Two Year Mission: Was it Worth it?

(my comment from Within the Bubble blog)

I think for me, those could have been the best two years of my life up to that time. I loved my mission, for the most part. I didn’t walk around my areas, I pretty much floated on my spiritual highs (I now think this “spiritual joy” may actually come from the cognitive belief/relief of being “one with God”, and His will. It feels good to be practicing self-control and to feel you are accomplishing worthy goals. It’s cool to think that you’re living a disciplined and devoted life comparable to a monk or priest). Of course married life and adult life probably trump the happiness I had on my mission, but I still loved those two years.

I loved being selfless for the first time and doing what I saw as “serving” my fellow man by offering the “gospel of happiness”. I learned how to work a full-time job, while on my mission. Being with someone 24 hrs a day and working side by side him, you can make amazing bonds with people. I loved that too. Man I miss the comradery I had on the mission. The oneness with the other Elders, the conferences, walking down the street looking at others around you and feeling like you are Neo from the Matrix with a special pill to wake certain special people up. I ate it up, man.

I grew up a lot on my mission. Became tri-lingual as a result from it and gained some really good qualities, too. However, can these things be learned and experienced in other settings? I definitely think so. Steve M, on his blog said:

Why were mission leaders so insistent that we pace the streets for hours each day in the middle of August, trying to talk to people who were frankly annoyed by us? Why didn’t we teach more English classes or help build houses or in some other way contribute to the general well-being of society? I know, I know, that wasn’t our purpose; we were to preach the gospel. But couldn’t we have used those hundreds of hours–for which we delayed education, dating, employment, and other personal endeavors–for something more fulfilling and productive? I don’t recall whether or not it’s a general rule, but in my mission we were limited to four hours of service per week. We usually spent over fifty hours proselytizing, if I remember correctly.

About a month ago, at the PCC Luau in Oahu, my family was mingling with an older couple sitting next to us. They were a very educated couple, the man working on his PHD at the time, and his wife studying Psychology. My dad told the couple that the PCC was owned by the LDS Church and that my brother and I had served missions for the Church. They turned to my brother and asked what kind of projects he had worked on while in urban-area mission. He had kind of a confused look on his face and asked, “what do you mean by that”. I told him “they want to know what kinds of things you did for the people while on your mission, like building houses, teaching, community service, etc. Tell them you mainly knocked on doors and proselytized.” He told them that and it made me wonder how much tangible good (not just spiritual seedlings) I could have done with those two years of my life like many other religious-based missions do. I think the possible net amount of “good done” could be huge, with time being used correctly, not just used trying to convince people of the falsity of their religious beliefs.

Steve M also said:

it seems like an inordinate amount of missionary time is poured into activities that produce little, if any, proselytizing success and probably result in a substantial loss of goodwill.

I think I will tell my little brothers to try and focus on building up the community they’re in while on their (possible) future missions. Just imagine how much good can be accomplished with all of that “free” time you have to offer!

All of this said, however, I still value my mission very highly and favorably. Amen.

Me in a rare, yet joyous state of self-serving
This is a picture of me getting my grub on, or I mean serving, or rather self-service. Yum.


~ by bonoboi on February 16, 2007.

8 Responses to “Two Year Mission: Was it Worth it?”

  1. There is a conversation going on in Protestant churches that we have been guilty of “Evangelical Gnosticism” in the last 100 years. Our work has primarily been a “spiritual” work alone, we preach the Gospel and plant churches. The only thing we have focused on is saving people’s souls, while Christ wants to save their whole person. Their souls are important to be sure, but they are not merely souls. They lack food, they lack education, they lack community, the lack healthy relationships and they lack salvation. Jesus can solve all of these issues.

  2. My mission was definitely worth it. I got out of the nest, I learned German, I learned how to work, and I honestly grew up.

    Was I misguided? Sure.

    But I know I spent two years doing my best to do what I thought was right- making huge sacrifices for something I thought was noble and good and true. To me, that does the trick. Time well spent.

    (Although it does relieve me a little bit to know that since i went to Germany, I baptized exactly zero people in two years, so while it was a worthwhile experience for me, I also don’t have ot feel bad for converting people to what I now believe to be a basically false religion).

  3. Wow. That must have been so tough to have worked for two years with no baptisms. It makes it tough because that’s what people (missionaries, members, mission presidents) see as “success” on the mission. The raw “numbers”. Imagine if success was judged by other kinds of accomplishments.

    (Although it does relieve me a little bit to know that since i went to Germany, I baptized exactly zero people in two years, so while it was a worthwhile experience for me, I also don’t have to feel bad for converting people to what I now believe to be a basically false religion).

    It can be almost heart-wrenching to do just that. Recently I spoke with a young man from my mission (who I converted) who was still having problems with his large Catholic family ever since ripped him out of Catholicism and left him to deal with it alone. Four years later things still weren’t going well for him and his family relationships because he wanted to put the LDS church in first place. I wrote him and told him that it is a church like any other churches and that he shouldn’t ruin his familial relationships over it. He couldn’t believe I would write him that after all I had taught him and all the headache he had gone through during the last several years. It was hard for me to do, and for him to hear, but I believe he’ll be happier for it now.

    I have another convert who just wrote me telling me she is going to serve a mission. I have not responded to her, (nor will I). She’s happy and I’ll just stay out of this one but the ripple effect continues till today with the people I baptized.

    I guess I can’t feel too bad, though. I was just a nineteen-year old kid, after all, doing what I thought was right.

  4. I don’t think it’s necessary to feel guilty for converting people, unless it was done through some kind of manipulation or something. If the Church really does enrich their lives and make them better, happier people, then great. If not, they’ll probably end up leaving in the long run.

    In my last area, my companion and I baptized a man who was on the verge of cheating on his wife when we first started teaching him. His conversion to Mormonism was what kept him from taking that step. He really did become a new human being, with new values and priorities. Even if I don’t have the same thoughts about the Church now as I did then, I think we really did help this guy, his marriage, and his family.

  5. Hey, a person brought to Christ is a person brought to Christ. if indeed they are brought to Christ.

  6. I spent over an hour writng a comment, and lost it all when I failed to give an address.

    I think this is appropriately symbolic of this time–run by computers who can’t care and administered by executives who count money.

  7. You say your two-year mission helped you grow up. When you grow up, you don’t go around saying, “Man,” all the time.

  8. i wish i knew some mormons 😉

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