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For another post that reflects on the missionary experience, see A Letter to My Former Self as a Missionary, posted today at BCC.

Great post, Dave. Thanks for sharing.

"I wonder to what extent the type of mission experience one has influences the type of post-mission church experience one has?"

I developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on my mission (diagnosed by a doctor at the BYU Health Center shortly after my return), which caused my post-mission church experience to include flashbacks and panic attacks at church meetings and in church interviews.

Sorry to hear you had a rough re-entry, Beijing.

For the past couple of years I've worked closely with the full-time missionaries as a ward mission leader. I was recently released from that calling.

My main impression of the full-time missionaries during that time was very positive. Basically every companionship I worked with over that time period consisted of missionaries who were serious about the work they were doing. They wanted to be obedient. They wanted to teach people the gospel. They wanted to have the spirit.

Of all the companionships, only one showed any signs of not getting along - a situation that seemed to occur because the younger companion was determined to keep drinking his beloved Diet Coke, even though the mission president had advised differently. I found that dynamic more amusing than anything and didn't take it too seriously.

Honestly, that was the closest thing I saw to a missionary breaking a rule and it obviously wasn't a very big deal.

Considering what I saw during my own mission, in regards to some missionaries who didn't really want to be on their missions - this was really a very comforting and positive set of experiences. I really came to love the missionaries and the mission program even more than previously and I think (if my experiences are any indication at all) that the Church has made positive strides forward.

beijing, i have read the details of your mission in other places. i too am sorry it turned out as it did. sadly, it was too late in life that i realized how many people had experiences like yours. you are brave to have posted so many details about it.

john dehlin kicked off mormonstories with a podcast, video and blog about his mission experience. i think that was also very bold. he included correspondence he had with a general authority.

i worked closely with the missionaries after my mission, before the bar raise and after the bar raise. honestly, i didnt notice much difference in the work being done. though, i did notice that there seemed to be fewer missionaries out that had that "holy crap i hate this and i am going to fight it every step of the way" kind of attitude. what is lost though, is that those missionaries were often the most personable and interesting. they were fun, they could step outside of the mission mind-warp and have fun and be fun to spend time with. they werent the most obedient, no doubt, but they were good people and everyone loved them. with the exception of the mission president, sometimes.

in my mission, the ones that baptised the most, were the ones having the most fun. they worked hard sometimes, rarely slept because they were always doing something early in the morning or after hours, and they were determined to have a good time every day. they were always the leaders and the most successful. our mission president appreciated that it was done within the lines, usually, and he let a lot of mid week basketball games and extended p-day hikes slide, without a rebuke.

sadly, missions are generally not fun. they are unproductive and boring and laborious. that may not sit well with the bloggernacclers, but its true. this really is the unwritten order of things, you cant really say you were bored or unhappy or disobedient during a mission. you can only say how great it was, even when it was crappy.

for those of us that missioned before the internet, or during the peak years of 88-91, we should be real about the diffence in the experiences versus today. its not the same. and baptisms per missionary reflect that difference. despite a raised bar and changes in teaching programs, converts per missionary are down. that is not fun for a missionary when they are constantly being told that their worthiness and faith and obedience determine success.

its tougher to be a missionary today because of information that is out there. people ask elders about the south park episode, about warren jeffs, about stuff they read online, about hinckley, romney and reid.

not long ago, when i was still churching, we hosted the missionaries a lot, a whole lot, including all the major holidays. imagine how pissed i was to go to the chapel one day, shortly after district meeting, and find "Elder X loves Men" written on the chalkboard by other elders. and to hear them laughing about it. hell, for all i know its true about elder x, but it sure wasnt meant as a compliment nor is it any of their business. i know this is not a reflection of all elders, though, i will say, it is a product of strange culture and boredom on the part of otherwise good young people. remember, packer endorsed the punch to the face for an elder like that, and, in this case, we dont even know if the statement was true. who cares.

the mission is so varied for people. its true that young people enter a lottery when they sign up. some win some dont. its sort of bizarre that anyone would take such a chance with those key years of their life. i dont regret my mission, but i am not bashful to say that others that were with me had a terrible mission. i want to think that there have been positive strides, but until there is some relenting on the pressure and the correlation between obedience/baptism, there will still be casualties and more personal stories like beijings.

