Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Age Change

The Age Change: I am the Mission Presidents wife of the WA Spokane Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am an ordinary woman called to do an extraordinary thing; serve the Lord for 3 years as a missionary, councilor, cook, trainer, driver, speaker, health coordinator, event planner and supporter of all things missionary.

It’s not hard to serve a mission. The Lord helps you out; makes you enough, buffers the stress of the schedule, brings so many things to your mind that you just know he is there telling you what to say, puts love into your heart, and reminds you to be humble and teachable pretty much every day.  Lately I've been learning that He really will ease our burdens so we can hardly feel them and strengthen us so that we can bear them with ease when we turn to Him.  (Actually serving a mission is difficult when I do it by myself.  But with the Lord it isn't hard.)

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much.  I KNOW I knew God and Jesus Christ in the pre-existence and I loved them then, just as much as I do now.  I love having made choices to consecrate my life over the years to God and the blessing that has turned out to be in every instance.  I feel so full and it is a witness to me that God just blesses us and fills us when we do his will, he doesn't take, he just gives, as we give our lives to him.

I want to share briefly what happened in our mission around the time the age-change happened; the first 18 months of being in WA.  Our mission was due to be split when we arrived.  We started out right from the beginning having huge transfers to build our missionaries up from about 170 missionaries to about 260.  Our mission would lose about 60 missionaries to the Kennewick Mission so the big influx of missionaries was necessary.  We fed, trained and housed about 90 new missionaries in a few months’ time and then 60 were gone due to the split.  Then we needed to build our compliment back up to 250 so we started all over again.

Starting in March of 2013 we saw a reflection of the age change in our transfer’s, we went from about 20 sister missionaries to 100 and started receiving a lot of 18 year old elders.  Our largest transfer brought 39 new missionaries in at once and then 35 and 37 were the next ones.  Some of these numbers were visa waiters who were coming and going too.

It was hard at first.  The early sisters who came out seemed a bit unprepared emotionally and physically for the demands of a mission and the elders just seemed really young.  We were also losing our foundational missionaries in the midst of all of this change.  By August we started to worry about losing the great culture of our mission.  Out of necessity 6 week old missionaries were training 6 week old missionaries and 12 week old missionaries were training brand new missionaries.  (Babies were training babies in other words)  It was a difficult situation that most missions were facing, not just ours. 

We prayed a lot about what to do.  I want to share this with you because I love to witness of the Lords hand in our lives.  We felt we needed to buckle down and do some intense training with everyone.  We called a 3rd Assistant and sent them on the road to meet with every district and train on, “How To Begin Teaching”.  We had interviews and introduced “Boot Camp” It was an intense study program they were to do for 4 weeks that taught them doctrine, how to teach simply and ask inspired questions. (We gave them extra study time every day to complete it.)  We held a specialized training where we taught them how to progress less actives, get members to fellowship, and teach simply and powerfully to investigators.  They were to have a full schedule that night to go out and actually do the things we taught and then they came back the next morning to report.  (It was like practicing on real people.)  It was awesome! Then we held a specialized training and called it Cleaning House.  The “House”, dealt with cleaning our Physical, Emotional and Spiritual selves.  (The apartments were dirty, the emotional resource book the church had put out for missionaries was introduced and spiritually we just taught doctrine.)  That was great too.  We gave them 2 weeks to totally de-junk and deep clean their apartments.  It was great.  I also held a sisters conference and had two therapists speak on depression, anxiety, and relationship skills.  During that sisters conference we had 12 musical numbers throughout the day and talked about grooming, nutrition, questions of the soul, and even had a clothing exchange.  The sisters loved it.  Our mission had 54 training’s in a 6 week transfer.  We worked hard, the missionaries worked hard and the members drove a lot and made big sacrifices.  But we felt driven by the Lord to do it. 

Then the question came, “What Next Lord?”  It felt like we were preparing for something.  And we were exhausted.  It was the end of October 2013, and it was time to go to the mission president’s seminar.  Elder Ballard was there along with the presidency of the seventy.  They are serious about missionary work and we felt it.  It wasn’t a, “Let’s fill you up with the spirit and make you feel good, kind of seminar.”  It was, we need to increase our vision and our expectations.  They set goals to double our baptisms in the next 6 months, increase church attendance in our wards and get every missionary to be teaching every day.  I was very overwhelmed, but on the 5 hour drive home we gained a testimony for ourselves that this was exactly what the Lord was leading us too.  And we were exactly ready because we had followed promptings. 

We came home and started preparing for zone conference and let the spirit do the work.  It was amazing. We talked to them of the vision of doubling our baptisms and the goals to get there. We also introduced accountings.  We knew we needed follow through with these young missionaries if we really were serious about helping them.  They started calling in every night to account for the daily goals of teaching 3 lessons every day, (to members if you have to), and having 10 gospel conversations with new people.  The missionaries loved it.  We had so many missionaries who changed.  It was kind of eye opening.  In interviews in December we had so many comments we never expected.  They just talked about how happy they were, how unified their districts were, how easy it is not to feel guilty, just repent and do it tomorrow, how important it is to account because it makes you change and bring what you know you should be doing to the front burner and make you do it and not procrastinate.  We thought we would just see them get to be better teachers, and increase investigators.  (That shows you our limited vision).  We almost doubled our baptisms in December.  How amazing is the Lord in leading us.  We have almost consistently kept that increase. 

I will write more about what has happened in 2014 later, but I just want to say that our sisters who came into our mission that first transfer at 19 years old have now gone home.  They were pioneers.  I couldn't be more appreciative and grateful for their good service.  The sisters in our mission are amazing young women.  It is so inspired to have these spiritually sensitive women out here doing missionary work. 

I felt last year the Lord declared to us as mission presidents that He is in charge of His work.  He will lead and guide us in doing this great work if we will be open to receiving revelation and acting upon that revelation.  


  1. I love your observations, insights and faith Sis. Mullen. Our son was one of those visa waiters through that transitional time of the great Washington Spokane Mission.

  2. Yes I remember him. I hope he is doing well. We were fortunate to have him for a time!

  3. We have 2 of the sweetest Sisters here in the Kellogg ward. .We love them. .I love reading your observation on the age change. .My daughter is out now. .

  4. Great blog! I totally agree with your comment about how working side by side with the Lord is much easier. Sometimes I forget and try to do things alone and feel overwhelmed. I LOVE having sister missionaries in our ward. I have enjoyed visiting and teaching investigators, cooking meals for sick investigators or simply having the sisters over for dinner and a message. It really is powerful to have the missionaries AND members working together! Have a wonderful week.

  5. I really appreciate your words. It is interesting to read about what you are teaching the missionaries and all the preparation you and your husband do to help the missionaries. Although my son came to your mission at the end of this period you wrote about, he received many blessings from all of this teaching. I know that Elder Johnson is so happy to be serving in the Spokane mission.

  6. Sister Mullen!! I love you so much!!! Thank you for this! I feel so grateful to have been a part of all these experiences and to be changed by the Savior through them. Reading this brought back a flood of memories! Oh how great it is to be a full time representative of Jesus Christ with his name on your chest.

  7. Thank you Sister Mullen for giving us an inside peak at what is hapenning within the mission. My Elder has been in the Spokane Mission since the age change and he has loved it. I have viewed the pictures posted on the FB page of the new missionaries. It has been exciting to see but I know that there have been challenges that I can never understand. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your joys and the lessons you learned. I will forever be grateful for you and for President and the wonderful examples you have had not only on my Elder but all the other missionaries as well! It is such a blessing for a mom to know that there is another mom looking after her son and loving him and helping him to become the best missionary and person he can be!