The Mission

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,


Growing up I was always taught that I shouldn't get married unless it was to a return Mormon Missionary. I have mentioned that over and over again, but I think it's important to keep saying it. God forbid you marry someone because you love them, right?

Anyway, I have heard many stories of people who went on their missions at the age of 19 (roughly) and paid their own way on top of it. I asked some of my friend on PostMormon.org to share their experiences in the field as a Mormon Missionary. I asked them to share one positive thing and one negative thing. I wasn't prepared for the amazing response, and the incredible stories. I will let their quotes do the rest of the work...

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I would say the best part of my mission was the people - especially the people who opened their doors to ME. Whether members or not, those that I could have a relationship with and unwind from the stresses of missionary work I found to be the best place to be. I was never a pushy missionary - I can never remember challenging any member to "set a date," "pray which friend they would like to approach," or the myriad of other tactics used to find coverts. I only went on splits once. Because investigators and converts were so far and few, I saw my role to be a part of the congregation and lend my support.

My mission president was the worst part. One companion sums things up fairly nicely. When he was asked by the MP why he was out here, my companion said: "To love the people." The response: "No Elder, you are here to baptise." We were instructed to follow the "suggested schedule" exactly. We were forbidden to get in larger groups of missionaries than six. We were told that we had to eat at 5 PM with members, and instruct them that this was the way it had to be. The only time he showed any emotion (and that is from his own recounting) is when missionaries returned all the money they didn't use on their missions - yes we were told that it didn't belong to us, and we had to return it. By the end of my mission, I wasn't concerned with anyone else but myself as following the "letter of the law" led me to the utmost despair. Finally, by abiding by the spirit of the law, I found a happiness I had never known before. And, being entirely convinced that "wickedness never was happiness," and that the gospel was called the "plan of happiness," I knew that God was pleased. BUT, when it was time to go home, the MP said he didn't think I was worthy of a temple recommend (I was the only one going home that month that hadn't been one of his zone leaders). He finally consented on the 11th hour (literally) with the plane leaving shortly. I never believed as a TBM that my mission was accepted of the Lord. -Carter

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I have never been on a mission, but the points I would make, I don't know if you can use them or not is that you are learning how to be salesman while on your mission. I know a lot of return missionaries that have done very well for themselves as car salesmen. The bad side is that it just doesn't make sense that you can't have contact with your family other than letters. It just seems a little ridiculous that you can't have easier access to your support group. I think a lot of missionaries would do a lot better if they had to option to call home if they needed to. -Kristi

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Good thing-it ended

Bad thing-I talked a lot of good people into mormonism. Good thing-they probably all went inactive (most mormons where I "served , dishing out lies, were inactive) Bad thing-what if one stayed active? I'm sorry -God


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For me, the best thing was being able to serve in a place where my ancestors came from. I really felt an affinity to them and the country, and still miss Sweden more than I probably should, 15 years later.

A bad part was being sent home four months early for clinical depression (well documented), but the worst part was having my bishop ask me several times, upon return, if I'd really been sent home early for sexual misconduct . I realized then that that is what everyone in my family and ward would probably think, because isn't that what TBM's secretly think when they find out a missionary has been sent home early?

I should have just left the church then, and stayed gone. But within nine months I'd be married, and I wanted to make my new TBM husband happy, so I went back to church. Dumb me. -nessid

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The worst thing: putting off my university degree. It was to be 13 more years before I would be able to go back and finish. There was a good deal of disillusionment with a smidge of guilt thrown in that I had to battle my way out of.

Several "best things": met some very cool people both in and out of the church, got an opportunity to use the French language I'd been studying since high school; got a fresh perspective on life, love, and truth; began to seriously question the Corporation of JC of LDS; met DH.

