A New Option

BREAKING NEWS

Pres. Monson Announces Lowering of Age for Missionary Service

During the first session of the October 2012 LDS General Conference, Pres. Monson announced the opportunity for every worthy young LDS male to begin their missionary service at the age of 18. Additionally he included the announcement that all worthy young women may now serve from the age of 19.

Pres. Monson described this as a ‘New Option’, and it was later emphasised at a press conference with Elder Holland, Elder Nelson, and Elder Evans of the Seventy that this is merely an option that each potential missionary could consider. There is no obligation for young men or women to leave at this age. The only requirement for this option is that each young man needs to have completed high school graduation.

This change is immediate and could see many young men of 18  and YW of 19 submitting their mission papers as soon as this week, providing the requirements of worthiness and education have been met. Clearly this new announcement will raise many questions on the part of individual families, particularly for those young men who have just turned 18. However, during the press conference Elder Holland and Elder Nelson both emphasised that it should be a personal and family consideration with no mandatory expectation for any young man or young woman to prepare to leave earlier.

What a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to have His work move forward. As Elder Holland suggested, this announcement addresses the need for more missionaries. Worldwide Mission Presidents have been calling for more missionaries  and there is a great demand for the creation of new missions.

I look forward to hearing from any of our missionary mums out there who may be affected by this announcement. How do you feel about this announcement, and how is it going to affect you?

For me, with an almost 17 year old son, this is going to directly affect our family over the next 12 months. I am keen to explore the implications of it all.

For more information please visit Mormon News Room

Advertisements

Renegotiating Family Relationships

Part 5 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ Series

This post can be applied to any parent who has a child entering their adult years. As I have discovered with all my daughters, the mere fact that they turn 18 or 21, does not mean they will turn into adults overnight. It is a process of negotiation and renegotiation as parent and child. Indeed, for some families it may be a case of the child wanting to remain as a child; reluctant to have to start making adult decisions.

But for those who do serve missions, this process of change will often occur while they are away. For many parents this then requires a sudden re-adjustment of the terms of their relationship with their child once their missionary returns.

_______________________________________________________________________

Renegotiating family relationships.

From Dave and Wendy Ulrich

Generally, children leave for missions and adults return. This means that everyone has to adjust to a new, adult-adult relationship. As parents, it helps if we will lovingly initiate conversations about our ability or willingness to provide financial support, our need for help with household responsibilities, and our hopes for our new relationship rather than imposing rules. Your child is now an adult who has been living independently for some time, and who has dreams, skills, needs for independence, and ideas that may differ from yours. Be patient with the over-idealism that missionaries often cling to in the ambiguity of a new life. It is not easy to go from having the answers to loving the questions, and some make this transition more easily than others. Also, almost every mission and every first year home has sensitive or unresolved issues. Work to ask questions in ways that invite honest answers, and be careful not to let pride in your missionary’s accomplishments leave them afraid to disappoint you. Then accept that they still may not tell you everything.

_________________________________________________________________________

What do I think?

This is the unknown to me. It is something that I am yet to experience, and therefore is a bit scary. My plans are to tread carefully with my daughter till I get a feel for whether we will need to renegotiate our relationship with her or not. Pre-mission she was never really a child who was champing at the bit to have her freedom, or break free from being the child. To me she was extremely mature before she left, and I feel that we had already established that adult to adult relationship. But I’m not making any assumptions till she is back home.

I would really like some feedback on how other parents have dealt with this renegotiation. Perhaps girls are easier than boys, since they leave on their missions at a later age?

Questions:

1. How do you distinguish between rules that you imposed on your children pre-mission, and general house rules for all to abide by post-mission?

2. What is the kind of language you use with your adult children that may be different from when they were children?

3. Can anyone share a particular experience of how you approached that renegotiation?

**Part 6 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ looks at Friends and Dating.

Former Evangelical Pastor Shares Mormon Conversion Story

I saw this today and just had to share it. As I watched it I realised the great work that our missionaries are involved in, and that it doesn’t take the most eloquent, educated missionary to have an effect on the Lords people.

I hope that each missionary mum out there realises the impact that their son or daughter can have.

