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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

14. ARE WE NOW LOWERING THE BAR and SACRIFICING LESS?

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently approved changes in the policies regarding length of senior missionary service and missionary housing to encourage more couples to serve full-time missions and to improve their missionary experience.The new senior missionary policy comes as the church watches its missionary ranks thin from a high of 61,638 volunteers in 2002 to 52,483 in 2010.

As of September 1, 2011,
  • couples may choose how long they would like to serve... including just 6 months even if you choose to go to a foreign country.
  •  Missions, temples, or area administration offices now will locate and secure appropriate housing and pay all housing costs (including rent, utilities, and furnishings). Missionary couples will then reimburse some or all of those housing costs up to the cap.
  • Missionaries from the United States, Canada, western Europe, Japan, and Australia will be expected to reimburse the cost of housing up to the cap, while those from all other countries will be expected to reimburse the costs up to but not to exceed $1,400 a month. Couples will continue to pay for food and other personal expenses.
Joseph Smith taught: "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things." (Lectures on Faith, 6th lecture, paragraph 7)

3 comments:

  1. "Are we now lowering the bar and sacrificing less?"

    Two thoughts. First, to quote Mystery Men's 'The Shoveler'..."What do you mean *we*? I was standing right here."

    Second, I don't see how this policy change represents anything other than what it is...a change in policy; which is to say "the church" had no more "power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation" before this announcement than it did after, since pay-your-own-way free labor for the church cloaked as "the senior missionary program" isn't the kind of sacrifice Joseph was really talking about in his Lectures on Faith. So I doubt any bars have really been lowered as a result.

    Thanks for your post on this. I always enjoy reading your blog.

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  2. I don't know how to respond to this. My spouse and I are senior citizens who have worked very hard all our lives but will never have enough money to retire. We couldn't serve a mission, however much we would like to. There will never be that kind of money. Few would believe that we have been frugal and hard working, because we don't have anything to 'show' for it. But we have. We have lived simply and modestly and gone without many things. We chose something else as our 'mission'. We will never be asked to speak in church about it. In fact, even though we say very little to nothing about our 'mission', many people are uncomfortable with the way in which we have chosen to serve. (No, it doesn't break any commandments of any kind, in fact, it is in strict obedience to many commandments). But it is 'different'. There is no 'program' for it.
    I refuse to believe that those of us who can't serve senior missions (both of us served missions as pre-married singles, and we worked hard to pay for them, too) are not sacrificing enough. I suppose it doesn't really matter to us what policy changes there are, since we can't do it anyway. The kind of wealth required to stop working and go on a mission is something we cannot comprehend. It isn't easy not to be able to retire. We are semi-retired when many of our friends are fully retired, because our pensions/savings weren't high enough for sustenance. We just pray that the health of our main bread winner holds out long enough, because there can never be a full retirement.

    So. A person can't give what he/she does not have.

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  3. Interesting thoughts.

    I've been struggling with Missionary policy for a while now. When my husband served his mission, he had to dip deeply into his savings in order to just get enough food to survive in Korea, while his brother had a maid and cook and laundry woman and ate like a king in Trinidad. I'm just glad that he had savings to use to help feed himself. And now, my ward members are asked to feed the missionaries dinner every day . . . which is wonderful. But the missionaries shared once in Ward Council (which was then passed on in Relief Society, along with their dinner calendar) that as they get close to the end of the month, they're hungry. And food here isn't that expensive. And it was only recently that they were given enough miles each month to not have to spend days on their bikes, riding 30-40 miles each day.

    I don't understand why policy is set to create more hardship. Which battles do they really want the missionaries to be fighting? It's like having a dishwasher and washing machine in the house, but not using them. Those are the two biggest time savers in a housewife's life . . . and choosing to do that work instead means that she has less time to study scripture, to serve her neighbor, to live the will of God.

    The thing that makes it hardest, though, is seeing the profligate spending of the corporate church on things like that mall in SLC, and then knowing that our missionaries here, who work hard and love the Lord, and have paid their way, are hungry at the end of the month, despite the members feeding them.

    P Lea

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