Sin and Repentance in the Mission Field

This post first appeared, in slightly modified form, at the now-defunct Sons of Mosiah blog on July 15, 2004.

There are sins you confess to God, and there are sins you confess to the Bishop. In the mission field, there are sins you confess to God, and sins you confess to the Mission President. Getting the repentence process right is important, so understanding the difference between the various types of sin is crucial. My first mission president – bless his heart – wanted to be as helpful as possible to the missionaries as we tried to comprehend the whole process….

“I KNOW YOUR SINS!!” proclaimed “President C” at a Zone Conference. His teaching went something like this… Whenever a missionary commited a sin on the mission, that missionary had a choice: He could either confess his sin to the Mission President, or not. But a missionary’s decision to confess had no actual impact on President C’s knowledge of the confession-worthy act. For President C would “know” our sins, whether or not we chose to confess them! This superhuman power apparently came with the “mission president” job description. (Picture a sin committed, then beamed up to a satellite, then beamed back down into President C’s head). Thus, at the end of our missions, when we were undergoing our final exit interviews, President C would know exactly what we had and had not confessed to him. But would he confront each of us with our unacknowledged wrongdoings in our interviews? Of course not. Rather, he would just keep the information to himself, sign our temple recommends regardless, release us honorably, and then let our sins be on our own heads!

Now that we all “knew” there was no fooling President C with respect to whatever indiscretions we were committing, our incentives to fess up to all sorts of bad acts had changed. Or at least that was the idea. This teaching apparently had various comical repercussions, particularly in light of what President C defined as “sins.” For example, according to President C, “wet dreams” were against the Law of Chastity. (“Los suenos mojados son pecados.”). Rumor has it that more than one early morning telephone call was made to mission headquarters by elders who had awoken to discover their “sinfulness” and who wanted to confess their iniquities. But I digress.

Keeping track of all the potential sinful temptations on the mission was difficult. That’s where the “White Bible” came in. It listed lots of “do’s” and “don’ts” for the missionaries, and it could always be consulted with profit. Some of the prohibited activities seemed so obviously inappropriate, it was a wonder anyone felt the need to write them down. Others seemed so off-the-wall or obscure, it was a wonder any elder was ever in a position to commit them. (“Don’t help facilitate adoption proceedings?” “Don’t pilot or travel in small airplanes?” Huh?) But my trainer and I learned the hard way that if you’re not vigilantly assessing your compliance with the White Bible, you might forget a rule when it really matters.

Christmas Day, 1991. Elder “Z” and I were visiting mission headquarters for a zone conference. Elder Z wanted to spend time with a member family in one of his previous, nearby areas, so we arranged to have Christmas dinner with the family, along with the two sister missionaries currently assigned to the area. The four of us enjoyed a wonderful meal with these folks and afterwards, the man of the house wanted to show us something in a back room. We went to the rear of the residence, where this veteran of the Falkland Islands War showed us his impressive collection of firearms displayed on a back wall, many of which were clearly military issue.

“Do you want to go out back and fire my machine gun?” we were asked.

Elder Z and I were wide-eyed. “Sure,” exclaimed Elder Z with glee. He had never fired a machine gun before!

We promptly proceeded to the back yard, where a series of targets were set up for our amusement. We both took turns firing the machine gun. This was also the first time I’d ever handled a fully automatic weapon, and it was quite a thrill.

Eventually, we said our good-byes to the family, and all four missionaries started the long walk back to the bus-stop. Along the way, as Elder Z and I were talking, we suddenly noticed that the sisters were unusually quiet, each with a sullen and despondent look on her face.

“Sisters, what’s wrong?” asked Elder Z.

“Elders, you were firing a machine gun! That’s against the mission rules! The White Bible specifically says not to use guns!” They were right. There is a rule in the White Bible prohibiting the use of firearms! Elder Z and I had gotten so excited, we had completely forgotten about this rule.

