First of all, congratulations on being called to the best mission in the world! (I’m sure other missions are great, too, but . . . they don’t have the “El Faro” culture of obedience to prove it).
I remember packing for my mission [she didn’t have anything in any suitcases until the morning she was flying away—and we had to leave about 1 PM—just sayin’]. I remember looking at that list in my call packet and thinking that I’ve seen more complete/useful girls-camp packing lists . . . and this is 18 months in a foreign land, not a week in the mountains. So it’s a bit stressful. I remember my first week in the MTC (CCM) wishing I could go home for a day, re-pack, and go back. #truestory. But since that’s not possible/feasible/economic/even desirable if you really think about it, here’s some tips to prevent that post-packing regret.
|This was literally HOURS before we left for the airport.|
Those hard-cased 4 wheeled suitcases are cute and all, but beware. Those flimsy wheels will wear out before the end of your first transfer in the field, and lugging around broken heavy luggage is an unnecessary added stress. If you pay the big bucks and get the Samsonite you should be good, or if the wheels are two per corner (added insurance). The two-wheeled tilt and drag are almost always preferable. (But if ALL of them are tilt and drag, it makes it hard to take them all yourself.) Remember: Better ugly and functional than cute and cumbersome. (But you can usually find an Elder to take them for you.)
2) Don’t leave your jeans in the dryer . . . and other clothing tips.
Fun personal story. But yes, don’t forget to bring a pair of jeans. No matter what you bring to wear, you’ll be sick of your clothes by the end of the MTC. #sadtruth. DownEast Basic T’s are GOLD. Seriously, I can’t stress that enough. Cardigans to dress-up/switch-up your outfits and are also a necessity (don’t worry about blazers unless you really like that type of thing). As an added bonus, cardigans help hide arm-fat which is nice. #sadtruth Which brings us to another key point, “you’re going to gain weight.” There really is nothing you can do to avoid it other than fast a lot (which is kind-of not the point), and I’ve decided that it’s a heavenly trial sent to Hermanas to strip us of pride and actually has nothing to do with the large amount of chocolate you end up eating. So bring skirts with elastic waistbands or “room to grow”. Those “perfect missionary skirts” in the Sister Missionary Mall (Provo) are actually really good . . . but wind is the Achilles Heel. Bring skirts you feel comfortable in. Pockets are a BIG plus. Some areas are windy so having a couple pencil skirts is a good plan.
3) Balance packing and buying.
The Spain Barcelona mission covers a lot of area. You could pack for winter, summer, and everything in between. The good news is that Spain is not a 3rd world country. You can buy what you need usually, but bring the basics—a good coat, fleece-lined leggings, light-weight skirts, etc. Primark—decent quality for cheap; H&M—usually pretty good; Chinos—for everything in-between; Stradovarius—my favorite cheapish, cute, mission appropriate.
4) Things to bring.
-A mini-English Preach My Gospel—They’ll give you a big Spanish one in the CCM.
-Good shoes: just a good general rule, though there are other schools of thought. (As a bonus you get ugly shoe tans!) You are going to need tennis shoes. Bring them. Depending on the climate/season, you are going to need boots, but you can buy them there (I went with water-resistant instead of straight-up rain boots because they look more professional and have a wider range of use). Other than that, I would recommend a pair or two of proselyting shoes (I got mine at the Missionary Mall, Clarks are a great choice as well. They have great support, are made to last, and can be cute!). I didn't have a specific pair of Sunday shoes, I just kept my proselyting ones in good condition and they worked for both. Flats can be bought pretty cheaply as you need them, so I wouldn't worry about bringing them. If you need them, you can buy them there.
- any iPad accessories. We're an iPad mission now, and it will be your primary computer for Preparation Day emailing. If you hate typing on a screen, maybe think about investing in a bluetooth keyboard. But don't get too carried away.
-A good water bottle: . . .they might give you one in the CCM, but you can’t bet on it, so it’s still a good idea. Stay hydrated.
-Your favorite sweatshirt: warmth and comfort from home (I wish I’d brought mine). And slippers & fuzzy socks/piso [apartment] shoes.
-Music—Fill a USB with appropriate music . . . that you actually like. Paul Cardell and Jenny Oaks Baker or selected Piano Guys songs are great for studying, EFY is fine if you like that kind of thing, people love the National Tribute Band, MOTABs is where it's at. Most songs from these artists are mission approved.
-Blank cards for thank-yous and such/stationary. I was never successful in finding any and it's nice to leave a cute note after an intercambio or for someone you work with.
5) Things not to bring:
-A million meds: There’s a pharmacy on—no joke- every corner. You can get what you need, even if the brand isn’t familiar. Just bring the meds you need/use most frequently or for conditions that occur regularly (ie., I get congested, I brought stuff for that.)
-Too many clothes/shoes—you will buy more and they don’t do any good cluttering the bottom of your suitcase. (Especially ones you don’t really like.)
-Too many little things—most of these (paperclips, post-its, etc.) you can get at a chino (like a dollar store with everything).
The most important thing to bring is a willing heart, open mind, and a good attitude. You will LOVE your mission, even though there will be hard times. Advice? Jacob 6:12 O be wise; what can I say more? You’ve got this. WELCOME TO EL FARO! See you in the field!