Missionary Memories and Regrets: Reflections after 10 Years

Look at my head of hair!

Look at my head of hair!

This Sunday marks my 10th anniversary of entering the MTC. This was back before they made you say goodbye to your family at the curbside, so I have vivid memories of sitting in the large room, watching the short video of missionaries singing “Called To Serve,” parents walking out one door while missionaries walked out another, and absolutely everyone weeping uncontrollably. (It’s probably for the best that saying goodbye is now like ripping off a bandaid.) While my opinion of my mission in particular and LDS missions in general have changed over the years—for instance, whoever thinks those were truly “the best two years” must have had a lousy post-mission life—I am still very grateful for my time spent in the Washington DC North Mission, for the people I worked with, and especially the people I served.

As I’m sure is the case with everyone, I have mixed memories. So without further ado, below are 10 of my favorite Mission moments, followed by 10 of my most painful regrets.

Top 10 Memories

  1. Don't tell Stapley, but I cut my infant history teeth on Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    Don’t tell Stapley, but I cut my infant history teeth on Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    Reading, reading, reading. I was one of those nerdy missionaries who woke up early to read, made a quick meal so I could read during lunch, and then stay up to read late into the night. I read through all the missionary books within the first few weeks after the MTC, and then quickly worked through a lot of classics (Parley Pratt’s autogiography, Lucy Mack Smith’s memoirs), BYU RelEd books (a good number of edited collections on the JST, Church History, FARMS stuff), Nibley stuff (Approaching Zion, Temple and the Cosmos), before finally landing on academic Mormon history stuff that grabbed my attention and never let go. After my mission president made a moratorium on non-missionary library books, I had to be more creative: at one point, I was using a flashlight under my covers while reading Thomas Alexander’s biography of Wilford Woodruff so that my companion didn’t catch me.

  2. The few times I actually tried thinking outside the box. (Something my mission president strongly encouraged.) I hated tracting and street contacting, but it was often extremely difficult to come up with other things to do. The rare occassions my companion and I were actually creative included doing a community movie night (with The Other Side of Heaven), setting up a lemonade stand near Georgetown, and running a family history booth outside of Walmart. We had limited success with these events, but I still think the future of missionary work relies on innovative techniques and an increase in service projects.
  3. With the Lau family after their sealing in the DC temple.

    With the Lau family after their sealing in the DC temple.

    Very few people are as vehemient in their hatred for tracting as I am, yet my biggest success as a missionary came through knocking on doors. The Lau family, some of the sweetest people I ever met, invited us in and allowed us to teach them. (The wife was a member who had fallen off the church records, the husband was a very kind Protestant.) A month later was the baptism, and a year later was their sealing. I will never forget the feeling of seeing them kneel around the alter in the DC Temple, their little toddler both antsy and awe-struck at what was going on.

  4. The general excitement for and unadulterated trust in the power of the gospel.
  5. This is about when my history nerdness hit an apex.

    This is about when my history nerdness during the mission hit an apex.

    Touring the D.C. Freemasonry Temple. Way cool. In fact, touring a lot of places in DC was a blast.

  6. Getting to know so many fabulous members. One in particular, JS Armstrong, acted like a godfather for every single missionary in the area: he would go on splits, help with teaching, take elders out to lunch (long live Continental Subs by the temple!), give birthday presents, and even gave Brooks Brothers ties to every departing missionary. We would always joke that he was John the Beloved, and I still haven’t been convinced to believe otherwise.
  7. My mission president was very forward thinking, and wanted to break the mold of tracting so he organized a lot of mission service projects. The one that I remember the most was a community project where half of our mission teamed up with a dozen other church organizations to clean up one of the housing projects in southeast DC. (It looked like “The Pit” on The Wire!) At the BBQ that followed the cleaning, my mission president went on stage with the leaders of all the other church involved, who were mostly charismatic black ministers. The MC of the occassion seemed to be handing out promotions to the various leaders, granting one minister the label of “Seventy” and another, “Deacon.” (I’m still not sure how ecclesiology in these churches worked…) After he declared another reverend an “Apostle,” my mission president, the best PR guy I’ve ever met, said, “I’ve always wanted to be an apostle!” The MC then did his thing, bestowed the apostleship on our mission president, and the latter said, “With all the authority you can muster, I accept!” We missionaries thought it was hilarious, but the important thing was it built some strong relations with the neighborhood and its leaders in ways that only our continued tracting could destroy.
  8. Becoming more aware of racial assumptions and backgrounds. For instance, being introduced to both black Jesus and black Santa, and realizing that my previous connection of both figures to whiteness was culturally conditioned. This may seem like a very simple, jejune point, but it actually rocked my sense of self and started an ideological transformation that continues today.

