Mormon Mission not a waste? Anyone?

by justbreathe Feb 2012

Okay I have wanted to post this because I cannot put it passed me. I served a 2 year mission and felt it was a very successful mission in the eyes of the church. I have tried to discredit myself and I try to transition from TBM [Mormon] to exmo. I am still a member today, although I have not gone to church in a while, and I can't help but at least look at my experience as a missionary as positive. Yes, I brought many into the "fold" and some remained active, but most did not. Does anyone really think the experience I had, away from Utah, was not worth it? I mean come on, I learned to manage finances, survive in the ghettos, speak to complete strangers, get along with a new @$$ of a companion every few months and best of all, I learned to be a team player. Aren't these attribute that constitute success in the real world outside of the Utah county bubble? I will have to say this; had I not served in the areas that I did, I would have not come across the "jewels" that I had with the church and therefore not have ever studied more into it to gain the facts I know today of its true history. I ran into a few exmo's in my mission and spoke with them. I always was intrigued to know why they left. Most were because of the people, I didn't feel like I could do that. People can be idiots and therefore I can't leave something because of a few mindless twerps. So my question for everyone is, was a mission a waste after all was said and done? Because it had brought me to the point I have currently reached. I think it is success in its finest. Call it a pathway out of the "cult".

Raptor Jesus
Your experience is yours.
As well as your interpretation of it.

Some board posters had great experiences with their missions. Others did not.

One of the many ridiculous things about Mormonism was the forcing of experiences such as "The best two years of your life," implying that if you DIDN'T have a good missionary experience, then there was something wrong with YOU.

As Exmos we get to have our own history and judge our own experiences. Good and bad.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
As with anything, there are pluses and minuses. Speaking for myself only, had I not gone on a mission, I never would have spent 2 years in Germany and experienced a foreign culture at the level that I did. The downside is, I was a good little mish, so I spent most of my time in Germany knocking on doors bothering people at their homes, rather than seeing the sights. The other downside is, it delayed my education for 2 years, thus delaying my career and income earning years a corresponding 2 years. I was 28 before I graduated college, thanks to going for a masters degree. I meet guys at work that are 21-22 yr old college graduates, already earning good money. They have the whole world in front of them. Whereas, an LDS male RM is on average 21 when he starts college.

Stray Mutt
It helped kick me down the road out of the church.
I had expected missions to be a hyperspiritual experience. I mean, we'd be more dedicated to the gospel and more in tuned with the divine than ever before. We might even witness miracles. Angels might visit us. Maybe even Jesus. And our leaders would be spiritual giants, just a veil's thickness away from being taken up into celestial glory. Right?

But it was just high-pressure sales run by bullies, liars and fools. I was taken behind Oz's curtain. So this is it, huh?

Thinking I had just had bad luck, I went on a temple binge after I got home. That only made things worse.

I guess my pinnacle of belief was stepping into the SLC temple for my pre-mission endowment. Everything after that was downhill.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
Those are some good points. In a lot of ways, I think my mission (Japan)helped me find the way out. At least it pointed me in the right direction. It was reading the book of mormon over and over and the discipline of studying the scriptures every morning that helped me to realize all the problems with Mormonism. I developed an interest in the bible. After my mission I continued to read the bible a lot and became somewhat decent in Greek and Hebrew. This just fueled the fire to study more.

If I hadn't served a mission, I probably wouldn't have become so familiar with the scriptures and wouldn't have developed an interest in biblical languages. Ultimately my studies convinced me that the Mormon profits are posers.

Re: It helped kick me down the road out of the church.
I can see your point. Because when I got into the MTC, I did expect something to happen. I wanted my pillar of light situation, but didn't get it. Once I got through my trainer for my first area, I had realized that this wasn't going to be the "best two years" unless I made it the best two years. I saved my MSF and purchased some high dollar stuff. Yes, I used tithing money to buy my wants, haha. It was a normal thing to do in our mission for those who were having fun. Video cameras, cell phones, you name it. All in all, I guess it is based off of how you view the world (at that time), half full or half empty?

CA girl
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
Agreed - pluses and minuses:

Plus - got to live in Europe for a year and a half
Plus - there is nothing like living in a country to master the language
Plus - great friends I'm still in contact with today. Mostly Spaniards, not companions, but still.
Plus - The food in Spain is wonderful and I would have never learned to cook like that - or probably ever gone there on my own.
Plus - Learned a ton
Plus - not a high baptizing mission so no residual guilt. The people we did baptize probably aren't still active.
Plus - never had money for transportation so walking made sure I was skinny despite eating whatever I wanted.

However there were negatives too:

Negative - Lost a lot of hair from stress and had very thin, scraggly hair for a year or so after I got back. And, it was thinner than usual when it finally all grew in.

Negative - I quit my master's degree program to go on a mission and never got back to it.

