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What Is This "Mission Thing?!"
Brother Manwaring is a former mission president (Frankfurt Mission)
who lives in our ward. I made a comment that I really didn't understand
the whole "mission thing" and how it operates. The next day he sent me
the following...well, novella. :-) He said if I wanted I could send it to the
email group if it would be helpful. I removed my son's name, and
thought you might want to post it. It has been extremely helpful for me.
You inquired about the Mission organization
and how a missionary's day is structured. Let me just say that I was
Mission President from 2002-2005 in Frankfurt and some things have
changed since Madeline and I served there, but I think I am pretty
up on what the changes are as we stay in touch with the missions
we provide medical services for, D.C. South and Baltimore.
Companionships: There is almost always a senior and junior companion.
Decisions are made by both missionaries but the Senior companion generally
has been longer in the field and has shown distinct leadership skills.
At this point your son is a new missionary; sometimes called a "greenie" but
more optimistically, a "Golden". The trainer's job is to orient the new
missionary to mission life, the language, and teaching skills. He is also
to enthuse the missionary with positive examples from his own mission.
Many new missionaries have an adjustment, being away from home and having
to do everything for themselves; cook, launder, clean, study, and really
work. To this day, I idolize my first companion, Elder Corbin from Maryland.
He was then and remains a hero to me.
The missionaries make up a "Mission Genealogy." Thus, your trainer is your
Father, his trainer becomes your Grandfather and so forth. You can see
there are cousins, etc. This results in a lot of fun at Zone and Mission
Conferences as missionaries meet their grandfather and cousins. Your
son is bright and will quickly pick things up and feel increasingly
independent and be able to contribute to the work.
District: A district is made up of three to six companionships who live
in the same general area. They meet once a week for a district meeting.
(As an aside here: the mission is essentially run by the missionaries.
The mission President presides and monitors things to make sure the
missionaries are well and staying within mission rules, but the organization
is run by the Missionaries. We keep saying in Scouting, etc. that the boys run
the organization, but it is really true in the mission.)
In District meetings there is a lot of instruction by more senior
missionaries about teaching different concepts and how to find people
to teach. Your son will, early on, be given the opportunity
to teach lessons and gospel concepts. They will do modeling of teaching
and there will be constructive criticism. The district is headed by
a district leader and his companion.
Zone: A zone is usually comprised of eight to twelve companionships and
three to four districts. When we were in Germany, we had a series of
zone conferences every six weeks which is also the period of time in
which new missionaries arrive, old missionaries go home and mission
transfers take place.
It is my understanding that Zone conferences now take place every three
months, or four times a year. The zone conference is essentially an
expanded district meeting, but with more input from the mission president,
his wife, and any visiting authorities. The zone conference usually takes
most of a day and includes a mid day meal, usually provided by the
relief society. We usually had some sort of physical activity mid day
associated with the conference to work off energy from sitting so long.
Rarely in the Frankfurt Mission we were given permission to have a
mission conference bringing all the missionaries to one site, but that
is unusual, especially for larger missions. The expense and time
expended are considerable. The zone is typically headed by a pair of zone
leaders, senior and junior.
The Mission: The mission is headed by a president and his wife. If the
wife is somehow incapacitated, then the mission president will be released
and a new one called. It is a husband and wife calling and the wife is an
integral part of the team. The mission president has two assistants called
from among the missionaries in his mission. They help in many different
ways. Usually the assistants are each given half of the zones of the
mission to supervise.
Every night each companionship calls in to the district leader, who in turn,
calls in to the zone Leaders. The zone leaders call the president's
assistants and they let the president know that everything is okay and
how the day has gone. This ensures that everyone is safe and at home
and also informs the mission of the work that has been done that day.
Every missionary is interviewed by the mission president and has a chance
to talk with the president's wife, too. It is interestingly the case that the
wife is able in a casual, chatty way, to find out more about the mental
state of each missionary. These interviews also take place on a quarterly
basis. (When we were in Germany the interviews were every six weeks.