Elder Z quickly turned to me and explained our predicament. “Elder Brown, it’s really important that we go and confess our sin to President C right away! If we don’t, the Lord will know what we’ve done, and we’ll feel guilty for the rest of our lives!” I didn’t say anything in response, but I remember feeling a bit less motivated to confess than my companion did.

And then it happened.

One of the sisters, having overheard what my companion said, turned to Elder Z and responded, “But Elder Z… President C already knows.”

Elder Z paused for a moment, and then replied solemnly, “Oh yeah, sister. I guess you’re right!”

I waited for what seemed like an eternity for Elder Z or the sister to acknowledge the joke, to make a sarcastic smirk, give an obligatory laugh, or even to roll their eyes. I wanted some sort of recognition that President C’s alleged omniscience wasn’t being taken seriously. It never came.

We boarded the bus and returned to our areas. Elder Z and I never talked about the incident ever again. As far as I could tell, Elder Z assumed that since President C already “knew” what we’d done, there was no hurry to tell him. And eventually, I figure he just forgot about the whole thing.

But I didn’t. Not any of it. You never forget your first voyage to the Twilight Zone.

Comments

  1. dang! I guess there are good things and bad things to being wet behind the ears. You are far more sincere in your testimony because it is not weighted down by years of careful scholarly study, but you are also more susceptible to… getting tricked.

  2. OK,

    I confess to having fired fully automatic weapons on my mission with a investigator. I even have pictures to prove it. Later a fully automatic weapon was fired at me from about 200 yards while I cycled my little heart out to get away. Neither were confessed to the MP. Do you think he knew already?

  3. Is it still against the rules to fire guns? My husband told me the missionaries were shooting shotguns at the ward service project last Saturday.

  4. One more reason to love my mission president, who gave me one of the greatest bits of church council I’ve received to date “Sometimes, Elder, Rules are meant to be broken.”

  5. Matt W., re “rules are meant to be broken”: A high priest group leader taught me a similar lesson. I was called to be ward mission leader, and I read in the handbook that I was to conduct a weekly “missionary correlation meeting” with representatives from each of the quorums and auxiliaries. I decided that maybe monthly instead of weekly was more my speed. So I asked the HP group leader if he would designate someone from his outfit to attend that meeting. He said, “What is that meeting? Never heard of it.” I said that it was in the handbook, and it was actually supposed to be weekly. He said, “Let me tell you something about that handbook: It was written by a bunch of Utah farmers with nothing better to do than to go to a ‘weekly missionary correlation meeting’.”

  6. Aaron,

    Your misison president sounds like a loon! Where I live, a past mission presideny would always tell the elders that if an investigator had a concern that they couldn’t seem to resolve after much trial and long suffering, that meant that the investigator was suffering from homosexual tendencies. No lie, I was in the room when he said it.

  7. I loved this, Aaron B. I, too, was on my mission Christmas 1991. But I never had occasion to be tempted by a machine gun. The closest thing we ever had a chance to wield were machetes. But I’ve since repented. [wink]

    This post reminded me of hearing apocryphal stories of President Packer visiting various missions and telling the elders that he could tell whether they were worthy or not. What an awful burden to carry! Knowing my owns sins is plenty for me to deal with during the day.

  8. This was hilarious. I think I may have at least come close to being that naive at one point.

    On my mission I rode a horse once. Funny that when it happened, I too was so excited that I completely forgot that the “white bible” specifically mentioned not riding horses. Oh the days…..

  9. This “I know anyway” approach sounds like an interesting way for a president to keep savvy missionaries from confessing.

  10. Funny story. Better to not read the rules so you can’t sin against the Light of the Mission President.

  11. The guilt starts young…

  12. My grandfather gave me just one rule, just before I left.

    “Make dam sure you’ve got some good stories to tell when you get home.”

    Now, I’m not sure what earth or concrete structures meant to hold back water have to do with his rule, but it was a good one.

    So, when presented with a situation, I didn’t have to check the White Handbook. All I had to do was see if it might be good for a lesson later on in my life.

