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Is It Right To Go On A Mission To "Develop" A Testimony


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As a convert, I cannot tell you how this dragged my soul down this summer.

I originally came here out west to see what LDS society was like up close and personal. Back home there are only 200 of us, and most of us want to be there. But most religions out east that are the majority have plenty of people that just show up for Christmas and Easter. I wanted to see the LDS version of the same. So here I am in Provo. Mind you, I am not doing this to "look for trouble" but to really just see it and assess it.

I could go on about the differences from Rexburg to BYU and UVU students and attitudes, but lets just say I have met guys out here that came back from missions that truly dont take the gospel seriously and get involved with all the stuff that normal college kids do. Now this isn't about judging them because...well...that what younger people do.

My problem is that they came back from missions not too long ago. Now say what you want that "Satan is now tempting them" or whatever, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think they didn't believe it in the first place or certainly not that strongly.

Since I was already feeling down on faith here int he church, can you see how this didn't help me at all?

It's not that I blame the kids really. Who would go on a mission for two years to promote something they did not believe in unless is was expected of them. I went through and knew a dozen of missionaries before I was baptized. Although I do not expect any of them to be perfect. I would feel betrayed if they told me something they did not believe themselves. That makes sense.

Out of the 58,000 missionaries out there right now, I shudder to think how many are not really believing this and telling others to follow it.

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Your single duty on a mission is to covert yourself...this is the advice I gave two of my children who served. You went to what can only have seemed to ba Uthopia as you have imagined all your life as I did and found the world there as well. It is very eye opening...but have you live and those others who quietly do, is up to you. Keep your eye upon Christ...not those to your left or right.

Edit to add...I can think of no better purpose of a mission, converting yourself and leadership training for the future lives of the Saints you encounter.

So, with all the pieces of your broken heart....Go!

Edited by Bill “Papa” Lee
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As I understand the new policy on calling a missionary, they must be worthy and able to serve a mission, and already have a testimony of the Gospel. This is not the time to "get a testimony".

Of course, as in all life experiences, their testimony will be strengthened.

Think about the questions asked for a temple recommend. It specifically asks about our testimony, and if they cannot honestly answer in the positive to get a recommend, they certainly are not ready for a mission. The primary purpose of a mission is about teaching others, not ourselves.

Edited by cdowis
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Some will have hope and some will have faith. It seems like creating an unachievable standard to demand that all have an absolute rock solid testimony at the age of 19 or even at the age of 60. Is it disingenuous to portray these young men and women as anything less than individuals who chose to serve. I did not grow up in Utah and so I cannot speak about how LDS or different or the same from Utah and those who grew up in the mission field. I have known return missionaries that did not remain true to the teachings of the Church and I have known members that did not remain true also. More importantly, I have known many that remained firm and true to their covenants at all phases of their life. Personally, I have had rocky patches and stretches of steadiness. I do not evaluate my relationship with Christ or the Church by how others act or how they life the teachings of the Church. I suggest maybe you need to focus on yourself rather than find fault with anyone else.

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Out of the 58,000 missionaries out there right now, I shudder to think how many are not really believing this and telling others to follow it.

What makes you think they are not believing it? I don't know about you, but I do, don't do things all the time contrary to my belief. It doesn't mean I don't believe the things, but that I'm a weak mortal. Charity, my friend, charity.
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...

Out of the 58,000 missionaries out there right now, I shudder to think how many are not really believing this and telling others to follow it.

One of the maxims of "testimony" reinforced during missionary training, and while growing up, is that "testimony grows in the telling/sharing of it". In other words, if you say it often enough then you will believe it. I believe that most missionaries believe that they are bearing testimony of what they believe. A few obviously are going to be going through the motions, till they are done and return with honor and get on with real life. They do this to fit into Mormonism because their whole family paradigm is bound up in it.

I hope that your feelings for the Church and its way of life survive the wilderness or "waterless waste" you are traveling through. But if not, I hope anyway that "God" gets nearer in your perceptions. "God" is not bound exclusively to Mormonism, anymore than to Catholicism, or Christianity or any other religion. "God" is "other-religious", which is ironic, since religions all co-opt "God" and define him/her....

