Receiving a mission call for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a celebrated event for young adults and their families. Extended family members and friends often gather to find out where their missionary will be serving, and the Internet has allowed those far away to participate, as well.
But since President Thomas S. Monson's announcement regarding the missionary age changes during October's general conference, the excitement surrounding mission calls has been increasingly shared through many social media channels. This event is no longer just for the family but has become a way for young people to share what they believe with the world.
Whether you look on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest or any other social media site, it is easy to find someone sharing news about missionary service. Take the Facebook page LDS Mission Calls, for example.
This group was created in October 2012 and already has more than 3,000 followers. The page has thousands of missionary announcement and videos of young men and women opening their calls. By simply scrolling through the latest posts, it's easy to see that a day, or even an hour, doesn't go by without several new announcements posted.
Not only has this group allowed future missionaries the opportunity to share their excitement, but these posts also allow members of the LDS faith from all over the world the opportunity to comment and connect.
In one video post, BJP opened his call to the Germany Berlin Mission. The video was posted to the Facebook on Monday and already has received several comments regarding the location where he will be serving.
Robert Marshall Cooper commented, "GREAT I served in Germany Hamburg at that time Berlin was in my mission. You will LOVE Germany. The Saints are STONG and the German people are great. Viel erfolg Elder."
Annette Pack Colledge also commented, "Awesome! My son is serving there right now! ... Great things are happening in Germany, and my son absolutely loves it there!"
Administrators of the page explained the purpose of the group and how to participate in a statement written on the page.
"This page is for those young men and young women and couples that get mission calls. On this page we will upload pictures and videos of those that send them to us, and we will post some from YouTube. Send pictures or videos of you, or someone you know, opening their mission call to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Southern Virginia University has also noticed the extra excitement around campus regarding mission calls. Kaye Hanson, the director of communications, explained how the SVU missionary video came about.
"We have a devotional every Friday, and we always say, 'Did anyone get a mission call this week?' And that's always a little bit embarrassing," Hanson said.
But at the start of the year, Hanson and her team decided to mix up the routine. That week they connected with students who had received a mission call the week before the devotional. Those students were asked if they would like to participate in the school's video production put on by students. Those who participated were asked about where they were assigned to serve and how they felt about the change of missionary age.
One sister who was called to the Utah Provo Mission expressed her reaction to the announcement President Monson made in October.
"I was really excited," she said in the video. "I'd always wanted to serve a mission, but it seemed so distant, and now it seemed so close. I could put my papers in anytime I wanted."
Hanson said that each Friday devotional at SVU has been a wonderful experience as several students receive their mission calls each week.
"The spirit of them supporting each other is there," Hanson said. "Half of our student body is already returned missionaries, so we're just talking about a little crowd in the freshman class."
Although the percentage of student body impacted is small, the excitement has spread across campus.
"We're all talking about, 'When are you going?' 'Where are you going?’ ” Hanson said. "We've been doing this announcement thing all along, and that's not a different thing. But we feel another energy in it because of the difference in them being able to go when they didn't think they could yet."
Students Called on LDS Missions
This school year more than 40 students at Southern Virginia University applied and received mission calls for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We interviewed a few of them.
Video by John Worthington and Communications & Marketing at Southern Virginia University.
Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for the Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and does other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.