Subject: What are some of the worst living conditions for Mormon missionaries ever told?
Date: Oct 11, 2009
Author: poster

In western countries, Mormon mishies usually have a satisfactory apartment or live with a member. They have the latest model Toyota Camry or whatever to drive. In developing countries like Brazil, I have heard of mishies living in a house infested with chicken feces, while the mission president has a nice mansion for his residence.

Please tell your experiences of living conditions as a missionary.  I have never been a mishie.


Subject: On the edge of the Peruvian desert in a 'community' of mud or cane mat huts, or garbage bits.
Date: Oct 11 13:50
Author: FreeAtLast

I was in Peru in 1984/5. My first area was a shantytown on the north side of Lima with no running water, holes in the ground for toilets, and piles of garbage in the streets that people periodically burned (just the top layer), which caused "black snow". The coast of Peru is a desert.

After contracting spinal meningitis in the first 10 days in the country (thanks to the appalling living conditions) and nearly dying, the MP transferred me to a moderately less filthy ghetto. There I got shigella and even more parasites (liver and lung flukes, worms of various sizes, a 'bitcho' that de-oxygenates red blood cells, etc.) and for the rest of my mission (and several years after), my stools were like butterscotch pudding. I had parasites in my body and blood for the next 15 years.

Incredibly, those two areas weren't the worst. In my second year of almost dying, the MP sent me to a shantytown on the edge of the Peruvian desert about 12 hours' drive north of the capital (Lima). My Peruvian companion and I tracked in 4 inches of sand, lived with flies and mosquitoes, and were attacked and the assailant nearly sliced open my throat (and I hadn't even divulged any part of the cultic Mormon temple endowment ceremony!).

It took me more than a decade and a half to recover from my mission, psychologically, physically, and emotionally. I suffered from PTSD for years after I came home. Of course, TSCC just wanted me on the LDS gerbel wheel, being busy, busy, busy on behalf of the multi-billion-dollar 'true' religious organization.


Subject: Guatemala among the high alt Mayans
Date: Oct 11 07:50
Author: Jesus Smith

I "served" with the Cakchiquel in the mountains of Gautemala. We lived on a farm, in a 6 ft x 8ft mud-brick/mud floor structure that had no furniture except two folding cots, and two sleeping bags. We lived with our clothes in our open suitcases. We got water out of a pond with a metal bucket for bathing (even had to break the ice a few January mornings) and shared a latrine hole with the farmer's family. I believe rent was the equivalent of $15 a month.

Fortunately, we ate at a "restaurant" down the road. It was actually a family who cooked meals for village visitors at a cost of 50-cents a meal. Our monthly expenses were about $70. This was in 1986.

And despite these living conditions, I have some great (and weird) memories roughing it there.


Subject: How did your mission president live? What was his house like? N/ t


Subject: Big, fancy home--better than anything I've lived in my whole life.
Date: Oct 11 08:18
Author: Jesus Smith

Mission president lived in the area right next to the temple in Zone 15 (I believe) of the city.

It was a beautiful home with vaulted ceilings and expensive furnishings. Better than any home I've owned (and I earn a good salary).

I did get to live in wonderful settings too, at the end of my mission when I was assistant to prez. But I kinda liked roughing it. A guy thing...


Subject: Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico
Date: Oct 11 10:26
Author: Grendel

Delicias is arid, desert climate so scorpions are abundant there, especially in a adobe structure with no cement coating, just bare adobe bricks with millions of cracks for scorpions to live in. We would be stung regularly and would wake up two or three times a night to kill/check for the little evil things. We had 4 elders living there and we would ask to find a new apt. but the MP never allowed us. He would tell us we were helping out the members that rented us the place. Bastard!!!!


Subject: Scorpions...
Date: Oct 11 10:58
Author: Jesus Smith

Now that would be trippy.

When I was transferred to the coast, we had an apartment (regular cinderblock construction and beam rafters) that had a load of bats living above us. Every night, they'd leave us bug parts on the floors from the midnight hunt. We moved our cots to spots with the least droppings so we didn't wake covered in them.

I could live with bats, but the scorpions would have been enough to make me AWOL.