    102_5918

    You can’t tell because of the smile, but Black Santa caused me an existential crisis.

  9. Going to dinner appointments with lots of members in a wide diversity of different settings and wards. It was by meeting different families and being exposed to different traditions and environments that I was better able to craft what I wanted in my own family and home—all of which I have mostly changed since then, but still.
  10. Failing to learn the French language. This might seem like a regret, but I really cherished the experience. For a few reasons too complicated to detail here, I was switched into the French program after I had been in the mission for about ten months, even though I didn’t know any French works beyond bonjour. For the next five months, I served the population of African immigrants while floundering with their language. (I was then given another assignment that mercifully ceased my language training until I could resume it at BYU post-mission.) The combination of being humbled by my lack of language skills (never had I failed so completely!) and working with such a humble group of people taught me more lessons than the rest of my time in DC.

Top 10 Regrets

  1. I'm also disappointed I didn't pick up the rural Maryland accent.

    I’m also disappointed I didn’t pick up the rural Maryland accent.

    Being too concerned to not overstep the four-hour limit for weekly community service. Ammon would have been disgusted.

  2. Acting like a jerk to a couple of my companions when they were struggling with mission life. “Just suck it up and get lost in the work!”—something I said far too often.
  3. Not keeping a better journal during the last year of my mission. I was fairly regular in the first year, but totally sucked after my “hump” mark. I tried to make up for it by writing 20 pages on the planeride home, but I’m sure I still missed a lot of important things I wish I’d have remembered.
  4. Losing contact with a lot of the members, converts, and investigators I worked with.
  5. Not taking rogaine before it was too late. Seriously, the before/after shots of my hair are more-than-moderately depressing.
  6. Me pretending to "dust off my feet" outside a megachurch that was famous for showing "The Godmakers." Not one of my finest moments.

    Me pretending to “dust off my feet” outside a megachurch that was famous for showing “The Godmakers.” Not one of my finest moments.

    Not thinking highly of different religions, and falling in the missionary trap that anyone with half a brain and familiarity with the Bible would recognize Mormonism as the true church. I soon learned that “bible bashing” wasn’t productive and thus avoided it for much of the second half of my mission, but that was because I thought the “bible thumpers” were too stubborn and not because I realize it was I who was ridiculously stubborn.

  7. Failing to develop good cleaning habits. I mean, I know most Mormon missionaries live in filth, but I look back on a lot of my living habits and shudder.
  8. Doing the Galon of Milk Challenge. That was truly a mistake.
  9. Becoming too frustrated with investigators when they did not fit my own timetable for conversion. It is silly to look back on now, but at the time I was convinced that if I presented the gospel in a particular way, shared a particular series of scriptures, and testified at particular times it would be common sensical for the person to drop all previous ideas, change many of their cultural habits, and declare, “By golly, let’s run down to the river right now!”
  10. Becoming obsessed with a tremendously embarassing category we missionaries called “deep doctrine,” which I truly thought was both the “meat” and the “core” of the gospel. A lot of us carried our own “deep doctrine” binders with photocopies of photocopies explaining the mysteries of the universe, from transcripts of Cleon Skousen’s atonement talk to 100-year-old-reminiscences of where Joseph Smith said the Lost Tribes lived. (The stars, of course!) One of these years I hope to revisit that binder, which I keep under lock and key at my parents’ house, and do a material history of Mormon missionary exotic beliefs, but I don’t have the courage to do so until there are perhaps two decades of separation between me and that nonsense.