    Q. Should I accept this invitation to be Preacher of the Hour at the United House of Prayer for All People Apostolic Faith Holiness Church of the Lord Incorporated?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Should I let the landlord kidnap us and take us two missions away for a Civil War battle reenactment?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Should I “poach” this investigator from two stakes away, teach him six discussions in one day and then play basketball with him and the member who asked us to come teach in his home?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Should I teach a discussion to this very attractive lifeguard? At the pool on her work break? With her member friend present?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Should I get on the chaplain’s staff at this hospital, and spend quality time indoors, in the air conditioning, each afternoon?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Should I tell the mission president about all this?
    A. Why would he want to know?

    All in all, it was a great rule.

  13. The white bible said we were supposed to sleep in the same room as our companion but in different beds. It’s kind of a long story, but one night my companion and I ended up sleeping in the same bed, but in different rooms.

    I have lived with the guilt of that for years and I would call up my mission president and confess it to him today, but I am pretty sure he would have no idea who I am.

    Also I honestly cannot remember my mission president’s first or last name.

  14. Latter-day Guy says:

    This post is another data point supporting my belief that the church must be true, because if it weren’t, the full-time missionary program would’ve derailed it long ago. I’m SO glad I had the mission president I had; some of my friends relate horror stories from their missions that would have brought my mission experience to an immediate close.

  15. alextvalencic says:

    Neither one of my mission presidents ever claimed omniscience. However, I remember a time under my first MP that there were two elders who had broken some major rules and he found out. He called them into the mission office and sat them in separate rooms. He then told each that he had been told about some transgressions, but he wanted to give them the chance to confess.

    Each missionary was given a piece of paper, a pen, and the direction to record every transgression he had committed while with his companion. At the end, the MP said, “Oh, and I am telling your companion the same thing, so I’ll know if you lie to me.”

    Turned out that they had done some things that President didn’t know about, and he had to send them home. Yikes.

    I’ve always found it interesting how some missionaries want to confess every bad thought they’ve had to the MP, and others do every bad thing they can and don’t say a word. I am pretty certain that most of us fit somewhere in the middle.

  16. alextvalencic says:

    On an unrelated note, I find myself wondering if Aaron purposely spells repentance the way he does…

  17. This is truly hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Ah, this is why I miss Sons of Mosiah. Excellent blog that was.

  19. Personally, I always thought the no firearms rule was kind of silly, especially considering we’re part of a culture that considers the second amendment to be sacrosanct. Nearly every missionary I knew from the Utah-Idaho morridor broke that rule. I even broke it once, and I don’t even like guns.

    I was told once that every rule in the white bible, as well as supplemental mission rule, had some poor elder’s name behind it. I’d guess the no-gun rule has several elders’ names (and bullet-riddled feet) behind it.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Wait…riding horses was against the rules? Damn, another rule broken, and I didn’t even know it.

    I love how the MP thought his omniscience spiel would encourage confession, when just a little thought would have suggested the possibility it could work in precisely the opposite direction.

  21. Left Field says:

    I didn’t remember a specific rule against guns. I probably just skimmed over that one, since there was about as much chance of me firing a gun as flying to the moon. Same with riding horses, although I do remember that someone once offered to let us ride his horses. I was actually contemplating whether I might want to consider sitting on such a large animal when my companion responded that it was against the rules. My companion was an experienced horseman, and unlike me, had actually paid attention to the horse rule. Until then, I had no idea there was a rule about horses.

  22. I had carte blanche in one little town in Chile to do anything that would help the Church PR-wise. That’s how I became the starting power forward for the local Naval basketball team in one of my areas.

    As I recall, we were booed from the opening tipoff and they were throwing lit cigarette butts at the gringos. I think that’s when I decided that “screw it, we’re putting on a show.” My companion and I combined for 48 points (including dunks on 9-foot rims) and we — I mean, the Navy — won by 30. I think they banned gringos after that.