I felt they were too frequent. So I think the change is for the better.)
The missionary writes a president's letter every week. In the letter the
missionary talks about his work, his health, his concerns and whatever
else he desires. He also submits a report for the work that has been done
that week on a form. That form has a place for including the number of
new contacts, number of lessons taught, number of lessons taught with
a member present, baptismal challenges and baptisms performed. In this
day of email it is easy for the mission president to respond to each
missionary's letter. You can imagine the burden of reading over 200
letters each week and responding, but it is a great way for the mission
president to personalize his relationship with his missionaries.
A typical missionary day usually starts at 6am with breakfast, a physical
workout, shower and study. The companionship spends time planning
their day, week, and perhaps, their month. This is done in great detail
and is centered around the investigators being taught. Every detail
is explored: what will be taught, who will teach what, and can the members
be involved, plus who will call the members.
As you can imagine, the better the planning the more successful the
companionship will be. At the conclusion of his mission, your son
should have learned how to plan a day and a week. He should be able to
hit college prepared to organize his work and follow his plan. A great
deal of time is spent teaching young people how to organize. It is
invaluable. After planning, they will have individual and companionship
study, including language study, if applicable.
They will then close their morning with a prayer and go to work,
usually about 10 am. The fortunate missionaries have many investigators
to teach. In Germany, a lot of time is spent finding. You try to
involve the members as much as possible, as they hopefully have
friends who will have been impressed by the members and hence, be
better prepared investigators. We members are tough nuts to crack so the
missionaries do various things to encourage us to come out of our shells.
We encouraged our missionaries to be invited to social gatherings and
cook-outs. At Christmas time we would offer to carol member's friends
and give them a video gift--anything to get the members to feel better
about introducing us to their friends. The success of those efforts
depends to a large extent on how impressive the missionaries are. For
this reason, we tried to leave our missionaries as long as possible in
the wards so bonds of trust and friendship could be formed. The old
standby is to go door-to-door but it is not terribly productive. Your
son will be working in Giessen, which is a university town where we put
on a real push to teach university students.
Think about it. The students are relatively young, bright, inquiring,
and not set in their ways as much as they will be when they get older.
Since they are single, you don't have to convert a husband and wife,
but only one person. Many of the students in Germany are from other
countries, particularly third world countries, and are sometimes very
curious about religion. So this can help us to inform them about
Christianity and The Restoration.
Your son and his companion are opening a new area, so everywhere they
go there will be people who have had no interaction with the Church
and will hopefully be open to our message. The downside of their area
is that the closest church building is in the next town, Wetzlar.
When we were there, the Church was helping us establish church
institutes with senior couples to assist at as many of the universities
The missionaries usually break for a quick lunch and then go back to
work. The evening is when most of the teaching is done, if you have
contacts to teach. The day usually ends about 9;30 and if you have not
eaten with a member you will then eat an evening meal, make your calls
to the district, plan for the next day, say companion and personal prayers
and collapse in bed about ten or ten thirty.
When I was in Lubeck, Germany, I actually fell asleep on my knees and
did not awaken till the middle of the night. My knees were killing me.
If you have a good relationship with your companion, it is a really
fun and fulfilling life. By the way, one of the great skills learned
on a mission is how to live with a person. Missionaries will learn how
to work together, how to compromise and understand another person,
often completely different from yourself.
A mission is a great time for reflection. Think about it: you don't
have to worry about working for money or dating and so you can really
focus on that which is most important. It is a good time to observe life
and decide what you want for your life.
How can you, as parents, be of greatest help? Step back and let your
son go. He needs to be independent and not tied to home. He needs a
letter weekly (never more often, or less either), but each letter
should be positive and not burden him in any way with problems at home.
He cannot solve them, and will only worry about them. He needs your
love and your prayers, but he does not need tight involvement with
things going on at home.
