Jump to content

One third of Millennial Mormons who go on a mission are returning early


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, rongo said:

Fast forward to 2007. I had been a bishop for three months, and they formed the stake in our area. Our visiting authority was . . . Neil L. Anderson. In my stake president selection interview, he first asked me where I had served my mission, and I said, "Hamburg Germany, mid 90s. You actually visited our mission during that time." And he said, "Would you please forgive a young Seventy for that? It has haunted me to this day. I was raw, and I cringe at how I handled those early assignments." I was astounded a) that he remembered. How many stakes and missions had he visited since then? and b) that he seemed to have had a similar impression of how it went. It wasn't a big deal in the scheme of things, just really "kicking some tables and chairs over" and giving us tough love. But, I was impressed that he remembered it. 

I've had a general authority apologize for something he said to me as well (but in my case it was through my stake president).  It taught me that:

1) General authorities are people to, who, like the rest of us, sometimes wish they'd phrased things different.

2) If a general authority can apologize to a lowly high councilor,  I should be just as willing to apologize for my own hastily spoken words.

Link to comment
13 hours ago, kllindley said:

Oh, don't get me wrong.  I loved Finland.  I would totally live there.  In the summer.  

From October to April, the darkness is pretty bad.  Some people don't seem to be bothered by that, but for others, it's rough.  There were 20 hours of sunlight in the month of December in Helsinki (at the southern end.)

I actually was very blessed not to really struggle with the language that much.  I never got the point that I could pass as a native speaker, but I certainly got by.  

Finnish culture is substantially different from other Scandinavian countries.  Talking to strangers is really quite taboo, so any form of tracting or street contacting was generally counter productive, as was trying to talk to people on buses, metros, etc.  As a culture, like many other European nations, there is a strong secular, anti-religion sentiment.  Elder Hafen described it perfectly when he said that as a result of the socio-political history, the people were very suspicious of any "isms" claiming to be able to make life better.  I think I could have handled that just fine, there are other ways of doing missionary work and I loved working with the members! What amazing saints!  

The real test of my faith was when the General Authorities who visited our mission "pulled rank" to tell us that the problem was that we as missionaries obviously didn't have enough faith and that if we were actually being "obedient with exactness" we would be baptizing every month.  Those kinds of Priesthood Leader promises and being made to feel as though "I" was the obstacle keeping Finnish people from coming to Christ really took a toll on me emotionally, but also spiritually.  It made me doubt my ability to feel the spirit and discern any truth, because I knew that the Lord was telling me that I was okay and doing well.  But why couldn't General Authorities get the same message?  I even saw the impact their "pep talks" had on our Mission Presidents.  They would become discouraged and often take it out on us as missionaries. 

It has taken years for my testimony to really recover from those experiences.  I still have to mostly "put them on the shelf" and try not to think about the despair and self-loathing they caused.  

   

I think that there is often an overemphasis on exact obedience to missionaries.  I think it may be a result of some of the stupid things that missionaries have done in the past.  

one of the things that i had to learn on my mission before I became successful was that

1.  many of the "rules" on the mission were just suggestions and could be changed if there was a need or when moved upon by the spirit.

2.  Serving the Lord with all your might, mind and strength and having a desire to serve god were  the most important rules,  all of the other rules were really trivial in comparison, most of them fell away into the background in relevance when keeping the most important rules.

3. Faith and repentance were just as important for us missionaries as they were for our investigators.

4.  The Lord doesn't to wait for perfectly obedient missionaries to get his work done,  just willing ones.

 

As the ward mission leader I still have to struggle at times trying to teach the missionaries these principles.  More than once I have had to correct the missionaries when the mission "rules" interfere with bringing people to Christ.

 

Link to comment

We had Elder John M. Madsen come visit our mission, he told us 3 Nephite stories and a John The revelator stuff, he went over the doctrine of Baptism. We also had Elder John ****son, he basically told us the plan of salvation , neither were scolding or berated us, just nice people, trying to teach us

I met a guy in the mission who served in Chile in the early 1990's sometime. He was saying at the mission office they had this giant cut out picture of Jesus with his outstretched hands. Missionaries who baptized that month were on his right hand and missionaries who didn't were on his left. He said he would cry that he couldn't find someone to baptize. After sometime a General Authority came through his mission and told the MP to get rid of the cut out Jesus

Edited by Duncan
Link to comment
3 hours ago, rongo said:

Towards the end of my mission (Hamburg, Germany, 1996), Elder Neil L. Anderson visited, and he ripped us up one side and down the other. Things were going pretty well, and many missionaries were pretty taken aback by this because there wasn't a real "need" for it. If there had been, most of us would have understood and supported it. I commented at the time that it looks like GAs are told when visiting missions, regardless of what is actually going on, to "be sure to kick some tables and chairs over and yell at them." Even if things are actually going great; don't let them get complacent. Not really a big deal in the scheme of things.

