Sisters Serving Missions

Sisters Serving Missions

Below are some quotes from the prophets regarding young women and sisters servings missions.

When President Monson announced the lower age requirement for young women to serve as sister missionaries, he said: “We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable, to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.” (Welcome to Conference, President Thomas S. Monson, October 2012)

Regarding this same announcements, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “those [women] who do serve are stunningly successful and we enthusiastically welcome your service…Personally, I am absolutely delighted if this change in policy allows many, many more young women to serve.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Regarding single sisters serving as missionaries: We need some young women. They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders cannot. But it should be kept in mind that young sisters are not under obligation to go on missions. They should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men, but some will wish to go. If so, they should counsel with their bishop as well as their parents” (“To the Bishops of the Church,” Worldwide Leadership Training).

Mormon Sister Missionaries

Here are some other posts related to young women and sisters serving missions that you may want to check out:

Sister Missionary Clothing Advice

Please note: The dress standards for sister missionaries were recently updated with guidelines that contain more current and colorful styles. You can find the official guidelines on appearance for missionaries at the Provo MTC website. Also see the article called Sister missionaries get a new wardrobe on LDSLiving.com.

sister-missionaries-clothing-dress-appearanceI asked our panel of returned sister missionaries: What should future sister missionaries know about clothing and what advice would you have for them on dress and appearance?

Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission, Katie Gividen

“You are on the Lord’s errand and you should represent Him. Being a missionary we need to portray to the world the message that God is sending, and in a big way we say a lot by how we take care of ourselves and dress. You should dress appropriately for the area that you are in. I needed to wear clothing that I could walk in and get around in. I couldn’t wear straight skirts unless it was to a zone conference or meetings that would last all day. There are reasons that you want your legs to be able to breath and not be restricted. Just make sure that you have both types of skirts and not just straight skirts. It will help a lot in medical areas.”

New York Utica Mission, Kristin Wardle Sokol

“I passionately feel that it is of the utmost importance for Sister Missionaries to look classy, current and fashionable. This absolutely can be done with practicality. Being frumpy and old-fashioned turns off people who otherwise might be interested in hearing the message. No one wants to talk to an unattractive woman, where generally it is more acceptable for men to be unkempt. Like or not that’s the way the world is. How you look speaks volumes about who you are and what you represent. People can’t help but judge. If you don’t care about the way you look. Others may not care about what you have to say. Bring an adequate amount of make-up and other beauty supplies to keep you looking your best through the entire 18 months. Make looking your best everyday a priority.”

Temple Square Visitors Center Mission, Patti Rokus

Let go of pride. Don’t be afraid to dress less than spectacular. Keep is super simple and easy to care for, so you don’t have to spend as much time carrying it around, and carefully cleaning it and ironing it.”

Arizona Tucson Mission, Jessica Rex

“Thankfully the Brethren have approved a new dress and grooming standard for sister missionaries – no nylon requirement, colors and prints are encouraged, and skirts must cover the knee when sitting down. Beyond that, you should be assured that what you are wearing, and the message that you are sending through your clothing is a message of being a representative of Jesus Christ.”

Argentina Neuquen Mission, Laura Daniels

“I guess it depends on where you go. My mission was in the southern part of South America so it was very cold. We tried to look nice but mostly we just bundled up over our skirts. We also walked everywhere and most roads weren’t paved so we wore comfortable, durable shoes that got muddy a lot. (At night we would take them off by the door and wash the dirt and rocks off in the sink the next morning.) I wish I had brought a few nicer outfits with nice shoes for mission conferences and baptisms, but for the most part those weren’t needed in my mission. We were definitely encouraged to wear make-up and look the best we could though.”

Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission, JoLynn Hansen

“Be comfortable but not sloppy. Our mission President reminded us that we shouldn’t look like college student even though most of us carried back packs, but to dress as representatives of Christ. Wear long johns under clothes in the winter, and wear breathable COTTON garments in the summer. Especially in humid areas. Otherwise you will have a female problem… Wear good shoes. Washcloths and or handkerchiefs were used to wipe away sweat from the humidity.”