He can buy most anything in Germany you have here and so I would not
spend a lot on sending him things. Cookies can be nice but don't
go overboard. Let him know that he is loved and missed, but encourage
him to lose himself in the work and to work and obey mission rules.
Let me just say something quick about mission rules. First there are
not a lot of them, but every one is based on a bad experience somewhere.
They are designed to protect missionaries from a health, safety, and/or
moral standpoint. A missionary will never go wrong obeying. Breaking
mission rules can be disastrous. A good example is wearing a helmet
when biking. One of the members of our ward, while a missionary was
not wearing his bike helmet when he was hit by a car. He received a
severe concussion which resulted in permanent loss of his sense of smell.
In most missions, the missionaries are supplied with housing, utilities,
and transportation. It is determined in each mission how much
additional money is needed for food, clothing, and other necessities.
It is important for the missionaries to learn how to frugally manage this
reasonable amount of money. The management training is thwarted if
we constantly send extra money. It is fine to send some extra money
for special events such as birthdays and Christmas but suppress the
urge to send more. You could be hurting rather than helping your
I hope this will answer some of your questions. You will be surprised
in how many ways your family is blessed having your son in the mission
Brother L. Manwaring
Important Points with Links
The Role of Righteous Mothers
by President Spencer W. Kimball (also on the Notable Quotes
The Greatest Generation of Missionary Parents in the History of the Church
Raising the Bar by Raising the Greatest Generation of Missionaries
by Chris Deaver, Mission Preparation Teacher and Author of Know Before You Go (Audiobook)
Helping From Home
An indepth article about getting ready and serving a mission.
by Dallas H. and Marjorie S. Bradford, Helping from Home
, Ensign, Jul 2003, 48-53
Am I Ready To Serve A Mission
This MS Word
.doc file was donated to us by MM L. Boyce who wrote it after reading
Send Forth With Honor
by Randy L. Bott who has served as a
mission president and teaches at BYU. She wrote it for her 17-year-old son.
You senior missionary couples should read it, too.
Technology In The MTC
One Missionary Mom who is also a Sunday School teacher asked about the use o f new technology in the MTC.
Her answer came from the wife of a member of the MTC presidency.
Important Quotes + Checklists
Serving a mission is now a privilege! Not everyone who wants to serve will be able to serve. A Better Prepared Missionary Starts At Home With You!!
"We are raising the bar for you . . . If we expect more of them, we expect more of you." -- Elder M. Russell Ballard
The instruction must come from our homes. See Alma 53:21 which is about the 2060 Stripling Warriors, or Sons of Helaman
How can we help better prepare our children for missionary service?
First, read Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk, "The Greatest Generation of Missionaries".
To give you more ideas here's an article submitted to us by one of our advertisers, Clem Muck, the owner of CTR Bikes. He's entitled it Temporal Steps Toward A Successful Mission. You can read it by clicking here.
Betty received an email from a mother that we thought would help as well. We think the message is very important as an addition to our arsenal of weapons to fight in the Lord's Army. We named this article, One Mother's Recipe.
We have an Email group to help parents, especially mothers, prepare their children for the spiritual and physical rigors of a mission. To subscribe, scroll down and click on the animated envelope.
M. Russell Ballard's talk outlined several things a missionary should be.
Read Alma 53:16-17 Alma 53:20-21 Alma 57:26
Missionaries need to be:
Have strength of activity
True at all times in whatsoever thing they are entrusted
Missionaries need to be both spiritually and physically prepared. We need to help our young men and women become "endowed with power to build up and defend his kingdom." -M. Russell Ballard
[ ] Make and keep sacred covenants|
[ ] Be meticulously obedient
[ ] Faithful
[ ] Worthy
[ ] Qualified
[ ] Spiritually energized (more than just doing things out of duty)
[ ] Valiant
[ ] Courageous
[ ] Strong
[ ] Active and True
[ ] Commit whole heart and soul
[ ] Vibrant thinking, passionate about the gospel
[ ] Exemplify D&C 4:5
Specific things to do:
[ ] Avoid pornography (internet, entertainment, music)|
[ ] Stay morally clean
[ ] Keep the Word of Wisdom
[ ] Be honest
[ ] Be law abiding, good citizens
[ ] Do not defile your body
[ ] Use clean language, and not use vulgarity
[ ] Have a solid testimony of the gospel
[ ] Learn how to pray meaningfully to your Heavenly Father
[ ] Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
[ ] Work and prepare financially for your mission by saving part of your earnings
[ ] Pay full and honest tithe
[ ] Limit time spent playing computer games (or other entertainment)
[ ] Spend more time STUDYING the scriptures (Read the Standard Works!)
