A Poll: I went on a mission because….

There are four polls below:

*Note: It has been pointed out I left out, “of a desire to serve the Lord/preach the gospel.” Put that in the, “I felt prompted,” category.

**Note: I realize I should have put, “desire to distinguish myself from other men…” in the I did not serve category.

If you are a sister who didn’t serve because of pressure not to, what were the reasons given as to why you shouldn’t serve?

If you are a sister who served out of obligation/sense of duty, was it because you were 21 and not married? or some other reason?


  1. Ooohh…I’m interested to see how this shakes out.

  2. BirdHouseBirdy says:

    Felt obligated because my patriarchal blessing said that I had to go or the rest of my life would stink.

  3. Me too!

  4. I’m one of those people who had an extremely spiritual experience reading and praying about the Book of Mormon at the age of 13ish. From that moment on I didn’t even think about serving a mission because I knew I would go.

  5. There really should be one for women who got married before 21, would you have gone at 19?

  6. wonderdog says:

    I had received that mighty change of heart and wanted to share the gospel and follow the prophet.

  7. I joined the Church at age 22, and fell in love with my future wife at age 24. Against all logic, we both felt strongly prompted to serve missions. Both I and my fiancee (yes, we were engaged) served Missions (I left right before my 25th birthday, and got back from my mission just after turning 27), and then got married the month after I got returned. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  8. I realized at the age of 21 that I would be devastated if I got called English-speaking or to Idaho or something- which meant my priorities were all off (the point shouldn’t be to travel somewhere exotic or learn a new language). So I went on my own dime/time on a study abroad to learn a language for a few months. It’s a good thing, because a few months after I turned 21, I started dating my husband (who served English-speaking in Montana)…

  9. I felt prompted. Elder Eyring came to speak at our general conference, back before he was an Apostle. I was undecided, worried about the cost, when he came. He spoke about something other than missionary work, but he brought the Spirit with him. I felt a very strong impression that it was time. I turned to my friend sitting next to him and with great excitement said, “I’m putting my papers in now.” That was November 1994. By December, I finished the paperwork, the doctor and dentist visits. January 11, 1995, I received my call. February 8, 1995 I entered the MTC, and March 13, 1995, I was in Romania. So within four months, I was in the mission field.

  10. “i turned to my friend sitting next to ME” not ‘next to him’

  11. Your poll should allow multiple responses. Serving a mission was something that I wanted to do from childhood. I believed it was my responsibility as a member of the church and a bearer of the priesthood. And I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit–that there was nothing more important to do with my life at that time than serve a mission. I don’t know that I can assign primacy to any of those motives.

  12. Sharee Hughes says:

    In my 60s, I served a part time mission at the Family History Library. My bishop had suggested I consider it. I didn’t think I could as I was, at the time, caring for my elderly mother. But the Bishop said the mission would give me some time off from my care-giving and would be good for me. So I served for a year and my mother was able to get along without me the hours I was gone and everything worked out just fine. I do not regret serving and met many wonderful people during that time. What I don’t understand is why we single senior women can serve missions, but senior single men cannot. Anyone know the whys of that?

  13. Julia,
    That option is there. And I probably would have served around 20.

    Mark B.,
    True, but then it would be harder to shake things out. Yes, I wanted to go since childhood, but yes I felt prompted/desired to serve. There has been a lot of talk about motivations for going, especially women’s motivations–and also the claim men go out of pressure, I limited to responses to see the primary factors. I realize it’s difficult to distinguish which is a primary factor, but at least this way we don’t get secondary factors thrown in so much.

  14. I agree with Mark B, though for me, when the prompting came, I went. I’ve encouraged my kids to listen for that prompting, too, and to act on it when it comes. Interestingly, one daughter felt prompted NOT to go, and where she lives and works and serves in the church now, she may as well be on a mission. Another felt prompted to go and is serving now.

  15. it's a series of tubes says:

    Daniel, it appears that you were a contemporary of various friends of mine serving in Romania, including a lanky southern boy named Henderson.

