Mormon malignancy seen in Mormon missions
Subject: Mormon malignancy seen in Mormon missions ...
Date: Dec 19 01:33 2003
Author: windsong
Mail Address:

Recently, there have been a bunch of posts about experiences with mishies (NEPA's is intriguing, emotionally compelling, and hopeful, IMO!). And there have been interesting posts about whether or not the LDS church is benign, as in Nightingale's comments on Susie Q's assertions about the relatively harmless nature of Mormonism.

Since a large part of my interaction with Mo'ism has been with missionaries, I'd like to share my perceptions of the exceedingly abusive and controlling nature of Mo missions.

I've mentioned that I had a very close relationship with missionaries while they were on their missions. No doubt this was partly because I've worked with teens and young adults for years in both education and counseling. And my husband and I have raised our own kids who are now in their '20's.

However, the main reason I got close to these kids was because they DESPERATELY needed human warmth, affirmation, coping skills, and advice.

Imagine being far from home when you learn that your parents have divorced, mother is excommunicated, and your father remarries ... all at a time when you as a mishie are being encouraged to have no use for unrighteous behavior! And when you're trying to sort out what you do really believe in terms of doctrine and morals! It's not just a question of who is still sealed to whom, but "can I still love my mother and be obedient to my mission calling?"

Or imagine learning that your father has inoperable terminal cancer, and the MP says that rather than return home thereby forfeiting an honorable discharge, you must strengthen your testimony and pray!

From the agony of broken engagements, cruel taunting letters about taking over your former girlfriend, having to miss siblings' weddings, and the birth of nieces, nephews and siblings ... all within the daily grind of boredom, exhaustion and rejection ... life was hell for many of the missionaries.

Add to that the stress of constant companions, some of whom could be nasty, belligerent and controlling if not simply annoying (especially with the 24/7 rule of attachment!) ... and the intolerable atmosphere mounts! The sister mishies especially had problems with their companions! Pettiness and jealousies abounded! Many of the sisters were looking to make "attachments" with the guys. Speculation, rumors, gossip and outright accusations were rife in the "underground" communication lines of the mission.

When word got out via the "underground" that I was someone they could talk to about their problems, several of the missionaries found ways to get together with me in person and on the phone and pour their hearts out. I responded to these young people because their "crying out for help" was impossible to ignore!

They simply did not receive the help they needed from the MP or his wife. Many of the responses they got from Mr. and Mrs. MP were spiritually and emotionally abusive, IMO. "If you had been more faithful, your fiancťe would still be waiting for you". "Your companion is giving you trouble because you are selfish and your testimony is weak". "You can't go home and attend your brother's wedding because you want to be faithful enough to get a worthy husband for yourself". etc. etc.

Seems to me that you don't have to look much further than a microcosm of Mormon missions, to see that the LDS church is anything but benign! I laughed and cried with the mishies (beautiful "real" young people that they were ... and are. We're still in close touch!) ...... and felt such anger toward the religious system that enticed and used them with such little regard for their individuality or human need!

Subject: You sound like a great person.
Date: Dec 19 01:41
Author: melissa

I wish I had known someone like you when I was 20.

Subject: I wish I'd known you then, and now too, in fact!
Date: Dec 19 02:20
Author: windsong
Mail Address:

I have a tremendous liking and respect for the individuals on this board. The humor, intellect, helpfulness, feistiness, curiosity and compassion represented in people here are phenomenal!

You have a wonderfully insightful and creative way of expressing yourself that I've enjoyed, Melissa! I've seen a blend of sensitivity plus "telling it like I see it!" in your posts.

Thinking of the help that we older ones can give to the "young'uns", I'm reminded of the many older adults who were genuinely interested in me, and who invested their time, love and wisdom in me when I was in my teens and twenties. It's great to be able to turn around and find loving ways to build up the next generation!

Subject: Amen windsong
Date: Dec 19 03:07
Author: Nightingale
Mail Address:

Your post made me all teary as I relate so much to what you say. I got to know a lot of missionaries during my time in the Mormon church. They frequently came to my place for meals, even though I can't cook, lol! But it's as you say, they found a place of refuge where they could just relax and be themselves for a little while, which they badly needed.

