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LDS moms: change in missionary ages


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So today at General Conference (semi-annual televised church meeting with talks by the leaders of the whole church) the prophet announced a change in missionary ages. Boys ("elders") can leave as early as age 18 if they have graduated from high school, and girls ("sisters") at age 19. Formerly, boys left at 19 and girls at 21, presumably to keep there from being too much flirting going on.

 

What did not change: boys still serve for 24 months and girls for 18 months. Missions are still optional for girls and strongly encouraged for boys.

 

You wouldn't think that changing age requirements one year would be a huge deal, but it kind of is. I think this change will have lots of consequences, mostly good ones, that will ripple through the church for a long time. Boys can leave right after high school, without interrupting their education or marking time waiting for their 19th birthday. I think there will be more women serving missions, since they can go earlier. What other changes do you predict? Will this affect your family, and how?

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Well, I'm excited for the boys who won't have to just sit around waiting, and I'm excited for the girls. I would have gone on a mission if the age was 19, and I'm sure there's going to be a massive increase in sister missionaries. I'm decidedly excited about this change. I also think there's going to be a massive influx in the next 2 years as it equals out, so that should be interesting as well.

 

ETA: I have an 18 year old SIL and my little sister is 17. I'll be interested to see if they decide to go now.

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What *I* found most interesting was in the press conference afterwards they said that they had also considered adjusting the amount of time served (for *both* the men and the women) and that they were only rolling out one change at a time, and that a change in the amount of time men and women serve is "not off the table". I wonder if the next change will be the sisters being able to serve 24 months like the young men.

 

I agree that there is going to be a HUGE influx of sister missionaries. :)

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What *I* found most interesting was in the press conference afterwards they said that they had also considered adjusting the amount of time served (for *both* the men and the women) and that they were only rolling out one change at a time, and that a change in the amount of time men and women serve is "not off the table". I wonder if the next change will be the sisters being able to serve 24 months like the young men.

 

I agree that there is going to be a HUGE influx of sister missionaries. :)

 

Here's a link to the press conference.

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As a mama to boys I'm a bit... I dont know. I'm just not thrilled with the idea of sending my boys at 18.

It will take me some time to get used to this change.

 

One thing they stressed during the press conference was that the youth shouldn't feel *obligated* to go at those younger ages if they weren't ready. It was just a "new option" (just like they've had the option to begin their missions when they're 20, or 23, etc.)

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What impressed me was the fact that they believe our young people are mature enough at these ages to go serve The Lord and do a great job! So different from what our culture is doing in delaying adolescence and the leap into adulthood for our young people. It gave me strength in the feelings I have with regard to what *I/we* will be expecting of our young adults :-)

 

It did give me pause when I realized my oldest could be going in just over 2 years instead of 3. But it is overall an exciting change :-)

 

My dad is a bishop at byu-I and I texted him after the first session and he said he was already setting appointments with students for this week who want to get the process started!

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I'm watching the press conference and I love how emotional Elder Holland got emotional about those not able to experience missionary work. It helped me put it into perspective. Missionary work is a privilege and I'm so happy for my family members who have been able to serve.

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So exciting! I served a mission right after I turned 21 and got married really soon after I got home, so I got married relatively young for having served a mission (23). I knew about the stigmas surrounding sister missionaries, but i just didn't care. Now, hopefully, some of those stigmas will disappear. But I think this new change makes it possible for girls to serve without the fear of an "old maid" sentence, coming home to all the guys their age being married to 19-year-olds.

 

For boys, so good, too! Too many of them waste that year, or worse, get into "trouble".

 

But I guess I have to wonder why they can't just go at the same age. We all assume it is to prevent fraternization. But really? A year? I just don't think that is a deterrent. What IS a deterrent is the mission set-up. It would take two complete companionships--FOUR missionaries--misbehaving all at once for any real trouble to happen. That's so unlikely. And come on, these people made it through high school without any "issues", and that's much harder to do than lasting through the mission.

Edited by infomom
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I am excited! I think more girls will serve now. My mission was a huge life changing accomplishment and I miss it still (15 years home now). It kinda freaks me out that my dd could go so much sooner though. It is definately a paradigm shift for me. Funny enough, when I went there was a huge surge in girls going on missions and I never got the "old maid" comments. I am from CA though. Maybe that is the difference?

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I always am happy if people have more choices and that it's simply another option to leave earlier. It doesn't make much of a difference for my family because we only have boys, although it definitely opens up some new possibilities for them since we're hoping to be living overseas when my older boys turn 18. If they're going to be far from me when they're 18, I think I'd rather have them on a mission than in university.