I know that a lot of people have rough missions (my wife, for instance, had a terrible mission experience in a lot of ways (some of them similar to john dehlin's)). I don't think that their is a general moratorium on discussing rough missions in the church; this may be something more of a localized phenomenon.

You're right that the chalkboard incident was stupid. I don't know if it was cruel, because I don't know the situation. In a lot of ways, missions are like fraternities and there is a level of discourse within them that appears to outsiders as crass or silly, but makes sense inside it. Remember how many people got offended by the roach collection and the toilet scenes in God's Army? I can only assume that those are people who never actually went on missions or who have never spent an extended period with missionaries.

As to rule-breaking missionaries being the best, I wouldn't know. However, it is worth noting that the elder in that Michael McLean-era missionary video Labour of Love broke a host of rules.

DAVE, I went to a AP-hood and scouting conference this week end and it was brought up that the First Presidency actually "raised the Bar" in policies in 1992. The Source was apparantly the current General YM presidency, though I can not be certain. I was somewhat curious about this. Any idea of the veracity of it? (FWIW, I have noticed that Ballard's talk was more of a statement that we need to follow the policies that exist more closely than a change in policy.)

Also, ME, "[blank] loves men." as an insult may be the product of a strange culture, but it is not Mormon Culture.

I think you're behind the curve on this, ME. One of the primary purposes of the "raise the bar" push (while not well advertised) was to try and identify young missionaries who are, for whatever reason, at risk for a bad experience along the lines of Beijing and, if the risk is serious, either prevent the problem (if preventable) or avoid it (by not issuing a mission call).

Yes, missions are a lot of work, some of which is dull, tiring, even pointless at times. I've never seen missions promoted under a "missions are fun!" banner. Obviously, they have their rewarding moments as well.

I would agree that missionaries face a different set of challenges today than a generation or two ago, one of which is a wealth of information and disinformation that is more available to people via the Internet. And it is true that the mission experience of those who go varies, sometimes dramatically. But most who go are proud to serve and, when done, feel good about having served. If even ME can say, "I don't regret my mission," that says something.

hah dave. yeah, i did say that i dont regret it. and i really dont. i met my wife shortly after and have been back with her to see people and places from my mission. some of my best friends in life are mission companions i had, including todd o. there are an alarming number of apostates from my mission. the irony is that we were there for the peak in the mission by every quantifiable standard, and yet, so many of us have jumped ship.

dont get me wrong dave, i toed the line on my mission. i had a great time too. i was never in the doghouse for the things we did, they were all above board and kept me in a good headspace for most of those two years.

oddly, while i dont regret going on my mission, i have huge regrets about some of the stuff i did. i was a stereotypical male pig leader on my mission and i could have been much nicer to the sisters and to the elders that werent quite as enthusiastic and adventurous as i was. i am lucky to be in contact with so many of my companions so i can go back and talk about the events and get their perspective.

as for your curve, or this comment: "One of the primary purposes of the "raise the bar" push (while not well advertised) was to try and identify young missionaries who are, for whatever reason, at risk for a bad experience along the lines of Beijing and, if the risk is serious, either prevent the problem (if preventable) or avoid it (by not issuing a mission call)"

...i want to add, i dont think that i am really behind on anything. sure, there are some people that have obvious risk factors. why in the name of ballard shouldnt they have opportunities to serve and venture out in ways that are not threatening? is it really noble to exclude them, rather than figure out charitable ways to serve and accomodate them? i think this was not part of a raised bar, but rather, a case of missing the target completely.

also, you mention beijing (and btw, i think you owe her an apology or a clarification on this comment of yours.) beijing is a very gifted and talented person, she didnt go despite having known risks, nor were here experiences the product of HER problems, exclusively. what happened to her is quite common and normal and can happen to the strongest and most well adjusted people. its the experience that needs to be scrutinized further, not the quality of the people that go. why do so many people have bad experiences, or ptsd? i agree that screening people out reduces some ptsd, but not all. and screening is a form of discrimination and rejection, when a mission is held a pinacle event for youth.