Mormonism's mission program continues to weigh heavily on my mind as an exceptionally negative, health-sapping, mind-warping, often abusive facet of the church that I wish would be more publicized. Some of the more negative, abusive spectacles regarding missionaries I witnessed I have yet to be able to discuss. I often thought that if parents knew how their children would be treated as Mormon missionaries, by their OWN CHURCH and its members, they would never allow them to go on, or stay on, their mission.

I too saw missionaries whose parents were sick, even dying, or who were themselves struggling with health concerns, who were not allowed to return home, even if only temporarily. I saw a church and a program that deprives its young missionaries of normalcy and subjects them to appalling situations, like companion abuse and frequent hunger. I saw missionaries and members being expected to uphold THE PROGRAM, in effect, "worshipping" the church rather than caring about its members, those they were "teaching" and others. I saw young people being taught to evade and lie instead of embracing principles of honesty, fairness and truth. I saw a skewed doctrinal emphasis that bred mindless obedience and chilling lack of compassion. All of this adversely affected the missionaries, those they sought to teach and succeeded in baptizing, and church members themselves.

In one case of companion abuse, the only refuge one missionary could find, despite numerous appeals to the MP, was with my mom (a non-member) who seriously discussed with me the need for police involvement in the situation. (The affected missionary readily accepted that the fault lay with her, for her "lack of faith", so we couldn't impose our own solutions on her and just had to hope and trust that she would somehow cope). (The abusive companion went on to abuse several more missionaries and still we had to "go through proper channels, i.e., the MP, who did not resolve the situation. We ended up, in desperation, forming a sort of "underground railway" to check on vulnerable missionaries and establish "distress signals" so we could intervene if things got too far out of hand. If I hadn't lived through this myself, I might have trouble believing it. And it's too much of a stretch to believe it only happened with one missionary and one MP and just so happened to occur in my area. Rather, I fear it is widespread. One of the most alarming features of all of this to me is how submissive many missionaries are, just accepting that whatever happens they must be obedient above all - a recipe for disaster).

The facade the church erects manages to keep the charade of its missionary program hidden from most people, even its own members. As with so many other things in Mormonism, I could not stay in the church once I had seen behind the curtain. Not only is the emperor naked, but he is heartless and brainless and ugly and putrefying as well. (No wonder they don't like converts to be given any information before or after baptism).

The missionary program is a prime example of the destructive results of upholding "the church, the church, the church" at the expense of THE PEOPLE - members, missionaries and poor, deluded investigators.

I'm surprised more missionaries don't suffer mental breakdowns (or maybe we just don't hear about it?) From what I observed, missions all too often combine twisted, shifting doctrine, deprivation of basic needs, isolation, harsh treatment, unrighteous authoritarianism and lack of compassion - a nasty brew served up to young, vulnerable people in the name of God.

It's enough to turn you right off religion.

Subject: I've seen this in my mentally ill brother who is local LDS leader
Date: Dec 19 07:57
Author: Higgins-Magee
Mail Address:

He needs treatment, yet the church leaders over him are in denial. After all, my brother's one of "the Lord's anointed."

The facts of his behavior simply don't mix with his high and holy callings. This was a key factor in breaking my own testimony of the church to bits.

Subject: This is why I can't get upset with missionaries.
Date: Dec 19 08:33
Author: Stray Mutt

Even though it has been 30 years, my own mission experience is still fresh.

Yes, human warmth -- one of the big things lacking in the whole experience. We were expected to be robots for the Lord.

Subject: You remind me of a woman I knew out on the east coast...
Date: Dec 19 08:59
Author: dimmesdale
Mail Address:

who got so upset talking to one of the missionaries one night that she put him in her car and drove him all the way home to TEXAS!

I loved that !

Subject: I'd do that!
Date: Dec 19 10:06
Author: Lilith
Mail Address:

Maybe we can establish some kind of underground railroad for the missionaries. ;)

For the most part, I like them to know they have somewhere to come if they are tired of the door slamming and all.

Subject: thanks Windsong
Date: Dec 19 10:05
Author: SLDrone

They are great young people. I share in your desire to give them a hug buoy up their spirits. Thanks for what you do.

Subject: Re: Mormon malignancy seen in Mormon missions ...
Date: Dec 19 10:09
Author: Gaea
Mail Address:

Seems to me the missionaries are getting the same treatment that troubled married people are getting from their bishops. One friend who went in for help shared with me that the bishop called her selfish and told her to fast and pray more - just the advise a troubled young mother of four ( two in diapers ) needs to hear.