[ ] Understand the message of the Restoration
[ ] Serve others
[ ] Share your testimony
[ ] Duty to God YM program
One of the key focuses of the new guidelines is to learn how to feel and
recognize the Spirit. Your children should be able to learn how to teach by
the Spirit. Let them practice in Family Home Evenings. Take advantage of
opportunities to practice giving talks on the spur of the moment, using the
scriptures as their only text.
[ ] Teach your sons to understand the basic doctrines required to become a
[ ] How worthy are your children?
[ ] How are they progressing spiritually?
[ ] Monitor your children's issues and concerns carefully
[ ] Ask specific questions and get specific answers
[ ] Counsel with your children, and if necessary, go with them to see the
Bishop if they need to repent.
Fathers need to be a counselor, adviser, Priesthood Leader because of your
eternal responsibility for them. If there is no father in the home, then it
is the responsibility of the Melchizedek Priesthood Brethren.
[ ] Know how to work hard|
[ ] Be able to handle a full schedule: study, work, and cook meals, clean
house, and do their own laundry. The ability to handle all of them at once
will ease the stress of a new missionary. They will be able to do that
which is familiar by rote.
[ ] Learn how to repair a bike
[ ] Be in good physical condition. The physical rigors of missionary work
require good health and physical strength. (Good time to get to the gym,
and to ride a bike again).
[ ] If overweight, your children must slim down. If a missionary
candidate's weight-to-height ratio exceeds the BMI, "the individual will
typically be denied missionary service until the individual demonstrates a
desire and an ability to lose weight". If this is an issue, you must see
your Bishop or Stake President for details.
[ ] Physically healthy. If the missionary already has an eating disorder,
the stress of missionary life will typically exacerbate the problem, which
can further damage the missionary's health.
[ ] Learn to lead music, and if possible, play the piano.
[ ] Learn basic skills--home repair, car repair, and other things that will
help a missionary contribute to service in their missions.
[ ] Keep a clean driving record
Thoughts From A Mother
Betty I agree with you, and I have had boys go to EFY and they all paid their
way. IT IS a great program that does wonders for the teen's testimony. It IS
an ideal situation and I know that the EFY program is truly inspired. I have
had each of my boys placed with just the right councilor for them at the time
they went. I had nothing to do with that and the EFY program did not know their
individual needs but the Lord did and they were inspired to place my sons with
the councilors they did. One year brothers roomed together and they needed
it that year to bond together more fully. Everyone I have been able to convince
to send their child has said the same thing about the program. It is inspiring
to their child. One mother took three years to be convinced to send her son.
Now she wishes she had sent him to fewer sports camps and more EFY.|
Some people listen to advice and try to implement it in their life the best
they can. Others find it too harsh because they don't want to change, myself
included. I have found that when I am upset with someone's advice it is because
it cuts to the very core and I am not ready to make the change either because
I can't see how to do it or because I don't wish to let go of the good
for something better.
I am sorry that you are getting grief about advice you pass on. Advice is what
it is--take it or leave it--but do not get mad at the presenter. The scriptures
are full of people who got angry at good advice. For example, think of the
mother who did not have scouting in her area. If her son follows the Duty To God
program the way it is intended, he will serve a mission. But it does not
change the fact that more young men who were eagle scouts serve missions
than those who don't. Opinions, or hurt feelings, don't change statistics.
