Guest Post: Redeeming My Soul, Part II

sabraby Sabra

Although I was only a full-time missionary for a few months, this would be the first of many companionships. They ran from the trio that questioned my worthiness and “attitude” (an always strategically chosen word when used to describe women of color) because I chose to pray standing up over kneeling at times and didn’t wake up with the alarm clock one morning. Only one of these two sisters spoke about this; the other one admitted to being a strict conflict avoider, refusing to discuss, explore or resolve tensions at all. She expressed, “I think if you’re an adult and don’t hear the alarm it’s not my responsibility to wake you.” I found this sentiment to be conflicting with the concept of “companionship”. I was learning that each missionary has their own idea of what a missionary, companionship and the mission rules are supposed to look like. So my adherence to the rules I’d learned in the MTC, missionary guide and rule book were not completely in line with any of the companionships that I had.

This made the lack of support from the Billings mission leadership, family/friends, and companions at many times beyond what I could endure by myself.

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Guest Post: Redeeming My Soul, Part I

sabraby Sabra

I was always a supporter of gender equality in the LDS church; any time women in my classes at church wanted to serve missions, I was all for it. However it wasn’t until my late teens that it occurred to me that I could serve a mission too. Since then I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I was going to serve a full-time mission, then I wasn’t, then I was. This battle would continue for the next 7 years. Finally at 26 years old I decided to follow the promptings that I had been feeling for years and submit mission papers. The process that would follow is one that I am still struggling to completely understand and accept.

From the mission call itself to incompatible companionships and experiencing bullying from the mission president and his wife, much of my full-time mission was weighted with loneliness, misunderstandings and mistrust of others.

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Relief Society Lesson 7: Joseph Smith, An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord

Relief Society Lesson 7: Joseph Smith, An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

polygamy-smith

As I prepared this lesson an inspired tangent led me to delightful readings from the Church History Department on the first sister missionaries and their role in testifying of Joseph Smith and the restored gospel. The trying experiences of ETB in England illustrate the need for sister missionaries. I have used his experiences as a launching point for a deeper discussion of women as instruments in the hands of the Lord and the origins of sister missionaries. I have provided links and resources from the Church History Department to help you share the lives of Elizabeth McCune, Inez Knight, Jennie Brimhall, and Flora Benson (if you have time). Throughout the lesson, I return to the topic of Joseph Smith and provide questions for a discussion tying the voices of women to a testimony of Joseph Smith.

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A Book Review (Of Sorts): Way Below the Angels

Craig Harline

Not very long ago, I read this post, that made me want to read this book, Way Below the Angels: the pretty clearly troubled but not even close to tragic confessions of a real live Mormon missionary. Even shorter ago, I did.

While it isn’t a woman’s story, I still feel that it is worth reviewing here, in this women’s story space for two reasons. 1) The author, Craig Harline, does a fairly good job pointing out when women’s stories, voices, and presence are forgotten.

One example of this is when his Salt Lake Mission Home President tells a mixed group of Elders and Sisters that they are to dress like “local businessmen.” Another is when his going-Belgium group was moved to the Rexburg, Idaho LTM, and they held a nightly devotional with the older going-Belgium missionaries, that fully excluded the Sisters because it was in an Elder’s dorm room. The saddest examples took place in Belgium. The first question they asked women who answered the door was if they could speak to their husband. Not because they weren’t allowed to speak to women, but because they were taught that they should focus on the man. A woman named Lieve demanded focus, because she had a dream and a wish to be baptized. She also had a husband who did not share that dream or wish. He was required to sign a permission slip, which he did. But then he took it back. Lieve learned that if her husband had the dream and wish, her signature would not be needed.*

2) Harline’s ofttimes funny/ofttimes insightful words created a space for me to remember my own mission story.

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Guest Post: Give a Title to the Woman who Has a Mission President Husband

by Frank Pellett

I saw this article about the wives of Mission Presidents in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, and I wanted to share it with the wider readership of Exponent, as a small but good example of something in the Church doing something right in the way of improving gender issues.

It seems they’re working on having a formal title for the wife of the Mission President:

Don’t call her a “co-president” with her husband, either. Mission president is a “joint calling,” Evans says in an interview from church headquarters in Salt Lake City, but only the man carries the title “president.”

An appropriate moniker for “mission president wife” remains elusive, he says. The church’s all-male missionary committee recently asked the female LDS general auxiliary leaders to come up with one but so far has not settled on any that captures the job.

This is a refreshing change from the oft brought up lack of female voices in the drafting Proclamation on the Family.  No, it’s not a big thing.  Yes, they could probably start by getting some women actually in the missionary committee.  I just like to sometimes celebrate the little things.

So, that brings us to the post.  It’s not merely an attempt at a feel good flicker of hope.  I figure if they’re looking for titles, the least we can do is see what we can come up with on our own.  What would be a good title for what is now the “Mission President’s Wife”?

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January 2013 Visiting Teaching Message: Missionary Work

We’ve all seen the recent, almost wild eruption of missionary applications that resulted from the change in missionary age. This; combined with the 2013 Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) curriculum makes no surprise that the opening 2013 Visiting Teaching message is of missionary content, includes a quote by the (presumably) female-favourite Dieter Uchtdorf and uses only the D&C in the scripture section. Not a subtle introduction to the year.

I daresay most of us have already heard stories of women between the ages of 19 and 21 who are now engaged in the missionary application process. The thing is, unless we are visiting teaching someone in the age bracket who is eager to serve a mission, this really just feels like a predictable snoozy message.

So- how do we liven it up? Well, how about this quote that I have seen on a few facebook status updates:

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