The Best Two Years?

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1smartdodog
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The Best Two Years?

Post by 1smartdodog » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:05 pm

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight was your mission, if you went a benefit to you, or theft of two years of you life.


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2bizE
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by 2bizE » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:35 pm

It was a benefit. I learned a new language and a new culture. If I had to do it over again, I would but a bit differently. I would take vacation time during the mission.
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blazerb
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by blazerb » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:42 pm

I think it was a benefit, overall. It was the most painful two years of my life, but they made me grow. Learning a language, living with impossible companions, dead puppies, supposed exorcisms, third world political upheaval, it all made me grow up, at least more than I would have otherwise.

Was it the best two years? Absolutely not. But it helped me learn to talk to and to have empathy for others. I also wish I had taken some vacation time. The beach was so close, and I never went.

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Phil Lurkerman
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Phil Lurkerman » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:43 pm

Like most of life's experiences, my mission (Winnipeg, late 1980s) had some positive and some negative aspects. That said, for an introverted individual like me, the whole door-to-door religion sales business was a deeply destructive, anxiety producing endeavor. Combined with the constant worry over "worthiness" (whatever the hell that is), I would say it was a good 15 years before I fully recovered from the experience.

So - count me in the "worst two years" camp.
I was once a cafeteria Mormon on a hunger strike. Have since found a buffet elsewhere.

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2bizE
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by 2bizE » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:04 pm

Phil Lurkerman wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:43 pm
Like most of life's experiences, my mission (Winnipeg, late 1980s) had some positive and some negative aspects. That said, for an introverted individual like me, the whole door-to-door religion sales business was a deeply destructive, anxiety producing endeavor. Combined with the constant worry over "worthiness" (whatever the hell that is), I would say it was a good 15 years before I fully recovered from the experience.

So - count me in the "worst two years" camp.
Would those two years have been different if you were in a more exotic location than the frigid tundra of Winnipeg?
~2bizE

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Phil Lurkerman
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Phil Lurkerman » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:33 pm

Would those two years have been different if you were in a more exotic location than the frigid tundra of Winnipeg?
Nope. I grew up in Edmonton - just as cold, maybe colder. I like Winnipeg just fine and have visited on business several times over the years. It's knocking on strangers' doors to trick them into joining a make-believe religion that caused my issues.
I was once a cafeteria Mormon on a hunger strike. Have since found a buffet elsewhere.

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Palerider
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Palerider » Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:01 pm

Double edged sword for me.

I was starved by the lack of in depth interaction between missionaries. It just seemed really shallow. Very few guys I would consider people I would want to be friends with. Mostly they just seemed to be a lot of immature kids putting in their time.

The salesman approach to the Gospel made it even worse. Does the name Zig Ziggler ring any bells? 🤮

All of this seemed to have a "hardening" effect on me. Maybe it was a defense mechanism? Took me years to be able to "feel" human again.

But the mission was a growing experience. Exposure to another culture. New language. Overseas travel. Learning to interact with different people both in and out of the church.

Sometimes I wish I'd had the time back to further my formal education. :|
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by wtfluff » Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:03 pm

Let's see...

Learned a second language... Which I rarely if ever use.
Learned about a different culture... Probably a good thing.
Spent two years learning emotionally manipulative, high pressure sales techniques... Not a good thing for me.
"Grew up..." Well, that would happen no matter what.

Yes, I believe I would have been better off spending two years doing something that would actually benefit me in real life outside of MORmONism, rather than two years selling a fake product based on lies. It wasn't a "bad" experience, but I could have spent the time better I think.


Best two years? Not. Even. Close. In fact, I never understood people talking about "the best two years" even when I was a believer. If having a family isn't better than two years lying to people... Well, I really don't know what to say.
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

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Red Ryder
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:39 am

Best two years? Nope
Worst two years? Nope

I went stateside English speaking. I learned to talk to anybody at will and manage an ever changing day to day schedule from appointments canceling. Let’s do this instead!

