Date: July 11, 2018 07:11PM
I meant to weigh in on your initial post about your daughter's mission call, Elder Berry, but life intervenes and time flies. The situation reminded me of two former posters and I wanted to mention them and their mission stories but it took me two entire weeks to remember the board name for one of them. NEPA!!
His remains one of the all time great RfM accounts of breaking shelves and instant de-conversion. He kept us riveted for months. I'm sure many others remember him too. If I'm recalling accurately, both he and his wife realized at the same time and overnight that the Mormon Church isn't the be-all/end-all as its leaders proclaim. I don't remember what it was that changed their perspective. They (essentially) jumped in their car and drove to their son's mission area to tell him it ain't true son and we're taking you home. (I hope I didn't mangle the story too much). I guess it's a given that his son didn't mind going home as he did leave with them and they were all instantly out of the church and very happy indeed.
NEPA graced us with his continued presence for a while, such an interesting man and good writer with a great exit story. He is one of those folks who you hate to see go, even though you know things are better for them and they're happy and moving onwards in different directions. (Some I know don't want to even talk about Mormonism any more but not in a stifle-type maneuver that keeps it all lurking way deep inside, just forging ahead and leaving it way in the rearview).
NEPA is the one who gave us the cherished acronym: TSCC. Still wildly popular and in wide usage and perfectly descriptive.
The other person I recall (and I did make passing reference to this RM and his mission experience in a post a few weeks ago) is Blair Watson. I thought of him right away after reading your post about your daughter's mission call, EB, because he also went to South America. I hesitated to draw your attention, or memory, to his account as what happened to him was bleak and dangerous and continues to be outrageous. He contracted meningitis down there while in a remote town without medical or other services readily available. Despite him being obviously critically ill, the MP would not give permission for his comp/s to take him to a neighbouring place for medical care, despite numerous requests and frank descriptions of his literal near-death condition. Finally, when he was beyond critical (only a slight exaggeration to register my disgust with idiot MPs everywhere) the comp/s prevailed (I'm not sure if MP was present on site or only by phone) and drove him by truck to a doctor/hospital. He said that he was so ill and in so much pain and the journey by truck was brutal. Add in the heat as well and it was a total nightmare.
It took him a long time to regain partial health. As I mentioned not long ago, the (idiot) MP did not tell Blair what the diagnosis was. Maybe trying to cover his backside or else just completely clueless or uncaring - take your pick. When Blair's mom, a nurse, called to check on him the MP did not tell her what the diagnosis was either. Blair said his mom would have come and got him if she'd known. The MP only told him when his mission was over (I'm not sure why the MP thought he should disclose it then - maybe because he knew Blair should still be under medical supervision or due to Blair still not being 100% healthy or maybe just so he was aware of his own medical history for future reference).
Blair had gone on after that to also contract intestinal parasites, as they say a majority of mishies do down there. He said that he was into his 30s before he regained some of his health back after those infections he contracted on his mission and because of not having received prompt or adequate care.
So, both those experiences ran through my head when you first posted about your daughter's mission call. I hesitated to say anything because I didn't want to add to your stress about it. Then, as I said, life kept me otherwise occupied for much of the time and I couldn't go "backwards" through all the threads.
But. Still I wanted to say something. Hard to know how to express it. Obviously, most here would get what your worry is about. There are many facets to it, including you being a dad concerned for his child's well-being and an exmo not believing in the religion or its practices any more. I know it's hellaciously difficult for you when your wife is still TBM. It's a fine line you must walk to stay as involved as you can be.
You are right to be so concerned, as you well know, even just from the practical side of it (her location and the living conditions) as well as the religious aspects (fervent belief system that actively promotes young people putting their own safety and health behind the organization's goals).
I just remembered too one of the missionary sisters I knew, whose story I have also told previously. Even though she was very ill, also with an infection, I had to fight and duck and dive to get her out of virtual prison (no exaggeration) to see my own GP (and I ended up paying his bill and the lab work - nobody told me the church pays medical bills and I knew sis mish had no $$$. I was never reimbursed). It took all my ingenuity, resolve and a bit of physical diving as well to get her comp to leave us alone even for a private medical exam at the dr's office. (She didn't trust me and didn't ever allow her comp and me to be alone - weird, scary, unbelievable). That young missionary was so "brainwashed", from my perspective, that she thought it was all her fault and I often heard her murmuring "I must have faith, I must have faith, I must..." even while she was literally crawling to the bathroom because she was too weak to stand up. She thought it was a test of faith and the comp was enraged that they were losing time from preaching and berated her daily for it. I wish this was one memory that could be expunged from my head. It's upsetting even after all this time. I remember arriving at their apt one morning to see bully comp standing over sick comp who was lying on the floor, being yelled at about how lazy she was. My brain yelled at me "This is domestic abuse", a shocking thought, but an accurate one). That day too I intervened, calling a sister from the ward to go out that day with bully comp and taking sick comp home to my place for some comfort care.