 

I cannot express how delighted I am that missions will become a much more viable choice for women now. I'm sure my niece who will be 19 at the beginning of next year has a few new things to think about.

 

I also really, really hope this means that a new focus in YW will be to prepare young women for missions.

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I always am happy if people have more choices and that it's simply another option to leave earlier. It doesn't make much of a difference for my family because we only have boys, although it definitely opens up some new possibilities for them since we're hoping to be living overseas when my older boys turn 18. If they're going to be far from me when they're 18, I think I'd rather have them on a mission than in university.

 

I cannot express how delighted I am that missions will become a much more viable choice for women now. I'm sure my niece who will be 19 at the beginning of next year has a few new things to think about.

 

I also really, really hope this means that a new focus in YW will be to prepare young women for missions.

 

Have you heard about the new curriculum for the Youth? It's supposed to be much more Christ-focused than the previous curriculum, and I'm hearing from a bunch of YW leaders about how awesome it is. I think it'll do a much better job at preparing the rising generation of missionaries (elders AND sisters).

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But I guess I have to wonder why they can't just go at the same age. We all assume it is to prevent fraternization. But really? A year? I just don't think that is a deterrent. What IS a deterrent is the mission set-up. It would take two complete companionships--FOUR missionaries--misbehaving all at once for any real trouble to happen. That's so unlikely. And come on, these people made it through high school without any "issues", and that's much harder to do than lasting through the mission.

 

Well, with the old rule (19 versus 21) I did think the age difference helped prevent distraction--I don't think its so much concern about inappropriate behavior, but ... in my mission at least the Elders and Sisters in a district worked very closely together and I think distracting "crushes" would have developed much more easily if the sisters weren't older. But I agree with you that one year isn't likely to matter much--especially since not all the young men will go at 18.

 

Overall I'm super excited about the new policy. I've thought for years that many more sisters would serve if they could go at 19. Elder Holland spoke so positively at the press conference about an increase in sister missionaries. I'm feeling encouraged to help prepare my daughters to serve missions just as I plan to prepare my sons.

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Have you heard about the new curriculum for the Youth? It's supposed to be much more Christ-focused than the previous curriculum, and I'm hearing from a bunch of YW leaders about how awesome it is. I think it'll do a much better job at preparing the rising generation of missionaries (elders AND sisters).

 

I have heard about it, and it sounds like a major improvement (although it had to be over the old manuals). It's just always been too easy in the past for missions for women to be an afterthought. From some things I've heard, the new curriculum is geared toward mission prep for both groups.

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Elders and sisters were always a distraction to each other. My trainer married my first district leader. I think there were 8 or 9 couples that came out of my mission. Yes, they were obedient. No, they didn't do anything inappropriate. lol. I think the girl age had more to do with encouraging girls to get married. Who knows? I have 2 nieces that have already called their bishops today. THey are super excited!!!

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Have you heard about the new curriculum for the Youth? It's supposed to be much more Christ-focused than the previous curriculum, and I'm hearing from a bunch of YW leaders about how awesome it is. I think it'll do a much better job at preparing the rising generation of missionaries (elders AND sisters).

 

I am a YW leader, and haven't heard about it. I'm a relatively new YW leader, so maybe that's why. Can someone please post a link?

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Some of my predictions:

 

There will still be a lot of 19 or almost-19-year-old elders, because of fall birthdays or red-shirting. So boys would still be coming home around age 20.5.

 

Sisters that leave at age 19 will be coming home at age 20.5. There won't be a significant age difference between elders and sisters in the field, which could lead to more people meeting their spouse in the mission field.

 

If people are still encouraged to marry quickly after their mission, it could lead to early marriage. I worry college will get lost in the shuffle. Even though the church strongly encourages education, it is so hard to do so once you have children. And missionaries will have no or much less college completed before the mission.

 

Many many more sister missionaries. Girls can just decide to go on a mission, instead of waiting and seeing what life brings at age 21.

 

Sisters will become more spiritually mature and able to lead in the church, and that will be influential for generations to come. This will also lead to more "equally yoked" marriages.

 

More/most missionaries will get their first away-from-home experience on their mission.

 

Returned missionaries beginning to college will take the experience more seriously and earn better grades.

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If people are still encouraged to marry quickly after their mission, it could lead to early marriage. I worry college will get lost in the shuffle. Even though the church strongly encourages education, it is so hard to do so once you have children. And missionaries will have no or much less college completed before the mission.

Eh, that's not that different from now. Dh was barely 21 and I was 20 when we got married. Many of our friends at BYU were similar. I don't think it will change the education stuff much because lots of rm's start college right after their mission anyways currently. Now it will just be slightly earlier. My dh is still in school for another year and a half. It's just a way of life for a lot of young couples.