Negative - Very poor. You had no money and had to walk everywhere, in bad weather, barely able to afford food.

Negative - This is the big one. It gave me total anxiety issues that still bother me to this day. Too much togetherness, too much being forced to interact with strangers, no down time to be alone, felt like you had to bare your soul to the MP when asked. Everyone thought they owned you - the elders in your area thought they could boss you around, the members thought they could correct your every move, the bishop told you who you could and couldn't teach/baptize, non-LDS people were watching the weird Americans. You always had to set a good example in dress and deportment. You were always on stage. For someone like me, more the quiet, scholarly type, it was terribly stressful.

So even though if you were to count them, the pluses clearly outnumbered the minuses, they didn't OUTWEIGH the minuses. I honestly don't know if I'd go again because the emotional stress makes me sick to think about but there were so many good times. I think I was much luckier than a lot of people in how my mission turned out, overall.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
All my life I have been one to try to find the positive in everything I come across. I know its difficult at times, but I believe that being positive changes the outcome in many instances. In my mission, I remember my first area was very ghetto. I was the only white boy, with my comp, in an all black area. I thought that my luck was about to go to crap. Instead of letting it get to me, it ended up being my favorite area. I wanted to go back and serve there again at the end of my mission. I felt safer there than I did in any of the white areas. I served a mission in an area that was segregated. Oh, my mission president thought it would be funny to send our only black missionary to the kkk capital of the south... funny... NOT. He lasted 2 weeks before MEMBERS actually threatened his life. Poor kid went home early because of that experience. It shook him up. Anyway, that was a side note...

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I see your point. I would never go again if I had the opportunity. I actually was able to go home a transfer early "honorably". I wanted to get out as soon as possible. But I can't help but look at it with a positive light because my wife and I are going to be moving away from family soon and it'll be her first time she has been away from them. I had my almost 2 years and she has never been but 2 miles away from family. I look at my mission experience and a blessing because I was able to get away from the TBM family and see the world for what it was, and not for what I was told it is.
Knowing what I know now
Its a no-brained now that I should've done something else with my life than do a mission or anything for a church which purposely deceives its members. They used me to carry on the deceit. Today I had an experience I've never done since I got Off my mission. I visited Sac mtg at one of my mission areas. I'd estimate that attendance is down approx 40% in 2 decades.
Re: Knowing what I know now
Wow. That is crazy. I went back last year and one of my areas has now been dissolved into another ward, and still had less people in it than when I was there about a decade ago. Crazy how time changes things.
Oops no-brainer not no-brained
Elo, Jeho, and HG must be punishing me for using my iPhone to go on RFM ;)
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I think a lot of the "secular" stuff I learned on the mission could have been learned during my freshman year in college. The budgeting and interpersonal relationship stuff was learned because that's the age in our life that we are supposed to learn those things.

I do think that living in a foreign 3rd world country shaped my personality. I am sure I am a different person because of that 2 years in the Philippines. I know it led to the first uncomfortable feelings I had about TSCC. I knew most of the testimonies with "these were the best 2 years of my life" were either delusional or out right lies.

Most of us who went on a mission can't say for certain how our lives would be different without going. (Those with residual physical, emotional, or mental problems obviously can.) I am relatively happy with who I am as a person so I can't be too regretful of any of my past.

Would I go back knowing what I know and NOT go. Of course I wouldn't go, but still, I don't regret it.

Silk purse???
The problem with trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is that you usually wind up with a sow's ear.

The issue is not that we can find something positive about the mission experience. The issue is the PRICE of that positive experience. AT THE CORE a mission is about indoctrinating the missionary. Obviously there are lot more effective ways of selling the mormon church.

The impact on those who are "converted" is also at issue. Like any multi-level marketing program there are those who will have some benefit. BUT for those of us who have determined that the mormon church is not just devoid of value but also a dangerous cult. It is hard to justify the impact on the victims of this scheme.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I've struggled with this question for quite some time. I've been home now for a solid two years, but I feel like I'm still socially messed up and have self-confidence issues from my mission. I'm also mad knowing that had I not gone, I'd definitely be graduated from school by now.

I have to keep reminding myself that I'm still young, and that had I not gone I might have wasted an even larger chunk of my life in TSCC.

I DO have some fond memories of my mission and I met people that I still have special feelings for, but I hesitate to get in touch with those people because it could be really awkward to admit to them that I don't believe in TSCC anymore.

In terms of regrets, I really wish I had indicated a strong preference to learn a foreign language on my mission papers. I already knew quite a bit of spanish before my mission, and had I been called spanish speaking I have no doubt that I could speak the language fluently now.

