When President Thomas S. Monson announced the changes in ages for missionaries as 18 years old for young men and 19 years old for young women at general conference last October, it changed the plans of many young men and young women. The number of applications for prospective missionaries initially increased by nearly five times in the weeks after general conference.
Mormon Times asked how the announcement changed the plans and preparations for these prospective missionaries. Here are a few of their responses.
I play volleyball. Last year, I played well enough to get a spot into varsity this year. Now that I can go at 18, I am planning on not playing in varsity and instead getting a job to help pay for my mission.
— Donovan Hunt
When I heard the announcement during general conference, my heart just sang out. All of a sudden goals and studying for preparation for my mission were "amped up." I called my non-member friend from school to tell her about the news. I was so excited and she could hear that in my voice. I don't know if she knew how to take the news, but she said, "Congratulations."
— Laura May Johnson, 17, Geneva 1st Ward, Geneva, Switzerland
Our family is so excited about the age change for the missionaries. We were in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake and when it was announced, our daughter and I began to cry. She would be turning 19 (soon) and she is looking forward to serving a mission after her semester is complete at Utah Valley University.
— Peggy Tetterton, Lehi
One of the first applications was from my granddaughter. She got her papers in four days, and a week later had her call to Chile — wow, that's fast, and she is so excited. Two weeks before that she was deep into college and a mission was the last thing on her mind, so things change quickly. She goes to the MTC a day after her 19th birthday mid-January. Wow.
— Sally Agle, Kenosha, Wis.
Every time I read my patriarchal blessing, the part about a mission stood out most to me. I kept thinking and praying to Heavenly Father, "I'm only 19." The Saturday morning session literally changed my life. As soon as our beloved prophet stood up at the pulpit I knew, I knew that what he was going to say would be the answer to all of my prayers. An unexpected answer but a beautiful, perfect answer nonetheless. I can't wait to serve the Lord. I cannot wait to share the love and light the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. I know the gospel is true. I know the Savior loves each of us. I know that he died for us. And I will carry that with me everywhere, and wherever I go.
— Anna Petrich
My 19-year-old daughter will finish this semester and be gone by spring. Wow.
— David Green, Preston, Idaho
The night before Saturday session, I sat in my room reading my scriptures and just longing for something to change. I had prayed to my Heavenly Father asking him for the strength to be able to continue on for another year and a half to go out to the mission field. It was hard for me because all my girlfriends are older than me; they were either gone on their missions, just about to leave, or getting married … It became very frustrating … The morning of the announcement of age change I received a load of text messages … from all these people asking if I had just heard the announcement! I was crying with joy that I couldn't even text back. I just immediately bowed my head and thanked my Heavenly Father for answering my prayer. The blessings that come if we just endure and trust in God are incredible.
— Gabriela Carvalho, 19
I've always wanted to go on a mission but I wasn't sure how that would work with college and all, but now I know for sure. Mission first and then college. I have two short years to prepare and I can't wait!
— Mariana Stephens
I am 20 years old, and I am preparing to serve a mission sooner than expected due to the changing of age. I have always desired to serve a full-time mission. Ever since I was a little girl, being a missionary was something I wanted more than anything in the world. I wanted to serve those around me and show others why this gospel brings so much joy into my life. With the inspiration from Young Women leaders, friends in the church, and family I am determined to be the best missionary that I can be.
— Molly Johnson, 20, California
I had been praying for where I should go to university and what I should study. But the (answer I received was) to wait … Now I know he wants me to go on a mission. I know that I am in a good place in his hands and he will direct me throughout my life, if I will be faithful. I believe Thomas S. Monson said what he had to. … The announcement is a very good example for me that God answers our prayers.
Sometimes, we do not know how, but we have to trust in him that he will lead us.
— Olivia Kis, Eger, Hungary
Wow, I was in my ward watching conference, and when I heard about it my mom and I began crying. It was a moment that I would never forget! And I know that my family and I are going to be blessed. … I'm the youngest in the family, but my brother and sister didn't go on a mission, so I'm going be the first. That's why my mom felt so grateful and me, too ... I'm 18 now, but I'll be 19 in March, so I'm going to prepare all my papers before I turn 19 to leave near my birthday ... There's no doubt that announcement changed my life and my family's, too.
— Alba Saraí Rodriguez Espinal, Dominican Republic
Well, I was having problems with deciding what I was going to do after I graduate from high school, because I am going to graduate early and didn't know what could happen between high school, college and a mission (I have always felt like I needed to go on a mission). So one day, I was praying and I told Heavenly Father that I was willing to do whatever he wanted me to, but I needed his help to accomplish it. … The very next day, they announced the change in age. My life just kind of fell into place.
— Emma Esther Roberts
I was attending school this year and was going to finish getting my AA degree heading toward the medical field. But once the announcement came on at conference it has changed the plans. I'm not going to enroll in classes, but instead fill out all the paperwork and plan to leave in July. I'm ready to do the Lord's work and I want to go. I'm so excited now with this new change!
— Jordan Merrill, Pasco, Wash.
When I heard about the new missionary age, I was shocked and excited. I had ALWAYS planned on going on my mission at 21 and started saving half my money about a year ago so I don't have a whole lot saved. The new age introduces new questions such as how long will I go to college? How will I earn more money? Obstacles that I'm sure will be overcome with the Lord's help.
— Krysta Lynn Clipp
I'm currently 18 and have been impatiently waiting to turn 19 to leave on my mission. I enrolled in my first year of college and my plans were to just endure through my 18th year. So when the news came from President Monson that the age requirement changed, I was ecstatic. I got hold of my bishop that same day to start doing my papers and I finished them. … My second semester of school is not even a question anymore — I'm going to serve the Lord!
— Joshua Daniel Chronis, Provo
I didn't know if I would go on a mission or where I would be at 21, so I just didn't know if I would get the chance to go on a mission. But as soon as they changed the age from 21 to 19 I knew I would be going.
— Stephanie Hathenbruck, Farmington, N.M.2 comments on this story
I am one of the many young men and women that are being affected by the new missionary age requirement.
I had been planning and got accepted to go to college in eastern Arizona. I planned on playing another year of football there. I also thought I'd have a little more time to prepare myself for my mission ….
Also, I had planned on seeing my mom in that year's worth of time. I love her more than anything in the world. She recently had a splitting with her husband and I thought I'd be here for a little while longer to help her. I know the Lord will watch over her for me, but it's going to take faith on my part because I know the Lord has prepared me for this time and I'm ready to serve him in any way he needs me to.
— Tyler Dunevent