just so i dont appear to antagonistic, i do like the two year volunteer thing. and i like it at that age. and i like the diversity and adventure in the experience. and i like that it is a family commitment for a young person to go. and i like that community support behind sending a young person out. i just think that there is a code of honor to pretend its the best years of ones life, when its not always the case.

i wish there were more options. opportunities to choose missions dedicated to construction, welfare, special needs, medicine, military, agriculture, sports, research, science, adoption, orphanages, natural resources, emerging economies, religion, and evangelizing the lds faith would be unreal. the church has the resources to make a change. the response by the world and the members would be great. but, it would take a large amount of humility to pull it off, as well as some admission that successful service is not dependent on obedience to a patriarchy and strange rules.

As usual, I think ME is on the money. The present LDS missionary effort has been long neglected and is a pathetic joke. My son (the one I raised), has 3.5 months left on his mission in a western state. His experiences haven't been nearly as positive as my mission a generation ago in the supposed mission hell hole of France. It doesn’t help that he has an exact obedience MP who, in practice, encourages character flaws like ratting on other Elders, having APs search apartments for contraband, etc. A Tongan Elder was sent home for striking an AP upon learning they had gone through private letters, etc. In other words, total failure to manage by objective.

Yes, when I served, we had plenty of missionaries that perhaps went for the wrong reasons, but I don't recall a single missionary that didn't help the effort and themselves just by being there, and all were better people for having gone. Nor do a recall anyone being sent home, except for medical reasons, even two Elders who took a vacation in Spain.

My son jokes the bar has been raised so high that many now just walk under it. He’s become very cynical and I worry about him post mission. But he has to find his own way, as do we all.

steve em!?! you too? another of les elders d l'eglise gone apostate? merde alors. quel diable.

Steve, I am shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that you think strict adherence to mission rules is counter-productive.

i dont see that message in steves comments. perhaps you can fill me in a bit.

strict adherence to mission rules is not always counterproductive, but it can be. when it causes missionaries to become depressed, or lose their identity, thats counter-productive. donchya think?

it is great commentary that you would look for, and comment on, the counter-productivity of obedience. where others, including myself, look at the counter-productivity of the ridiculous rules and the ridiculous suggestion that obedience to the ridiculous rules leads to blessings and success. there is some character development in it all, but i dont believe there would be fewer blessings and less success if missionaries called home on their own birthdays, wrote in their journals after 10 PM, ate boiled crawfish at a members house without a nonmember present, or read a newspaper. that stuff is just plain silly.

and just for fun, i dont think that there would be less success and fewer blessings if elders went swimming at a public pool on pday. except for that satan thing and how he controls the water. besides that, i dont think it would be counter-productive.

ME, oui, j'ai fait la mission française de Toulouse. Mais, tandis que je ne suis pas orthodoxe, je ne suis pas apostate, pas du tout. Peut-être un apostate d'apprenti?

oh my dear mission-assigner in heaven. toulouse? TOULOUSE? EFFING TOULOUSE? are you kidding me right now? and you call yourself a non-apostate. the very association with that band is heretical. go bathe yourself seven times seven times in la garonne river and cleanse yourself of your wickedness.

Yeah, most of the rules are counter-productive and relaxed, happy and enthused missionaries are generally the most successful. Not having dinner at a member's home w/o an investigator is super dumb. Most members won't even think about introducing friends to the missionaries if they aren't comfortable with the missionaries first.

In the South of France, we made most of our contacts on the golf course and were often out teaching until midnight in the summer. Of course, even as a Zone Leader, we never openly discussed the most effective methods. It is maddening how little the program has improved in a generation!

Yep, Toulouse mission under Max Wheelwright, G-d's gift to the LDS missionary. Best mission in the world!

strict adherence to almost anything can be counter-productive, as you and I both know. It seems to me that the rules aren't usually the problem anyway; it is the manner with which they are enforced. But that is neither here nor there.

