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LDS missionaries now allowed to email friends, priesthood leaders and new converts

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  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    April 17, 2013 1:06 a.m.

    "Email should be accessed on computers in public places, and never in a place where the missionary's companion can't see the computer screen." That quote says it all for me. I get the many concerns and considerations for rules but the paranoia is in full effect again.

    I might have been okay with one or two of my companions seeing a certain percentage of my communications with friends and family, but I wouldn't want any of them hovering over my mail. That said mail was all we had when I served 23 years ago. There was no letter e to start the complicated mail accessible issues).

  • DonneMairi OGDEN, UT
    April 17, 2013 1:26 a.m.

    I am almost a member and just got a call today that one of the missionaries assisting me is being transferred. I'm glad he will be able to keep in touch and has permission to come back to participate in my baptism next week.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    April 17, 2013 6:06 a.m.

    As did so many others, I served a Mission at a time when there were no allowed Mothers Day or Christmas or any other calls home, no emails or any other way save "snail mail" (Was in Japan). There was a spiritual upside to that, also at times, an emotional challenge that drove one to knees in disperate prayer, relying more on The Lord for all things, needed blessings concerning home...I wonder if this newer more open communication opportunity will help 18 yr old Elders cope, as well as that it may be a wonderful sharing of the missionary experience...it feels right to me, even given the loss of the more Spartan-like isolation of the past.

  • KTC John Wetumpka, AL
    April 17, 2013 6:48 a.m.

    The next step is to allow ward mission leaders and members of the bishopric and priesthood quorums and groups to communicate with fulltime missionaries by e-mail to their smart phones with regard to missionary related matters. It would make my life as a ward mission leader much easier and cause the work to go forward more successfully.

  • Dixie Dan Saint George, UT
    April 17, 2013 7:17 a.m.

    This will be a disaster for many Elders and Sisters.

  • elarue NEW YORK, NY
    April 17, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    This is good news! I remember on my mission almost 15 years ago where we got the specific announcement that we were specifically prohibited from using email. Nowadays, everyone communicates by email. If you get a missionary who comes from the Eastern United States who has lots of friends who aren't members of the church, this is a much easier way to share about what's going on on your mission and what you're doing so they can understand more about the church.

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    April 17, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    This is a bad move.
    Sorry, it just is.
    Not all missionaries are built alike.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    April 17, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    About time. Missionaries were all ready doing this in many missions where the mail service was unreliable.

    Gotta love the comments coming from those same people who criticize LDS supporters of same-sex marriage, LDS Democrats, and the Provo citizens who asked the MTC not build the 9-story building. Now, they feel fine saying this decision will be a "bad move" and a "disaster". No hypocrisy there!

  • mhilton Lancaster, CA
    April 17, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    Again, I think "it's about time." My daughter has been writing a friend in Brazil who for 3 months was in an area that he couldn't send out any "snail mail." She was so discouraged that she almost stopped writing him. Then she received three letters in one envelope. He had been transferred. Yes, this can be a distraction for some missionaries (I've seen one in my area who writes 12 letters on p-days) But, I think it's reasonable.

  • mhilton Lancaster, CA
    April 17, 2013 7:55 a.m.

    gdog3finally- The companions just need to be "in sight" of the screen, not hovering over, scanning every work their comp writes. Same rules applies with their skype communications, if they are allowed that for Mother's Day and Christmas. However, I do understand about levels of trust. It's a hard balance to find. I understand both sides.

  • vaase ,
    April 17, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    It will only be a disaster if the missionary choose to be so.
    Rules were made to be obeyed.

  • Chukwuma Vienna, Austria, Vienna
    April 17, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    Emails are, of themselves, neutral. They can be used to uplift and edify, to comfort and to share the joy and burden of mission; they can also negatively impact on the young ones..distracting them from concentrating fully on serving the Lord.
    I think that this opportunity with emails will enhance these fine young men´s and women´s choice-making-qualities relative to their priorities in the mission-field.
    I hope this helps our young missionaries grapple better with the emotional and other challenges encountered during full-time missionary service.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    April 17, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    This may mean families will fall down the priority list and may get shorter emails than the friends and girlfriends. I hope mission presidents will counsel the missionaries to give full attention to their families first and follow up with friends if there is still time.