Nothing is guaranteed because it depends how the program is run and the heart
of the young man doing the learning. If the focus is on "what's in it for me"
he will grow to be self-centered, but if the program is run to build character
and the focus is on "now that we've learned this let's go serve someone"
then the young men will begin to see that what they know is to serve others
and they will grow to really want to serve a mission.
As mothers we do have to be careful not to coddle our sons. We have to let
them be men. Becoming a man is not just coming of age but growing to be a
responsible adult man.
You once sent out an email about coddling our boys. I chose to read it and
look at how I might better prepare my son for a mission. I saw many things
I had been doing right but there was one thing that I was not doing so well.
Some of the things I learned as I was raising my first and changed a few things
with my second, third, and fourth. Parenting, more often than not, is a work
in progress. We are not born perfect parents. We learn to be perfect parents
through trial and error because what works with one, will most likely not work
for the next.
John Bytheway spoke about how wise people learn from their mistakes and super
wise people learn from other's mistakes. I like to learn from the mistakes
of others (ha ha ha ha). Consequently, I love advice. I have been given both
good and bad advice, but the Holy Ghost helps me to know the difference. There
is no need to lash out angrily at people or demand they stay quiet. One can
calmly express their opinion back but you must never argue with what General
Authorities say. They have said that all church members in Canada and the U.S.
should participate in boy scouts because it prepares young men for the
priesthood and their missions.
I hope you never stop sharing what the mission presidents have seen and the
advice they give. I hope you never stop sharing what the general authorities
have said. The duty to God program was never meant to take the place of
scouting while scouting upholds the ideals of the church.
Other countries are not encouraged to put their young men in scouting because
the program in those countries are not entirely in keeping with the ideals
of the Church. In those countries they work on only Duty to God. And by so doing
will, if done by the power of the Spirit, will give the young men a chance to
learn to be leaders and gain skills to help others.
I know you do not hear it enough: THANK YOU for all you do. !!!!!!!!
Please do not give up on us. We had a sister in our stake who had food
storage down to a science, but people would not listen to her. They felt
her words were harsh, because she always spoke what was in the scriptures
and what the prophets had said. Today she no longer gives advice freely.
She has been brow-beaten. Now many who would listen never get to hear her
because she no longer travels from ward to ward. You have to know her and
ask her yourself and even then she is reluctant for fear someone will
be critical. It would be a shame if this happened to you.
Please don't gibe up sending informative and helpful advice for helping
mothers be better at preparing and supporting missionaries. There will
always be those who are over sensitive when given advice, but completely
insensitive and harsh, or even spiteful and hateful, when responding.
Please be not weary in well-doing. Keep up the good work. Your advice helps
me grow as a parent and we all learn from the prophets that parenting is a
life-long endeavor that reaches beyond the grave. And every thing I can learn
in this life will help me in the next and perhaps the things I learn will
help my boys in spite of the mistakes I have made in the past. Only a fool
despises good advice and someone said the definition of insanity is doing
the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
We must never water down the gospel out of fear of offending. I single-parented
for a while and was the product of a broken home and my favorite songs were
Families can be Together Forever and I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.
I sang those to my boys. Why? Because it was truth and just because my oldest
was without a dad for 4 years does not make the truth any less the truth.
Children definitely need both parents. AND our children need to know that,
even if it hurts. As a parent you can be sensitive enough to explain that we
are not living the ideal but we need to strive for it any way. We do not need
to feel bad that we are in circumstances beyond our control, but we must not
pretend that living in a single parent family is ideal and that divorce does
The same goes for what you are saying. Our boys should, by the time they are 18,
be able to make doctors appointments for themselves. They should know what to do
when they don't budget their money as they should. We should not be so quick
to run to their rescue. They need to stand on their own with God and raise their
families. We should guide them in what to do not do it for them. Some need more
guidance than others, but when we do things for them all the time we hurt them
instead of help them. We are "serving" but we are not actually performing any
"service". Many parents do not realize what they are doing because we live in a
society that thinks this is what we are supposed to do in order to be a good
parent. Even among many in the church in spite of council to be contrary.
