17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SYTYCD and the Circle of Missionary Life

Summer reruns are only good in that they make room for awesome summer reality tv. Anyone else out there watching So You Think You Can Dance? I admit. I love it. For those who aren't reality show addicts, the main idea of the show is this: they take a group of really good dancers from all different dance backgrounds and challenge them with different genres of couple dancing every week. The rest is pretty typical: brutally honest judges, audience votes, people get voted off, tears are spilt while we watch a goodbye video montage.

The obvious crowd favorite is Benji who turns out to be a Mormon RM. It all came out in the first show. He told this heart wrenching story about how his girlfriend broke up with him while he was in Mexico serving a two-year mission for his church. The audience totally ate it up and he instantly became the favorite purely out of pity (now there are a million good reason to love him including his dancing, his personality, and his charity work). But my husband and I had to laugh out loud at all the pity he was receiving for what we all know is just a part of the "Mormon Missionary Circle of Life": go on mission, loose girlfriend to an RM, return from mission, marry a missionaries girlfriend.

I also had to laugh because Benji's first dance was a hip-hop number to "2 Much Booty In Da Pants". The crazy rump shaking dance was followed by a judge commenting "Does your church know you can dance like this?"

But anyway, back to the idea of "Mormon Missionary Circle of Life." My husband always says he feels like he didn't get the complete missionary experience because he didn't get a "Dear John" letter. But he did make his mark in the "Circle of Life" by marrying me, causing another Elder to receive a missionary experience complete with said "dear john" letter.

When I really start to think about it all, maybe the world has a better perception of the reality so many missionaries face. They go off committing to a life of service to the Lord for two years only to have the love of their life (at least at the time) not just break up with them but usually get married while they are away. Ouch! That does sound bad.

Should missionaries receive more pity when this happens? Should we be more angry at the girls who cast them aside for the missionary who just got home? (I couldn't be the first to cast stones on this one). Is loyalty undervalued? Or does the culture push some to become loyal too soon? Or maybe it's just a sacrifice that some missionaries have to make? Maybe it is just the "circle of life"?

For good or bad, it seems this "Circle of Life" has turned into somewhat of an accepted Mormon cultural "norm." What are your thoughts? What advice will you pass on to your children when they become of the "Circle" age (not that they will want to listen at that point)?

Or, just share a good "Dear John" story. Love those.


  • I had a missionary go out when I was still a senior in high school. (and still going to church) The advice I got from my brother whom had just returned and from my father was that I should NOT be dating anyone that goes on a mission. just be friends and move on and let them focus on their work.
    I didnt take the advice then, but will give the same to my children. You are way to young to know what you want and who you are. You need time to grow and experience life without any attatchments. Why shed your life with your parents just to pick up someone else. There was nothing more freeing, and inspiring than going out on my own, dating, meeting new and different people and not worrying about my boyfriend or his family.
    we kid of dear johned each other a while later, and when i look back I realize i wasnt loyal at all. it was my senior year and I had fun (not like that!) but i did date and didnt allow myself to be held back by a boyfriend in a foreign country.

    My brother is now on a mission and broke up with the girl before he left, for this reason. She still comes around and tries to write to him all the time. Shes trying real hard to stay connected to him and our family and i find that obnoxious. i want to tell her to get a life.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 7/19/2006 05:53:00 AM  

  • I remember receiving a dear john on my mission. I sang, danced, and joyfully rejoiced.

    See, I had broken up with this girl 4 months BEFORE I left on my mission. Somehow, she thought that was just a temporary, painful, "we need to be apart" time. I saw it as "stick a fork in our relationship, it's done."

    So when the delicately worded letter came, it was cause for rejoicing.
    posted by Blogger Eddie at 7/19/2006 06:54:00 AM  

  • Frist of all, since I don't (intentionally) have "bunny ears" for our TV, we have not actually watched "REAL" tv in about 2 years.. but I may start watching that show on the youtube online!!so fun!

    But to your post... I was quite involved in the whole Circle of life thing... i wish I really had not been so. First of all, helped convert a boyfriend in highschool, who thought we'd get married, then I went to BYU as he left for a mission to Australia. Then I started dating a pre-mission boy named Mark Jorgensen DESCRIPTION- 5' 10", Blonde hair Blue eyes (important to the story) ... he left on his mission to Guatemala...thinking we'd be "together forever" . I will say I immaturely led these boys on...not really admitting to "stay with them" but not breaking it off either...for a while. In comes Future DH! Well, I don't want to think what happened next is a direct result of my Dear John letter... but decide for yourself as these event transpired.

    So I write a Dear John to both boys. Australia boyfriend seems not shocked... but Guatemala boyfriend sadly after receiveing my letter has a fairly severe bike accident, breaks bones, is sent home for surgery... and finally reassigned.

    While he was home, though, I did get to talk to him on the phone...what was I to say? " Well, Mark, my fiance's name is Mark Morvensen, he'5'10" HAS bLOND HAIR AND BLUE EYES..." Yikes! A few too many similarities for comfort.

    Did I find a replacement for my boy on a mission? No I like to think I was just getting closer to what I wanted. When I met my final Mark, he was my DREAM!

    And my DH knew how it felt, his girlfriend of all through highschool Dear John-ed him too!

    My advice to my children will be NO SERIOUS DATING until COLLEGE! And take your time... and be mature! I was not really encouranged to not be serious with boyfriends so that's the direction I always took it. Anyway- that's my story!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 7/19/2006 07:16:00 AM  

  • I don't really have any "Dear John" stories, but I have to say that every time I watch that clip, I laugh so hard!!!

