On Oct. 6, 2012, during the 182nd Semiannual General Conference Saturday morning session, it was announced that the age limits for missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have changed. Men’s age requirements dropped from 19 to 18, and women’s age requirements dropped from 21 to 19.
Since the announcement, applicants per week went from 700 to 4,000, according to
“The Church operates 347 missions around the world, each with an average of 170 missionaries. To accommodate this new influx of missionaries, capacity for many missions will rise to 250 missionaries,” according to
Time in the missionary training centers for same-language and foreign language missionaries will be reduced by 30 percent to accommodate the rise in missionaries, according to
A big increase in prospective missionaries has not only included men but young women in the Church.
“I am absolutely delighted if this change in policy allows many, many more young women to serve,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
On Jan. 24, young women at BYU-Idaho interested in serving a mission gathered in the John Taylor Chapel to hear from six panelists who had served missions foreign, stateside and stateside with a different language.
Bailey Capener, a senior studying therapeutic recreations, is a Life Skills coordinator and was in charge of the event.
Capener said that all the coordinators got together to brainstorm activities for Life Skills events and felt inspired to do an activity women interested in missions.
Capener served a mission in Malaga, Spain and said she felt the activity would help to answer any questions and prepare those that are thinking of serving. She said she wanted women to know what a mission entails and urge them to be prayerful about the decision.
There were many women at the event that already knew they wanted to serve a mission.
“Ever since I was eight, I’ve had a really strong desire to learn. I have a brother on a mission, and I can’t wait to get out there and share the love that God has shown me,” said Mariah Steenson, a freshman studying exercise physiology.
Micaela Wilson, a freshman studying creative writing, said she struggled with going to high school in Germany and that when she went back to the states she met two sister missionaries that inspired her and set her for her senior year.
“I realized I could be that influence for other people and get them on track and feel the peace of the gospel,” Wilson said.
The events started at 6 p.m. and consisted of women questioning the six panelists, followed by an informal meet and greet activity.
Three pre-determined questions were asked, followed by the women’s questions.
Questions were asked such as, “How do you deal with companions?” “Did you have to learn to love your call?” “What’s the best way to learn the language?”
The panelists gave insight into their own experiences. Afterwards, return missionaries were invited to stand by a map of the continent they served in so girls could meet with them and ask them more personal questions.
“We received a lot of positive feedback,” Capener said.
She said they were very careful when choosing the panelists and felt it successful because of their input and interaction with the girls.
Capener also said everyone in charge of the event had trouble getting flyers done and ended getting them out on Tuesday, two days before the event. They went door-to-door trying to get the word out as quickly as possible, and Capener was pleasantly surprised with the turnout, even with the short notice.
Capener said they confirmed 210 women at the event because they swiped their I-Cards, but she said she felt like there could have been 30 to 40 other women there they didn’t account for.
“I was just so happy with how it turned out and our panelists were wonderful,” Capener said.