My oldest, who did not serve a mission, used to call home for everything and
used to expect me to handle all his problems. Partly for stepping in when I
should not have and partly for not stepping in when I should have. Finally I
learned to do things differently and worked at stepping back when it was
something taught and stepping in when instruction was needed then stepping back
and letting him handle it.
So, my other children have always had better parenting and so they do not call
home all the time with problems but will call home for advice. That is what one
should strive for. They should know they can come to you without you taking over.
That will build confidence.
I have heard many moms in the groups complaining that the mission is not taking
care of their boys. That their money is running out and that they are not
given sufficient funds. So I asked my son how his funds were holding out. He
said he was doing just fine. He then moved to a new area that was slightly
more costly and he ran out of money but did not call home to say please send
money I'm broke; they did not give me enough. Instead he only responded to my
inquiry with "this month I was short because I had not planned on the area
being more expensive than the last one, but I will budget better next month."
Now that makes a parent proud. Don't we all want to hear that our missionaries
take responsibility for themselves?
Please do not give up. I need all the help I can get and I know Heavenly Father
works through us to help each other. Thank you again.
Mission President's Wife
Dear Sister Pearson,|
Thank you for the warm welcome to Missionary Mom email groups. And thank
you for the opportunity to share some insight on how to best prepare our
sons and daughters for missionary service as well as what we can do to
better support our in-field missionaries.
You are taking a risk asking these question because some of the answers are
deep and telling of some of the challenges missionaries have in the field.
Because of this, please remove my name. Thanks.
The number one thing we see that moms/parents can do to better prepare
their missionaries for service would be to teach their children the
doctrine of exact obedience and following the prophet completely.
It seems many missionaries don't have the faith or conviction to be able
to fully obey mission guidelines, when in fact, the prophet has outlined
inspired guidelines that are meant to be complied with 100 percent -- not
70 or 80 percent. The following scriptures provide strength, and a
perspective that it is possible to be exactly obedient: Proverbs 3:5-7,
D & C 6:36, D & C 82:10, and Joshua 1:9. Finally, D & C 84:44 gives the
Lord's standard, "For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth
from the mouth of God".
The promise the Lord makes is that miracles will come from following the
Lord and his prophet with exactness. This is best taught in the
home before the mission.
A second suggestion: Cleanliness is an important attribute of a successful
missionary, for the Spirit cannot dwell in unclean places. Parents
could teach their prospective missionaries to be clean and particularly
how to clean an apartment. When inspections are done of missionary
apartments, frequently we find a standard of cleanliness far below what is
expected. They need to know how to clean bathtubs, showers and toilets (so
they are white rather than yellow), how to clean a stove top with burners
and drip pans, the importance of sweeping floors to avoid ants and
cockroaches, cleaning old food out of the fridge and wiping up spills
inside, washing shower curtains in hot water and bleach, and on and on.
Some missionaries are willing to do the work, but just haven't been taught
how. Others are not willing to put forth the effort and it becomes a
pattern in their missionary work and in their success as a missionary.
The third and last thing I would suggest to parents is to give their sons
and daughters a true perspective of what a mission is. It is HARD WORK and
LONG DAYS - days full of activities they are not used to. The first two
weeks out of the MTC are a difficult adjustment and some new missionaries
are ready to go home after just a few days. But if they can hang in there
for two weeks and then stretch it to two months, they will adjust to the
schedule and the hard work will become routine. If they are prepared to
feel this way and know it is normal, chances might be greater they can
push through the first rush of difficult adjustments.
A few Dos and Don'ts for Missionary Mom's supporting their son and
daughters and advice for parents:
Every week in emails or letters, share encouragement to do 3
things, through a scripture or family story. Those three things would be:
- Trust in the Lord and in his missionary purpose to search for, and find
the souls who have been prepared to accept the gospel and be baptized.
