31 August 2013

Tips on Shopping and Packing for Your Mission

We know how it is packing for a mission. You are about to leave for a year and a half with only two and a half suitcases, and you have no idea what to fill them with. The call packet gives general suggestions as to what you might need but you are desperate for answers, right? So, we decided to help out a bit. For the future of the mission! We just went through the call packet and made additions as we saw fit. Don't stress out too much. Whatever you pack, you will make it through the 18 months just fine, but hopefully these suggestions will help.



Bags are important. You will carry this around everyday, lots of times running to catch trains or buses and it will hold lots of keys to missionary work like copies of The Book of Mormon and pass-along cards. Here are some tips when you are looking for a bag:
  • Backpacks are not allowed. You will need to buy a side bag. Buy one with a strap that crosses your body and easily stays on as you walk (like I said, you will do a lot of running after trains and buses) 
  • Get one with a thick shoulder strap. It won't kill your shoulder after wearing it all day. If it has a shoulder pad, even better. 
  • Make sure it's durable. A bag is a good thing to spend a little money on. You will want it to last. Bags breaking during the day is a big pain. 
  • To help you estimate about how big it should be, here is a list of what I am carrying in my bag right now (average day): One English Book of Mormon, one German Book of Mormon, a stack of pass-along cards, my wallet, a cell phone, a tiny travel dictionary (buy one! Langenscheidt makes really small ones called"Langenscheidt Reisewörterbuch Englisch" and they are so handy.), my camera, a small notebook, my planner, a few pens, a few personal items like lotion, cough drops, mints, tissues, etc. 
You will also need to buy luggage. Costco is a great place to look. Buy two Large bags and one small carry-on roller bag. The ones that roll in all directions are best. Make them sturdy. You will carry them around when you arrive and leave the MTC and the field and every transfer day.

Study Items:
Bring all the books in the missionary library, all the rest you will get in the MTC. Also print off some of your favorite talks to bring along.

Personal Items
These are some of the personal items from the call packet and our suggestions.

Umbrella: Buy them cheap. They break all the time and you can get them here for like 2€. It does rain a lot here though, so plan on having one. The smaller the better, so it can fit in your bag.

Clothes Hangers: Don't bring them. You can buy them here and they take up way too much space in your suitcase.

Towels: You need a towel for your time at the MTC, but in the field, you don't need them (unless you are a germaphobe, then bring your own). The two suggestions we have is either bring an old towel for your time at the MTC and throw it away when you leave OR buy a "Missionary Towel" from Deseret Book. They are thin but super absorbent and take up no space or weight.

Bedding: You don't need it (unless you are a germaphobe). It is provided in the MTC and in the field.

Personal Supplies: Most "personal items" are easy to find in Germany. However, there are a couple exceptions. Take note and stock up. Deodorant. The German deodorant does not work. Bring enough deodorant to last you 18 months (about 5-7 sticks will work) or else you will be stinky. Tampons. They have tampons in Germany, but they don't have an applicator, so if you use tampons, bring a costco pack from America. Hand Sanitizer. They don't have it here and it is really handy when you are riding on public transport all day long. Buy some good smelling kind from Bath and Body Works. It's an extra treat every now and then to smell good. They also have little bottles that can hang on your bag, which are really handy, and a good finding tool, because TONS of Germans ask you what it is.

Make-Up: As you decide what make-up to pack, keep in mind that you will have 30 minutes to get ready in the MTC and about 40 minutes in the field. You will have no time to reapply make up during the day. The following make-up brands are commonly available in Germany: Essence, P2, Catrice, Manhattan, Sally Hansen, Essie, Astor, Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Max Factor. Any other make up, you will need to bring an 18 month supply.

Shampoo and Conditioner: Any shampoo and conditioner you can buy at Wal Mart is available in Germany.

Miscellaneous Items: some notes on the list of "Miscellaneous Items" that they tell you to bring. You do not need the following items: shoe shine (you will just end up buying new shoes anyway), small flashlight, batteries (you can buy them here), and you don't need a passport holder. It also tells you to bring a laundry bag. Bring one of those ones that stands up on its own and folds small. It's better that they stand so you can just toss things into them, and they need to fold to fit easily in your luggage. You can buy them at Wal Mart. Consider bringing two of them (one for garments, one for clothes. One for putting into the washer, one for taking out. The possibilities are endless).

