Carmen Montgomery, an 18-year-old English major at Tyler Junior College, knew she wanted to go on a mission trip as soon as she heard the news about the newly lowered age requirements.
The response has been enthusiastic.
“I’m not at all surprised at the reaction,” said Jacob Wall, a 17-year-old student at Bullard High who plans to take advantage of the new age requirement and hopes to be assigned to a foreign country. “A lot of people want to go right into missions after their senior year of high school.”
A written release from the church reported that missionary applications had increased from 700 applications per week to 4,000, more than half of them women. Prior to the announcement, about 15 percent of missionaries were women.
“I’ve never seen anything affect a generation of young people like what President Monson announced the Saturday morning of general conference,” said Elder David Evans, executive director of the Church’s missionary department and member of the Seventy, in the written release. “What we’re seeing is just an absolute overwhelming response from this generation to the invitation of the Lord and His prophet to rise up and go and serve your fellow man and preach the gospel.”
So far, six people who have been affected by the change in East Texas have signed up to begin their missions, local church representative Laura Mikulecky said.
Church leaders emphasize that mission work is not mandatory, and lowering the age simply provides more of an opportunity for young adults who are often ready to begin their service.
“No young man or woman should begin his or her service as a missionary before they are ready,” Elder Russell Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the written release. “Over the past decade permission has been given for young men from 48 countries to serve at age 18. This experience has been very positive. ... We’ve found that these missionaries are capable and qualified to serve.”