Subject: No doubt, missions are hard.
Date: Dec 19 10:19
Author: activejackmormon
Mail Address:

Despite my attitudes towards the church, I've never been able to be anything but nice to missionaries. It's like two years of emotional basic training in order to get the much coveted label, RM.

Windsong, you stated your case beautifully.

Subject: Yup, that's me too.
Date: Dec 19 10:26
Author: Tyson Dunn
Mail Address:

I've been letting the missionaries hang out for several months now. They usually spend 3 hours at my house at a time. I cut them a lot of slack and they all seem very appreciative. I think what the Church does to these kids is simply wrong, and I don't mind helping them to get balance back in their lives.


Subject: my rant about missionaries being alone in the field and treated like crap
Date: Dec 19 10:58
Author: the same here
Mail Address:

The end of my TBM years.....

(IMPORTANT NOTE: I was a convert and the only member of my family - if not - I know the mental anguish and the outcome of the following story would have been MUCH different...)

On my mission - my grandmother passed away leaving my blind mother and blind aunt living alone in the house they shared. At first I was going to stay - but then the MP showed me the light!!! My mother had called twice regarding funeral information she felt was important for me to know. I guess my mother was annoying him with her plethora of TWO calls. Here is the phone conversation had with the prez:

MP (VERY sarcastic): Sister XXXX, will this ever end?

Me (confused):Excuse me?

MP: Your mother called AGAIN.

Me: yes, and?

MP: She said she needed to speak with you regarding a legal situation with your grandmother. I didn't know you were a lawyer Sister XXXX. Are you a lawyer?

Me: No.

MP: I didn't think so. So here is what you are going to do: You are going to call your mother, answer her so called "legal question", and then you will say goodbye. Am I being clear?

Me: Crystal. (the edginess is now apparent in my voice)

MP (now speaking a bit softer than the preceding part of the conversation): Sister XXXX - I truly AM sympathetic to your situation.

Me: No President XXXXXXX, I really don't think you are.

MP: Please put your companion on the phone.


That was the end for me. I asked to go home to assist my mother with her situation - he put forth about 10% effort to try to talk me out of it, which didn't work. My stake president went to my home in a futile attempt to get my mother to talk me into staying. (My mother said, she is an adult, she does what she wants.)

Someone can visit my house in an attempt to get me to stay in "the field"; but when my grandmother passed away, nobody could go visit - which really pissed me off.

Next time I called the mission office - after several unreturned phone calls to the MP - I told the poor elder that answered the phone: "This is Sister XXXXX, please inform President XXXXX that if he does not return my phone call within one hour I am taking the mission car to XXXXXX Airport and going home - the elder wigged out, I laughed and hung up, my call was returned and I was home in 2-3 days.

They made me so angry...

The End.

Subject: not ALL mission presidents are asses
Date: Dec 19 11:04
Author: SLDrone
Mail Address:

there really are some great ones out there, or so I've been told.

Subject: I'm sure there are. Too bad I didn't get to experience that. n/t

Subject: I agree with this
Date: Dec 19 11:17
Author: Nightingale
Mail Address:

To clarify, I was acquainted with three MPs. I don't think all MPs are automatically bad people or unskilled at their calling. The one I knew through the abuses we were trying to resolve just happened to emphasize following rules and finishing your mission above every other consideration, which in certain circumstances, is an approach that lacks compassion.

As with many other church programs, it's the church's single-minded, one-size-fits-all focus that often causes problems. Too, people are called to positions for which they lack adequate preparation and training.

There are many flaws in the missionary program, IMO. But too, it was many members who weren't helping to feed the missionaries, not the MPs. However, maybe it was just one thing too many to ask of overloaded families. As always, to me, most of the responsibility for what goes wrong should be attributed to the narrow, cloistered, rigid church leaders at the top - they set up and maintain these people-eating programs.

(Not to say each individual isn't ultimately responsible for their own behavior and decisions).

Subject: My MP#2 was a great guy with a heart of gold.
Date: Dec 19 11:30
Author: activejackmormon
Mail Address:

MP#1 Zone Conference personal interview.

Picture MP behind big SP desk with a huge chair elevated to the max. You on the other side of the desk sitting on a metal chair from some Sunday School room. You proceed to get drilled about obeying the mission rules, about how much tracting your doing, about how many discussions taught, how many investigators are getting close to be ready to be "committed towards baptism", etc. You get out of the meeting feeling like crap thinking despite all my hard work, "I must be a lousy missionary." I start wishing I could get a transfer as far away from the mission home as possible.