    My guess is that the ones who will misuse this privilege are already breaking the rules.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    April 17, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    As I envision it, two missionaries would have to be on neighboring computers in a public place so each of them could be "in plain sight" of the other one's screen--more of a logistics problem in a crowded place than a snooping problem, because each of them may be wanting to send out a high volume of emails. It will be much better than having to write out a multitude of actual letters by hand for snail mail delivery.

  • chosha BEVERLY HILLS, CA
    April 17, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Why is everyone talking about levels of trust, etc? It's going through a filtered service set up by the Church. If I was a missionary right now, I would err on the side of caution and assume the Church is seeing everything I write.

  • rightascension Provo, UT
    April 17, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    which has been going on for years.

  • estreetshuffle Window Rock, AZ
    April 17, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    Missionaries aren't as tough as they used to be. Used to be more like an adventure on how to survive on your own with only hand written letters to home. Thought this was the place to really break the tie with mama and show your parents that you can really make it on your own. How ridicules and disappointing.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    April 17, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    I don't get why the naysayers think this will be a disaster....there were no rules before about snail mailing friends, girlfriends, priesthood leaders, etc. Why should it make a difference that now you can correspond with the same people and say the same things by e-mail?

    Are you afraid that missionaries are going to spend too much time writing e-mails to their girlfriends? Before today they were spending just as much time writing them letters.
    Are you afraid that missionaries will be subject to receiving inappropriate photos? Before today you could send a missionary inappropriate photos in a letter. It's probably better now because e-mail content is filtered.

    There is nothing different here than what has been going on for years already...now it's just digital instead of analog.

  • Roundtrip Thomasville, GA
    April 17, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    I think this is a mistake. The Internet is just too dangerous for the young missionaries. Also, although I trust the intentions of our missionaries, non-members of the opposite sex could "misinterpret" the smiles and kindness of missionaries. I hope missionary emails will be monitored to "weed out" predators who may contact them.

  • Big Red '93 The High Plains of, Texas
    April 17, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    Served in Mexico over 3 decades ago. Got transferred once and didn't get a single letter for 6 weeks. I survived by keeping my mind on the work.

    Different times now. It's all about electronic communications and speed at which we get information. Sometimes too much information is worse than too little. Just have to live with it, I guess.

  • homers Provo, UT
    April 17, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    Sorry, but if I want to communicate with my missionary son I will do it. I will do it whenever and by whatever medium I choose. THe church seems to feel they take some kind of in loco parentis authority over missionaries. I am not trying to be combatative but the church is not my son's parent or legal guardian any more than they were the day before he entered the mission field. I continue to parent as I see fit and I don't need anybody's permission to do so. I told him that if he needs to get hold of me to do so.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    April 17, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    homers,

    Your missionary son is 18. He doesn't have a legal guardian. The only authority that you or the Church has over your son is the power he gives them by being obedient to what he is told.

    And there isn't much you can do from a distance for your son. He is a man and can solve his own problems.

  • mightyhunterhaha Kaysville, UT
    April 17, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Great move. Those who are opposed it is time to step up to the 21st century. I think you would be hard pressed to find missionaries that didn't send a e-mail to a friend before the new rule. The church pays for the missions with the help of the $400 from the family. Why spend money on stamps and postage when the E-mail is free?

  • Mark from Montana Aurora, CO
    April 17, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    Having experienced things from both sides, serving in 1980 and having a daughter return in Dec of last year, I will say that sending a child is more difficult than going out yourself. That is why communication is so important. Every Monday I would wait for her email to come in and cuss her out when it was a short one due to lack of time. OK, not really cuss her out, but be disappointed.

    The changes sound like good ones and if a missionary is going to follow the rules, they will. If they don't, it doesn't matter what the rules are as they will break them.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    Always interested to see LDS picking and choosing what they will comply with and what they won't. I suppose that's why we're asked to indicate that we "sustain" our leaders. If we believe that the church is directed from above, and the leadership is chosen based on inspiration, and we ask ourselves, "Who's on the Lord's side?", then there is little question as to how we are to proceed. Otherwise, it seems to me that we *aren't* "on the Lord's side", and we're in a vulnerable position with regard to matters of lasting significance. I think about this quite a bit with relation to those who think they are doing something good by espousing positions deemed "righteous" these days but which in fact are entirely contrary to what their religion teaches.

