Reflections of my mission president

I have been thinking for a couple minutes about my mission presidents. When I arrived in Florida, I did not care for my first mission president. His wife was very nice, but, he bothered me. I was idealistic and believed I was going to go out and serve others and love them into the church. When I arrived, we were ushered to the mission home, and told how important it was that we baptized every month. I was told that if the companionship baptized five people a month you and your companion would be invited to the mission presidents house for a steak dinner. The Elder's were really excited. I was bothered by the numbers game. I felt that they wanted us to go out and dunk anyone who we could. Which was easy for some. I personally felt differently. As a convert I felt they needed to know what type of a commitment they were making, and only make it if they felt they were converted. We were hounded about numbers, numbers and numbers. Yes, we did service, I had some awesome service projects. My favorite was helping to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. It was so wonderful to help families in need. I also enjoyed working with the Salvation Army. I did get a harsh lesson on how ungrateful people can be, but, it was a good experience in Human Services work. I always thought a mission should be served to help others, not convert others. That is where my mission president and I differed. Yes, I did help others find the mormon gospel, now I regret those actions. I would have been happier doing more humanitarian work, than pushing a false gospel on people. My first mission president left a few months after I had arrived. Then my second mission president and his wife arrived. I liked this mission president, he was a people person, a retired business man. He had a kind gentle way about him. His wife, I did not really care for, but, I liked him. He tried to steer the mission away from the numbers game, and into more of a "we care about the individual". That was better, he stopped the steak dinners and tried to get the missionaries to realize that these are people we are dealing with, not numbers. I finished my mission and moved on with my life. I was getting married, and my soon to be husband and I were planning the reception. I thought it would be cool to have the reception at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I spoke to my mission president and they were going to come to the sealing at the Temple and stay for the reception. Well, I changed my mind, I decided I would rather save the money and have the reception at my soon to be husbands stake center. I told my mission president and his wife we had a change of plans, the day of my wedding. They decided to not go to the reception, because I was not having it at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I found out then, what type of people they really are, very shallow. I always thought he was different, but, I was wrong. Before I got married, I worked in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in the Garden Restaurant. I remember seeing my mission president a couple times, at the receptions of other returned missionaries. As I look back on my mission, there was a lot of shallowness in the mission. It was a numbers game. They only cared about the numbers and appearances. I was a fish out of water. I always thought Jesus Christ was about people, not numbers. I don't regret my mission, I bucked the system as much as I felt I could on my mission. I was very vocal to leaders about I did not approve of their attitudes towards other races and women. Racism was and I believe still is very prominate in White Mormon's in the south. I ran smack into it many times, as we talk those from other races. Even people who had HIV. There are so many people in the world who need kindness and love. I like to think I was a different missionary, I was a humanitarian on my mission. To my leaders I was difficult. When I was told that a women we were teaching could not be baptized because she had HIV. And that we should never give her hugs because she was sick. I told the priesthood they were wrong, and that Jesus would never treat a person who was ill that way and I would give her a hug because she was a wonderful women. I am very proud of the fact that I stood up against the "priesthood" when I was on my mission. It was the right thing to do. I think Mormonism is a poison, that breeds intolerance. They cry about how they are loosing their religious liberty. They are not loosing their right to be religious. I think what is happening is that people are waking up and realizing just how intolerant and bigoted Mormonism is and they are loosing members. Because lets be honest, membership = money. For the self appointed Apostles to keep their livelyhood, they need to be able to control the members. Ok, I am done with my rant. Peace!

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Comment by Billy Forbes on March 2, 2010 at 8:50pm
Sounds like you had a rough mission in a way. I never served a F/T Mission, but temporary served a Stake Mission, and I was hounded to do lots. It didn't last due to medical reasons.
Comment by MikeUtah on April 1, 2010 at 9:07pm
Jeannie, your mission experience sounds very similar to mine. Though I was born and raised in the church, I became a true convert during the 6 months before my mission and really wanted to serve people to bring joy into their lives and make their lives better. When I got to my mission, it was the same story as yours, except we were told to reach 10 baptisms a month. I was so offended by the numbers game and by the quick shallow water baptisms that my first letter home condemned the mission. My parents forwarded my letter to the MTC who passed it on to a GA who called my mission president. He then called me into his office and chewed me out, made my cry and pretty much shut up about anything negative home again. Thankfully he was only there another 2 months before his time was up and a new president arrived. He continued briefly the numbers game of the first president, but gradually lead us a much better direction. I too bucked the system of numbers and stats on my mission. I had probably one of the lowest baptism rates on my mission and never served as zone leader and only once as district leader. I didn't care. I was there to love and serve the people in whatever ways I could find and were needed. I often hung out at inactive members houses to get to know them and be a friend and help if it was needed. I hated tracting so would find other projects to fill up our time, mostly service kind of stuff, or just loving the people etc. I look back now and am glad I kept my integrity and didn't fall for the stupidity of numbers and shallow converts who generally never stepped another foot in the door after their confirmation. Thanks for sharing your rant :-)
Comment by Miguel on August 30, 2010 at 3:26am
I don't recall meeting you on my mission (I served in the Portugal Porto Mission from 87 to 89) and your description fits into mine. 100%.

I wanted to serve the people but I was forced to proselyte. Number, numbers and more numbers. We were given pins in bronze, silver, gold, gold with ruby and gold with diamond for the number of baptisms we had. I hated that.

I had shit companions but also some that were very very good.

Were you difficult to your leaders because you wanted to serve? Take that as a compliment!

Miguel
www.miguellomelino.be
Comment by Jeannie on September 4, 2010 at 4:03pm
It sounds like the numbers game is a church theme. Another thing I took issue with is my companion and I taught an African American women, she was the sweetest gal. She was interested in the church, however because she had AIDs, the mission president said, you can teach her but do not hug her. The Bishop of the ward said he would not baptize her into to church, because of the AIDs issue. UNBELIEVABLE! Of course she never joined, we took her to church a couple of times, but because the ward members were so cold to her, I don't believe they knew anything about her illness. (Unless the Bishop breached confidentiality). She choose not to become a member. Now that I have left the church I am happy she walked away. It was the best thing she could have done for herself. It pissed me off that a Bishop who was a college professor at the local university, could be so ignorant. BTW, we had both given the gal hugs. Neither one of us got AIDs. Imagine that!
Comment by finally out on September 21, 2011 at 4:37pm

I think Mission Presidents only want Baptisms so it makes them look good, it helps them in their lives after the mission, in the hopes they make it to the big house and become a GA or something. The church dont really care about people, only numbers. Im sure there is only a small percentage of retention for every missionary, if missionaries were taught to love the people, then baptism would happen and people would stay in the church longer(until they find out its false). I also spent a lot of time with less active and part member familes and had a lot of success, its sad that a mision is measured by baptisms alone, it makes u feel like a failure if u dont baptize, I say screw the church.

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