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Now I want to speed up my son's education a bit. :lol: (That would be the over-achiever in me!) With an October birthday, if he graduates on the public school schedule, he'll be 18 1/2.

 

I think the change is cool! As President Holland said, it's just making one universal policy, because even back in the late 80's when I served, some boys could serve at 18 -- if they lived in a country with mandatory military service -- and some girls could serve at 19 -- if their father was the mission president and they served in his mission. (We had an 18-year-old missionary from Germany serving with us, and one of the MTC teachers was a young lady not yet 21 who had just returned from her mission, where she had served at 19 and where her dad was the president.)

Edited by Maus
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I worry a little bit about the young women who don't want to go. The leaders have emphasized that girls don't have the duty that the young men have, so they shouldn't feel pressured.

 

But I can almost envision a cultural shift where almost all middle and upper class young women start going. I wonder if those who don't go might start feeling like second-class citizens.

 

And not all families can afford to send their sons and their daughters.

 

Maybe it won't be a big deal, but I could see where there might be some unspoken judgements against young women who choose not to go.

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I'm probably going to get smacked for this :tongue_smilie:

 

but it seems to me its a missionary grab - there are not enough people going because people are "getting lost" in the waiting year/s and this is their effort to stop that.

 

Its a lot harder to decide to go on a mission if you are already in college or already in a job that offers you promotions if you stay. If you go on your mission earlier before you start to establish yourself there is more chance of you going KWIM.

 

I don't know what I think about it. I always liked the gap year so the boys have time to work and get money for their mission. Just about every guy I knew did this - that's how they afforded to go.

 

My boys have late birthdays -I think they will still be in high school at 18.

 

My DD and DS are 15 months apart - they would be going at the same time :001_huh: I don't think I could financially bear that. Especially if they didn't get the chance to work beforehand.

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I'm probably going to get smacked for this :tongue_smilie:

 

but it seems to me its a missionary grab - there are not enough people going because people are "getting lost" in the waiting year/s and this is their effort to stop that.

 

Its a lot harder to decide to go on a mission if you are already in college or already in a job that offers you promotions if you stay. If you go on your mission earlier before you start to establish yourself there is more chance of you going KWIM.

 

I don't know what I think about it. I always liked the gap year so the boys have time to work and get money for their mission. Just about every guy I knew did this - that's how they afforded to go.

 

My boys have late birthdays -I think they will still be in high school at 18.

 

ETA: Hopefully the church will try to combat that pressure from becoming too great, but I *do* think the need for more missionaries is there, and worries about that kind of cultural shift shouldn't be a deterant to making meaningful and effective changes to the missionary program.

 

My DD and DS are 15 months apart - they would be going at the same time :001_huh: I don't think I could financially bear that. Especially if they didn't get the chance to work beforehand.

I think the bolded was one of the considerations for the change. But they reiterated that the young men shouldn't feel *obligated* to go at 18. They can still take that year after graduation to work to save money. And missionaries who can't go for financial reasons can request help from the church.

 

As far as the cultural shift towards sister missionaries, when I lived in Utah 10 years ago it was already there. Many of the upper-middle class women in my singles ward were expected (ETA: by their families, not the church) to go on (or had already returned from) missions when they were 21, some even leaving a young man "waiting" for them to return so they could be married.

Edited by Xuzi
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I'm probably going to get smacked for this :tongue_smilie:

 

but it seems to me its a missionary grab - there are not enough people going because people are "getting lost" in the waiting year/s and this is their effort to stop that.

 

Its a lot harder to decide to go on a mission if you are already in college or already in a job that offers you promotions if you stay. If you go on your mission earlier before you start to establish yourself there is more chance of you going KWIM.

 

I don't know what I think about it. I always liked the gap year so the boys have time to work and get money for their mission. Just about every guy I knew did this - that's how they afforded to go.

 

My boys have late birthdays -I think they will still be in high school at 18.

 

My DD and DS are 15 months apart - they would be going at the same time :001_huh: I don't think I could financially bear that. Especially if they didn't get the chance to work beforehand.

 

Did you watch the press conference? They said it is absolutely a missionary grab, among other things, although with a more positive connotation than "grab". They are seeing a larger and larger need for more work that needs to be done. They said that there are more missionaries than ever going, but there are areas of the world that could use so many more. They feel like they need to hasten in the work. It was actually very inspiring for me to listen to Elder Holland talk about it in the press conference.

