#hearLDSwomen: Penalized for My District Leader’s Mistake
A few months into my mission, my companion and I requested to visit a popular tourist site that missionaries sometimes visited on preparation day. It was outside our area but not very far geographically. We requested permission from our district leader and waited for a response. The night before P-day, we asked if we had gotten permission and he said yes. We had a nice cultural experience, but that evening after we got home we got a call from an upset district leader asking where we’d gone and saying we hadn’t received permission after all. I reminded him that he told us we had got permission and he responded, “if I told you to put your hand in fire, would you? You messed up.” He’d forgotten to ask permission and didn’t want to get in trouble, so he blamed us.
We didn’t have anything to lose anyway, stuck on the bottom, while he could risk his chance to work his way up the mission leadership ladder. Turns out even on the bottom we had mission status to lose. The false story that we’d disobeyed our district leader and sneaked out of our area without permission was apparently reported to the zone leaders, who reported it to the assistants, who discussed it with the mission president, who never bothered to ask for our account.
Shortly after this transfers came up, and me and my companion were both sent to less than desirable areas with two incredibly difficult missionaries. Most of the other sisters were training because so many new sisters were coming that transfer. My mission president clearly never trusted me after that and treated me as if I wasn’t a loving, hard working missionary who strived everyday to serve and love people like the Savior would. I never liked proving myself to someone who misjudged me, so I determined my mission was between me and the Lord, so the mission president’s opinion didn’t matter. However, it made my mission more difficult, and he even tried to tell me I needed to stay an extra transfer on my mission because I hadn’t learned the lessons I was supposed to and would never be happy in this life. It wasn’t a lovely blessing to receive from my mission president before going home, but I knew God was aware of my heart and my works and took comfort in that.
My mission experience taught me some valuable life lessons, built some sweet relationships, and opened my feminist eyes, so for that I’m grateful. I did, however, spend many, many lonely days in a foreign country feeling invisible and put in my voiceless place underneath the power and whims of priesthood leaders who presided over me. Suddenly that position I’d been in my entire life, and expected to stay in for the rest of my life, didn’t feel like such a great setup for me.
Pro tip: Give people the benefit of the doubt or listen to their side before judging them. When we emphasize power and position more than honesty and service, people will find it easy to blame others to cover their mistakes.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)