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The irony of all of this is my son does have a testimony but didn't go. He struggles with shyness or something, not sure what that is holding him back. He is constantly asked when he is going on a mission. And it's making his situation worse. He broke down yesterday, just before attending a family party (he did this before at another family party also), he feels so self conscious now. Now he thinks LDS think are they so much better than everyone else. One of his friend's mom stopped her car when my son came out of the store and asked him when he was going on his mission and my son said he wasn't, she just drove off, according to my son, which may or may not have happened. Right now in my area, missionaries are leaving like wild fire. My son doesn't stand a chance of meeting a LDS girl that would accept him. He is now dating a non Mormon girl. It's almost critical for survival in my community to go on a mission, whether you have a testimony or not. This is mainly my son talking, mind you. But he must know and I think I can see how this has been encouraged to LDS girls, that they should marry a returned missionary. There are almost no options if a guy wants to marry an LDS girl, and eventually marry in the temple. But that is life, and my son chose a not-so-good time to NOT to go on a mission. PLEASE EXCUSE MY POST HAVING UNDERLINING. IT'S DOING THIS ON IT'S OWN.

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I was born and raised in the church & yes there is an element of when you're graduating through Primary & the priesthood quorums that you will go on a mission, not anything heavy handed but with the girls it's "if" you go, with us guys it's "when" you go. Not that this was detrimental for me, I was excited to go, had a testimony, & nothing could've stopped me.I actually turned down promotions at work because I knew I was going soon. In my home the missionaries were almost treated like demi-gods. If they turned up at the door, even if it was without an appointment, everyone was called together to the front room to listen to what they had to say. Us kids were always reprimanded for climbing all over them & pulling off their badges (not that it stopped us & they never minded :angel::) ). Our front room had a pure white carpet and EVERYONE had to take their shoes off at the frontdoor...everyone except the missionaries. When we had them over for dinner, they got the best seats & got served first. I expected missionary lie to be like the Called to Serve video. Missionaries were never upset, they were all great guys, loved everyone & were so knowledgeable. Reality was like a baseball bat to the face! My first DL was a major jerk, my trainer wasn't interested in listening to others perspectives and everything had to be done his way. Members, let alone treating us like honoured guests, we'd be lucky if the were in for the appointment we'd made, and if they were in would just carry on doing whatever chore it was they were doing when we arrived; making the member missionary presentation we were there to share almost impossible to present. There were missionaries that I served around that were absolutely great, but there were those that were arrogant, selfish, obnoxious & prideful. I had discovered the truth...missionaries were humans!! And it was tough for me, really tough!! I think possibly you're going through something similar. You went to Utah and expected to find saints, and you found people. I'm new to the boards & so I am not familiar with the circumstances of what you have shared on here but I think going on a mission would be a gamble for you at the moment, it could build your testimony, but there's also a chance it could tear your testimony down. Please I don't mean this in any detrimental manner but it seems to me from the few posts I have read that your testimony of the church is based upon the character of the Saints rather than a spiritual witness, I think you need to find a way to resolve that before you go and serve a mission.

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A mission is a great experience though. Where else will you get the safety measures, for the most part, for a youth going out into the world, in the far corners of this earth? This is what my son is going to miss out on. If a missionary has a testimony of their Saviour , they can go entirely on that premise possibly. If a missionary has a desire to do humanitarian service, they could go on that premise. The church may or may not have all truth, but I'll tell ya, it is a lifestyle that can be conducive to a good life, though some can take a good religion and mess it up with their actions that will leave a sour taste in one's mouth. But all in all, the LDS that I know, are in the other 75 percent, that are cool. So going on a mission with a varied testimony, not a stamped one, may be just fine. And the missionary that is more varied might reach individuals that might not have come around to some other type missionary.

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@Tacenda...I can't disagree with a single thing you have said there! You're absolutely right. But I don't think you can overestimate how tough and gruelling missionary life can be. I think every RM can relate to ****ens in a Tale of Two Cities when he says "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Would I do my mission again...absolutely...even if I knew it was going to be exactly as it was the first time round. I literally went to the mission next door to my home mission, and there were times when I was serving that I was closer to my home than I was to my mission office. And that had it's own challenges. I grew more on my mission than at any 2 year period in my life. But like a furnace that can create a masterpiece of workmanship it can also burn & devour. You are going to see, meet & work with some of the best of humanity, but that black badge also like a crazy magnet & you are going to be surrounded also by the flotsam of this world too, and it can be extremely draining. If your foundation is based on people and not principles, it's a foundation that's going to be knocked out from underneath you very quickly. Going on a mission could be the making of the OP, but it could easily be the undoing also. I don't know the OP so have no way knowing which way it could possibly go for him, but before he goes I do think he needs to go back to basics and get a testimony of the gospel, and that the BoM is the word of God before he even thinks about serving. XXX