 

ETA: I'm 26 years old. If this was the policy back when I was 19, I would have gone. I've talked to several of my friends and they said the same thing. I think, if nothing else, there's going to be a major increase in sister missionaries, and this is a good thing, I think.

Edited by MeaganS
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I hope it will take the pressure off boys to serve at an exact age--obviously not all boys are going to be able to go the minute they turn 18, and maybe it will make it so not going the minute you turn 19 gets you sideways looks. A friend of mine commented that her (extremely ADHD) boy probably won't be mature enough to go until he's 20--that sort of thing.

 

My girls think it's neat.

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I have mixed feelings on missionary service that is required - I want my boys to go because they want to and not because they feel pressured KWIM.

 

I think it's a good thing for the girls to have the age lowered - in Australia there is still very much the stigma that the only girls who go on missions are the "unwanted ones" or they are New Zealanders :lol: (Only LDS Aussies will understand that joke).

 

I'm :o to say - but the main reason I didn't go on a mission was because I didn't want to be "an old maid".

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I missed the whole thing. I lived in a Ward where the bishop sat me down when I turned 21 and flat told me that God expected me to go on a mission because I wasn't married. I flat refused. I NEVER wanted to serve a mission. Hopefully, bishops are better than that man was. I know the Ward I live in now something like that would never happen. I am bad but I will not be encourging my daughter to go unless she really feels called to. I worry girls will feel pressured to go even if they don't really want to, not by the Church but by those around them. I worry it may drive some away from the Chruch.

 

As for lowering the YM ages, I agree with the reasons. Did they still keep the age for YM up to 26 to go?

 

Yes. The age at which they are no longer eligible to serve a traditional full-time mission (not a married couples mission or anything like that) remains as-is.

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I worry a little bit about the young women who don't want to go. The leaders have emphasized that girls don't have the duty that the young men have, so they shouldn't feel pressured.

 

But I can almost envision a cultural shift where almost all middle and upper class young women start going. I wonder if those who don't go might start feeling like second-class citizens.

 

And not all families can afford to send their sons and their daughters.

 

Maybe it won't be a big deal, but I could see where there might be some unspoken judgements against young women who choose not to go.

 

Many people have their missions paid for by their wards or stakes. Not something that keeps people from serving.

 

I think, at least where I lived in the mid to late 90's, that cultural shift already happened. At least half of the girls I knew went on a mission.

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I'm probably going to get smacked for this :tongue_smilie:

 

but it seems to me its a missionary grab - there are not enough people going because people are "getting lost" in the waiting year/s and this is their effort to stop that.

 

Its a lot harder to decide to go on a mission if you are already in college or already in a job that offers you promotions if you stay. If you go on your mission earlier before you start to establish yourself there is more chance of you going KWIM.

 

I don't know what I think about it. I always liked the gap year so the boys have time to work and get money for their mission. Just about every guy I knew did this - that's how they afforded to go.

 

 

My boys have late birthdays -I think they will still be in high school at 18.

 

My DD and DS are 15 months apart - they would be going at the same time :001_huh: I don't think I could financially bear that. Especially if they didn't get the chance to work beforehand.

 

 

There are more people serving now than ever, actually. I think this is a great change. I think it is totally cool for young men and women to take some time to work before. This announcement shouldn't change that. I don't think that this is meant to cause our young men to put their papers in before they graduate or anything. This would have helped my dh, for instance, who just waited around for 5 months. He had time to finish 1 sememster of college and earn the money he needed. He was just twiddling his thumbs for awhile.

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I think the new YW/YM/Sunday school manuals are designed to help strengthen faith and knowledge so that youth are better prepared for missions earlier on. Our YW have been facebooking all day that they are excited about the change....I got an email from our bishop saying that he'd like for me to help prepare the Laurels for future missionary service. Some will be turning 19 just out of high school.

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And I have to say that this is sort of one of my favorite things about General Conference, when EVERYONE in the church (or pretty nearly everyone), no matter where they are, is chatting and buzzing about what was said, and internet memes start flying with some of the more memorable quotes, and even though we're all hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart, speaking different languages and living in different life circumstances, it's brought home that we're all The Church. :)

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I don't have sons, so my perspective is different. I only have one daughter who has shown an interest in going on a mission. I honestly didn't think she would have the opportunity to go. Her older sister and I were both married at or before 21, so I guess I was basing my thoughts on our experiences. After today's announcement, I can see her going and I suddenly feel like we have a lot to do in the next few years to help her prepare. Of course, I don't want her to feel she has to go.

 

I've seen so many young men falter in that "gap" year that I think it could be a good thing for them to get on with their missions.

