Here is an inspiring article from Maurine Proctor at Meridian about community service projects undertaken by missionaries in Washington, D.C. I think this sort of thing is great, and that missionaries should be doing much more of it, not less. But apparently there is a Church-wide rule limiting service hours to four per week per companionship.
I hate to steady the ark (well, not really), but hellooo! Isn’t anyone paying attention? The goodwill generated by these kinds of efforts is invaluable. Why not allow 20 hours per week (the older standard)? This kind of service can be done at off-peak times so as not to adversely affect proselyting. Does anyone seriously think that 16 fewer hours of morning tracting a week is going to make a material difference in missionary success, especially given the substantial gains in openness and acceptance that comes from such hands-on community involvement? Isn’t this four-hour limit policy short-sighted?
(I freely admit that I’m just envious that we didn’t get to do any service like this back in the neolithic age when I served my mission.)