Thanks to Mormon Women Blog for sharing this.

Advice to New Missionaries and their Mums…part 2

As mums and dads, most of us are prepared for the day our sons and daughters will leave us. But it is still not easy. Can we imagine how hard it was for our Heavenly Father to bid each of us farewell from his presence?

He knows what it is like.

But he also knows that it is for our good. Most certainly that it is necessary for our progression, and our ability to return to Him again one day.

As we prepare for the day our child/children leave on their mission/s, it is important for us to reflect on the scripture Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

There is so much more to this scripture than just a personal application. When we consider it in terms of all mankind, then the work of a missionary does not only involve a personal journey, but it brings with it an extension of salvation to all mankind. This is a truth that the Lord would have each of us understand as we prepare our children to serve Him.

As hard as it is to usher our children out the door as independent souls, if we can maintain just such a focus, then we are more equipped to anticipate the great blessings that can be theirs, ours, and all mankinds.

How easy will it be for you to say goodbye?

What parents can do to prepare themselves for their missionary’s departure:

I had to put this one in, as I have noticed that for many families it is harder for the parents to let go of their child than it is for the missionary to leave.

  1. Make sure you have a plan in place for after your missionary leaves. That may be as simple as deciding to not think about your missionary too much each day, or as complex as writing down a daily routine of things to do that will help you focus more on your life rather than theirs.
  2. Step back from your child’s life a little bit more each day leading up to their departure, and allow them to make more decisions on their own – even if it means they make some mistakes. Allow them to face those mistakes and work out for themselves how to correct them. This can be very hard when you have protected them all their lives, but it is critical to their independence and success as a missionary.
  3. Learn to nurture a positive attitude within your life. As you speak positive words, your missionary will feel that positive energy and feel that they are being supported in the choice they have made.
  4. Join a Missionary Moms email group for the area your missionary will be serving in. Connect with other mums out there. You will make some great friendships along the way as well as to talk to like-minded people. Many times also you will connect with MMs who are in the area your child will be serving, and you can have some unique contact experiences along the way.
  5. Focus on the work they will be doing, not on the date they will be returning home.
  6. Remember, in raising your child your aim has always been to prepare them for independence. This is the first big step towards that. Allow them to experience this, as it will set them up for success for the rest of their lives and into the eternities.

Write an email to your missionary once a week.

What parents can do to support their missionary in the field:

  1. Email to your missionary once a week. Any more than that and it takes up their precious limited free time. Sending an occasional DearElder letter is a good thing too, as they love to get real mail in their hands. Try not to write more than once a week (unless you have been advised by the Mission President).
  2. Be uplifting, encouraging and inspiring in your words to them.
  3. Don’t give them details of problems at home. Don’t be secretive, but the missionary has no control over such issues, so keep it to a minimum, and focus on the positives/blessings of such things.
  4. Have a note pad handy that you can jot thoughts down every day – this could include things that you and your family have done through the week, or spiritual thoughts, scriptures or principles you have learnt in the week. Taking this note pad to church each week will allow you to record spiritual promptings you have had during class and meetings. Share these things with your missionary in your weekly email – or share them in a separate DearElder letter.
  5. Spend time with your local ward missionaries – prepare meals for them, assist in joint teaching opportunities etc – so you can feel of the spirit your son/daughter will be carrying with them in their service.
  6. Tell your missionary regularly how proud you are of them, for the sacrifice and commitment they are making.
  7. Send them photos of family regularly.

Some strong DONT’S:

  1. DO send care packages, but DON’T send frivilous toys or gadgets. Limit it to just food, spiritual material and letters of encouragement.
  2. Don’t cause them to break mission rules. This may be done in innocence, but the first law in heaven is obedience, and if they are forced to break mission rules just because you want to see them while they are in the MTC (or whatever else), then that is stopping them from being the best missionary they can be.
  3. Don’t send music or MP3 player, iPad, iPods etc to your missionary. These are items that are not approved for missionaries. Each mission decides what music is appropriate for missionaries to listen to, so abide by those rules, just as your missionary is expected to abide by them.
  4. Don’t make them feel that all you are interested in is when they will be coming home. The time they have in the mission field is so small compared to the time you have them in your care, so allow them to make the most of it.
  5. Don’t stress if they miss sending an email one week. It usually means they are extremely busy. If there is a problem you will be notified by the mission office.

