person make a goal of one area to work on.
  2. As a family, choose recipes for five simple, well-balanced meals. Learn how to prepare each meal, and discuss proper cleanup. Assign each older family member a meal to prepare during the coming week. Create a file of these and other simple recipes.
Join the Discussion!
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.


  1. I think this is a fabulous family night lesson. I have two prospective missionaries and I want them to be healthy and able to serve their missions well.

    This is also a good lesson for missionary prep classes.

    • So glad you like the lesson, we hope all of our future missionaries can have a fruitful time and no worries when they leave!

Comments are closed.

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