MP#2 Zone Conference personal interview.

There are two chairs set up in a Sunday School room close, but not too close together. MP#2 gives you a hug and asks you to take a seat. He looks at you and asks how you are enjoying the mission, are members of the ward supporting and helping you, are you getting along with your companion, have you had a chance to see some of the unique landmarks in your area, how are things back home, etc. At the end of the interview, the MP offers a prayer blessing you with genuine concern for your well-being.

MP gives you another hug and expresses his love for you, sees you to the door and invites the next elder in. You walk away believing in your heart that you have a friend and father figure in the Mission Home. You feel better about your mission than you have in a long time.

This was the contrast I faced between two MP's.

Subject: Re: My MP#2 was a great guy with a heart of gold.
Date: Dec 19 13:31
Author: mofembot
Mail Address:

Your #2 MP sounds just like the guy I was lucky to have the entire time I was on my mission. His name wasn't by any chance Arrigona, was it?

Subject: and it is appreciated...
Date: Dec 19 12:46
Author: the same here
Mail Address:

I never had a run in with a real nice MP - but I have had two really down to earth, dare I say "NORMAL" Bishops.

I know it is an individual thing, and I am not holding the church necessarily responsible, but it was just the icing on the cake for me. I went through years of doing my best to "serve" and to do the right thing according to teachings that I believed wholeheartedly in. I was shocked and appalled that he would treat me in such a way.

I was hurt, and the blatant disregard for my family and their needs was a real eye opener. I have just started letting these little experiences out on this board. After holding it in for a while it is good to let it out.

There is good and evil in everything, and I don't think my MP was evil. I think he was doing what he felt was the right thing to do at the time. Hell, he could have had an argument with his wife 10 minutes earlier was still a little upset and took it out on me for all I know.

I'm sure he was an ok guy, but I didn't like the way I - or my family was handled.

Subject: Re: I am proud of you "the same here: ". Stories like yours will down this church before long!!!n/

Subject: Re: Mormon malignancy seen in Mormon missions ...
Date: Dec 19 12:36
Author: Dea
Mail Address:

Click, Windsong, and yet some MP's do care for their charges to the best of their ability. MP's, from my understanding have many missionaries to care for, consequently have to rely on members of the Wards to some extent.

Subject: Re: Mormon malignancy seen in Mormon missions ...
Date: Dec 19 12:51
Author: randyh
Mail Address:

Wow, Windsong, thanks for that!
You're observations are spot on. 20 years ago I was getting ready to go to Argentina.

It was an invaluable humanizing experience, but I was miserable and depressed most of the time.

I know several guys now who had "nervous breakdowns" while serving.

The high-control atmosphere of the mission experience is the most compelling evidence that Mormonism is a cult.

Subject: windsong,
Date: Dec 19 13:36
Author: NEPA

Your post and my sonís friendship with the missionaries (and the oneís RECENT admissions) helped to remind me that they are just young men who for the most part are only doing it out of family obligations and peer pressure.

Prior to my sonís interest I would always stop and offer rides, cook dinner, offer them cold drinks and just shoot the bull with them even though I left a long time ago.

Most of the time the missionaries didnít know that I was a former member. They either assumed that I was a member or that I was just being friendly. It never took long before the subject of *what* I was came up. I was always truthful to them and they almost always seemed relieved. Maybe they knew that they were welcomed for being just young men and they could be individuals for the short time they were with my family and me.

Not once in 13 years and countless encounters was I encouraged to come back into the fold or given a canned message. I guess they must have viewed us as genuine individuals and non-threatening too since we had no agenda for them. They ate dinner at our home because WE INVITED them, not because we were a ward member assigned the task of feeding them.

I have been rather unfriendly to these missionaries because them are giving lessons to my son. But I was looking out for one of my own and they then seemed to be ďthe enemyĒ. Besides, the missionaries seem to be learning lessons of their own from my family.

I am rethinking that feeling now and may welcome them into our home. Iím still apprehensive, as I donít want my son to get the wrong impression. But I also donít want him to think that I donít accept his newfound friends. Iím torn, really. My wife likes the idea of having them over, but only AFTER the lessons are done.

After all, my son will not be baptized anytime soon and I am hopeful that his interest will wane once these guys are transferred or sent home.

