I’m a 16 year old Latina Mormon, and I’m fed up with my ward’s lame Young Women’s Program. Help!

Dear AMG:

I live in an area where there aren’t many Hispanic LDS members. I go to a Spanish branch and I’m the Young Womens class president. I really hate it. The leaders don’t listen to our suggestions and for Mutual we are always doing crafts and that’s it. We don’t go out or try to change things up a bit. I personally feel like if you are a leader it’s your responsibility to be keeping tabs on the girl’s goals and their progress and what they’re thinking and none of them do any of that. They just go on Sundays and have a last minute mutual. I’m getting sick of this because Young Women is what’s keeping these girls from doing drugs & going into gangs yet they’re being led away from it because there’s nothing happening. I’ve talked to the leaders and they get mad or they just shut off when I tell them and I’ve talked with the branch president and he doesn’t do anything about it. Please help me I don’t just want to give up on the girls but I’m sick and tired of everything.

MR


Dear M.R.:

I’m glad your branch has you, and that you haven’t given up. You’re dedicated, determined, and concerned about the girls in your class. You have the makings of a real leader. The question is how to be a YW Class “leader” when you don’t seem to have any real power.

It’s a fact of life that the Church is an all-volunteer organization. Most ward and branch leaders are trying hard to do their best. Some aren’t. And some are distracted and exhausted by the demands of life, work, and family. Still, you and your class deserve to be heard. You deserve teachers and leaders who listen to you and try to understand your needs.

If your YW leaders and Branch President haven’t been able to hear you, think of one adult in your branch whom you feel you can trust—-it can be anyone over 19: a primary teacher, a missionary assigned to your ward, anyone. Share your concerns about the YW program, and if you have concerns about particular girls and their needs, share those too. You deserve to have an ally and a listening ear, and maybe this adult will be able to help you represent your concerns more effectively to your branch leadership. (If you have particularly pressing concerns about the health or safety of a particular young woman, don’t stop with Mormons: find someone in the community-—a teacher, perhaps—-who can hear you.)

If no one in your branch gets a clue, well, M.R., you may have to be the leader you’ve been waiting for. Sometimes we have to be our own mentors and role models; I’ve found this is especially true for women. We have to learn things that no one in our daily lives seems to be able to teach us. As YW class president, you have the right to receive and act on inspiration on behalf of your class. You can act with spiritual authority as a leader. So do it! Get a class list and go through all the names. Call or text each girl individually to express your friendship and support. Try to get to know each girl on the list. If you live close enough or have transportation, visit everybody. Try to get to know their needs. Ask what kind of activities they’d like to do at church, or what kind of topics they’d like to hear addressed on Sundays. When you’ve done this important work, share what you’ve learned with your leaders. And if they still don’t hear you, offer to plan a lesson on your own, or an activity on your own. If they won’t let you, hold the activity at your own house or apartment on your own independent night.

Hermana, our religion was founded by a 14 year-old boy who didn’t find the answers he needed at church and asked God directly. If you ask, I’m pretty sure God will send you someone to help. And maybe that someone is you. After all, the future of Mormonism is in the hands of bright, courageous young Latinas like you. You are Mormonism’s future majority. And even though we may not live in your branch there are a number of us out here who want to do whatever we can to support you as you step up and represent.

AMG readers, former YW leaders especially: what words of support and advice do you have for M.R.?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “I’m a 16 year old Latina Mormon, and I’m fed up with my ward’s lame Young Women’s Program. Help!

  1. Cynthia L.

    Wow, MR, you sound awesome! I just want to give you a big high-five! Sorry to hear you are having a hard time. I remember feeling many of the same feelings when I was a young woman. One thing I can tell you for the future is, don’t forget how you feel now. When I was 22 or 23 years old and married, I was right back in Young Women and a leader. I tried to let my memories be a motivator to me to really listen to the girls in my class. I wish I could tell you that I never ran into limitations with the YW president and Bishop in some of my planning, even as an adult leader, but it did happen sometimes. Learning how to balance with other people who have their own opinions and feelings and things going on in their lives is a lifelong challenge!

    Joanna’s advice is great. Hope you are able to find answers to your problems. Thanks for being such a great source of service to your fellow saints!

  2. sinclaire

    wow-its certainly refreshing to hear the faithful youth call out lazy leaders :) you have mad props from me for even having the guts to acknowledge it. i dont have much in the way of suggestions re. your leaders but i would like to tell you that if you dont get an answer from God or if you do and still do not get support (and more importantly-validation) from your leaders, remember that you tried, you cared and YOU take your faith obligations seriously. Their faults and weakness are not a reflection on what you did or didnt do. it would be tragic if you down the road you ended up feeling like you didnt do enough. i dont remember what the “rules” are for activities but can you perhaps organized some get togethers outside of mutual. my memories of mutal we very much like your experiences…boring crafts if we were lucky. most of the time we didnt do anything but watch the boys play basketball….please keep Joanna posted! Good luck mi hermana, siempre y todas dia.

  3. Mandy

    You are one brave lady, M.R.! I’ll be here in the cheering section for you! I hope you’ll check back in and let us know how things go.

  4. Chris Gordon

    I’ve got two daughters and I hope they have the courage to call me or any leader out when and if it’s necessary someday. They’re little now, but I hope they “get it” the way you seem to.

