Okayama Japan, "mission president" was Seiichirou Utagawa. I was there from 89-91, but he came too soon....I want to say June/july 1990.
He came up with a gem.
"You must eat mugi every morning for breakfast".
This was a mission rule, and if you weren't eating mugi, you weren't following the rules, therefore, you weren't following jesus. This was actually told us verbatim.
Mugi is cracked wheat and while cracked wheat is a wonderful cereal, for it to be a RULE is moronic.
It was a rule, he told us, because at a MP confrunz, GBH said that he eats a bowl of oatmeal every morning and it gives him the energy he needs to go about his day.
In Japan (at that time anyway) oats were all but strictly a horse feed grain. We could find them in the expat stores, but just the small container and it was quite expensive.
So dickfor decides that mugi was close enough to oatmeal, and the mission office could buy it in extreme bulk and then we would simply purchase it from the mission home. It was always full of pebbles.
I tried it for a few days and that was it. Never again. I found a cereal at the grocery store that was basically "Sugar Smaks" and in giant roman letters on the box it said "MUGI" (wheat), so that was good enough for me. I switched to that for the next several days. I read the ingredients. Coffee. I needed this.
After a week I said screw the whole thing. It's a stupid rule. In our interviews he made it part of the interview! "Do you eat mugi daily?". I looked him in the eye and said "nope". He tried by explaining that you can put different things in. Apple, nashi, brown sugar, raisins. I rebutted this by saying you can put all sorts of things on pizza, but I certainly couldn't eat it every day and I actually LIKED pizza.
We never, ever got along. I hated his assface. Still do, btw.
Our mission Prez came out and said we had to have at least three glasses of milk every day.
Was reported by more than one companion as well as others for not drinking milk - and not following the rules.
Problem is, I am allergic to cows milk and dairy products. Not lactose intolerant - Allergic. Major allergic reaction which ends up with me in the emergency room is the result of a small amount of dairy products.
Since I don't like Goats milk - I just lived with the fact I would be forever reported by idiots I was assigned to be with. Only one kept quiet after asking me about it.
We had a rule put in place for a while that if you were denied at a door you knocked on you had to offer to sing a hymn before you left. It was pretty lame, especially when my musically inclined comp was transferred and it was me and another off key elder.
I had an idiot MP that ate up the Grant Von Harrison Drawing on the Power of Heaven lunacy. Add to that Loren Dunn as the GA over the mission and it was a hotbed of insanity.
Solid color ties only. Solid blue with a blue suit. Solid brown with a brown suit. Nothing else.
Run from door to door - no walking.
Never talk about home. You shouldn't even know where your companion is from.
No reading anything other than scriptures - not even the cereal box in the morning.
When knocking on doors we were to say we were representatives of jesus christ sent to offer a blessing on their home. We were then to walk in, even if not invited in, and drop to our knees and offer a blessing.
We had "baptismal discussions" held at the church we were to bring people to. They were a shortened, combined version of the first four or five discussions coupled with high pressure sales tactics. People were pressured to get baptised right then and there. Some did and you can bet how well that worked out.
We were to set "covenants" with god. We were to covenant that we would sacrifice certain things, like sleep, food, PDay, mail, and then god had to bless us with baptisms. If our sacrifice was enough we would bind god into giving us success. That meant if we weren't having baptisms we weren't sacrificing enough. I saw several elders, including my second companion, with health problems as a result of this.
Like I said, it was craziness. The good part is I learned I have a backbone and integrity. I didn't do the whackiest stuff, and told the MP I wouldn't and that I thought what he was teaching was wrong and harmful. He told me I would be a failure my whole life, I must come from a family of failures, and other nice things. Good times for a kid.
It turned out I won the battle - I wrote a family friend GA that happened to be over the missionary department at the time, told him what was going on, and included some of the stuff the MP was passing out. Within a month Tom Monson himself was there, had a quickly called mission-wide conference, and told us to knock that crap off. The MP never apologized or admitted any wrongdoing. He did keep me in areas a long way from the mission home from then on which was just fine with me.
When I lived in Rio de Janeiro I tried to invite the missionaries over for dinner. Here is what they told me;
No unmarried women of ages 14 to 30 were allowed to be there. In other words neither my house keeper or girlfriend could be in my house, I had to ask them to leave. Though it was ok they cooked the meal.
No television or radio.
As they were encouraged to only have one meal per day, they prefered lunch to dinner.
They admited they could cook a simple breakfast but at the end of the day when they got home they were not supposed to eat anything that had to be cooked.