Eventually though I think that I will return to my old practice of treating them as individuals who need interaction with someone besides a member who can talk about nothing other than this so called church, or getting doors slammed in their faces.

Having never served a mission, I really canít relate to how excruciatingly difficult a mission must be for these young men and women.

Great post, BTW!

Subject: Thanks for YOUR responses, and my responses to some of yours ....
Date: Dec 19 14:34
Author: windsong

LOL! Sometimes the lingo here about posts, threads, responses and "responses to responses" cuts me up! It can all sound so officious, and it tickles my funny bone because I'm not an officious type!

This isn't an attempt to directly answer everyone, 'tho I do appreciate everyone who gave their own perspective, stories, agreement or different angle on this post.

Just briefly to some of you ...

Honette - Hi to you too! I remember that we both like to read (especially Philip Yancy and Dr. Paul Brand!). Haven't heard of the book, Rumors. Tell me about it!

Nightingale - Your compassion always stands out to me loud and clear! I'm always so glad to see you exposing the abusive and manipulative things you've seen and heard.

SLDrone - Something tells me you were a great MP! I'm VERY glad that you were, and that there are no doubt others like you.

Dimmesdale - It's awesome that the woman drove the mish kid home to Texas! Wasn't me, but I would have, I think, if I could have got the mishie across the border from Canada into the States! The most I ever did was drive a 6 hour round trip several times to visit more distant mishies, take them out to dinner, buy them groceries, take them for haircuts, etc. Oh yes, and lose countless hours of sleep. The mishies would call after their companions were asleep, and we'd talk into the wee hours of the morning. My husband is a gem, since he supported me in all this!

same here - How wonderfully brave you were to prioritize your family, and get out! When the mishies were struggling about whether or not to "go home" because of family crises, I never advised them one way or another, but tried to help them "think through" all of the ramifications. One decided to go home while most stayed. But they'd had an opportunity to be at peace with their decisions.

randyh - Glad you survived your mission stint in Argentina, and that you can see the benefits of that cross cultural opportunity - as well as the abuses that a Mormon mission brings!

NEPA - I'm glad that you can see the mishies as young men who need "real" and warm interaction. I'm also very aware of the danger they posed to your son and I was right there with you in seeing the missionary's "product" as an ugly and insidious danger! Interestingly, the missionaries and I managed to keep our close relationship (the "human" side of our interaction) separate from their still genuine desire to convert and baptize me. I knew they were brainwashed, and that's why they really believed that I would make a great Mormon because I was such a "nice person"! They really wanted the benefits of the Mormon church for me, because they loved me so much! (When I pointed out to them that they'd be breaking up my marriage and family - in eternity anyway! - if I were to convert, they were conflicted, and said it would "all work out"!) Now that they're back in the States as RM's, they no longer talk about getting me into their church. And they pretty freely admit that life is no picnic for them. They've always needed me to be "outside", and liked having me "apart" from their Mormon world, and now they're getting a clearer and clearer understanding of that.

Thanks to all of you! I love hearing your stories and insights!

Subject: Question for ex-mo RMs. Related to Windsong's "Mormon Malignancy" thread.
Date: Dec 19 13:45
Author: Abalone
Mail Address:

So, after reading so many heart-wrenching mission stories, I can't help thinking about all of the RMs from my old stake, who got up and gave talks to our ward about how wonderful their mission was.

My question is this: Were you, as a returned missionary, encouraged to hype up your experience when giving your talk? Obviously, I wouldn't expect the church to encourage anyone to tell the truth if the truth was not good, but I wonder, did they ever tell you things like 'it's your responsibility to build up the member's faith, so be positive.'

Subject: Not really, to be honest.
Date: Dec 19 14:19
Author: Disenchanted

I didn't get any kind of pressure to say only positive things about my mission. Well, not direct pressure. Everyone KNOWS that when an RM gets up to talk about his mission he's going to say wonderful, faith promoting things and tell amazing conversion stories that fill the congregation with rapture. It's kind of a "right of passage" or "coming of age" thing. You HAVE to say the right things or you won't be rewarded with the pats on the back and glowing reports from your fellow ward members. And, don't forget, God will NOT be pleased if you say anything negative. After all, we know what a prick *he* can be.

So no, I didn't get any direct pressure. But I got up and said all the right things, said it was the best two years of my life (*BULLSH**) and looked my Dad right in the face when I cried bearing my testimony.