Also, my mission president was clearly more inspired than yours ;)

"it is the manner with which they are enforced."

well no sherlock, sherlock.

in this case, the manner in which they are enforced is devastating. you might not believe this, but i actually think that the mission presidents, though many are clearly whack, are also victims of the system. i dont cut them much slack, because they perpetuate the lunacy in many cases. but, i do think they are following orders, doing their best in a system that is tightly controlled and dictated by salt lake. mission presidents dont create these stupid rules because they learned them at harvard and the marriot school of management, they do it because god told ballard and ballard told them to do it this way. what are they to do, call ballard and tell them the plan isnt working?

hp, my mission president was awesome, for me. not everyone agrees with my take on the guy. but, i loved him and look forward to seeing him again soon. for whatever reason, we were a great match and we spent a lot of time together during my mission and since then. i am certain he would be disappointed to read my stuff online, that does make me a bit sad, but, ya cant please everyone, right? he is a good guy who works hard. i hope he retires soon and takes all that energy and serves another mission - for the un, or peacecorps, or who, or habitat for humanity or something. people will benefit from his focus and tireless energy. so there, my mp was better than yours, damnit.

I am sorry. Your last sentence is so full of holes that I cannot possibly agree.

Regarding what you wrote prior, I agree that being a Mission President is a very tough job and a lot of great (and not as great) people have gotten the call. I agree that they are doing their best with immense (and occasionally conflicting) expectations. Such is the nature of a church run by amateurs. Occasionally, they do great (as yours did in your case). Such is the nature of a church run by inspiration (or so I think, at any rate).

Like I said, every mission is unique, as shown by ME and Steve EM. Nice of you two to give free advice on how you think mission presidents ought to run their missions. You can guess how much I think your free advice is worth. Steve, what makes you think golfing converts are any different from baseball baptisms?

Mission Presidents spend half their time dealing with the handful of missionaries who think the rules apply to everyone else but them (and because they are 20 years old, they know it all), fixing the problems they cause (to which they are generally blind), and trying to find creative ways to not send them home. That they may sometimes have some success in terms of contacting and baptizing is due to the fact that everyone puts up with them, not because their approach to being a missionary is in any sense a model or example.

Finally, ME in comment #10 is being his usual inconsistent self. The Church is bad because some missionaries have a bad experience. But the Church is also bad if it tries to identify young missionaries who are at risk and either insure they receive treatment or medication before going or simply determine they are better off not serving. All that shows is that ME thinks the Church is bad no matter what it does. Which is why, although he shares some colorful stories, his predetermined conclusions don't carry much credibility.

And as for Beijing's experience, obviously no one can pass judgment. ME, you are mistaken if you think most post-mission Mormons looks at another missionary's challenges of that sort with anything except sympathy.

dave, i agree about the post-mission mormons, to an extent. i dont see adequate sympathy coming from the highers-up.

"Mission Presidents spend half their time dealing with the handful of missionaries who think the rules apply to everyone else but them (and because they are 20 years old, they know it all), fixing the problems they cause (to which they are generally blind), and trying to find creative ways to not send them home. That they may sometimes have some success in terms of contacting and baptizing is due to the fact that everyone puts up with them, not because their approach to being a missionary is in any sense a model or example."

is this just stereotyping? or do you have evidence for this. fwiw, i agree to some extent. i worked closely enough with my mission president to know that it very well may be accurate. its weak to blame those missionaries for the problems in a mission. shouldnt the leaders take the fall, like an nba coach? and look at you, dont you know, that baptisms come from the lord, not from missionaries putting up with disobedient missionaries.

i didnt say the church is bad, did i? maybe i did. i have said it was harmful to some people, that is true, not sure i said that in #10.

dave, the church isnt bad to screen its staff. all institutions do it. the church is bad to not accept any responsibility for negative consequences and experiences of its volunteers. and, if they are not going to alter the experience or message to the volunteers, its bad to tell the same, from the time of their youth, that it is effectively a commandment and how much better off they will be in heaven and how great will be their reward and how lovely lovely lovely it will be, if, in fact, all people arent eligible. if person x has a condition that prevents him from going then its natural that he will feel inadequate when so much emphasis is placed on the mission for the bulk of his adolescence. and more, if not going is just fine for him and for god and for you and his bishop and his mother, then why isnt it just fine that a uber-qualified seminary graduate, eagle scout, quarterback, virgin decide not to go?

the problem isnt that mission presidents are spending time with elders and sisters that have problems, its that that time spent is perceived to be a distraction from proselyting success, no? am i wrong?

again. there are good things in the mission. but, it aint all peaches and cream, just like you suggested. and, the bar raising is flawed, that is bad.

