not in Primary anymore

waiting for a (sister) missionary

Photo courtesy LDS Newsroom.

By Derrick Clements

Photo courtesy LDS Newsroom.

For those that have been following the exciting feminist love story that is my life, you might be interested to know the latest episode: MacKenzie, my girlfriend of three years, got on a plane this week and went from the MTC to the mission field. We didn’t break up. Or to put it in the more familiar language ripped straight from the Saturday’s Warrior songbook:

I’m waiting for her.

For those that have not been following my exciting feminist love story, I completely understand, and feel free to just skip this one. But I think this could be a fruitful conversation for either of the following reasons:

  1. Perhaps my story may complicate or dispel a number of myths, including that sister missionaries only serve if they don’t have any “prospects,” or that guys have nothing to gain by their girlfriends leaving and everything to lose, or that going on a mission necessarily ends a relationship.
  2. I would love to hear from other guys who waited — either for a mission or something else, like grad school in a far-off place — because I know you’re out there. And now with the new announcement about the age change, and statistics that seem to point to a more even distribution of men and women serving missions, I predict that this will happen a lot more often.

Saying goodbye was a difficult but really beautiful experience for me. I got to go with her and her family as she went through the temple before entering the MTC. I got to write to her in the MTC, and hear from her on her p-day. Knowing that this is something that she has wanted to do for a long time, and understanding that for her, now is the right time to do it — not when she was 19 or 21 — has given me a sense of real relationship satisfaction that would not have come any other way.

She was a chemistry major in college, and although I’m an English major, I’m taking Chem 105 this semester because I want to go to medical school. So with her on a mission, I feel like we are getting this really unique opportunity to swap roles and understand each other in a whole new way: as I struggle through reactions and moles, I now understand in a totally new way why she sometimes wanted to throw her textbooks at moving cars (but never did! I made that specific example up). And she is gaining an intimate understanding about not only my mission, which was a significant chapter of my adult life, but also my job for almost the entire time we have been dating — as an MTC teacher.

I’m excited that we can both have the crazy, wonderful, and horrible experience that is an LDS mission. The difference is while I can look back on my mission and wonder how I would do things differently as a 25-year-old, believing what I now believe and not believing what I now don’t believe, and she gets to go now, as a 23-year-old, with a mature perspective that will be an enormous positive for all she works with. Whenever I ran into friends and past co-workers still at the MTC, I would eagerly ask about how she was doing in the last few weeks. My favorite response so far: “She is doing really well. She kind of pushes back sometimes.” When I heard that, I felt a wave of anxiety dissolve into peaceful assurance.

The MTC experience, now over for her, was fun. She ended up being in my exact classroom that I taught in most recently, and I got to send her letters every day and packages several times a week from the BYU Bookstore. I’ve also been surprised at the reaction I get from people when I tell them that she has left: despite the stereotype, no one has thought that this would be the end for us. At least to my face. And my brother told me he would hook me up with some people he knows the day she left. But I think he was kidding.

I’m looking forward to the ways that we will both grow while she’s gone. And so far, it has been really fun to write to her and hear from her when she writes. The only thing I’m truly mad about is that I have to figure out how acids and bases work without her help. But I’ll be ok. And as long as we can both keep up with each other in the ways we both plan to grow in the next year and a half, so will we. I’m planning on it.

Do you predict more guys will be waiting for their girlfriends on missions with the new age change? 

21 Responses to “waiting for a (sister) missionary”

  1. Danielle

    Derrick, My husband waited for me while I went on my mission! It was hard, but I was worth the wait! 🙂 Still married 21 years and 4 kids later!

  2. weedlord bonerhitler

    As a fellow male-in-waiting, I feel you. My partner going on her mission has been a HUGE blessing to my life and hearing her grow and, at the same time, reinscribe her unique and personal testimony, has been amazing. It’s funny because most people, when they see me, immediately ask, “How’s she doing??” and most conversations about “the future” have the words, “Well, we’ll see what she wants to do.” Sometimes it’s caused confusion and a few weird looks, but primarily those who know us understand. I really can’t see the haters, and I’ve never heard anybody tell me to forget about her/date others/etc.