Fast forward to 2007. I had been a bishop for three months, and they formed the stake in our area. Our visiting authority was . . . Neil L. Anderson. In my stake president selection interview, he first asked me where I had served my mission, and I said, "Hamburg Germany, mid 90s. You actually visited our mission during that time." And he said, "Would you please forgive a young Seventy for that? It has haunted me to this day. I was raw, and I cringe at how I handled those early assignments." I was astounded a) that he remembered. How many stakes and missions had he visited since then? and b) that he seemed to have had a similar impression of how it went. It wasn't a big deal in the scheme of things, just really "kicking some tables and chairs over" and giving us tough love. But, I was impressed that he remembered it. 

I think some General Authorities do feel a personal need to be the "bad cop" when visiting, and others are completely different. 

Thank you so much for sharing that. I had a powerful experience several years so that enabled me to forgive and feel compassion for those leaders in the absence of any apology or acknowledgement. But reading your story helped me consider that maybe they have also learned from that experience. Thanks.

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Waylon said:

Wow.  Thank you for sharing that.

I have shared, on this forum, that I did not have a very good mission.  While many things about my mission were less than ideal, an experience that I had that was almost identical to this, but with my mission president (not a seventy, and he had been out for less than a year), kind of cemented in my mind that my mission was a waste, a failure, and a disappointment to all involved, and caused me to basically disavow the whole experience.  The experience has caused me a lot of grief and some serious questioning for the decade and a half that I have been home, to the point I actually had to rebuild my testimony (after distancing myself somewhat from the Church for a couple of years).  Despite everything, I did care about my mission, I did make efforts at it, and in return I got yelled at.  It really bothered me for a long time that someone in such a calling could make such mistakes.

Hearing this, though, maybe the issue is my expectations of leaders were too high, that leaders, while they have holy callings, retain all of the imperfections and personality quirks that they did have before.  This is what Anderson basically admitted.  The miracle is that the Lord can still use such men to further His work.  I guess an analogy is fatherhood - I would like to think that I have a holy calling to be a father, yet I retain the same weaknesses as before.  Sometimes, I could stand to be nicer, more gentle, and handle things a little better.

Anyhow, thank you for sharing your story.   I found it very inspiring.

I love this insight about fatherhood. Thank you for sharing. I also related to a lot of what you shared. In the end I am very grateful for the process of rebuilding my testimony after my mission. I have always thought my journey was very rare after hearing most people only talk about how good their mission was. Sounds like I'm not completely alone though. 

Link to comment

 

On 10/1/2018 at 7:09 PM, Hamba Tuhan said:

By the way, I travelled to the temple this past Friday evening with our current elders quorum president. His wife is a counsellor in our Relief Society presidency. Their eldest son is 19, lives at home and works as a fast food cook. He spends the rest of his time on social media or binge-watching streaming television. As a result, he's emotionally fragile, distracted from most personal devotions, frequently depressed, etc. -- all despite being active and 'worthy'. He also tells people he is preparing to serve a mission, even though he isn't really. (He tried doing the stake mission prep class but found it too hard to wake up for it after regularly staying online till 4am Sunday mornings.)

I shared with my travelling companion what has been said on this thread and asked him if he thought his eldest was ready in any way to serve a mission. Resounding answer: no! And he made it clear that they (the parents) won't support any attempt by their son to serve until they know he is ready. They're both returned missionaries themselves (and both converts); they know what it takes to serve. They also know their son and his personal strengths and weaknesses.

They'd love to see him serve someday, but more importantly, they'd love to see him in a position to serve. They know he's not even close yet.

My oldest didn't go on a mission, but was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. He came home from an interview and told me the bishop talked to him about it. I knew he wasn't ready.

I talked to the bishop and he told me he felt it was the right time. I wish I would have expressed that he wasn't ready more strongly, but how do you go against the bishop's "inspiration", especially when he had already talked to my son about it? 

At the time my relationship with my son wasn't good, in large part because of his actions showing me he wasn't ready . He was at that stage where I, as his mom, "don't get it" so saying anything to him about it would have been the wrong thing to do.

It put us, as his parents, in a very awkward position. 

I think some think that the mission will change them so they want them out the door quickly to get that good influence, not realizing the harm it may do.

One of the hardest conversations I had with my son was letting him know that he didn't HAVE to serve a mission. That we realized he had agency and we hoped he would choose wisely. I heard around that time "everyone loves agency. Until you have kids."

