Confessions of a Relief Society President: How the Sister Missionaries Drove Me Crazy
Today’s guest post comes to us from Claire, as part of the Doves & Serpents and The Exponent Blogger Swap.
Turning 30 means you have SOME life experience. And therefore, if you live in the ‘mission field,’ you have met the first (and sometimes only) requirement that puts you on the short list for Relief Society President.
And so I found myself the Relief Society President in a large urban ward far, far away from church headquarters. A few things I didn’t know when I accepted the calling- 1, most of my time would be acting as a social worker, 2, things would be so hectic upon occasion that I would actually forget to assign someone to teach the lesson and would have to fake it myself, and 3, there were two unofficial members of the RS board that would rotate regularly and over which I would have very little influence or control…. the Sister Missionaries.
Because of the urban nature of our ward and large boundaries, we were usually assigned 8-12 missionaries at a time. We also have a high number of single women in the teaching pool, so we had several years straight of at least one set of Sister Missionaries. First, let me say that I honor Sister Missionaries for their dedication and service. Secondly, let me say that I have heard my husband complain about the Sister Missionaries he was ‘supervising’ as district and zone leader many, many times over the years. I don’t envy him or them the position they were in… in fact, I find it quite distasteful that women in their 20s must be supervised by teenage boys. So I was hoping that they might be interested in some direction and support from a woman in a position of authority- me.
I was sadly mistaken. I will now share a few short tales of how the Sister Missionaries Drove Me Crazy.
At ward council, the Sister Missionaries report they are teaching a young woman who is related to a recent convert and that the discussions are going well. This young lady, aged 18, has committed to being baptized. The Bishop queries as to whether the young lady is aware of the commandments she is committing to following- Word of Wisdom, tithing, Law of Chastity? “Oh yes, she said she understands the principal of chastity.” “Great,” says the Bishop, “I’m looking forward to meeting her” (under this Bishop, candidates for baptism were interviewed by the Zone Leader as usual, but were required to attend church two times and meet the Bishop before baptism). The Sister continued, ” One quick question… she thinks she’s probably pregnant, is it still okay for her to get baptized?”
The Sister Missionaries come to me after church one week to tell me about a multi-generational family in their teaching pool. The grandma/matriarch is the main investigator. “They are a really great family, but things are tough for her daughter and her kids right now- money problems- so she’s not really very interested when we come by. We need you to come do a big food order for them – wouldn’t that be a great missionary tool so they can see all the resources the Church has to offer?”
I get a call from the senior companion one weekday evening. They tracted in to a lady who seemed really eager to meet wth them and they gave her the first discussion. She’s having a Pampered Chef party the next week and they agreed to give out invitations on Sunday in Relief Society because that will show her what a great community we are when we all come out and support her new business! I try to explain why this is a terrible idea and make a mental note to call the Mission President. I forget and they pass the invites out any way on the next Sunday I’m not there.
A Sister Missionary gets up to bear her testimony at the end of the meeting on Fast Sunday. She tells us that she really loves her mission even though they “have to live in the ‘hood.” Most of the sisters in the room live in her neighborhood.
How about you- any horror stories of missionary naivete or culture clash? Is there anyway around it? Is it worth it? How about you- if you served a mission, are there experiences you look back on and cringe?