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Posted by: Goofy1 ( )
Date: May 17, 2014 09:51PM

...compared to the mission home?

Our mission home was on the nicest street of a big South American city, in a very nice area. There was a lovely park and resort hotel in that neighborhood. The home was similar to an upper middle class home in California, built in the 60s or 70s. It had all the modern appliances and plumbing.

My conditions: water was I drinkable, we showered in cold water. Had toilets, but often had to flush them with a bucket of water. Many of the elders had holes in the ground and showered with buckets of wAter. I never had a dirt floor, but many of our investigators did. The food often made us very sick, I had diarrhea the whole time. We never had access to cooking facilities or refrigeration, we washed our clothes by hand.

We paid people to cook our food and it was hit or miss. I remember feeling it was unfair.

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Posted by: Gôof1 ( )
Date: May 17, 2014 09:56PM

Meant to say water was undrinkable.

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Posted by: Inverso ( )
Date: May 17, 2014 10:16PM

Similarly bad conditions in Mexico in the 80s.

I had hot water in two apartments--one was a regular gas heater and the other was a wood-burning heater that we stoked with old pamphlets and the boxes they came in.

We had flush toilets most of the time, but sometimes had to flush with buckets and in one place we had a lovely flushing action but the sewage discharged through a pipe behind the roofless outhouse into the back yard of the neighbors where they kept their chickens.

Lovely memories....

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Posted by: Inverso ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 03:12AM

Oh, yeah, thanks for the reminder--I had forgotten the vermin.

Every apartment I was in was infested with cockroaches, giant hideous cockroaches that would nibble on us while we were sleeping.

But there were also more dangerous things around like black widow spiders and scorpions, which we killed on a daily basis in a couple of our homes. We kept a can of pesticide at the ready at all times.

We never had a refrigerator or a stove anywhere, but we did have a hotplate in a couple of places. There were apartments with home-built cots in place of beds, furniture was otherwise scant.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 03:59AM

Somebody else mentioned "hand-sized spiders" and yet another described feeding silverfish as if they were pets. . .

OMG. This sort of "wildlife" would have sent me running - and SCREAMING - to the nearest sporting goods store, where I would have bought combat boots (for stepping on anything that got too close) and THEN heading for the MP's house.

I would have demanded my passport, threatened them with violence if they gave me any grief, and gotten home by hook or by crook.

I have faced down wannabe thugs (but I'm a big proponent of concealed carry and a good shot.) But creepy-crawlies - especially the ones that can hurt you - no way. They could have condemned me to Outer Darkness on the spot and I still wouldn't have stayed.

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Posted by: fubecona ( )
Date: May 17, 2014 10:23PM

I had similar experiences. The MP lived in a big apartment in a fancy high rise in the wealthiest part of the city. They had air conditioning and all the comforts of home. While the missionary living quarters varied, for the most part the bathrooms were small, never had hot water, no phones, no air conditioning (we were in a very hot climate near the equator), the water wasn't drinkable so we had to have it delivered--the cost of which came out of our own allowance--we either had to hand wash our clothes or pay someone to do it. Again this came out of our own allowance. Every place I lived in had a refrigerator and a range/oven but they didn't always work well. One place I lived had a lot of creatures--bats, large spiders (size of hand), frogs in the bathroom, large lizards. Also, one place I lived was in a slum which was probably dangerous, we lived above a small convenient store (that was held up at least once while I lived there)and the apartment had mice and the bathroom was the size of a small coat closet. You could sit on the toilet and shower at the same time. My first place was a small house that was in someone's backyard. It was maybe 200 square feet in size, if that. It was riddled with flies and cockroaches. We had no privacy in that house. The owner's grandson was always watching us (more like leering)--he was probably about our age--and would say lewd things to us. Guess he liked sister missionaries.

The only missionaries that had a nice place to live were the APs and secretaries. They lived in the mission office which was a big house behind the largest stake center in the mission. It was in the same wealthy neighborhood as the MP's apartment. These elders also had a maid who cooked all their meals, cleaned and washed all their clothes by hand. The rest of us had to eat at members' homes (when there were members who could afford to feed us), wash our own clothes or pay some poor sister in the ward to do it (had to be member).

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Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 12:25PM

Same here. Based on your name, I'm guessing you went to Brazil? My MP lived in the nicest apartment I ever saw on my mission. The apartment was the entire floor of a fancy apartment building. Most of the missionaries lived in homes that rented for ~$70/mo. Floors were concrete, walls were barely spackled brick, no ceiling (bugs and lizards could crawl between the walls and roof), windows weren't sealed, no A/C, etc... We got ~$30/mo. for food, bus fare, etc... ~$12 of that was spent on bus fare. Members fed us lunch most days, and we had enough money to buy some bread for breakfast and dinner. I would have starved if my parents hadn't sent me out with a few hundred dollars and sent more money throughout my mission.