  23. Wow, alextvalncic, good catch! I misspelled it “repentence” in the original post, and when I brought the post over here, I didn’t catch the error. I’m sure this has some deeper meaning — probably that I’m a sociopath with no idea what it means to truly repent.

  24. “I was told once that every rule in the white bible, as well as supplemental mission rule, had some poor elder’s name behind it.”

    Yeah, I’m the reason they introduced a rule in the early ’70’s that missionaries are not to go tubing. Me and the sister that fractured some vertebrae in her back.

    I do remember doing wheel stands on a motorcycle in the church parking lot after Sunday School…..

  25. alextvalencic says:

    Sorry, Aaron, I don’t mean to be a grammar nazi or anything. Just catch things like that. I blame teaching elementary school children. Or my mum.

    I had one companion who pointed out that the “sleep in the same room but not the same bed” rule only applied to one’s companion. He then promptly jumped into the bed with one of the elders with whom we shared an apartment and went to sleep.

  26. My two companions in the MTC (we were a triple companionship (I was gonna say “in a 3-some,” but that would’ve been ambiguously gay)) put a mattress on the floor and slept in the same bed one evening, just so they could say they broke that particular White Bible rule at least once on the mission. I helpfully pointed out that if they were so deadset on telling people they’d slept in the same bed, they could just say so without actually doing it. (That last sentence is also ambiguously gay. Sorry).

  27. But Aaron, then they would be lying about breaking a rule. Is there no honor among thieves?

  28. Aaron, what do you think are the chances that the sisters and your companion in the story, and other missionaries in your mission, actually believed the mission president’s statement about already knowing their sins?

    Also, do other missionaries from your mission remember the mission president saying that — it would be so interesting to hear from another missionary from your mission on their impression of what the mission president said and how it was interpreted in the mission.

  29. esodhiambo says:

    I am going to send my bishop a link, because if he could get some ward members to believe that he already knows everything, I bet he could spend a lot more time with his family. Seems like a win-win.

    I had a super-special mission with an appendix of extra rules inserted into the white handbooks; since it was photocopied on green paper, we called it the green bible. Was it just my mission where we read through the entire tome as part of companionship study once a week?

    bbell–I’d say that was karma. Or maybe your mission president was the one shooting at you.

  30. No worries for you Kevin. Old guys like you who went pre-car, horses were totally allowed for transportation. Just not bareback though – you might enjoy that too much and open up a whole new category of sin.

    My mission president was alright. His advice was “you know right from wrong Elder, act accordingly.”

  31. TStevens, judging from my own experience with a fresh mission president, MPs say that when they’re new and then by the time they go home, they’ve adopted all of the rules of their predecessors plus some new ones, each of which has “some poor elder’s name behind it.”

  32. AB, I knew before you wrote this post that you would honorably avoid the vile misuse of the term mission field (i.e., “everywhere except Utah”).

    This righteousness covereth a multitude of sins.

  33. In my Mission although riding Horse was prohibited via the White Handbook, there was no specific Rule against riding an Ostrich. Most of the missionaries I know from South Africa have at least one shot of themselves on the back of an ostrich with a look of terror on their face.

  34. It’s nice to know that some people’s mission presidents were even more crazy than mine.

  35. john f., you callin’ me a liar? :)

    Seriously, this happened very early on in my mission, before I had the ability to understand Spanish well at all. Thus, if I were basing this just on my own memory of what the president said, I would consider it pretty unreliable. Also, missionaries like to play practical jokes on each other all the time, claiming the existence of non-existent rules, etc.

    That said, when the events I describe above actually transpired (“yeah sister, I guess you’re right!”), this seemed to confirm that a number of missionaries bought into it. How many did I cannot say, of course. I certainly wasn’t one.

  36. It’s obviously fun to make fun of stupid rules, but stupid rules exist due to stupid missionaries (usually elders) who literally need to be instructed in all things.