So those are just a few things that came to my mind this morning. What are your favorite memories and worst regrets from your mission?

Comments

  1. Awesome reflections, Ben; thanks very much for sharing them! You had a more positive mission experience than I, but I can relate to, commiserate with, and envy much of what your describe here. I too have long since lost track of many friends and fellow members in South Korea, and that’s something I regret. I deeply envy the access you had to scholarly books, and the chance you had to read them. Our occasional dinner appointments with members were real cultural highlight for me as well. And, just so you know: The Gallon of Milk challenge was alive and well amongst the elders of Seoul West in 1989.

  2. My hourlong commute is going to be filled with similar reflections. We share many similar experiences. I loved the simple trust that I had in everything working out. I also miss the camaraderie of being with fellow missionaries.

    I wish that I had learned it’s ok to take a break or a sick day. I also wish that I had been more patient with companions whose strengths were different than mine. Thanks for posting, Ben!

  3. “I was convinced that if I presented the gospel in a particular way, shared a particular series of scriptures, and testified at particular times it would be common sensical for the person to drop all previous ideas, change many of their cultural habits, and declare, ‘By golly, let’s run down to the river right now!’”

    Pretty sure those who campaigned on behalf of Joseph Smith’s presidential bid had similar feelings.

  4. I regret that the milk in Japan tasted awful and did not come in containers larger than a liter. I don’t regret that I never tried to drink a gallon of the stuff at once.

    I regret that the climate in Japan wasn’t as nice as the climate in Hawaii, where I spent two months at the Language Training Mission. I don’t regret that I served my mission before the MTC, and that I avoided the “everybody bawl now” separation meeting, and the segregated cafeteria–we ate at the CCH cafeteria with all the college students.

    I regret that I didn’t keep a journal. And, having seen what I did write back then, I’m glad that I didn’t keep a journal. (But I wish I had put a little more detail into my letters.)

  5. I had a wonderful mission, even though I wouldn’t call it the best 18 months of my life. There was more enjoyment and happiness than heartache and disappointment.

    Things I treasure: having the lovely Marlin K. Jensen as my mission president for the first half of my mission, being near many of the early Church historical sites, tracting (believe it or not! I was a very successful tracting missionary – at least, I always seemed to know where to go to meet someone who needed to hear what we had to say although we had very few return visits. I also loved the truly weird and wonderful conversations I had many times while tracting), and most of all, the feeling that I was EXACTLY where God wanted me to be at that time. That is a feeling I have had only a couple of times since.

    Thing I regret most: being so judgmental. I tried really hard not to be, and I definitely tried hard not to treat people badly, but sometimes I just wanted to shake people and say, “WAKE UP! CAN’T YOU SEE THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO LIVE YOUR LIFE!?!?!?!” I wish I had just taken people for what they were instead of envisioning what they should have been. I’m kind of ashamed of some of the dismissive and contemptuous conversations I had with various companions after visiting members or investigators who, I now realize, were just not in the right place to do what I thought they should be doing.

    Really, though, my mission was great and continues to influence my life. I am still in touch with several of my companions and members and converts I met during that time, and I still love to get the annual Christmas card from one man I taught in which he proudly informs me each year that he is still a non-smoker.

  6. I was serving in Birmingham, England around the same time that you were out. Your post brought back a lot of similar memories.

    Fond memories
    1. Learning to love people where they are at, even if that meant my companion who just wanted to play rummy all day with the Scooby-Doo soundtrack on repeat.
    2. Finding out that as I was there to share my testimony with so many others, I was much more fascinated in finding out how others believed and lived their faith.
    3. Inadvertently picking up a British cadence to my speech. It’s all gone now but it was fun while it lasted.

    Regrets
    1. Not being great at staying in touch with the people I had served with and amongst.
    2. Getting so caught up in worrying about money in the beginning. I spent a lot mental energy thinking about what would happen if I didn’t have enough.
    3. Saving every little scrap of everything that I was given. I am still de-hoarding 10 years later.