I had huge hopes and dreams for him, some of which I knew would come through serving a mission. In order to have that conversation I had to let myself be ok with the idea that I was giving the control of that to him - or rather acknowledging that it was his. Some of these missionaries may be going out there because the parents can't give up that control and dream.

Another relative hoped her son was ready enough. My neighbor hoped her son was ready enough. For many it is not easy to tell where that line is of being ready enough. Both came home early.

Link to comment
On 10/1/2018 at 9:17 PM, rongo said:

That's the disconnect. Some people really don't like their missions, and have little to nothing good to say or think about them.

I'm with you. Not a day goes by that I don't think about people, places, and events from my mission ---- in a great way. I loved my mission --- really loved it, it's not just something I say on message boards. If I genuinely hated mine, then obviously I would feel differently about it. 

I'm sad that some people have a negative experience. I can't wait for my kids to go, and have their own experiences. In a lot of ways, my son's freshman year of college is like a first of three years of a mission. We love hearing from him, and can't wait to hear about his week. 

I wonder if people who don't like their missions really love college? Or work? Life in general? Not church --- that goes part and parcel with the mission, I think. 

I didn't love my mission. I didn't have big, life changing experiences. I'm glad I went. I learned much about teaching the gospel simply.  I also learned about human nature and not to assume things through my teaching. I learned about marriage through living with companions I got along with well and those I didn't. It was definitely something Heavenly Father wanted me to do. 

I, nor my husband have shared much with our kids. He had an even harder time with his mission than I did. After you talked about it awhile ago we actually had 2 FHE where we shared about our missions.

I get the idea of how sharing will help others. I even agree with it, but funny thing, when I look at my 3 children I don't think it would have mattered if we had.  One child determined to do things "different" than us in so many ways.  One child has planned on going forever. One child (girl) wanted to do what the Lord wants her to do so she prayed about it and felt she shouldn't go, but like your son, she is doing a lot of missionary work naturally (meaning she doesn't have to think about it - it is part of her nature) at school. 

I loved college. I loved working - even when I worked fast food. I love being a stay at home mom/homemaker.  I love life in general and feel joy in it.  But there have been times like my mission, like when I was in the middle of pregnancies with major complications etc that I didn't love even though I am grateful for those experiences. 

 

Edited by Rain
Link to comment

Wow, reading these has really led me to consider (for the first time, really) that missions might not be "amazing" and "fun" and "exciting" for all people. I'm trying to put myself in other people's shoes, and I'm finding it hard to relate to that. If that's how I felt about my mission, then I wouldn't talk about it a lot, that's for sure. 

It sounds like major factors in not liking missions (assuming no sin or disobedience reasons) would include (in no particular order):

1) mission president

2) not liking the day-to-day reality of missions

3) obviously, companions

4) pressure, guilt or stress (due to pressure and expectations)

5) culture

6) many other things I'm sure I'm missing

----

Everyone is different, and their circumstances and the mix of people they will be placed among will vary, so I'm not sure it's fruitful to try to "cure" or "inoculate" against such "risk factors," other than obviously, managing unrealistic expectations.

There is definitely a fine line between teaching that missionary service is a priesthood duty and expectation (which I endorse), and also making it clear that they aren't for everyone and that it is "okay" if one chooses not to go. I wonder how the teaching of "it may not be life-changing or amazing for you" could possibly be done in a mission prep setting. Maybe the approach could be "what to do if you find that it isn't an amazing, positive adventure?" 

I don't think that eliminating tracting or moving to more social media missionary work is the answer to this. I think it has led to even more than otherwise not really liking their mission much.

 

Edited by rongo
Link to comment
3 hours ago, Duncan said:

We had Elder John M. Madsen come visit our mission, he told us 3 Nephite stories and a John The revelator stuff, he went over the doctrine of Baptism. We also had Elder John ****son, he basically told us the plan of salvation , neither were scolding or berated us, just nice people, trying to teach us

I met a guy in the mission who served in Chile in the early 1990's sometime. He was saying at the mission office they had this giant cut out picture of Jesus with his outstretched hands. Missionaries who baptized that month were on his right hand and missionaries who didn't were on his left. He said he would cry that he couldn't find someone to baptize. After sometime a General Authority came through his mission and told the MP to get rid of the cut out Jesus

Yeah, we had Elder Perry and Elder Ballard visit my mission in the early 1990s.  They were all smiles and handshakes.  I guess they forgot who the "bad cop" was supposed to be.