    That said, I’ve always thought that the rules don’t really work. The people you do worry about with these rules probably aren’t paying attention to them, and the people you don’t worry about are probably paying too much attention to them, stressing out if they get in 5 minutes after curfew. It’s the same problem I have with the perpetual preaching about home teaching to the men who show up for Stake Priesthood Meeting: if they bothered showing up to this meeting, they probably they aren’t your target audience.

  37. In other words, yes, I am absolutely, positively, unquestionably sure that Elder Z and the sister were SERIOUS when they said what they said. It was very clear, from context, that this wasn’t a joke. Neither would have ever joked about something like this — both were much, much too uptight.

  38. re: the “same room but not the same bed” rule

    I was once assigned to a huge area where the MP had decided to put four missionaries in a ward that previously only had two. The two missionaries already there lived in a separate apartment above a member’s home. The MP half-heartedly suggested that we get our own apartment, but that we could stay with those missionaries until we did. In six months, we never got around to getting that second apartment. Our living situation was too convenient (the members were great to us) and fun (living with another companionship was always better than being with your companion alone). The apartment was outfitted with one set of bunk beds and absolutely no room for any other bedding. So my junior companion slept in the top bunk with the other junior and I slept in the bottom bunk with the zone leader (the bottom bunk was wider so we pulled rank). Whenever another missionary would give me a weird look when they realized that we had to be sleeping in the same bed with another missionary, I would just say “I’m not sleeping in the bed with my companion!”

  39. awesome. And yes, 4 elders living together is a blast! There’s a reason that’s generally prohibited.

  40. My favorite boarding was a three bedroom house with a garage and backyard. 3 companionships shared this lovely abode. There was even 2 full baths. It even had a garden with grapes and oranges in the back. It was really nice.

  41. What does Elder Z think about it these days, I wonder?

    Sorry to hear you had an abusive mission president.

  42. alextvalencic says:

    Four missionaries in an apartment is generally prohibited? I had no idea. It was the standard in my mission (Victorville, California – okay, actually the California San Bernardino Mission, but I changed the name after spending almost 18 months in Victorville… but I digress…)

    There were only two times during my entire mission that my companion and I had our own apartment. It was uber-boring. Especially when we were the only companionship in the High Desert on bikes and had to bum rides off of members and other companionships to do just about anything…

  43. alex, when I was in a foursome, we’d invite a third pair of elders over on Sunday nights for “P-Day Eve,” and then we’d have a six-some with all night Risk parties. Ah, those were the days.

    john f., I dunno, as Z was Argentine, and I haven’t talked to him since. However, he was a convert to Mormonism from Pentecostalism, so he was prone to belief in many strange things, some of which I’ll detail in a later post.

  44. I got a new MP a few months before the end of my mission. He never claimed omniscience, but his interviews were up close and personal. He’d place two chairs facing each other, but offset, so that the right front legs of the chairs touched. Sitting in the chairs, we’d be sitting practically face-to-face. I think the idea was that he could look us right in the eyes, and we would know that he was looking into the depths of our souls!

    Many in the mission loved their interviews with the new MP. I found it creepy. I didn’t buy the idea that he could see my soul. I certainly couldn’t see his. I could probably have lived with it, though, if he hadn’t rested his hand on my knee through through the whole thing.

    I decided one interview with him was enough. I did get a temple recommend before I came home, but I can’t remember how…

  45. Grant, my mission president was a great guy and it was the end of his mission, not the beginning. He didn’t say that to every Elder though. “That” being you know right from wrong etc…

    My second MP was retired military and was a work hard/play hard sort of guy. He was great for different reasons.

    In comparing my two mp’s I would say the first was focused on developing the spiritualty of each individual missionary above all else. If you do that the work will take care of itself. The second was work your butt off every day and then go twice as hard the next. If you do that the spirit of the individual missionary would grow on its own.

    I liked the second system better as it fitted my personality, but I needed the first way more as a person. So 21 months with MP1 helped me tremndously and 3 months with MP2 at the end was blast to finish up with.

  46. living in zion says:

    Being a girl and following the instructions given to YW, I got married instead of going on a mission. Being the mother of 3 children, I instantly recognized the mission presidents technique. All mothers claim psychic abilities to divine which of their offspring did wrong.

