Subject: Regrets of going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 17:43
Author: JT

I am in the long slow process of leaving the church. One of the topics that has been eating away at me is the time I wasted on my mission. Here are few items that are truly tormenting me right now. Writing down what I feel is my only therapy right now.

It makes me sick to think of all the people I damaged on my mission. My mission was run by numbers. We were constantly quoted that “as long as the convert puts out their cigarette on the way down to the water, they are worthy”.

I baptized around 75 (see I can still remember numbers) people on my mission and only two were still active when I went home from my mission. I served in a Latin America mission and I found most of the people got baptized to either please the missionaries, or they enjoyed the attention. As a missionary I never doubted what I was told to do, but I hated baptizing people who I knew would never continue to attend church. Why did I not see what was going on?

We were told never to bring up blacks in the priesthood or polygamy in our discussions. I still remember the heartbreaking look on a single black mothers faces, 2 weeks after she was baptized, when she found out about blacks in the priesthood. She cried and asked us why we did not teach her this (she found out from friends at work). We had no good answer other than to tell her to have faith. I spoke to my mission president and he said we had done our jobs and that she now at least had the HG in her life. I look back now and it makes me physically ill to think about this poor women we took advantage of. How could mission presidents have taught this crap to vulnerable young people? Dirty rotten SOBs.

My mission was nothing but a numbers and ranking game. To win the game you had to baptize a lot, and advance in ranks (district leader, zone leader, AP). Oh, I made it to the top and was an AP and I and my family were so proud. Nobody ever asked me if the people I damaged (baptized) were happier as members of the church.

I knew what I was doing was not right, but I was so blind I did everything I was told. It has been 20 years since I served on my mission and I am ashamed. If I had all the address of the people I baptized I would send them an apology letter. One of the reasons, the church sends “kids” on missions is because they are so energetic and have not learned to think for themselves. Even on my mission I felt I was not good enough for the church and it really eats a me what the church has done to my confidence and self esteem. What would my life had been like if I had not put all my energy into “not feeling guilty”. What a waste of 2 years.


Subject: Great post
Date: Sep 16 17:52
Author: Joseph Almond

This is one of the truly great posts I've read here at Exmo. I didn't serve on a mission, as I dug in my heels and REFUSED TO SERVE. I got a whole lot of pressure from the Stake, as it was run by a Hitlerian monster who was dead set on becoming an Apostle before he lost his hair.

I would exhort any LDS lurking youth to do as I did: Refuse to go. Your life will not be blessed nor hindered.

Life is good if you focus and achieve, and not allow distractions from your goal.

Blessings flow faster than you can handle them if you simply think more clearly than youre peers. Today, this is so easy.

Thanks for a great post. Hope your exit is swift, sure and without any regrets.

Mine has been.

Life is better now than at any time I was a TBM.

Subject: Such a cult.
Date: Sep 16 17:53
Author: Moablo

And the number of victims keeps growing. Well, here's a belated welcome home and into reality. Hey, now you can REALLY spread the word.

Subject: Re: Regrets of going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 18:17
Author: MikeB

Yep, I'm embarassed as well. Everyone is pressured in some way to go (either from over zellous TBM parents, friends or (the most common) girl friends.

It's been about 18 years since I went to the MTC(May 24, 1984). At the time I didn't really think too much about what they were doing (e.g., the sales tactics, mind games, etc.) -- we weren't concerned about whether or not the people stayed active, we were concerned about getting the baptism.

Now that I'm older and have had opportunity to "sell things" as part of my career -- I see similar tactics between selling "things" and selling "religion". Specifically the numbers...success is in the numbers not in changing peoples lives you are only good if you made your "numbers" -- nothing else mattered.

I have a ton of regrets -- the biggest one was the time I wasted. To be fair, the experience has taught me that time is too valuable to be wasted. I missed nearly 2 years of college, dating, etc.....

Before I went on my mission, they told me I would develop a "testimony" -- that did not happen, in fact, that is when my doubts really started to happen... I remember someone telling me that people lived on the sun and that God came down and had sex with Mary. I made a big stink that these could not be true (specifically the God having sex with Mary). The APs took me aside and told me it was true and that I would develop a testimony of it. It seemed like an abomonation to me....

On the positive mission is when I realized that the LDS was not the only "true" church on the face of the earth. I met a lot of absolutely great people that had no interest in the church. Many were active in their selected church and believe in it as much as LDS people do. I got chastised once because I told someone that I was glad they had their own religion and that they should continue to be active in their selected religion.

I belive they send "kids" on missions, because they have not fully developed who they are and what they believe. A mission give the church a chance to have a singular say in what they believe.