    I have to work tonight, but I'm definitely tivoing that show to watch after I get home!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 7/19/2006 08:03:00 AM  

  • I sent off a missionary when I was in high school. Yeah, that was dumb...let's see, 4 "dear john's" later, he finally got the picture.

    My sister got engaged 2 weeks before her missionary came home (which really WAS the right thing to do) and her missionary's mom was just devestated! More devestated than the missionary.

    I agree that "waiting" for a missionary is a little premature. There are only a slight few that actually marry their missionary. And hey, good for them. I, however, think it's ridiculous to think that a girl should go into cold storage for 2 years, never date, never experience anything, and then marry the only boy she ever dated. Seriously, that is a mid-life crisis waiting to happen.

    I would encourage my kids not to seriously date until college, and then to be wary of those Freshman boys. Oh, and RM's. Okay, so my kids won't be allowed to date until they are 25. Yeah, that would work...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/19/2006 08:40:00 AM  

  • quick question: is benji really Mormon? i watch the show sometimes, and got the impression his missionary work was related to his charity, DEMAND. Although it did seem to have some similarities to a Mormon mission (2 years, Dear John thing, etc). Anyways, i never heard it specifically called a Mormon mission, and was unsure. Plus his bio on the website doesn't really clarify whether it was a Mormon mission or Christian religion. Are you sure he's a Mormon?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 09:26:00 AM  

  • Yeah, he really is mormon although he is never mentions it specifically on the show.

    Click here to read about his choice to go on a mormon mission and how it shocked everyone in the swing dance world.

    And who else but a recently returned mormon missionary would state his hometown as not just the place he actually lives but also the place he went on his mission (found on his SYTYCD) bio page). So classic.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/19/2006 09:55:00 AM  

  • thanks, i hadn't seen that article...did you notice there were two other dancers from orem? i don't know that they're mormon, but i thought it a little odd that a little town like orem would be so well-represented...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 11:33:00 AM  

  • I am a big fan of "no waiting for missionaries." too fraught with peril, if you ask me.

    That being said, I do have a good waiting story. My BIL was dating his future wife, and she couldn't decide whether to marry him or go on a mission. She kind of decided she would put in her papers, and *if* she got called to Spain, she would go, and if not, she would stay home and get married. (I don't recommend this, by the way.)

    A little background - she gained her testimony in Spain, and really loved it, and wanted to give back, but I don't really think challenging the Lord like this is in general a good idea.

    Anyway, her call came, and lo and behold, she had been called to Spain. So she put the ring in her pocket, packed her bags, and left. While in the MTC, her call was changed to Mexico. Hee hee

    My BIL slowed down his academic career so he'd still be in school when she got home (and he was headed for med school). He didn't date the whole time, he considered himself engaged. She put the ring back on during the flight home, and they got married shortly after she came home, and later that year, graduated on the same day.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 7/19/2006 12:40:00 PM  

  • I've heard the bounced around statistic that 'waiting' for a missionary lasts about 10% of the time (thanks, mission prez., for the info!) Most girls that send boyfriends on missions are about 18 years old. My BIL just left two weeks ago and his girlfriend just graduated from high school. At least he was levelheaded about it and told her to go ahead and date and if she finds someone better, go for it. In today's society, 18 is too young to develop that kind of loyalty. IMHO, you should not marry your first boyfriend/girlfriend.
    That being said, I did marry a guy I dated before he left on his mission. He left at 22, and while he was gone, I spent 2 months in London, served my own mission, did a term at school, and went on a couple of very bad dates with a couple of other guys. I didn't 'wait', per say, but I guess I didn't not wait, either. I tried to 'Dear John' him twice, but it never stuck. I always said I wanted to wait at least a year after my mission to get married. Six months and one day after I got home from my mission, we got married. Oops.
    (I also had another 'missionary' out at the time when I left - I know, I'm a two-timer - he would write letters when he first left about how he wanted us to get married when he got home...when he got home and I wasn't around, he decided to date other girls. He got engaged 2 weeks before I got home - problem solved.)
    posted by Anonymous VirtualM at 7/19/2006 12:56:00 PM  

  • Wow couldnt disagree more!

    I started dating my husband senior year of HS, got serious freshman year of college, waited for him on his mission (never came close to meeting a guy that came close to measuring up, no less dated one), and we got engaged 2 days after he got home. Got married 4 months later. Very happily married.

    His parents did pretty much the same thing, been married for 30 years.

    No fewer than 3 of my roomates at college waited and married their missionaries.

    Don't want to pick on Utah - but maybe where mormon culture is stronger and EVERYONE you date is pretty much going on a mission - dear johning happens more?? I live in Texas, inlawas are from Cali, most of my roomates were from Hawaii. So, might have something to do with it.

    Let me tell you what the most annoying thing of that whole two years was: everyone telling me I was not going to last and laughing and shrugging me off like I was ignorant. I knew I was going to marry the guy, why would that be ignorant? I got so sick of people saying that you shouldn't wait for missionaries.

    Also, I (nor any of the others I know) was NOT on 'cold storage' for two years. What does dating have to do with experiencing life?? I went to school, traveled...it was an amazing two years. I just happened to already know who I was going to marry.

    And as far as the distraction thing, DH says I was one of the things that kept him most focused on his mission - he saw my support as a great boost.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 02:58:00 PM  

  • I sent a missionary out with this deal: I'll write to you. I won't be waiting for you, though. I'm going to date other people. If I'm dating someone when you return, you can try to win me back, but if I'm married, too bad. Kind of harsh, I know, but I didn't feel limited and I didn't feel like I closed all doors with him. I did end up 'dear john'ing him, for a guy who didn't feel comfortable with me writing to the missionary. I subsequently stopped dating that guy and married someone else--all before the missionary came home.

