|Yeah, these numbers are going to have new meaning|
Thanks to the satellite television and the interwebs, this is one conference that we enjoy from home. It makes for a different experience as we gather to hear the counsel of a prophet and to be taught. Sure, we also wait to hear of anything new, like new temples (congrats, Tucson and Arequipa, Peru) or to see if any long-rumored changes come to fruition (c'mon, two-hour meeting block!). While the two-hour meeting block was not announced, yesterday an announcement involving the numbers 18 and 19 was made that was nothing less than epic.
In the Church, it has long been expected that young men upon reaching their 19th birthday embark on two-year missions. Young men sacrifice two years of schooling, work, etc., to serve these missions at their own expense. They are sent all over the world to do some good. These are life-changing experiences. I was honored to serve the Spanish-speaking people in Miami for two years in the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission and my life was forever changed for the better as a result. Not only did I learn practical skills, including another language, but I learned to be a better man. I served with a lot of great people, including young women who voluntarily served for 18 months, beginning at age 21.
As of yesterday, 18 and 19 became the new 19 and 21. It was announced that now young men can embark on missionary service at age 18, provided, of course, they have graduated high school. Young women can now serve, if they choose, beginning at age 19. The reaction to this announcement was priceless. The reaction of those assembled at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City was audible. Several young men who looked to be about 18 and whose reactions were caught on camera looked like they had just been punched. Young women were giddy. Several mothers looked stunned.
The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML was one of those stunned mothers. She immediately began to cry, saying, "I just lost a year with him (him being The Boy, of course)!" Well, not really, I explained to her. He doesn't graduate until May 2014, about four months shy of his 19th birthday. This realization seemed to be a bit soothing. I'm sure plenty of families have tons to think about right now.
This is a pretty exciting thing for members of the Church. It will be most interesting to see how this plays out. I'm eager to see how this goes down.
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