    Best of luck. I echo Joanna’s advice that there are no limits to what you can get done if you seek the inspiration that is rightly yours as a class president. You’re the one presiding over the girls in your class, not your YW leaders. Their job is to support you and the rest of the girls in YOUR efforts to achieve your goals and live the gospel. You should feel welcome to take that initiative, and I can’t help but imagine the proud smile Heavenly Father will no doubt wear upon hearing your prayers for guidance and support. It makes him so happy when we try to magnify our callings and I hope that you feel that pleasure as you do. Echale ganas!

  5. Joshua

    I would take your concerns to the Bishop. If nothing changes, you may want to consider attending an English language ward in your area and seeing if you have better luck there. No matter where you are, though, a large number of your mutual activities will probably be lame at least part of the time. But attending is a great way to re-charge your spiritual batteries, even if the activity is really dumb.

  6. Azul

    M.R. I wanted to join along with everyone and sing your praises! You are an amazing young woman, and your concern and love for others is evident by your desire to serve.
    I was also part of Young Women in a Spanish Branch, and ran into my share of difficulties. But like Cynthia said- those very experiences shaped the way I lead my girls now.
    Joanna’s advice is very true- as you work, the Lord will bless you. I know that as a leader, whenever I see my girls working, I want to work just as hard to help them- they inspire and motivate me to be a better person.
    This might just be the opportunity some of those sisters need to be motivated and to find a new sense of purpose in the organization- even though it seems sort of frustrating, you could be the very answer that they need.
    Additionally, this is preparing you for future encounters and situations where you will have to lead. It sounds to me as though you are being prepared for amazing things.
    Be of good cheer M.R.- we are all rooting for you!

  7. MR

    Thanks to everybody for everything!! I’m so pleased to say that after many meetings our leaders were changed and we have great leaders who are working with us individually and who are hearing all of our suggestions. Even though we’re still working everything out I feel so happy to know things are changing for the better. Thanks to everybody here for all the help!!
    Los quiero mucho <3
    ~MR(:

  8. Tiffny

    I was in a similiar position once. My solution was to be noticed. I didn’t choose an alternate night to do our YW-planned activities. We chose Wed. night. We planned our own thing and let our leaders tag along if they ever showed up on time. Sometimes we didn’t even meet at the church at all. Yeah, I got called in and scolded by well-meaning adults who had forgotten what we were all there for. By the time I was 18 I had had arguments with YW leaders, camp directors, bishops, high councilors and a stake president. But things got better, eventually. And I eventually forgave them (and hopefully they forgave me). But they started doing things right after that. And when I was a YW pres a few years ago I remembered these lessons.
    I will also share that I was the 1st person in my ward in 10 yrs to receive the Personal Progress medalion. So your activities can be based on the PP book and still be fun. Don’t just go to a movie every time, ok?
    I echo Chris Gordon, above. This is your program and your stewardship. You don’t have to wait for someone else to show you the way. Just do it.
    There are many resources online for planning activities. Google your heart out and come up with some great, non-crafty evenings for you and your friends.
    You’ll do great!

  9. sukie

    I had a very similar experience when I was a YW. With my mother’s help we arranged and organized an amazing regular service opportunity that could involve the young women in a real and positive way. I had leaders of narrow thought at the time, and they wouldn’t get behind it. We went on our own, picked a different night, and involved everyone we could – including many non-member friends now that I wasn’t going through the church. The growth and friendships and service from that experience were critical to the real spiritual development of those involved, and I always marveled that the YW leaders at the time preferred making cookies or playing silly games.

    It sounds like you’ve worked things out, and I’m so glad, but in case anyone else comes here looking, my advice:

    1. Keep it positive. Try not to complain because it shuts people’s ears off (even if you’re soooo frustrated). Try to keep your suggestions in terms of the things you feel inspired to provide for the needs of your peers.
    2. Make specific suggestions, make plans, do the leg-work. Get it all set up so that it’s so easy for the leaders all they have to do is say “o.k.” It gives them much less excuse to shut you down, and then if they do say no for whatever reason, you’re all set to go independent.
    3. Don’t underestimate your own power, influence, and ability to take control of the situation! Don’t wait for permission to do what you know to be right. As Joanna said, you have the authority to receive inspiration on behalf of your class. Know that, and access your rightful spiritual resources.

    Good luck with everything! You will surely be a force for good!

  10. I was a YW leader last year, and during firesides and meetings, I would always hear that the youth are the cream of the crop. MR, you are definitely an example of the amazing rising generation. I love that AMG reminds you that as class president you can receive inspiration for your class. i think a lot of times we feel too small to make a difference. Obviously you have BIG ambition. Change begins with us.

  11. John Paladin

    Wow – really fantastic stuff here from the OP right through the comments.
    One of the things we have really been trying to get happening in YW right now is to have the girls take ownership of their own program. In fact, this was my topic at our recent Stake YW workshop. The role of the leaders is to help/assist/support/guide/facilitate etc etc etc – it is not to run the program for the girls, take all the assignments, and make all the decisions. It is your program so you run it. Let your leaders know that one of their primary roles is to develop the girls to be future leaders – how will they learn what to do if they are never allowed to run their own program.

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