    TBH: I’m happy that we’re learning to communicate and love each other this way. In a certain sense it’s healthy. I’m also excited for all of our letters and emails to someday be bound in a photo album and given to our grand children. Mainly because they’ve got some rill good puns and gospel jokes.

    Thank you for sharing this! I don’t know about you but my urge and compulsion to talk about my partner is nearly insufferable. So if you ever want to get together to yak about partners (support groups for my girlz), let me know.

  3. gwendolyn

    my husband and i dated before he went on his mission, which i guess is the “traditional” waiting, but it didn’t feel “traditional” to me. i told him i would date while he was gone, but unfortunately, i don’t think he believed me. i did date. a lot. and i wasn’t as diligent in writing as i could have been. he wrote me every week, uplifting and hilarious tales of his mission that would make me smile and then make me ache so intensely. when he left, i really felt like my heart broke, despite my kind words and support of his decision. i still feel like it was the right choice, for both of us, but it was easily the hardest two years of my life. i graduated from college, moved to israel and then south africa, and finally made my way home to see him off the plane. we got engaged maybe seven weeks after he got home, and then i moved away again. i still think it hurt him to learn that waiting had felt lonely and impossible for me. looking back, it seems romantic, but during the time, it was mostly just frustrating and solitary.

  4. Brent

    Glad to see a current blog post on the subject! I’m waiting for a sister missionary right now and I totally agree that it’s really hard, really rewarding, and a swap in roles. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Brandon

    My girlfriend left for her mission 3 weeks ago. What a rough 3 weeks! she still has 3 more weeks until she goes into the field. She has been my best friend for years and wrote me the entire 2 years I served my mission. At the end of my mission was when the age change happened. My girlfriend (not at the time) sent me a letter that she knows she needs to go. I came home 2 weeks after that announcement. She received her call 2 months later. A week after that we realized our friendship for years had turned into love and we started dating. We dated until she left on her mission. She waited 4 months from the time she opened her call until she got to the MTC. We know already that we are going to end up together, this part is just very difficult. I support her 110% on her decision to serve. Even though while we dated she questioned it. She is out there now and working hard! I want her to be able to have the same life changing experiences I had on my mission. 17 more months to go… hahaha

  6. Mac

    So there’s this young woman, we met at first many years ago at efy, and have had a deep connection unsurpassed by any relationship either of us have been in.. We haven’t spoken as much as I would have liked in the past few years as I was in a commited relationship.. However after what seems an eternity I awoke from my spiritual slumber and realized I wasn’t happy, my life was a shadow of its former glory, as I had put my beliefs, morals, and values aside for a woman I thought was the one. We where engaged and planned to be married September 19, 2013. Due to choices made by both her and I, we are no longer getting married, or even dating. Heck we barely speak… To clarify this is not the young woman I met at efy. The young woman I met at efy all those years ago just recently left for her mission, I desperately wish to contact her, and have been told by her sister that I should.. But what do I say? What do I do??

  7. Jose

    How’s the Story going? My ex (we did broke up) is leaving the MTC next Wednesday, & I was wondering if you have some kind of advice to me after hearing my story (sorry for the grammar, English isnt my native languaje).

    Thank you!

    PS. By the way..its really happening..RM’s we are really waiting for our girlfriends!!

    • Waited for a missionary

      My girl comes home in less than three weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been on some dates, although I’ve always felt particularly interested in the missionary.

      Jose, I’d recommend a few things if you’d like to make the most of while she’s gone. First, pray every day for her, think of what she needs and pray for her investigators. Use your letters to build strong communication skills (super important in any relationship) so you learn more about her and try to draw out what she wants/needs (and then pray about it). Consider what you’re doing to be a sacrifice, and remember that sacrifice can be hard – but sacrifice also brings great blessings.

      Putting my heart and soul into becoming better and helping her to be her best as a missionary has been very rewarding. It’s been more challenging than anything (including my mission) but it’s been very, very worth it.