  • Wacoan Waco, TX
    April 17, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    Experimentation with 18 year-old male missionaries began in 1973. Nearly forty years passed before the age requirement was lowered for all young men. Dollars to donuts that the Church has experimented with less restrictive e-mail rules in different missions for years. Experimentation combined with inspiration is a powerful combination.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    April 17, 2013 11:33 a.m.

    @Roundtrip
    Thomasville, GA

    "I think this is a mistake. The Internet is just too dangerous for the young missionaries."

    Why is the internet dangerous for young missionaries? There's an incredible amount of information on the internet.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    Those who are having issues with this need to realize that there is a reason for this. The simple reason is that it is cheaper for the LDS church.

    For many countries the church had the Pouch service which meant your parents sent letter to salt lake, then the church bundled up the letters and shipped them to your mission, which then had to ship them out to the missionaries around the mission. That took 1 to 2 weeks to get a letter to a missionary.

    This new system can be operated through the existing filters that the church has for its employees.

    In other words, tithing money saved, and communication speed increased.

  • DP742 American Fork, UT
    April 17, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    I hope missionaries are mature enough to handle this. I have served a mission and have worked at the MTC long enough to know that there are immature missionaries who will take advantage of this. Girlfriends and boyfriends will too. It will become harder to focus. That's just the reality. However, there are many good missionaries who will be able to maintain focus and use this for good.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    April 17, 2013 11:49 a.m.

    A member of my High Priest Quorum was call to serve as a mission president. He taught a lesson in our quorum before he left and solicited advice from each member.

    One member simply said; "Trust your missionaries."

    Three years later the now returned mission president said that was the best advice he received. His missionaries would do anything he asked. He asked them to find and baptize somebody with a 12 to 15 passenger van because there were quite a few inactive members in this small branch who needed a ride to church. The elders found and baptized a man with a 15 passenger van who became YM president and picked up many inactive members who lacked transportation.

    That is just one example. Trust your missionaries. They have a companion for a reason but we can trust them with email.

    This is a good decision.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    April 17, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    @RedShirt
    USS Enterprise, UT

    "For many countries the church had the Pouch service which meant your parents sent letter to salt lake, then the church bundled up the letters and shipped them to your mission, which then had to ship them out to the missionaries around the mission. That took 1 to 2 weeks to get a letter to a missionary.

    This new system can be operated through the existing filters that the church has for its employees."

    The church opened and read Missionary's letters back home and filtered them? Please tell me I read this wrong.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    April 17, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    Yes, it will offer another challenge, but as we've been warned, it will require stronger testimonies and greater faith as we near the end times. Perhaps this is another means of separating the wheat from the chaff.

    It is important that parents teach their children that it's possible to be in the world without being of the world, and that striving to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit is the best way to approach life at all stages.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    To "LValfre" the filter system is the same for the pouch as for the email system. Neither system would read your letters, but they keep out the junkmail. Filtered does not mean that they edit or reject words and phrases, but that they stop Spam and commercial emails. Just like Hotmail, Gmail, and most any other email service is capable of doing.

    We know that you don't like the LDS church, but really do you have to hate the email system for missionaries too?

    In case you want to rant more about how it reads the emails, think of this. How could the system know what language the emails are being sent in? If you have 200 different languages being spoken by missionaries that use the system, how do you create an intelligent filter that can distinguish between spanish, french, portugese, and so forth and recognize obscene words and phrases in all of those languages and local slang?

  • formetoknow PAYSON, UT
    April 17, 2013 1:28 p.m.

    Since when did an adult ever have to follow arbitrary rules. These missionaries can do what ever they want,the rules are meaningless distractions.

  • D Van Duker Syracuse, UT
    April 17, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    Using email isn't the same as IM or texting. Having served well before email was available, I don't recall every having a companion ask to read or screen my letters home...and somehow most of us managed okay. Frankly, I have a hard time seeing the downside to permitting a missionary to cut/paste and adding a few extra readers to a missionary's "this week in review." Simply maintain limits on INCOMING emails--which can be done by the mission home with any spaming-filter.

  • MIMom Mt Pleasant, MI
    April 17, 2013 4:23 p.m.

    I just want to know how many people read the headline and automatically read NOT instead of NOW. Changes the whole meaning. But we are more used to hearing what missionaries are NOT allowed to do so the brain automatically went there, at least for me.