  16. I was kind of rudderless and my family and leaders didn’t seem to care either way. Probably affected by an older brother dying of cancer a couple years earlier. Serving was a good experience, though I wish I could have made it longer than I had.

    For my wife, she was one of those who was being pressured by her family and leaders to go (and also had a strong desire to go), even though she was getting strong promptings not to go. Instead, she went to college far from home and did everything she could to help the sister missionaries out there. We’re both looking forward to when we’re financially solvent enough to be able to go as a couple, though it seems incredibly distant.

  17. I’m actually planning on going on my mission after this semester is over. I’ve felt like it is my duty to go and I’ve wanted to go since I was a child, but it wasn’t until this general conference that I felt prompted to go. I’m kind of nervous, but I’m really excited to share the gospel and to be serving at this historic time with the new changes.

  18. You left out the possible answer for man not going of being medically disqualified. That’s bigger than it used to be.

  19. Indeed, Justin.

  20. When I was 21 I prayed about serving a mission, and got a very clear, “No.” Ten years later, I still don’t know why. The way my life has thus far unfolded, I don’t believe a mission would have negatively impacted my education, marriage, or career.

  21. I’m not sure where it fits into the survey, but both all and none of the above apply to me. It’s just not anything I ever thought about as an option. I don’t mean it in a bad way. There was no, “You’re going on a mission or else!” talks or feelings. I never gave an indication that any such words were necessary. I always assumed I would go, figured I would go, planned on going, and wanted to go. I couldn’t pin down any single set of experiences that shaped my testimony and accordingly my desire to go. It was just a cumulative thing of living in an active family with 3 brothers ahead of me serving.

  22. it’s a series of tubes,


    yep, and I keep up with Henderson on facebook.

  23. Pretty much what Chris G said, although I only had an older sister serving at the time.

    Also, go Mapman!

  24. i wanted to go since childhood. I got a fair bit of pressure NOT to serve from guys in my ward (I’d be too intimidating was one of their main arguments). I met and started dating my husband. Starting reconsidering…prayed and got a prompting to go. So really it’s the prompting that is the prime reason, because the wanting to go since childhood didn’t mean a thing at the time of decision.

  25. it's a series of tubes says:

    22 – Glad to hear it. My brother also served there,1999-2001.

  26. Rechabite says:

    I am a woman and served a mission at age 21. I answered the poll “it was a desire I had since childhood” but also could have answered “felt prompted to go.” When I was about 10, I knew I wanted to go and thought I would “if I wasn’t married by then” (because 21 seemed SO OLD). By the time I was 11 or 12 I knew I would not be married by 21. I felt definite confirmation from God concerning my decision to serve a mission. I would have gone at 19 if I could have. I spent ages 18 to 21 kind of biding my time (in college), just waiting to go.

    After my mission, I really wanted to join the Peace Corps. But when I prayed about that, I got a big “No” as an answer. That was a bummer.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    For me it was never really a consciously thought out decision. It was always just an assumption, a given. I don’t remember any overt pressure from my parents, because there was simply nothing to even talk about. *Of course* I would be going on a mission. When all of my friends started leaving for missions, it was just the natural thing to do.

  28. Due to the responses, I’ve added the following questions to the post: If you are a sister who didn’t serve because of pressure not to, what were the reasons given as to why you shouldn’t serve?

    If you are a sister who served out of obligation/sense of duty, was it because you were 21 and not married? or some other reason?

  29. “It was a desire I had since childhood”, but I think in my case that was also because I always felt prompted to do so. Granted, I might never have considered it until much later if I hadn’t had a wonderful RM mother who showed me what a faithful female missionary can accomplish (both on the mission and on returning home). Because of her, I knew it was possible, and I considered it and felt it was right for me long before I ever reached the age of 21.

  30. I felt a sense of duty, felt prompted, AND wanted to since I was a child. I checked “felt prompted” because I felt that was the best of all three.

