Dear 100 Hour Board,
What do you think about the new policy from the Church allowing missionaries to call home on Pdays?
I agree with Alta that it will be good for parents, especially for the parents of converts. I also think that it will be really helpful for missionaries that have mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. The press release makes it sound like one of the purposes of the change is to help involve families more, and encourage more member missionary work. I hope it has the desired effect on member missionary work, but at this point I'm not sure how it will turn out. I trust that it's inspired though.
I definitely think that it will be a weird transition period. I think that the next month will be filled with missionaries skyping every week for extended times with their families. I think it would be weird to be a missionary right now because Skype calls were something you looked forward to every 6 months, but now it can happen every P-Day. I think that in a few months it will be normal and not a distraction for missions, but that for the next few weeks working out all the details and conventions of the change will be weird. I'm actually glad this happened after I was a missionary because like Alta and Ardilla I appreciated the independence. My family also wrote really cool emails though.
One interesting thought I heard someone share was that missionaries being able to call their families every week would help missionaries be more normal and have a less awkward transition getting back from their missions. If this is the case than the new policy will definitely be worth it.
I'm relieved it happened after I was a missionary, because with weekly calls I think it would have been apparent even sooner how bad I am at staying in contact with my family. I also enjoyed the sense of being far away as a missionary--practically speaking, I was away from everyone I knew, so it was nice to have some time apart.
I think it makes a lot of sense, though, digital technology has made it much more feasible to do something like this, and it will probably allow many more missionaries to get emotional support that would probably be quite useful to them, because being a missionary is extremely taxing mentally and emotionally. I basically worked all day, every day, for two years with practically no time off?!? How did I even do that?
I do not know.
I think it's fantastic. More emotional and mental support from family? Yes, please. To be honest, it doesn't feel like a huge difference to me now because I know someone who just got off his mission and he was allowed to Facebook message people on p-days. I thought he was breaking the rules to do that, but he explained that his mission (and most missions, especially as most missions use Facebook) allowed missionaries to do that. In my day we just had emails, and my first mission president limited us to an hour of email time. If we were moving from that to weekly home calls I would be shocked. But because missionaries today are using Facebook to message home I feel like it isn't as big a change.
An additional thing I would change though is the passage in the white handbook that says "Share your spiritual experiences. Never include anything confidential, sensitive, or negative about the areas where you serve." Dearest readers, I want to burn this phrase out of every white handbook on the earth. Because of that phrase, super obedient Sister doom refused to write home about the mental and emotional abuse she received at the hands of her companion, who was later sent home early for physically abusing her companions. My family picked up on the fact that something was wrong, because the tone of my emails radically changed, but I refused to tell them because while obedience caused blessings, exact obedience meant miracles, and the white handbook told me I shouldn't write home about negative things, so I didn't. The PTSD I, and several of her other companions (we shared our horror stories during zone conferences while the other missionaries gaped at how bad it was), caused me to not trust anyone for several months and believe my family didn't love me anymore. I guess my first paragraph wasn't strong enough at conveying how desperately needed this change (plus my additional requested change) is. Could this make some missionaries less productive and distracted? Sure. But I would gratefully do that if it meant some missionaries didn't have to go through months of thinking their own families didn't love them because of the traumatic experiences they faced on the mission.
Sorry, that got a bit more emotional than I intended. I guess I think it's high time we stop idealizing missions. I loved my mission, but it also seriously messed me up. I'm grateful the Church is starting to recognize that and making changes to help missionaries. Goodness knows I wish that policy was around when I served.
-guppy of doom
I think it will be GREAT for parents, especially parents who aren't members of the Church, because rather than asking them to completely give up access to their children for 1.5-2 years, they get to talk with them each week. I know people who are converts to the Church whose parents probably would have been a lot happier with their decision to serve a mission had this policy been in place. I also think it makes the prospect of going on a mission a lot easier for a lot of people who otherwise might be pretty daunted by it. Right after the announcement came out I was talking with 14 year olds who were all saying, "I'm not afraid to go on a mission anymore!"
On the other hand, I can see some missionaries taking advantage of it (but there will be missionaries who take advantage of everything, so that's unavoidable, I guess). I'm also sort of glad it wasn't my personal experience, because I really appreciated the opportunity to develop my independence away from my family. Also, if you have a problem with a companion, there's no way you can tell your family about it on the phone with your companion sitting on the couch next to you, whereas if you're emailing your family it's a lot easier to air any grievances you have just so you can get them out of your system.