Some love to and some hate to, but everyone should keep a journal. Study, pondering, goal setting, frustrations, personal spiritual experiences, and reflections are all part of missionary life. Keeping a record or diary of life on a mission is not only good for the missionary, the treasure trove of thoughts, quotes, and memories both good and bad will be cherished for years to come.
One of the nice things about being on a mission is the ability to keep a journal because you have time. It is so hard to find time to write. Most people who want to keep journals, but don’t, lament about not having enough time to sit and write about life, their beliefs, thoughts, or what happened during the day. Journal writing for the missionary is easy because on a mission, time is set aside every day for such activities. It is a perfect time in life to get in the habit of keeping a journal.
Study time should be spent reading, writing, and pondering. As you read the scriptures thoughts will come to mind. Write them down. Often a passage will hit you with great power and you may want to copy the passage down along with the thoughts and feeling you had at that moment. Because writing crystalizes thought, you will be more likely to remember things you have written down. When we write down things that are important to us, it more clearly defines who we are.
Goal setting is part of every successful venture and missionary work is no different. Writing goals down is the first step in accomplishing them. There is no better place than a journal to keep your goals safe. It’s a place where you can look at them daily, you won’t lose them, and no one else has to see them. A journal that lets you keep all your goals in one place is of great value.
Frustrations are a part of everyone’s life. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t experience frustration. For a missionary, living closely with a stranger day in and day out can lead to frustration – and often does. Unfulfilled expectations in the day- to-day life of a missionary also leads to frustration. Missed appointments, no one to teach, or a tough companion are real aspects of life for missionaries.
Sometimes the best way to let go is to write down your frustrations. Write them in great detail and also record how they make you feel. A most amazing thing happens. It is as if you have transferred the frustration right out of your life and on to the piece of paper. The nice thing about a ring binder journal, is the ability to take that page out one day and throw it away. Venting your frustrations in the pages of your journal is a whole lot healthier and safer than taking them out on someone else.
A journal that has tabs and allows you to write about specific things like your frustrations or your goals is very beneficial. Keeping everything organized according to topic lets you easily find it again. The ability to take notes on topic is so important! You can do that with A-Z tabs. They provide an automatic filing system. Alphabetize your entries and add to them as time goes on. Over time you develop a wealth of knowledge on specific topics like the atonement, baptism, truth, faith, etc. Referring back to those notes or quotes is so easy when they are alphabetized. The ring binder journal lets you add to your topics indefinitely.
One of the most important reasons for keeping a missionary journal is for the story you tell, the feelings, thoughts, and understanding that comes as you record your experiences. For missionaries, many of those experiences will be of a spiritual nature. Keeping all your spiritual experiences in one place is powerful; not only for you, but for whoever comes across your journal and reads those entries.
Your experiences and recorded testimonies will bear witness of truth through generations to come. The next time you go through one of those “spiritual lows” that we all go through, turning to those pages will help you remember there is a God, he does know who you are, he does answer prayers, and you are never alone. What is really nice is – – – you can find those entries very fast because they are all behind the same tab; the one you created for your spiritual experiences. Missionary journal writing is also a great way to remember your mission.