Montana Billings Mission, Wendi Condie

“Keep it simple. When I served, the Church sent out a list, with pictures and all, of what was acceptable/required. I don’t know how much has changed since then, and each mission will have a little bit different circumstances. I was in an extremely rural, so some of our clothing was more rugged and sturdy than it would be in some other areas. Dress shoes were for Sundays and meetings only–the rest of the time was “work/walking” shoes. I was also in an area where it was very cold. Warmth often won out over appearance of clothing. Don’t get too fancy. Follow the instructions in your call, and from your mission specifically. You don’t want to spend hours getting ready, but you do want to be clean and look nice. Plan to wear out your clothes and shoes. If you are working hard, your clothing will reflect it. Make sure you like what you are wearing, and that it is comfortable. Again, each mission will be a little different, but it is important to be dressed appropriately for your activity.”

Arizona Tucson Mission, Emily Craghead

“From what I understand the mission standards have changed a little bit from when I was a missionary. It’s really important to remember that you are a representative of the Lord. That doesn’t mean you have to look bland and boring, but tasteful and classy. Also, where you’re serving is important– your mission president will most likely send you a packet of information concerning your mission clothes standards.”

A Day In The Life of Sister Missionaries

Note: While the responses below and the video above give the female, sister missionary, perspective, a majority of the advice is equally applicable to the young men and future Elders.

I asked my panel of returned sister missionaries: What is a typical “day in the life” of a sister missionary like?

Argentina Neuquen Mission, Laura Daniels

“It was probably similar to life as an Elder: get up at 6:30, get ready, breakfast, personal study, companionship study, testimonies and out to work at 9:30. We would work till about 1:00 and have lunch with one of the members. Then we worked from 2:00 until 9:30 when we’d go home, eat a snack, write in our journals and go to bed at 10:30. The one major difference for a sister, at least where I was, was that Elders weren’t allowed to teach women that were alone so we got a lot of referrals from them. My last area was the whole city overlapping 3 other areas of Elders and our sole purpose was to teach the women that the Elders couldn’t teach. We were always busy there and didn’t have to knock too many doors because of it. That was definitely a blessing of being a sister missionary. My mission president begged for more good sisters that could teach all the women. They are certainly needed!”

Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission, JoLynn Hansen

“Get up on time. Companion and personal prayer, eat, get ready for the day, companionship study, personal study of scriptures, language, discussions etc. Review schedule again, pack a lunch, Book of Mormon, and pamphlets. You then have companionship prayer before heading out the door. Go to appointments. Knock doors if appointments aren’t there. Talk to everyone. Get chased by a dog, sweat, laugh, cry, feel the spirit, perform service. Eat when you can. More appointments. Home on time. Eat dinner, go through schedule for the next day, make phone calls, companionship prayer, write in journal, personal prayer, set the alarm, lights out!”

New York Utica Mission, Kristin Wardle Sokol

“Looking back it was a wonderful break from this crazy thing called life. It was a refreshing break. While I was serving, each day was a challenge. Being too cold, working too hard or long, being too hungry or too disappointed or tired. Rejection was also a big part of daily life. I also experienced great joy. But a lot of it was very difficult to endure. I wouldn’t have changed a moment of what I experienced, but sisters should know what really awaits them if the serve. Sometimes I even miss tracting. I never thought I’d say that.”

Montana Billings Mission, Wendi Condie

“We had a daily schedule that we followed, but each day was a little different, depending on what we had planned. In the morning we got up at 6:30, got ready, had breakfast, and had at least an hour of study. We had individual prayer and study, and companionship prayer and study. We were out the door by 9:30am and gone until lunch time. We’d be home for an hour for lunch, and then out again until we had a dinner appointment. We spent an hour in a members home for dinner, and then were out again in the evening for a few hours. As sisters, we were required to be home by 8:30pm. and in bed by 10pm. In the morning hours if we didn’t have teaching appointments, we would do some tracting. In the afternoon we often did service, and spent time searching out to less active and “lost” members. Of course some of this was specific to my mission, and each mission is a little different, but the components are the same. Prepare yourself in the morning, and go out seeking and serving others. Occasionally the Spirit would direct us in a different direction than we had planned, and there was always a reason. Listening to the Spirit is the key! Some days were mentally and physically exhausting, without anything seemingly positive occurring, other days put you on a spiritual high because of a wonderful discussion, or a new contact who was interested.”

