Sending Older Women Out to the Hall to Wait
When I was a full-time missionary, my busy companion and I met a much less busy senior missionary. She was literally waiting in the hall while her husband was working in a nearby office behind a closed door. The couple had hoped to serve a family history mission together but instead, the church asked them (him) to serve a “leadership” mission. His responsibility was to serve in a stake presidency in a new stake. She had no responsibilities at all.
She had a great attitude about it. She tried to chip in where she could and look for opportunities to help. She didn’t complain. She waited pleasantly.
But I felt bad for her. She had quit her job and left her home and friends and family to serve a mission, only to end up waiting around while her husband served, with her services not wanted. As much as I loved missionary work, seeing an older sister missionary with nothing to do but sit in a chair and wait for her husband changed my perception about whether I would want to serve a mission again as an older adult.
Motherhood is often given as the excuse for banning women from callings such as stake presidencies. Taking mothers away from their children to complete time-consuming, unpaid church callings would be detrimental to young children, they say.
But this missionary was just as far away from her children, waiting in that hall, as she would have been if she had been allowed in the office. And her children were adults. What if mature, talented women could take on some of the time-consuming positions currently occupied by younger fathers, freeing these fathers to spend less time in church administration and more time with their young children?
What if, instead of sending older women out to the hall to sit in a chair and wait, we put them to work?