    Otherwise, good or bad, doesn't matter. It is what was decided. Let time tell. But I'm not going to panic. If "poor behavior" increases I doubt one could tie it specifically to this. Too many other factors. Email is such a small part of a missionaries day and honestly there are so many other things to accomplish on a p-day that if one is following the actual rules its not going to be a problem. There will always be those who don't. So be it. Also those who serve in college towns get to use Facebook. Does that panic any of the naysayers?

  • Aggie84 Idaho Falls, ID
    April 17, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    Shoot, my former wife thought it was ok for missionaries to email any day of the week from her computer.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    April 17, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    For everyone worried about missionaries using email for friends -- what's the difference between email and a written letter? I don't get the concern. Instead of writing their friends a letter with a piece of paper and pen, they type on a computer. I'm not sure what the big concern is. You can actually type faster than you can write, so it will save missionaries time and will be cheaper.

  • PepperLayne Salt Lake City, 00
    April 17, 2013 5:31 p.m.

    This report amuses me. As does all the wailing of "This will ruin missionary work FOREVER!" This has been going on as long as missionaries have had access to email - now it's just official. Any rule that can be broken will, even by the most obedient missionary. I had a mission companion who would "chat" via email on P-day with her family by coordinating so they'd be on the computer at the same time and they'd just email back and forth for an hour or so (I wasn't complaining, since it gave me more time to email my family - I didn't write letters so much as I wrote epistles). Not technically breaking the rules, but it bent them a little.

    (I wasn't quite a saint about it either - I'd include friends' and recent converts' email addresses in my weekly emails to my family, so they'd all get the same email).

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 17, 2013 6:56 p.m.

    M son is serving over in the former soviet block right now. Letter take forever to get to him - not because the local post is slow, his letters to us get here in 4 days... but that going through the mission home can add weeks or many weeks to him getting anything.

    When I served, we were allowed to get main directly to our apartments - but not packages. Coming home for dinner was always a treat when there was something in the mail box for us. Often it brightened up a long hard day as I served in a harder mission - teaching and baptisms were far and few between.

    But I think this is a great announcement. Just before leaving on his mission, a friend of my son got baptized. As there aren't many members in this area his age, his friend has struggled... and having my son be able to write him and keep his spirits up will be invaluable.

    Missionaries impact many people - many outside of their missions. Sharing in that experience can help many people.... and there were bad missionaries before this... and there will be bad ones after. This changes nothing in that regard.

  • JPDevuyst Laie, HI
    April 17, 2013 7:25 p.m.

    Haha... well... now the United States Postal Service is going to be in serious trouble!

  • Uncle Rico Provo, UT
    April 17, 2013 7:55 p.m.

    Mission rules were made to be broken.

  • earthquakejake Logan, UT
    April 17, 2013 8:29 p.m.

    I was a missionary when they only let us email immediate family but I still emailed friends and converts. There's a few rules that are a joke and that was one of them. I chuckled when I saw this article.

  • Rose Johnson Red Deer, Alberta
    April 17, 2013 9:54 p.m.

    Reading with interest the different comments. I believe that a healthy balance is usually the best solution to most situations. For those who are worried about negative consequences of this decision, the choice is up to the individual missionaries to treat the internet with caution and respect of the rules that are in place to help them keep the covenants made as they went on their missions. We always have free agency and we always have the Church's guidelines and scripture to help us. Used wisely, the internet is a wonderful tool.

  • beatrice Beaverton, OR
    April 17, 2013 10:08 p.m.

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but about 50 years ago, were not missionaries only allowed one call per year and that was to Mom on Mother's Day?

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 17, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    Well, when I was on my mission, only a few missionaries in our mission from foriegn countries that had irregular mail services were allowed to use email. Of course I was in Las Vegas, so it was not that difficult to send letters to family and friends.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 17, 2013 10:14 p.m.

    The rule for the screen being fully visible is perfectly sensible. Concerns about misuse of the internet are serious. It is best to not but one-self into temptation. It is not like someone is going to minutely read your email. It is more they will pay attention to you actually sending email and not doing other things. Such rules make sense and are logical and good.

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    April 17, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    Given the nasty things he loves to say about my football team, it hurts a little to agree with Brave Sir Robin on this. I was in Austria back when the Arpanet (predecessor to the Internet) was developed. We wrote on paper. My reaction to culture shock was to do a lot more writing of letters than might have been necessary for the first couple of months. That regulated itself as girlfriends forgot who I was and other friends on missions had no more time than I did.

