Let’s just get this out of the way: Sundays are not a day of rest for every missionary. Every minute of your waking life as a missionary is used to the fullest, so this is expected, right? Do Missionaries Get to Rest on the Sabbath?
The first half of my mission was hard, especially on Sundays. We often translated sacrament meeting talks and other lessons, had meetings with the leaders of the ward, and paid attention to our investigators or less actives to ensure they felt welcome and comfortable. Then there was the Sunday meal with members, usually during lunchtime right after church.
My first nine months were particularly challenging because I got a migraine every Sunday, and my head was already throbbing by the time we got to take the Sacrament. I often felt nauseous during Sunday meals because of migraines. All I wanted to do was sleep off the pain so I could function during lessons.
Everyone has their health struggles, and this was mine. It was hard deciding when to brave it out and when to relax. It took me those nine months to learn a few lessons about the Sabbath and learn how to make sure that the Sabbath was working for me as much as I was working for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
I also decided that much of the stress I was experiencing had to do with trying to be “on my best behavior” during church. I constantly wanted the members to see my companion and me as intelligent and hard-working sisters. We needed their help to be nice to our newbies, and we needed their help to teach.
Despite whether the members scrutinized our work or not, that was way too much pressure to put on myself. I forgot that the Sabbath was made just as much for me as a missionary as it was made for everyone else.
This is a plea to understand the purpose of the Sabbath day and how it can heal you from your last week and prepare you for the next week. It’s not a day to show off how many investigators took your invitation to come.
But if you have to be so busy on Sundays, what’s a sister to do? Here are a few suggestions that helped me during the last part of my mission where things really took off for me spiritually.
Value the Sacrament with Your Life
Consider these short minutes a time to reflect on your missionary work and take advantage of the quiet peace. No translating, no planning, no walking, running, or biking. It’s time for you and the Lord. Many members have their own rituals during the Sacrament—whether it’s praying, having a personal interview and reflection, or reading the words of the hymn they just sang.
Start now to find out what works for you. As you learn more about what the Sacrament can do for the soul, you can feel a major boost of peace from those few minutes than you would from a nice long Sunday nap. I often used this time to remind myself that I was doing a good job so far and I was grateful for the superhuman strength the Lord gave me that week to go and do the things he needed me to do.
Learn for Yourself
It’s easy to attend a Relief Society lesson or read General Conference talks and immediately pair them with someone who needs those messages. On Sunday, switch your brain to personal study mode. Try to learn the lessons you need for your own spiritual growth.
The Sabbath is an excellent day to learn how to improve ourselves, so take a big bite out of that spiritual feast, rather than saving food for those you teach and starve yourself of the Good Word.
Rely on the Priesthood
If you are struggling physically, this isn’t something to keep from your mission president. Counsel with him and his wife on ways you can take good care of your body. You might get special permission to take a break after church if it’s damaging to your health.
You can also ask your district leader or Ward Mission Leader for a blessing. Sisters, priesthood blessings are your friends for any and all concerns. You will have a lot to worry about, so ask for extra spiritual help to navigate your missionary service. The blessings didn’t necessarily take away my headaches or fussy stomachaches, but they certainly spoke to my heart the words I craved to hear.
Sometimes, the mission can be tiring, and you’ll feel it on Sundays especially. I encourage you to be open about these things with your future companions and your mission president. The Sabbath shouldn’t be a migraine during your mission experience.
What do you do especially to keep the Sabbath holy? Share your ideas below!