What is flawed about the Bar Raising?

The Bar Raising is pretty much saying if you have serious sins or show signs of not really believing in what you are doing, you should get that worked out before serving a full time mission.

Where is the flaw?

Hey, I think Mayan said something nice about the church. HP should give him a cookie:

"just so i dont appear to antagonistic, i do like the two year volunteer thing. and i like it at that age. and i like the diversity and adventure in the experience. and i like that it is a family commitment for a young person to go. and i like that community support behind sending a young person out."

where is the flaw?

the flaw is that it wasnt met with any change by the institution. if there is now a minimum standard, based on the quality of the individual, including traits inherited at birth, then the mission is clearly not that important and shouldnt be treated as such. its an elitist priveledge.

and i dont buy into the obedience and worthy schtick. that too is flawed. for one, it defies the whole repentence thing. and more, it is nothing more than a heavy stick to enforce obedience to the church. perhaps, there are good intentions in it, but it is flawed. thats all.

equality, shutup. you know i only say nice things accidentally and when i am completed intoxicated with forbidden drink, drunk on love, deceived by lust and frustrated by the lack of cursing. forgive me for anything nice i may have ever said. :)

crap...now I have to eat the cookies ;)

I publically wish to apologize for saying mayan never says anything nice about the church (or, at least, church missions). I was wrong.

Moving on,
"the flaw is that it wasnt met with any change by the institution."
The thing is that it was met with changes in the institution. Changes that I think are for the best (and result in fewer baptisms). Changes in how people are taught and brought into the church. Better missionaries are doing a better job of helping people approach God (in my understanding, at least). I don't have a problem with that.

If anything, the implication is that you don't like the fact that the church is continuing to call certain things sinning. Of course, this can't have something to do with repentance because we believe that when one repents, one sincerely forsakes the sin. Even when one has undergone the standard "repentance process," people still need to get right with God.

One of the best missionaries I knew in my mission worked in a chop shop before his mission. I don't know that he would go on a mission today; of course, I don't know that he wouldn't either.

In any case, these things that you see as flaws, I see as strengths of the system in general (although I am sure I would disagree on specific cases). C'est la vie.

say law vee? non, mais non. not you too?

i should clarify something. i dont equate flaw with absolutely wrong. hell, my marriage is flawed, but its still the best damn marriage on the earth of any goddess. the constitution is flawed, but it is a great thing for this country. the bar raise is flawed, imo. i am not sure i could have gone under the bar. i know for a damn fact that by the bars new standards, many of the missionaries in my mission, including some companions, would not have been able to go. maybe they wish the bar had been raised sooner, who knows?

frankly, i will not concede the fewer baptism bit to the bar. there are way too many factors that go into that, the least of which is exact obedience and increased faith on the part of the missionaries, and THAT is where i fault the institution. cut these young and great people some slack. sure, some break the rules and they shouldnt. there are 50k of them out there, of course some arent going to comply, thats not why baptisms are down. its about time those that raised the bar send the message to the younger missionaries that their job is tough because there is a lot more information available than in years past, that the church has a darker history than they may have known about, etc, etc, etc.

the young people that go on missions are good people trying like hell to do a good thing, and they believe that they have the truth and god on their side. that is not all bad for crying out loud. i dont agree with it, obviously, but its not inherently bad. its frustrating, and anecdotally shown, that the accusation that few baptisms is a result of lack of faith and obedience, has a detrimental effect on the missionaries. again, until the institution comes clean on that little matter, i dont think they have done their fair share in the bar raise.