    The difference between the missionaries who believe the magic vs those who don’t probably has to do with how good a detective their mothers were. If their mother’s claimed the power and then didn’t notice crimes, it would dilute the ability of that technique to work in the future.

    Poor Mission President! Mother’s only use that technique out of desperation. He must have been feeling really threatened. Thank goodness some of the kids were able to see it for what it was.

  47. Loving some of these stories and rekindling some great memories. However, without threadjacking here, isn’t there a real issue at large here?

    We send out 19 year old kids (thats what they are!). Most haven’t served in any capacity before, they enter into the MTC where it is hammered home that the Mission President is almost a divine being (no blasphemy intended). This results in them believing in anything that comes out of the Mission Presidents mouth as from The Lord himself. In one way I admire the missionaries loyalty to what they feel is right but the MP has to be so very careful.

    Over the past year I have seen in my ward missionaries who have been constantly told that they are “the best trained, best teachers, best Elders we have ever had!” I think this “building up” has resulted in recent abrupt approaches to ward leaders for meetings to be held at certain times, for baptismal services content to be designated by them and a host of other areas.

    Perhaps I miss the point but I think the two are related and when a 19 year old kid is told by his MP that he is the “best” he believes it sometimes with negative consequences

  48. Latter-day Guy says:

    43: “P-Day Eve”

    We called it that in my mission too! I’ve never heard it anywhere else. Any other RMs here remember using that term?

  49. Yep. Served in Japan in mid 90’s and used that term. We always had fierce UNO competitions.

  50. We called it P-Day Eve too. There was a lot of mission lingo as I recall. It was almost its own language.

  51. Hmmm……1991? machine gun?

    That rule wasn’t actually in force then under President Benson -cause he was a Republican!

  52. 47 Deaco,

    I agree, that seems to be the downer of this rising of the bar idea. The current missionaries now think they are better than any previous generation.

  53. We not only called it P-day eve, but for about three months straight, we had the other four elders in our city join the six of us in our apartment for the celebrations.

    Our rationalization was that the rules said to be in bed at 10:00, but nothing about getting up at 10:01 to honor the occassion.

  54. Thanks for the link, Aaron. We really should do something to make the ol’ Sons of Mosiah site more presentable. Glad to see we don’t have people taking offense like we did the first time you posted this story…

  55. As heretical as this may seem, I had a mission president who had the uncanny ability to know things somehow, even when they transpired hundreds of miles away from him. According to some elders in my mission, four of them were living in a small house and they all got on each other’s nerves. They got in a pretty decent fight during companion study (holes in walls, broken lamps, that sort of thing) and right in the middle, the telephone rang. They froze, one of them got the phone, and it was the mission president. He asked them in his ominous voice if everything was absolutely all right between the four elders. He repeatedly denied any strife in the home. Finally, the mission president simply said, “All right,” and hung up.

    Needless to say, they were creeped out.

    As for the sleeping in the same room but not in the same bed, when in a triple companionship, we squeezed three beds into our tiny bedroom and because of lack of room, they were touching edge to edge, wall to wall. When the zone leaders came over that transfer, they warned us we were perilously close to breaking that rule. So we tiered them (one bed had two mattresses, one bed had one mattress, and the other bed had just a boxspring).

  56. No machine guns for me when I was on my mission (Germany South/Germany Munich in mid-70’s). But while being assigned to an American branch – US Army, a member gave me and my companion (his dad was a Naval test pilot who died on active duty) a grenade “simulator”. Something equvalent to a very very big M-80.
    We had gone out into the neighboring farmland after visiting them and decided to throw it. Didn’t need matches since it had a magnesium strip igniter. First time didn’t pull the strip hard enough and it didn’t go off. Found ourselves on a moonless night looking by touch and feel in the rows of this field. Found it, pulled it hard enough, threw it and when it went off, thought the world had ended since we were both blinded by the flash.