Voltage: The voltage here is different. Most straighteners and curling irons work fine with a converter, but hair dryers don't. Hair Dryers are pretty cheap here, and you can often find one left from old sisters in the apartment. Just leave your American one home. Buy one or two plug converters and bring a USB to Plug converter. They come in handy.


The packet simply states "8 Outfits". But what does that mean? It says something about wearing professional suits. Don't stress. Basically you'll be wearing what you wear every sunday. Just skirts, blouses, sweaters, and jackets, etc. Bring at least 12 outfits, not eight.

It also talks about bringing things that are versatile. It's good advice, but we would suggest choosing either your skirts to be versatile or your shirts. If you have a bunch of crazy blouses, then buy all solid skirts so you can make lots of different outfits. If you have lots of crazy skirts, buy solid shirts. If you buy everything solid colors, it gets really boring.

Now here are some tips on certain items of clothing:

Skirts: Find these while you are still in America and can still shop online. Skirts to the knee are not very common in Germany, so don't wait to buy them here. As you look for skirts, the most common knee length skirts will be pencil skirts. Don't give in! Bring at most, one pencil skirt. They are hard to walk in, they ride up, and they are uncomfortable. You will really only be able to wear them on days that you have meetings and will be sitting all day. Find A-Line skirts, circle skirts, full skirts. Ones that flow and let you move. You can wear them both in winter and in summer.

Shirts: Shirts are much easier to find. Along with whatever you buy, buy lots of layer T-Shirts for underneath. Bring at least 2-3 white ones. They wear out and discolor quickly and you will want replacements, and they are not as easy to find in Germany. Along with those, bring a few other neutral colors (black, cream, brown, etc.)

Slips: One black and one white will be enough. Bring static spray-- they get staticky.

Tights: You will mostly only wear tights when it's cold. It is worth it to buy a few pairs of thick tights for winter. For nylons, just buy a few really cheap pairs. They will get runs in them really fast.

Accesories: Just a few pairs of simple stud earrings will work. Use your own judgement on whether jewlery is distracting or not.

Garments: About 10 pairs will work. Most sisters like the Carinessa 2 material. Some Sisters like to wear thermal garments in winter. Because we will all wear garments, make sure you mark yours on the tags. Writing your name with a fabric pen isn't the best way to do it, because after a few washes it becomes illegible. Just buy a certain color fabric pen and make a certain symbol so that others know they are yours and they don't get lost in the wash. For example, you could draw purple triangles on all your tags.

Shoes: Every Sister splurges and buys expensive shoes with a thick sole so that her feet will be "comfortable". Then she wears them for a few days, gets bloody, blistered feet, buys some 10€ flats from H&M and continues to wear cheap shoes through the rest of her mission. Don't buy those Sister Missionary shoes. They are heavy, unattractive, expensive and will kill your feet. Just buy a few pairs of cheap flats. They will be worn out within a few months and you will need to buy new ones, but it will still cost less than the expensive killer shoes. Buy one pair of black flats, and one pair of tan flats and you will have flats to go with every outfit. You may also want to bring something that will help your feet not stink, if that exists.

Preparation Day and Exercise: The good thing about exercise clothes, service clothes, and pajamas, is that they can all be the same. For all these activities, just bring: a pair of sweats (not tight), a few T-Shirts and a couple pairs of knee-length shorts, and a zip-up hoodie. You will also want to bring one or two pairs of jeans. Make sure they are not too tight and not low-ride. For exercise shoes, bring your favorite running shoes. You will exercise every morning. For service and P-Day activities, you can bring a pair of vans or shoes like that. You can also buy those shoes here for cheap at H&M or places like that.

Pajamas: It says to bring a robe and slippers. Bring them, even if you don't usually use them. Robes are good because you are always with your companion, and it is good to cover up when you come out of the bathroom. Bring slippers, because there is not very much carpet here. The floor is cold and dirty.

Fabric and Care: You will have a washing machine, but no dryer. Your clothes will hang-dry on racks. You will also have an iron and ironing board. Dry cleaning is available, but you will most likely not have the time or money to dry clean.