It's still hard to see how the Church as an institution is at fault in the current approach. Any young LDS man or woman who (1) volunteers (no one is drafted); (2) satisfies worthiness guidelines (which aren't particulary demanding for LDS youth); and (3) is physically and mentally fit for missionary service is allowed to submit papers and receive a mission call. It's worth noting that financial concerns rarely stop a missionary from serving -- local wards find ways to help. It's only $400 per month.

The Church could impose a quota and make it a competitive application process, but that's not going to happen. The Church can (and apparently has) nudged the worthiness and fitness bar a little higher, but the result seems to be to discourage a small percentage of missionaries who arguably should not be out in the mission field in the first place from serving. It also seems to be directed at local leaders who (for whatever reason) would otherwise approve candidates who shouldn't be going.

I agree that it is wrong for members to look at any situation where a young man or woman does not go on a mission as a worthiness problem. But I don't believe the Church has encouraged that perception. Maybe "raising the bar" was a poor choice of metaphor, but that image was directed primarily at the preparation side of the missionary equation. The comments directed at young men or women who faced physical, behavioral, or mental challenges were phrased differently.

In any case, ME, since you agreed earlier that missions are hard work that tax even the most dedicated missionary at times, what else is the Church supposed to do? The fact that they make an effort to screen out those most at risk to develop problems in what can be a stressful environment seems like a responsible development. The fact that the Church is even willing to acknowledge the category of "mental health challenges" rather than just write them off as laziness, lack of self-discipline, or some form of Satanic influence is a big step forward.

"what else is the Church supposed to do? The fact that they make an effort to screen out those most at risk to develop problems in what can be a stressful environment seems like a responsible development. The fact that the Church is even willing to acknowledge the category of "mental health challenges" rather than just write them off as laziness, lack of self-discipline, or some form of Satanic influence is a big step forward."

obviously, i dont have all the answers, dave. i am just a small brained pachyderm.

recognizing mental health is a good thing. i agree. i really agree. i also agree that it is better for the missionaries, as there are too few resources, even in domestic missions, to handle real medical and mental health needs.

we all agree it can be stressful. so why not make that part of communication to the leaders as part of the raised bar? why not clarify what that means?

bishop young: "young men. some days are really gonna suck. you are going to be asked to do stuff that is boring, thankless and unproductive. you will be asked questions about stuff that you have never heard of, which is true. you will be told your obedience affects baptism. you will be told you have special gifts of discernment, but, that may not really be true. boys, you are going to be bored out of your mind sometimes. and you are going to be embarrassed to tell members that you cant come to their house unless they invite a nonmember. bishops will ask you to give a testimony, even if you cant speak the language."

see where i am going? i was not told all this. my parents werent told. in my family, people have come home with serious cases of depression and anxiety. that really sucks. and there was no preparation for this happening. i hate that. and i dont fault my family for it, sorry.

and the other thing. do you want me to find references where the young women are told to marry a return missionary, or where they are told that a rm is better than someone who didnt missionate for two years? sheesh. when that suggestion stops, ill give you a pass on the church being blameless for the judgments of the member, until then, i give the members the benefit of doubt.

Yes, and teenagers always do what they're told ... not! Young men and women will marry whoever they end up falling for, for the most part. It generally defies rational explanation or parental direction. Young LDS men and women not only marry non-RMs, they often marry non-Mormons. The wonder is that the empahsis on marrying worthy LDS partners and aiming at a temple marriage has any effect at all. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric.

I know that you have anecdotes on your side, but my super awesome mission president never drew a connection between baptisms and missionary obedience. Since we believe in moral agency in the church, I am not sure that we believe that God would approve of us making that connection anyhoo. I don't deny that it happens, or even that it happens more than we would like, but I think it is bad doctrine. FWIW. (I am sure it helped my mission president that we were in a mission with low expectations for baptisms per missionary (though higher than those in France, I would guess)).

hp, careful now, dont make me like you. thats bad for your reputation and eternal salvation.