Dave the Atheist
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
Not a waste.
Missionaries are trained to be expert salesmen.
If you can sell the faulty crap of mormonism then you can sell anything.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I think we can all safely say that a foreign mission was worth it and a stateside mission was not worth it.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I Sold automobiles for years and did well with it. I could say that it was my mission that helped me get good at it. Since I live in Utah, I had many people come in and purchase vehicles from me that were members. They gave me a hard time because I had facial hair and therefore didn't look like an RM. I even had one elderly gentleman that told me I am not a good member if I have facial hair. I told him my wife liked it so I kept it. He said that no wife should dictate her husband's life and that he should stand for good. He actually had the nerve to tell me my wife was not a good person and should not have any say! Well I told him that judgement like his according to his belief, he would be judged for. I told him off in other ways and he somewhat apologized afterwards. I have respect for the elderly, so I didn't give him too much crap. I just wish the respect was mutual.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
While individual circumstances may vary (such as being a foreign language missionary in an urban area of the east coast), I think that you're assessment is generally correct. I can't complain too much since I was in San Diego; I'm sure I would have been much more miserable in say, South Dakota or West Virginia.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I grew up in Wyoming, very bland. Always felt sorry for the missionaries assigned there. They always looked depressed.
Mine was worth it, but...
...that doesn't mean the church is true. I've spent several years living outside of the states and I probably would have never done any of that had I not been a missionary.

Of course, I could have just joined the Peace Corps (which is what I eventually did anyways). That way I could have avoided the negative things like nightmares, abusive companions and the horrible need to get good numbers, but I could have kept all of the good things as well.

In one sense, the bad parts of my mission were helpful. I had a horrible, mean, and overbearing mission president. It was hard being under him, but I did learn how to sell things to people who don't really want those things. That is a valuable skill, though I'm not sure I can say that it was worth it.

Re: Silk purse???
Fascinating take on a prickly issue. At what cost should we enjoy the benefit? It's not always so easy to answer. Thanks
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
They were both the most trying AND most interesting 2 years of my life. I was glad to get away from my family for 2 years, and I learned Spanish. That about sums it up.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
"Place rose colored glasses on your nose, and you will see the robins not the crows." Little Mary Sunshine from Chicago.

I personally gained a lot. I soaked up a culture other than my own, I learned a language, I found out my Utah town in the mountains was not the center of the universe after all. I found out that most everybody was more sophisticated than me.

I feel lucky to have no regrets over who I baptized. Turned out they were just hoping for financial aid and left right away. I helped somebody build a mud hut on my half day off. That is a highlight of my life that I would have had no other way, and, I am grateful for that.

I learned more from the people I met and conversed with than they ever did from me--thank evolution. So yes there is positive, but deep down I suppose I feel more torn about it, and tend to go with what satan's little helper said.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
I experienced all the pluses of a mission without going on a mission, plus I had none of the downside experiences.
Bottom line: A mission is not the only way to grow up (post-high school), see neat places, and learn new things (like a language).
For some it's college, the military, working, doing real service, or just traveling that accomplishes that.
Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
+1 I do believe that those who are predisposed to go after life's experiences voraciously, are going to soak it all up no matter what the circumstances or the surroundings. They can learn 10 new things just walking down the street.

Some people are thirsty for life and knowledge, and some are just horses that you can lead to water, but....

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
My mission was a non-waste, but not for the standard LDS reasons.

#1) While on my mission I learned that I was not the shy, useless person I had always been told I was; I actually liked people and could make friends.

#2) I met a fellow missionary with whom I became good friends. He remains my best friend to this day (I left my mission in 1983). He is now exmo as well.

#3) The time spent as a missionary finalized by realization that the LDS church was one of the biggest frauds ever put forth. (For me, this realization spread to include all of Christianity, as well.)

I suppose that "Mormon-wise" my mission was a complete failure, but I consider it a life success.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
A mission is kind of like a prostate exam, only painfully much longer, and no where near as useful.
I wouldn't change much about those 2 years.
I detested and I mean LOATHED mishie work.

I didn't want to go, but felt I had to for my mom.

TTFC I went to Japan. Honestly, I did the very least for the mormon church as I could get away with. I was able to enjoy Japan and see a bit more than the typical mishie because the guys that I was paired with usually felt the same way. I'd say out of all the fellows that I 'worked' with there were only 3-4 that were all gung-ho about mishie work. My time with them was wasted doing mishie work. The others all enjoyed life. There were 2 that I can think of that were a hoot. We didn't knock on a single door or stop a single person on the street. We taught the english class and had to suffer through the occasional lesson.

We took cooking classes, hung out at the local youth centers, went to the sports areas where they would play b-ball and I would sit and people-see. (not a sports-man) Some areas had the eternal investigators. We would waste a good amount of time at their house having lunches or would go on a sight seeing trip with them calling it "fellowshipping". God, in retrospect, we did an inordinate amount of time fellowshipping. We would set out to do what we called "train dendo" where we would buy the cheapest ticket and ride back and forth on the trains to the far outlying reaches of the mission and then end up back at our starting point thereby not costing more than a buck or two. We said that we'd talk to people on the train, but it was always just a "hello" type of thing. Never really tried to sell Smith & Co.