Our MP tried very hard to be human and treat the missionaries like humans as well. -hartlyn


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Best aspects- Learning Spanish, Castellano and English. Had to learn them proper rullles of English in order to understand, comprehend, and think in Spanish. This ability or lack thereof has given me an incredible advantage in every job since my return. In my career this has also proven to be a lifesaver as I was able to get the better of 2 idiots who decided to see what they could get away with. I overheard one of them ask the other if he was ready to play and to just say go when the time was right. I gently and politely asked the one closest to me if he would kindly inspect the inside of my Glock .45 for debris. I was yelling like a vienna boys choir soprano whose finger was stuck in a door but they got the message really quick. Anyway, I would say the language opportunity and the country and people of Argentina was truly a lifetime experience.

Worst- Argentine medical system and my MP who basically showed me the way out of the church with his incredible lack of candor and basic human kindness. That opened a door that a few years later I entered and then 12 years later I turned around and closed. Still have injuries to this day, while not the fault of the church, a little better understanding and compassion might have prevented. The emotional scars will last a lifetime and at times I use them to my advantage but not always.

Keep on keepin on! -Dawgma

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Best thing the chance I had to meet some great people and learn to speak in public well. Worst thing, the time I spent as an AP. I was such a dick, I thought I was doing the right thing, but in retrospect I realize I was an ass. I hope I didn't scar any of the missionaries I was over too badly... -CDN Mike


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Best: Living in different cultures. Learning a new language. Making friends, and laughing a lot with the other silly missionaries. Being totally engaged in something I believed in.

Worst: Living in roach-ridden filthy places. Working as a female for a moronic patriarchal system. Getting doors slammed in our faces every day. Riding mopeds in the rain and snow. Telling a bunch of lies (even though I thought it was true at the time.) -Winyan

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The Good: The people. As a missionary, so many members open their doors to you. A smaller percentage open their doors to you as a person, and not just because your a missionary. They want to get to know you, where you came from, and who you are. I know missionaries are asked these questions mindlessly, but there are those people who actually will actually develop relationships with the missionaries. There are people in my mission who I will always be grateful for.

I also enjoyed the beauty of Colorado and Kansas. The weather and scenery were much different than the southeast/sub-tropics I grew up in.

The Bad: The missionary program. Even before joining the church, I seriously considered entering in the ministry and becoming a pastor or chaplain. Holding the priesthood and serving a mission seemed to fit in with this desire, but the missionary program was nothing like I expected. Most times, I didn't feel like a minister; I felt like a salesman. As an LDS missionary, I was out to sell religion. There were opportunities where I was able to minister to someone in need, in a variety of ways, but I mostly felt like a programed drone. I always felt that God expected more of me, but the missionary program of the church was so restrictive that I never really became the minister I felt God wanted me to be. -nxtOracle

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Best thing about my mission:

-Meeting some wonderful people that I will always hold close to my heart.

Worst thing about my mission:

-Teaching untruths to people
-Feeling superior to others not of my religion
-Selling my '69 Mustang Mach 1 to help pay for my mission (still hurts to this day!)
-Allowing my Mission Pres and his wife control me with their stupid petty rules
-The amount of time studing and researching the scriptures
-Delaying college
-Attending mission reunions (what the hell was I thinking?!?)
-Giving blessing after blessing thinking they actually were doing something

Oh, did you only want one response...sorry. -L. Tom


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The best thing: I met my wonderful wife-to-be along with making a few great friends.

The worst thing: I am not an arrogant person, but I allowed myself to think like missionaries do and I thought that I understood so much more than all those poor non-Mormons out in the mission field and I viewed them all as so lost and misguided, but if they would just accept my message they could be as all-knowing as I was. Missions turn so many nice but inexperienced young men and women in to such pricks, even if only temporarily. So embarrassing. -PeaceOfMind

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Best: Met Daria (DW) in the MTC and enjoyed learning a new language, living in a different and rich, historic culture and the warmth of the people (especially if you left religion out of the discussion).