    Oh, and I don't regret it one bit-the missionary called me twice-from his mission-which made me think: if he can't keep the rules of a mission (there are some that I think are ok to fudge, but NO CALLING THE GIRLFRIEND!) then how can you keep the rules of a marriage, which are even stricter?
    posted by Blogger Lindsey at 7/19/2006 03:09:00 PM  

  • I'm a closet So You Think You Can Dance junkie, and my little 3 year old boy LOVES it. It makes me wish I took dance longer.
    As for the missionary Cirle Of Life. My parents never told me what to do, but I was a firm believer that missionaries shouldn't have signicant others. They need to focus on the Lord and worry about the love of their life later. There is potential for greater work without that distraction, although some can do it, but I feel it's better off if they don't have to think about it. So that is the advice I will give my kids, don't send a boyfriend or girlfriend on a mission. Just my opinion.
    posted by Blogger Erin at 7/19/2006 03:53:00 PM  

  • Im the same anonymous from above, and just to prove your theory wrong my husband, who decided to marry me before his mission, was AP in the MTC, senior comp on his first area (long story), and was AP for the last 8 months of his mission. Im not saying this as some sort of bragging thing, but to prove that he was an AMAZING missionary, and was not distracted, but motivated, by his girlfriend. Oh, and he started a ward on his mission also, which became two wards by the end of his mission. (this was in the states). He worked harder than most missionaries and was very successful - all with a serious gilfriend. (we didn't see it as 'girlfriend' as much as 'future spouse'). All my friends who married 'their missionary' would tell you similar stories.
    Why should having a girlfriend prevent you from focusing on your work?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 04:12:00 PM  

  • shouldn't a missionary work hard for the lord and not for a girlfriend or future-spouse?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 04:33:00 PM  

  • I guess it is different here in Utah. And parts of Idaho where I grew up. The most common thing I saw was this: Girl dates Boy. Boy goes on mission. Girl goes to local community college and/or works while living with mom and dad. Girl dates NOBODY. Boy comes home. Girl and Boy marry. OR let's add the best twist that is so very common amongst some Provo people now-a-days --Boy comes home and DUMPS Girl because he's not sure if she's the one.

    I can't even count how many times I've seen this scenario. I'm not saying there aren't successes out there (from some above comments, you can see that there are), but that doesn't mean it should be the standard or pursued as a logical and firm course of action.

    Missionaries are out there to serve God and God alone. My DH had so many companions that literally sucked at being missionaries until they were "Dear Johned". Suddenly, those distractions (and it really was a distraction) were gone and the missionary could focus again upon what he was out there to do. Sure there are some missionaries that do fine with a girlfriend. But there seems to be so many more that do better without one (my 2 brothers included).

    Now I'm not saying that missionaries don't need support, but isn't that what family and friends are for? Why does there have to be a fiance? My DH had a "girlfriend" of sorts on the mission, too, but they broke up a month before he left. It was strictly a friendship and I can tell by their letters that it never went beyong that. She was a rock to him and I'm grateful he had such a great friend to write to because she was the only sane person writing him while his parents' divorce back home was raging throughout his mission.

    But he didn't marry her.

    I think we should just add this one to the Wiz's DOOM!! subjects. :) Experiences in this are obviously very, very different.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/19/2006 06:19:00 PM  

  • P.S. Not that I'm an expert on SYTYCD (because I rarely watch it), but my SIL, who grew up in Orem is a dancer, and I guess there are TONS of dancers from Orem that have made it big. There was a girl who was on the Dancing with the Stars last year that was from Orem as well. They've done huge articles in the local SLC papers talking about how much dancing talent there is in Orem. Random, eh?
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/19/2006 06:47:00 PM  

  • My DH's mission pres (who's wife waited for him when he served his mission), said his best leaders had a solid relationships at home.

    The logic that you are only serving the lord and not working hard for a future-spouse is pretty faulty. First of all, these succesful missionaries with girlfriends aren't working 'for' their girlfriend - they are working for the Lord, and their spouse, whom the will be working for the Lord in partner with shortly, is part of their support network.

    Girls who have a boyfriend who happens to leave on a mission while they are dating, aren't really what Im talking about. If you wait, seriously wait, it is because you KNOW you are getting married. Its not an 'if', for me (and everyone else I know) there was no question, no hesitation. Personal revelation was involved, and 'waiting' two years was just a logical progression, not a sacrifice of any sort. Not all relationships are the same, and obviously a casual relationship on a mission is pointless.

    Also, many of you seem to be thinking that that the waiting situation seems to be a thing that begins in HS - don't most missionaries have about a year of college under their belt? Me and DH spent a year away from home at college together before he left - and two of the coulpes that 'waited' that I know met their freshman year, not in HS. How is waiting for a missionary for two years (in which you can finish school, travel, or do whatever) different or worse than getting married at 19 after one semester of college??

    The reason I keep pushing this is because everyone seems to think it a good idea to teach their kids/youth to NOT wait for missionaries or to not have a girlfriend when you leave. Well, have that ingrained in them can mess some people up if they meet their spouse before.

    I waited successfully for a missionary, and it was the best thing ever. But that doesn't mean I will teach my kids that that is what they SHOULD do...yet, you all seem to think because any 'waiting' experience you have was bad or didn't work, that you should teach your kids that this is a thing you should always avoid. How about teaching the youth to date to marry, being open to the spirit, and letting that lead where it may?

    Sorry, this attitude is obviously a pet peeve of mine =)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 08:07:00 PM  

  • If you wait for a missionary, you are socially deprived and doomed forever.

    If you don't wait for a missionary, you are spiritually deprived and doomed foerever.