  31. Meldrum the Less says:

    Yiouleft out why Presidents Monson and Packer and my father did not go.

  32. Meldrum the Less says:

    whoops with the typos.

    I thought of another reason.
    I wanted to go but my bishie wouldn’t let me because…

  33. Meldrum, Yep left that out on purpose. Left out war. Left out medical reasons. I left out all the reasons that were not in someone’s control, and in the case of worthiness, left that out too.

  34. Those are pretty USAmerican-centric reasons, which perhaps is appropriate for a blog in English. But I have heard that in other parts of the world, qualifying for the PEF is a motivation.for missionary service. Actually, one does not have to be a returned missionary to qualify, and a recent Facebook post from PEF featured a married mother of three who went back to school to learn a trade that would help her serve and contribute to support of the family, and she specifically said that she thought she might not qualify because of not being RM. (And apparently being the married mother of three small kids is not a barrier, either.)

  35. Naismith, While qualifying for the PEF might be a factor is a small part of the world, I assure you these reasons apply more broadly. And as I mentioned before, yes I cannot possibly account for every_single_factor in the polls.

  36. Didn’t go, mostly because I was stupid at 19, but my parents had also moved out of state, leaving me in Utah, somewhat adrift. For about six months, I quit going to church because I was working Sundays while going to college. Then, when I started back to church, my best friend and I decided to get married, almost out of nowhere, and while I regret not going on a mission, after 40 years of marriage, I wouldn’t second guess that decision for a moment. After we became engaged, we even talked about both of us serving missions. Due to the age thing, I could have left immediately, but my future wife would have had to wait another year. We both knew that there were other guys who were hanging around, including a couple of RMs, and she decided not to go for fear that she might change her mind about me.

    So, I didn’t go because I was stupid, because I didn’t want to, and because I got married. That getting married thing was for me, the Best. Decision. Ever.

  37. I graduated from college 10 days before I turned 21 and had secured a terrific job offer in my field (teaching). If had served a mission, I would have returned mid-year and had to sub or get hunt for a maternity position. The costs/benefits analysis at that age didn’t fall in favor of mission. If the age had been lower, I probably would have gone.

  38. I am a woman and I never felt pressured to serve a mission. For me a mission call seemed to progress naturally in my own spiritual development. At age 20 I took out my endowments (because I wanted to–not because I was engaged or considering a mission at the time). It was like a slow flood of spirituality entered my life after that and I really felt a new desire for godliness in my life. Despite it, serving a mission still took me by surprise. I never once considered it until my mom asked me one day, “you’re turning 21 in a couple of months. Are you going on a mission?” And the answer was unhesitatingly yes and I hurried and got my papers in.
    (On a different note, I sorta wish that going through the temple for the first time was separated from getting married or serving a mission–it seems the profound, spiritual boost is lost in all the excitement sometimes. I don’t think I’d be the same person if I mistook the spiritual growth that came from the temple with the spiritual growth I gained from missionary service.)

  39. Ozzie, that’s an interesting observation about the temple (if a bit off topic). My older daughter chose not to serve (felt impressed not to serve), and received her endowment a couple of years later (there’s an age policy among BYU stake presidents; she went just a little early by their standards). Her temple and post-temple experience has been like yours — it opened her to new spiritual experiences. Another daughter recently left the MTC for her full time missionary service and was endowed a month before she went to the MTC (she had only a month between call and report date). I don’t know how she has processed the combined spiritual growth; she certainly has grown from both experiences with perhaps one enhancing the other.

  40. I always wanted to serve a mission–although I did pray about it too, before going. My desire was strongly influenced by the fact that both my mother *and* her mother served missions.

  41. I went on a mission so that I could be that person in the singles’ ward who begins every contribution to Sunday school with, “When I was on my mission….” Why should obnoxious grandstanding be limited to the bearers of Y chromosomes? I wondered as a naive 20-year-old. It didn’t really pan out, though, because I never got to say, “When I had the humble privilege of serving as President Wackadoodle’s personal assistant, I stuffed my shirt to bursting with trite aphorisms I gathered from visiting Area Authority seventies, the dust of whose feet I licked up like a dog.” “When I was finally called as senior companion during my final month” just didn’t have the same force. Foiled again by the pantyhose fence.