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Posted by: Bite Me ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 12:11AM

Time to send people over the edge...

My last four months were spent in an apartment that had: central a/c, an automatic dishwasher, weights/weight bench, water beds, and most importantly--no cockroaches. We would eat crab legs, corn on the cob, Korean BBQ beef, and Asian pears once or twice per week.

Life was good that last four months. Chill comps too. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2014 12:11AM by Bite Me.

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Posted by: moremany ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 02:15AM

Weights? G! How about the other 20 months Bite me? Were they better, worse or different? We can only hope not.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2014 02:18AM by moremany.

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Posted by: Bite Me ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 10:56AM

The other twenty months were worse. I lived for six months over an open garage/carport. This was in Susanville, CA. It got butt-ass cold there. We would wake up with frost in the apartment. Our heat source was an old-school kerosene heater. We NEVER used it while we slept. Primarily because we wanted to wake up in the morning. The place was so drafty that I'm pretty sure we would have been okay, but I wasn't going to take the chance.

I lived in another apartment that had cockroaches the size of tapirs. You could throw a saddle on those things and go for a ride. God that was nasty. Most of the apartments were okay though. Just run-down and beat up with shitty furniture.

I consider myself lucky and have absolutely zero room to bitch, especially considering what most of the missionaries in foreign missions experienced. Never had to deal with parasites, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, nasty critters, thugs with machetes robbing you. You know, all of the shit that brings you "blessings." (**eye-roll**)

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Posted by: The 1st FreeAtLast ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 02:48AM

The mission home was located in San Isidro, a very nice part of the Peruvian capital, Lima, and across the street from the Japanese embassy. The MH was tiled and carpeted, with rich wood paneling, a protective perimeter wall and fence, running and bottled water, full bathrooms, cooking, cleaning, and landscaping staff, and more. Images of San Isidro are at

The filthy shantytowns where naive missionaries, including myself, were sent can be seen at Conditions included no running water, infrequent electricity (on a good day), a hole in the ground for a toilet, adobe huts to live in, streets covered with partly-dried sewage, deplorable food, large piles of garbage in the streets, roving packs of diseased dogs, attacks by local gangs, etc.

Of course, at LD$ Inc.'s MTC in Provo, UT, none of the truth about what most of Peru was really like, including Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) terror activities that ultimately took the lives of some 70,000 Peruvians and caused billions of $$$ of damage, was conveyed to us 'greenies'. After all, our magical temple underwear would supernaturally protect us, right?

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Posted by: Hermes ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 03:39AM

The first area I was assigned to had the bet apartment in the mission, in that it was the cheapest (about $75 for my end which was a bargain in Quebec) AND, I had my own room. The solo room was heaven, it allowed me to cry and be homesick and depressed in solitude that first month out.

I went to one of the worst right after that, small and the silverfish would crawl along the scalding hot radiator pipe that would surround the room. They became a pet project of mine, as in I fed them bits of Ding Dongs as if they were my pets. They got huge towards the end of my four-month stay. No shower, just a bathtub, and I was in a threesome where the other two refused to clean out their pubes after taking a bath. It was revolting.

The ugliest was this basement apartment in Montreal. There was this carpeting that had what looked like a ship's anchor chain running down the middle. Bunk beds, thin walls and we lived next to a moaner next door who had lots of sex. I awoke with a severe case of blue balls most mornings. I found solitude (an relief) when I discovered one of my apartment keys opened the room on top of the roof that housed the elevator motor. I used to go up there and "read" French was the Wank Haven.

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Posted by: Book of Mordor ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 03:00PM

I too served in Quebec, but never had to feed any silverfish.

My worst apartment was in an area so remote that we were our own independent district. We were about 280 miles away from any other missionaries. This would have been great in the summer, but I was there in December.

It was Arctic frigid the entire month, and I don't believe the temp ever got above *minus* 30 degrees, not counting windchill. The apartment had no central heating; all we had was a single electric space heater that we ran on maximum 24/7, in order to get a portion of the living area into the low 50s. We had to remain fully dressed (including thermal underwear) at all times while inside, and even then were shivering with the cold.

We had a shower, but the heater provided only enough hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. After that, ice cold, and this part of the apartment was not within the space heater's limited effects.

When the January transfer came, we were flushed out, and the area was closed, because it was literally too dangerous for us to remain. It was also impossible to tract in temps that low, not to mention insane. We tried it once and lasted for maybe 20 minutes, when our lips became too numb to form words.

