Answer/President Loren C. Dunn
This question is a difficult one to answer, because the decision as to whether a young lady waits for a missionary is a personal matter and must be determined, of course, by the people involved. However, in making that decision some of the following matters might be taken into consideration.
To begin with, no formal poll has been taken that I am aware of, but it appears more often than not that an agreement to wait somehow gets sidetracked during the mission, and as a result the familiar “Dear John” letter is received by the missionary.
It should be realized that any two people, especially young people in this age range, change over a period of two years. The special nature of missionary service, of course, causes the missionary to change, but the young lady changes also. Sometimes these changes are rather dramatic on both sides, creating a situation where a young couple almost needs to become reacquainted following missionary service.
In light of this, three questions could well be asked: (1) Will waiting be good for the person at home during the time when dating and social activity should be a prime part of a young person’s life? Is it appropriate for a young person to avoid such associations for a two-year period of time? (2) Will waiting be good for the missionary? Does having a girl who is waiting at home cause the missionary to become preoccupied with thoughts of her? In order to be successful a missionary must serve the Lord with all his “heart, might, mind and strength.” Does the girl who is waiting encourage that kind of loyalty to the Lord, or does she unwittingly cause a division of loyalty? (3) Will waiting be good for the missionary work? If the missionary suffers, then the work suffers. Certainly every Church member will want to do all within his power to help missionary work succeed, and the way missionary work succeeds is for the missionary to succeed.
If a relationship can be mature and well-founded enough to take into account the above points, then it is likely that waiting for a missionary might be good, both for the work and for everyone concerned. Such a relationship would limit communication to a weekly letter and an occasional package from home. The tone of the letter should be uplifting and encouraging. Some missionaries have told us that sending tapes may well create problems. To actually hear the voice of the girl friend will often develop feelings of homesickness and cause the missionary to become diverted from his work. For the same reason it is recommended that family and friends should not telephone the missionary in the field except in dire emergencies.