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Not sure Provo is necessarily a good testing ground. Have two kids whose testimony plummeted due to hypocrisy at BYU. As to the main point of the topic, if we truly limited the missionaries to kids who had a full and abiding testimony we would severely depopulate the missionary program. A brother from out west remarked on the differences he perceived between Rocky Mountain west sisters and sisters in that part of Indiana where I then lived, was that he felt that the sisters in Indiana had stronger testimonies than most of the men, which was the opposite of what he saw out west. I asked why. He said that out west the brothers got their testimonies while on their missions, since the girls didn't go on missions many were Mormons because their parents were Mormons. I don't know if his observations were correct, but serving a mission does tend to create a testimony in many who just go because they were expected to go. If you quit expecting your kids to go, then they tend not to go.

Of course out here, if the young women limit their prospective mates to returned missionaries -- they best get themselves out to BYU or one of its subsidiaries, otherwise they are likely to remain single.

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Senator,

What makes you think they are not believing it? I don't know about you, but I do, don't do things all the time contrary to my belief. It doesn't mean I don't believe the things, but that I'm a weak mortal. Charity, my friend, charity.

The Board is being hinky for me. (I don’t know if it’s being hinky for anyone else, or if I’m just special. :huh:) I tried to give you a rep point for that, but that particular function isn’t working. :( Anyway, I agree! :)

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Questing Beast,

One of the maxims of "testimony" reinforced during missionary training, and while growing up, is that "testimony grows in the telling/sharing of it". In other words, if you say it often enough then you will believe it.

I think there’s more than just “Saying-Believing” in the feedback loop. I think it’s “Saying-Acting-Believing” and/or “Believing-Acting-Saying.” For example, I think if someone publicly proclaims something, it gives him or her a motivation to act accordingly. As a person acts accordingly, the seed planted by doing so begins to grow and bear fruit. As fruit is borne, the person wishes to share that experience. And so on. My $0.02. :)

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Stone Holm,

Not sure Provo is necessarily a good testing ground. Have two kids whose testimony plummeted due to hypocrisy at BYU.

I don’t want to be too hard on your children or to appear unduly judgmental, but what a shame that they let others’ behavior (whose standing before God is between God and them, while your children’s standing before God is between God and your children) drive them away from the Church. Are there hypocrites in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Yes! The Church is full of them! Of how many of us can it be said that our words match our behavior, or that we live according to what we know, 100 percent of the time? To a greater or lesser extent, everyone falls short of that ideal at one time or another. The best hypocrite may fool almost everybody, almost all the time … but he can’t fool God.

My $0.02, which is probably only worth $0.0016375 … ;)

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Thatjimguy,

You are robbing yourself by placing so much on others. You must accept that everyone in the Church is different. You must accept that we all are not perfect. Develope your faith and belief and when you are converted strengthen your brethren.

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Don't feel too bad, and remember you cannot base your testimony on what others say or do.

:THUMBSUP:

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Thatjimguy,

I could go on about the differences from Rexburg to BYU and UVU students and attitudes, but lets just say I have met guys out here that came back from missions that truly dont take the gospel seriously and get involved with all the stuff that normal college kids do. Now this isn't about judging them because...well...that what younger people do.

My problem is that they came back from missions not too long ago.

A couple of things (one of which I’ve already told others in replies on this thread, but I think it bears repeating: (1) Their standing before God is between God and them. Your standing before God is between God and you. Don’t let others and their behavior interfere with your relationship with God. (2) Post-mission adjustments aren’t easy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes this, and is attempting to deal with it, I believe, through offering a class specifically tailored to the post-mission adjustment (“The Gospel and the Productive Life”), and through some things being done in the Young Single Adult program.

All of us are hypocrites to a greater or lesser extent, because none of us live up perfectly to the things we say we believe, 100 percent of the time. That’s what the Atonement and repentance are for. :)

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Stone Holm,

I don’t want to be too hard on your children or to appear unduly judgmental, but what a shame that they let others’ behavior (whose standing before God is between God and them, while your children’s standing before God is between God and your children) drive them away from the Church. Are there hypocrites in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Yes! The Church is full of them! Of how many of us can it be said that our words match our behavior, or that we live according to what we know, 100 percent of the time? To a greater or lesser extent, everyone falls short of that ideal at one time or another. The best hypocrite may fool almost everybody, almost all the time … but he can’t fool God.