- Be completely obedient in order to gain the power to rescue, like
President Monson calls missionary work.
- Work with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. Nothing is
accomplished without hard work.
It's great for missionaries to get news and pictures from home, but the
fact is, it temporarily distracts them from the work and puts their minds
in a different place. By providing those 3 things as encouragement in each
email or letter, the missionary, and parents and also their family, can
become a team in serving the Lord, rather than the family being a
Each time a group of new missionaries arrives, so does an influx of
multiple pieces of mail for each new missionary. Just last week we
delivered three large packages and ten letters to just one of the new
elders. Many other new missionaries received multiple pieces of mail in
just a matter of days. I couldn't help but wonder what was inside each box
or envelope. Was it filled with things that would make the elder or sister
homesick or things that would ease the transition into a new life.
Sometimes we know within a couple of days without even eavesdropping.
Support from home is so important - but the kind of support is even more
We are fairly new serving in this mission, but we've seen things that
both alarm us and give us great hope. What we know is that this is the
Lord's work; He is in charge and He is moving His work forward.
A Current Mission President's wife
The Best Quotes
Thank you for "Advice from a Mission" and the private link. That was a
good way to view it. I agree with what was stated. As I read the last few
paragraphs it brought to my mind this talk by Elder L. Tom Perry, "Train
Up a Child" from the 1988 October General Conference. What is interesting
is that he gives 3 examples of parents putting off the training of their
children to someone else: the nursery or Junior Sunday School/Primary, the
doorstep of BYU and the mission field, "if I can only get my child on a
mission, it will make up for those years when I have failed to teach him
the principles of the gospel."
Raising the bar for missionary service
Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, Nov. 2002, 46 The Greatest Generation of
Missionaries (Excellent talk)
"Please understand this: the bar that is the standard for missionary service
is being raised. The day of the "repent and go" missionary is over. You know
what I'm talking about, don't you, my young brothers? Some young men have the
mistaken idea that they can be involved in sinful behavior and then repent
when they're 18 1/2 so they can go on their mission at 19. While it is true
that you can repent of sins, you may or you may not qualify to serve.
"We don't need spiritually weak and semi committed young men. We don't need
you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need
vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and
respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn't a time for spiritual
weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to
receive a testimony. We just don't have time for that."
And now this advice from the most recent October General Conference 2012
Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Can Ye Feel So Now?"
"Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church
meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility
to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before
the Lord. With President Monson's announcement this morning, it is essential
that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where
kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the
courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music.
Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful
testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love
your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity
must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference
without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in
the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support
families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting
teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents."
One of my favorites is from Julie B. Beck, "Mothers Who Know", Ensign,
Nov 2007, 76-78
"Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they
are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn
anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents
used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and
other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary
force if mothers considered their homes as a pre-missionary training center.
Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and
not a revelation. That is influence; that is power."
Elders, Protect The Sisters!
I've really appreciated all the advice from mission presidents' wives that
you've sent of late. May I add something (please make it anonymous
to keep my daughter safe)?
My daughter entered the MTC (not Provo) recently and in her latest letter
she related a disturbing incident. One of the elders in her district (also
new) had demonstrated a tendency to tell inappropriate jokes and use
inappropriate language. Well, one day she realized that if she didn't speak
up, no one else would. He said a foul word and she calmly reminded him that
they were in a dedicated building and they needed to respect that by
watching what they said. He became very angry and replied that he could say
whatever he wanted and proceeded to do so in a loud voice. She repeated
that they were in the Lord's building and if they wouldn't say words like
that in front of the Lord, why would they say them in his house? She
expressed to me that she felt words can drive away or bring the Spirit and
she felt it was unfair to everyone in their district to say these things.
To me, this is indeed unfortunate that this occurred, but what happened next
has left me worried and concerned.