Worst: Endless, depressing, unsuccessful finding work day after day where we would bother and disturb people who were generally happy and living fine lives. As I think back, we were so arrogant to think they were miserable and lost and needed to listen to us or their lives would be worthless, meaningless and terrible. Ugh. -Clusterfetch

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The Good Thing: I went to Spain. I don't know how I would have managed being in some nasty place like Boise, Idaho or something. But I'm sure I would have found something of report or lovely there. But I really do thinki the location saved my sanity. It was terrible enough having so much cog dis freaking me out continually, so Spain was my saving grace. That country is gorgeous, the people are gorgeous. And I say that from *me*, not from the schtick they always say in the church and in the MTC.

I became a huge fan of the language and I followed *that* route as my major in college and ended up with a degree in Spanish Linguistics from ASU. I'm glad I had that edge, because my dad wanted me to become a dentist just like *all* of my three brothers did. What a joke, they've all admitted to me that they did it for dad. My dad has turned out to be a complete and utter f*ck up, no integrity at all, asked me to pay for my mom's funeral because I *owed* him for raising me well.

The Bad Thing: Realizing that it was all a terrible waste of time, a terrible mistake. I altered other people's lives for the negative! -esteban

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The Good:

I learned Spanish. To this day, I continue to benefit from having learned it. In fact, I'm going on a business trip next week to Puerto Rico because I'm the only one in my office who speaks Spanish.

I learned to appreciate other cultures and, believe it or not, other religions. While I still believed that we had the one truth, I still recognized and understood that some people were happy in their faith traditions. Some of that also may be due to the fact that my family converted so all our cousins and grandparents were non-mormon. I was always taught to respect that.

I made a lot of good friends. Many of my closest friends have also left the church which might say something about birds of a feather. On the other hand, two I can think of actually work for the church so who knows. At least one of my mission buddies posts here.

I think I learned to be a better husband. I remember thinking at the time, "If I can get along with this dickhead, I can get along with anyone." Marriage is way easier.

I had a good mission president. He was not a numbers pusher and he was genuinely kind. After hearing stories from a lot of other people, I can't believe my luck in getting a decent one. For that matter, my branch president in the MTC was also a singular human being. I got lucky twice.

I was lucky enough to be called on a mission during the time when they were 18 months for elders also. I don't think I could have done the full two years.

The Bad:

It was stressful. My dad died right before I left. I never dealt with the emotion and thus was left to deal with it in the mission field. I barely made it. I was seriously depressed. I was homesick a lot. My friends, for the most part non-mormon, would write me letters about their college experiences and all the sex they were having (no joke) and that was hard to take.

I was sick a alot. I probably lost 30-40 pounds. I was pretty unhealthy most of the time I was there. I pushed myself to work through the pain because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Faith only gets you so far though.

Unlike some I've heard about, my mission experiences probably helped to keep me active for years longer than otherwise. I was truly converted. Shoot, I already totally believed in it all, but I believed even more afterwards. Some of my experiences and feelings from the mission kept me on cruise control for years.

Companion issues. Out of all of the companions I had, I really only had two or three that I truly liked and got a long with well. One that I definitely couldn't stand and a couple I just tolerated.

I was way behind with school. I didn't go at all before the mission because my birthday was the fall after high school. I thought they more or less just shipped you off. By the time I learned otherwise, it was too late. I could have gotten two full semesters in if I had known that. As it was, I didn't start college at all until I was 21. -Zim

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The very best thing about my mission? I didn't have to go on one!

I took control of my own life at seventeen and never more was burdened by the morg. Damn fortunate I'd say. Wasn't cursed with a BS degree in Bigotry from YUB either. -MooseHaus

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The Good:

- Argentine culture, people, language - loved it!
- Food in Argentina (mostly Italian, with a ton of beef)
- A few companions
- Learning patience, endurance, self-control

The Bad:

- Constant rejection
- Feeling like a clown in my suit/tie
- Seeing mangy dogs humping on every street corner
- Feelings of occasional depression, unworthiness, confusion, etc.
- Missing good friends, family, dating, fun, school

-6th Sense

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Best Part - nice hard transition between high school and real life. Alot of good lessons in there