    And MMiles, I can’t believe you didn’t include that immodest desire in your survey. ;)

  42. Anonforthis says:

    I was an athiest when I went. I went because I grew up in a big family in the Mormon corridor and the shame, patronizing, and ostrascizing I supposed would be heaped on me if I didn’t go seemed too much to bear. I lied my way through the interviews, hated my first temple experience, and felt nearly suicidal about 3 months in. I was so trapped I considered just ditching my comp. and disappearing into the world. Finally, in the depths of despair I felt I got an answer to prayer, though I’ve since been haunted by the thought that it was a defensive response constructed by my fragile psyche. Am I glad I went? Ultimately, yes, though the experience was far more traumatic than it needed to be had the family and culture been more embracing.

  43. ZD Eve for comment of the week.

  44. ZD Eve,
    I also left out, “I went so I could stand up to bear my testimony and pretend I forgot my own language.”

  45. All right, I admit it. I went for the free makeover and the adorable fundamentalist attire.

  46. Although I always had the desire as a young girl and through out my adolescence to serve. I knew that serving a mission was not up to me but up to God. In high school I had a very strong feeling that I would be serving and wish I was able to go when I graduated (17yrs old, I know even guys can’t go ) then at 19 I knew I should go but couldn’t and was supposed to wait until 21 . I threw myself into my collegiate scholarly duties and enjoying single life. I have to admit I was quite enjoying it and all the dating/single life fun. But as 21yrs of age got closer the promptings to serve grew stronger too. As I was dating someone at the time, and very serious with my school I tried to push these promptings aside but eventually it got to a point where there was no doubt that this was from the Lord and not in my head and I had to make a decision to listen and follow the promptings or ignore it. My desire to serve was still there but it came down to the many promptings and eventually kneeling down in humble prayer for an answer if it be His will. I also needed to make sure I was willing to go where ever He may send me and I came to the conclusion I was. I would do it again and it was the best experience. But I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t have made a difference if I went earlier. No doubt if I could go back and serve at 19 instead of 21 I would do it in a heartbeat…

  47. Thanks, Ben!

    I feel kind of weird because I’ve already had over a year of college education which included something of a faith transition, and I could very likely have companions who have no college education and who have never had their faith challenged before. I’m very excited to serve at a time of great change; I’m sure I’ll learn a lot.

  48. As a teenager I had a strong desire to serve a mission and always thought I would. When I got older, I prayed about it at 3 different times, and felt very strongly each time that I should not go. The third time I felt that I should stop asking. During those years (that I would have been of missionary age) I had some amazing experiences. I traveled to many countries, I taught English, I worked with at risk youth. I think I matured, experienced many things that others never do, and grew spiritually. Honestly, sometimes it still makes me sad that I did not serve a mission, but I know those promptings not to serve were real. Not that I regret for one minute the things I did do in that time frame, but I still would have liked to serve a mission. I wonder if it would have been different if I had been able to go at 19.

  49. It didn’t really pan out, though, because I never got to say, “When I had the humble privilege of serving as President Wackadoodle’s personal assistant, I stuffed my shirt to bursting with trite aphorisms I gathered from visiting Area Authority seventies, the dust of whose feet I licked up like a dog.” “When I was finally called as senior companion during my final month” just didn’t have the same force. Foiled again by the pantyhose fence.


  50. Wow, #38. When was this? A lot of bishops do not give temple recommends that young, and not more than a month in advance of a wedding. I was turned down at age 23 when I thought I was ready.

    I agree that it would be great to separate the two experiences. But not sure current church policy is supportive of that goal.

