Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Answer for Lee

You asked if women go on missions or just the men and how long a mission is:

All worthy young men should serve a mission. By "worthy" I mean that they have to be living the commandments and going to church and have a testimony (a personal witness to share) that the church is true. They are able to go as soon as they turn 19. Most "elders," as we call young male missionaries, go when they are 19. But sometimes people go a little later. Sometimes a young man is not prepared to go when he turns 19 for one reason or another. He may still go as long as he is unmarried and worthy until he is 26. After that he is supposed to work on the mission of finding a wife and being a good husband and father.

Young male missionaries serve for 2 years. So the overwhelming majority of them are between the ages of 19 and 21.

Young women may serve missions if they choose to. It is not expected or required of them like it is the young men. But many young women do serve missions and they have wonderful experiences and can be very powerful missionaries.

Young women are allowed to go on missions when they are 21. They serve 18 month missions. I don't think there is an age limit for young women. They must be unmarried as marriage and family is our most important "mission" in life. We try to keep that priority first.

Most "Sisters" as we call our young women missionaries are 21 and 22 years old. It is very rare to find older sister missionaries. However sometimes older widows will go on missions. My aunt went on a mission to Brazil after her husband passed away. She is so brave!

Older couples can go on missions once their children are on their own and they can afford to give up their jobs and pay for their own mission. They have lots of leeway on how long they serve and where they serve and what kind of mission they serve. They can do service or office work or proselyte or a bunch of other things. Their missions can be as short as a few weeks or as long as 3 years. Typically they are 18 months or 2 years though.

Hope that answered your question. Let me know if you have more.


Lee said...

It did and then some. In addition to serving others, I'm sure there is so much personal growth as well. What a blessing to have that opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I would amend that 'all worthy and able young men are encouraged to go on missions' (not required).

I know some young men who wanted to go on a mission, but for reasons other than worthiness, such as physical or mental disabilities, were not able to do so.

I also know a few very rare circumstances where the young man was impressed to *not* go on a mission, and instead choose another equally worthy path.

Many men in the generations before us were not able to go on a church mission because they were drafted and/or fighting in wars. I know some young men now who have enlisted in the army instead of serving a church mission. I think those decisions can be equally worthy and right, especially in times when our country's freedoms are being threatened.

Its also important to clarify that not serving a mission will not prevent one from receiving future ordinances or blessings, or stop future spiritual growth or progression within the gospel. Nothing is withheld from them. There are men who hold 'higher up' callings in our church who didn't serve a mission for whatever reason.

I just know a lot of men who either couldn't serve a mission, or had to come home early for reasons out of their control (illness, injury, etc), and they feel so guilty, ashamed, and unworthy about it (even now- years later!). There is such an overwhelming expectation that WILL go on a mission and have this awesome experience, and if not...his spiritual life is doomed forever. These are 'good' LDS guys...married in the temple, wife, kids, attends church regularly, has callings, etc. And yet they carry this weight that is slowly damaging their testimony because they feel like they don't measure up. Its really sad and so hard for their wives (my friends).

Stephanie said...


Point noted. I would agree with that especially on your point about "ABLE." I should have included that. There are many who are physically or mentally unable to go.

And while it is true that at certain times of war men have not been able to serve missions (many of the apostles fall into this category as the church wouldn't let them go on missions during the war) the standard was set by President Kimball. See full talk here:

He said: "I was asked a few years ago, 'Should every young man who is a member of the Church fill a mission?' And I responded with the answer the Lord has given: 'Yes, every worthy young man should fill a mission.' The Lord expects it of him."

To "rightly" choose another path when one is able and worthy is the rare exception. That being said, it is well pointed out in your comment that the decision to not serve a mission for ANY reason does not keep one from any future blessings.

oldangelgirl said...

I am one of those lucky women that got to serve a mission, and it has been one of the very best experiences of my life. For a year and a half I got to devote my full attention to serving others and serving God. It was not easy, by any means, but it was the biggest blessing I have experienced in my life this far (I'm not married yet and don't have any children).

There are people that missions aren't right for, it's a very personal decision, but in going a person learns and grows in ways that are not possible otherwise. Some people might think it's a sacrifice for a young person to go, but I think it's an amazing blessing and opportunity - speaking from experience. :)