The 7 Stages of Waiting for a Missionary
Will I wait for you?
The snow was falling on his red hair when he came around the corner and it was just like any chick flick I had ever seen. Guy finds girl after being separated for too long. Guy and girl run into each other’s arms/Hollister sweatshirts. Happily ever after.
The only difference between the movies and my scenario is that in less than 20 minutes we went from Notebook-esk hugging in Ugg boots to silently eating junior bacon cheeseburgers at Wendy’s. Why? Because although we loved each other and had been dating, we hadn’t spoken to each other verbally in TWO YEARS. (also because Junior Bacon Cheeseburgurs are really good. Side note. Not at all relevant.)
There is a part of Mormon culture that very few people outside the religion understand or even think about. You have probably seen plenty of LDS missionaries with their bright white T’s and name tags during their two year expedition to tell people about the church.
If you haven’t in real life, then you may have seen look alikes at The Book of Mormon musical or while scanning the rival team’s fans at a BYU basketball game.
What you don’t see as much are the women (or men) that are “Waiting” for them back home.
Yes. That happens.
The Love Language
For 1.5 to 2 yrs these missionaries put their lives on hold and are assigned to serve in various locations around the world to help others and preach the gospel. These missions range anywhere from Ghana Africa speaking Twi to Pocatello Idaho speaking agriculture. And for 1.5 to 2 years their significant others wait for them to come back. What makes this scenario different than the standard long distance relationship is that in an effort to focus on their missions, missionaries are unable to contact their boo by phone or computer.
That means no phone calls, no dates, in some cases no emails, absolutely no Facebook, no Skype, and noooooo Snap Chat. There are very few exceptions and loop holes. Love has to last the test of time solely using strategies from the 1800’s namely: letters, the pony express, and wishing on star constellations that someone hasn’t forgotten you exist. This is something that doesn’t come easy to the tech savvy young and in love.
To give you a window into what it is like to wait for a missionary, I have put together the 7 stages of grief waiting for “your missionary” to come home.
The Seven Stages
This is the phase when you convince yourself that you still have a boyfriend. You continue working on your relationship by coloring letters, making packages with scrapbook paper, and annoying your roommates by making them say hi to Elder ***** into a tape recorder. A tape recorder that you may or may not have pillow talk with. Letters are re-read, cologne scented sweatshirts are never washed, and old voicemails are replayed in an effort to keep from hitting the hard realization that it’s only been two weeks.
Around this time you start taking your frustration out on mailmen. I think pitbulls are the least of the US postal services worries when it comes to passionate pen pals who need a letter. And they need it delivered on time. Right now.
5. The Upward Turn
This is when you realize that maybe “waiting” didn’t mean stopping your life for two years. You can usually tell when a girl has hit the upward turn if there is an increase in the number of times she showers. Also, by a decrease of the number of wedding photos she pins on Pinterest.
Like a baby duckling learning to fly, this is when you put down the scented markers and take the first steps to becoming independent. This usually entails changing your major in college, dying your hair a different color, and/or making your own money by getting a job at a call center and donating plasma.
What people don’t realize is that Missionaries are not allowed to have any physical contact with members of the opposite sex for two years. This usually results in reunion hugs looking less like this and more like this.
Many of us have sent off missionaries. Some of us are now married to them, others have had to throw away stuffed animals, shoe boxes full of letters, and puzzles made out of pictures of their faces. But no matter how our experience ended, we can take away the following facts:
Letters may not the best source of communication.
Love is unpredictable.
And even though not every reunion may have ended up like this, it’s sweet to remember times like these when we were young and tender. In my opinion, it’s a part of ourselves we shouldn’t forget.
For those who did it: Kudos. And for those who are about to quick tip: If you spend two years living your own life and learning about yourself instead of sitting at home “waiting,” you will probably be more emotionally equipped to handle the results, whether they be good, bad, or this…???