Our MP said we had to play some sort of baseball game for points. We got a designated number of points for giving discussions, and then something like a home run which was worth a 100 points for a baptism. The district that got the most points got invited to the mission home for Thanksgiving dinner. My companion and I got zero points (I hated putting someone's eternal salvation on the same level as a baseball game and refused to participate). We made it to the Thanksgiving dinner nevertheless because the other missionaries in our district reported high points. They couldn't exclude us because we were still a part of the district. What a joke.
Backing your companion out when the car was in reverse.
Lol, if you cant drive in reverse you shouldn't be driving at all. The rule was that if the car was in reverse one companion had to be outside backing the driver... This led to quite a few dangerous situations of missionaries running out into traffic to "back out" the driver in situations calling for a reverse.
One of our stupid rules was that all of a sudden we all HAD to buy a Franklin planner. We were all called to a conference, got a whole mornings talk about the thing, how useful it was, how to plan your appointments etc. It was to replace the yellow card planner we all had. All I could think of was the money I had to spend on the thing, it wasn't optional. I was on a very small budget (1987-88) and money was tight. And it was another heavy thing to carry in your bag.
Montreal. We had one where you couldn't take your suit coat off unless the temperature was at least 72º F (22º C).
I heard of only one missionary that obeyed that rule. When the thermometer read 22º/72º (some displayed both ways) he'd remove his coat, and if the next read 21º/71º he'd put it right back on. He was from Idaho, and he was eventually sent to Halifax.
I was in tropical Queensland, Australia, which is like south Florida. There were probably less than 30 nights a year when you even needed any kind of coat at all, and you NEVER needed one in the daytime.
Most of the chapels weren't air-conditioned. Most of them had multiple ceiling fans, and louvered wall panels which were opened to allow air flow. Funny thing was, the neighbor next door might be mowing his lawn while we were trying to have church meetings, so it was loud.
A lot of the male church members, who hadn't been to the temple and thus didn't wear garments, wore short pants and short-sleeved shirts with ties to church. But we idiot missionaries sat through those steaming meetings in suitcoats.
The coat rule didn't go by temperature, but rather by the calendar date. The MP would announce in his weekly newsletter when we could take them off. The silly thing about that was, the MP was in Brisbane, but some missionaries might be hundreds of miles north in Mackay, Townsville, or Cairns, where it was much hotter. When I was in areas that were far from nosy superiors, we'd just go without coats anyway. I spent 1/3 of my mission in Mackay, where we were 250 miles away from the next nearest missionaries.
France, 1979-81. We weren't allowed to buy anything in pharmacies. Even if that was the only place to get some medicine or something. The reason? French pharmacies sometimes had sales posters for women's products like cosmetics or bras...and in France, every now and then one would show (gasp!) an almost naked breast or two. Or (the horror!) a PG-rated nude woman (no nipples or crotch, but bare bums).
Because, of course, seeing those would make us go back to our apartment and lock ourselves in the bathroom to masturbate. Never mind that I saw more naked skin on the living French women walking around...pharmacies were EVIL!
...because there are naked female images everywhere. Tabloid newspapers would have nude photo layouts, and sometimes on the covers. Lots of advertising used nude women. You could ride your bike past an auto repair shop, tire store, etc., and see ad posters in the windows with nude women. And there were even some TV shows with full frontal nudity, way back in the mid-'70s.
...being locked into long-term apartment contracts. Did away with them. Well, in Brazil in 1993-95, that meant going from fairly nice apartments with painted walls and tile floors to mud huts with wood floors and open sewers just outside the door. Don't even ask what happened when it rained hard...
Then, to top things off, they decided we shouldn't have refrigerators or stoves/ovens. We should never cook at home, but eat with members, or in our case, since few members could/would offer meals, we had to eat from street venders. Needless to say, missionary illness tripled in a short amount of time.
Also, if you got home before 9:30pm you had to go do street contacting until after 9:30. Never go home before then. Had to get in the requisite 13.5 hours of work a day.
In a way, I am/was glad of the rules. It made me start to question my sanity in believing in the cult, though it took me a few more years (after getting home) before I was finally able to pull myself out. The fear, guilt, feelings of not being worthy, coupled with rejection of family and Mormon society took its toll.
I still feel a bit of anger toward myself that I let any of it bother me, and I try to be social and friendly but those "skills" still need shoring up too frequently. When I see an active, practicing Mormon, I tend to feel rather repulsed. (Especially if I can see signs that they are wearing the costumes. Mormon's dress weird?)
I am working on stepping back further and seeing them as humans first who are simply at a place in their beliefs where I too once was. I wonder if the damage that Mormonism did to me may ever really be reversed. Unconditional love? Great concept that I am still aspiring towards.
