Though they may know of them, people might not always know a whole lot about these these missionaries who spread Mormonism throughout the world.
Any worthy, able-bodied man or woman in the Church is able to perform missionary service if they so choose. Men may become missionaries once they turn 18 and have graduated high school, or its equivalent. Women can enter the missionary force at age 19. These ages were very recently lowered from 19 and 21, respectively. Women are welcome to serve, but the their is more of an obligation placed on the men to join the cause.
Young adults are not the only ones involved in the effort. Older married couples whose children have all moved out may join the effort as well.
How long do missionaries serve?
Young men sign on to serve for two years, and women for eighteen months. In some situations, if a missionary chooses, they may choose to extend their service for another few months, but this is not extremely common. Married couples may serve anywhere from a year to two years
Are there different types of missions?
Though the door-to-door proselyting variety of missionary is what usually comes to mind when one thinks of a missionary, this is not the only capacity that a missionary may serve in. These missionaries are known as "Full-time Missionaries". They leave their homes and live in a different place for the term of their service and preach the Gospel of Christ every day. Sometimes, their are extenuating circumstances, and a man or woman who wants to serve might not be able to. They may be held back by physical, mental, or emotional problems which would make a full-time mission too difficult. Luckily, they have another option in the form of part-time service. Part-time missionaries (also called "Church Service Missionaries") can serve in many different ways. Some may work at Church office buildings, helping the cause of the Church on that front. Others may perform service at Church-owned thrift stores, and food banks. If their is a need for service in almost any capacity, they are able to fill it. The length of time a part-time missionary serves varies, as there are many different situations.
How many missionaries are there?
As of 2011, there were over 55,000 full-time and 22,000 part-time missionaries in service throughout the world.
What is a missionary's daily life like?
For Church Service Missionaries, this varies greatly, as their are so many different activities they could take part in. For the full-timers, there is more of a structure, and a typical day might look like this:
6:30am- Wake up and pray. Eat breakfast.
7:30am- Study scriptures, lesson plans, and other Church materials. Make daily preparations.
10:00am- Leave the missionary residence and proselyte/ other appointments.
An hour each for lunch and dinner
9:00pm- Back to the mission home. Make plans and preparations for the next day.
10:30pm Pray and get in bed
Do missionaries have rules?
Full-time missionaries have set of rules they must adhere to while in the field. For example, the missionaries are not allowed to watch TV or movies, or use the internet, unless the mission president (an older man in charge of all the missionaries in a specific area) gives them permission. They may only read or listen to Church materials. The reason for this is not to cloister the missionaries, but to allow them to be focused. Ruling out the time-wasting activities that merely entertain frees up a lot of time for the missionaries, time they desperately need to accomplish their day's work.
Full-time missionaries go everywhere two by two. They must always stay with their partner (companion) unless they are doing something requiring privacy--i.e. the bathroom. They are not allowed to date while in the mission field, and must never be alone with someone of the opposite sex.
How can I contact the missionaries?
If you have any other questions about the Mormon missionaries, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can follow this link to chat live with actual missionaries!