If I hadn't, things would not have gone my way. There's no pressure like cultural expectation.

Subject: Re: Question for ex-mo RMs. Related to Windsong's "Mormon Malignancy" thread.
Date: Dec 19 14:33
Author: Flash
Mail Address:

You were always told from the start of your mission until the last day that when you go home, never speak of the bad things on your mission. For me, that meant that I had nothing to talk about when I got home as every hour of everyday was pure hell for me. Every hour includes hours sleeping because when you woke up, the dread of knowing that another fresh day sorrow, depression, and drudgery awaited you sunk my soul into deep despair.

When I got home, I was not spiritually overflowing. I was a burnt out empty shell. My testimony was gone. My girlfriend was gone and I was 2 years behind in school. All that was important to me was gone.

When the ward members asked me how my mission was, I told them point blank that is was the worst experience in my life and that I would not encourage anyone to do it. Needless to say, I was never asked to speak at any youth fireside about my mission.

When my parents asked me about my mission, all I could do was sob bitterly. I could not tell them how awful it was as there were no words powerful or descriptive enough to make them understand. 2 years of emotional torture came thru the floodgates onto them. My mother could not believe what things I did managed to get out of my mouth. She was so overwhelmed and could hardly believe how the church and MP could be so cruel and unloving to their son. To this day, they blame that mission for my leaving. They are still TBM's but have no desire to support the missionary programs of the church as they always remember the damaged wreck of their son sobbing in their arms after returning from the "best 2 years of his life".

Of course I did put myself together again, resumed school, got a good paying job in my field of electronics, resigned my membership, and found a beautiful Malaysian wife to marry. (non-member of course). I have never been happier.
My advice to anyone thinking about a mission or you, Elder, who are on a mission right now reading this covertly; Do not go for any reason. If you are on one, leave, escape, do what you can to get back to your life. The depression and drudgery are not worth it. I only wish I had the courage to leave my mission when it was beating me down so bad.

Subject: Re: Question for ex-mo RMs. Related to Windsong's "Mormon Malignancy" thread.
Date: Dec 19 14:49
Author: Aaron

I nearly (ever so nearly) went insane three months into my mission. To this day I'm not certain whether is was a nervous breakdown or demonic possession. Either way I lost all faith in God in a matter of days. I was following all the rules and doing my best (things were actually going good for my companion and I) then BAM!! I totally crashed. I decided if I didn't leave I was gonna end up hurting someone or killing myself. After three weeks I managed to convince my MP I needed to leave. It's a long story but basically I had to threaten him. But yeah, at a certain point I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and made the choice to leave no matter what. Luckily I was stateside so it wasn't too hard to fathom.

Subject: Flash, a few comments and a question ...
Date: Dec 19 17:09
Author: windsong
Mail Address:

First of all, I am SO GLAD that you got through your mission OK. The terribly painful and dehumanizing experience did NOT succeed in destroying you, although it obviously took a huge toll on you!

And I'm SO GLAD that your parents welcomed you home with open arms, and saw that the problem was the PROGRAM and not their son!

When you spoke of falling into their arms, I thought of how the deeply hurting missionaries that I knew would "fall into my arms" on the phone. They would say, "I just need to be held!", and I would say, "I love you and I'm holding you".

The withholding of human touch - especially for missionaries who were used to physical demonstrations of love and acceptance - was devastating.

I hope that there were some times on your mission that you felt "heard" and understood for who you really were.

And isn't it WONDERFUL that that's all behind you, never to be endured again!

I expect that you had many nightmares in the vein of still being on your mission, or having to go on another mission. I know that the RM's I know who had hellish missions, had those nightmares. Some still do, but with decreasing frequency.

That's my question ... did you have nightmares, and are they over now? Hopefully, they're long over!

I think it's amazingly wonderful that you resisted a fake positive representation of your mission when you got home, and that you "told it like it was". That took a lot of honesty and courage ... perhaps born out of pain!

Just thought of another question: Do you think that your mission experience was all the more difficult because you have always had an honest nature that couldn't tolerate the lying and manipulating that goes on at a systemic and individual level during a mission?

(Just realized that my question above could be construed to mean that I think those missionaries who fared well during their missions are dishonest. No, I wouldn't suggest that at all. I think there are MANY reasons why missionaries can be great people, and enjoy their missions. Just as there are MANY missionaries who hated their missions for a variety of reasons!)