Not a mission rule, but when my 15-year-old was 12 and just starting to pass the sacrament, the bishop 's then 14-year-old son scolded my son for wearing turquoise blue pants whilst "passing." When my son whispered back that bishop 's son should mind his own business, the bishop 's son started to cry (rather loudly)and say that he just didn't want my son to go to h#ll.
Every morning, we were supposed to fill out a schedule, broken down by the half-hour, of where we were going to be that day. Like, what streets we would be knocking doors on at what time. We were supposed to stick the sheet in our apartment door, so in case our DLs or ZLs needed to get in touch with us, they could find us.
I did that for the first few months, but then I just got out of the habit. We never really knew exactly where were going to be and when anyway. You might plan to tract on one street, but you'd knock on 20 doors and get no takers, so you'd just have to go elsewhere. So the planning sheet was a waste of time. I figured, if our DLs needed to get in touch with us, they could call our landlady, or somebody in the church, or come by at night when we were home.
In my last area, we were 60 miles from our ZLs, and we had no phone. We called in our weekly report from a pay phone every Friday night. During one such call, the ZL told me "We went down there to work with you guys, but you didn't leave a planning sheet in your door, so we couldn't find you." They drove SIXTY MILES without calling ahead to let us know they were coming. Doofuses.
Gosh, in reading some of these I guess I was in a cooler area of hell because we didn't have to do a lot of the ridiculous cult-tactic idiocracy mentioned here. In fact, my MP was extremely laid back. He had this reward system for 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7-or more baptisms per month per companionship, e.g. 7 or more meant a day in London doing whatever we wanted (xtra P-day) followed by an extravagant meal at the MPs mansion in Hyde Park. Each level had a great reward, and if you got 7 you got it all.
...1 baptism per year per missionary. I did 6 in my two years, and I was 3rd-highest in the mission. Lots of guys had zero. Our whole mission of about 200 missionaries only averaged maybe 6-8 per week, and occasionally, we had blank weeks for the whole mission.
We had a rule that we could drink fermented mare's milk. This is insane of course because it is as much against the word of wisdom as coffee, tea, beer, etc. We harassed and embarrassed so many members and investigators over harmless tea with milk while willingly knocking back the equivalent of a beer without so much as a hint of self-awareness. This lunacy of course helped me piece together what I was feeling about the church, so in a way I'm glad the rule was so stupid.
Under my first MP, we were required to wash our own clothes. Now, this was Colombia in the early 90s which meant that washing machines were unavailable for the most part. It meant getting a big hard bar of soap and a washboard and going at it by hand.
There were ladies there that could do it much better in half the time and for very little money - and they were very happy to get the small amount that they charged. But no, my MP thought that working 14 hours a day wasn't enough. We had to take several hours out of our p-day to wash our fucking clothes.
And, no, that was no where near normal in Germany at that time. The only people wearing businessman hats were men in their 70s and older. The german kids would see us walk by and say "Al Capone or Mafia!"
Here is a delightful trip down memory lane. I served in Brazil 2008-2010 under a Nazi native MP. He got the brilliant idea six months into my mission that we needed to have word for word memorized lessons like missions used to. Mandatory. Yeah, I never used that shit, argued constantly with him about it even. Finally two weeks before he and I were ending our missions (we finished at the same time) he gave everybody the order to burn all evidence of these discussions. This was to give the new president a clean slate, yeah right.
No district or zone activities, no sports at all, must invite to baptism on your first contact--bus, street, restroom, you name it-- no street food, pday was for cleaning the house and writing letters, you had to be in proselyting clothes even in your house. The list goes on and on, dude loved screaming about obedience and serving the Master... Ugh, I was an ap for a transfer and asked to be released due to the MPs hypocrisy on the rules for the leaders and him turning a blind eye to the physical abuse some of the secretaries and other Apes were inflicting on a depressed elder staying at the mission home. We're taking beating him with vacuum tubes, keyboard wrist rests, and broom handles and the like. Poor kid was bruised black and blue all over his torso. Showed the mp pics of his injuries and even a video one of the elders took of the beating occurring. His solution? Put me in an apartment across town while serving as the ap so I couldn't see it happening. I asked to be released a week later.
70 commanded us to knock on the door and catch people off guard by inviting people right there and then to be baptized. I decided to try it once with an older lady who I thought wouldn't throw something at me for saying this. She gave me an ugly look and closed the door. I never did that again!
I understand that the mission president's wife read that 70% of a person's body heat was lost through the top of their head, so during the winter we had to wear hats. It became a problem because of riding a bike, hats got blown off. Plus fedoras and business hats during the early 80s in England were hard to come by. This was during the time of Culture Club, Adam and the Ants, Punk Rock, etc... so it made us stand out more in crowds. While most people were wearing earmuffs and maybe caps we were wearing tacky hats.