A proposal for Mission Leaders (I realize of course that this will alas never happen)
As a recent convert to the church, and one heavily considering serving a full time two year mission, I think that I’ve discovered one invaluable tool that the church should load up all of its missionaries with. Single handedly, this tool has given me more scriptural knowledge and spiritual insight than any other. I know that many others in wards and stakes across the country are also discovering that it is an invaluable tool for allowing them to connect with other members and magnify their callings. I am speaking of course of the ipod touch/ iphone with its incredible array of LDS related applications. Indeed, on my iPod touch I can currently: Read all the standards works as well as conference talks, church manuals and hymn lyrics (not to mention Preach My Gospel); Search the scriptures by keyword, highlight, bookmark, annotate and take notes; listen over the internet to any general authority talk over the past 11 years and to audio versions of all the standard works; find the phone number, address or contact information for every single member in my stake.
Technology has put the whole world at our fingertips and frankly, to me it is shocking that we sending missionaries out into the field without access to the latest innovations. It is my proposal that every missionary should be equipped with an ipod touch loaded with all of these incredible applications as well as mp3s of sacred music and general authority talks and video clips of core teaching components. These could be recycled within a mission, so that when one missionary leaves his device is given to a new missionary. There could also be one given per companion pair rather than per individual.
Of course, precautions would have to be taken, the internet would have to generally be disabled accept for perhaps access through a select few applications, a way to charge the ipod touch without giving the missionaries the temptation to upload their own music from home, a way to update applications to reflect the newest conference talks would have to be found that would not compromise mission standards, the playing of any and all games would have to be disabled etc. However, most of these restrictions can actually be done on the device itself. Moreover, with the quantity of missionaries the church sends out each year, it is very likely that the church could make a deal with apple to allow an ipod touch tuned to the unique needs of church missionaries.
As I consider the option of missionary service, frankly, the idea of going without my ipod touch is in fact one of the most terrifying things. I love the incredible referencing tools it gives me, and the ability to find almost any scripture just by remembering one or two words from it. I never have to struggle with the inability to find an exact scripture. I have made tabbed categories based on how a particular scripture is useful ( scriptures about faith, testimony, salvation by Christ etc.) which has been incredibly useful in conversations with friends. I have been edified through the listening of authority talks, and been a more effective home teacher because of access to the directory. I can’t imagine being as effective of a missionary without it, and I implore you to find some way to grant to our missionaries access to the same arsenal.