    If you watch SYTYCD, you are doomed forever, unless you are from Orem, for some reason.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 7/19/2006 08:37:00 PM  

  • i am the anon that wrote "shouldn't a missionary work hard for the lord and not for a girlfriend or future-spouse?" - i should have phrased this better. i think being on a mission is a time when an individual can develop a solid relationship with the lord, apart from their family/friends/home ward/girlfriend. when you mix in a girlfriend, i think that missionaries may work just as hard if not harder for that "solid" relationship with the lord for their girlfriend. the girlfriend is the reward for their strong testimony. lets face it, women can be a huge incentive for young men, even missionaries. i think that testimonies are built stronger when they are built individually, not with another person. i don't know if this makes sense. say for instance, that the missionary & girlfirend got married & then divorced.. i think that the RM's testimony will waver more because he didn't build it soley as an individual. you are free to disagree. just my thoughts.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2006 09:46:00 PM  

  • No missionary experiences here (except for that RM who wanted to marry me after 2 dates)but....
    SYTYCD is my fledgling love. I loved the contemporary number with Ivan last week. Hot, hot, hot. Someone commented on my blog that Heidi is Benji's cousin and also a MO, but I can't confirm that.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 7/19/2006 11:51:00 PM  

  • Mo Mommy, if you follow the link from tftcarrie's first comment (about whether or not he's actually a mormon) you'll find an article about him winning the US swing dance championships with his cousin, Heidi Groskreutz. Yep, same Heidi, unless there is more than one Heidi Groskreutz that has won the us swing championship. SO funny, because I didn't put that together when I went to read the article the first time.
    posted by Blogger marian at 7/20/2006 05:00:00 AM  

  • A girlfriend a reward for a testimony?

    You are making the assumption that all guys leaving on a mission are some sort of imbecile with no testimony and no ability to think and live independantly.

    Speaking from my personal experience - my DH went on a mission because he had a strong testimony and relationship with the Lord and so felt he should serve a mission. That relationship definitly deepened, but, in a religion that believes in marriage the way we do, it is so crazy to think that developing that relationship isn't something that can be shared with their future wife.

    In fact, it is sharing those experiences that has deepened our relationship and made it as solid as it is. I learned from his example as a missionary and vice versa.

    Again, those of you who seem to be so anti-waiting, what do you feel about all the many people that get married at 19? And, if you are going to teach your kids that waiting is 'bad', will you teach them that this is 'bad' also? And, do you think these attitudes are going to delay your children getting married, and do you really think this is a good thing?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 06:48:00 AM  

  • Anon-
    I got married at 19. To an RM. Whom I didn't wait for.

    Somehow, I don't think I was Bad. And I never said that I would force my children not to "wait". I would never force my children to do anything. I just think that the prevelant attitude here in Provo that waiting for a missionary is the "hip" thing to do will be a future detriment to them spiritually and emotionally. If one of them did wait for a missionary and all was well, then yay for them. But do you realize how often your story no longer happens? You are rare.

    I refer once again to the Wiz (and her last comment...)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/20/2006 07:26:00 AM  

  • I am one of the few, and for me that has made all the difference. My husband and I waited for each other while he served a mission in Italy for 2 years. I met him when I was well out of High school (which I think, at the get go, makes our story stand out. I was living on my own in LA and met truly the love of my life. Since he is a year younger, that made him a pre missionary. I grew up in Florida where I seldom if ever heard of a "waiting for a missinary story." and of course living in LA most people (non LDS) thought this was such a remarkable love story. To wait for the one you love. So many let that one slip away, and never are truly happy. I can honestly say I married the love of my life, we waited, and we got what we wanted. While he was on his mission I finished college at BYU Hawaii. For many people there my story was a dime a dozen and well, a bit of a joke. To me it was my life, my tears, my love, and my journey. I don't blame them it is most of the time a big joke and silly thing. All I can say for us it was love and inspired by the heavens, otherwise I would have never been able to do it. We have been married for almost 4 years and have a little boy now. I will inspire my children to follow there hearts, and follow your prayers because nothing beats marrying the love of your life!! It is worth the sacrifice and sarcasam because anything really awesome is worth fighting for. This is my story and I LOVE it. For us waiting for each other made all the differenc. :) PS this blog is so great, I love reading all your stories and advice for a new mom. You girls ROCK!
    posted by Anonymous Melisa at 7/20/2006 08:49:00 AM  

  • More Doom...

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news (I mean, heck, I married a guy I dated before we went on missions) but the reverse of post-mission wedded bliss happens a lot.
    I had a dear friend from Orem back when I lived in Utah. She dated her ex-husband in high school, he went on the mission, she knew they were going to get married and she had the whole wedding planned before he got home. Both had changed in the 2 years. She's now 26 with 2 little kids, no education, and an ex-husband.
    Another story...my BIL had a girlfriend from a troubled family. They dated pre-his mission and while he was gone, she basically moved in with my in-laws and planned the wedding. They were married within 2 months of him coming home and it's been an extremely rocky several years. He's admitted that if he could go back, he'd take the time to get re-acquainted with her before jumping into marriage, which possibly would've led to not getting married at all (his thoughts on the matter.)
    These doom stories do not happen for everyone, as this comment thread would indicate. But missions can and do change people...it's worth getting to at least KNOW the person again after they return home. 'Wait' if you choose - just know that a quick marriage might not always be best.
    I'm not sure what I'll tell my kids, but I think being close friends rather than 'lovers' would be my personal preference, having been on a mission myself. (I had friends who would write their missionaries and the letters would get way too sex-focused.) And no engagements within a week of returning home!
    posted by Anonymous VirtualM at 7/20/2006 09:16:00 AM  

  • Moral of the Story

    The moral of this story is follow your heart! For some reason in this life we love to dwell on the tragic side of things and dish about all the negative. Remember when you were pregnant for the first time anticipating everything and you would hear story after story about scary things that could happen, epidural or no epidural, c section, or no c section, and on. Then you had your experience. And it was that yours! Of course there are scary things that can happen in this life, but we can't be scared out of living.

