Sunday, October 07, 2012

We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet, To Guide Us in These Latter Days.

When I was a child, I remember looking forward to conference only in hopes that they would announce something life-changing over the pulpit like; "God has revealed the end of the world will happen next August. Get ready." or, "All saints are commanded to migrate to New Zealand." Something like that. Such an announcement obviously never came, but that didn't stop me from getting my hopes up every six months.

Last conference there was quite a big announcement. I was delighted with the news that the Provo Tabernacle would be rebuilt into a Temple, making Provo the first city in the world to have two Temples. Even though it was a very exciting announcement, I found myself over that stage in my life. Instead, I look forward to conference for (gasp) the talks.

So the announcement that was made Saturday morning came as a shock. My reaction went something like this:

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19."

Me: "Huh. How exciting. That's great."

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "...We have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve."

Me: "Gasp! Oh my gosh! Be quite! Listen! LISTEN!"

Prophet Thomas S Monson: "Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."

Me: "WHAT?! Oh wow! Did you hear that?! Did you hear?! Nineteen! Nineteen! Two years earlier! How wonderful! Oh! That is so great! Oh my goodness. Oh wow. Oh my goodness.Ash! Did you hear?! You can go two years earlier! You'll be back before you're twenty-one! That is amazing! Oh, that is so great!"

It was a great moment; The moment in conference I had been looking forward to as a child.

Later, as I thought about the impacts that change would have, I was awed by what a wonderful change this is, in so many ways, for so many reasons. And then I had a sobering thought:  This will really date me. This announcement is equal to the changes of making church a three hour block meeting on Sundays, instead of spread out through the whole week. Or that missions would be limited to two years instead of two and a half or three. Someday I will be asked if I went on a mission when I was nineteen, and I would have to explain that when I was nineteen, the age limit was twenty-one. And then whomever I tell that to will gasp and their eyes will get really big and they'll say: Wow! You are SO OLD!"  Just like I did to those people who went to church over the course of a week, or served a three-year mission.  Ah, well. I suppose it's poetic justice. And well worth it.


  1. There was also a short time period, about 2 years, where young men went for 18 month missions. It proved ineffective and was changed back to 2 years. If you were a missionary then, you can date yourself precisely! (I wasn't but some friends were)

    This was really exciting news, wasn't it? I think it will be life-changing for so many young people. Your cousin KW is right at the age to change his plans entirely!

    BTW I went to church as a child in the three hour block! Try to figure that one out! I guess I'm younger than you thought I was! And no, I did not have my eldest child at the age of 10, nor my youngest, T, at 17. LOL.

    Definitely a wonderful change, and I hope the MTC is gearing up for it! T says winter is the slow time there, so that's helpful. The drop-off policy already instituted shows a wonderful foresight.

    Okay, I'll give...around the world some wards and branches with far-flung members held all their Sunday meetings at once, but we had junior Sunday School when the adults had Sunday School, and still had weekday Primary. So I went 3-hour block until about age 14, then "normal" for 4-5 years, then my first year in college they instituted 3-hour block. While all my friends at BYU were stunned and wondering how that would work, I was going "hurray!" There are advantages to both ways, but I love the "block" church, and it certainly cuts down on travel cost and time.

    The talks were a wonderful feast for me this year. I guess I'm finally growing up! Not enough to refrain from pointing out that there are already two temples in one city, Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain. Still, my family was excited about Provo, since Finance Guru remembers going to a regional conference there when he was 7!

  2. Maybe this is a silly question - but what would the argument be for the 1-year difference between young men and women? Why not both 18?

  3. What a great question! We should start a debate in the comments! Quick answer: I don't know, but God does.
    My theory:
    I have heard it said by many people, that it is a very good idea to keep women missionaries older than the boy missionaries. If the boy missionaries were older, there would be more trouble.
    Also, in my opinion, 19 is the perfect age for sister missionaries. It's after High school and either a semester or two into college, or before college. It's at a time when girls just don't know what they want to do with their lives. This will give them direction, not to mention something to work toward. That's just my thoughts.

  4. It was very popular when I was around that age for kids to do AmeriCorps instead of going to college right away (what ever happened to that?). I think there is definitely wisdom in taking that time off from school - so many people go straight to college and are not motivated enough to continue. That angst hit me between undergraduate and graduate school - and so I dropped out of graduate school a few months in and never went back.

    What's nice to see is the willingness of a religion to accept and incorporate new insights.

  5. Yes! When I was in High School, I read a study that said kids who took a year off between high school and college got higher grades, higher degrees, and tended to enjoy the college life more. So I think this move will also improve women's education.

    And as for willingness to accept new insights, I was thinking that our children don't stay children for very long anymore. Teenagers are very world-savvy, even though they aren't mature enough to call them adults. I thought that this was a great way to acknowledge that earlier development, and give them direction so they can mature faster as well.
    Like I said, I'm very excited about this. I think this is a good move on so many levels.


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