I may have missed some other important points, so please share with us some of your thoughts.

The Measure of a Hero

My school experience was not the best. I was not particularly academic, and I didn’t show any real promise with sports. So I was less than enthusiastic about school life, and in fact ended up leaving high school when I was just 16 years old.

But even at that very young age I knew that I had more in me. I just couldn’t find the key to unlock my potential at the time. I can’t really pin down what it was about my school life that held me back. Maybe the school system, maybe a lack of opportunity, or maybe it was just my indifference to the expectations that everyone placed on me. Aside from all this, I still remember thinking to myself when I stepped out of the classroom for the last time at 16, “I will come back to this one day, I know I can do it, I’m just not ready for it now”.

It was to be another 4 years before the dimmer switch began to turn on inside my head, and I was able to return to the classroom to complete my high school studies. It was there I discovered that I actually did have academic ability, and I had been selling myself short for far too long. At that point I really felt like I had won a personal race in my life. It might have only been the 100 meters breaststroke (swimming was the only sport I ever showed any promise in), but it was a start…

It would be another 30 years before I really discovered what I had in me. As I come to the close of 6 years of working and studying for a university degree, I am now able to reflect on just how important it is for each of us to work to find the key that can unlock our potential in life – whatever that potential is.

The World Stage

Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic f...

Olympic flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last week I have sat and watched much of the wonderful sporting feats of our world Olympians. While it excites me to see the amazing results of those who stand on the dais to receive their medals, I also wonder about what it took for them to get there. We rarely hear the real stories of struggle and sacrifice that it takes.

While I am pretty sure that just about every athlete who participates in the Olympics has had their struggle to get to where they are, my mind reflects back to my school years and how the system always (and still does) rewarded those who came 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. At school heroes where built around these numbers. But I am not sure that this is a very healthy way to celebrate it.

Now that I look back on the growth that I have experienced over the last 40 years, I am pretty sure we have it all wrong. I am questioning here the way in which we build the profile of a hero. Do we take it on face value that these ‘winners’ have struggled any more than those who didn’t make it on to the dais? Are we over-inflating their success at the expense of all those others out there who have put in as much, if not more, effort to make it to where they are?

My Hero

English: South African Paralympic runner Oscar...

Oscar Pistorius, Olympic Runner (Wikepedia)

This morning I sat and watched an Olympic semi-final for the men’s 400 meters race. I watched the man they call ‘The Blade Runner” run an Olympic race devoid of two legs. No, I am not talking about the Paralympics; I am talking about the Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa, was born with a condition that required both his legs to be amputated at a very young age. Where did he come in this semi-final?

Last…

But there in front of me was a hero. No story needed to be told to explain what this man had achieved in his life to get where he was. No medal was needed to define him as a world hero. Right there in front of me was someone who had found the key that had unlocked his potential. For me this will be one of the highlights of the Olympic games. For me he was the winner. This was the measure of a true hero.

What Manner of Men Ought Ye To Be?

So, you may be wondering what all this has to do with missionary work…

Well, maybe not much. But I am sure that each of us could apply this measure as we consider the lengths we have gone to become the best we could at whatever it is in our life.

As a missionary mum, I can measure myself as a hero as I prepare my children to be the best they can be. I can also measure myself as a hero as I honour the role of my missionary daughter and support her in her efforts.

My daughter, as a missionary, can be measured as a hero as she works daily to dedicate her life to serving the Lord in the best way she knows. It has nothing to do with numbers, but everything to do with the process of her becoming.

In a recent talk by Brad Wilcox (Time Out For Women, Auckland) he reminded me that this life is not about earning heaven, but more about learning heaven. He also stated that, “We are not called human ‘doings’, but we are called human ‘beings’”. Our outward actions are not what the Lord is measuring us by, but he is far more concerned about what we are becoming on the inside.