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I think it's a good thing, especially if more women go. However, I can't help but be a little sad. I thought I had 12 years left until Pigby left, now I only have 11 :crying: I know he doesn't *have* to go then, but time seems to be slipping by so fast, one less year makes my momma heart hurt.

 

Then there's the fact that today during conference he said, "I don't always think the scriptures are true." :glare: Ugh, big parenting fail, Megan! FHE is practically nonexistent as is scripture study, prayer, fasting, and church attendance. It's no wonder he feels like that, I just would have thought I'd get my act together sooner. Ugh, totally worried and stressed now.

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I think it's a good thing, especially if more women go. However, I can't help but be a little sad. I thought I had 12 years left until Pigby left, now I only have 11 :crying: I know he doesn't *have* to go then, but time seems to be slipping by so fast, one less year makes my momma heart hurt.

 

Then there's the fact that today during conference he said, "I don't always think the scriptures are true." :glare: Ugh, big parenting fail, Megan! FHE is practically nonexistent as is scripture study, prayer, fasting, and church attendance. It's no wonder he feels like that, I just would have thought I'd get my act together sooner. Ugh, totally worried and stressed now.

 

:grouphug:

 

You still have 11 years. Lots of time. Pick one thing at a time and do your best (said comfortingly from a gal who likes to try and change twelve things at a time in her life and then beating herself up for not being able to accomplish any of them.)

Edited by Sara in AZ
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We are about to send our second missionary out and our first just came home last week. We haven't had the money to help them--they needed that gap year to work full-time and save their money (they have both saved enough to pay for their missions completely on their own). They also learn so much by working full-time and grow up so much during that year. I can't imagine them actually being ready at 18yo, financially, spiritually or being mature enough.

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I think it's a good thing. But I always have a little bit of a hard time with missionary-related chats.

 

Dh is an "adult convert" and never served a mission, though he has fond memories of "his" missionaries.

 

I wasn't married when I was 21, but felt the Lord was leading me in a different direction and did NOT want me to serve a mission. Later life happenings have led me to agree with him, even though at the time I really kind of wanted to go and didn't really have anything better to do. Some of the people in my life (not my family, fellow ward members where I lived--you know how there always seem to be a couple who know how to live your life better than you do...lol) were trying to nudge me in the direction of a mission, and my bishop and I had one brief informal chat about it in passing one day, but he'd had the same impressions on the subject that I had (and was relieved to hear me say I wasn't going, and it wasn't going to be an issue--not that he didn't think I would make a great missionary, just that he'd received a strong impression that the Lord had other plans for me).

 

My son...well, I never know what I think about him from one day to another. Some days I'm convinced he will never be emotionally stable enough for missionary service, though perhaps he could fill some kind of service mission close to home. Some days I'm sure he'll get to a point where he COULD serve a mission, but I'm not sure he'll want to. Some days I think he'll make a really great missionary, but not until he's about 25. It's one of those things where the not knowing--not even being able to make an educated guess, really--gets wearing. And I have a hard time with lessons about how to help our kids prepare for missions. They make it sound so easy. And my chats with my son about missions always have to include an element of how the Lord understands his circumstances, and although some autistic people are able to serve missions, some aren't, and if he can't, then the prophet has made it clear that people with disabilities that make mission service impossible are honorably excused, and nobody should ever make him feel bad about it, though there might be a few people who don't understand, but that's their problem not his...and all that kind of thing. I just don't know. I am SURE he won't be ready at 18, though. (But when he was 4 I was SURE he'd have to be institutionalized by the time he was 11 or 12 because he'd be too big for me to physically restrain, and would be too dangerous to live with, and at 15 he's as gentle as can be, so there are always surprises with him, and things I am SURE of today might be laughable 3 years from now.) Ambiguous Uncertainty, my old friend, we meet again.

 

My daughter...well, she's only 10 and quite the free spirit. I don't know what to expect for her either. But we had a chat today about how even though full-time missionary service is not required of women, being "missionaries" to their children IS, and that is a life-long mission, not just for a couple of years, so girls need to prepare accordingly. She's very mommy-minded lately, and it sounds like the boys are starting to pay attention to her a little at school already. It will be interesting to see what path her life takes.

 

But missionary planning? Pshaw. Not at my house. Gospel learning, yes, of course. Preparing to teach, naturally. Full time missions? Maybe for dh and me when we're a "senior couple", but otherwise....only the Lord knows. And chats about mission-related topics remain a little...odd...for me.

Edited by MamaSheep
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I think it's a good thing. But I always have a little bit of a hard time with missionary-related chats.

 

Dh is an "adult convert" and never served a mission, though he has fond memories of "his" missionaries.