    But the deal is, this is your journey no one elses they might of had bad experiences, but that shouldn't scare in or out of your path. This is ineveitable of life, we love to give our 2 cents, to people: stay at home mom/working mom, Raise kids in NYC/Raise kids in Utah, Six kids/Two kids, Wait for a missionary/Don't ever dream of waiting for a missionary, Two week engagement/Six Year engagement.

    The point is follow your heart in life. Only you will truly know and if it's not about your engagement to your RM being too quick, it will be about where you live or how you style your kids hair. It's kinda a danged if you do and a danged if you don't. Thank goodness for personal prayer and the power to tune into the heavens to know how to handle this fragile thing called life!! :)
    posted by Anonymous Melisa at 7/20/2006 09:52:00 AM  

  • Hmm. I guess I didn't know waiting was really something that very many people did anymore. I am one of 7 girls and none of us had missionary boyfriends. I know of only a few more examples.

    My own opinion here: I personally want both my son and daughter to go on missions and think that 19-21 is too young for most people to marry. (Obviously there are exceptions!) I think 25 is about right. Again, my opinion and my own biases are showing through. But, I know that my kids will have to make these decisions on their own, and hope most of all to teach them to be independent in their testimonies and empowered to make confident decisions. And then hope that I can live comfortably with what they've decided!
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 7/20/2006 11:21:00 AM  

  • Interesting comments....I dated my dh pre-mission and had no idea that there was a whole culture involved sending off a missionary. I thought it was odd when people would ask me are you going to wait for him. I did not wait for him. I went to college, studied abroad, interned in D.C., and things worked out.

    We wrote to one another on his mission and it was great because he shared his experiences as a missionary and I shared my expeiences as an investigator. I love our letters, but I do have to admit now as a mother I really do not want my children to see the sappy letters.

    As a non-member I really had no idea what a mission was, but now that I have two sons and I am a member I don't think I am going to celebrate if they tell me that they have a girlfriend that is going to wait for them on my porch until they get home.

    I now realize that missionary work is hard and as members we should all try to minimize distractions for missionaries. The discussions would have been more helpful for me if the missionaries would have stayed on topic (tractors, Dear John letters, and cars really did not add to the spirit). So when my sweet sons do reach the "circle age" I think I will tell them the same thing I tell them now -Stay Focused.
    posted by Blogger trimama at 7/20/2006 12:58:00 PM  

  • good luck telling your children who and when they can marry,Sounds like that will push them far away
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 01:34:00 PM  

  • Letters were sex focused? They had lame girlfriends. Ditto the anon above...telling you kids who to marry or whether to have a boyfriend/girlfriend or who to marry or when is just all around a bad idea. Teaching them to marry is a good idea, especially the boys. Teach them to ask girls on those things called dates...and to bring flowers and to actually try kissing the girl. Mormon guys, and RMs really seem to struggle with that. You don't want your kid stuck in that dateless black hole. When you get there, your gonna want grand kids, trust me.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 02:13:00 PM  

  • the comments have kinda gone back and forth, but to address the questions of the original post...

    Loyalty IS undervalued. When a couple are in love and want to get married post-mission, this should be embraced and encouraged! Why would our youth committing themselves to a good relationship with the temple in mind EVER be a bad thing? If it is not a serious relationship and marraige is not decided on before...well, I don't know why there would be any waiting involved in those type of situations.

    Now, I suppose in Utah (or heavy mormon areas), most girls evidently have their boyfriends leave on missions while they are still in high school? This seems odd to me since boys are 19 or older when they leave (maybe we should encourage the youth to date people their own age and not pair off with 19 year old boys when they are still in HS?)

    Commitment, loyalty, and a goal of marriage (whether it is at 19 or 40 or 2 months after getting home from a mission) in the temple should be what we teach our kids. No 16 year girl of mine will be dating boys two or three years older than her, thats for sure (isn't this against the strength for youth?. She can do that when she gets to collge :)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 04:06:00 PM  

  • "Why would our youth committing themselves to a good relationship with the temple in mind EVER be a bad thing?"

    Because sometimes, having a marriage that begins in the temple is just not enough.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 04:14:00 PM  

  • Wow, people have got some strong feelings about missionaries with girlfriends. Thanks for sharing your stories. It's interesting to see how many paths the same choice can take you on. Thankfully we can have the spirit as our guide through all of it.

    The Wiz - LOVE your doom comment. It just never gets old!

    Mo Mommy - Heidi is Benji's cousin but I can't find anything to confirm that she is mormon too. I wouldn't make that assumption.

    Here's my dear john story: I was SURE I had met the man(boy) of my dreams during my freshman year of college. So, so, so sure. My family made jokes when he left on his mission saying I would never make it. And they were absolutely right (although I could have done without all the teasing). I had never committed to actually "wait" - not date, but I was sure it was meant to be with my missionary, so it didn't really matter who I dated in the meantime because he would never be quite as great. I met my husband before my missionary even left for the MTC and we were engaged three months later, my missionary got a super short, pathetic excuse for a "dear john" letter and I got married three months after that.

    I feel bad for any emotional heartache I put that missionary through, but looking back I don't think I could have done anything much differently. The feelings I felt for him at the time were real but how quickly they changed when my husband came into the picture. I guess you can call me fickle or "led by the spirit".