  8. Joseph

    Hey guys,
    So my girlfriend just entered the MTC 4 days ago on Wednesday Dec. 4. It has been difficult because the whole time we dated, she was very undecided if she was going to go. We would talk and she would tell me she wanted to go but that she didn’t want to leave me. I wouldn’t pressure her to go or stay, but left it up to her to decide (even though I REALLY wanted her to stay). I told her I would love and support her no matter what she decided. I thought letting her decide would be a great learning experience for her. She was back and forth, but she still went and bought all of her clothes and got everything ready. The night she was set apart was really hard for her because she was still torn. She then told me that she was scared, but felt like she had to go for us, so then like 5 minutes later, we sat her apart. I have never ever cried in my whole life (except as a baby/toddler), but right when we started I started to bawl like a little baby. The whole time during the blessing, while saying goodbye, and the rest of that night I cried enough to make up for the last 21 years ha ha. I was devastated. Its now been a couple of days and I am slowly getting better, but it still hurts that shes actually gone. She is someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. I have done a lot of praying and thinking and talking with others about it, but I think you guys have probably helped me the most. I haven’t really known anyone who was waiting for a sister so its been difficult, but seeing your stories have helped me in my life. We have both come to realize that this is for our good. I never thought about it as she went so we could understand our roles better. That’s pretty interesting. I know its for her good though. She will be able to tell stories of when she was on her mission and the awesome people she met and how she grew and learned to love and trust in the Lord and pray with real intent. I was just trying to figure out why so many sisters are going and maybe there is something that is going to happen and us priesthood holders will have to leave and the sisters are going to have to be strong and immovable. Maybe our kids will have a rough environment and our wives whom rear up our children will need their strong testimonies and experiences to teach our kids well. There is so much good that can come from them leaving. Personally for me, I think I have just been a little prideful and selfish in her leaving because I love and care for her so much and I want to be with her right now.

    ” 3 Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.

    6 Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them.

    7 Yea, I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you. And I will establish a church by your hand;

    8 And you shall strengthen them and prepare them against the time when they shall be gathered.” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:3,6-8)

    ” 73 Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:73)

    I especially like 6. I feel like that was for us who wait. They are only leaving for a little lime, but then they will be back and the Lord will prepare us as well so we can have a place together in the Kingdom of God.

    I am still terribly heartbroken that my girlfriend is gone, but these words give me comfort. I know she’ll be back. The trick is that she just locks me in her heart and remembers me and the love we have for each other. I can’t wait to see her in another 17 months and 26 days! ha ha (not that anyone is counting)

    Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think about my thoughts or my situation. Also please let me know different ways of how to cope with the change and different things I can do to help support her and keep our relationship alive. Thank you so much!

    Best of luck to all!

    • Anonymous

      I just saw your post. I posted my story back in April when my girlfriend left. She has now been gone 8 months and I love her even more. Of course there were times where some days are a lot harder than others. Sometimes my selfishness still gets to me because I want to be with her now. Sometimes I get awesome letters, and other times the letters make me worry about our relationship. Keep pushing with faith Joseph! My biggest problem these last 8 months have been me worrying about things I can’t control. This is a tough thing to go through, but the benefit is greater than the cost because Heavenly Father’s richest blessings are eternal. Be the supporter not the distraction.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Joseph, I’m barely reading your story. I’m a girl who is waiting for a missionary and even though this was an article for guys that are waiting I still felt like it was helpful especially your experience. I noticed that it’s almost going to be a year dince your sister missionary left. Are you still waiting for her? Has it become easier to wait? For some reason I found it very beautiful that you cried when setting her apart. It showed how much you cared about her. My missionary left two months ago and it has been hard for me to deal with. Sometimes I feel so depressed without him. We dated for almost two years before he left but we broke up about two months before he left for his mission. I think it was better that way since it did help him focus on getting ready for his mission but I cried so much on the day he left. I’m trying to understand that the choice he made to go on a mission is going to be one of the best choices he’ll ever make in his life and that he’s out there serving The Lord and trying to bring people towards him. I hope that everything has been going well for you and your sister missionary. Hopefully you get to see this and reply but if not then best wishes to you and your sister missionary.