Worst part: DSB. Deadly sperm buildup. -Mr. Zip

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I went to Spain as well, Barcelona 1998-2000. I was done with the "mission" side of it after just a few months. I decided to turn my attention to the people and cutlure and that is the only reason I made it through two years. I loved the food, the people, language, the Footbal (soccer), festivals, flamanco music and walking through the cobble stone streets in the old parts of town. I will always have a love for Spain and will not be able to really put a close on my mission until I make it back there to see it through more mature and open eyes. I'm sure I missed so much because of all of the rules I had to follow and my companions who were attached to my hip. I was lucky in that most were pretty cool but some were too anal to have any fun.

Bad part: Zone Confrence, morning study, hearing "tango prisa" 50+ times in a day, getting spit on, having to practically hold hands with another guy 24/7, delaying school (still working on my degree) and helping baptize people into TSCC.

I mainly went because it was expected of me. I think there is a negative stigma attached to anyone guy who does not go or comes home early. My mom taught in Young Womens for years and she always told her girls to find and marry a RM and that that should be one of the first things they look for in a guy. If you don't go, then you will always have that hanging over your head and people will always wonder why. More mind games from the Morg, using shame and guilt to get you to do what they want. -Es Pura Mentira

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Mission. I loved my mission. Had a great time. Fell in love with a beautiful woman, going on 9 years of marriage now, and there is a lot more to that story. Learned an obscure southeast asian language. Most of my comps were of the fun variety.

Worst part. The guilt I felt for acting like any other regular 20 year old. I was doing things, sans the drinking, that any other guy my age was doing, but because I was breaking rules to do it I felt kind of bad.

Staying out late, watching movies, having a girlfriend, making out (among other things), playing on non-p-days, going to the mall-o-america (but we didn't make it, I broke my neck instead), bar-b-ques, hanging with "investigators" and never once mentioning the gospel... and more.

I look back on all that stuff now and say, "that was fun, I'm glad I wasn't a very good missionary." The worst part of my mission was the breaking my neck part, cracked my c-6 vertebrae right down the middle, and that wasn't even the worst of it. I had to go home for a couple of weeks **should've been longer but I whined my ass off to the SP to get me back out to the mission** and my MOM had to be my companion. Do you realize how annoying that was? Worst companion I had my entire mission. Even worse than the kid who took naked pictures of all his comps while they were in the shower. -tbiter jack scott

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1. I didn't go

2. I married my wife instead

Oh, wait, those are both good things...

Here's a bad thing -- I felt guilty for years about this decision. I dreaded meeting new people at church because thier second question (after my current calling) would inevitably be to ask where I served. I was relagated to second class status -- in my own mind at least. -Groucho

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Good: It got my mind off of my fathers death somewhat for a couple years.

Bad: It was a complete waste of 2 years of my life and I wish I could sue and get those years back. -Bag_Race

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The best:

The opportunity to meet and interact with people from a different culture: Alabama. Many of the characteristics of northern Alabama folk and eastern Idaho folk are strikingly similar. I meet some really neat people, TBMs, baptists, non-members, etc. The first two months I had a lot of fun with my trainer; him, like me, were the rebellious types. We broke a lot of rules, but I was only 20 and trying to enjoy myself, the only way I knew how. This fun would also be a significant factor for the worst.

My second area I spent 6 weeks in a three-some (no pun intended) One elder was mostly blind and couldn't bike on his own—yet we still had to bike—so I had the painstaking duty of biking him everywhere on a tandem bike. I didn't care for it then, but I laugh about it now. There's a post here about the tandem bike wreck.