Might be true about "disobedient missionaries" being more effective, although I imagine it depends on what you mean by "disobedient." In our mission, innovation was encouraged and there weren't a ton of restrictions. It was an interesting dynamic.

But I saw another side of the disobedient missionaries who "got results."

Often they tended toward arrogance and narcissism. They'd only reach out to people they liked and would snub, ridicule, and openly mock those they didn't like. They could be cliquish. And they often seemed to have an irrational dislike of the local members.

I spent 3 months trying to repair the damage done by an apartment of "free spirits" who pitted their own clique against the local church leadership, openly ridiculed longtime faithful members. And whenever anyone tried to criticize them, they always got labeled as superficial, pharasiacal, "law of Moses" types.

A mission of 19 year old boys is always a few short steps from going Lord of the Flies on you. Those rules are there for a good reason. These are not mature, fully developed personalities yet. You let them have free reign, they can and will do extreme damage to the church and the community.

dave, yo dave, uh, you there dave?

i just googled and wikipediad and spacedmy and prayed and guess what, you are right, teenagers dont always do what they are told. thanks for the heads up on that one.

thank the good ganesh that people have the guts to marry who they fall for, regardless of parental direction. i beg to differ that relationships 'usually' defy rational explanation (whatever that means). if you were referring exclusively to teenagers, sure, any long term relationship begun in ones teens is bound to face some issues. though, the hot ms. elephant was just a teenager when we fianceed. thats byu for ya.

honestly, i dont think the people that hear all that rhetoric about the temple marriage and mission goals, and either laugh or little or throw up a little in their mouth, and then go on to do other things are the only ones that merit consideration. honestly, i think they are the luckiest ones on a personal level. the harmed ones are the parents of those people that are left sitting in chapels and conferences hearing someone cry and blabber on about how lovely it is to have all their children married in the temple, in the name of jesus christ amen. or to hear the leaders of the church carry on about how important it is to go to the temple, in the name of jesus christ amen. or to be reminded that by not going to the temple, those same kids chose to not be part of an eternal family in the celestial kingdom, in the name of satan amen. remember [mormon] families can be together forever, thats heavenly fathers plan. the rest of the families - hosed. mega hosed.

seth, good points. i agree that it cant be anarchy. i disagree with the obedience/baptism association. thats different than rules and regulations.

Mayan, the more you talk, the more over the top your comments and vocabulary get. You just aren't happy until you provoke a response; then you go complain how thin-skinned everyone else is. Fine: It's smart-ass comments from people like you that make people want to "throw up a little in their mouth" (to use your picturesque term) more than anything I've ever heard in any LDS meeting. It's obvious you have little sympathy for faithful Mormons, so you can save your mockery for your board buddies. That's about all that goes on there -- how pathetic.

"The harmed ones are the parents of those people that are left sitting in chapels and conferences hearing someone cry and blabber on about how lovely it is to have all their children married in the temple, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen." (Capitalization and punctuation added.) Always imputing pain to those you favor and making average, church-going Mormons sound like spiritual bullies. Your "we're all victims of those mean, rotten Mormons" routine wore thin a long time ago, ME.

Post script - After exchanging a couple of pleasant emails with Beijing, I would like to clarify my responses (in comments #4, #9, and #22) to Beijing's short account (in comment #3) of her difficult mission experiences. My comments were not intended to reflect negatively on Beijing. As I noted to her in an email, I have known several individuals who, as missionaries, had "bad experiences" along the lines reported by Beijing. They were all fine young missionaries and didn't deserve (in any sense) the way things went for them. In the same way, as I said in comment #22: "And as for Beijing's experience, obviously no one can pass judgment." If my responses conveyed a different impression or otherwise gave offense, I apologize.

More generally, I think every LDS missionary deserves a good experience. Every one of them. That's as true of an unprepared, unmotivated, or just plain lazy missionary as of a diligent, responsible, hardworking missionary: they are all making a significant sacrifice to serve and, in a perfect world, they would all have a rewarding experience, feel good about their service as a missionary, and go home a better person than they went out. That a small percentage have an overall bad experience (of whatever sort) is, in my opinion, simply a tragedy.

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