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Posted by: notamormon ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 10:02AM

I am surprised that some missionary has not taken pics of MP's house and then their own living quarters and posted the contrast on the internet.

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Posted by: vh65 ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 10:22AM

I just read Tell It All by Fanny Stenhouse, who married a young British missionary back in the early days and served/starved with him in Switzerland. When they returned to London, the Utah elders were living in an expensive house, eating well, and taking hot girls to the theatre and restaurants. She was disgusted. So it has been part of Mormon culture for a long time - the leaders taking advantage of the poor masses.

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Posted by: misterzelph ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 11:09AM

This brought back memories. I served in a southeast Asian country and that was many years ago, in fact, an entire lifetime ago. Needless to say conditions were shitty. But the discussion about Mosquitos reminded me of something. In the summertime we did all three at the same time:
Mosquito nets over each window
Slept under a mosquito net tent
Burned a "mosquito coil" (similar to incense, but was a mosquito pesticide)
When we woke in the morning, we still had numerous mosquito bites.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2014 11:25AM by misterzelph.

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Posted by: Levi ( )
Date: May 18, 2014 12:05PM

I found this to be a very interesting subject, so I will chime in with my time in Japan.

Our MP (first one was a great guy, second one challenged Punky's father for the title "The Anus". The "mission home" was basically a multi story box. The first and second floor was the "mission home" with a very nice (luxury) genkan where you would step out of your shoes, a long hall that went left to right. In front of you was an alcove with some Japanese pottery in it. I loved that. To the left was a living room with a grand piano in it, and an adjoining dining room with a 12/14 seat dining table. Adjacent to this was the very large kitchen complete with kitchen staff.

If you were to go right from the pottery, you would end up in the MP office. Up stairs were the guest bedrooms and bathrooms, IIRC there were 3 or 4 bedrooms plus the MP bedroom. Upstairs from this was the mission office. I think (but never saw) the office mishie sleeping quarters were on this floor as well. There would have been the APs, the mishie secy, the financial secy. Two sets??? it's been a long time, I might forget somebody

So, yes. They lived very well.

Now to us.

This was Japan in 1989/1991. It was basic, but it was still Japan, so even in the depths of the poverty that I was in, it was still elegant. Every mishie apt had tatami mats (some were in poor condition because of country dolts that would wear their shoes in the apt) and slept on the requisite futon. We would always have a study room with 2 or 4 desks depending on how many mishies would share an apt.

The kitchens were basic at best. A 2 burner gas stove and a small detached oven. Always had a rice cooker. Small fridge.

The bathrooms were always divided with a tiny toilet room, a sink and a separate o-furo room with a shower. A great set up, because 3 people could use the "bathroom" simultaneously in theory.

In the areas that I was in, I had:

Tokushima: a 2 bedroom, plus study, plus kitchen. We had 4 guys. we had a butsudan in this apt. complete with a BoM in it and a mikan at all times. Lots of cockroaches.

Takasu: 4 man. we had a 2 story single family house. Kitchen, HUGE study room, great bathroom with o-furo that we all used exactly as designed. 2 bedrooms upstairs. Loved this place.

Yasufurichi: 2 man, we opened this area, so had basically nothing in the apt. Had to go "dumpster diving" to furnish it. again, LOVED the bathrooms. how luxurious to have that o-furo.

Sakaide: 4 man. Biggest apt in the mission. I mean this place was HUGE. We even had an alcove for ikebana. Me being the "me" I am, I decorated it with what I could find. giant kitchen, dining room, 3 bedrooms. LOTS of space. It had a genkan the size of which you would find in a formal house.

Kuraiyoshi: Brand new apt, so brand new tatami, smelled beautiful. Brand new futon. Elegant, but small.

I miss the tatami and futon set up. It's very very comfortable.

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Posted by: Anon6 ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:26AM


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Posted by: Templar ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 12:03PM

I served in Texas 1960-62. We lived in older, but nice, apartments in fair to good middle class neighborhoods.

We had phones (but were asked not to call home unless it was an absolute emergency). Neither myself nor any companion ever had need to do so.

We did not have a TV or radio. We were provided brand new Nash Rambler automobiles in 1961 which were sold to the Church on a fleet deal by George Romney (Mitt's dad who was CEO of American Motors at the time).

I would say that I lived in fairly comfortable conditions for all of my mission.

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Posted by: brett ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 12:17PM

I was in Korea in the early 80's.

The apartments we had in Seoul were decent. Nothing fancy, but livable.

