#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.
– Katie

 

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.


Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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7 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Katie, I’m spitting proverbial nails, right now. and I really wanna swear, but I know this blog won’t allow that. The type of treatment you received was deplorable. You may disagree with me, but I also think it was evil. To speak of someone untruthfully and then watch the punishments toward that innocent person unfold so their lives are negatively impacted is, to me, evil. Maybe malicious is a more palatable word.
    There have been times I have regretted not serving a mission. Now, I’m glad I didn’t.
    I’m so sorry for what you experienced. I am also truly skeptical that a significant enough number of men will stay in positions of power and authority long enough for any kind of change to be heard, cared about, initiated, gain momentum to actually bring about what you seek.
    The men who hurt you and the men like them may not thank you for your sacrifice and service, but I certainly will.

  2. birdmull says:

    oh my GOSH I am so sorry this happened to you!

    Another pro tip (for the sisters!) is to limit all of your contact with the brethren to writing (texts, emails, etc), because this has happened to me so many times! I had a high councilman green-light an activity for my stake calling, so I began making calls and moving things forward, only to find out that when this high councilman went to the stake president for permission he was denied, so he later acted like he had told me no and made it sound like I was going around willfully disobeying him, because he was too embarrassed to admit that he had jumped the gun and given me permission behind the SP’s back! I ended having to go around to all the people I called and eat a TON of crow as I cancelled everyone’s hard work–it made *me* look like the biggest fool/liar, because of course a high councilman’s word means much, much more than a woman’s in this church. The whole incident gave me major trust issues and to this day I refuse to interact with priesthood brethren unless there is a written record because there are two big principles I learned from this: 1) priesthood dudebros always have each others backs when there is a question as to what transpired, so a written record is all we sisters have to protect us, not the support of the brethren and 2) keeping a written record of all my transactions with brethren prevents many of them from treating me disrespectfully–I notice that they aren’t as likely to talk down to me, etc when I insist that we limit our contact to written correspondence. So stick to email sisters–that way, everybody is safer!

    • Dani Addante says:

      That’s awful! The high councilor should have asked first instead of just assuming. And it would have been better if there was no middleman. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s awful that the high councilor didn’t own up to his mistake.

  3. Jan Signore says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I am so sorry this happened to you, and admire your resolve to regard your mission as between you and the Lord. We have so far to go as women in our church. One might expect this in the business world, so disappointing when we find this at church and particularly on a mission where the aspiration is to live close to the Savior’s example.

  4. Hat trick says:

    D&C 121:39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    Apparently the nature and disposition of almost all men haven’t changed much in 180 years.

  5. Dani Addante says:

    I’m bothered by the fact that the sisters had to ask the district leader for permission. On my mission, we would only ask the mission president about things like that. I had never heard anyone talk about asking the district leader. I don’t like it that the sisters had to go through the elders to get permission. The elders were probably the same age, maybe even younger. This just isn’t right.

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