Subject: Re: Flash, a few comments and a question ..
Date: Dec 19 19:48
Author: Flash
Mail Address:

Yes, my parents did welcome me home with open arms. It is difficult to describe the look on my mother's face as I told here of the drudgery, the depression, the verbal abuse of the MP, the dangers, and the outrageous demands I had to tolerate. My father, who was a convert, seemed to have a look of understanding. I believe he knew what kind of hell I went through. Speaking of my father, when I announced to them that I was going to marry SE Asian girl who was not a member, he took my mother aside and told her to say nothing because he could see how happy the Asian girl made me. My mother was hoping for me to return to the church and marry a TBM girl. It was my father who realized that my happiness was more important than the Mormon church.

There have been occasions where I have had nightmares about being on a mission again but it has been years since I have had one. I have cleansed myself of the church and it is a non-entity in my life now.

One of the things that made the mission most difficult for me was the lack of any compassion from the leaders of the church and especially the MP. He once told me point blank to my face that I was a failure because of the lack of success in investigators or baptisms. At that moment he told me this, whatever testimony I had left was instantly vaporized. I retorted back to him that he was a failure as an MP for badgering me for something I have no control over. He was so mad! I also told him that for my remaining 4 months, he was not to speak with me again or attempt to interview me again. I only stuck it out the last 4 months so my parents would have their bragging rights of having an RM son. And yes, I could not tolerate the manipulation of the numbers, hours, charts, and graphs game of the mission.

I could never understand why as a missionary, the church would demean me so much. I had forfeited everything important to me to be there. I say forfeited and not sacrificed because when you sacrifice, you give up something good for something better. A forfeit means you give up something for nothing. So I forfeited an education, a girl, a car, and my time for nothing.

Subject: Why do you think so many "homecoming" talks are just "mission stories"?
Date: Dec 19 15:04
Author: anon
Mail Address:

I have a testimony that my first day in the "field" was the day that my life went downhill. I've never been so depressed and I don't think I've fully recovered since I got back (2 1/2 years ago.)

When I came home I thought that that was the worst experience, emotionally, of my life and everything that I had done to prepare (and I was prepared) for my mission was in vain.

But, I still told interesting experiences at my talk because I didn't want to be negative. The fact that I had experience in a third-world country was the only reason I liked being there. I liked the people and the place. As for the mission itself, I hated it. So, I gave a good travelogue, and that's what I've heard most missionaries do.

Subject: Oh, the irony of it! All of the RM's I was close to told me this ...
Date: Dec 19 15:13
Author: windsong
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They said that at their "Homecoming talk" they talked about what they had learned from me the value of relationships, knowing yourself and then being true to yourself, etc.

It's always amused me to think that people in the Mo service were sitting there beaming and nodding with no idea that such "lessons learned on my mission" came from a nevermo Gentile.

Sometimes, the parents of the RM knew about and appreciated the role that I played in their son's/daughter's life. More often, they didn't know or they kind of knew and they viewed me with great suspicion and distrust.

Subject: Mission, the bane of my life!
Date: Dec 19 18:04
Author: GayRM

I have made many mistakes in my life, but I don't rate any of them as highly as wasting 2 years of my life with only one good thing to show for it!

I was in my second year of university when I decided to go on a mission, goodness knows what possessed me. I remember feeling all excited about the church, and decided I need to make other people excited about it too. So I quit uni and got ready for 2 years of hell.

First I went through the temple, without going into detail here I would've walked out long before the endowment had a very good friend of mine not been there, I figured if he thought it was cool then I would continue the freakish stuff.

My mission was spent with little success, very few baptisms in fact I am now proud of how little I actually achieved in 2 years. I listened to any music I wanted, went to the cinema, and wasted a lot of time.

On the plus side I met a dear friend who was at the time investigating the morg. She introduced me to the Recovery Board, and helped on my path to freedom. Thanks!

I never returned to uni, and have just spent time working for several companies with no real progression in my career.

If I had not gone the following may have happened:
1. Finished my degree
2. Come out as gay 7 years ago
3. Interesting job with good salary

Since my return I have never hyped up my mission, I have not spoken of my experiences with my family, which my parents seemed miffed about. I spoke in one ward upon my return, and shared no mission experiences. I never reflect on my mission, and do not share it with anyone.