Subject: Dealing with the regret of going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 19:24
Author: Shiz

Wow JT, I feel for you and what you are feeling.

I also served a mission to Europe 20 years ago. It was a meager baptizing mission with few 'results'. The average on our mission was about 3 per year. We were always in the shadow of the more productive (and less expensive) S. American missions.

However, I was spared somewhat because my youthful enthusiasm for the history, art and culture of the country's where I served (Italy) made up for the long and frustrating hours. I think I have blocked ut all the hard stuff and I just focus on the good and fun things that happened, plus what I learned. I grew up alot, matured and bacame a self-reliant adult during my service, and for that alone, the mission was likely worth it.

It is hard, though, to think of what you missed and the unthinking damage you (we) have all created in our wake. All I can say is take what positive things came out of it. All in all, if so many of your baptisms became inactive, it is likely they were not really affected by what you did. By now, it is a 20 year old blip in their lives.

Hope these words help.

Subject: Re: Regrets of going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 19:45
Author: Post mo

Here's my reaction. Two wasted years. Even considering the learning experience of having a mission abroad, much better to serve with an organization that truly cares for people, such as the Peace Corps. Going on an LDS Mission is a total waste of time. The culture of the LDS Church makes you feel that you MUST serve, but after you start, you realize what a deception the entire thing is. It's terrible how we were sent into people's homes to "teach" them, when we didn't even know the full truth about Mormonism.

Cutting oneself off from friends and family, media and outside reading for two years is only an LDS Cult-like technique to brainwash you. I would NEVER recommend anyone to go on an LDS mission!

Subject: Re: Regrets of going on a mission
Date: Sep 17 02:12
Author: missinglink

I agree, serving with PeaceCorps or the like would be a much better use of time. Apparently the Morg also agrees to some extent as sometime in the not so distant pass, they tried to add some "community service" hours to the otherwise unproductive week of tracting.

I went to Geneva, Switzerland (though most of the mission is in SE France) - another of those low-baptizing missions. That certainly makes the "field is white" statements difficult to understand... I don't really regret the time to much - I certainly don't feel like I did any permanent damage to anyone. However, it wasn't really of much value to anyone, either - just spending my parents money.

My wife, on the other hand, served as a welfare services missionary in Guatemala (sp?). Now she got to do stuff more like the PeaceCorps and didn't have to waste her time tracting and trying to change the minds of people who were content with the "faith of their fathers". She returned home all fired-up to save the world and seriously considered joing the PeaceCorps.

Now that I've begun my exit from the Morg, she realizes that serving a traditional LDS old-timers mission is no longer in the cards. She was talking the other night about doing a PeaceCorps-type thing instead. I certainly think it would be more useful to the world.

Good topic.

Subject: Try to find the positives.
Date: Sep 16 20:03
Author: Markus

JT. I loved your post. I too served a mission and struggled with the fact that I spread lies in the southern states. I thought about contacting the people that I could baptized and appologize for what I had helped lead them into. It would be fruitless. I am sure that most, if not all, stayed with the church and after 15 years I wouldn't be able to find them easily. The people that I baptized were the people who were down: lonely, depressed, old. You know the types. Rarely did I ever here of a solid family that was fooled into joining. Anyway, they were all big people. They made their choice. They could have studied it out just like I could have (but didn't).

So I try to look at the positives. I lived on away from home for two years, learned a new culture, met some great people, had some food that I wouldn't have ever tried, learned to get along better with people, learned to speak to people that I didn't know, learned how to kill roaches, etc. Aside from the whole church aspect, I feel that I became a better person from the whole experience.

The best thing is that I met my wife because I was an RM. I doubt that she would have dated me if I was not. Sad, but many of us were brought up that way.

So try to look at the positives and hang in there.

Subject: going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 20:19
Author: Dark Sparks

Welcome here, JT. I have posted something similar to yours before. On Oct 4th three people I was close to on my mission are coming to Salt Lake for a missionary reunion. I have already told them that I no longer believe, but they still believe after 32 years!

These are wonderful people and they remain friends in spite of my disbelief. I am happy that I went on a mission so that I could know people like this, but I too feel I missed out on a lot by isolating myself from the entire world.

Isolating myself started even BEFORE my mission. I went on a summer job building trails in the Rocky Mountains so that I could save some money for the mission expenses. I was far far away from a television set when Man first walked on the moon. I have aways regretted missing that one because I love technology and science.

But as for the mission experience, although I hated it, I did really love the people...still do to this day. Was it worth it? Since I can't change the past, I have to say overall that it was a good thing that I went.

