Missionary Service

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What Missionary service means to me. Details on the life of a Mormon Missionary.

I hope they call me on a mission

{Source}

When I was a little girl, I was interested in full time missionary service. I think the Mormons are pretty well known that we have “boys on bikes” throughout the world, but girls can serve, too. Sometimes those girls are on bikes (in dresses), and some often have car access, but with a limited number of miles–just enough to cover the assigned area they are in.

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Before 2012, our church service age minimum was 19 for boys and 21 for girls. I’m not quite sure how the age cut off works, but from what I understand, generally under the age of 25, but all single. The only couples that serve missions are retired couples that are “empty nesters.” Last October there was a big announcement in our Worldwide Semi Annual General Conference that the age for boys was lowered to 18 (also must be graduated from high school) and for girls, down to age 19. There was a lot of excitement for girls, as it provided an opportunity to serve full time missionary service at a much younger age. There is a lot of speculation as to why the age criteria are what they are, but ultimately, we believe our leaders are led by revelation that inspires things to change as needed. With this announcement, there has been a huge influx of individuals submitting papers to serve full time (I’ve heard that the numbers have quadrupled!). {Below, my younger brother just before entering the Missionary Training Center to begin his mission to New York City}

called to serve

As a full time missionary, there is a certain standard to uphold, and though many think it is a “requirement” it is more of an encouragement for boys to go and serve, while it is seen more optional for the girls.  As a mother, it is my hope that my children will have a desire to serve a full time mission. A hope that my children will have a strong conviction in what they are taught—enough to want to share it with others. Missionaries devote 100% of their time to the work, there are a good number of rules to be followed such as no dating, no television or secular music, personal phone calls, etc. But with those boundaries produces hard working, devoted, and dedicated young men  and women who come home and take those skills with them the rest of their lives. They wake daily at 6:30 a.m. to study their scriptures for an hour, they knock doors or talk to people on streets to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they get doors slammed in their faces, dogs chasing them, and they have to defend what they believe over and over, and respond with kindness when they may be face with opposition.

Just before I turned 21, I thought I would go on a mission. I wasn’t dating anyone seriously, and it was something I had wanted to do for a long time. As encouraged by leaders, I prayed about it…and strangely enough…it didn’t feel right to go. Something was off, and I trusted that personal revelation I had received for myself and didn’t submit papers to go. I found out later, that there was a different plan for me. But I do look at my female friends that served with a tinge of jealousy.

Missionaries are called by inspiration from our church leaders, and it’s always a big deal to get the mission call envelope, and generally a group gathers to watch the opening. Loved ones often are involved in a guessing game as to where the missionary will serve. I remember when my older brother opened his “call to serve” and it was to Marilia, Brazil. He would learn the Portuguese language.{An insert below from my high school scrapbook page}

called to serve

My younger brother was called to New York City–Spanish speaking, and my youngest brother to Boise, Idaho–English. Those learning a new language have an 8 week intensive training course, while those speaking English go out “into the field” a bit sooner and get to work. Though there often seems to be a touch of disappointment to not be called to an exotic locale, we believe that each missionary is called to the place they are supposed to go…where THEY are needed.  My dad served his mission in California, and my husband to the South of France. There are pro’s and con’s to each spot of the world.

Mormon Missionary

{My hubby on the right with his Missionary Companion from Samoa, serving together in France.}

My parents have mentioned for a while that when my dad retires, they’d like to serve as a couple on a mission. It was always going to be “later” because he is still working. He’s worked in Nigeria for the past 4 years and my mom would commute back and forth from there to her home in Houston, Texas. He travels to other parts of the world with his job as well. When our family got together over Thanksgiving, I don’t think any of my siblings expected the news our parents had to share with us.  They told us that they were asked by one of our church leaders to serve a full time mission, as Mission President over approximately 200 missionaries who are actively sharing the gospel. They did not have a destination yet, but the call to serve was extended and they said yes. They told us that 2 days before Thanksgiving, they skyped with President Dieter Uchtdorf (we believe in a living Prophet of God with 12 apostles, just as in Christs’ time. President Uchtdorf is an apostle) and were extended the call to serve in July 2013 for 3 years.

We have speculated that they would likely go to Africa, and on Valentine’s Day (2/14) they opened their call to serve with all of us skpe-ing in, watching, and that was confirmed: Accra Ghana, West mission in Africa.  I think I’ll be making a trip to Ghana sometime in the next 3 years. (See: Our family travel to Ghana)

My mom is happy that it is Ghana because it is much more modern with better medical than they experienced in Nigeria.   There are 405 missions throughout the world and over 60,000 full time missionaries serving in the US to Russia to South America to Africa to Korea. Some areas are not “open” for missionary service per that countries choosing.

Mormon Mission President

{My parents, ready to serve.}

Mission Presidents will either take a leave from their jobs, or retire. In my dad’s case, he was planning to retire soon anyway, so he upped the date just a little. With them on the other side of the world, they don’t have the leisure to come and go as easily, so we will have to go to them. I think they will do an amazing job in Ghana, and will bless the lives of many individuals. I’m happy for them, and that we will be a missionary family, blessed by their service and sacrifice.

I just found a cool video that details a bit about what a Mission President does, check it out!

To learn more about what Mormon Missionaries DO, here is a link about Missionary Work, and here is more detail about Missionaries.  This explains a bit more about Mission Presidents from those serving.  THIS VIDEO makes me tear up and cry at all of the Sister Missionaries now serving.

If you want to read my past spiritual posts, I shared What I Believe and What I Believe part 2.

{I could go off on a hundred different tangents explaining some of what I wrote above, but I am trying to be concise.}

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