Temple Square Visitors Center Mission, Patti Rokus

“A Visitors Center (VC) mission is quite different from a proselyting mission. and I hear the Temple Square mission has changed a lot since I was there. So I’m not sure I have current information. But having visitors and contacts surrounding you is an amazing difference. But not any different if you don’t reach out and engage them. Many sisters just didn’t know how to start up a compelling conversation. So, learning out to talk to strangers would be a great way to prepare for a mission.”

Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission, Katie Gividen

“Serving in Russia was a different experience all together. I walked everywhere, and covered a huge area. We had meetings every day all day because there were so many women that the Elders would contact that they could not teach. I rarely knocked doors or contacted on the street. There was a lot of reactivation and shadow leadership opportunities. I served in every capacity in all the auxiliaries ex. counselor in the YW, RS, and Primary. They were in need of guidance because the gospel was so new to the area. I am sure that a typical day would be a little different depending on the mission.”

Arizona Tucson Mission, Emily Craghead

“Wake: 6:30 am. Exercise: 6:30-7. Shower/get ready: 7-8. Personal study: 8-9. Companionship study: 9-10. Language study: 10-11. Teach/tract/find, etc: 11-1. Lunch: 1-2. Teach/tract/find, etc: 2-5. Dinner: 5-6. Teach/tract/find, etc: 6-9. We were allowed to be in by 9:30 at the latest if we were teaching a lesson. Plan for the next day: 9. Journals/prepare for bed: 9-9:30 (ish). Bed: 10:30. These are obviously the times of things but i have to say that missionary work is FUN! The spirit, the people, the knowledge you gain from being a missionary is un-like anything I’ve ever felt again. And honestly, I had a blast!”

Advice for Young Women Considering Serving a Mission

Mormon Young WomenI asked my panel of returned sister missionaries: How would you counsel a young woman who is not sure if she should go on a mission? Here are their responses:

“I would say to really ponder and pray about it; if it’s something that crosses your mind often, then I think that it’s something worth considering seriously. Make up your mind, one way or the other, and ask the Lord if that’s what He wants for you, and He’ll let you know.” Jessica Rex, Arizona Tucson Mission

“Be sure! A mission is no easy task. It is physically demanding and spiritually demanding. Each mission is different, but even where I served, it was tough. Why is it you are considering going? You have to have the desire! I saw more than one sister go home early, and it was always a sad thing, whatever the reason. Make sure you want to do it, and if you decide you do, be prepared! It will be much more difficult than you ever thought, but it will bring greater joy and happiness than you ever thought as well.

“As a sister, you aren’t required to go, but sisters bring something that sometimes Elders can’t. We worked with one particular family, and I know that if it were Elders that worked with them, we wouldn’t have seen the same success. With them, it was necessary. I can’t exactly explain why, each circumstance is different. Go because you have a desire to serve the Lord, and want to serve others, not because someone wants you to do it. My mission was a great experience and great preparation for the rest of my life, but was not a cake walk. If you are not sure, find your answer. The Lord will bless you, follow His guidance.” Wendi Condie, Montana Billings Mission

Mormon Women“Don’t go unless the spirit specifically directs you to do so.” Kristin Wardle Sokol, New York Utica Mission

“Prayer and searching the scriptures for direction. I always knew I wanted to go, but I really tried to find the confirmation about whether it was right or not. I kept a scripture journal and looked back on it when I was getting ready to put in my papers. Everything in my scripture reading pointed to me going on a mission. I knew that the Lord was leading me in the right direction through the answers I got from the scriptures.” Laura Daniels, Argentina Neuquen Mission

