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.
This is a picture of me getting my grub on, or I mean serving, or rather self-service. Yum.