  51. Naismith,
    I have several girlfriends who were endowed before 21, and many many more who were endowed shortly after 21 without plans for a mission. It isn’t very common, but it’s not rare either. With women leaving at 19, It seems like waiting to go to the temple will become obsolete. So latest church policy seems very supportive of that goal.

  52. Rosalynde says:

    I chose the “differentiate” option (kinda felt obligated to, since that was sort of what my post at T&S was about!), but wanted to put an asterisk by it. It’s not that it was a calculated decision — “how can I differentiate myself? serve a mission!” — but rather it was a natural extension of my female identity as I experienced it. A lot of my self-understanding was wrapped up in achievement and excellence, and for me a mission was part of that, based on the examples of young LDS women I saw around me. I did pray about it and felt prompted to go, and if you had asked me at the time that’s the answer I surely would have given. But in retrospect it seems to me that there was a strong element of self-expression involved in the decision.

    Just to add further data points, my patriarchal blessing also spoke in definite terms about serving a proselyting mission (and it appeared in the text before mention of marriage and children, so I interpreted it chronologically), but by the time I was 21 I was somewhat skeptical about patriarchal blessings as oracles of the future so it wasn’t a huge factor in my decision. Also, I was endowed about six months before I put in my mission papers at 22, with no plans for marriage. I felt ready for more spiritual maturity, but didn’t want to jump straight into the mission because I was resisting some pressure from my family to do so (I was the first missionary of the siblings). The bishop of my BYU ward initially turned me down (kindly and regretfully), saying it just wasn’t done, but I made an appointment to see the Stake President, who agreed to let me proceed. It was a good experience in relating charitably but assertively to ecclesiastical authority.

  53. Meldrum the Less says:

    Not that you have to justify to me a single thing- but why leave out things not under your control? And second question why not consider the effects of unworthiness as a substantial part of the picture? Just wondering and sincerely perplexed at what you are attempting to measure with this survey.

    I guess I see the distinction of items not under your control as sometimes more nebulous than they might appear. My father, for example, had unspeakably horrible experiences in WWII and afterwords. Killed many people in hand-to-hand combat, saw 11 of the 12 men on his LCT die in several dangerous landings, involved in acts of piracy against other Allied ships, witnessed American soldier atrocities against women and children. (May have participarted to some extend, I don’t know.) After the war and a short career as a “semi-professional” boxer including other shaddy dealings in New Orleans he came back to Utah to settle down and eventually marry. He was asked almost immediately and insistently to serve a mission and replied: “Are you crazy?”

    I guess I am trying to fill out the survey for him. None of the gloves seem to fit. Excused for military duty? Unworthy? Didn’t really want to go? Not prompted? Too busy with dubious work? Not much encouragement from wartime criminal peer culture? Some combination of all plus more?

    Another more contemporary example: A young man in my ward had a strong desire to serve a mission and completed his digital “papers,” doctor and dentist probings, everything, several months ago. He is a good lad in every way and has long beautiful curly golden hair, the envy of every girl, and he does not want to cut it until the last possible time. He pulled it back for the picture so it looks like it is cut short enough. His former Bishop previously told him many guys do not cut their hair and as long as the picture reflects a sincere intention to maintain missionary hair length while serving it is fine. His new Bishop said he has to cut his hair first, to missionary standards, before he sends in the “papers.”

    The young man easily collected a substantial list of missionaries who sent in a picture that looked like their hair was short when in fact it was not and appealed to the stake president. Not in my stake was that reply. Then the Bishop told him that his long hair revealed his heart is not in the right place and he needs to repent and wear a missionary haircut for 6 months or more before he gets approval from him. Not worthy due to hair length was never a moral issue before and this young man finds it difficult to repent of a “sin” he doesn’t recognize as a such.

    The young man lost much of his enthusiasm for the mission, registered for school, did not cut his hair and says he will think about it, maybe next year. Now the Bishop is all worried that he won’t ever go (duh) and is willing to re-negotiate and give approval to sending in his “papers” now. But the young man is engaged in a year long series of classes and is currently “not available until school ends next summer.” If he doesn’t go, which seems likely now, what reason should he give on your survey? Encouraged by bishops’ overzealous and inconsistent edicts on hair length not to go?

