Organizing Mission Memories

If you are like me and many other Missionary Moms you might be looking for a way to organize and preserve your Sister's or Elder's Missionary Memories.



Here are some Helpful Hints of what worked for me.


 1. My first step would be to decide how you want to organize your Missionary's photos.  If you start this right away when your son or daughter receives their call - you will be well ahead of the game - but start from right now whether you are at the beginning, middle, or even after they have returned!

Your Missionaries most likely will be sending home Memory cards, adding them to On-Line Storage Sites, Emailing them, etc.  It is important to create a system that works for you.  You will be surprised how fast you or your missionary will forget an exact date or event that happened so its important to do it as soon as you can. There are lots of ways to store photos but in my opinion the best option for individuals is an external hard drive, connected to your PC via a USB or Thunderbolt port.  You will then create a main Folder for your Missionary or Missionaries and you can name this folder whatever you want.  Within the Folder you will then create Sub-Folders.  Below is how I categorized mine.

Spain Málaga Mission  (Main Folder Name)
     1st Area - Puerto de Santa Maria  (Sub Folder)
     1st SD Card Sent Home
     2nd Area - Málaga
     2nd SD Card Sent Home
     3rd Area - Molina de Segura and Murcia
     3rd SD Card Sent Home
     4th Area - Sevilla
     4th SD Card Sent Home
     Airport and Arrival August 2015
     Farewell August 2013
     Homecoming September 2015
     Mission Call Opening Night March 2015
     Missionary Picture for Application and Plaque
     MTC Madrid Spain September to October 2013
     Return Airport Photos


Even though the MTC was an earlier event than the 1st Area, 2nd Area etc. the computer will automatically put them in alphabetical order - but you will know where they are and can get to them easily. It is very important to discipline yourself to separate the photos into folders.  It will make the process much easier when you are ready to print, put them into a blog, or scrapbook.

If you are super organized and highly motivated you can further organize each Sub-Folder by creating an additional Sub-Sub-Folder.

Example: 
Spain Málaga Mission  (Main Folder Name)
     1st Area - Puerto de Santa Maria (Sub-Folder)
          October   (Sub-Sub-Folder)
          November
          December

2, The second thing I would highly recommend doing is to decide early on how you want to preserve your Missionary's weekly emails home.  (This is the email that your missionary will want you to forward to friends and family unless they have set-up a group email list on their Missionary Portal). You may also have the ability (depending on their individual mission rules) to email back and forth with your Missionary each week - so you can choose if you want to include the 'Mom' question and answer emails also.

So I actually did this two separate ways.  In the beginning of my sons mission I diligently printed his weekly email home, slid it into a sheet protector, and put it in a large black binder by date.  I also copied off our back and forth email session to each other (Hint: I changed the color of his email portion to the color red so that when re-reading the letters you could tell whom was speaking).




But, just after my sons half-way mark came I realized that I already had 2 huge, very full binders and had started on the 3!  Wow!  I wondered how in the world my son would keep track of these binders throughout his life without trashing them and I decided to look for other ways to store them.  (If your missionary is not as prolific - this probably wouldn't be a problem!)

So, after a lot of internet searching I decided to create a Mission Blog for him that could include his 'Weeklies' and photos he emailed home.

Missionary Blogging.  To start your own blog, you will need to go to a website that helps people create blogs and publish them to the Internet.  LDS.org suggests the following websites to start your own blog: blogger.com, wordpress.com, and tumblr.com.  Because this is quite detailed I created another folder on the this blog just about blogging - so for instructions on how to create a Missionary Blog step by step you can refer to that folder.

3. If you have decided to create a Missionary Blog (whether it be public or private) you can turn the entire Blog into a Mission Hardcover Memory Book for a wonderful Missionary Memento.


I used Blog 2 Print but there are several other companies that do the same thing.  There is nothing like holding your Mission memories in your hand complete with up to 1000 photos per book.  You can choose your own dust-cover color and design, add a front and back photo, add an inscription, etc. The best part is that once your Blog is done it only takes about 10-15 minutes to create your book on Blog 2 Print and once ordered you receive it in about 2-3 weeks.  You can decide if you want a Hardcover or a Softcover book and if you want the whole 18-Months or 2-Years in one book or in several.  I decided to do one book for each of my sons 4 areas plus one separate book of our 2-week trip when we picked him up from his mission so that they wouldn't be too large but I really could have just split it into two. I also waited until my son was home before I created the books - but you could have them ready for your Missionaries return. How fun would that be!

3. Your Missionary hopefully will be mailing home some hand-written letters aside from their emails. I saved each hand written letter, along with the envelope by putting them in a plastic sheet protector and storing them in a binder in order by date received.  Make sure you keep the envelope because not all Missionaries are good about dating their letters.  This will help you in the future with a time line!  I slid the letter into the sheet protector facing front and then added the envelope into the same sleeve facing back so that you could see both.

4. The next step in my process was choosing a scrapbook to store his photos in.  I chose a Creative Memories 12X12 Scrapbook photo album since that is what I already use for my family photos.  But you could do a more simplified version with a Project Life or We R Memory Keepers.  There are many album choices to choose from.




Both Project Life and We R Memory Keepers offer Missionary offer Albums Made Easy - Journaling Cards for both Sisters and Elders.



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