“Pray and read your scriptures. The answer might not come immediately, but keep praying to know. A mission isn’t for everyone. The young men are the ones that have been commanded to serve. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t go. If you do, great! Work hard and be obedient. Your life will be blessed. You can’t go wrong if you serve a mission. However, if the opportunity arises where you met your eternal companion, don’t make him wait. Marry him! :)” JoLynn Hansen, Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission

“A mission is a challenging and frustrating thing at times, but it is also rewarding and fulfilling as well. The decision for a young woman to serve a mission is different than for a young man. We are encouraged, but not required to serve a mission so therefore it requires us to really ask the Lord if that is what is right for us. Sometimes in life God allows us to make the decisions and then He supports us in that. Sometimes we just know that that is what God would have us do, and other times we know that there is something else that God needs us to do. I guess what I am saying is that God will support our righteous decisions.

“If we decided to go to school, get married, or something else then He will support us. It is when we know deep down that He needs us to serve His children somewhere in the world that we are held accountable for our decision should we choose not to serve a mission. God loves us so much and helps us along our way. I knew in my heart that a mission was what God needed me to do. Not everyone will feel that, and some will feel that they could choose either. God is a wonderful parent and allows us the opportunity to serve and grow in so many capacities. My advice is that you pray and really find out if God needs you to do something, whether that be serve a mission or whatever it may be.” Katie Gividen, Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission

“I think there are a few ways I could counsel young women about serving a mission: 1) I’ve always been under the impression that there’s a good, better, and best: for me going to school and working qualified as good and better…. but serving a mission was best. Going on a mission could be best for you. You’ve got to ask God that question. Your feelings will be a good indicator of what is right for YOU. However, sometimes if there are multiple good things for you to choose from, God might allow you to make the choice— and if that’s the case, go on a mission! :)” Emily Craghead, Arizona Tucson Mission

“Do it. What’s 18 months when it just might bring you closer to God than you’ve ever been; help you understand who you really are; bless the young Elders by showing them how it’s done when committed to it; and receiving life long blessings far out weighing the sacrifice for such short service.” Patti Rokus, Temple Square Visitors Center Mission

What are your thoughts? What’s your advice for a young woman thinking about going on a mission? We’d love to hear from sisters who didn’t go as well as those who did. Please share your comments.

Sister Missionaries, What Made You Decide to Serve?

Sister Missionaries Serving“My patriarchal blessing talks about me serving a full-time mission. After I graduated from Ricks College, I turned 21, and I wasn’t dating anyone at the time. I knew what my blessing stated, but felt I should still pray about serving. It took a few months before I got my answer. It was during my scripture study. I KNEW that I was suppose to serve, and I had the desire to serve. I felt so blessed to have the gospel. I felt in debt to the Lord.” JoLynn Hansen, Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission

“Growing up I always felt like I was going to go on a mission and had the desire to go. When my 21st birthday was approaching I prayed about it and got the impression not to go. I was shocked and mostly frustrated that my righteous desires were being met with an answer that I didn’t want. About 6 months after that I then felt the urge ‘Go and go now.’ I fought the feelings off for about 3 months until I finally talked to the bishop. I always had the feeling God would ask me to go when it wasn’t easy for me to go, when I had finally been accepted to a major I wanted and I finally felt like things were going ‘perfectly’ in my life. I’m so glad I listened– even though it was hard. My mission has blessed my life and will continue to bless me and my future prosperity forever, I know this.” Emily Craghead, Arizona Tucson Mission

“When I was about 12 another sister from my home ward went on a mission and I thought she was a great example. Since that time I knew I wanted to go. My patriarchal blessing also confirmed this decision.” Laura Daniels, Argentina Neuquen Mission

“My family means the world to me, and it is a huge blessing to know that I have the opportunity to be with them for all eternity, and I wanted more people to know of this opportunity that Heavenly Father has given to us.” Jessica Rex, Arizona Tucson Mission