  9. Javier

    Wow, you guys are all amazing! I’m glad I found this site. Its really hard to find other guys also waiting on their sister missionaries just out and about. I’ve read a lot of y’alls stories and there’s so much that I can relate to with them! My girlfriend has been on her mission in Ecuador for about a year in a couple of weeks(somehow I always find myself counting it forward, lol). Holy cow, its been a crazy amazing ride for both of us! Personally, I’ve learned a lot about myself and just what it means to have that long term patience. Before she left I knew that the only way I could wait on a missionary was if I for sure knew that I was going to marry her when she got back. Once we prayed, fasted, and both knew, then we both felt comfortable with the idea of her serving a mission. She has always wanted to serve one and, from my mission, I knew that she would experience amazing things that otherwise she wouldn’t had been able to. So that was her chance. Plus, I love her so much that although I really REALLY miss her, I would just feel so selfish trying to make her stay when this was her only opportunity to go. Though it can be really hard sometimes (especially after we finish writing each other on her p-days and she just had a hard week), i’m definitely glad she’s out there and I fully support her with this. I feel like we’ve gotten pretty good at communicating with each other not in person. My personal advice, as to what I feel works for me so far, is to not make her feel trunky as much as possible! (somehow I feel like i’m the counterintuitive part of that, lol). But ugh, I totally learned that a little the hard way in her first few months. So I really try hard to choose what to tell her when I write her and keep it not too lovy dovy(sometimes it still slips in though). On my part, I just try hard to keep busy with school, work, and other personal goals. I hang out with friends, but I can’t go on dates with other girls. I haven’t done it once, I just can’t bring myself to do it since I feel like its pointless and I guess i’m just not comfortable with it. I know, since people remind me at times (especially at the beginning), that there’s so many things that could go wrong and reasons that it wouldn’t work. But I do have one very good reason why its totally worth it. And that is her. And just weighing out the blessings, its totally just a no brainer for me. Besides, things are still looking pretty good after this one year. What’s another six months? I’m so stoked for when she actually gets back and we get to talk to each other in person! Can’t wait! 🙂

  10. Steven

    This is my personal opinion. I hear from people and read things on how waiting for a missionary is hard, how they endured the time away, how its been a rough first few weeks etc etc etc… Personally its easier to avoid serious relationships until after the mission. To prevent possible heartbreaks or distractions. We may be confident that there won’t be these things but the future is vague, anything can happen. Theres nothing wrong in keeping in touch with him/her though. Im just saying this by experience, i’ve seen the heartbreaks and the distractions.
    I don’t know, I’m just saying whats in my head. My MTC teacher and many others tell us to break up, as a former MTC teacher I’ve advised the same. There was much council about this situation by Apostles in firesides and devotionals. Im not saying its a sin to wait, I’m saying its better off to avoid the possible outcomes.

    • José

      Almost 13 Months!!!
      Its incredible how fast the time goes, so…I wanted to write this for all the people that its actually thinking in how hard its to wait to a Sister Missionary.
      Well…what can I say, there will be times when you feel like the she is changing a lot, but then you realize how much you changed in the mission…there are other times, when you just wonder why are you waiting, and then…you do realize that, a moment comes in your life when you know, that you can wait those entire 18 months, just to grow up together and plan to follow the Lord for the rest of your life.
      Im just 5 months and waiting, and…its amazing how shes growing in each aspect of her life, so…one step closer!!!

  11. Joe

    So this thread has been dead a while but my wait is just starting and I was looking for other people’s perspectives on their wait, from a guy’s point of view. Ya’ll have helped me to realize that it is incredibly important for her to go on the mission and although it’s hard to watch her leave I can’t wait to see how she’s going to grow spiritually. And as hard as it is to friend zone yourself it’s necessary so that she stays focused on the task at hand. I am wondering though for those of you who’s wait is up how did it turn out after she got home?

    • Win some and lose some

      I waited, and in retrospect I have a few things I recommend to those contemplating waiting for a missionary -whether male or female: Be 100% friend zoned when they leave, and commit to go on dates while they’re gone. This has several reasons: it keeps you sane, and it leaves the door open to new opportunities that will either confirm your original commitment to the missionary or they will help you see that dating someone else is the right thing to do. Forcing that door shut and staying exclusive to a missionary is not the right thing to do. If things are meant to work out with the missionary, then this dating process will enrich your relationship. If not, then you will meet plenty of other people and you will be a better person because of it.

      In short, I do not recommend waiting for a missionary, but I do recommend dating, building relationships, and finding joy in the journey. If that journey leads you and your missionary back together, then all the better! But if it doesn’t, don’t sweat it and trust that the Lord has all things in his hands – including your relationship. It will all work out.