Link to comment
18 hours ago, kllindley said:

I think you're right.  I need to do better about this.  I'll work on finding ways to share some experiences more often in ways that are still faith promoting.  

i *really* appreciate you sharing more! 

What were, oh, two or three fun/exciting/interesting things that happened on your mission? (I love hearing mission stories)

Link to comment
3 hours ago, rongo said:

Wow, reading these has really led me to consider (for the first time, really) that missions might not be "amazing" and "fun" and "exciting" for all people. I'm trying to put myself in other people's shoes, and I'm finding it hard to relate to that. If that's how I felt about my mission, then I wouldn't talk about it a lot, that's for sure. 

It sounds like major factors in not liking missions (assuming no sin or disobedience reasons) would include (in no particular order):

1) mission president

2) not liking the day-to-day reality of missions

3) obviously, companions

4) pressure, guilt or stress (due to pressure and expectations)

5) culture

6) many other things I'm sure I'm missing

----

Everyone is different, and their circumstances and the mix of people they will be placed among will vary, so I'm not sure it's fruitful to try to "cure" or "inoculate" against such "risk factors," other than obviously, managing unrealistic expectations.

There is definitely a fine line between teaching that missionary service is a priesthood duty and expectation (which I endorse), and also making it clear that they aren't for everyone and that it is "okay" if one chooses not to go. I wonder how the teaching of "it may not be life-changing or amazing for you" could possibly be done in a mission prep setting. Maybe the approach could be "what to do if you find that it isn't an amazing, positive adventure?" 

I don't think that eliminating tracting or moving to more social media missionary work is the answer to this. I think it has led to even more than otherwise not really liking their mission much.

 

Companions were sometimes hard. I had one who would rarely do anything and I found it better to be patient and have the Spirit with me when she did do something rather than have her constantly angry when I tried to encourage her to go out. One of my husband's companions tried to fight my husband, which is interesting since my husband is 6'6" and broad, and he was pretty small. But companions really were not what was hardest for us.

It was finding something to do.

Some of my husband's areas were very large with very few people with miles of steep, logging roads between them between them and a limit of miles on the car. 

My companions wouldn't tract after dark (with good reason). In the day time in most areas we couldn't find anyone home or I was in some wealthy areas where either we couldn't get past the gate or a maid would answer the door - never once did it work to interest them. 

Still I was good with tracting till the last couple of months of my mission. I developed a sense of knowing, as I was walking up to the house or knocking, if people would let me in or not. It was so hard to just knock anyway, knowing they would say no.

It was very rare that we saw people walking around or being outside.

I worked with members and most of the time my companions and I were well liked, but we never got a single referral from them that was inside our area. All the referrals I got were from members outside the ward. The one referral we got from a family inside the area, lived outside the area. 

I actually liked tracting in areas where people were home. I have more baptisms through it than any other way of finding.  In areas where you couldn't find people you could knock doors for an hour or more and not find anyone. I'm sure now days it is harder to find people with more women at work. 

My husband's dad had a farm. My dad had his own business. Neither one of us was afraid of hard work. There were some hard times when people said no to the gospel after we had worked months with them, but ultimately the hardest thing for both of us was those days and days when we were constantly trying to figure out what we could do that would be of any worth. 

Edited by Rain
Link to comment
3 minutes ago, Rain said:

Companions were sometimes hard. I had one who would rarely do anything and I found it better to be patient and have the Spirit with me when she did do something rather than have her costantly angry when I tried to encourage her to go out. One of my husband's companions tried to fight my husband, which is interesting since my husband is 6'6" and broad, and he was pretty small. But companions really were not what was hardest for us.

It was finding something to do.

Some of my husband's areas were very large with very few people with miles of steep, logging roads between them between them and a limit of miles on the car. 

My companions wouldn't tract after dark (with good reason). In the day time in most areas we couldn't find anyone home or I was in some wealthy areas where either we couldn't get past the gate or a maid would answer the door - never once did it work to interest them. 

Still I was good with tracting till the last couple of months of my mission. I developed a sense of knowing, as I was walking up to the house or knocking, if people would let me in or not. It was so hard to just knock anyway, knowing they would say no.

It was very rare that we saw people walking around or being outside.

I worked with members and most of the time my companion and I were well liked, but never got a single referral from them that was inside our area. All the referrals I got were from members outside the ward. The one referral we got from a family inside the area, lived outside the area. 

I actually liked tracting in areas where people were home. I have more baptisms through it than any other way of finding.  In areas where you couldn't find people you could knock doors for an hour or more and not find anyone. I'm sure now days it is harder to find people with more women at work. 