My daughter chose then to return to her language studies and ignore the
harsh words and insults that this elder continued to say. The sisters in
her district later thanked her for speaking up, but the other elders began
laughing because he had become so angry that they thought he was going to
jump over his desk and attack my daughter. From what my daughter related
(and she was not being critical of these other elders at all. This was
something her father and I noticed), not one elder spoke in support of her
nor did they request that the elder calm down and act respectfully.
Our daughter is our only daughter and she has four brothers, so she is not
unused to boy bravado and machismo. She actually handles herself quite well
in a testosterone-heavy environment with not much phasing her. This
incident has made me think a lot about how I'm preparing my boys to serve
alongside women in the church. Have their father and I done a good job
conveying to them how important it is to treat women and girls respectfully
regardless of the circumstance? Through their father's and my efforts to be
good examples, do they recognize that women and girls are beloved daughters
of God who should be treasured and appreciated for the Spirit and many gifts
they bring to the Church, not demeaned or degraded? Do they recognize that
the priesthood is not something men possess as an entitlement or as an
indication of status, but that it is a privilege they will share with their
spouses in order that they might be an instrument in the Lord's hands to
bless the lives of their families and neighbors?
Do these elders who laughed at the whole situation recognize that these
young women are far from the families and friends who have loved and
protected them throughout their lives and that they have an obligation as
priesthood holders to be mindful of these women's safety and wellbeing?
Given the many prominent news stories of late in which women have been
victimized in various ways by both individuals and by institutions, it
occurs to me that if we aren't teaching our young men to treat women and
girls as the daughters of our Heavenly Father that they are, we could be
facing some significant problems as more and more sister missionaries choose
to serve. The potential consequences of bad behavior could be
devastating-to the elder who might face discipline as a result of
inappropriate actions toward a sister and certainly to the sister who is
left with the aftermath of having been mistreated, perhaps even abused,
while serving in a capacity that should be an uplifting experience.
A lot has been posted to the email groups concerning the importance of
teaching our children how to clean up after themselves, work hard, develop
self-discipline, and commit to the Lord's work. These are certainly
important issues. However, it's even more important to teach them the
interpersonal skills that will allow them to work successfully with others,
whether elder or sister, in a mutually-respectful environment. While our
family has discussed these issues in the past, my husband and I have decided
that we will be having a series of FHEs and dinner talks regarding the
principles of respect, compassion, and showing Christ-like love for others.
We plan to be frank with our boys regarding our expectations for their
behavior and demeanor towards all women and girls. Because to be honest, if
one of my boys acted as one of these elders, whether it be the elder who
lost his temper with a sister or the elders who stood by and laughed while
it happened, I would be horrified, ashamed, and wondering how I had failed
to teach my sons basic civility and courtesy. I sincerely hope that my boys
will grow up to be the kind of men who have the courage and strength of
character to intervene. Certainly, I hope they will have the courage to
recognize when they have erred and immediately resolve to take
responsibility for their error through repentance, rather than becoming
Thanks so much,
[Editor: Two thoughts:
- Regarding the line above,
"They laughed" - If you
aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Think
of those other elders who by their inaction were giving consent
to how the rogue missionary was acting.
- Our eldest son worked at a local sandwich shop. One day while
at work, a young couple came in, and while they waited for their
sandwiches, the young man began to verbally berate and abuse his
girlfriend. Our son jumped over the counter, landed on the young
man and pinning him to the floor let him know in no uncertain
terms that if he did that in my son's presence, he would lose
more than his pride at being nailed to the floor again. My
sweetheart and I are proud that all 5 of our sons did all they
could while growing up to protect women, especially their two
sisters and their mother. I, as their father, didn't put up with
my sons ever treating their mother disrespectfully, and on at
least one or two occasions picked up my nearly grown teenaged
sons and put them out of the room where they were bad-mouthing
their sweet mother. No, Mothers don't teach respect for women.
Dads do, and they better do it often, consistently, and firmly,
yet showing love and concern afterwards.]