On October 6th, 2012, a ground breaking announcement rocked the homes of Zion. During the of General Conference, it was announced that sisters will now be able to serve a mission at age 19, instead of 21. In our home, there was great rejoicing. As we cried tears of joy, offered prayers of thanks, and nodded our heads in support of the new announcement--it opened up all new possibilities to women that previously were not as available.
Honestly, I can say that I gained little by waiting until I was 21. The one thing I did learn was patience, and doing things on the Lord's timetable--not mine. Even still, I have to say that I am thrilled about this new announcement. There are so many amazing youth out there just waiting to serve, and this will give them the opportunity to just get out there.
The one thing that I would comment on (and you must view the video to see this) is the reaction of those in attendance to General Conference at the Conference Center. It seemed that when it was announced that the young men could serve earlier, there were some young men that looked a bit shocked and terrified. However, when they announced that sisters could now serve at age 19, the young women rejoiced. The difference in reaction made me chuckle a little.
Let me just comment a bit on sisters in the mission field.
First of all, as a sister missionary I was able to get into doors that the men never were. I remember one significant baptism we had as missionaries. This was a head of household man who was very intelligent, educated, and spiritual. He was trying to lead his family in righteousness, but was unsure of where to go for spiritual guidance. He was a member referral that had been previously visited by Elders many years before. In the course of teaching him, he remarked several times that he was so grateful that sister missionaries were there because he felt he could trust us more. He had been very nervous with the elders, thinking they were "CIA agents" from the USA or something. When he saw two young women that came and were inviting him to change his life, he said that he was more willing to listen. His experience was not uncommon for us.
Secondly, sister missionaries bring with them a little bit of maturity that really goes far in the mission field. The elders in our districts always were a little better behaved when we were around. I don't think this was because of the age difference. I think it is because of the phenomenon of the male/female relationship in general! Think about scout campouts and how young men behave there vs. in their own homes with their moms around... I'm just sayin'..
Thirdly, sisters bring the heart to the mission field. Just like women are the "heart" in the home, sisters have a unique ability to bring that feeling to wards and stakes in which they serve. We don't often talk about this, but women soften life around them if they are in tune with the spirit. This is the same in the mission field.
Finally, the number one thing that prepared me for marriage and motherhood was being a missionary. If I could advocate for every worthy young woman to serve, just like the elders, I would. The truth is that not every woman is required or encouraged to serve like the young men--but if they do and are able, great blessings come to their future family. I will have to do another blog post about why my mission was such a positive influence--but until then just know that it was probably the most significant thing I did to prepare me.
Well known LDS educators, Richard and Linda Eyre served as mission presidents in England. They recently wrote an article about how much they love sister missionaries. My favorite quote in their article was this, "We wanted our daughters to be returned missionaries who would marry returned missionaries and increase their chances of a mutually respectful partnership. " They not only loved having those sisters in their mission, they have loved having them in their family. Logistically, it is now easier for sisters to handle full time missionary service in the logistics of their lives.
At any rate, we are thrilled here at SisterMissionaryMall, and also MissionaryMall about the amount of youth that are serving. As the ranks of missionaries swell, we have seen our business pick up--which is always a cause for rejoicing--but at the end of the day, the truth is that we just love missionaries.
We love who they are.
We love what they do.
We love the example they are to our own children.
We love who they become through selfless service as missionaries.
Most importantly, we love the impact they have on the world.
Best wishes to all of you younger missionaries--and older missionaries too. May your efforts be magnified and blessed.