My husband's dad had a farm. My dad had his own business. Neither one of us was afraid of hard work. There were some hard times when people said no to the gospel after we had worked months with them, but ultimately the hardest thing for both of us was those days and days when we were constantly trying to figure out what we could do that would be of any worth. 

That is hard. That's one reason why I think all missionaries should go foreign, and domestic wards and stakes should teach their own investigators (either ward missionaries, or simply as a quorum or society). I would hope that the domestic missionaries who would then go foreign wouldn't form a huge tidal wave of depression and anxiety due to the stresses of foreign missions, but I think there is a tidal wave of depression and anxiety from the stateside missions where it is extremely hard to find things to do, too. 

The mileage restrictions are ridiculous. Missionaries might as well not even have the car with how low the mileage restrictions are. 

I had excellent companions, so I was lucky there. My two "least favorite" were fine, compared to others' stories. One was a lazy hypochondriac from a wealthy family, and the other was a naive judgmental kid, but I was nice to him and strove to get along. I sure hope he learned later on, because, yikes! But no fistfights, or fights or arguments to speak of. The lazy hypochondriac I just put with a lazy senior companion in our city, and they rotted together while his junior and I worked nearly every day.

I *loved* tracting, and typically did around ten hours of it. Some great experiences, and a lot of rejection, too. I have a sharp wit and am pretty eclectic, so I was able to turn some rejections into interesting conversations, some of which resulted in gained respect or surprises for those we were speaking with. And the noble and good in humanity rises to the top, every day, with that. We also did street displays, and worked on ways and means to get people's attention and curiosity and have conversations. Visuals, enlarged text, you name it. Ward list and area book work were fruitful. I had eight baptisms (mission average was one), but even if I had had none, I loved the experiences and found adventure and romance daily. 

Members were outstanding, but this didn't mean that they gave us referrals. They did the best they could, and through their example and their connections, they did a lot. I differ from the GA and mission president pressure over the years in that I place the responsibility for finding on the missionaries, and don't guilt trip members for not providing referrals to the missionaries. I find as members gain more confidence in discussing the gospel and the Church with others, they do, on their own terms, and things naturally develop out of that, but the variants of "pick a date" pressure are not good and lead to members avoiding the missionaries, I find. 

Link to comment
2 hours ago, rongo said:

i *really* appreciate you sharing more! 

What were, oh, two or three fun/exciting/interesting things that happened on your mission? (I love hearing mission stories)

Not fun or exciting, but maybe interesting.

My companions and I always tried to share something with members when we went there for dinner. In the MTC we got a "sister's packet" that had stories and quotes in that we often shared. Each time we would be prayerful in what we chose. 

One night we shared the story Information Please with a family where the dad was high level at the Houston airport. No burning feeling to share that story. Just felt right like we experienced many times before.

The story was about a boy who developed a relationship with a telephone operator as he called to get help with school or other things.

"Then, there was the time Petty, our pet canary died. I called "Information Please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was UN-consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?" She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better."

The story goes on and is one of my favorites though I couldn't tell you if it is true or not. Like the other times though we didn't really think about what we had shared nor do I think most times could we have told you a few days later what we shared with who.

Anyway, the next morning the dad was hit while riding his bike and killed. 

The funeral was at the stake center and it was huge and overflowing. All these people who had worked with him were there. During the funeral they shared where he had his scriptures opened and how poignant the passage was.

Just before the funeral we went through the line to see the family.  They told us how grateful they were we had shared that story. That it had come through their minds over the last few days and comforted them. 

Link to comment
42 minutes ago, rongo said:

That is hard. That's one reason why I think all missionaries should go foreign, and domestic wards and stakes should teach their own investigators (either ward missionaries, or simply as a quorum or society). I would hope that the domestic missionaries who would then go foreign wouldn't form a huge tidal wave of depression and anxiety due to the stresses of foreign missions, but I think there is a tidal wave of depression and anxiety from the stateside missions where it is extremely hard to find things to do, too. 

The mileage restrictions are ridiculous. Missionaries might as well not even have the car with how low the mileage restrictions are. 

I had excellent companions, so I was lucky there. My two "least favorite" were fine, compared to others' stories. One was a lazy hypochondriac from a wealthy family, and the other was a naive judgmental kid, but I was nice to him and strove to get along. I sure hope he learned later on, because, yikes! But no fistfights, or fights or arguments to speak of. The lazy hypochondriac I just put with a lazy senior companion in our city, and they rotted together while his junior and I worked nearly every day.

