Dear Brother Albright,
A couple of weeks before October 2012 General Conference, my wife and I felt impressed to take the idea of making a mission preparation video website and try to make it a reality. I had started learning how to make websites about a year earlier and I am by no means a computer programmer.
However, we felt impressed that we should try. So after we solved some technical difficulties, we talked and prayed and I quit my early morning custodial job at the MTC so I could work on the website in all of my free time outside of attending BYU full-time.
After quitting my job things started to go surprisingly well for the website and the Lord seemed to line things up for us so we could dedicate more time to the website.
Basic Overview of PreparetoServe.com website
Now, about six months after we started uploading content to the website there are over 9,000 mission prep/travel YouTube videos embedded on the website to help missionaries prepare for their new mission assignments.
Two of the main video resources on the website are: (1) hundreds of video clips about each country and state that we aggregated onto one page ( for example: http://preparetoserve.com/Russia ) and (2) micro video interviews with returned missionaries (RMs) and native converts from their assigned countries and states (all the clips are uploaded to http://youtube.com/PreparetoServe ).
Aside from the videos, we also are compiling some textual resources for each country and state. If pre-missionaries or missionary moms have any questions about the country or state where they are called to serve, they can post the question as a topic on a forum ( http://preparetoserve.com/forums ) and we will forward the question to RMs and converts on our email list who know about the area, so they can answer their question(s).
Our vision for Prepare to Serve
Our plan is to put up 200-500 YouTube clips about each country and state (even for countries where missionaries are not currently serving in, like Turkey, Iran, etc.) We hope to upload 4-8 micro video interviews with returned missionaries and converts from each country and state.
Each video interview takes about 45 minutes and is edited into about 20-40 video clips addressing certain aspects of the places’ culture, food, places, traditions, conversion stories, language advice, etc.
How to browse the videos on Prepare to Serve
Recent improvements in YouTube and video streaming have enabled a website like Preparetoserve.com to exist. I think other educational video websites will emerge in the coming years.
Preparetoserve.com runs off of hundreds of embedded YouTube playlists (customized groups of YouTube videos, of up to 200 videos). To browse the videos stored within each playlist, a user clicks on the grey bar at the bottom of the embedded videos or on the YouTube playlist icon. The playlist navigation does not show up on most mobile browsers (Puffin mobile browser works).
Our plans after PreparetoServe.com is built out
We plan on dedicating a few years to building out the website for each country and state. After the website is more or less complete, we then plan on creating other free, open educational video interview websites.
You also may be interested in reading