    One tendency I wish to resist is the constructing of a short list of easy explanations for differing major life choices, especially ones that are not in the fast lane to the celestial kingdom. I think it leads to stereotyping and unfair judgements and lack of charity.

    I maybe should have just ignored this survey and you may ignore my ruminations.

  54. I indicated I went because I felt prompted that this was the right thing for me to do. I had a strong desire to serve but I can’t deny there was the quiet expectation of my parents hanging overhead as well. When it came down to it I looked around and asked myself what was the best thing I could do with my time in the next few years and mission won out over everything else. I was pretty obstinate at the time that I was going because I had determined that it was the right thing to do and not because anyone else influenced me. It’s funny how you see things differently with the passage of time and the accumulation of wisdom.

    My wife felt prompted to serve but due to the experience her own older sister had on a mission – the words crazy companions comes to mind – and her mother’s concerns about how this would impact her studies, there was severe pressure from the family for her to stay home.

    I watched my cousin, 3.5 years younger than me, struggle with the idea of a mission since at the time in the mid 90’s there seemed to be enormous pressure on campus at BYU for any young woman who was mission age to see that as the right thing to do. We spent hours discussing her personal motivation and eventually she asked me for a priesthood blessing to help her. I’m fairly certain the words of that blessing did not help in the way that she was hoping because she was advised that the decision was up to her and the Lord would bless her. I recall explaining to her that the best Sister missionaries I encountered, and I always had sisters in my districts, seemed to have encountered some deep prompting from the Spirit that serving was something they should do. One of them called it her “hot fudge moment” when she just realized that is what she needed to do and felt a strong spiritual confirmation.

    I also had a young lady waiting for me when I returned from my mission and as I sat on the plane flying out to her college campus to visit with her after my return I felt the distinct impression that she needed to go on a mission. She was a convert of 3 years, an only child, and whose parents thought this whole church thing was just a phase. When I explained to her what I felt prompted to tell her and that getting engaged might not be the best idea, she struggled with that idea. I didn’t push, in fact we did get engaged, but the long distance eventually pulled us apart. A year later she called me up and told me she had received a similar confirmation and had decided she would go serve.

    As I reflect on these experiences and the changes that will happen in the next 11 years (time until my oldest will be ready to decide for herself) I think my obligation as a Father is to encourage my daughters to see endowment, education, mission, and marriage as all important decisions in their lives. Endowment in the temple should happen when they feel ready to do so, not based on any specific timeline. A college education in a useful field will make them more capable in whatever endeavor they pursue, including motherhood. A mission can richly bless their lives and deepen their spiritual preparation but is an option that they alone should decide and I will support them in either direction. And I will tell any leaders who attempt to say otherwise to go peddle their advice elsewhere. Marriage in the temple is a goal and obligation of their faith that should be entered into with the right person at the right time.

  55. Meldrum,
    Firstly, these surveys are hardly scientific.

    Secondly, I created them with a very specific goal in mind. With all the chatter lately about why women serve missions (insert crazy reason here, or claim women don’t really want to go) and how men do it mostly out of pressure–I simply wanted to see if those claims were accurate. Frankly, I got what I wanted from the surveys–women don’t go for crazy reasons, and men don’t go mainly out of pressure. I wasn’t really interested in these surveys to see how many people were excluded because of of medical/worthiness/war. I tailored it to find out what I wanted. It worked.

    How many people are excluded for the reasons you mentioned is an interesting question, someone should address it sometime.

  56. Meldrum-the-Omniwhiner sez: ” and you may ignore my ruminations.”


  57. MMiles, you conclude that men don’t go on missions because of pressure? Isn’t it possible that pressure creates desire, that pressure creates duty, that pressure creates obligation and even inspiration? That kind of pressure isn’t going to show up on a survey based on self examination.