I *loved* tracting, and typically did around ten hours of it. Some great experiences, and a lot of rejection, too. I have a sharp wit and am pretty eclectic, so I was able to turn some rejections into interesting conversations, some of which resulted in gained respect or surprises for those we were speaking with. And the noble and good in humanity rises to the top, every day, with that. We also did street displays, and worked on ways and means to get people's attention and curiosity and have conversations. Visuals, enlarged text, you name it. Ward list and area book work were fruitful. I had eight baptisms (mission average was one), but even if I had had none, I loved the experiences and found adventure and romance daily. 

Members were outstanding, but this didn't mean that they gave us referrals. They did the best they could, and through their example and their connections, they did a lot. I differ from the GA and mission president pressure over the years in that I place the responsibility for finding on the missionaries, and don't guilt trip members for not providing referrals to the missionaries. I find as members gain more confidence in discussing the gospel and the Church with others, they do, on their own terms, and things naturally develop out of that, but the variants of "pick a date" pressure are not good and lead to members avoiding the missionaries, I find. 

I agree on pick a date. That was going strong when we were on our missions. Knowing what I know now I would have ignored the program. 

When we first got married my husband told me there were two callings he didn't want. YM president and ward mission leader. He has now been YMP twice and also served as counselors.  He loved it!

Not long after we moved here he was called as WML. He was so relieved when released from that especially when going in the YM again.

This time though, he had me working as ward missionary with him and I could help relieve the stresses.

The biggest problem this time? The stake and mission wanting him to set goals. Some time ago he learned from a therapist CD (John Lund) that you can only set goals for yourself. Setting them for someone else is a wish.

The stake and mission were after him to set a baptism goal that first year. He told them he doesn't set wishes for others and explained that. When the HC pressured him more he said, "we have a baptism next week, so my goal for the year is 1".

Instead, we tried to make goals for ourselves. We would have this many parties where you invite neighbors or open houses or any other goal you can set for yourself and not other people.

The church does missionary work odd.  We talk of helping Sister Jones with her surgery or helping Brother Smith going to the temple. Real people who we really try to have concern for, but with missionary work we have a goal of so many people. As someone who went on my mission because I have a love for people it was hard to suddenly have leadership wanting me to see them as labels or objects first.

One other thing - my husband is a huge introvert. He loves people, but desparately needs time alone to get his energy back.  On a scale from 1-20 with 1 being most extrovert and 20 being most introvert he scored a 19.  Because of the gospel he does get out there. He loves people even though he needs that alone time. Missions are very hard for that reason on people like him. 

Edited by Rain
Link to comment
4 minutes ago, Rain said:

I agree on pick a date. That was going strong when we were on our missions. Knowing what I know now I would have ignored the program. 

I ignored the "lost sheep dialogue" on my mission. I had people actually say the obvious: "If your church cares so much about its people, why don't you know where they are?"  I would ask people if they knew where they moved to, without the cheesy dialogue. Sometimes we got leads, and once, we strung together four leads from four different addresses referred to us by the new tenants, and tracked him down!

When we first got married my husband told me there were two callings he didn't want. YM president and ward mission leader. He has now been YMP twice and also served as counselors.  He loved it!

Not long after we moved here he was called as WML. He was so relieved when released from that especially when going in the YM again.

This time though he has me working as ward missionary with him and I could help relieve the stresses.

When I graduated from BYU, we moved to Taylorsville (greater Salt Lake area). I was called to be WML and my wife was called to be a stake missionary, and our bishop and ward was completely unsupportive (they were glad to have someone they could wash their hands of missionary work of). Back then, we were expected to work 10 hours a week as stake missionaries, and we loved going out and working for a couple of hours every night after work. We did it all, and had amazing experiences that we had all to ourselves because no one wanted in on them (I continued to invite men to go with me, but all I ever got was a kid who hadn't served a mission. And who went to high school with my wife and whom my wife said was notorious for staring at girls' chests when talking to them. Nice kid, though, and he was willing to go with me). We had a girl who was waiting to talk to Elder Wirthlin for her COP interview (child of polygamy) so she could be baptized. A woman waiting for her husband to get out of prison (I taught my wife the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree"). An alcoholic Indian who desperately wanted to talk to the bishop, and the bishop refused to meet with him. A huge Tongan ex-lineman for Louisianna Tech. Those were days never to be forgotten . . . :) 

I was also WML in our current ward, 16 years ago. The ward we moved down to Maricopa from. Good experiences there, too. What I love about WML is you are pretty much free to "let's go do some good!" (Kevin Costner "Untouchables" reference), and you can go to town with the ward list and helping the missionaries. 

The biggest problem this time? The stake and mission wanting him to set goals. Some time ago he learned from a therapist CD (John Lund) that you can only set goals for yourself. Setting them for someone else is a wish.