“I had always thought that it would be really neat to go on a mission, but I never thought very serious about it until one day during a study group at BYU. We were studying for a final and one of the girls there had served a mission. I asked her a few questions about her mission, and the only thing that I remember her saying is that it was the best decision that she had ever made. I immediately felt a strong impression that I needed to make that decision for myself. I prayed about it shortly after that study group and felt so strongly that I needed to serve a mission. I have NEVER regretted my decision to serve a mission. It has blessed my life in ways that I never would have imagined. I would do it all over again, and hope to one day when I am able again.” Katie Gividen, Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission

“The spirit pestered me for years until I finally gave in at age 23.” Kristin Wardle Sokol, New York Utica Mission

“God. I didn’t plan to go, but when fasting for direction in my life, I got a distinct impression to serve. And so I did. I’m SO glad I did.” Patti Rokus, Temple Square Visitors Center Mission

“When I was 19, I knew some missionaries who were just awesome. My dad had served a mission, and I have an aunt who served. Those missionaries had a light and life about them that was so contagious, and I wanted that, and I wanted to share it. One of the biggest reasons I decided to serve were some statistics I heard about returned missionaries and their children being married in the temple. They said that if the father was a returned missionary, about two thirds of the children were married in the temple, but if both mother and father were returned missionaries, it jumped up to over 90%. I thought there was no greater blessing I could give my future, (and now current) children, than that extra boost towards temple marriage! Now this doesn’t mean that if you don’t serve, your children won’t be married in the temple, but for me, it was an impetus and a blessing! I had the desire, and the Lord blessed me with the ability to serve a mission, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that!” Wendi Condie, Montana Billings Mission

What are your thoughts? If you’re a returned sister missionary, what made you decide to go? Please share your comments.

Mission Preparation for Women and How It Differs from Men

Mormon Women MissionariesSister missionary specific inquiries from young women considering a mission are among the most common questions I get on this missionary preparation website. Because my perspective is that of a man, I have been unable to fully answer many of these questions. So I decided to reach out to several of my family and friends of the fairer sex to get their thoughts on some of these common sister missionary related questions about mission preparation for women.

This is the first in a series of articles geared especially to young women who are considering a mission or already preparing to serve in that capacity some day.

How is missionary preparation different for women than men?

“It is different in that there is always that chance that you won’t go. In a way it is a little more difficult because it is not an automatic next stage in a woman’s life like it is for the Elders. Other preparations would be spiritual, financial and physical, just like Elders.” Laura Daniels, Argentina Neuquen Mission

“Mission prep is different for a sister missionary in that we are older when we go out – we are more set in our lifestyle, and it is often times more difficult for sisters to adjust to having a companion 24/7, and having a schedule that they have to follow. We make our own decision to go – we are not commanded to go, but we still must decide to be perfectly obedient, even when it is difficult.” Jessica Rex, Arizona Tucson Mission

“We buy dresses, and they buy suits. LOL.” JoLynn Hansen, Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission

“I don’t know that preparation for a mission is much different. You have to be physically and spiritually strong, you have to know the gospel, you have to have a deeply rooted testimony, you have to have a desire to serve and share the gospel. Both young men and young women need all of these things.” Wendi Condie, Montana Billings Mission

“I would say that missionary preparation for both men and women are the same. It includes living a good life, and doing the little things that we are encouraged to do every day. Reading the scriptures, praying, serving, and trying our hardest to be in tune with what the Lord would have us do in our lives. Serving a mission is a wonderful opportunity, but it is also challenging in every way possible. There are very few things that I have done in life that have come close to the challenges that I had on my mission. If you are close to the Lord and trust in His will that is the best preparation that you can have.” Katie Gividen, Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission

“Men know of this life event for generally their whole entire lives, where women are not always preparing for it. So I’ve noticed that, financially, missions can be very straining for women, where some men have been saving up since they were little.” Emily Craghead, Arizona Tucson Mission

What are your thoughts on the differences in mission prep for women as opposed to men? Please share your comments.