  7. The realization that the mission was about charity and not necessarily obedience completely changed my mission. Not that I was a disobedient missionary, I just became less concerned with my own spirituality and instead focused on those I was trying to reach.

    That being said, I did once share the worst thing I ever did on my mission:

    http://www.nine-moons.com/?p=298

  8. I love these posts. It’s so interesting to see both the huge variety and sameness in mission experiences. Each mission is its own little world with its own peculiar worldview, history, natural laws, customs, etc.

    Never did the milk challenge, because French milk was UHT and shelf stable, came in a 6-pack of rectangles that didn’t need refrigeration. It was never even mentioned in my mission. My sister, an avid violinist who served in a different French mission at the same time I did, sent me a tape once. She said they were going to “do the Molleroff” which I assumed was some classical violin piece/composer I’d never heard of… but turns out to have been a French analogue to the milk challenge.

    I also was a huge mission reader, also highly formative, which I’ve got a good (and longish) story about. Perhaps I’ll post it in the next few days.

  9. it's a series of tubes says:

    3. Inadvertently picking up a British cadence to my speech. It’s all gone now but it was fun while it lasted.

    This I understand well; I was in Birmingham about five years ahead of you.

  10. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    In the Guatemala-Quetzaltenango mission, it was the Gallon of Water challenge that could rearrange your insides.

  11. Tim, that story never gets old.

    Fond memories for me:
    1. Great people and friends. Investigators, members, companions, roommates. Facebook has allowed me to get in touch with many, many people I wouldn’t otherwise have a means of contacting.
    2. A family we found that became (and remain) like family to me. One went on to serve a mission.
    3. The food. Oh, the food.
    4. Telling the APs to shove it when they wanted me to pressure my investigators into moving their baptism up by a week just so the mission could meet its monthly baptismal goal.

    Regrets:
    1. Not realizing until later in my mission that God called me on a mission because I was me, he didn’t want a robot, he wanted me with my testimony/personality/quirks/humor/faith/etc. Learning a new language kind of “erased me” for a while until I was able to express myself more easily.
    2. Not standing up to ridiculous aspects of mission culture, i.e., “exact obedience” to mission rules such as enter the apartment at 9:30; at 9:29 you’re slacking off, at 9:31 you’re disobedient. Guilt is generally not a healthy motivator, and much of the guilt missionaries heap upon themselves is unnecessary.
    3. Somehow believing that God is merciful to forgive our investigators, but will punish us and allow those searching for the truth to wallow in unbelief if we break even a simple rule.
    4. Not telling my trainer that he looked like an idiot as he literally ran from person to person on the street, breathlessly asking everyone if they wanted to hear our message. He had just returned from ZL training where the president told them we needed a “sense of urgency” about our work. As people would explain they already had a church, or didn’t have time, he would cut them off mid-sentence and run to the next person. I told one confused man, “Sorry, he has to go to the bathroom a lot.”

    Okay, so regret #4 is really more of a fond memory.

  12. marginalizedmormon says:

    left on the mission almost 40 years ago–
    regret not having been able to ‘serve’–
    regret that more than anything–

    regret not having been more like the elder who told me when he found me crying behind a mobile chalkboard, “just play along with the silliest of the rules; don’t let anyone take over your mind or heart; take time to enjoy the people and the place above all”–

    Am glad I served the mission; it changed my life–

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Loved this, Ben.

    I too was a huge mission reader. Back when I went there was no rule about what you could read (or if there was, I don’t remember it). The culture in my mission was to listen to, collect and trade tapes: lots of GA talks, motivational stuff, leadership stuff, dead sea scrolls stuff. For some reason, I only collected a few (it was not unusual for elders to have hundreds of tapes that they carried in special suitcases); instead, I did the reading thing. Eventually, I had an entire trunk of books that I schlepped around on transfers. That really was the foundation of my education in Mormonism, which would continue apace once I returned to BYU to continue my undergrad studies there.