 

I wasn't married when I was 21, but felt the Lord was leading me in a different direction and did NOT want me to serve a mission. Later life happenings have led me to agree with him, even though at the time I really kind of wanted to go and didn't really have anything better to do. Some of the people in my life (not my family, fellow ward members where I lived--you know how there always seem to be a couple who know how to live your life better than you do...lol) were trying to nudge me in the direction of a mission, and my bishop and I had one brief informal chat about it in passing one day, but he'd had the same impressions on the subject that I had (and was relieved to hear me say I wasn't going, and it wasn't going to be an issue--not that he didn't think I would make a great missionary, just that he'd received a strong impression that the Lord had other plans for me).

 

My son...well, I never know what I think about him from one day to another. Some days I'm convinced he will never be emotionally stable enough for missionary service, though perhaps he could fill some kind of service mission close to home. Some days I'm sure he'll get to a point where he COULD serve a mission, but I'm not sure he'll want to. Some days I think he'll make a really great missionary, but not until he's about 25. It's one of those things where the not knowing--not even being able to make an educated guess, really--gets wearing. And I have a hard time with lessons about how to help our kids prepare for missions. They make it sound so easy. And my chats with my son about missions always have to include an element of how the Lord understands his circumstances, and although some autistic people are able to serve missions, some aren't, and if he can't, then the prophet has made it clear that people with disabilities that make mission service impossible are honorably excused, and nobody should ever make him feel bad about it, though there might be a few people who don't understand, but that's their problem not his...and all that kind of thing. I just don't know. I am SURE he won't be ready at 18, though. (But when he was 4 I was SURE he'd have to be institutionalized by the time he was 11 or 12 because he'd be too big for me to physically restrain, and would be too dangerous to live with, and at 15 he's as gentle as can be, so there are always surprises with him, and things I am SURE of today might be laughable 3 years from now.) Ambiguous Uncertainty, my old friend, we meet again.

 

My daughter...well, she's only 10 and quite the free spirit. I don't know what to expect for her either. But we had a chat today about how even though full-time missionary service is not required of women, being "missionaries" to their children IS, and that is a life-long mission, not just for a couple of years, so girls need to prepare accordingly. She's very mommy-minded lately, and it sounds like the boys are starting to pay attention to her a little at school already. It will be interesting to see what path her life takes.

 

But missionary planning? Pshaw. Not at my house. Gospel learning, yes, of course. Preparing to teach, naturally. Full time missions? Maybe for dh and me when we're a "senior couple", but otherwise....only the Lord knows. And chats about mission-related topics remain a little...odd...for me.

 

:grouphug: Life is just confusing isn't it? Certainly the intent of the new eligibility options is just that--to create new options (they emphasized that several times in the press conference) --not to create some kind of new rule for everyone to follow. I am so, so, so grateful for our understanding of personal revelation--that God has an ongoing, very personal interest in my very own life and that as long as I am trying to keep my covenants and His commandments and live so that the Spirit can be in and direct my life, I'll be OK.

Unfortunately, I think human nature causes us to put lots of expectations on ourselves and others that God never intended. Maybe because life looks simpler if there is just a rule to follow. Then we beat ourselves up (or unfortunately we can be tempted to put others down) if they don't follow all those rules. I think you are right, Mama Sheep, to focus on teaching the gospel in your home--if your children learn that, really internalize it, learn to seek for and recognize and follow the guidance of their Holy Ghost in their lives--they'll go where the Lord wants them to go and do what He wants them to do whether you could have foreseen their path or not.

I keep reminding myself of this lesson. I think I first started to understand when I was a young adult struggling with what seemed like immense life-determining decisions--and for a long time my prayers for direction just didn't seem to be receiving answers. It took what seemed a long time, but eventually I learned that I was going about things wrong--I was looking at choices I had to make and where I thought they would take me years down the road, and praying about them that way. Finally I stopped doing that and starting praying just about the step immediately in front of me--praying to know the right decision for the choice I was making now, and not worrying about where I thought that choice would lead to farther down the road. That was when I finally started getting answers--and they really were just one step at a time. Looking back, I can see how the path those choices took me on was one I was not capable of predicting when I made the decisions--so many things worked out differently than I thought possible at the time.