    Yeah, real stupid but a memory for sure.

  57. Bob–You’re alive!! Yay!! Don’t just clean up Sons of Mosiah, resurrect it. Where’s Logan?

  58. Kevin Barney says:

    You just know that someone from the Missionary Committee is going to read this thread, and then the new edition of the White Bible is going to have all sorts of specific new rules, like “no grenade similators.”

  59. Missionary Committee: please add a rule banning the use of pistol crossbows for any purpose.

  60. Hi Kristine!

    Wow, what an idea, resurrecting Sons of Mosiah… that would be interesting, considering plenty has changed between then and now.

    In any event, Logan’s around too. In fact, we just started a podcast up together (a resurrection of sorts?) but the topics are more a mix of politics, tech, and pop culture (your favorite, Kristine, haha).

    We’re recording episode 3 (the podcast is called “Practically Ideal”) this week and, teaser alert, will be tackling the issue of same-sex marriang (among other things).

    We’ll soon have something setup at PracticallyIdeal.com but for now, check out our two blogs for more info (that is, if you’re interested :-)): lbeaux.com and bobcaswell.com.

  61. Geez, what a typo: that was supposed to be same-sex marriage.

  62. alextvalencic says:

    Ah, P-Day Eve… There was a time during my mission when the mountains around San Bernardino were all on fire… The elders in Lake Arrowhead and the other mountain resorts had to be evacuated. One of these elders happened to be one of the missionaries who had become a really good friend of mine (and my companion). And he just happened to directed to come stay with us (it was one of those times when we were the only companionship in the apartment).

    This elder came over and insisted that we have a P-Day Eve Mattress Party. It consisted of hauling the mattresses out of the two bedrooms and laying them out in the front room. We then stayed up all night. (We still got up on time, though!)

    Can’t wait until I see “grenade simulators”, “the use of casual lingo, such as ‘P-Day'”, and “sleeping in the same bed with anyone else” in the White Handbook.

  63. Missionaries are weird creatures. All the missionaries I served with seemed insistent that they pretty much needed to confess everything they’d ever confessed over again and that they also had to confess all the mission rules they’d broken since their last confessional six weeks prior. The reason that the repentance process for sleeping in required priesthood keys always eluded me.

  64. Antonio Parr says:

    Although I admit that the humorous accounts outlined above made me chuckle, and although I admit that I can now look upon the odd parts of mission life with the perspective that comes from years, I must confess to not being amused and being downright concerned about my own children experiencing the needless nonsense that seems to go hand-in-hand with missionary life. At its best, missionary life is a sublime spiritual experience. It its worse, there are farcical elements that seem almost sadistically cruel to the sincere young elder or sister who simply wants to serve God and fellow humans. Surely there must be a way of magnifying the former and minimizing the latter of these two extremes.

  65. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Surely there must be a way of magnifying the former and minimizing the latter of these two extremes.”

    I hope so, but I have no idea what it is. Much of one’s mission experience is dependent on the MP, who––in an organization where local leaders have broad latitude in the manner they administrate a congregation/stake––have even greater scope for enforcing their preferences/acting on personal inspiration.

    One day, it would be nice for there to be wider possibilities as to the kind of mission you serve: welfare, health, service, performance, proselytizing, temple, CES, etc. Seniors do have a lot of choice in the matter, and sister missionaries do to some extent, but no so much for the Elders. I think broadening some of these possibilities might allow missionaries to make greater use of their individual gifts and interests in building the kingdom.

  66. How very interesting. At the very least, my mission is sure to be interesting.

    This just helps me appreciate all the more, in some weird way, what the missionaries do, that they continue on in faith in the midst of some sometimes almost seemingly illogical regulations.

    It is because of such sacrifice that I am even on this blog, that I am even in this Church. Yah, I was the one who choose to listen and what not, but that may have never happened without the Elders sending me a message from God. I wasn’t looking for Him in any case.

    But now I’m reminiscing and I’m going to get all mushy. Forgive my ramblings.

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