  14. Christian J says:

    I don’t like regrets – especially when thinking about what we expect out of young missionaries. Growing from mistakes is one of the best reasons to go in the first place. But I do regret the bit of smug disdain (mostly in private) I developed for Utah Mormons. I met some of the most giving people out in that desert. Much of the time I couldn’t get past their simple speak and provincial mannerisms.

  15. I served in Armenia a few years ago and have a good number of both. Here’s a few off the top of my head:

    Good memories:
    1. I taught and baptized a mother and her two children about halfway through my mission. Her husband was a great guy and we were good friends. He didn’t care for organized religion and wasn’t baptized. However, he had a change of heart many months later and I had the opportunity to baptize him on Christmas Day (our Christmas Day, Armenians celebrate on Jan. 6), just 6 weeks before I went home. That was one of the most spiritually powerful moments of the mission.

    2. One companion and I had a “miracle tree.” It was a lone crab apple tree on the edge of town, facing beautiful hills and plowed fields. We found it after a long day of fruitless contacting, We sat down to appreciate the scenery and someone walked by and we got into a long, deep religious/philosophical (and…cough, cough…political) discussion with him. Whenever we stopped to relax at the tree, someone always walked by with whom we would have invigorating conversation with.

    3. Along with Benjamin, I loved all the time I had to read. I read and studied all the Standard Works (some parts more than others, haha) and missionary library. I devoured Nibley. My mission president loaned me his copy of the 1st volume of the JS Papers. I read every transcript of translated Dead Sea Scrolls I could get my hands on. It was a very intellectually exhilarating time.

    Not So Good Memories:
    1. One night my companion and I walked in on a serious case of domestic violence. The man of the house had gotten raging drunk and started beating up the other female residents. We were thankfully able to diffuse it and get the victims to safe places for the night. However, the local police were completely indifferent to the situation (despite the numerous bruises and broken bones). They gave the man a slap on the wrist and he was back in the house within a week. The situation never changed.

    2. Seeing how nasty some members could be. I served in the branch presidency in an area and got the full exposure of some members lying to try to get welfare. One man thought he could politically schmooze his way into getting the Melchizedek Priesthood and branch leadership. (What’s worse is that he felt fine doing it because past branch presidents had set a precedent for it.) Lastly, we had a full blown Korihor in the branch we had to deal with. In all fairness, that branch was one of the worst in the country at the time, so it wasn’t the status quo everywhere.

    3. Occasionally I would feel some very stinging cognitive dissonance when faced with seedier facts about the church I hadn’t previously known. I made the mistake of sometimes burying my cognitive dissonance deep down rather than dealing with it at the time. That led to a lot of anger and not a lot of objective analysis later on.

  16. J. Stapley says:

    Binders of Doctrine!

    Loved the post. I’m also a succor for sweet captions.

  17. J. Stapley says:

    Also, those collections of photocopied-photocopies have to be excellent source material for numerous studies, just waiting to be written.

  18. I still have my binder, though I was more skeptical than most, I think. I did have a tape of Skousen’s Atonement theory, though.

  19. Regrets: Not going on a mission…no particular reason, I just didn’t. I regret that.

    No regrets for not doing the “Gallon Challenge.” A couple of my sons did that on their missions, and one even caught the whole thing on audio tape. It was revolting.

  20. The Other Clark says:

    Lessons Learned serving in Northern Mexico in the mid ’90s:
    1) You don’t have to be wealthy to be happy
    2) Obedience is due to the Lord; as for the chain of command, only as their directives are in line with the Lord.
    3) I can do hard things.
    4) Forcing me out of the protective anti-social cocoon I had built around myself since Jr. High.
    5) Americans are so blessed, and we take so much of it for granted.

    Regrets:
    1) Not setting aside meaningful and prolonged scripture study and prayer due to other “missionary duties” (language study, gathering reports from others in the zone, etc.)
    2) Not being more kind and considerate of companions and the local culture in general.
    3) Knowing what I know now about Church finances, I should have done more to ensure minimum sanitation and living conditions were met in mission apartments.