    I also received photographs - the analog type in an envelope. These envelopes had not been checked by a censor because they came directly through Austrian postal system. If anyone were to attempt to send an inappropriate photo to a missionary now, it would be filtered by MyLDSMail.net.

    In fact, I see an advantage to the new system: cc and bcc means only one draft can go to multiple people with maybe a few additions for Mom's sake. Having had that advantage back in my day could have saved a couple of p-day hours.

  • bw00ds Tucson, AZ
    April 17, 2013 10:21 p.m.

    Once again, I marvel at what I am assuming are members of the church being critical, or at the very least, doubtful of a decision that has been with 100% certainty well-thought out and considered by the Brethren before it was issued. Amazing. And sad.

  • Duncan Horne Kuantan, 00
    April 17, 2013 10:42 p.m.

    I served in Malaysia in 2002 and one email to my family per week was more than enough. Too much correspondence with other people did not help me focus on the work but was a great hindrance. It will only spell more trouble for missionaries and create more less-effective missionaries who are too pre-occupied with home, family and friends. Yes, we could write letters to whoever we wanted, but it just seems that missionary standards are dropping instead of being raised. I know we live in the technological age but I thought missionaries were supposed to separate themselves from the world for 2 years and consecrate every effort, every thought, to the work?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 17, 2013 11:21 p.m.

    Well its good to know that the missionary experience and missionaries have become so standardized and the same that what works for one ex-missionary must be the exact same experience for all missionaries, for all locations, who are serving in all missions.

    Really good to know.

    If letter writing or email is really all that defocusing as some imply, why is it couples and mission leadership have had no such prohibition. Is this another one of those things like the spirit goes to bed at mid-night?

    Come on folds... lets keep this in perspective. I served in an area where mail strikes were common... and in fact we went 7 weeks with no mail.... and the baptism rate didn't change one bit. If email is a leading indicator of ones spirituality, we are all in a lot of trouble then.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    - Secured server, with filters
    - Only on P-day

    I still don't get who thinks it's a bad idea. I already know of a few that email vs. "snail mail". The missionaries that it would be a bad idea for are already going to find a way to break the rules anyway so why punish the (hopefully larger) more responsible ones?

  • Browningrage Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    My Bro-In-Law recently returned from his mission. His rules were not the same as mine 12 years ago. He would log on to check his emails on P-Day, and his parents (yes, my in-laws) would wait up til the middle of the night to log in at the same time. They would then spend time emailing back and forth quickly to one another. His girlfriend was also present for these exchanges. I can say in all honesty that he never truly left home because of it. He was dedicated to working during the week, but with updates on everything that was going on at home, and practically 'instant messaging' I don't believe he ever really experienced the need to rely on our Heavenly Father, his testimony, or frankly his companions even... I wrote him emails regularly, which were never responded to, as did my wife, her sister, and other family members. But, Each P-Day, he would simply log in and email back and forth with his girlfriend and parents, then log off for the week... I believe it hurt his mission experience.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    April 18, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    Re: Browningrage

    The purpose of missionary work is to bring others into the faith.

    It isn't designed to be a boot camp. It isn't designed to boost the missionary's testimony. It isn't designed to make the missionary learn how to be a man/woman. If these things occur, great. If not, great. Their purpose, as Elder Oaks has stated in previous GC addresses, is to teach and baptize. All these peripheral cultural rites of passage nonsense that has sprung up around it is immaterial to a missionary's purpose.

    As for your judgements about your brother-in-law's perceived lack of reliance on God, testimony, etc., who are you to make that judgment? How do you know if he did or did not fulfill his purpose? The purpose of missionary work is not to rely on God by avoiding family contact.

    Your comments have illustrated for me why members have such a hard time performing missionary work within their home wards. Apparently, many are under the false notion that it requires self-imposed suffering in order to qualify as a worthwhile "mission experience."

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    April 19, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    The Church made the decision to allow this and I know it was not just made. It was through prayer and confidence in our young people. Hopefully our missionaries will be honest and keep their nose clean and abide by the rules. All of our worrying and doubt will not change anything..we just pray for them to follow the mission rules and all will be well.