Monday, March 11, 2013
How I know the number of missionaries is increasing
My top post in the last two months is this one, which I published last year in July when my daughter entered the mission field. For quite some time, one of the top Google searches that brings people to my blog is the phrase “missionary letters” or the question “What should I write to missionaries?”
It’s awesome to me that so many are choosing to serve. And it’s awesome to me that so many are choosing to write to those who serve.
I’m hopeful that these new missionaries are as prepared as they are eager to serve, and I have no reason to doubt that they are prepared. Certainly the fine elders we see in our ward each Sunday are well prepared. They are working hard, and their efforts are showing in the success in the work in our ward. They were in our home last night and did all the things you hope good missionaries will do.
Our missionary daughter has nothing but excellent things to report about the missionaries in her mission, as well. (In fairness, our daughter is exceptionally positive, so I’m not sure we’d hear about it even if the missionaries she knew were total slugs. But still I want to believe her that the missionaries she knows are as awesome as she says they are.)
Personally I do have some concerns about the lower ages for service. For me, my year away from home between high school and my mission was really helpful in my maturing process, and in helping me to make the decision to serve. (I was at BYU and was surrounded by other young men who were also making that decision and preparing to serve.) I recognize, however, that not every young man goes to BYU, and we likely lose some (maybe many) who have that post high school year to become more distracted from serving.
Of more concern to me is if 18 becomes the new 19 for young men. My understanding is that young men may serve at 18, but so far there is no official push to have them serve at that age. I’m not a big fan of social pressure to serve, and I believe the best missionaries are those who serve when they are ready, not when they are socially pressured to go. I doubt anyone sets out to apply social pressure, either, but we know that happens at church.
I’m less worried about sisters. In fact, I think it’s awesome that sisters can serve earlier, making a mission service more likely (or so the surge in sisters would suggest). As many have written, sister missionaries bring a lot to the missionary effort, and mission service is likely to bring a lot to the sisters, as well.
I welcome the expanding ranks of missionaries. I welcome the creative solutions to deal with increased needs for training, increased numbers of missions, and increased numbers of letters to missionaries (including those who seek advice from my blog!).
BTW: You can read my latest post at Real Intent, "God's Greatest Hits: Moses v. Satan," here.