I graduated from high school and did not know what to do with myself for an entire year, most of my friends left on their missions but because my birthday was later in the year I had to figure out what to do. So I started my first year of College which I was not ready for and struggled in a couple of classes got okay grades but did not know what I was doing and being distracted by knowing that I had to prepare to leave for my mission. I spent a year in limbo trying to make it work. When president Monson gave the historic announcement that missionaries could leave at 18 instead of 19 after graduating high school, I was really excited for the young men whom this would affect. I would have jumped at the opportunity to go at 18 instead of 19 I had spent so much time that year before my mission watching movies and playing video games and not thinking about my mission when the time came I was excited to go because I had spent so much time just waiting.
I feel the Lord has been preparing his missionaries. They talked about "raising the bar" before the announcement and then introduced Preach My Gospel.
When I was out on my mission in Venezuela, the Church was slowly trying to get the North American missionaries out of Venezuela due to conflicts with the government and other political factors, they rolled out a plan to allow 18 year old elders and 19 year old sisters to go out. We even had full time member missionaries, sisters who would go to neighboring cities so they were still close to home and then serve for a period of maybe 6 months to a year. This got the members involved and they knew the culture and area so well the sisters were able to do great things.
I was pleased with the announcement from President Monson, I had several friends who were younger. Several of those friends decided not to go on a mission because it was a full year before they were able to put in their papers, they would get involved in college life and then stop going to church. When I was waiting, I felt out of place because I was kicked out of my parents ward and sent to a singles ward where I was stuck in the middle of a bunch of people who were at church for one goal and that was to get married.
I feel that the church is making great strides that allow for the Lord's work to go forth. Why did I have to wait and current missionaries don't? Why did member with African ancestry have to wait? Why did the Gentiles have to wait to receive the gospel? All in the Lord's time table.
Copyright © Scott T. Petersen - Used With Permission