So when we consider the measure of a hero, lets go beyond what the world would have us consider it. It is not about earning a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Neither is it about earning a gold, silver, or bronze. But it is more about the journey taken and the way in which we have been changed and transformed through it.

The Lord asked this simple question of his disciples, “…what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” 3 Nephi 27:27

You’ve Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray!

Happy Birthday

(Image from Wikipedia.com)

Have you noticed that as your children get older, it gets harder and harder to pick the right gift for them on their birthday? I don’t know about you, but I find myself falling into the same old habit of handing over an envelope of money on their big day and saying, “Go buy what you want”.

What a cop-out!

Well, when my daughter had a birthday while on her mission, the problem was even worse. She doesn’t have time to go out and shop for what she wants. She probably doesn’t even want to think about that kind of thing.

It is all so important for missionaries to maintain their focus on the work, so the difficulty of what to give them becomes that much more difficult.

After much thought and consideration, particularly when considering cost of postage, I decided on sending her a party in a box. This party consisted of a tiara (with instructions to her companion that my daughter had to wear it for the whole time they were in their apartment that day), balloons, a banner, and party poppers. I also included a flash drive, a CD of church music, some earrings, lip balm, as well as a packet of Australian chocolate for her companion as a thankyou gift for throwing the party in her honour.

Result? A hit!

But everyone is different and recently, through the LDS missionary mums email group I belong to, several mums discussed this topic. There were some fantastic suggestions.

Would you be surprised to know that candy, treats and other food items were way down on the list of things most missionaries wanted for their birthday?

Other thoughts on the matter raised issues about luggage space, an items usefulness, cost of mailing larger items, quarantine regulations in certain countries, and helping to maintain their missionaries focus on the work.

So here is a list of some of those suggestions:

General Items:

  1. Fill a box with balloons (not inflated) and place thoughtful notes, pictures, quotes, and letters from family and friends inside.
  2. A huge birthday card with messages from the family and a current photo.
  3. A T-shirt with a family inspired transfer on the front that includes the mission they are serving in and the dates they served.
  4. 2nd hand gospel books. Send a list of them to your missionary and ask them to pick one or two. Amazon.com also offers second hand books that they will deliver directly.
  5. An empty quote book that they can add to as they progress in their mission. You can also send them quotes to include.
  6. Teaching aids and games that they can use to assist in their teaching. Check out lesson manuals on www.lds.org, and other LDS Primary websites (www.sugardoodle.com) for ideas.
  7. Latest conference edition of the Ensign.
  8. Small 5×7 images from Deseret Book Store that can be displayed on their walls, and are small enough to transport around.
  9. Toothbrush, their favourite floss and toothpaste.
  10.  Some fun, small, cheap souvenirs from their home country that they can share with investigators, children etc.
  11. Appropriate music CDs (if allowed in the mission).
  12. USB memory stick if they have a camera
  13. Stationary

For Elders:

  1. Ties – sometimes elders feel that they have little chance to express themselves through their clothes, so a variety of ties helps to add colour to their day.
  2. Tie pins – if your missionary is serving in a foreign country then it is fun for them to have pins that represent the country they come from.
  3. Fresh white shirt.
  4. Socks, spare p-day shirt

For Sisters:

  1. Scarves
  2. Earrings
  3. Lip gloss or lip balm
  4. Pantyhose, socks, and T-shirts for P-day.

Food:

  1. Their favourite snack item – pop tarts, candy, and beef jerky etc
  2. Birthday box – cake mix, frosting, candles, party hats, balloons etc. **Beware that some countries have quarantine restrictions on certain foods, such as flour, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Always check with the countries quarantine laws first.
  3. Homemade cookies without butter (can go rancid if it contains butter and has to go a long distance).

The list is endless.

What have you sent your missionary in the past?

I am sure that there are many more ideas out there, and I am sure there are many missionary mums who would love to have some more suggestions.

Mormons in Australia

From MMM I would like to wish each of you a happy Easter, and hope that you can take time over this weekend to ponder on the significance of events that took place over 2,000 years ago. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of our Saviour, who has allowed us the opportunity to live again.