Subject: Centipedes!!!
Date: Oct 12 03:32
Author: Anon regular lurker

Those were my enemies in the Caribbean. Got bit twice, and this was while I was asleep. The island I was on, had a huge sugar cane crop, and during harvest time, the centipedes would dash for the nearest cover, namely our apartment. I was paranoid and didn't sleep well for over a month with nightmares of getting bit while asleep.

Bed bugs were also bad, we had red marks on our legs for weeks with bites.

and of course Mosquitoes!!!


Subject: Re: What are some of the worst living conditions for mishies ever told?
Date: Oct 11 09:52
Author: Teewan

Worst living conditions I faced don't compare to Jesus Smiths. We lived in a cottage roughly 8x10 with a cold water shower.. a hole for a toilet... but we did have a hot plate and a sink. This was not the norm in our mission though... norm was an apartment in town. Mission pres lived in a gated community with full time security air conditioning... etc. My mission experience brings back good memories... I am adventurous... so I didn't mind getting a little dirty in southern Africa. The one bad part that sticks out in my mind was the amount of $ we got for food. The exchange rate went crazy about 8 months into my mission... and food prices doubled on a monthly basis... our paychecks would go up about 20% if that every month.


Subject: Re: What are some of the worst living conditions for mishies ever told?
Date: Oct 11 10:05
Author: AxelDC

Several apartments in France were substandard and dangerous.

One place had wallpaper that literally fell down. Someone had the brilliance to put wallpaper on the bathroom ceiling. It was covered in mold, which weighed it down and caused it fall, revealing a blackened ceiling.

The kitchen wall paper was scorched from an ancient fire, with most of the paper around the stove gone. The carpet had holes in it and the tile in the kitchen was half gone from peeling.

Another apartment had wall sockets that were blackened from shorts.

No apartment was plush, but some were just fire or health hazards.


Subject: In Brazil it varied
Date: Oct 11 10:58
Author: newblacksheep

When I was in Brazil the housing conditions varied quite a bit from area to area. My first area I lived in a small clay covered house that was in the landlord's backyard so we had little privacy. It was about 200 square feet and infested with flies and cockroaches. We had to wash our own clothes in a sink outside and hang them up on a clothesline in the landlord's backyard. The next house I lived in was quite large (3 bedrooms) But there was almost no furniture, just two beds, a kitchen table and an armoir for our clothes. There was no ceiling so the red tile roof was exposed inside which meant lots of leaks. There was a always a thick layer of dust covering our stuff. There were bats that flew around inside at night, large spiders (like tarantula size, but not tarantulas) appeared fairly often and we also often found frogs in the bathroom. My last apartment was located above a convenient store and inside a slum. It was infested with mice and the bathroom was the size of a tiny closet.

None of the apartments in my mission had hot water and only one electric fan per missionary to keep us cool (I was in Northern Brazil near the equator, always super hot). The MP lived in a very nice apartment in a fancy high rise building in the most upscale neighborhood in the city with a view of the beach. His apartment was air conditioned and he had a maid and a nice car. Missionaries weren't allowed to drive (insurance reasons they said) or ride bikes, only walking and public transport (we weren't even supposed to get rides from members or take taxis even when being transferred). My last area was very big and our monthly allowance (about $125 a month) was never enough for all the bus fare so we often walked 5+ miles a day. I had a lot of foot problems as a missionary, as did others I knew.

The APs and secretaries (all elders of course) lived in a nice house in the nicest neighborhood in the mission, it was air conditioned and they had a maid who also cooked them tons of food. They had a sweet setup there but most other missionaries lived in substandard housing.

At the time (late nineties) none of the apartments had phones either so to communicate with other missionaries or the mission office we had to find a public phone booth, usually located near a bar. When the MP or APs called us people in the neighborhood would answer the phone and then come call for us at our door and we'd have to run out as quickly as possible to take the call. It was super inconvenient but that's just the way things were. If we wanted to call home on mother's day we had to find a member with a phone (in my areas, that was hard to do) and then it was expensive for them to let us use the phone but we didn't pay them.

Oddly enough I still have fond memories of my mission.


