Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Mission, Episode I

                                                                                                            (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Mormon missionaries do not get paid to go into the mission field.  They must pay their own way.  It costs approximately $10,000 to send your kid on a mission.  The church then takes this money, and distributes it accordingly.  Because some mission locations are extremely cheap (South America for example), and some more expensive (Western Europe), every missionary paid the same amount and what was not used in some areas, were used others.  Each mission in the church is led by a “Mission President”.  I didn’t know it during my mission, but the Mission President is actually subsidized by the church.  He is reimbursed all money required of him to spend on his mission, see my blog post about that here.

Before any Mormon missionary goes out into the mission field, they must first attend training at the Missionary Training Center (MTC).  There they receive the training to make them formidable servants to God.  You’ll learn all the key scriptures and key teaching points.  You’ll learn to work with a companion 24/7 and how to “sell” the Mormon church.   

For me, it meant flying out to Preston, England for a few weeks to learn what I needed to be a missionary.  This experience was really cool for me, and even though I have since left the Mormon church, I really enjoyed being able to go to England.  Before that, I had rarely left the state of Indiana.  I had never flown in an airplane before, so my first flight was to a foreign country.  Lucky me.  What made matters worse though was I had already been set apart as a missionary, which meant I couldn’t even watch the in flight entertainment.  I wasn’t going to start my mission off on a bad note.

Mormon missionaries have very strict rules to follow, or else the Holy Spirit may not dwell with us, and subsequently, we would find it difficult to convert souls to Jesus.  So I was not allowed to watch TV, Movies, read non church books, call home, call friends, call anyone not related to missionary work or otherwise entertain myself in any way.  A missionary is expected to be in eyesight of his companion 24/7.  Mormon missionaries live with another missionary of the same sex for the entire two years.  The only time you’re away from your companion is when in the bathroom (some even left the door open for that) and when with another member of the church.  I would NEVER be alone.  If left alone, who knows what we may do.  We wouldn't spend the whole time with the same person.  There were changes made every six weeks, which were called "transfers".  A missionary could typically expect to stay in the same area for at least two six week cycles.  The longest I had been assigned the same companion was 3 months.  By changing these things around, it helped with complacency. 

I had to live by a strict schedule as well.  It went something like this:

6 AM: Wake up, pray and begin personal study
7 AM: Pray and have companion study
8 AM: Breakfast, shower and get ready for the day.
9 AM: Leave your residence and do missionary work.
12 PM:  Eat lunch
12:30 PM: Return to doing missionary work
5 PM: Dinner
6 PM: Return to doing missionary work
9 PM: Return to your residence
10 PM: Bedtime

This schedule would be repeated every single day, with the exception of one day per week in which we would be given a “day off”.  Even that day we would only get to be off from 9 AM - 6 PM.  So, day in and day out I would be inundated with missionary work.  Typically, our morning would be spent out on what was called the “High Street”.  This was a pedestrianized roadway for shopping.  Imagine an outdoor shopping mall, and you’ll get the idea.  I would stand out on these streets and stop people as they walked around, using high pressure sales techniques popular in the business word.  I never knew until after I was on the way out of Mormonism, that this was what I was doing.  I was a high pressure sales person.

I would use tactics like placing myself directly in front of the person, shaking their hand and immediately engaging them in conversation.  I would ask them some prep questions to capture their attention, then when I knew they weren’t going anywhere, I’d hit them with the “story”.   In fact, when I was a missionary, we had a set of six standard discussions we would teach to “investigators”.  We would literally memorize these lesson plans, because they were formulated with particular “selling points”. 

While on the streets, I would be recite a portion of the first of the six discussions, and tweaked it for optimum results.  It went as follows:

“There is a God, and there is only one God.  Other people may call him by different names, but he is the same God.  You are literally God’s children, and he loves you so much.  He wants to live with you again and has designed a plan to ensure that happens.  You see God has always spoken to his children through the mouths of Prophets.  Can you tell me about any Prophets you know”?

“Great, absolutely, yes he was one such Prophet, and God told him this plan.  Well, some time after the death of Jesus Christ, this plan got lost and forgotten.  But God in his infinite wisdom, has ensured his plan would not be lost forever.  When the time was right, and his children ready to receive his plan again, he selected another Prophet to deliver it to us.  This Prophet was Joseph Smith.  Now when Joseph was just a boy of about 14 years of age, he simply wanted to know the truth, and which of all these churches were true.  So, one day he would walk out to the grove of trees near his home and got on his knees and prayed. What happened next would change the world forever, for Joseph got an answer, he recorded, 

‘I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17).

“Jospeh saw God and Jesus Christ, and under their direction restored his church to the earth, and gave us his plan.  I want to share with you all about this plan God gave to us.  When’s a good time to meet with you to share this wonderful message”?

That was it.  Sometimes the street discussion would last longer depending on the individual, but the goal was to hook them and reel them in.  I was taught to not ask IF we can share this with them, but instead WHEN.  Very subtle, but very effective.

This was how I spent the majority of my mornings and afternoons before dinner.  It was very invasive, but necessary for my business, and business was good.

1 comment:

  1. There were times that I was so intensely dedicated that I couldn't turn off even when getting ready in the morning I would practice my body language and gestures while teaching, to come across as less aggressive authoritarian but more grandfatherly in authority like the GA's. I'm talking about standing in front of the mirror and practicing with only a towel on. Even tried to perfect the "Preece Claw"