Like Palerider, I never really deeply connected with any companions and to this day have only run into a few of them here or there.

I think back and wonder what I missed in life had I not gone. But in reality probably not much other than getting through college two years sooner.

Fond memories remain. I don’t regret it.

Do I want my kids to go? Not really.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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A New Name
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by A New Name » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:31 am

Great two years, and I'm glad I went. Concepcion Chile mid 70's.
Learned Spanish, ate great food, had mostly good comps, met a lot a great people.
Had a great MP. Did not have stupid rules like they do today, so I actually had fun.
Saw a lot a great places in the southern Chile.
I learned how to study, and my Collage GPA when from a 2.5 before my mission to 3.9 when I graduated after my mission.

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græy
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by græy » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:14 am

Japan 1999-2001

My mission was the first time I flew anywhere. I learned to navigate a foreign country. And I learned a new and relatively complex language (which I never use anymore).

Due to some boundary pushing between myself and my pre-mission girlfriend (which I confessed both to SP and again to MTC branch president - the GUILT!), I spent a great deal of my mission locked in a scrupulosity cycle and would not let even a spare moment of time go by unused. That kept up until I was assigned a companion who just didn't care about putting in effort, followed by another who only cared about watching (R) movies with our district's resident jack-mormon-RM-turned-english-teacher. At that point I was considering another confession cycle, fully expecting to be sent home since I obviously wasn't feeling worthy to be there.

Eventually, I somehow got over the scrupulosity and learned that I could have equal success (i.e. no baptisms, but lots of "investigator" friends) by just being friends with our english class students and knocking on doors ONLY as a last resort when we had large blocks of time with nothing else to do. Often, door knocking would just turn into passing out flyers for our english class, nothing else.

By the time I came home, I had grown. I was much more self-confident in my abilities to learn, adapt, and engage other people. I made a lot of very good friends, a few of whom joined the church, none of whom are still active. I learned to love Japan and the people there.

Like blazerb and 2bizE said, I wish I had taken more vacation time. I regret the guilt that I held onto while I was there.

Best two years? No. Worst two years? No. Overall, it is a positive time in my life.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Mormorrisey
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Mormorrisey » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:00 pm

Phil Lurkerman wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:33 pm
Would those two years have been different if you were in a more exotic location than the frigid tundra of Winnipeg?
Nope. I grew up in Edmonton - just as cold, maybe colder. I like Winnipeg just fine and have visited on business several times over the years. It's knocking on strangers' doors to trick them into joining a make-believe religion that caused my issues.
I must have missed your introduction at some point. How could I not recognize a fellow Canuck? And yes, when people in my neck of the woods complain about the cold, you are right to point to Winnipeg and Edmonton and tell anybody within 100 km of Toronto to shut the (bleep) up.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

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Mormorrisey
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Mormorrisey » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:04 pm

I used to say that the best two years on the mission couldn't hold a candle to the first year of marriage. Now I would say those two years aren't worth spit in comparison to nearly 30 years of marriage.

Although I learned a lot of important things on my mission, I'm still an introvert and the mission was hell in many ways.

None of my kids have gone, and even the wife is kind of glad about that.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

I was in the church barely a year when I went and in my circumstance it was one of the best things I could have done. I desperately needed something from outside myself to impose discipline and structure and it did that in spades. It was fruitless as far as converting anyone else (I was in France) but it certainly turned my life around.

I showed up with no idea how to live and get along with others (my poor companions!). Reading the scriptures, particularly the New Testament, and applying the precepts I was reading about was pivotal in developing positive relationships with people.

I'm glad for the life skills I gained. I'm glad I learned to speak French and to experience the Loire valley in spring from a bicycle, and Bastille Day in Paris. I think it was all mostly luck, but I'm still really glad I went.
Last edited by Fifi de la Vergne on Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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1smartdodog
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by 1smartdodog » Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:04 pm

Interesting. It seems if you went foreign and learned a language your experience seemed to be more positive.

