“I hope they call me on a mission
When I have grown a foot or two.
I hope by then I will be ready
To teach and preach and work as missionaries do.
“I hope that I can share the gospel
With those who want to know the truth.
I want to be a missionary
And serve and help the Lord while I am in my youth.”
Growing up most Mormon kids learn this song in Primary. When I was little we mostly sang it to encourage the boys. For boys going on a mission is considered a priesthood duty. They are expected to go unless there is a an unworthiness issue or a physical or mental disability and even then there are so many service mission opportunities that almost anyone can serve a mission even for two or three months.
In 2012 President Thomas S. Monson announced a change in eligible age for when missionaries could serve. Instead of beginning their missionary service at age 19 young men can now go out at age 18 if they feel they are ready. And young women? They used to have to be 21. Now they can serve a mission when they turn 19. In Mormondom, this was a HUGE announcement. Check out this video below of what happened.
I hinted several posts back that I wanted to take family pictures when Eve and Patrick were here. The reason? Our family won’t be together again until November 2017. Marie is going on a mission!
This beautiful young woman has been called to serve in the England Birmingham Mission! We are so excited. Both Joseph and I have ancestors who joined the church while living in the same areas that Marie’s mission covers. The England Birmingham Mission boundaries are blue in the map below. It stretches from South Wales in a northwest diagonal swath across England.
She begins her service on May 24th flying to the England MTC (Missionary Training Center). We have spent the last three months getting her passport, applying for her visa, shopping for sturdy yet stylish dresses and skirts, and learning everything we can about where she will be serving.
What sets Mormon missionaries apart? Well, for one thing, they are all volunteers. They pay their own way, leave their families and friends, and serve for two years (for young men) or 18 months (for young women). At a time when most people their age are partying it up at college or still living at home undecided about what to do, missionaries decide to dedicate their lives to serving God by sharing the gospel with others and try to bring them to Christ. They don’t go to parties. They don’t date. They don’t even call home except on Mother’s Day and Christmas. They do write letters and emails to keep in touch with everyone back home. Can you imagine doing something like that?
Another thing is missionaries don’t choose where they will serve. When a young person or older couple (did you know senior couples who are married can serve a mission together?) decides they want to serve a mission they start filling out all the paperwork. There are worthiness interviews with the bishop and stake president, health check-ups, etc. Once all the paper work is done it is turned in to church headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT. Once there one of the Twelve Apostles will assign where that missionary will go and serve their mission. It is really a neat process. You can read more about it here and here.
We know there will be hard times, times where no one will listen to the message Marie and her companion will have to share. Or she’ll experience home sickness. Or just become discouraged. We also know she will experience times of great joy as she shares the gospel of Jesus Christ and serves others. And with all the family history we do around here being able to walk where her ancestors walked and lived will be pretty neat too.
Thankfully there is an official blog for the England Birmingham Mission so this mama can try to catch glimpses of her baby or at least see other missionaries she will be serving with. 😀 There is a picture of the mission president and his wife (they serve for three years of voluntary service). They are in charge of all the missionaries serving there. Missionaries serve in companionships of two (sometimes three). The mission president decides who will serve with who and for how long and also where they will serve. Marie will have anywhere from 6 to 9 companions while she is serving her mission. Those companions will be from all over the world. How exciting is that?
Read more about the amazing Mormon Missionary Program here. It even has a video of what a typical day is like for missionaries serving in the UK!