Monday, June 29, 2015

Sister Missionary Shoe Tips

As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world". While I don't exactly plan on being a Marilyn Monroe on my mission, she does have a point. As sister missionaries, we have the wonderful opportunity to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Some of us will be across the globe, while others will be a bit closer to home. However, each and every single sister has one thing in common: a need for comfy walking shoes.
A mission demands good and durable walking shoes, no matter the climate or location. A majority of a missionary's day is spent on their feet, where they prance down pavement, dance on dirt roads, or sashay in the rain. All of those activities require the right shoes. While comfort should come before fashion, there are shoes that can satisfy both demands.
I'm sure you have all seen the stereotypical sister missionary shoes. I am here to tell you that those 3-inch rubber soled shoes that could survive a nuclear blast are not the only option. It is completely possible to find shoes that are both fashionable and practical. I have asked several future missionaries and mission shoe experts to share with me their shoes of choice, and the pros and cons of each below.

Crocs Flats

Recommended by: Sister Banisch & Sister Funk
Mexico Chihuahua Mission, Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission

Crocs aren't usually the first thing to come to mind when one is shopping for missionary shoes. However, Crocs offer a wide selection of women's flats that are fashionable and mission appropriate. Their shoes are all 100% washable. If they start to smell or get dirty, they can be rinsed off and dried within a matter of minutes. That can come in very handy when you are wearing them for hours a day. You don't need to worry about waterproofing them either, as they are made of rubber and can be worn rain or shine. Because they are so lightweight, they are extremely portable and can be carried around and used as needed.

Pros: washable, waterproof, affordable, comfortable, lightweight, durable, cool, comes in a variety of styles and colors, less blisters
Cons: feet may get slippery due to sweat or rain (which could make them hard to walk in), not as much foot support as other options out there

ABEO Flats

Recommended by: Sister Christensen
Brazil Campinas Mission

ABEO B.I.O. System - Tamara Neutral

I spent a lot of time looking at a lot of different shoes, but finally decided on (and bought) this pair from The Walking Company, one in black and one in brown. When I first walked into the store, an associate measured my foot, which allowed her to pick an orthopedic pad that would best support my feet. This insert is built into the shoe, so you don't need to waste any more time or money looking for additional inserts. The shoe is made of leather and is very breathable, while the sole of the shoe is made of thick rubber, thus giving it durability. Plus they are pretty cute, which is an added bonus.

Pros: built-in orthopedic pad, breathable, thick rubber sole adds to durability, elastic holds shoe onto foot, comfortable, comes in a variety of conservative colors
Cons: needs waterproofing, socks recommended, could get smelly

KEEN Sandals

Recommended by: Sister Funk
Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission

KEEN Women's Cypress Sandals
These shoes were designed for walking and hiking. These waterproof sandals also offer great arch support. According to Sister Funk, these shoes lasted half of her mission -- not a bad amount of time for a shoe you will be wearing nearly 24/7. These, like the Crocs, are also washable. KEEN makes a variety of different styles (from these sandals to more dressy shoes), so go check them out. There are many colors to choose from as well, so make sure to choose one of the more dressy options. 

Pros: waterproof, built in arch support, durable, comfortable, don't smell, can be easily cleaned, rubber sole adds to durability
Cons: not as dressy as other options, not much cushion

G. H. Bass & Co.

Recommended by: Sister Esplin
Australia Adelaide Mission
G.H. & Bass Co. Missy Drivers

G.H. Bass & Co. offers a wide selection of professional looking flats and loafers. The loafers come in a variety of styles and colors to meet your needs. Make sure to check out the flats as well.  As Sister Esplin was searching for mission shoes, comfort was her top priority. These shoes offer a comfortable fit, padding, and soft lining. Most of the loafers are made of leather, so you will have to do your own water proofing. The soles are synthetic, and other styles can be found with thicker soles as needed.