I'm sure many exmos can relate to being so with the program that they weren't capable of thinking straight. Only after time passes, at least, or perhaps not until one is away from the thing that's creating the issues does it become more clear that our judgement can be skewed when we are under these types of influences - to be "faithful", to be obedient, not to rock the boat, not to side with the other rather than the religion or whatever the "thing" is that has us in its grip.
Re the situation with the sis mishie, I still can't believe how powerless I was to make sure the right thing got done. I was an adult woman, a nurse, a convert who at the time was determined to stick, so not a threat to them. But only supreme effort resulted in me even getting mishie to the doctor. Even so, she was immediately back under the thrall of her abusive comp and I was shut out. I even consulted the MP about it and he sternly said to me "There is no problem here". Yeah. Right. OK then. I couldn't do much without the ill missionary making some good choices for herself but that didn't happen. However, the entire situation, between the overbearing, abusive comp and the ignorant, abusive MP, was so wrong and scary that I banded together with the ZL and DL and we set up an "underground railway" type of call system to help anyone in the province who may have ended up in the abusive sister's firing line, especially any future companions. So, those missionaries knew there was a problem with her. Not one of the hundreds of them, though, spoke out. We had to do it all undercover. And sure enough we had to provide at least moral support for all the future comps. I was gratified that the male missionaries knew and listened and assisted, but only to the same point I could, not even thinking of approaching MP about the bully comp.
As with all bullies and hypocrites, the rules didn't apply to the big bad sis. She ended up having an affair with one of her prospective converts. They covered it up somewhat by saying they were engaged. Maybe she thought they were. My recollection is that he was married. I was scandalized at such overt hypocrisy and rule-breaking and appalling behaviour. (Yes, I'm judgemental somewhat, at least when it comes to Preachers Behaving Badly). Missionary by day... Even though they were blatant about it (sitting together during General Conference, without her companion - sheesh) I guess it was overlooked because it was a female missionary? (She was the third one I knew of at the same time in this mission that was having an affair). To be 100% fair, I'm not sure if it was literally an affair - it would have been difficult to be completely alone - although others managed it obviously - but they were pretty darn friendly right out in the open at GC. Maybe I should call it a close friendship. She ended up leaving the mission early because of it. So much for being faithful. If she hadn't been such a B to everyone else I would not be inclined at all to criticize her for breaking major rules herself. We're all only human after all.
OK. So, as we know, lots can go wrong, for myriad reasons, on a mission. Compelling young, inexperienced people to suspend their own (often not yet mature) judgement can be dangerous. Emphasizing obedience as one of the highest virtues, as well as loyalty to the organization above all else can also lead to suspension of judgement. I doubt that many missionaries would tell their parents that there were problems. Rather, they are encouraged to be all bright and shiny 24/7, to other mishies, to non-mos and to their friends and families, and even to themselves.
In an email or a phone call most young missionaries are not likely to say come get me. They are trained hard to grin and bear it, whatever 'it' is. Maybe they are afraid of what their parents will say. Maybe they want to show themselves and the world that they can stick it. Maybe they want to fulfill promises or avoid life-long scorn for not completing, or any number of other feelings and goals that would make them choose to stay silent, and stay out there, rather than state the true situation they're in, even if it's fraught with problems, even dangerous ones.
Yeah. I'm not a fan of creating an army of young missionaries, calling them volunteers, but nearly compelling them to go (in the case of the Mormon Church, at least with the males).
So, EB, my dear, I hope that at least you can keep the NEPA option in mind and that you would know if your daughter needed your help or even required 'rescue'. I know it's so very tough. It can be difficult to know when to stand back and when to leap in. Even a parent can't easily enforce their own will on a child of majority age. Even more difficult if the parents aren't on the same page with it. It may be a very very very long 18 months. But, as they say, time flies. In this case, I sure wish it would.
Sorry I can't say, there, there, it'll all be just fine. I can sure hope so though. And I do. So very much.