Subject: Re: What are some of the worst living conditions for mishies ever told?
Date: Oct 11 11:33
Author: texute

Was also in Guatemala, but amongst the Maya Quiche, apparently a few miles down the Pan-American highway from Jesus Ditto everything he said...right down to the sleeping bag (literally a flea-bag) and living out of the suit case.


Subject: Re: When in Guate? Xela or City? nt
Date: Oct 11 11:45
Author: texute

Xela in the early 80s. Momostenango the whole time. The great hiking offset the lack of electricity, hot water, and total


Subject: Yes, hiking was great. Wish I had...
Date: Oct 11 12:02
Author: Jesus Smith

If only they'd allowed us to have mtn bikes. What fun!


Subject: Mexico City, 1964
Date: Oct 11 11:46
Author: TucsonMike

My first living situation was a small, dark, cold apartment with a small water heater in the tiny kitchen area. We'd wake up in the morning to find the wall behind the water heater black with cockroaches looking for someplace warm.

Several times, while showering, I'd have to fight off rats poking their heads up through the drain in the floor.

And yes, the mission president lived in a beautiful, luxurious home in an exclusive neighborhood, Las Lomas.


Subject: mission was wake up call
Date: Oct 11 13:02
Author: charles, buddhist punk

but i didn't know it then...

first house:
small apt in a compound with owner/neighbor. rather decent, 2 bedrooms, 4 mishies, until I woke up one morning to find that a couple cockroaches were feeding off of a plate left by someone really smart the night before. i requested the gal that helped us during that day to find the nest. good god, it was under the sink, and when we opened it to spray, hundreds of the bastards came running out. i did the only manly thing I could do: scream and run away, leaving the poor gal to spray and crush them with a broom.

house 2:
we had it good. it used to be the zone leader's apt until they found something better. phone, shower, bathtub, fully furnished, and a house help that could cook the best meals. however, I couldn't enjoy it much knowing that a mate I'd grown up with and went on a mission the same month, was living in out in the sticks, no plumbing, an old, bare mattress on the floor for a bed, an outhouse, pests galore, the occasional stray water buffalo, the occasional stray goat that would chew their laundry as it hung from the clothesline, etc. I don't even know how they ate. he found living it rough fascinating and would tell me so through mission mail, the idiot even sent a photo of himself and companion pretending to teach discussions to the water buffalo.

it would have been a hoot had I not known that MP, wife, daughter (a registered nurse that accompanied them to tend to his medical needs), and APs plus office staff lived in a mansion, inside a posh village that had beach side view and triple A resort next door, a pool, a pond, 9 bedrooms, and, well, the works. they all tooled around in the latest van (no SUVs yet in the late 80's) and ate out even on Sundays in classy restaurants. we had to make do with street food or really cheap places.

this was why many elders wanted a shot at being office staff or asst. and some bitter bickering took place among the DLs and ZLs. whatta riot.

when i casually mentioned this to my companion, he rebuked me and said we were on the Lord's mission and weren't supposed to bring or enjoy "purse nor scrip". i shot back that Jesus didn't have anything either, why should the MP have it good, and was he better than Jesus? he mumbled something about him being sick and all and needed to concentrate on his work. yeah right.


Subject: Re: What are some of the worst living conditions for mishies ever told?
Date: Oct 11 15:57
Author: anon7

My husband lived in old Russian communist apartments that were in the 50's during winter.


Subject: Right here in New Mexico. . .
Date: Oct 11 23:51
Author: JoAnn

I talked to some mishies who had worked on the Navajo Reservation. They lived in a ratty, rundown old trailer.

The floor was so thin that there were even holes in places. One mish said it was bizarre to look down at the ground through the hole in the floor and realize that there was SNOW on the ground. No wonder it was so flippin' COLD in there.

I think this kid was from Idaho but he said he had never been so cold in his life as he was there on the Rez.


Subject: Re: My older Brother and the Troll (SIL)
Date: Oct 12 14:26
Author: toss doubt

are serving a senior mission as we speak, in New Mexico, living in a run down old trailer. After reading your post, I can hardly wait for winter, to hear how miserable they are.