My $0.02, which is probably only worth $0.0016375 … ;)

Except the two that went inactive had been active in two different wards from the time they were born until they went off to college and one of them was very, very excited to go to BYU -- until she hit the wall of female superficiality there. I guess it is not fair to call her inactive, she is active when she has time but of late as she finished up her medical residency in pediatrics she hasn't had or has not been willing to devote the time to Church. I did have one that finished at BYU. Don't get me wrong, if you want your kids to marry in the Church -- the best thing you can do is ship them off to BYU or BYUI, etc. Only one other than my BYU graduate married in the Church.

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Every population is a bell-shaped curve. This applies to testimony/commitment as well.

My son left to serve his mission a little over 3 years ago. He had issues with morality and substance abuse that he lied about to us, his bishop, and his stake president. Those same problems continued throughout his mission. 18 months into it, he was found out, sent home, and excommunicated. His road back has been difficult for him as well as us. He still has not been rebaptized, but he has a testimony. The weaknesses that he allowed to overcome him and become addictions have made life incredibly difficult. He attended BYU prior to his mission. Since he was unable to return there, he went to UVU, but that did not work out well. Even though no one said or did anything, he still felt like an outsider, and I can understand that.

In one of his recent meetings with our stake president (same one when he left for the mission field), he asked, "How many Mormon girls would want to marry a guy like me?" The answer was inspired and the truth--"Thousands." There are some in the church who are kind and understanding. There are some who have goals for their lives and live to attain them. There are some who find and marry another who shares those righteous goals. There are some who fall short. There are some who can forgive those who do. There are some who share similar struggles and can empathize and overcome. There are some some who are critical and judgemental.

The Atonement can heal them all.

I admire all who go, regardless of their motivation. I hurt for those who cannot or choose not to go for the experience they will miss. I love them all regardless. The Lord will find a way to make us what he wants us to be, if we are willing.

beautiful! I sincerely hope things work out well for your son and your family!

Edited by Duncan
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As I understand the new policy on calling a missionary, they must be worthy and able to serve a mission, and already have a testimony of the Gospel. This is not the time to "get a testimony".

Of course, as in all life experiences, their testimony will be strengthened.

Think about the questions asked for a temple recommend. It specifically asks about our testimony, and if they cannot honestly answer in the positive to get a recommend, they certainly are not ready for a mission. The primary purpose of a mission is about teaching others, not ourselves.

Guess all things are relative including testimonies.

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I don’t want to be too hard on your children or to appear unduly judgmental, but what a shame that they let others’ behavior (whose standing before God is between God and them, while your children’s standing before God is between God and your children) drive them away from the Church. Are there hypocrites in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Yes! The Church is full of them! Of how many of us can it be said that our words match our behavior, or that we live according to what we know, 100 percent of the time? To a greater or lesser extent, everyone falls short of that ideal at one time or another. The best hypocrite may fool almost everybody, almost all the time … but he can’t fool God.

My $0.02, which is probably only worth $0.0016375 … ;)

I'm in the process of painting my house exterior... The contractor happens to be LDS (I didn't call him because of that) and employs a couple of young men from Church who do my lawn (he has multi-service group). So I asked the painter if he was LDS as he had said he was new from Montana... he replied "used to be." And that he has been inactive for a number of years mainly because of all the hypocrites he sees in the Church... He's been trying different wards, and even other Christian churches. Naturally I encouraged him to attend my terrific ward... terrific, but not perfect... and told him Phooey on other people!... and much of the same conversation expressed above. Maybe younger people are more sensitive to this type of thing... but being the old woman I am, I just say Phooey and continue to strive to live the gospel faithfully. Yes, I'm disappointed that there are those that don't live up to their potential within the Church... but not so much that it affects my own attendance, faith or testimony. I hope this young man will seek out our ward... he's a good person, and a conscientious worker.

GG

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Phooey on other people!

Good for you.

It's just one of those tests we have to get through where we have issues with members of the ward. We can allow them to drive us out of the church, or just say Phooey on you, and just keep moving along.

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