  21. It’s fascinating that so many people read so much on their missions. Down where I was in Argentina (2007-9), the only materials we had were official Church publications – old Institute manuals (of which I was highly skeptical), Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals (I learned about the Law of Adoption through the Wilford Woodruff manual’s introduction), and maybe JFS’s Teachings of Joseph Smith. Once one of my companions got the MP’s permission to read The Miracle of Forgiveness and, out of curiosity, I read bits of it – and was appalled.

    Other than those things, it was the Standard Works for this assiduously rule-complying missionary (too assiduous), but that was where I learned that some LDS doctrine depends on KJV prooftexting that doesn’t translate to Spanish and some just simply doesn’t align with scriptural descriptions (gift of tongues, anyone?).

    Of course, there were the endlessly-recopied packets of “deep doctrine,” which I deliberately eschewed ever since in my second transfer my companion claimed to have a transcription of the account of a monk who escaped from the Vatican to reveal that the Catholic Church had evidence of Mormon truth claims. Now I wish I hadn’t. Of course, there was also that time when my MP told us in a ZL meeting that the earth revolved around Kolob before the Fall…

  22. There was also that time that I discovered the temple covenants practically listed in a “Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood” manual, which greatly comforted me and helped me understand that I could be much more open than I had previously imagined about temple matters.

  23. My biggest regret is not having the opportunity to read and study more. I was just too busy baptizing. #humblebrag

  24. I didn’t serve a mission, but I love hearing/reading mission stories.

  25. Meldrum The Less says:

    Where do I start? No time to do this justice.

    Memory arriving in LTM in 1970′s. Mothers saying their tearful farewells and fathers giving their last words of advice. Last tidbit from my dad (in the bishopric at the time): “Remember, if bullshit was music this church would be a brass band.” I can’t forget it because I thought I might get sent to Siberia for his swearing in the LTM. Took me decades to figure out what he meant but I think he was right.

    Highest high light: There was my first companion in Japan who taught me how to date. Most important life skill a young man could develop and I was sorely lacking. Why I married so far up.

    Lowest low light: If I didn’t learn how to be nice to a woman, my dad did manage to teach me how to fight. I still deeply regret what happened in the LTM when a bully about 6 inches taller and about 80 pound heavier took a swing at me and knocked me down. I got up and beat the h@!! out of him, almost got sent home for it. Turn the other cheek? Not that time.

    It was the best two years of my life. Of course, just about anything you do when you are 19 to 21 years old is going to be the best two years of your life.

  26. Caffeine Drinker says:

    Thanks for this.

    I love that our church has this rite of passage. It’s such an adventure.

  27. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I loved seeing those missionaries who, given the chance to demonstrate truly humble leadership talents that were astonishing for their age, were such impressive role models to me and other missionaries. Disliked others who tried to copy non-inspiring character traits observed from the mission president and AP’s in zealous, arrogant brown-nosing.

  28. Returned home from South Korea almost 7 years ago. A truly transformative experience. Very grateful for missions.

  29. Ben, I loved this! I still write to missionaries. I think I’ll send them your top ten regrets. Did you tell me once that you were in the mission when Darius and I spoke to the missionaries?

  30. I served in the Sao Paulo South Mission from 1998 to 2000. I enjoyed my time in Brazil. The people were so loving. Members gave us meals almost every day.

    Highlights:

    Working hard, making friends w/ companions, investigators, and members. Learning a new language. Loved the culture / people / food. Gained 20 lbs.

    Regrets:

    I got to focussed on the numbers / stats / comparision aspect. We would have zone conference every Monday morning, and the leaders made us stand up in front of everyone to brag or confess our accomplishments of the past week. I hated it. It really felt inappropriate to me to spend so much time and focus on what everyone else in the zone was doing. It really felt like the only reason we were doing it was so that it served as some sort of guilt tool / motivator to make us work harder next week. I worked my butt off on my mission, but I spent much of my time feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing enough. I wish I would have had the maturity and perspective to not get caught up on it all.

  31. What version BOM you holding?

  32. Thanks for the comments, all.

    Margaret: yes, I was there when you and Darius spoke—a highlight of my mission. I’ve always been proud to say I served under the man who taught Darius as a missionary.