    When it come to my kids, I don't know what I will tell them. I do think, more times than not, having a girlfriend while on a mission is emotionally trying for both people involved. People with "happy endings" will probably say it's worth it, but I am not so sure.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/20/2006 04:31:00 PM  

  • Your right, you have to have a temple marriage AND keep the covenants you make there...again, why would encouraging our youth toward the temple marraige thing be bad? Do we not have faith in their ability to keep thier covenants and have a strong marriage?

    People seem so afraid of divorce lately that they thing postponing marriage is some sort of answer to that. Marriage is hard hard work no matter when you get married, but the as we all know the blessings are tremondous. I cannot wrap my mind around why we would ever lead our youth to believe this should be postponed. Sorry, hope I haven't threadjacked too much.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 04:34:00 PM  

  • I have two thoughts. First I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, "so you think you can dance!"

    Having Benji on the show has created quite a mormon following. What I hope comes of it, is that mormons will validate dance more now and in the future. IT seems in the church that the only talent that gets any credit is singing or playing the piano. IT gets old! Dance is a form of the arts just as much as anything else,and requires HUGE amounts or training to be any good at all.

    Second, waiting for a RM? Really, at 19? I hope my daughters wait to decide who they are going to marry after they have grown up a bit. And I hope my sons live a little life before and after the mission before they jump into marrage. I am not a fan of forcing our youth into marrage so young.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 07:15:00 PM  

  • All those that hate people finding their love at 19 at what age did you marry or find love? What is too young? and what is "how sad there in the family ward because they got kicked out of the singles ward"
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/20/2006 09:06:00 PM  

  • "Live a little life" before getting married? What, marriage is a death sentence?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/21/2006 07:11:00 AM  

  • I just want to say I hope my anecdotes yesterday didn't come off too strong. DH was telling me last night that I am a 'doomsayer' and it's one of my personality perks. :)
    That being said, if my kids feel very strongly about something (getting married young, waiting or leaving a girlfriend, etc.), I will support them - I will just encourage them to do it with their eyes open. It's like when I got married...my dad asked DH if he knew what he was getting into. DH now sometimes jokes that he should've listened, but at least he was warned!
    Anon- marriage isn't a death sentence, but there is something to be said for having some experiences living with roommates, being on your own, etc., before getting married. I think such experiences generally help to make one more well-rounded, but this is my opinion. I'm also fiercely independent, so I relished my time when I was single and living away from home. I got to know myself independent of anyone else and it was very empowering FOR ME. (I'm one of the ones that cringes when a security systems (summer sales), very young new wife gets up in Relief Society and tearfully bears her testimony about how she's never been away from her mom until now.)
    And a lot of these mission relationships with the girls in high school start out when the boy is also still in high school. He might be a year older and graduate a year before her, hence he leaves while she's still there. She's probably 17 or 18. This is what happened with both of my BILs.
    posted by Anonymous VirtualM at 7/21/2006 08:24:00 AM  

  • Utah is truly a world unto its own.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/21/2006 10:03:00 AM  

  • "Your right, you have to have a temple marriage AND keep the covenants you make there"

    i think its even more than that.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/21/2006 04:22:00 PM  

  • I don't watch SYTYCD...but maybe I will start now that my power is back on...

    My story: I was dating a 19 year old boy when I was 17. He went to the temple and approached me after, telling me I was the one for him. This just a few days before he left for his mission. I have no idea what I said...probably: "ok?"

    The feeling obviously wasn't mutual. I gave him my picture and wrote him maybe twice. He didn't seem to care in the least. I think sometimes us girls back home think we are really breaking our missionary's hearts, but they are too busy to think of us (I think)...and for me I imagine it was a relief for him.

    While he was gone I dated and fell in love with a guy who I did not marry. Then I dated and fell in love with another guy and got engaged. I also dated in between these two...so I had experience (ha-ha, by this time I was 19).

    I still thought I needed closure, so when he got home I went over to his house and talked to him for a while and told him my news, and that was that. I really don't know how he felt about the whole thing, but he is married with cildren now, so I think it turned out ok.

    And though I was married at 19 to an RM 6 years my senior...I do not recommend getting married at that age to anyone, and that will apply to my lovely daughters as well.

    I do not regret my decision, just think it would have been better timing a little later. Perhaps. I will never know!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/23/2006 09:19:00 AM  

  • This may be a bit off the topic, but as been brought up earlier in the blog and the idea of marrage at the age of 19.

    What I dont understand is why the church pushes both RM's and young women to marry so soon. What I mean by "live a little life" is simply finding out who you are. At the age of 19 you are still growing so much personally, and havent experienced much life outside of home. Maybe a bit of school, but what about personal goals, traveling, and being on your own two feet for a while?

    The big question is "WHO EVER SAID YOU CANT HAVE BOTH?"

    The best thing I ever did for my self was leave my comfort zone, (let a missionary go on his missions without any strings attatched to me,) move away from home, finish school, and live my dream of playing my favorite sport professionly. Something I had been working toward since the age of 2.

    Then at 26 yrs old, I met a RM, also my age, BYU graduate, successful, knew who he was, and want he wanted, and we were sealed in the temple. Never been happier! So again...