Pros: comfortable, leather, fashionable, durable, stay on feet well, less blisters
Cons: may be a bit casual, must be waterproofed, soles can be thin (depending on the style), not super breathable

Other Brands/Stores to Check Out: 

Danskos (recommended by an associate at the Sister Missionary Mall in Provo)
Clarks (recommended by an associate at the Sister Missionary Mall in Provo, and Sister Esplin)
Macy's (recommended by Sister Esplin)
Shoe Carnival (recommended by Sister Esplin)
REI (recommended by Sister Funk)
Tevas (recommended by Sister Funk)
The Walking Company (recommended by Sister Christensen)

Shoe Related Products

Waterproofing Spray
Waterproofing spray is a necessity, especially if your shoes are not waterproof. Spray them weekly in order not to damage your shoes and to make them last as long as possible.

Shoe Inserts
Most shoes do not come with inserts. Since you are going to be walking all day everyday, you are going to want your feet to be as comfortable and supported as they can be. Splurge on some orthopedic shoe inserts.

Nearly every store I visited recommended socks. Socks help your shoe not wear down as quickly and can provide protection from blisters. I purchased short socks that have a grip on the heel, because those kind of socks don't usually stay on my feet too well. You can find these anywhere, from Target to Walmart. 

Mole Skin
Chances are, you are going to get blisters. Pack some mole skin so that it doesn't get in the way of your missionary work!

Do you have a missionary shoe suggestion? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ultimate Sister Missionary Packing List

If you are anything like me, you can appreciate a detailed packing list. This project began when I opened my mission call packet and read the packing guidelines. In all honesty, the outline in it (6-8 outfits, 1 set of exercise clothes, etc) isn't very specific. I personally like to have a slighty more in-depth packing list, just so nothing gets left behind (or forgotten). In light of that, I have searched through countless online packing lists, various missionary tips, and my own call packet in order to bring you this (also attached as a printable PDF-file):

Note: This packing list was created with a hot climate in mind. If you are traveling somewhere cold, make sure to adjust the list to meet your needs. Also, depending on luggage size and weight restrictions, make sure to pack necessary items first.


  • 6-8 outfits
    • 5-6 t-shirts (durable and match with a majority of skirts)
    • 4-5 undershirts/shade shirts (black and white seem to be the most popular choices)
    • 3 blouses
    • 6-8 skirts (choose skirts that you can mix and match with your tops in order to make a variety of outfits, while making sure that they cover your knee both front and back)
    • 1-2 dresses
    • 1-2 jackets
    • 2-3 cardigans (one missionary suggested having a couple plain colored cardigans and one fun colored one)
    • 1-2 sweaters
    • 2-3 slips (in coordinating colors and lengths)
    • 2 belts 
    • 4 white/cream bras
    • 8-10 garments (up for debate, take however many garments you feel you may need)
    • 6 pairs of underwear (for that time of the month)
    • 8-10 small socks for flats
    • 3 pairs nylons/plain tights (you may want to take more, I am just not very fond of them)
    • 1-2 Sunday shoes
    • 2 proselyting shoes (if your shoes do not come with inserts, I would consider buying some, as you will be walking a lot)
  • Exercise Clothing
    • 1 pair gym shoes
    • 2 sports bras
    • 2 workout shirts/t-shirts
    • 1 pair loose workout pants
    • 1-2 pairs of spandex shorts (a must if you are biking)
    • 6 pairs regular socks
    • 1 pair basketball shorts*
  • Regular Clothing
    • 1 pair of jeans (full length, not tight fitting)
    • 1-2 sweatshirts (you really only need one, but sweatshirts have a special place in my heart)
    • 2-3 shirts
  • Pajamas
    • 2-3 sets of pajamas
    • 1 robe
    • 1 pair of slippers
  • Raincoat w/ zip out liner (Burlington Coat Factory, Eddie Bauer, etc)
  • 1 pair shower sandals (flip-flops)
  • 1 pair rain boots*


