Throughout the church’s history, over one million missionaries have been sent on missions. Kimball said, “Every young man should fill a mission”. Young men between the ages of 18 and 25 who missionary sex only standards of worthiness are strongly encouraged to consider a two-year, full-time proselytizing mission.
In cases where an immediate family member dies, the missionary has the choice to travel home for the funeral or to remain on the mission. Missionaries can be sent home for violating mission rules, and occasionally missionaries choose to go home for health or various other reasons. Women who would like to serve a mission must meet the same standards of worthiness and be at least 19 years old. Women generally serve as missionaries for 18 months. All missionaries must meet certain minimum standards of worthiness. In addition to spiritual preparedness, church bishops are instructed to ensure that prospective missionaries are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of full-time missionary work. In the same speech where he called for “every young man” to fill a mission, Kimball added, “we realize that while all men definitely should, all men are not prepared to teach the gospel abroad.
From the beginnings of the LDS Church, people of black African descent could be members of the church, but up until 1978 the LDS Church did not call men of black African descent to serve on missions, due to the ban on blacks holding the priesthood. After application to the church and the requisite approval, prospective missionaries receive a “call to serve”—an official notification of their location assignment—through the mail from the President of the Church. The mission call also informs the prospective missionary what language he or she will be expected to use during his or her mission. The Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, United States, is one of 15 such centers located throughout the world. The Provo MTC is the LDS Church’s largest Missionary Training Center.
The basic standards of missionary service and conduct are contained in the Missionary Handbook. Missionaries are instructed that following these standards will protect them both physically and spiritually. Mission presidents have discretion to adjust some of the standards according to local circumstances. The Missionary Handbook is also commonly and informally referred to as “the white handbook” or “the white bible”. Previously, full-time LDS missionaries were required to adhere to a dress code: for men, conservative, dark trousers and suit coats, white dress shirts, and conservative ties. For women, modest and professional dresses or blouses and mid-calf length skirts were worn.
In recent years, the LDS Church has updated their grooming standards. Young men are no longer required to wear dark suits, and they do not have to wear a full suit during regular everyday proselytizing activities. They must, however, remain in professional, conservative attire. For instance, a light colored suit is acceptable. Sister missionaries may wear skirts and dresses that cover their knees. In areas infested with mosquitoes, particularly in Central and South America where the humidity yields infestations, sister missionaries are now permitted to wear slacks.