Saturday, September 4, 2010

Young Elders return with Honour?

I know I said I would do a feel good post about what I like about Mormonism as my next post but that is requiring some work and I really wanted to post about something that came to mind this week.

I was reading over at the Koda Think Tank, Koda wrote a post about some goings on around the time that he went on his mission. He wrote about feeling guilty and about nearly getting sent home. It reminded me of Rockstars mission.

Rockstar nearly got sent home when he was about 2 months off completing the 2 year mission. He had been sent to New Zealand (not an important part of the story just fyi). His favourite all time companion (lovingly referred to as MB - marijuana boy by his wife, Angry Baker, because he calms her down eh!) had recently finished his 2 years and returned to the USA. Rockstars productivity had begun to slide a little and he and his comp (companion, missionaries are paired up usually for a few months at a time and reside in bachelor style flats, ew stinky!) had been neglecting to check in with superiors and report on their whereabouts and statistics. They had also indulged in the viewing of a few movies at member families homes.

They (I think it was about 4 of them) got called on for a meeting with the Mission President who had to make a special trip to meet with them. It was clear to all 4 young elders (haha, 'young elders'.... an oxymormon?! ) that they were probably going to be sent home.

This is where I get to my point.

Rockstar started thinking about what he would do if he were sent home early. Now for those uninitiated in the ways of the Mormons, being sent home early from mission is certainly up there as one of the most shameful things that could happen to you. Rockstar decided that when the plane landed in Sydney that he would just disappear. He wouldn't catch the connecting flight to Perth, he would drop off the radar and go from there.

He didn't know when or if he would contact his family or myself. We had written to each other pretty much every week (we each now have a shoebox full of letters, oh so romantic) but he felt so icky about being sent home early from mission that he didn't know whether he could bare to face any of us.

The story ends well. The boys were not sent home early. Rockstar finished his mission and returned with honour.  Romance resumed and so on, yadda yadda.

Hmm. So what I am interested in here is the aspect of control on mission. There are so many rules! Geez! most of these kids are 19-21 years old. From what I've seen of missionaries - I sat across the family dinner table from many elders in my childhood. I have fed many elders (and sisters, not so many of them but they're great) in my home. I would use two words to describe them. Kind and energetic.

Since the mission is expected of every young man it bugs me no end that the rules are so strict and in many cases so ridiculous. I will beg Rockstar to post about some of his experiences.

I am looking forward to moving house so that when eventually we get a pair of missionaries randomly knocking on our door (currently I think our house may be a no-go zone for missionaries, scary apostates reside here) I plan on letting them know we're exmo' but inviting them for dinner, conversations etc. I am  so grateful to all of the splendid New Zealanders who looked after Rockstar on his mission and I would like to continue to offer support to any elders/sisters who are game enough to spend time in our home.

Lighten up Mission Presidents!


  1. I know what you mean, it's a little crazy to expect guys that age to follow such strict rules. These guys are sacrificing a lot and doing something they think is right so I try to be nice to them even though I don't necessarily agree with what they teach. We haven't had any come over to our house, and I would be surprised if I did see them. Yes, we are scary apostates:)

  2. I remember getting caught watching movies at our house while on my mission. The mission president spoke to all 4 of us over the phone and chewed us out. He threatened to call our parents and stake president. Fortunately, he did not call them; that was my greatest fear. After being placed on probation for a while, I was able to complete the rest of my mission without incident. I do not want to put my son through that.

  3. It's a great relief to know that my children won't feel pressure to go on a mission. It's a great relief to know that they won't be under the thumb of religious nuts. It is sad when I think of the many young men and women who will feel that pressure and the confusing messages of a mission.

    I recently heard about a young woman who returned from mission and was doing the rounds of wards with her post mission talks. The person who was telling me about it said that she did not sugar coat her experience. She talked about scungy flats and having doors slammed in her face and other unpleasant sides of the mission. She did this at the beginning of the talk. She then finished with saying that she also had plenty of good experiences.

    I think that this is probably quite common. The mission is probably not what most people expect. For people who like to think for themselves it must be especially gritty. In the end I'm sure most missionaries have great stories that they can tell but I'm willing to bet that most of them have a few not so pretty tales to tell as well.

  4. Well, my brother had terrible experiences on his mission, some of them downright satanic. He has at various times said it was the worst experience of his life, and my mother has at various times said that it destroyed him. And yet, they are still mormon.
    Go figure.

  5. Thanks for the shout out!! Rockstar's experience reminded me of another experience I had...

    I've considered going through my mission journals and maybe doing a weekly post on goings on during 1 week on my mission.

    I think my best friend summed up his experience with the following quote...

    "Mission, it's a million dollar experience, you wouldn't pay 5c to go through again."

    My boys aren't going either.

  6. I guess it is a bit like high school where you wouldn't ever want to go back but there were some fun times. I'd love to read more about your mission. It seems as though my interest in 'unveiling' Mormonism has not yet waned.

  7. Hi anonymous, I nearly missed your comment there. I am coming to learn that experiences like the ones your brother had are not uncommon. I was listening to a podcast the other day that had the parents of a young man who died recently talking about his bad experiences with the mission interviews. Basically inappropriate sexual questions that left the young man feeling very bad about himself. Heartbreaking. I hope your brother heals.