  • Jewelry
    • 1 inexpensive watch
    • 1 hair donut/bun 
    • variety of headbands
    • variety of scarves (help you to spice up the few outfits that you have)
    • bracelets
    • rings
    • necklaces
    • earrings (only studs or less than 1 inch long)
    • YW medallion
    • CTR ring
  • 1 waterproof shoulder bag/purse
  • Wallet
  • Passport case
  • Umbrella
  • Coin purse*


  • Books
    • Scriptures (English)
    • True to the Faith (English)
    • Jesus the Christ (English)
    • Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (English)
    • Our Search for Happiness (English)
    • Missionary Handbook
    • Mini Preach My Gospel (English)*
    • Book of Mormon (Portuguese)*
    • Portuguese-English dictionary*
    • Mini hymnbook*
  • Letters
    • Blank cards (for writing home, birthdays, etc.)
    • Letter paper (find some fun prints so you aren't just writing on notebook paper 24/7)
    • Envelopes
    • Stamps
    • Address Book (fill up before you leave)
  • Study Supplies
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Highlighters (look for scripture marking highlighters -- they don't bleed through the page like traditional highlighters)
    • Scripture marking crayons/ pencils
    • Sharpie (for labeling all your items)
    • Scissors*
    • Colored pens*
    • Tape*
    • Sticky notes*
  • Scripture case
  • 1-2 notebooks (used for studying in the MTC)
  • 2 journals (one for personal and one for scripture study)
  • Seminary cards*
  • Small picture book* (have pictures of friends and family to make you less homesick and to share with companions)
  • Notebook for missionary "yearbook"* (have your companions write down memories for you to look back on after your mission)


  • Folder for documents
  • DMV driving record
  • Health insurance
  • Passport
  • Copy of patriarchal blessing
  • Copy of mission call
  • Driver's license
  • Debit card
  • Immunization form
  • Temple recommend
  • 4 generation pedigree chart
  • Family history stories
  • Favorite conference talks*


  • Nail care kit
    • Nail clipper
    • Nail file
    • Nail polish (conservative colors)
  • Makeup bag
    • Foundation
    • Bronzer
    • Highlighter
    • Blush
    • Eye shadow palettes
    • Face Primer
    • Concealer
    • Assorted brushes
    • Lipstick (once again -- conservative colors)
    • Lip gloss
    • Chapstick
    • Eyeliner (in case you were wondering, liquid eyeliner is allowed)
    • Mascara
    • Eyelash curler
    • Makeup remover
    • Tweezers
    • Compact mirror (for purse)*
    • Mini-makeup bag (for purse)*
  • Toiletries (enough to last 6 weeks in the MTC)
    • Deodorant
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Dental floss
    • Mouth wash
    • Retainer
    • Lotion
    • Razors
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Dry shampoo (I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is a really good idea)
    • Body wash
    • Face wash
    • Towelettes
    • Feminine hygiene products (enough for 18+ months if you are going foreign)
  • Hair care
    • Comb
    • Brush
    • Round brush
    • Hairdryer
    • Hair straightener
    • Hair wand/curling iron
    • Hair ties
    • Bobby pins 
    • Hairspray*
    • Mousse*
  • Eye care
    • Eye drops
    • Contacts
    • Glasses
    • Eye solution (if needed)
  • First-aid kit
    • Neosporin/antibiotic ointment
    • Vitamins
    • Cold medicine
    • Allergy medicine
    • Decongestant
    • Fever reducer
    • Pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medicine
    • Anti-gas medicine
    • Tums
    • Sleeping pills (for the first few nights of the MTC)
    • Anti-itch cream
    • Heat rash ointment
    • Anti-fungal cream/spray
    • Foot deodorant spray
    • Band-Aids
    • Moleskin
    • Thermometer
    • 25-30% DEET mosquito repellent
    • 30+ SPF sunscreen
    • 30+ SPF Chapstick
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Heating pad (especially if you get bad cramps)
  • Perfume
  • 1 bath towel (while the official packing list says to only bring 1 bath towel, I would consider leaving some of the other towels at home and packing a second bath towel)
  • 1 hand towel
  • 2 wash cloths
  • Mirror
  • Kleenex*
  • Hand lotion*


