Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sister Missionaries: The Respect They Deserve

Now That I've sent my little brother on a mission, I'm thinking of all sorts of things that I wish I told him before he left. Some of them, I'm positive He knows or will figure out quickly. Others will probably take a while. This is one of those things that I'm sure he knows, but that I saw a lot of Elders in my own mission never figure out:
Sister Missionaries are the best. That's right, I said it. They rock. During my first few months as a missionary, I unfortunately heard from several Elders that sister missionaries were basically all out there to vacation. They were lazy, and they all thought that they were more worthy of the priesthood than the Elders. First of all, FALSE. Second of all, numbers do not lie. On my BEST weeks and transfers, I could usually count on the sister missionaries in my district or zone doubling my numbers. All of them. Yes, that includes baptisms. Sister missionaries are machines. They know what they teach, they believe it, and they're dang good at teaching it. These courageous and talented young women are out for the right reasons.
Now lets turn the tables for a moment. I didn't meet a single sister missionary on my mission who was a slacker, or who didn't give it her all. But Elders! I don't know how many of them I met that were vacationing, or who were lazy, and some who had no idea why they were out. The sad part was, these were the missionaries who were complaining about sister missionaries.
Now, I am not saying that ALL sister missionaries are flippin awesome. I'm sure there are exceptions. I just never met one. And only a few elders were out for the wrong reasons, or because they had to be, or because they were "'posed to." It will happen, since there are just more Elders than Sisters. And LDS men have more pressure on them to serve a mission- but this isn't an excuse to slack off.
To all you prospective Sister Missionaries, and to all those currently serving or who have since returned, you are, and ought to be held in the highest regard. For those of you who choose to serve because you want to, and because your testimony is burning bright, I commend you, and hold you in the highest regards. I know that you got or will get push-back for wanting to go, or while you're out, or even after you get back. You don't deserve to be looked down upon. You deserve to be honored.
To all you wonderful women who have NOT served missions, you also should be held in the highest regard. If you choose to start a family, or pursue your education and a career, you will likely receive push-back no matter which path you choose. You are no less strong or grounded than those who have the opportunity to serve a mission, and equally deserving of respect.
So to all you prospective Elders, and to all you who are serving or have served, remember this: Sister Missionaries can do it as well as you can. They work hard, they receive inspiration, and they see miracles, and ARE miracles every day. There are people out there that only THEY can reach. And those people are just as common as the people that only YOU can reach. So give Sister Missionaries some respect. They deserve it.

This post can also be found at my blog about LDS feminism.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Brother on a Mission: The older brother's wrestle to accept it

It wasn't so long ago that I left on my mission. I was eager to go. I thought leaving my family for two years would be harder, but the tears were short-lived, and easily outnumbered by the tears I shed when I had to come back home. I had a hard time understanding why people would say "I can't wait for you to come back home!" It was almost insulting. I loved being a missionary. Loved it. Why would anyone want to take that away from me?
I get it now. My little brother Collin just left on his mission a couple weeks ago. Collin and I are the closest of friends. I love that kid. He's an inspiration to me, and is already far ahead of where I was at the same point on my mission. He'd never allow that comment to stand, insisting that he feels like he hasn't moved anywhere accept to Mexico, but that's precisely why he's so far ahead. The kid is humble.
Anyway, I was saying that I understand where people were coming from when they wanted me to come home. I hope the next two years go by quickly. I don't hope for him to come home early, but I hope the next two years go by quickly for me, and slow enough for him. Its hard to wish that. It would be so easy to wish He could just come home tomorrow. And what if I want to talk to him right now? This minute? Tough. he sent his email today, and there won't be another one until next week. and maybe he'll respond to you next week, because he didn't have time to today. Maybe. Is this what he was going through while I was on MY mission?! Respect just went up. It is HARD. Now that he's out, I want to talk to him all the time. Its funny how when you lose something, you realize just how much you relied on it.
Collin is my only brother. I love all my siblings, but there is a special bond between brothers. I assume there's a similar bond between sisters, but having never been one, I can't speak to that. Anyway. The bond of brothers runs deep. Both of us have injured the other. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It happened. But we grew from it. That time when he punched me in the face? I deserved it. We laugh about it now. That one time when I accidentally threw him right into the bed frame and his head took the brunt of it? Oops... No (real) damage done, and yes, we laugh about it now. And we did all those other weird/gross things that only boys can think are funny, and they really were hilarious. At the time. Probably. But we also were able to speak about deep things, spiritual things, embarrassing things, emotional things. Believe it or not, we got emotional around each other, and it was ok. I know things about him that no one else knows, and vice versa. And we both know it will stay that way (no need to worry Mom and Dad- they're basically all just embarrassing things :P).
I watched him move from being unsure of his testimony and who he was and what he was supposed to do, to knowing, with fervent zeal that he is a son of God, that he was called to serve him, and that we would do just that- with all his heart, might, mind, and strength. He prepared like I've never seen any one prepare, and that kid entered the Mexico MTC an Elder, prepared from the beginning and endowed with power from on high to preach the word of God and be the instrument through which God will restore many of His children to the knowledge of their savior and their divine potential. What an amazing gift!
I have always loved and bragged all over my brother, but I have never been more proud of him. He is a man. He has "put away childish things" if you will. He has put everything on hold for two years, and yes, that includes me. That includes our Mom. That includes his music, his school, his friends. All on hold. And is it worth it? Of course. Of course it is.
God Speed brother. May God lift you when you fall, and strengthen you when you are weak, speak through your mouth to his children, and work with your hands to serve them. I know He will.
And to all you who are still reading and watched this take a turn for the personal and sentimental, deal with it. I love my brother.
To all the other brothers out there who are missing their brothers on missions, whether they be brothers by blood or brothers by bond, don't take this time for granted. Don't wish your brothers home soon. Encourage them to keep going, and to lose themselves in the work. That's what they need. They need to hear it from you. They expect to hear it from their Moms and Dads. But they need to hear it from you. Write to them regularly so that they know that they still matter to you, and that you are praying for them. Let them know that you want them to succeed. Do not tell them how many days/weeks/months they have left. Most of all, tell them you love them, and that you look up to them, and that you are glad that they are there, and not at home. They need to know that YOU know that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. The support of a brother is powerful. Few things are more powerful. Be free with your support, and give it all, and they will teach and preach with power. This I know. Because it is what happened to me. Now I hope to  be the same for him, as he was for me.