    I think a test for determining the role that pressure really plays in young men going on a mission is to imagine that President Kimball had never said every young man should serve a mission and that church leaders and parents for the past 35 years had not embraced his instruction. If that were the case would missionary numbers be any different? If the main motivation for serving a mission is pure desire or godly inspiration the number of young men who have served or are serving shouldn’t really be any different, but honestly, I can’t imagine that being true, can you?

  58. KLC,
    Again, this isn’t scientific. Of course–there is psychology and multi-layered reasons are involved. Rosalynde, for instance, illustrates this nicely.

    I think some people are reading too much into this post.

  59. I commented because I think you are reading too much into your survey.

  60. Researcher says:

    The survey may not be scientific, but it sure is interesting. I’ve glanced at the results a few times as the numbers have gone up, and have found it fascinating to see that over half your female readers (at least the survey-answering ones) have served missions, and the great majority of your male readers have served missions. (About 54 percent/92 percent as of right now.)

  61. Researcher,
    I also think the results are interesting.

    No worries. I am well aware a self-reporting survey won’t tell you exactly how much cultural pressure was an influence. I just take it for what it is.

  62. I should say I’m glad you posted this and the results are interesting

  63. Meldrum the Less says:

    MMiles; makes sense to me. Women with crazy reasons might not admit it here, but fair enough. The results you have collected answered your question.

    Ardis: the omni- sensitive revelator of all things whining, So why didn’t you ignore me?
    Looking to pick a fight? Look elsewhere.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Is it true that only 17% of all missionary aged young men actually serve missions? If so, what keeps all the rest from seving?

  65. juliathepoet says:

    #64 – I had not heard that number. Where did you find it?

  66. Meldrum.

    I suppose you are right, but it makes me wonder why people are so insistent that women have crazy reasons.

    Mansplaining 101: Women do not need/want “x” because (insert ridiculous mental gymnastic reasoning).

    Mansplaining 201: Repeat 101 and add a story about how much you cherish your wife/mother/grandmother/secretary/great Aunt Bertha

    Applied to missionary work over the past few days it looks something like this:

    Women don’t want to serve missions because; or women serve missions because (insert ridiculous mental gymnastic reasoning).

    Repeat 101 and add a story about how your wife/mother/grandmother/sister/daughter/granddaughter did or did not serve a mission, showing anecdotal evidence that your mental gymnastics are surely right.

    I’m not suggesting you are doing this, but it’s going around.

  67. #66 A great explanation for a lot of the speculation on both sides. This is one that especially bothered (bothers) me:
    IMO, the worst start at #17

  68. I didn’t vote in the survey. I was struggling with activity during those years, so the question was pretty much off the table for me, and you said us gals didn’t need to vote. Doesn’t mean I’m not still a reader/sometime-lurker, nor that I don’t have some half-baked opinions on what I think is going on in the COB/general church membership/YW’s heads.
    I’ll save it for another post. You’re welcome.

  69. Meldrum the Less (replying to 53)
    The young man with golden locks didn’t want to go. Simple as that. Someone asked me why I wasn’t married. I told them if I wanted to be married, don’t you think I would be married?

  70. MDearest,

    and you said us gals didn’t need to vote.


  71. I meant us gals (and guys) who didn’t go because our bishops wouldn’t approve it due to worthiness issues.
    Communicating is hard work.

  72. Elouise Bell says:

    It was 1960. I was 25, already teaching and thinking it was time to go after the Ph.D. But
    then the thought of going on a mission began to recur. (No pressure from any external source.)
    Every time I thought about NOT going on a mission, it was as if a black bag came down over my head. Every time I thought, “I’ll go on a mission,” all the lights turned on. So I went.

  73. Anon for This says:

    @Anonymous (64): That statistic isn’t too far off from statistics I’ve heard. In training our stake’s bishoprics, our SP (who gets his stats from the Church in that mystical data bank I wish we all had access to) cited numbers that high school grads outside of Utah who don’t go to church colleges go less active at a near 90% rate. I’d be interested to know how that’s quantified, but it’s not too difficult. I’d also be interested in what return-to-activity rate there is, but anyway, that doesn’t make the 17% number too hard to fathom.