I suppose this is on my mind because serving a mission ended up being part of that path for me--the one I was so confused about and struggled so much to receive guidance for. I was in ROTC in college and agonized over whether to stay with the program and commit to the military after my Sophomore year (you couldn't back out from the contract after the beginning of Junior year). A mission had been on my radar as something I hoped to do for a long time, and I thought I was giving up that opportunity when I chose to continue in ROTC. It was definitely not my main concern in making the decision, but it was on my mind. I finally received the spiritual confirmation I needed to move forward, with the understanding that I really didn't know exactly where my life was leading. Interestingly, it was only a few months later (during Christmas break of my Junior year) that I felt very strongly prompted to pursue a mission--even though I thought I had given up that opportunity for good. I went back to school and talked to the officers in charge of my ROTC program, and while they re-affirmed that I couldn't break my contract and that permission had never been granted in the past for someone to do what I was trying to do (obtain a leave of absence of 18 months to serve as a church missionary, after I was already contracted/committed) they were willing to support me in making an official request. I went ahead with my paperwork--one set to the Air Force, one set to the church, and then waited. The Air Force paperwork eventually worked its way all the way up to the Pentagon, to someone who had the power to make an exception to policy. The church paperwork went through a lot faster--when I got my mission call, I still had people telling me the Air Force wouldn't let me go. Then the miracle happened and the Lord opened a door--as he does when we are following His plan and not ours. My request for a leave of absence was approved and I was at the MTC a month later. I felt intensely privileged to be able to serve. And I learned the lesson that the Lord knows so much more than we do and will guide us one step at a time on paths that we can't possibly foresee ourselves.

 

That is the lesson I pray my children will learn, the lesson of trusting the Lord, seeking to do what is right, heading the counsel of church leaders while also seeking for the specific guidance of the Spirit in their lives--without undue concern for their own or others' limited human understanding. Hopefully all of us in the church can learn the difference between keeping our covenants with God (necessary), following the general counsel and expectations of church leadership (good, but there are necessary and right exceptions), and following the specific guidance of the Spirit in our own lives.

 

--Sarah

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I don't have sons, so my perspective is different. I only have one daughter who has shown an interest in going on a mission. I honestly didn't think she would have the opportunity to go. Her older sister and I were both married at or before 21, so I guess I was basing my thoughts on our experiences. After today's announcement, I can see her going and I suddenly feel like we have a lot to do in the next few years to help her prepare. Of course, I don't want her to feel she has to go.

 

I've seen so many young men falter in that "gap" year that I think it could be a good thing for them to get on with their missions.

 

I'm always curious what people mean when they refer to preparing their sons (or now, daughters) to serve a mission. What does it mean? And why weren't we doing it for our daughters in the first place? What extra preparation are girls entitled to now that they're more likely to serve missions? Why didn't they need it before? Just curious.

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:grouphug: Life is just confusing isn't it? Certainly the intent of the new eligibility options is just that--to create new options (they emphasized that several times in the press conference) --not to create some kind of new rule for everyone to follow. I am so, so, so grateful for our understanding of personal revelation--that God has an ongoing, very personal interest in my very own life and that as long as I am trying to keep my covenants and His commandments and live so that the Spirit can be in and direct my life, I'll be OK.

Unfortunately, I think human nature causes us to put lots of expectations on ourselves and others that God never intended. Maybe because life looks simpler if there is just a rule to follow. Then we beat ourselves up (or unfortunately we can be tempted to put others down) if they don't follow all those rules. I think you are right, Mama Sheep, to focus on teaching the gospel in your home--if your children learn that, really internalize it, learn to seek for and recognize and follow the guidance of their Holy Ghost in their lives--they'll go where the Lord wants them to go and do what He wants them to do whether you could have foreseen their path or not.

I keep reminding myself of this lesson. I think I first started to understand when I was a young adult struggling with what seemed like immense life-determining decisions--and for a long time my prayers for direction just didn't seem to be receiving answers. It took what seemed a long time, but eventually I learned that I was going about things wrong--I was looking at choices I had to make and where I thought they would take me years down the road, and praying about them that way. Finally I stopped doing that and starting praying just about the step immediately in front of me--praying to know the right decision for the choice I was making now, and not worrying about where I thought that choice would lead to farther down the road. That was when I finally started getting answers--and they really were just one step at a time. Looking back, I can see how the path those choices took me on was one I was not capable of predicting when I made the decisions--so many things worked out differently than I thought possible at the time.