Bitter would be the word, I suffered a lot of physical pain on my mission. I had a stress related condition that caused excrutiating stomach cramps and chest pains. The only good thing was all the private medical attention the mission paid for, I guessed it totaled around £2000.

Sorry about my ramblings, it's a sore subject with lots of factors. Most importantly now I am free of the morg!

Subject: my sypathies to you
Date: Dec 20 11:14
Author: brit-exmo
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I feel for you I really do, I didn't have an awful time on my mission, but with my current view it was a waste. I could have spent a few years bumming round south east Asia, and given the time again that's what I would do. I made some good friends and it did open my eyes to a few things about the church. I had a few companions that had counseling, with a brother korben, from lds social services. I remember talking to him a few times, and he had some views on missions that he didn't share with the president!

sometimes I want to do something to help missionaries, there must be a good percentage of them serving now who are having a bad time. maybe I should start having them round and just letting them do what they want, watch TV, films, music, drink whatever. they are just kids who need a friendly face now and then.

Subject: As I've said before, I enjoyed a good part of my mission.
Date: Dec 19 22:39
Author: activejackmormon
Mail Address:

It wasn't the gospel that got me through, it was getting to know so many neat people and having rewarding experiences. I was able to give a nice homecoming address and I wasn't encouraged to give it. Would I do it again, certainly not.

However, I have two friends whose missions seemed to have affected them in ways that is devastating. One was the most devout member of my graduating class, a student body president, and just a hell of a nice guy. He was the most religious fellow I ever met and always felt inferior spiritually to him. I felt he was destined to be a GA and valued his friendship considerably.

He beamed with self-confidence and people gravitated to him despite the fact that he was so religious. I believe that expectations were put on him that no young man can achieve. Whatever happened on his mission, he came back withdrawn and sullen. He was never the same wonderful confident young man whom I had grown up with. He managed to marry, raise a family and stay active in the church, but I've never been able to understand what happened to him.

The other one also lived in my neighborhood and was never exactly beaming with the confidence of the fellow I just mentioned. He did qualify to go on a mission but for some reason came home after only 12-14 months. He was obviously very depressed. One day when I was home from college, my bishop called me and asked if I would go visit this fellow, just as his friend because he told me he was concerned about his well-being. I went and paid a social call and we talked as friends, but found it difficult for him to make eye contact with me. I joked with him to see if I could get a smile out of him and was only partially successful. I could see there was some real hurt there but was not able to figure out it's source.

As I left, his mother talked with me on the porch and thanked me for the visit and asked if I could come over again some time. You could see in her demeanor and could hear in her voice her concern for her son. I did visit a few more times when I was home on the weekend, and he seemed to get a little better over time, but he was never the same.

I have no idea what happened to these friends of mine on their missions. I only know that they came back different, in a tangibly negative way than they were before. I had mostly put their memories behind me until this thread so thanks for initiating this discussion.

Subject: Because of his traumatic mission experience, my RM, TBM friend refuses to go to the airport to greet returning missionaries.
Date: Dec 20 21:24
Author: Observer2

This friend/golf partner (John) is 31 and, ten years ago, was on his mission when his father passed away after a long illness. His mother had arranged with John's mission president that when his father was near death, John would be permitted to come home for a few days to say good-bye to his dad, attend the funeral etc. As the mission was only a couple of states away, this seemed a sensible and humane arrangement. When the time came, John's mother notified the MP who then notified John to pack his bag. Just as John was about to leave for the airport, the MP rang to say that the regional presiding GA had knocked the whole thing on the head. John was told that if he went home, he would not be allowed back into the same mission. John decided to go home anyway and he spent a precious few days with his dad and then attended the funeral. With his emotions still unsettled, John was told that he WOULD be allowed to serve out the remainder of his mission in another mission. Upset by his dad's death and the seeming heartless approach of the GA, he nevertheless attempted to resume missionary service in the new mission. He soon found, however, that he had developed an anxiety disorder and could no longer speak in front of groups etc. After several traumatic weeks, he was sent home on medical grounds. The anxiety disorder is with him to this day and a couple of days ago, he told me that he couldn't bring himself to go to the airport to welcome his wife's sister home from her mission because " it would bring back too many unhappy memories. " I was so angry ten years ago, that I wrote to the MP about the church's apparent callousness. I received a two-line reply which said something like 'If we follow the Brethren, we will not go astray.'


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