  33. n8c: I’m pretty sure it was an 1891 edition, housed in the Masonic Temple, of all places.

  34. whizzbang says:

    At various times in my life I have known more inactive RMs than active. Something I notice is that there is something about their mission that they wouldn’t trade for anything, it’s probably cog diss but whatever it’s something they wouldn’t trade and it’s meaningful to them and that’s great.

    Regrets
    1) I got locked into a pattern of thinking that if I do A then B will happen and so I beat myself up TERRIBLY over the question of what happens if B doesn’t happen. My self worth was almost nil in the field. I listened to a lot of Elder Rector tapes and just bought into the you have to live life a certain way to be approved of God, “It says here you have a PH.D.-great where’s your family?” So, for me I ‘had’ to do school, family, work and Church all at the same time, else God would hate me for being so selfish and it came with disastrous results. If you do all the “right” things then God is happy and will bless you with whatever, but one slip or something and God is displeased with you. It took 4 years of severe depression, panic attacks and a divorce to break me out of that thinking.
    2) I wish I had seen myself a teacher, I learned almost nothing about the savioru in the field to be totally honest. I was too busy finding, teaching and baptizing but I didn’t come closer to Christ as a result
    3) I HATED leadership of all kinds. I came away from the mission despising leaders, I never really met any Christlike APs , I never really had any role models to follow and I wish I had
    4)
    These are some Memories
    1) I fell in LOVE with Glendale and Pasadena, California and I just love the people of Los Angeles. A part of my heart is in the US- I am in Canada
    2) I loved about 7 of my 20 comps and wouldn’t trade them and the experiences we had for anything
    3) I had some powerful spiritual experiences that I couldn’t have had in any other way or as powerful, I think being thrist into the vortex of a mission you come face to face with where you stand and you have to find out
    4) our mission had a rule about no going back to the pad for ANY reason during the day, rain or the fifth level of heat as LA is and I am SO glad I never took any unauthorized trips back to the pad for anything “bad”. We worked 70-75 hours a week for 2 years and I am thankful I can say I did that. I experienced downpours and unbearable heat on a bike for 19 months and the rest was in a car but I never once took a nap, except on P-days
    5) I had a priesthood blessing prior to going and in it it said that as long as I was doing what I should be doing I would not get sick or anything. I never once got sick. I was in some bad bike accidents but amazingly I was spared. I never ate any bad food either but had plenty of awkward dinner appts.

  35. Shout out to the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission 91-93

    Fond memories:
    1. The good people of the Navajo Indian reservation in the four corners area.
    2. Being the only person in a zone conference to stand up and refuse to take a guilt based pledge to tract daily. I offered other more fruitful alternatives. It was one of the first times I asserted myself in my life.
    3. Navajo tacos……got so fat.

    Regrets:
    1. I have them, but they do not over shadow my overall experience so I don’t dwell on them….(much).

    “Of course, there was also that time when my MP told us in a ZL meeting that the earth revolved around Kolob before the Fall…”

    The only place I have ever heard this “teaching” is on my mission from my MP who said in a Zone meeting that prior to the fall the earth revolved around Kolob and part of the fall of Adam included the literal “fall” of the earth through space to its present location. I thought it was wacky then and I still think it’s wacky. Does anyone know the source of this “teaching”? Should I repent and believe it, or put it in the pile of folk beliefs next to mission stories of Pres. Kimball refusing to get out of the car in the parking lot at Mesa Verde and declaring it a stronghold of the Gadianton Robbers?

  36. Talon, see Abraham 5:13. God says that, while in the Garden, time is being kept “after the Lord’s time, which was after the time of Kolob.” Thus, if God’s planet is revolving around Kolob then so was the Earth at the time. At least, one could interpret it that way I suppose.

    Why that was being taught by your MP is puzzling.

  37. Like I said, wacky.

  38. ‘Most significant two years of my life’ might be a better phrase…or so I’ve been told. Wishing they had lowered the age for sisters to serve in the ’80s. I would have gone in a heartbeat!

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