I have  included a video here on the 2012 World Report on ‘Mormonism in Australia’. So if you have some time please have a look at it. Missionary work here in Australia has come a long way, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Some of those people highlighted on this video are personal friends, and my families associations with them have extended back to well before my childhood.

Thanks for visiting…and I look forward to reading your comments.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip…

The suitcase of Faith

Our missionary outside the MTC with her suitcase of Faith

It was almost 12 months ago that our family crammed into the family car and drove out to the airport to bid farewell to our daughter, the newest missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Preparing for that day involved, not only concerted spiritual readiness, but also foresight into what clothing needs she would have. Gone are the days when missionaries were expected to embark with, “…no purse, nor scrip, nor shoes…”(Luke 10:4)

For us, that preparation took on quite a unique nature.

While our missionary daughter was already well prepared with much of her personal clothing needs, coming from the fairly temperate climate of the pacific, she was not ready for the possible sub-zero weather conditions of mid-western USA.

As all mothers do, I panicked. My daughter was going to die from hypothermia on some quiet Utah street. Four months out from her departure, and from our humble abode in Sydney, Australia, I could not imagine how we were ever going to kit her out with enough warm clothes to avoid this outcome.

Typically, my daughter seemed to think that she could survive on what she had…

This was probably the first time I had to contemplate the principle of ‘faith’ as the mother of a missionary. But, desperate times require desperate measures…well that’s how I saw it anyway.

Coincidentally, my husband and I were heading out on a trip to General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah just three weeks before she departed. So a plan was hatched…

With shopping list in hand, my spare time while over there was spent ticking off each item. With the help of my husband, and lots of size guessing, I managed to fill one middle size suitcase with winter-ready clothes. Part one of my plan was complete.

Part two required that faith I was fast acquiring…I left the suitcase there. That’s right, I didn’t take it home with me.

My daughter had a total of one day, upon arrival in Utah, to try the clothes on and make any exchanges or adjustments needed. How’s that for an exercise in faith? I say, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

I am pleased to report that I not only managed to please her with my design choices, she actually survived the freeze of her first winter in America.

I am sure many of you were faced with similar decisions when helping your missionary prepare for their adventure. I would love to hear your story here.

Bringing Depth to This Blog

So I have now officially launched this blog, and to give it some depth I have published a facebook page as well. Come what may…

I kicked it off with a link to a great video clip by Julie B. Beck. Did you know that the principle of blogging is taught in the scriptures, and it was taught by a women? Hahahaa, I love it!

I also love that our church leaders are embracing social media, and encouraging us to do likewise.

But I will let Julie B. Beck explain what blogging should be all about for us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Julie B. Beck on Blogging

A Mother’s Mission

Our family has a long history of missionary service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). With the first LDS missionary arriving on the shores of this great country of Australia in the 1850’s, we are proud to have since contributed to that written history.

My husband’s aunt was the first full time missionary in our family. Back in the 1950s, she set the example for generations to come.

Both my husband and myself served proselyting missions: He in the Philippines Manila Mission (1975-77), and me in the Australia Perth Mission (1980-82). Over the years, our extended family has contributed to the worldwide LDS missionary force with close to 50 individuals serving variously in all four corners of the world.

Along with my daughter, who is currently serving (Apr ‘11-Nov ‘12),  we have also had recently three nephews serving in the Sydney Australia Mission, Ghana Africa Mission, and Milan Italy Mission.

The highlight of that contribution by our family would have to be when my husband’s brother recently served as Mission President over the Australia Perth Mission. He initially served there as a 19-year-old proselyting missionary back in 1977-79. So to be able to go back and preside over your own mission, some 30 years later, would have to be one of the greatest honors for an individual.

With all this experience, you might say that I would have all the answers. But from my seat, as I type this narrative, I keenly feel the difference between serving a mission and being a family member at home supporting a missionary.

My daughter is the first of my four children to make this commitment. How deeply I feel the need as a mother to ensure that she makes the most of the time she has out there. This is my current mission.

While I have a rich missionary heritage to draw from, I decided to start this blog so I could, not only share my experiences along the way, but, as the blog title suggests, create a meeting place where like minded mums and families can come to share and talk all things ‘missionary’ – after all, there are well over 50,000 of you out there.