Subject: In Brazil, I had a house on stilts over a bog with large spaces between floor and wall boards. n/t


Subject: Thatched roof and woodpiles
Date: Oct 12 08:40
Author: Shamrock

I lived in an Irish thatched roof cottage that had no electricity (used candles), no running water (had to use the well and an outhouse), and the people who lived with us expected my companion and I to do all the wood chopping to heat the house with. They had an Auga (cast iron stove heated by coal) to cook on and hardly any furniture to speak of.

I loved Ireland, but just not that first house we stayed in.


Subject: Have a question for all of you....
Date: Oct 12 12:14
Author: Heathjh

Were there places in the same areas that had better living conditions?

I just shared some of your stories with my TBM mom. I told her these are the stories you don't hear. Her response was apologetic of course. She said " the missies were probably placed in around the people. So they couldn't live in nicer conditions. " She said " why couldn't the missionaries patch up the holes so the scorpions couldn't come in?" I said to her " why didn't the MP get the supplies for the missionaries to do that. They are barely given enough money for food. " She had to get off the phone so I couldn't say what I wanted to tell her.

I will call her back later to say "why doesn't the church have an apt in the area among the people that is fixed up so they aren't living in disease?"


Subject: Just because you're in paradise doesn't make it any better
Date: Oct 12 14:08
Author: Dave in Hollywood

I lived on an island about 1000 miles from the mission president (who lived in glamorous Tahiti). It was a plywood hut. No running water. We got water out of a hole in the ground. There was a lot of mosquito larvae, but it was what you drank out of as well. There were no windows in the hut so you had to burn mosquito coils all night long (thank Jesus for that invention!).

Of course no electricity. I think we occasionally had a kerosene lamp when we could find kerosene. The only "furniture" was an old mattress. After living there for about two weeks, I got a terrible skin infection in my, um, delicate parts. It never went away, and still lingers to this day (almost 30 years later). I've been scratching discreetly for years. ;-)

I did live in one hut that had running water, but only from about 2 to 3 in the morning so you had to get up to take a shower. It was easy to stay awake though because once the lights were out, the rats would chew in the walls all night right next to your ear.

Ah good times...


Subject: Navajo Indian Reservation
Date: Oct 12 14:59
Author: justbnMe

I spent the fall of '86 living up in the mountains in NM, just over the AZ state line. We were in between Chinle and Window Rock, in a town called Saw Mill, Population 300. This was shortly after the Holbrook mission (formerly the Southwest Indian) was consolidated into the Phoenix mission; this meant that you had a shot of living in N. AZ or Phoenix for a part of your mission and not spending 2 years (as I missed the 18 month mission calls by 4 weeks) out on the REZ. The crap that went on out there on the Rez was enough to send you around the bend...not to mention the shitty trailers they made us live in.

I spent Oct. - Dec. freezing my ass off in a trailer home that was built 35 years prior. We had propane heat, but couldn't afford it. It didn't help that the delivery truck came up only 1x/month; the tank was empty when we moved into the trailer and re-opened the area. The trailer had not been lived in for 2 years and was moldy, rotting, holes in the side, insulation poking out of the roof and walls.

Our only heat was a pot bellied stove that we would burn coal in. The branch president (anglo guy whose family owned the trading post) warned us not to load up the stove, as it might explode, b/c the stove was meant for burning wood (of which we had none) and coal burned too hot. I was a lot more worried about carbon monoxide!

My room (yes, the rooms were so small in this dirty, dank, corroded trailer, that we slept in separate rooms....even thought the AP's said we should sleep in our sleeping bags on the floor in the living room so we "shared" a room, as per mission rules...asswipes) was 20' down the I froze my butt off every night. We would get up in the morning and see our breath!

The reservation is a 3rd world country; 50% unemployment, rampant drinking/drunk driving, teenage pregnancy off the chart, 80% drop out rate. But 90% of the kids in town had been on the placement program. We had to send the Lamanites to Utah and Idaho so we could teach them to blossom like the rose, become white and delightsome and churchy.

The kids that tried to live in the anglo world ended up being rejected by both societies. The kids called themselves "apples"....white on the inside and red on the outside. Totally screwed up and not prepared to survive in either the anglo nor Navajo cultures.