What kind of weather should I pack for?

You are probably also worried about what the weather is like here and how much warm weather and how much cold weather clothing to pack.

So what is the weather like in Germany? It's really random. One day it's sunny summer and the next day it's rainy and cold. But it basically has normal seasons. It is cold and snowy in winter, rainy spring, hot summer. So you will need a little bit of everything.

For cold weather, pack:

A Coat: If you are coming in the summer months, don't pack a coat and just buy one here. If you are coming in the winter, bring one. Buy a warm one that is easy to move around in, and fairly simple to take on and off. For rainy weather, you may also want to have a thinner rain coat.

Leggings: Stock up on thick leggings. You will wear them almost everyday in winter. The warmer the better. Neutral Colors.

Tights: Buy a few thick tights for cold weather.

Socks: Bring wool tights. You will also wear them almost every day in winter. Neutral colors are best. Also bring some little white socks for sport and extra cold days to keep your toes warm.

Sweaters: Cardigans are a good way too keep you warm, and switch your outfits up. Don't go just neutral on cardigans, get some color in there too.

Boots: You will wear boots everyday in winter. They are worth spending a little more money. Buy one black pair and one tan pair and you will have a pair for every outfit.

Scarves: Bring big knitted scarves. They will help keep you warm, and if you don't wear them, Germans will scold you for not wearing warm enough clothing and then force you to take one of theirs. One black and one tan or cream and you will have one for every outfit.

Hats: Hats that will keep your ears warm are best. Just little knitted hats.

Gloves: You need gloves. Remember that you will be handing things out a lot. Make sure you can move your fingers enough to reach into your bag and pick up a pass-along card.

Even though you will probably worry most about being warm enough in winter, also remember that Germany has some really hot days as well. For warm weather, just bring flowy skirts and short sleeved shirts, preferably shirts that you don't need to wear an undershirt with.

The standard for music, from the white handbook is as follows:

"Listen only to music that is consistent with the sacred spirit of your calling. Music should invite the Spirit, help you focus on the work, and direct your thoughts and feelings to the Savior. Do not listen to music that pulls your thoughts away from your work, merely entertains, has romantic lyrics or overtones, or dulls your spiritual sensitivity by its tempo, beat, loudness, lyrics, or intensity. Listening to music must never interfere with your personal preparation or proselyting."

We follow this standard.

You will want music that you like listening to, though, and lots of it. Don't just bring MoTab, get some good church music that you like. Deseret Book or BYU Bookstore are great places to look.

Load all your music onto a USB Drive. You will be able to play it directly from the USB with the DVD player in your apartment. No need to bring an iPod.

You will not be able to download music very easily after leaving home, because you are only allowed to be on church websites while in the field. So stock up.

It is also a good idea to download MP3 versions of talks from devotionals, lectures, general conference, etc. You will much appreciate those things in the field if you take the time to find them. Download tons of talks about things that you are interested in. Again, just load onto a USB drive.


What will I use to communicate with my family and friends?

Emails: You will be able to email your family and friends every monday. You will have 30 minutes to do so in the MTC and about 90 minutes in the field.

Letters: You can also write letters on P-Day, but you won't have tons of time to do so. The post in Germany is very good though, and your letters will be sent home quickly. Stamps are also very cheap. International stamps are only 75 cents. Sending Packages home, however is not cheap.
Wait until you get to Germany to buy envelopes. Some American envelopes don't work here.

Will I have to buy a bike?
No. Most of the time you will take public transport. Some areas have bikes, but most Sisters do not use them, because they can also take the bus. Sisters hardly ever use cars and if they do, they share it with Elders. If your area uses bikes, you won't need to buy them with your own money. You will just need to give $100 to the Mission Bike Fund.


We hope that this helps you prepare for the best 18 months of your life. We are so excited to recieve more well-prepared Sisters into our mission. Happy Packing!

Liebe Grüße,

Sister Leavitt und Sister Heindel
Sister Training Leaders in the Düsseldorf Zone
Germany Frankfurt Mission

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great and valuable list. Since most of the apartments are getting washer/dryer combinations most apartments have a dryer now. Even if you think it's just a washer, check the instructions, it's probably both.