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/24/2006 12:00:00 PM  

  • From this SLT article, it looks like there are 4 Mormons in the top 20. http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_4096154
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/26/2006 02:17:00 PM  

  • So funny that I came across this page... I myself is currently waiting for a missionary. It's interesting to read all of everyones comments and thoughts. Let me tell you my story. I am 21 years old and my missionary is 22. He is a little older then most missionaries that go out, but in my opinion, thats better. He has been out 1 year now and we are still connected 110%. We are getting married when he gets back, and thats without a doubt. We have been dating 3 and half years (one being on his mission). He baptized me about 2 years ago....I say that it is all in love and faith. I know that this is the man I am going to marry, and he knows I am the woman he will marry. I think a girlfriend is a "distraction" only if the missionary lets it be one. I too was always told things like, "oh you're not going to wait" or "girlfriends are a distraction"....It's quite disappointing to see people quick to judge negatively rather than optimistically. What is meant to be, will be. We're meant to be cause I know without a shadow of a doubt that Heavenly Father put us together for a reason. Oh and I am not dating.... I personally feel like I would be cheating because technically you're not single....but thats my opinion....when you're in love and know who you're going to marry, why date?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/20/2006 12:58:00 AM  

  • It's really important to note that every situation is different and every situation should get different advice. I'm "waiting" for a missionary right now. I don't lock myself in my room and look through pictures of us to pass the time, I read my scriptures and conference talks, I pray often, I spend time with my family and, (surprise!) I date. I attend my YSA activities and get to know other guys, I go on dates, I enjoy myself. I'm a typical LDS girl who just happens to have fallen in love with someone who I couldn't be with right then. However, we have every chance of being together in the future. We dated for 5 months before he left, and we loved every moment of it. Now I get the chance to see if I find that with anyone else. If I don't, I'm going to marry my missionary. I've prayed a lot about this, I read my patriarchal blessing, and it really does feel right. I have no intention of saying that this is the only way to find your husband, but it happens to be mine. No one else has the exact same circumstance, so to everyone else I say: Follow your heart, but, more importantly, follow the promptings of the spirit.
    posted by Blogger Kaila at 5/24/2007 09:44:00 AM  

  • It's so funny reading everyone's strong opinions on this topic. Especially because every single situation is different and there is no way to predict the outcome (unless you know the people really well...)

    I am sort of waiting for a missionary. He's 22, I'm 20. he's been out 8 months now... Miss him heaps - the thing is, we didn't date before he left. We decided that it would be silly to do that (very glad now, it would be even harder if we had). We were inseperable best friends for about a year. Most people thought we were in denial, i think. We also decided that it was silly to wait - for both of us the idea of me putting my life 'on hold' was not an option, you never know what opportunity you will waste.

    I seem to have the opposite to everyone else - I tell people I'm not waiting (just we'll see what happens) and they tell me that we'll get married when he gets back. Very strange to have RS ladies telling me that I should wait...

    I date, but what usually happens is sooner or later (usually sooner) the guy realises that I have a best friend who I write all the time. Then they meet my friends who say "what about Tristan?" while the new guy is around. Which leads to them breaking up with me, before I get a chance to get to know them properly. Couldn't date anyone while he was home, can't date anyone while he's gone... I 'Dear Johned' him once, while I was dating a boy - it wasn't really a Dear John, it was more of a "i'm dating someone so tough luck for you dude". I kept writing and 4 months later we broke up because he couldn't handle the gossip about me and Tristan. Go figure.

    We realise that we will both change dramatically, and we both have the same opinions about getting to know each other, dating for at least 6 months before getting engaged. We both believe that if you know you are going to be with someone for all eternity, why rush it? Why not enjoy it?

    Anyway, that's my story, and my opinion. Obviously I wouldn't say this is what you should do to any of my future children - I think the advice I would give them is to marry your best friend, don't make promises you can't keep, and follow the guidance of the spirit.

    My missionary's sister started dating her missionary when she was 17, he was 19. He got home 6 months ago, I think they're engaged now, not sure. He's 22 and she's 20. I'm not one of those waiting girls that lives at their missionary's house. They love me though, and I've had some pretty scary conversations with my missionary's Mum about marrying him...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/05/2007 08:25:00 PM  

  • I was amazed at reading your post, as everybody seems to identify one thing as being right for everybody. I guess my thought is that it isn't up to us - to say whether it is right or wrong that a Mormon woman and man decide to stay together while he serves a mission. For some people that could be exactly what gets them through - the encouragement and assurance that somebody is at home to help take care of loved ones and the things that he would usually do is comforting, strengthening, and exactly what keeps them focused on the Lord. Sometimes, it would be only a distraction. Heavenly Father knows each individual in each relationship. It shouldn't be YOUR decision alone to stay together or YOUR decision alone to split up. I think it should be a matter of prayer and revelation. In my personal experience, I had a VERY direct answer. Nobody else should judge another's relationship with Heavenly Father, and if everything in your life is truly given to the Lord, waiting/not waiting is certainly a part of that.

    I'm also compelled to talk about my own personal conversion story, so that my point of view can be better understood. When I was very young, my friends in grade school who were LDS decided to stop speaking to me or being friends with me because I wasn't a part of their faith. They were cruel, and their parents were the same way toward my parents and others around me who weren't members. I grew to hate the church. I lead a lot of people away from it. I hated the hypocrisy, the judgment, the names, and prejudice I fought all the way through school. It was problematic because my father's family (although my dad wasn't practicing) was all LDS...

    Then, I went to Vassar, an Ivy-league equivalent school in New York. It is the number one most liberal institution in the country, and the least likely place for me to have to deal with the church. There, I met mine. He was not judgmental. He didn't care that I wasn't Mormon. He saw me for who I was, despite all the sin that was in my life. He just told me that all that mattered is that I wanted to love the Lord. We had tons of prophecy and revelation between us unlike I've ever seen happen before. We were put in charge of a lot of other people's lives, (we are EMTs) and could only complete what Heavenly Father put in front of us together. Neither of us wanted to think about dating, but after a long time... about 3 months of being really close friends and "not having feelings for each other," we prayed... ALOT. We spent a long time studying together, even more so than usual. One Saturday, we spent all day reading and praying, and then we were lead to chapter and verse telling us to be together. After that, I had a lot of personal revelation telling me to go to church with him, and then he baptized me, to the dismay of my older brother and sister who have now told me I'm going to hell, and alot of my friends from high school. But we strengthened each other, and made each other learn what it meant to remain righteous and faithful. He hadn't understood until then that he had been forgiven of the fornication he had committed before he came to the church.