  • Inexpensive camera
    • Camera case
    • Memory cards
    • Memory card reader
    • Camera cord/charger
  • Wind-up/battery alarm clock
  • Small LED flashlight
  • Batteries
  • USB drive
  • International power converter
  • iPod* (only mission approved music, and must have external sound capabilities, i.e. speakers)
    • Speakers*

Other Knick-knacks

  • Luggage tags
  • Water bottle
  • Laundry bag
  • Waterproofing spray (for shoes, bag, etc.)
  • Shoe polish
  • Sewing kit (for sewing tears and buttons)
  • Lint roller*
  • Lanyard* (good for the MTC)
  • Blanket*
  • 30 min work-out book*
  • Recipe book* (bring some of your favorite recipes and gather some while you are there)
  • Church music/CDs*

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Learning a Language - Tips for Pre-Missionaries

One of the first things I decided to obsess over once getting my mission call was how I was going to learn Portuguese. My foreign language experience can be chalked up to four years of Spanish in high school, which isn't very helpful considering 1) Portuguese is not Spanish, and 2) actually speaking the language in a foreign country is much different than speaking it in a classroom. Needless to say, I didn't have any clue on how to start. I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a program like Rosetta Stone, but I did want to have a head start (or at least a basic understanding) of Portuguese before I got to the Brazil MTC. I took to the Internet, e-mailing missionaries and searching the Internet for the best tips on how to become familiar and begin to learn a language.

1. Label objects around the house with sticky notes. 
Even though your parents may not be pleased with little pieces of paper littering their house, this is one of the best ways to learn the names of various household objects. What better place to start than with the objects you use on a day-to-day basis? Every time you pass by or use the object, you read and say the name out loud. Once you know the word and can recall it without looking, you take the sticky note down. You can then label other items and repeat the process.

2. Duolingo

I love this app. Duolingo is free on the app store, and can also be found online here. While I use it to learn Portuguese, it offers a variety of other languages as well. The app has small lessons that teach conjugation, useful words, and even pronouns. For every lesson completed, the user earns points. These points can be used to unlock further language lessons. The app also prompts you to "practice weak skills", so you do not forget any learned material.

3. Study Preach My Gospel next to a copy in your foreign language.

I have heard from many missionaries that this works wonders. However, make sure to learn the lessons in English before attempting to learn them in another language. It is more important to know what you are teaching well before attempting to do so in another language. With that in mind, the process behind this is simple. With both books, it is easy to pick out words and sentences and translate them from English into your language. If you do not have a hard copy of Preach My Gospel in your foreign language, has all of the material online and you can translate the page into it here.

4. gives ten helpful hints to learning a language quickly and effectively, which can be found here.

Remember that teaching and learning the gospel are the first priority, and that you will learn how to speak your language both in the MTC and out in the field. However, becoming familiar with the language you have been called to serve in can be pretty important as well. If you have any additional tips on learning a language, feel free to comment below and share! :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Called to Serve: An Introduction

So I know there are a thousand sister missionary blogs out there. They tell you what to pack, what to wear, what to shop for, and how to prepare. Honestly, I'm not as put together as the majority of those girls. For the most part, I have no idea what I am doing. Sure, I got a packet with my call that included an outline of what I would need, but this is a journey, and life doesn't usually come equipped with an all-intensive checklist.

This blog is going to be a way for me to wrap my head around becoming a sister missionary in t-minus 3 months. I will try and share with you what I find and what works the best from my own personal experience, whether it be clothes or preparing spiritually. I may not know a lot about being on a mission at this point, but I am awfully good at writing lists and shopping. 

I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Hailey Christensen, soon to be Sister Christensen, and I have recently been called to serve in the Brazil Campinas Mission. I have a wonderful family, and a love for all carbs and pretty little trinkets. I went to BYU for a year, where I am working on becoming an English teacher, before deciding to turn in my papers and go out into the world. 

So, there you have it. Welcome to my blog, and the glorious chaos that is bound to ensue.