The worst:

My (ex)girlfriend dear j'd me three weeks out of the MTC. It broke my heart. It was for this reason that I quit caring about the “stupid mission rules” and incidentally had all the “fun.” However, I started to feel horribly depressed and guilty about what I had done and decided that the best thing for me to do was repent to the mission president and say that “I'm sorry.” I wasn't expecting the intensity of the rebuke that he gave. Honest to god, he called me an Anti-Christ directly to my face and he almost sent me home. He didn't though and he decided to let me stay, as I wanted to give it another shot (go figure). He took my temple recommend away. For the next 10 months, I tried, (I mean I really tried) to be a good missionary. But I was still depressed! I felt lonely, undesirable, unworthy, and confused. How could God let this happen to me? Why am I here? Where is Christ when I need him? I'm trying to do whats right; why wont you answer me?? Is it true? I prayed and I tried and nothing. I never got that “I know its true feeling” that I was telling people that I 'had' felt and that they could know its true too. I was lying to them, I knew it, and I hated myself for it. After 13 months on a mission I called my MP and said “this is enough, I can't do this anymore, please send me home.”

I left feeling like a complete and total failure, a worthless scum bag that would be lucky enough to have his own family love him. Fortunately, they did, and still do. It took me damn near four years and a deployment to Iraq to get over the negative impact that mission had on my mind, soul, and character. I would choose a one year deployment to the nastiest place in Iraq, then serve two years on a LDS mission. -GK

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My thanks (again) to everyone who lent their experiences and thoughts about their mission!!!


9 comments:

  1. James Says:

    You realise how baised this is right?

  1. Sydney Says:

    I am certainly not stopping you from voicing your opinion on your mission, am I? Go right ahead. Be my guest. The floor is yours.

    Again, this blog is about my exit from the church and my issues and experiences in learning a completely different side of what I was taught while I was in the church. It's what this blog is about.

    You are more than welcome to add your opinion. If I was being completely biased why would I have asked them to share one good thing about their mission? I could have easily asked them to give me completely negative experiences, right? As a matter of fact, a couple of the people who gave me quotes even mentioned they appreciated their mission and they were happy they went.

    What is biased about that?

  1. James Says:

    Havn't gone on a mission yet.

    Yes it is still baised and this is why, "I asked some of my friends on PostMormon.org to share their experiences in the field as a Mormon Missionary." Your source is baised. If you honestly believe you have unbiased opinions then you obviously have no clue how rhetoric works and it is no wonder why you are so adversly effected by it.

  1. Sydney Says:

    I disagree.

    Again, I asked them for one good memory and one bad memory. You can think what you want, but it won't change anything.

    You don't really understand where I am coming from anyway... that much is perfectly clear. It seems as if you are just trying to argue with me about something... anything... as long as you end up being right. It's not going to happen.

    Arguing with me and telling me that I "don't have a clue" isn't going to get us anywhere.

    If you want to have a conversation about the issues, lets do it.

    What exactly are these "half-truths" that you speak of? You kind of skimmed right past that when I offered you a chance to explain what you were talking about.

    By the way... if I am biased by asking people at PostMormon.org about their missionary experiences, you would be just as biased if you asked a group of true-believing Mormons about their mission. You can't have it both ways.

    Again, please... what is the real issue here? The things you keep pointing out are pretty trivial. What are the issues? What exactly did I say that was a half-truth? You have the floor.

  1. Soy Yo Says:

    oops. sorry for the double post! Someone must have scratched my record.

  1. James Says:

    So I will accept that you also let them state a good thing. That is better than just having them give a bad.

    I'm sorry if I come off attacking but, weather you mean to or not, you also come off the same way. I guess that is just one of the problems with communicating with writing is that the tone of a voice is hard to communicate.

    I'm sorry about the "don't have a clue comment" if it was offensive. I would like to know what you do know about rhetoric. It is a powerful tool. It can be used to convince people of the truth or be deceived, of course we both disagree on what we see as truth and deceit.

    I looked through the blog trying to find where I said "half-truths" couldn't find it. If you could point me out to where exactly I said it maybe I could better address what you want me to, but I went ahead and came up with a few anyway.

    Joseph Smith married young girls, he also married women who were nearly 60. Why would he take a 60 year old if he could take all 16 year olds?