I upset some counselors in the former stake presidency when, as a bishop, my ward's goals were gospel conversations-related (things we can control and don't involve the agency of others). They also didn't care for my answer in stake priesthood meeting when I was asked what our ward's secret was (#1 in the stake for baptisms). I said, "We are doing the exact same things we did last year, when we were last in the stake. These things are cyclical, and you go through seven years of plenty and seven years of famine."

Seriously. I don't think God works that way ("Let's pray for what our baptismal goal should be this year"). 

The church does missionary work odd.  We talk of helping Sister Jones with her surgery or helping Brother Smith going to the temple. Real people who we really try to have concern for, but with missionary work we have a goal of so many people. As someone who went on my mission because I have a love for people it was hard to suddenly have leadership wanting me to see them as labels or objects first.

Remember calling in your numbers to the district leader on Sunday night? Did you give lists of numbers ("null, null, eins. Null, null, zwei . . ."). Now, they just transmit them electronically. But, it's very impersonal. 

 

Link to comment
39 minutes ago, Rain said:

The biggest problem this time? The stake and mission wanting him to set goals. Some time ago he learned from a therapist CD (John Lund) that you can only set goals for yourself. Setting them for someone else is a wish.

The stake and mission were after him to set a baptism goal that first year. He told them he doesn't set wishes for others and explained that. When the HC pressured him more he said, "we have a baptism next week, so my goal for the year is 1".

Instead, we tried to make goals for ourselves. We would have this many parties where you invite neighbors or open houses or any other goal you can set for yourself and not other people.

This! I just finished nearly five years as ward mission leader in my ward, and our goals were all things that we ourselves can do. We're also one of the top wards in the mission for missionaries wanting to serve with us. I'm certain they're related.

Link to comment
39 minutes ago, rongo said:

When I graduated from BYU, we moved to Taylorsville (greater Salt Lake area).

Any chance you lived near Park library?  My parents have lived nearby since 1995.  

 

39 minutes ago, rongo said:

Seriously. I don't think God works that way ("Let's pray for what our baptismal goal should be this year"). 

Amen!

 

39 minutes ago, rongo said:

Remember calling in your numbers to the district leader on Sunday night? Did you give lists of numbers ("null, null, eins. Null, null, zwei . . ."). Now, they just transmit them electronically. But, it's very impersonal. 

 

I really think our mission needed to report some numbers as before our president came in there were a lot of problems with missionaries going to movies, hanging out all day etc.  Report the finding stats like tracting, GQing.  Something to account for their time.    

A couple of months before we went home home our mission split and we each got new mission presidents.  The new stats from my president were, "Who are are you teaching?"  "Who is getting baptized?"  "Tell me about this person."  That made a lot of difference to me.  

I wonder if you combined the finding numbers with the working with names/people if it would change how missionaries did missionary work if left to decide what to do.  

Link to comment
36 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

This! I just finished nearly five years as ward mission leader in my ward, and our goals were all things that we ourselves can do. We're also one of the top wards in the mission for missionaries wanting to serve with us. I'm certain they're related.

The second year he was in we really planned together to make this kind of mission plan.  Then found out the ward council was supposed to create it.  He really tried to help them understand our vision of it, but they just really didn't get it.  It was kind of funny. The presidencies didn't make goals for unknown people, but they didn't make goals for themselves as a presidency (such as "we will have 1 gospel oriented conversation a week and share the experience with the RS sisters").  They just switched the wish of "baptize 3 people" with a wish for the members in their organization like " each sister will have 1 gospel oriented conversation a week."  

Link to comment
5 minutes ago, Rain said:

I wonder if you combined the finding numbers with the working with names/people if it would change how missionaries did missionary work if left to decide what to do.  

We had sisters in my last district (I was the zone leader) who set a goal to work some insane number of hours one week, like 110 or 120 or something. To accomplish this, they skipped morning study and rode their bikes all day to a remote village, worked a little, and then rode them back to get back home late. They were resistant to counsel from me and their district leader that this was not effective, and that they weren't talking to anyone --- what is the point of this goal other than saying you "worked" a lot of hours? All we could do is let the president know. An example of 100% numbers driven, 0% common sense and 0% spirit of the law.

This was an anomaly, as we were not a pressure or numbers-driven mission. What a waste of time, though! Probably not bad for keeping in shape. 

Link to comment
3 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

This! I just finished nearly five years as ward mission leader in my ward, and our goals were all things that we ourselves can do. We're also one of the top wards in the mission for missionaries wanting to serve with us. I'm certain they're related.

