It seems every Conference of late there are two primary rumors: That men will have missions shortened to 18 months or that women will have missions lengthened to 24 months. It could be both, right? Wouldn’t that be a fun inversion of norms?
Just recently, a photo made the rounds on social media alleging a mission call for a sister for 24 months.
It’s a bit grainy, but you can see a few oddities. For one, it doesn’t start off with the usual introductory language, although that could also be because of the location: Russia, which is currently not super friendly to missionaries, or rather, “volunteers.” But when you get past that, you’ll notice the paragraph ends with the statement, “It is anticipated that your volunteer service will last for a period of 24 months.”
24 months! Finally! Equity with the Sisters! Woo hoo!
Reportedly, even though this photo was verified in some circles as legitimate, those who furnished it went on to say that the Church contacted them and told them it was a printing error. Uh huh. Sure.
It would be awesome to see the Sisters be able to serve for just as long as the Elders. The Lord does as is necessary, but since we already allow women to serve two years earlier than they would have — and specifically because it’s easier to serve at 19 than at 21, when life gets real and post-college life (and marriage) come calling — it could also stand to reason that tacking on an extra six months won’t, uh, “hurt” one’s chances of finding an appropriate beau and popping out kids. Not trying to be glib here, but, well, come on.
When it comes to men having shorter missions, there’s a precedent. The pioneer era is replete with examples of men serving missions lasting well beyond two or three years without once seeing their families. We’ve certainly moved beyond that model, and in that time, mission length has varied. Two years has been the norm, but 18 months has happened in the past, as has a standard of three years for missionaries learning a foreign language.
But to sum up the true importance of this, we’ll quote someone from Facebook: “For the elders, though, they are doing away with the first six months and keeping the last productive 18 months.”
Lastly, one that hasn’t gone around as much anymore was the rumor that was everywhere six months ago: Huge changes were coming to missions, and the place and duration of a mission would be revealed at General Conference. Now, that sounded cool, and while some changes did come forth a month later, why on earth would individual mission calls — potentially thousands of them — be discussed at General Conference? This one won’t die, but we are going to ignore it.