I lived in Utah and went to Arizona. I use think i could ride my bike home if I wanted. It was mostly like I never left home. So from a cultural standpoint I learned nothing.

I remember the day I came home, I had no qualms stepping on the plane. I was done and good riddance.

It certainly was not the best to years. My regret is I gave up a scholarship to school.

I can say it was not terrible, just a waste of two of the most critical years of my life. Would have been better of staying in school, or joining the military if I wanted to get away.

The crux of the matter is the church sends you out with the notion you are performing a great act, but in reality you are selling snake oil. And that is a bad deal anyway you look at it. No one should be coerced into selling a fraud. Its unethical regardless of the sometimes personal growth some experience.


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Cnsl1
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Cnsl1 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:19 am

I've pondered this question recently.

my mission was certainly not the best two years, and it was actually just 18 months as I was in that weird early 80's time when the church briefly changed the mission time for elders. Some had the choice to stay for 2 years, but I did not. It changed prior to my call, and changed back not long after I returned. I went to Asia and remember them telling us in the MTC that they weren't taking away the end of our mission, but rather the beginning as we were going out more prepared and with even better language skills than those who had gone for 2 years. Yeah, right. Still, I was happy it was only 18 months.

I learned a foreign language, which was good. I learned to get along in a busy foreign country with a bike and a prayer. I learned some leadership skills, even if they weren't great leadership skills. I made some friends. I worked hard trying to do what I was supposed to do, but I also had fun and found ways to be myself. Even back then, I didn't worry too much about silly rules that didn't make much sense, but I did work hard, which is maybe why I rose quickly through the various "ranks". I remember briefly wanting to be an AP, then realizing pretty quickly that I really didn't want to be an AP and was glad I never got that or any other office calling. I think another reason for the quick rise in things like trainer and zone leader was due to not having as many missionaries available because of the shortened duration.

I feel bad for some of the things I did in the name of good... doing the things I was told to do. I'm sure I bothered a great deal of people. I'm sure I was insensitive to some cultural and other religion things. I know I learned a lot about a different culture, though many of the things I learned took a while to sink in and weren't the things they specifically taught about culture in the MTC.

Am I glad I went? I guess. I was glad to be done and was happy to be an RM with all the accompanying respect and clout that came in an LDS community. My wife was more likely to marry me as an RM, probably. I don't think my mission was good for my family, or especially my mother. I was the oldest child and my family went through some crappy times in that short 18 months. They had trouble helping finance my mission, and I had not saved very much myself.

My language skills helped fill my college language requirement, but I don't speak the language very well at all anymore. Had I not gone, I would have chosen a foreign language more applicable to where I live and more relatable to what I chose to do for a living.

I think being a missionary also, interestingly enough, did not help me be a better husband initially. We got along fine, but I held unreasonable expectations about several things including goal setting, scripture reading, and following your husband, which were obviously things I picked up from our priesthood-centric organization. Fortunately, my wife is a bit rebellious and didn't always comply. Ironically, she's still having trouble letting go many of the church things.

I'm glad my kids didn't go. One kid still at home, but he's never wanted to go. I would support him if he wanted to go, but would tell him to retain his identity, be himself, and make it all about service outside yourself.

I think somewhere near the middle of my mission, it stopped being mostly about me and started being mostly about serving God. But let's be honest... a 20 year old kid has a hard time not being egocentric, idealistic, and superficial... at least at times. So, as much as I might have spouted it was all about service, it was also about helping myself progress in this religiosocial community, which I think is or at least was a primary reason for missions in my selfish generation (who are now your leaders, btw). Even now, they tell themselves it's about obeying and serving, but it's mostly about putting themselves in better standing.. about getting the right spouse.. about following tradition.. about pleasing parents. For some, it's even about putting off deciding what to do with your life.