One of the things I have learned is that the full time missionary program is just training for the real missionary work that happens afterwards.  I certainly have baptized more people after my mission than during my mission.  The missionaries are very restricted on where they can go and who they can teach, whereas after the mission we can do missionary work by ourselves, with a companion we choose (my favourite is my wife).  We can work with people anywhere in the world and we can work with them for years or decades even without worrying about being transferred out.   

As I often tell our ward and our missionaries, after the mission the training wheels come off.

Edited by Danzo
Link to comment
4 hours ago, rongo said:

We had sisters in my last district (I was the zone leader) who set a goal to work some insane number of hours one week, like 110 or 120 or something. To accomplish this, they skipped morning study and rode their bikes all day to a remote village, worked a little, and then rode them back to get back home late. They were resistant to counsel from me and their district leader that this was not effective, and that they weren't talking to anyone --- what is the point of this goal other than saying you "worked" a lot of hours? All we could do is let the president know. An example of 100% numbers driven, 0% common sense and 0% spirit of the law.

This was an anomaly, as we were not a pressure or numbers-driven mission. What a waste of time, though! Probably not bad for keeping in shape. 

I had a discussion with my mission president in one of our weekly zone leader meetings with him about statistics.  I asked him to ignore the stats of my.zone in favor of trying a new program that greatly reduced the number of tracting hours that were required .  He told me that stats were important and gauged how hard missionaries were working.  One of our weekly goals was to place 5 Book of Mormons.  I told him if he wanted stats, I would give him stats.  That week me and my companion placed 55 Book of Mormons.  I made my point and he let me try my new program which eventually the whole mission adopted.

Link to comment
15 hours ago, rongo said:

 

This was an anomaly, as we were not a pressure or numbers-driven mission. 

Remember how you said you were trying to understand the experiences of those who didn't like their missions?  I think a big difference is right here.

Aside from my mission president issues, my mission was a complete numbers-driven pressure cooker.  We were told we were supposed to be baptizing monthly.  Since no one was getting this (you were lucky to baptize once your entire mission), there was a big push towards teaching a certain number of first discussions a week (this was in the day of the six discussions).  We were told to miss P-day if we had to to get our target discussions.  Basically, it was all about grinding numbers, which is apparently very different from how mission work is done now.  As a very introverted person who could barely even talk to girls in high school, I had a very, very hard time with this kind of mission.  I certainly never had very good stats, and things just never took off, even though for the most part I worked hard.  I also feel I never really adjusted fully to doing missionary work - it always felt "weird" for me.

I think my mission may be an anomaly - most people have really good experiences and miss their missions when it is over.  I did not, and I do not, despite the fact I am still active and believing after rebuilding my testimony.

I kind of wonder if I would do better under the current guidelines than how things were run back then.

Edited by Waylon
Link to comment
11 minutes ago, Waylon said:

Remember how you said you were trying to understand the experiences of those who didn't like their missions?  I think a big difference is right here.

Aside from my mission president issues, my mission was a complete numbers-driven pressure cooker.  We were told we were supposed to be baptizing monthly.  Since no one was getting this (you were lucky to baptize once your entire mission), there was a big push towards teaching a certain number of first discussions a week.  If you didn't hit this many, you would get chewed out.  They had us memorize the discussions (this was before Preach My Gospel), and we basically spent ten hours a day grinding out these numbers, every single day.  Eventually, even less active, service, and member work was largely eliminated, to make room for more and more grinding out statistics.  Even on good days, I never felt like we were getting any sort of meaningful results, other than being there should a "golden investigator" come along (one never did for my mission).

For an introvert like myself, who never could do stuff like talk to girls in high school, being in this kind of mission was very, very difficult (and no, I am not some kind of gaming addict or something).  I was mentally exhausted all the time, and I never hit a groove.  I did get on well with most of my companions, and I think most of them were under the impression I wasn't a bad missionary, but the overall experience was just difficult, unhappy, and I certainly have never missed it a single day since returning home.  I also think, despite the advancements in my testimony since returning home, if I had a chance to do it again now under the same circumstances (as I sometimes have nightmares about, getting called back out again), it probably wouldn't be any better.  That said, it appears missions are now almost the opposite of what they were back then, so maybe I would have done better under the new way.

Should I have gone?  I agree that missions are not for everyone.  But how would I have known this without trying?  Also, the Lord does need his work done, and I get that and am willing to help.  But I can't help but think there are a zillion ways I could have served the Lord more effectively for two years . . . 

Waylon, just curious and forgive me if you have already stated ....but what years did you serve and was it in the US?  My female cousin put herself in a closet crying because they could not make the numbers with the cold calls of the 60's mission in California. Of course, this was at the time when they would go through telephone books and classes for salesmen.

Edited by Jeanne
Link to comment
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...