These days I happily tell everyone I knew there that I no longer believe. It is the least I can do for those whom I had condemned to a life of Mormonism.

I enjoyed your post very much.

Subject: I wish I could take my mission back too
Date: Sep 16 21:24
Author: Jolimont

But I appease myself it's VERY unlikely more than two of the 12 people I "baptized" (I am a girl) are still in the church. My first baptism was a disgrace. The guy was a drunk and a bum. I was in the mission field 2 weeks when he got dunked. We never saw him again. There's also the well-to-do young man who got baptized before he ever attended church. He could have, but he always made excuses. We never saw him again either, and we tried hard to track him down. I have no idea why he agreed to baptism.

My mission was also high pressure and a numbers game. We had this little chant: "Numbers, numbers, we want numbers. Go away Spirit, go away Ghost! Numbers are what matters most!" The Pres once had a baptismal contest that gave the companionship with the highest baptisms a brand new car for a month. I am NOT making this up!

What can I say? I was young and I was in a cult back then. I didn't think clearly. But I did warn lots of people that missions were about numbers once I came home, so I wasn't completely oblivious. Nice post JT.

Subject: I can understand how you feel.
Date: Sep 16 21:24
Author: TLC

I've sometimes felt the same way myself. I have however, come to the conclusion that regret is futile because it can do nothing to change what's in the past. I did it - I went on a mission and it's over. There's nothing I can do to change that fact.

Regret would only be useful if it could compel you to do differently in the present than you did in the past. From the sounds of it, you wouldn't ever do anything like serving a mission again.

My experience has been that making peace with the past and letting it go is a lot healthier for me than sitting around feeling bad about something that I can't go back and change.

We went on missions because that's who we were at the time. We change and we evolve and we grow. We may be doing things today that we'll wish we hadn't in ten or twenty years. But today, we're working with what we know and with who we are in the moment.

I've made peace with the fact that I served a mission based on who I was at that time. I still "believed" in the church because that's what I'd been taught from the time of my birth. I no longer believe in the things that I did when I was younger but I'm OK with the fact that when I went on a mission, I was acting in accordance with the beliefs I held then.

Ekhart Tolle, in his book "The Power Of Now" has said:

So deal with the past on the level of the present. The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it, and the more likely you are to make a "self" out of it.

Don't misunderstand: Attention is essential, but not to the past as past. Give attention to the present; give attention to your behavior, to your reactions, to your moods, thoughts, emotions, fears and desires as they occur in the present. There's the past in you.

If you can be present enough to watch all those things, not critically or analytically but nonjudgementally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence.

You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present.

Subject: Re: Regrets of going on a mission
Date: Sep 16 21:34
Author: tom

I regret the two years of my mission. I also regret the
wasted years before and after.

How to make up for it?

Remove your name. Encourage others to do so. Support other
exmos. Contribute to the research pool.

You got a black eye. Give 'em two in return.

Subject: I've regretted going on a mission every day...
Date: Sep 16 21:43
Author: Ron G.

...for the last twenty two years, and probably will until the day I die. I've often regretted going to BYU instead of another school, too, and even tried to transfer out after my freshman year, but my wife had lost too many credits transferring to BYU from the U, and didn't want to leave.

If we didn't have regrets, what would we have...?



Subject: I never went on a mission...
Date: Sep 17 08:01
Author: Jennifer

but I'm a convert to the church (WAS a convert, I guess I should say) so I'm familiar with the whole sickening process.

Please don't feel guilty, those of you who went on missions. You were young and impressionable, and were only doing what you thought was right at the time--whether it was out of religious belief OR family obligation.

One of the most interesting experiences of my life was a phone call I received about three years after I'd left the church. It was from the elder who baptized me. He said that he and his wife were in town, and he wanted to meet with me and talk to me. I agreed, and met them for dinner.

At dinner, he revealed to me, very slowly and painfully, that he had left the church, and felt a great deal of regret for teaching me things that he now knew to be false. This man also felt a great deal of guilt, and wanted to talk to me about the things he had discovered about Mormonism that led him out of the church.

How great was my joy (Love it when we can hijack one of their phrases!) when I was able to tell him that I had also left the church. I told him that I forgave him, since I felt like he needed to hear that, and we had a wonderful time together. His wife, a never-mo, is a hoot. We are still in touch. I know that he still struggles with regrets but the simple fact that he has left the church and is raising his children out of the bonds of Mormonism is a great way to "repent" for his sins as a missionary.

Live a good life. A happy and joyful and full-of-laughter life. Speak only the truth. Speak out against the church whenever an appropriate and civil opportunity arises. This will go a long way to balance the scales of any negativity you may have caused or feel that you caused.



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Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church

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