We would faithfully go out and tract, contact and work every damn day. We invariably saw a particular guy and his girlfriend every day and usually several times a day. They were boyfriend/girlfriend and were unemployed and perpetually staggering drunk. Of the weeks and months I was there, I never saw these two sober. One sunday night, the boyfriend got agitated at the woman, and beat this poor lady to death with an empty wine bottle. The FBI agent investigating the murder turned out to be a member of the high council in Gallup. We were interviewed by the FBI during the investigation as they looked for motive, clues, witnesses and the murderer.

The man ended up committing suicide on our front lawn (by drinking clorox bleach) 3 days later. The FBI agent later told me and my companion we were the last to see the man and his girlfriend alive (the night of the murder). We had seen them drunkenly stumbling through a field, and stopped to chat them up.

I hated that place, even more, after all this transpired.

My son is way in hell I am letting him go on a mission.


Subject: Bolivia, 1981-82
Date: Oct 12 16:47
Author: 2thdoc

I did the 18-month plan, and only spent a total of $1200 in Bolivia but I don't think I got my money's worth. (I would have been super pissed if I went under the current system of $400/month, regardless of where you go.)

My living conditions were primitive, probably most matching up with Jesus Smith above, but I kinda enjoyed the roughing it aspect. Except for the chronic intestinal parasites, I didn't feel like complaining. It was kind of cool to "live with the people."

Something unique that hasn't been mentioned in the other posts were the open drainage ditches running along the streets of La Paz that were used as community toilets. We'd walk along these ditches and people of all ages would be in there squatting. The women had skirts spread out around them but the males were exposed for all the world to observe what comes out. Periodic rains that washed away the deposits were our only escape from the stench. Outside our hovel, we missionaries had the luxury of what we affectionately called the "launch pad", which was just a plywood board placed over a hole in the ground. A tiny, 6 inch hole cut in the middle of it was the target to try to aim your poop through, which hardly ever happened judging from all the staining around the hole. Keeping shoes and pant cuffs clean was the other challenge. I always had fears of the plywood breaking in half as I squatted there.

Thank gawd I ended up as the MP secretary for over half my mission so I lived in a nice home with the office staff during that time. The mission president lived in a palatial mansion (seriously, it had to have been the nicest home in Cochababmba). I asked him once how the church could justify the cost of such a nice home and he said the church views it as a real estate investment. At the time, that made sense to me. Sheesh, so glad the church is concerned about their financial investments while people are out pooping in the gutters!


Subject: Mission Truth
Date: Oct 13 00:16
Author: Dr. B. (Buzzard Bait)

To the administration of this Internet site: Please compile these stories of the realities of the Mission Field for all to read in this website. The truth should be known to all what a shitty church we belong to or have been associated with.


Subject: I was a sister missionary in Puerto Rico, a place you would expect some decent
Date: Oct 13 03:41
Author: Cristina

and safe living conditions. No. We lived in a shanty town of cement houses perched on hills. We had running water only a couple days a week, which meant that we had to carry water from down the street in a bucket to fill our toilet tanks so they could partially flush.

We had salamanders living inside our little house (perhaps it was the ghost of Joseph). That was pretty scary for us as young women, afraid to fall asleep because of the salamanders. We had no real security, I don't remember if we even had safe locks on the doors. We were in the middle of a jungle it seemed though only half an hour from the capitol city of San Juan. It was impossible to sleep in the humidity and heat (no fans, no air conditioning).

We slept with open windows. At night we would fall asleep from sheer exhaustion to the sound of these little frogs called Coquies that sing all night long (hundreds of them at once). In the morning, before we had gotten enough sleep, we would be awakened to roosters crowing.

If we had running water that day, we'd shower, if not we'd use the bucket to sponge bath off the sweat. I had a constant headache from morning till night, nightmares every night feeling very unprotected in that dark jungle shanty town, and physically uncomfortable at all times.

No telephone so that if anything happened we would have no way to call for help.

We had a car only because we lived up on a mountain side of sorts where there only way to get there was to drive uphill for several miles.

In addition, the drivers in Puerto Rico were so reckless and uncivilized that there were numerous deaths on the roads. Going up to our house the roads were lined with makeshift crosses where people had been killed.

Our mission president lived in San Juan in a big comfortable two level house.

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