    Joseph Smith was polygamous, but those marriages happened near the end of his life around when he was 38. After he was commanded to.

    You say that the church distracts from family time with activities. You always seem to keep out family night on Mondays. Time specifically devoted to family time.

    The church did keep blacks from having the priesthood, but the responsibility of the priesthood had also been restricted to certain groups in biblical times. Why God does this I do not know.

    These are a few.

    I don't mean to attack you and my frustration with how you misrepresent the church today will sometimes show through. I post to try to show the other side of your views. I do this for anybody who may be reading. I just hope that people who read your blog will take your word only and reform your opinion as theirs. I want them to get a more complete picture before forming their own opinion. I want them to investigate the church with fuller depth before forming opinions.

    And to let you know I do question the LDS church and religion in general from time to time and then I go to seek answers. So far I have been able to answer those questions. They mostly pertain to science vs religion type questions.

  1. Sydney Says:

    James,

    I am sorry I thought you were the one who told me I was using "half truths" (which I am not) but I confused your comments with an anonymous comment on the "this sucks" article. My bad! Sorry again.

    I appreciate that you understand how it came across to me that you were attacking me. It did seem that way, and "don't have a clue" comment was extremely offensive. However, I am a forgiving person. All is good.

    I get that you think I am misrepresenting the church, but that is how you see it. Unfortunately, we see the situation differently.

    Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if people agreed all the time?

    I have always had pro-Mormon and Post-Mormon links on my blog for people who want to check things out on their own. It's certainly what I did when I was having questions with the church. I am not out to hurt you or anyone else that is happy in the church. I am here to help those who happen to agree with me and are having trouble dealing with it.

    You are more than welcome to stay and keep posting, but keep that in mind. No one is attacking anyone here. Just sharing opinions. I will always post what you have to say just like everyone else.

    If I were truly an "Anti-Mormon" (a term which I hate because I love the Mormons in my life) I wouldn't allow replies from Mormons, would I? Nope.

    Take care, see you around. I will respond to more of your questions tomorrow... probably in a new article. It's late here and I need to get some sleep!

  1. Nicko Says:

    Sydney,

    I certainly understand some of the frustrations of those who posted on this issue. Its slightly distressing to hear that some found their mission president and his wife to be so detrimental to their happiness. I had the most wonderful Mission President. He was like my Dad for two years...the one I never had. My father is not a member of the church as you know, and my mission president filled that void for me, especially in times of need.

    In respect to those who posted, I believe that they may have tainted their experience by leaving the church. They may have said much different things during the time they were serving.

    For me I want to add to the list please...

    Positives: Serving the people where I served and developing a love for not only them, but the missionaries around me. I learned to appreciate them and the love they had for me. ALSO, the development of my testimony with some absolutely stark and very real spiritual experiences. Another positive! COMING HOME!!! It was so fun to come home and move into normal life. I hate the cliche 'oh I missed the mission soooo much...blah blah'. Yeah yeah...can I just say one thing Sydney, I loved going out with girls again!! HAHAHAHAHA......the first time I held a girls hand after my mission, I had this huge smile on my face...anyway I digress!!

    Negatives: I had some 'tiffs' with some of the members that I didn't get over...until very recently. The other negative, it was very difficult to live with one companion who I really didn't like....but that happens anywhere huh.

  1. Sydney Says:

    Nicko,

    Good to see ya! Thanks for the kind words on my photos!

    I thinks it's awesome you had a good mission president. Many people I know didn't really care for their mission president or the mission they were sent on. Many of them were promised over-seas missions in their patriarchial (spell check) blessing and didn't get it. It started on a negative.

    I don't think these people have "tainted" their experiences. I can tell you that I know these people very well, and they are nothing but honest and trustworthy. I don't think their stories are swayed in any direction... just an honest opinion of what they went through when they were in the field.

    There are tons of things I think the church could do better if they want the missionaries to have a fantastic experience... and I am planning on posting about that tomorrow.

    Thanks as always!
    Sydney