      I did not marry the woman I waited for, and in retrospect things would have been infinitely better and more rewarding had I dated around while she was gone and formally broken off our commitment before she left. Writing would have been fine, but having zero expectations on the table leaves the missionary free to preach and the friend free to continue to grow and progress. Otherwise, waiting seems to be a great way to impair the progress of both of you.

  12. José

    Ok José, my waiting time finished 3 Months ago, at the ending part of her mission, (the last two months) I decided to stop sending her pictures, or writing her any subject regarding home, Instead I wrote her the 10 gifts each missionary should bring home, it was really hard.. At the airport, I was just standing there..waiting to shake her hand..she smiled at me as the usual missionaries smile at people.. It was incredible, every feeling, every dream and expectation where fulfilled…and at the moment she got released..everything came back! Its incredible how she has changed, she developed a lot of gifts, and a lot of new expectations regarding the future. We love each other, & we are planning to get married by the end of this year…so…it is hard, but with the right person, it worth every day of those 18 months!

  13. Justin Barnes

    This story brings so much needed hope and assurance. This past year, 2019, has brought some of my highest highs, lowest lows, and everything in-between. It’s been a crazy one for sure, and my words won’t do it justice at all. For starters, my old job of 3 years (working for Chick-Fil-A) lost its appeal before I left back for BYU-Idaho during mid-September, the start of Fall Semester. I wasn’t even planning on returning. I was ready to drop out, attend a skilled trade program in my hometown of Austin, and call it good. But upon careful prayer and pondering, I felt the overwhelming impression that I needed to return.

    Fast forward to the first day of my programming class, and I was blessed to meet a wonderful young woman. We soon became good friends that day…but I didn’t find out until day 2 of programming that she had a boyfriend at the time. I was ready to let go and move on…until 2 weeks later, 3 weeks into the semester, she pulled me aside after class, asking if she could talk to me. I obliged, not wanting to be rude, despite having a class I needed to walk to. But I felt like I needed to make time for her. Well, it was worth being a couple minutes late: she confided in me about how she broke up with the boyfriend she was seeing, and she even shared pretty intimate details about what led up to it, and even told me that she normally doesn’t open up to people that quickly, like she did with me. I’m proud to say that I haven’t broken that trust, nor do I want to. Well, that week going forward, she and I spent as much time as we could with one another. I felt genuinely caring and protective of her. I still do. We even went on about 4 dates before the semester ended this past week, and we grew pretty close, despite never becoming exclusive with one another, and it was because she has plans to serve a mission in 2020. She submitted her papers already, and is just waiting on her stake president. She’s hoping to leave by the summer or fall. I told her I would support her in any way possible. She and I even shared contact information before she left, as we both agreed we wanted to keep in touch. Even more, I had given her a parting gift: a custom-engraved rose gold necklace pendant with her initials on it. I’m so eternally grateful that I followed the prompting to go back up, and even more, now I’m certain about getting my skilled trade training back home, as I can finish it before she returns, and I plan to be present for her homecoming. Even more, she even told me she’s dropping out of BYU-Idaho upon her return home, and she wants to study a skilled trade or something similar. And she even told me that she would love if I could be near her hometown upon her return, so we could continue to see each other.

    However, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult already. For one thing: she doesn’t use her phone a lot, and when she does use her phone, it is in pretty bad shape (it’s an old iPhone, and it has some battery problems.), but I emailed her recently on her personal email, and well, I’ve prayed about me and her as often as I can, and I feel strongly that she and I can make it work…despite meeting some opposition. The main thing I’ve found to be hard already is talking to a close friend about it that I ran into on my flight home. I told him about almost everything, and he told me not to get my hopes too high, as she could return from her mission completely different than when she left. A couple roommates I had back in college told me similar things. It was definitely discouraging…but I’ve heard of plenty of young couples who made it work and waited for each other while they were apart and when they reunited. And articles like these, and plenty of other stories I’ve heard about similar situations…they help me have hope. And now I’ve even taken it a step further and looked up advice from people who have experienced all this.

    I guess if I could make a long story short: Thank you. I know that waiting on a missionary isn’t going to be easy, it already isn’t, but I know it will be worth it. And stories like yours, as well as advice from those who have been there…they help immensely.


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