Monday, June 16, 2014
For My Brothers--What Every Elder Needs to Know to Get through His Mission with All These Sisters. . .
To Marcus and Nicholas,
Because of recent experience and observations, I feel motivated this afternoon to address a topic for my handsome little brothers, who will be leaving on their missions in one month's time. This advice is so that they can know how to appropriately and respectfully handle being in the same mission as sister missionaries. I will start out by saying that I feel for you bros, sister missionaries while in general are great, can be quite a problem. Sisters and Elders are now often the same age. Sisters have a unique work to do as missionaries and can often reach people that the elders can't; however, the increase in awesome sisters creates unique challenges for the elders. Here are some tips and thoughts that will guide you through many potentially difficult situations and help you stay focused.
-First, you need to have a the general understanding of who a sister missionary is exactly. I have decided that there really are 4 different types of gender in this world--all so significant that they deserve their own category--these are: male, female, pregnant, and missionary. Therefore, in your mission you will be missionaries and the sisters will be missionaries. It will help to just think you are all the same gender. Some missionaries wear skirts and some wear pants and a tie. Also, as for respectfully talking to and dealing with the missionaries in skirts, I would say that a good general rule is to treat them like someone else's grandmother--meaning super nice and respectfully--but nothing more. If you wouldn't say it to a Tanner's or Braize's grandmother, then you shouldn't say it to a sister. If you wouldn't do something for Sister Imlay or Sister Stubbs, then you shouldn't do it for a sister.
-Second, you need to be careful with pictures. (This advice is not reflected by the first few months of pictures from my mission before I got smart.) It will really help you out to set some personal rules before you go into the MTC. Here are my suggested picture guidelines. First, if a sister missionary wants a picture with you, NEVER take a picture without your companion, and she should also be with her companion in the picture. However, because you should also not take a picture two and two like a double date, there should be one other elder or sister in the picture (for example, the companion of whoever is taking the picture) in the picture or have a member or other person in the picture. Meaning, if you take a picture with a sister missionary in it there, will be at least 5 people in the photo! Why is this important you ask? Because in my time as a sister training leader, I have seen some crazy stuff. And some sisters are nuts and look through the pictures in their camera a lot. Just imagine if she had a picture alone with you. Don't let her get any ideas!
-Another thing, If there is a group of sisters talking at a mission event. Don't talk to them. Go to a group of elders and talk with them. A mission is a complete bromance. Embrace the bromance! Avoid at all costs any romance!!! You speak with the sisters only when you have to. If you enter a room with sisters, you shake their hands to be polite and greet them, then you go talk to elders.
-Fourth, as a leader, district or zone leader, you should accept the importance of Sister Training Leaders. They have the responsibility help the sisters in every aspect that is outside of the general district or zone capacity. Meaning that you can help the sisters all you want within a district or zone meeting, but outside of that meeting you have the priesthood responsibility for accountability and nothing else. Every-other-thing you want to say, you should say to the STLs, and they will let the sisters know. Even something little in the work should be communicated through the STLs. For example, you can't just call and tell them things. Let's say that a companionship is having a hard time finding new investigators, and you as their district leader call them and give them all sorts of advice for only their companionship to help them find new people. Then what happens? (1)They feel all special because you are helping them, and (2) they want to call you after and tell you about all of their successes and say that you are just the greatest. Bla-bla-bla! It is just easier to call the STLs, and then have them call the sisters, if you just can't wait until the next district meeting to give the help to the whole district.
Other general stuff:
-Do everything in your power to do nothing that would make a sister think that she is special to you.
-Do not go easy on them, but also do not be overly hard. Good luck with that balance :-)
-A general mission rule, for working with sisters and others in your mission, is to learn to say sorry. If there is a misunderstanding, apologize first. Swallow your pride, and say sorry!
Other than that, I will do some more thinking of other things you need to know. You guys will be awesome. Just be wise. Don't do anything stupid. Don't act your age.
P.S. Have mom by you knee length spandex shorts to wear under your basketball shorts for exercise or activities. The sisters don't want to see your underwear hanging out of your shorts :-) You're too classy for that.