I suppose this is on my mind because serving a mission ended up being part of that path for me--the one I was so confused about and struggled so much to receive guidance for. I was in ROTC in college and agonized over whether to stay with the program and commit to the military after my Sophomore year (you couldn't back out from the contract after the beginning of Junior year). A mission had been on my radar as something I hoped to do for a long time, and I thought I was giving up that opportunity when I chose to continue in ROTC. It was definitely not my main concern in making the decision, but it was on my mind. I finally received the spiritual confirmation I needed to move forward, with the understanding that I really didn't know exactly where my life was leading. Interestingly, it was only a few months later (during Christmas break of my Junior year) that I felt very strongly prompted to pursue a mission--even though I thought I had given up that opportunity for good. I went back to school and talked to the officers in charge of my ROTC program, and while they re-affirmed that I couldn't break my contract and that permission had never been granted in the past for someone to do what I was trying to do (obtain a leave of absence of 18 months to serve as a church missionary, after I was already contracted/committed) they were willing to support me in making an official request. I went ahead with my paperwork--one set to the Air Force, one set to the church, and then waited. The Air Force paperwork eventually worked its way all the way up to the Pentagon, to someone who had the power to make an exception to policy. The church paperwork went through a lot faster--when I got my mission call, I still had people telling me the Air Force wouldn't let me go. Then the miracle happened and the Lord opened a door--as he does when we are following His plan and not ours. My request for a leave of absence was approved and I was at the MTC a month later. I felt intensely privileged to be able to serve. And I learned the lesson that the Lord knows so much more than we do and will guide us one step at a time on paths that we can't possibly foresee ourselves.

 

That is the lesson I pray my children will learn, the lesson of trusting the Lord, seeking to do what is right, heading the counsel of church leaders while also seeking for the specific guidance of the Spirit in their lives--without undue concern for their own or others' limited human understanding. Hopefully all of us in the church can learn the difference between keeping our covenants with God (necessary), following the general counsel and expectations of church leadership (good, but there are necessary and right exceptions), and following the specific guidance of the Spirit in our own lives.

 

--Sarah

 

This is a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

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I'm always curious what people mean when they refer to preparing their sons (or now, daughters) to serve a mission. What does it mean? And why weren't we doing it for our daughters in the first place? What extra preparation are girls entitled to now that they're more likely to serve missions? Why didn't they need it before? Just curious.

 

I think it was a family-by-family thing as to whether families prepared their daughters or not, and I knew a few young women who completely surprised their families by saying "Hey, I'm going to start the process of becoming a full-time missionary!" when their families had never placed that expectation on them. Serving a mission is part of the obligations and responsibilities of the Priesthood (although there are honorable exceptions, as was stated in the press conference and at other times in the church). For young women it's an option, and so some families I think automatically assumed that meant their DDs wouldn't go (because it IS a HUGE sacrifice, and so many LDS young women are married or engaged by 21). Although some families saw the option as being "close enough" to an obligation that they raised their DDs accordingly, and I LOVE MamaSheep's statement that whether a young woman serves a traditional full-time mission, she'll still be probably the most influential Gospel teacher to her children, and so preparing her for missionary service is still valuable.

 

(Although I'll say that, in the later years, a lot of the missionary prep. has to come from the pre-missionary him/herself. You can't force a Testimony or commitment to the Lord.)

Edited by Xuzi
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I think Elder Holland summed it up perfectly in the news conference when he said (and I'm paraphrasing a bit), "there is no cookie cutter answer for everyone. The young man or young woman needs to consult with their family, their local priesthood leaders and the Lord as to when they should serve."

 

I think that's the key. Personal revelation. What is right for my child might not necessarily be right for yours. I think that is the beauty of the Gospel...we are ALWAYS told to find out for ourselves. Pray. Get your own answer. The Lord will speak to you and instruct you through the Holy Ghost as to what you should do. Could it be more perfect?

 

My dd is at UVU and she was saying that so many girls were super excited and ready to turn in their papers this week. She does not feel led to serve a mission and won't be doing so. Just because you're a 19 year old female doesn't mean that's your new course in life now. I never felt led to go on a mission either. I joined the church at 19 and went to BYU. I managed to get my very Catholic father to pay tuition to an LDS university for five years (after he'd already paid for 12 years of Catholic school)...I didn't think I was going to get him to foot the bill for a mission, too. :lol: I would love to serve with my dh someday if that is what the Lord wants for us.

 

And I don't pretend to have any idea as to when my son will go either. I love that he has the opportunity to go at 18, but I don't pretend to know if that will be the best thing for him now, since he's only 11. And that's where that wonderful personal revelation comes in again. I know the Lord will lead us in the direction he wants us to go...so I'm not concerned in the least little bit.

 

The one thing I do know is how grateful I am for this gospel and for a prophet. I have been blessed beyond measure since the day I joined this church and have been SO grateful to send my son on a mission (he returned last November after two years in California). What an amazing experience for him and for our family. And I'm so excited for Conference today! I just loved yesterday's talks and can't wait to hear more today!

 

Oh, and for those of you worried about the mission expense? MUCH cheaper to pay $400 a month on a mission than to have them at home! :lol:

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