    Since then, Heavenly Father took us to my family's home in Montana for him to help my family, to his home to help his family... and the changes in both of our lives are astounding. There are things he couldn't do that only I could and vice-versa. Because of the righteousness in our relationship that we protect together at all costs, my father, for the first time EVER, comes home at night and helps clear the table and works outside. He takes my mother out to dinner, and tells her he loves her. While these are small tasks, they weren't happening for 20 YEARS... And as for my effect on his family, his sister talked about God for the first time after following way about a year ago, as a result of our relationship. His father, a life-long alcoholic, for the first time EVER listened to him and what he wanted for his own life. He accepted it. We've taken care of my grandmother during her last days on earth (directly after we decided to start dating), and a good friend from college who had a stroke. Together, we are helping a family - a mom and her two children, who just lost their father. Together, we do A LOT more than we ever could have apart. And I've prayer and prayed and prayed about staying together, wanting it to be Heavenly Father's will whatever the answer was. And every time we pray about it and staying righteous, it's very clear that we are supposed to be together, to strengthen each other, and be there for each other. He prayed for a long time about how he could leave his twin sister. Now, his sister and I are close that he has peace about it. So yes, we do KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we should wait through his mission, but not because WE want to of our own accord, but because Heavenly Father has lead us together. We are the greatest blessing to each other. I want him to go on his mission. I can't wait, for him to go and bless our family, for me to be here and prepare to go set up and orphanage with him when he returns and we both finish med school, to be a mother to our children and many others. I can't wait. I'm one of his biggest supporters. I love him, and I'm waiting... as a matter of course, as a blessing, not as a burden.

    So in answer to the posed question, I think it can be the right or wrong decision to wait for a missionary. It is dependent on what Heavenly Father wants, and if you want to make the right choice, you should ask. Maybe the answer is that either could be a righteous decision, but regardless, nobody else should make that judgment except those in the relationship, after asking Heavenly Father what they should do.

    Thanks for listening and blessings to you all.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/19/2007 10:50:00 AM  

  • I'm not a mormon, but do know a little about mormon beliefs. What I think is awesome about these stories is that there is always someone else to marry. The guy goes on a mission and his girlfriend breaks up with him and someone is always there to take his place. That must be pretty great because where I live (Alabama) most guys are not that religious (whether it be mormon, christian ect.) and don't want to get married. If some guy went on a mission around here it would be unusual, but I can tell you that there would not be 10 guys ready to pick up where he left off. My question is, Why even date/get engaged to someone that could potentially be a mission down the road? All it is doing, in most cases, is leading to heartbreak. Why don't girls (that are mormon) only date guys that have returned from their mission already? Personally, if someone can wait on a guy for 2 years then I would think that would make the marriage stronger. I mean if you can't wait on your future husband for 2 yrs then that just proves the marriage wasn't gonna work out to begin with. I would also think that waiting would be a strong testement to how solid the relationship is. I can see both sides of the argument, because I don't see why some young girl right out of highschool should have to wait on a guy for 2 yrs when they have not experienced life, but at the same time I can't understand why someone a little older can't wait. If you let your children believe that it is okay to just break up with a guy when they go off on a mission, doesn't that teach your children not to be loyal? If their husbands were in the army and would be gone for a long time, would you tell them to divorce that person and remarry another. Or worse find someone to take his place just while he was gone? I don't really see how having a girlfriend could get in the way of a mission. I can however see how breaking up with a guy while he is on a mission could be a distraction. The guy could spend the rest of his time heartbroken and worrying about their ex girlfriend with another guy. I am a strong believer in people waiting til they are atleast 20 to get married, but that's still pretty young. I couldn't imagine getting married at 18 or 19. Anyway, I am just so amazed with the fact that if you break up with a guy on a mission, there seems to always be someone to take his place.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/29/2008 04:12:00 PM  

  • I'm 20 and currently waiting for a missionary... He's been out for a year now and yes, we do plan to get married when he gets home.
    We have been together for 3 years now (1 year of which has been whilst he's been on his mission). I think under different circumstances I wouldnt advise only dating one person, nor would I advise waiting, but in my case, it's just how things have happened. We began dating at 17 years old and although I had been on dates before he's my only real boyfriend... some people may say that we don't know what else is out there, but believe me, he makes me laughs more than anyone and he makes me SO happy. He makes me want to be a better person and at 19 he was worthy to serve a mission... we both attend higher education (me currently and him pre mission) and we have the goal of a temple marriage. Although dating one person doesnt sound ideal-if they really make you so happy-whny break up with them just to date others? Since he's been away I have completed a year of my degree at university and I have spent 2 months travelling in South East Asia. In the final year of his mission, I will complete school at a university in Spain where I will complete my Spanish degree whilst being able to live abroad and gain more life experience.
    We write and email weekly and I genuinly feel that we have gotten closer then ever over the past year. He has been the zone leader for 2 transfers now and has also served as a district leader and a trainer and I know that he is a fantastic and hard working missionary.
    I would NOT advise waiting in all cases, however I think it comes down to the individuals and I think it is unfair how people categorise all waiting couples as being wrong and deeming them not to work...
    It's hurtful, but at the end of the day-I am very happy and I know my missionary is... we are both gaining fantastic life experences right now and we are both worthy people-where is the harm in our story?!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7/26/2008 04:35:00 AM  

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