Hehehe. Thinking about it reminds me - it was a lot of fun.

John Wesley
I learned a lot during my two years as a missionary....
....because it was two years of doing things other than going to school. But I could have served the two years in the military, in employment, as a traveling salesman, in the Peace Corps, or in a penetintary, and I still would have had two years of new experiences from which I could have learned many lessons, including polishing up my interpersonal skills.

And any returned missionary who proclaims his mission was "the best two years of my life" has either had a pretty miserable life, or is lying for the sake of public consumption, most likely the latter.

I actually think serving two years in the Peace Corps would have been more profitable in terms of personal growth, and would benefit humanity more than an LDS mission. And if I had to do it over again, it would be the Peace Corps, if what I was interested in was actual "service to others".

I can't help but notice that while an LDS mission is always presented as some great kind of unselfish service, that RMs who defend the experience usually seem to view it through the lens of how it benefitted them personally.

New England Mission, 1971 - 1973.

I wish I hadn't been so gung ho. I should have enjoyed myself. 

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
yah, "my" LDS mission was a raging success, because it was my express ticket out of trance of MORmONISM, after seeing the pettiness, deceit, and pure EVIL that LDS inc really runs on! IF ONLY I HAD TAKEN IT MUCH SOONER!

it was also a success in the eyes of the Church /LDS INC.
because I baptized some ppl. and NOT necessarily because of Leadershit ( spelling intended) positions that I may or may not have obtained. OF course my friend who managed to become an AP would disagree with me, but thats just the difference between our personalities. Me being raised to silently and dutifully bear any burden of the church that might be thrust on my shoulders with out any hint of complaint or the slighest question about any rewards in return. After all, going back to the story of the pre mortal existence, all good MORmONS know what kind of person is concerned first and foremost with getting rewards ( SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!) Him, being raised with how he could benefit from any situation as his FIRST concern. Yah it was amazing how they made him ASSistant to the president in such short order. Sure it was sickening listen to him brag about it, but there was no time to be bothered by it because I had work to do, stuff like actually converting ppl! Instead of being a chessy ass big shot!

Funny thing, even years later, even as they made him a church leader, even as I was losing interest in the church let alone interest in being a leader in the church, my *friend* was still the same cheesy ass phony LYING POS that he had always been, in
fact it seemed like he was getting worse instead of getting better! Seeing how revisionist and phony the church really was, one day I was forced to ask myself why I really wanted to be a member, and as well to wonder how long it would be before LDS INC gave my cheesy ass phony POS friend an even higher leaderSHIT calling and in turn took away the only thing I really put any stock in any more far as the church was concerned, namely my convert.

Well, I didnt have to wait long. LDS INC promoted my *friend* again while they tried to excomm my convert over some very contrived BS, ironically my LDS leaderSHIT upwardly mobile friend had done far worse but somehow he was designate company man for LDS Inc.

I finally learned that I would never be able to work hard enough &/or LIE, CHEAT, STEAL hard enough to be a good MORmON
in the truest sense of MORmONISM, and that even if I could, I did not want to.

Yah I hated my mission, and IMO only a real MORmON/ LOSER would have to spend much time trying to convince themselves that it really was something good/ anything but a horrendous waste. ( I had a real life that I left behind for that LDS BS, maybe some ppl dont, my fault, I was fucking stupid enough to do it ! )

At best its like a successful cancer surgery.
sure I am glad to be rid of the cancer, but since I really did finally gain the ability to think above & beyond the poisoning of MORmONISM, I am well aware of the fact that I did
n't HAVE TO HAVE the mental cancer known as MORmONISM and that my life would have been better off with out having to spend? WASTE 2 decades of prime time adult living trying to dump the horrible disease known as MORmONISM.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
Mine was not. It was a good mission, but I served it in Italy in 1969. Times were good, missions were nice, the dollar went far, and our mission prez was a nice guy. I had a farewell in the chapel with my picture on a program, and got to speak all over the stake when I got back. It eventually landed me a job in Italy, too. Times are different now.
A lot of my wishy-washy behavior...
...was learned in the mission field. I was strong-willed and opinionated, even more so than I am now, before my mission. I lost the "filter" I had before I left because I had to wrap my brain around so many situations and companionships.

No, I don't regret it, I'm glad for the people I met and the overall experience of living in France but I gave up a huge part of myself and can't seem to get it back anymore.

Re: Mission not a waste? Anyone?
i wasted a lot of people's time in trying to convert them to the mormon cult, and during that time i felt i was wasting my own. looking back, i did learn a lot from my experiences. would i do it again? hell no.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"