I spent half my mission out in the more remote parts of the country and that was a different story. The toilets were outhouses and in winter it was miserable. The bathroom had no hot water so for showering it meant heating water on a stove and pouring it over you. In winter the bathroom was barely above freezing. And the house itself was much warmer. Water always had to be boiled before drinking. Never lived anywhere with a dishwasher. Only had AC in Seoul. Forgot to mention the rats in the ceiling.

Of course the mission home had everything.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2014 12:21PM by brett.

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Posted by: notnewatthisanymore ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:02PM

I lived in worse living conditions than I have ever lived (with the exception of one apartment in college that was very... unique). I had the worst food, health care, work conditions, etc. Honestly, being a poor college student in the cheapest housing I could find was an enormous step up in terms of quality of food, housing, and health care.

As a missionary, I had less money for food than the poorest of our investigators, they got government assistance, which was way more than we had for food.

Also, being forced to live and work in a place that is dangerous, with no say in it myself, when I would have better options?

And I was in the US.

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Posted by: BG ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:09PM

Mission president lived in an elegant 19th century mansion in the Embassy District of the capital city.

Two Worst Apartments : (1) Boat shed, poor heating, temp hardly ever got above freezing, no shower, no hot water to do dishes. Toilet was across the alley in another building. We were supposed to shower at the town bathhouse. This was meeting place for gay sailors, not exactly a spiritual experience. We showered once a month.

(2) Tenament building from the mid 1800s. No shower, toilet was in the outside stairway and shared with 4 other apartments. Eight elders in one apartment. No showers. We were supposed to shower at a members house. I got 4 showers in three months. We shared bathroom with hookers and African sailors.

Two best apartments. (1) Clean warm apartment in the basement of a members house. We had a shower. My best memories. (2) Apartment in the basement of an older woman. She let us shower once a week in her bathroom. That was against mission rules but what the he!!.

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Posted by: Jonny the Smoke ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:21PM

West Indies Mission, 83 - 85.

Bad water, had floatys in it, looked loike sea monkeys.Had to boil it or just drink it and get used to it. Had the runs the entire time I was out. Returned home with bleeding ulcers, ended up in the hospital for days after losing a quart of blood internally.

Cold water, only had hot water at 2 of my many homes. even then, the water would shut off for days sometimes, so you had to bath from rain barrels outside.

Electricity shut off a lot, had to cook on a fire then, not bad, improvised BBQ actually.

Critters....insects galore, spiders the size of my hand, roaches, millipedes that would burn your skin if you slept on one, lots of glowing beetles, some could light the room at night. I used to wake up with 2 - 3 inch beetles in my bed, biting my legs with their pinchers. Moths 4 inches across, lizards everywhere inside and out, mosquitos. Rats and mice too....trapped a bunch of rats in one place after they started eating our food on the shelves. In one place, I slept on a pad on the floor for 7 months with this stuff all around me....and on me.

But, the people were friendly, food was fantastic, scenery like a post card, laid back Mission President...and I was 3 years older than most of the other guys and had seen the wolrd a bit.......I enjoyed my mission very much....not for the church work, but for the life experience it gave me.....could have done without the runs and ulcers for years after though.

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Posted by: jacob ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:21PM

Nice first world country, great food, friendly people, easy language, and a desirable zip code.

The worst thing about being in Italy was that you had to hang dry your clothes. Some of the boys were slobs but all in all, the living conditions were similar to what I had been used to my whole life.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 01:55PM

I was in western Canada, so it wasn't the third world. But it was back in the days when missionaries found their own places to live and paid for them directly. That gave us a bit more control over where we lived.

I lived in two basement apartments in nevermo homes (one with frost on the walls), an apartment over a store (with a perpetually clogged toilet), and a mobile home (where, against missionary policy, we had separate bedrooms). We also lived in a prefab house on an Indian reserve with an outhouse and a broken kerosene heater. I caught hepatitis there. But the most unique and fun was an actual log cabin on a lake in northern Saskatchewan. One room, a heater and stove, one light. We used the bathroom of the general store that ran the cabins. We fished for dinner and fought mice.

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Posted by: ASteve ( )
Date: May 20, 2014 03:14PM

I could not find a pic of my mision home and all that I could find was one of it being demolished, this is part of it:

It was a small mansion. It was demolished to put a temple on the property, I think they constructed a smaller mission home nearby.

I lived in 9 places. Almost all of them were rooms we rented in someone's house, with usally limited kitchen access. I always had a shower (but in several of the apartments the hot water did not work, including the apartment I was in my first winter. Broncitis time? Yes it was. My last 2 places were pretty nice, one was a luxury high rise with AC and the other was a nice room in a middle class suburb with the nicest bathroom I have ever had in my life, including everywhere I've lived in the US and Europe.

It had a bidet!

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