Here's some other evidence that it was not my best year and a half: I wrote in my journal DAILY as a missionary. I still have the journals. I have never before or since written in a journal to that extent. Not even close. I have also never had a strong desire to pull out those journals to read. I've looked at them briefly to help me remember a companion... but to relive wonderful spiritual experiences? Nope. To examine my growth as a person? Nope. I'm pretty sure if I read them I would feel embarrassed.

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Red Ryder
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Red Ryder » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:35 am

Cnsl1 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:19 am
Here's some other evidence that it was not my best year and a half: I wrote in my journal DAILY as a missionary. I still have the journals. I have never before or since written in a journal to that extent. Not even close. I have also never had a strong desire to pull out those journals to read. I've looked at them briefly to help me remember a companion... but to relive wonderful spiritual experiences? Nope. To examine my growth as a person? Nope. I'm pretty sure if I read them I would feel embarrassed.
Same here. I’ve often thought about doing a project to type up and PDF a copy of my journals and mission letters written and received. Dr. Shades from the Mormon Discussions board did that and went back and added commentary after the fact clarifying and explaining his thoughts. I keep thinking I would like to do the same but every time I pull out my journals I just cringe at reliving it all. Maybe someday I will. Or perhaps I’ll just start a thread called Missionary Journal Cringe and type out a few pages for the entertainment value.

Here’s a link to Dr. Shades journal.

http://www.mormoninformation.com/Missi ... ournal.pdf
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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fetchface
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by fetchface » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:46 am

The mission experience is objectively speaking a full-on cult experience.

The best two years for me? Hell no. I was being manipulated 24/7 for two years. It was an abuse of my dignity as a human being.

Were there benefits? Sure. #1 benefit is that I learned exactly what it is like to be under cult manipulation tactics 24/7, which allows me to easily spot those tactics when they are employed by anyone in my life today. I also learned a foreign language and got to experience another culture. Peace Corps would have been a much better way to accomplish the language/culture part, but best would have been to just continue on with college and finish two years earlier.
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Not Buying It
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by Not Buying It » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:57 am

1smartdodog wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:04 pm
The crux of the matter is the church sends you out with the notion you are performing a great act, but in reality you are selling snake oil. And that is a bad deal anyway you look at it. No one should be coerced into selling a fraud. Its unethical regardless of the sometimes personal growth some experience.
I think this is an important point. Did I learn some things and have some experiences I wouldn't have had without my mission? Yeah, sure, there are parts of it I am glad I experienced. But that doesn't justify the fact that two years of my life were taken from me by an organization that deceived me to get me to do it, and then used me as a tool to deceive others. What the Church does with missionaries is horrifying - not to mention the way it pimps out its young women by convincing them they should only marry a returned missionary, creating both a sex-based incentive for guys to serve a mission and a catastrophically inaccurate expectation on the part of young women that any returned missionary will be a good husband. It's pretty messed up all the way around.

The whole missionary program is like that machine in "The Princess Bride" that sucks away your life. I can see President Nelson dressed up as Count Rugen saying "As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that's all this is except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked two years of your life away." Only the Church keeps the damn machine pumping after that until callings and meetings and expectations and obligations and guilt and fear and shame have sucked your whole life away. Glad I got away from that.

So was my mission my best two years? I didn't even think so when I was a believer. Was it worth trading away two years of my prime youth for whatever I gained from it? Not even close.
"The truth is elegantly simple. The lie needs complex apologia. 4 simple words: Joe made it up. It answers everything with the perfect simplicity of Occam's Razor. Every convoluted excuse withers." - Some guy on Reddit called disposazelph

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2bizE
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Re: The Best Two Years?

Post by 2bizE » Wed Oct 28, 2020 1:56 pm

Assuming you were still a TBM, what changes to mission rules would have make your mission better?
For me, I would have like to spend time touring the country, swimming, having breaks and vacations. I lived my mission, but having some Funtime would have been nice.
~2bizE

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