It was only last April, when the flood of missionary applications – and especially of Sister missionaries — reached a new high, that the term Sister Training Leader was officially put into the Mission lexicon.
You may ask, what does a Sister Training Leader (STL) do? Answer: A lot of marvelous training of the Sisters that makes the mission run much better and keeps the Mission President (mostly) sane!
STLs function like Relief Society presidents – always under the direction of the priesthood, but with great autonomy. Each STL companionship trains between 3 and 5 companionships of Sisters. The size of the group depends mostly upon geography. In areas where the Sister companionships are further apart, we generally have a lower ratio than in Scottsdale. There are 10 zones in the mission – 7 in the valley and 3 in the mountains. Effective last this month, for the first time ever, we have Sisters in every zone (the last zone to get Sister missionaries was the Biltmore zone which covers the English speaking units in the Phoenix East Stake).
You may ask, does a zone with Sister missionaries perform different than one without? Answer: Yes! Just as in other situations in the Church, the addition of the Sisters AUTOMATICALLY causes an upswing in Elder performance. They dress better, talk nicer, and are just generally more dignified if Sisters are around.
I’ve used this slide to illustrate the desired effect of Sisters on Elders!
From teaching dress and grooming, proper safety techniques, and etiquette to missionary contacting, planning, teaching and even bicycle riding – the STLs are there. And, are they ever terrific teachers! They are among the top teaching and baptizing companionships in the mission. In areas where wealth or a desire for isolation creates a barrier, Sisters can get places Elders just can’t.
Sister Sweeney and I love these wonderful, dedicated missionaries!