The District

Brothers and Sisters

A few missionaries struggle to find someone to teach. The Sisters try to help a family decide on baptism, but when tragedy strikes at home, Sister Voyles has to decide if she should stay or go home.

Click here to watch episode II of The District

Click here to listen to the Mormon Expositor podcast’s review of this episode.

Poor Sister Voyles. That was painful to watch. Sister Voyles had a younger brother. He was born with some health issues and physical defects. The family knew that he would not have a long life from the beginning – He had four holes in his heart and no pulmonary artery. Sister Voyles was incredibly close to her brother. One of his physical defects was a soft palate and Sister Voyles was the only one who understood him as a child. She was his translator. I can’t imagine how connected just that alone made the two of them as children. They show several family pictures and talk about how in all of them Sister Voyles is looking at David. She was sort of centered on him.

So she gets the news that David has died and is then faced with the choice about whether to stay or go home.

I’m going to come back to that topic but first the rest of the episode….

They continue to work with two of the same investigators and a part member family.

The family was really a joy to watch. I enjoyed them very much. I will freely admit when the mom was getting ready to go into the baptismal font and she started to cry… Ya. So did I. I love to see people happy. She was feeling some powerful emotions and I couldn’t let her cry all alone now could I?? I also loved the “one year later” update when they went as a family to the temple to be sealed. I love seeing happy, joyful people!

I did feel like this part sort of left the impression of “Get baptized, go to the temple – everything about life will be sunshine and roses!” It’s just so not true.

One investigator, Leslie, I’m assuming we’re seeing the last of her. She said that she’s not ready at this time in her life to rock the foundation she’s already standing on. She’s had some hard “life stuff” and she wants to just have “firm ground” for right now.

Also she was having a hard time dealing with the idea of having to follow a living prophet’s every command, not questioning, etc. She didn’t seem to really hear the missionaries when they said that wasn’t true. But in reality, who can blame her – there are lifelong members that act like you’re apostate if you question anything word from any general authority, much less the prophet. The true is our church is founded on questioning. Joseph Smith QUESTIONED. It’s our history, our heritage as LDS people – to question.

Olivia is a young teenage girl they are doing discussions with. At this point they are being very pushy about getting her to baptism. I think she was doing a stellar job as a young woman in not being pressured into doing it until she’s sure. She talked about the feelings she’s been having (aka spiritual experiences). I appreciate how seriously she’s taking the commitment. She’s not living with her own family but with a member family. It sounds like there is some troubled history there. She talks at one point about wanting to feel “worthy” of being baptized. That made me uncomfortable.

And I wanted to hop in the TV and tell her I was proud of her when she refused to pray about the decision to be baptized as a group. That is a very personal decision. And what could possibly come of that?? Were the missionaries going to get done and then say “Well, we feel good about it. You have to get baptized now.” Oy. The choice is hers and hers alone. She is the only proper receptacle for the answers to her own prayers. So good for her!

Last thing: To go or to stay.

Oh glory. I have issues with this. In our culture a missionary coming home for any reason is a thing to feel shame about. Shame shame shame. It’s WRONG.

It seems from the episode that Sister Voyles made her own choice and she chooses to stay. She said she could feel her brother there with her and that made it okay.

I can’t help but wonder what was said to her. When a missionary has a tragedy happen at home the leadership lays the choice at their feet. These are young people. Do they have the emotional tools to make a choice like that? And this choice doesn’t just affect them. It affects their whole family.

I just wonder if there wasn’t such an intense cultural pressure to “complete an honorable mission” if more missionaries wouldn’t make the choice to go home and grieve with their families.

Why is it more admirable to stay? Why would we think it took more strength to stay? Is the leadership saying to them either choice is okay? We will support you no matter what you do! We will honor your choice. Neither one is wrong! Is anyone saying that? And really, truly meaning it?

Is it emotionally healthy to put off grieving something like this for so long? The people who choose to stay are going to come home to a family who is much further along in the grieving process then they are. I just can’t imagine how all that disjointedness is going to affect those missionaries. That’s so painful. For me when tragedy strikes it’s those that are grieving with me that bring the most comfort.

Personally, I would go home. And I can’t imagine I’d feel a moment’s guilt about it. It seems like the right thing to do.

My husband got very sick in the MTC and was sent home for a couple months and then went back out. The same thing happened towards the end of his mission and it was cut two months short. He still to this day – _____ years later (He’ll be mad if I list the actual years! HAHA!) – feels tremendous regret that he didn’t serve a “full” mission. This makes me crazy. Nothing that happened was within his control but that’s our LDS culture when it comes to missions.


Thoughts? Am I missing something here?

Camille grew up all over the country. She calls Oklahoma and Wyoming her home places. She received her education at Ricks College and the University of Wyoming where she earned her BS in Mathematics. She currently lives in Castle Rock, CO.

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