Planned Privations

I worked for four years in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah in a branch presidency and as a branch president. I met and worked closely with 3,500 missionaries. Most missionaries were prepared to serve, but too many arrived at the MTC unprepared. Too many went home early from the MTC. The number one reason why most missionaries went home early is because they couldn’t adjust to the rigor of the schedule, the physical hardship of the missionary life. Return mission presidents have told me repeatedly that the number one attribute of successful missionaries is a work ethic.
Mosiah 26:28 describes how the sons of Mosiah “suffered every privation.” Privations are doing without the necessities of life. My observation at the MTC is that sister missionaries tend to be better prepared spiritually than the Elders, but the Elders are better prepared physically for the rigors of a mission than the sisters. The Elders are more capable of surviving and thriving in the “Planned Privation” of the MTC than the sisters.
The most common reason that missionaries to home early from the MTC is because of the rigor, not because they don’t have testimonies. The rigor and toughness of the mission that derails many sister missionaries is preventable. What could parents and Ecclesiastical and Young Women advisors have done differently?
I have a suggestion. The average young man in the LDS Church will camp outside in a tent (planned privation) for at least 40 nights between the ages of 12 and 18.
Ages 12 and 13 – 6 nights each year at Scout camp (12 nights)
8 nights each year in monthly camping trips and camporees and Klondides. (16 nights)
Ages 14 – 18 – 3 nights each year in a high adventure experience (12 nights). That’s at least forty nights of planned privations for our young men. Jesus Christ and Moses spend forty nights in a “privation” experience to prepare for their ministries. So should our young men and young women.
Young Women on the other hand will spend 3-4 nights each year in a girls camp, that’s 18-24 nights total by age 18. And many of those nights “camping” are not in tents. I encourage Young Women advisors to consider this as they help plan and implement the Young Women program in our wards and stakes. Our Young Women will be better prepared for the “Planned Privation” called a mission.

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