  74. I did not serve a mission because I was married at age 19. I felt no need or want to and I am honestly glad that I didn’t.

  75. I think #74 is just trolling spam.

  76. Spammed, and deleted.

  77. I did not go on a mission because I honestly didn’t think I could handle that level of structure. Bruce and I are planning on going on a mission now because we know how important senior couples are for the missionaries. And most seniors don’t say, “Please send me to Africa.” So I think we’ll get what we ask for.

  78. Hello everybody, here every person is sharing such know-how, thus it’s fastidious to read this webpage, and I used to visit this weblog every day.

  79. Where is the option for “my dad promised me a Mustang”?

  80. #64 – Some years ago I saw a presentation by CES (promoting seminary and institute) that said that 32% of young men served missions, and 34% married in the temple. I assume that was a Church-wide stat, but it might have been for the U.S.

  81. Margaret, my parents have been in Ghana for 3 years and are coming home in November. They previously served in the Dominican Republic – let me know if you’d like their contact information as they would be happy to share their thoughts and experiences. They loved Ghana. And you’re right, not many ask to go to Africa. My parents said send us where you need us.

  82. Late on the blog: about 25% of the church is active. If half the active young men go on missions, this would put the number at about the 17% mark give or take a few.

    No motives are pure, that especially applies here. Being a slow maturer, I acquiesced to going plus a little of all the above. This was not totally conscious, but I am glad for the extra time to mature.

  83. Quoting Margaret Blair Young, “I honestly didn’t think I could handle that level of structure.” I’m not sure just what she meant, but assume it had something to do with the rules, procedures, interviewing, control and oversight entrenched in not just the approval process but also in the service. It used to be different. As I approached missionary age, 20 at the time, I did not want to go on a mission. This was during and shortly after WWII. Result: In the small, non LDS town in Arizona where I was raised, there were no RM’s anywhere near my age to be “role models”. Any RM’s were older “church guys” and I had no desire to be like them. But I knew that my mother
    wanted me to go and that when I returned from BYU after that Spring Quarter, I would be asked. Voila! That spring, 1948, one of the missionaries who was in the first group called after the end of WWII returned. And, that quarter, he became my chemistry lab partner. He was near my age and we related. We had similar interests. We could talk about anything including girls and an occasional off color joke. I will never forget him.

    So that summer when the Bishop called me into his office and said, “We would like you to go on a mission. Will you accept the call?” I answered, “Yes..” He then gave me some paperwork to fill out — end of interview. Although I must have had an interview with a member of the Stake Presidency, it must have been benign as I don’t remember it. However, at that time, we had to be interviewed by a general authority. That was finally arranged with Spencer W. Kimball, a younger apostle then. That interview was very searching and rather embarrassing. However, he apparently considered me redeemable as he, surprisingly, at the end asked me where I wanted to go. But that is another story

  84. I went because I felt a sense of duty due to a prompting, so I put prompted. I first felt prompted at age 14 and felt the surety of it being important for me many times before 21. Sometimes I really wanted to go, sometimes it felt more like a duty. I would have loved to go at 19! I think I would have felt more drive, especially since it wouldn’t have interrupted my studies/career and felt like the next natural step in my life. Those years between 19 still feel like they were a waiting period for me. I was just kind of biding my time till I turned 21. I loved my mission. It changed me and I know I’m a better person for it.

  85. I echo ” Sharee Hughes (October 9, 2012 at 7:28 am)”‘s request. Why are men not allowed to go at an older age (like 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. years old), but women are?

    I put that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was in a job that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in. I didn’t know what else to do, so I decided to go on a mission. I also had two friends (female) who had been on missions and had come home with tons more self-confidence than they’d had before they left. I wanted self-confidence, also, and that was probably the biggest impetus for going. It isn’t on the poll, though. :)