The announcement that boys can serve at 18 and girls at age 19 has been the biggest news in mormonville since the invention of funeral potatoes.
“We are expanding our efforts to give more young men and women an opportunity to participate in that divine commission.” (Russell M Nelson) How cool is that. Now many more people (girls) will have the opportunity to share the gospel through a mission.
Back in the day (a few years ago), President Gordon B. Hinkley said “Today many sisters are being called to serve. Many more are preparing to serve. Not because they aren't married or don't have anything else to do, but they have the desire to serve. One reason that the Lord wants more sisters to serve is because within the next generation He will send His priesthood army to the earth. He wants to send choice spirit children to mothers who have been prepared, properly trained, and taught in the gospel. What better schooling can a mother have than the experience and growth she gains through serving a mission.” I'm sure he is watching up from heaven with the biggest smile on his face.
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President Thomas S. Monson stated “I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age." I am sure this can applied to girls also. What an opportunity to grow and develop serving a mission can provide.
But there is also some growing up that takes place before a mission. The changes made in policy allowing missions at younger age should not affect the preparation level. This decision was certainly not some spontaneous decision; and neither should the decision to serve a mission be made spontaneously. Missions are serious stuff. Good grief, even I don't know what I am getting myself into for 18 months. Serving Heavenly Father every day for 18 months can bring more happiness and growth than imaginable, but it's certainly no walk through Disneyland.
The announcement allowing serving missions at younger ages should be the beginning of something amazing and needed in this generation, but should be a reminder of the reality of preparation. There is a reason we have been told all growing up to prepare to serve a mission or to be a wife, because honestly, that is the same thing.
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I look back to all the experiences I have had in the past year and a half....
Sophomore year of college, living with my roommates, applying for social work program, humanitarian trip to Honduras, being an EFY counselor.....
I have had so many experiences since I turned 19 that will influence the rest of my life. There is definitely a time and a place for everything. I feel more prepared to serve a mission than I did almost 2 years ago. I have lived a little. I have met people. I have seen world different from my own little corner.
Serving a mission is what is most important right at this time in my life. I would not serve a mission simply because every other girl and their dog is now serving a mission. I am serving a mission for me. (Selfish, I know.) I am serving a mission for the people in Argentina. I am serving a mission for my future children. I am serving a mission for my Heavenly Father. I am serving a mission because I love the gospel, and know that there is a purpose in our lives. There is a purpose for every person on this earth, and through serving a mission I can share this happiness with others.
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“As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf