“So You’re Going on a Mission!” There’s no place like home July 25, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
Tags: books, christianity, Evangelists, homesick, missionaries, Mormons, religion
Continuing series on the 1968 guidebook for prospective Mormon missionaries.
Chapter 5. Homesickness
So these missionaries are sent out for two years to be door-to-door salesmen for a bad product that nobody needs. They are expected to do this six days a week, and the other day will be mostly consumed with getting their chores and errands done. I’ve talked to some recent missionaries about how cut off they are from their families and previous lives during this time. I found out that the rules they work under restrict them from almost all contact with the folks back home, and what contact they have is very carefully monitored. No email, and no internet. No phone calls to friends or family. No TV, no radio, no movies, no unapproved magazines, no unapproved music. Calls home might be permitted on christmas and mother’s day, but no other times. And essentially no unapproved having fun. The hazing that these kids are going through to gain future status in their church is being made ridiculously hard with these restrictions.
Given that, our author opens her chapter with this:
“Homesickness is a condition of spirit which comes over you when you are separated from all you love.” (pg 50)
As far as I can tell, the missionary rules are structured to deliberately separate these kids from all they love. Should anybody be surprised that a lot of them suffer from terrible homesickness?
So let’s see what this book has to say about it.
First she talks about causes of homesickness, from missionaries that she interviewed for the book. Among the causes listed were writing home too often, calling home, thinking about home too much, and goofing off. And this might be my favorite:
“I suffered most on the nights when there was a full moon; then I let myself start thinking about the girl I left at home.” (pg 51)
That’s cute, but it sounds more like a song than like an actual case of homesickness.
But what advice does she have to help with this?
“…look in the mirror and say, “Am I working as hard as I can? Have I really buckled down and learned scriptures and discussions, realizing that discouragement comes most often from not knowing the materials I must teach?” (pg 52)
It’s your fault, so beat yourself up, feel guilty, indoctrinate yourself more, that’s the answer.
But there’s this, too:
“Have I made a real effort to get close to my senior companion?… Perhaps we can console each other.” (pg 52)
I know where my mind just went, but our 1968 guidebook doesn’t acknowledge the possibility that the companions might be comforting each other in unapproved ways.
And this one made my jaw drop:
“Do I really believe that if fear, discouragement, or worry enter my mind I have the power to toss such thoughts into my mental wastebasket and forget them?”(pg 52)
Remember the video “Turn it off!” from Book of Mormon that I posted few chapters back? I had thought that they were exaggerating when they said “don’t feel those feelings”. Sounds like they’re not exaggerating so much after all.
There’s also advice to senior missionaries about how to assist their junior partners with homesickness. And some of the advice given is actually pretty good. Take a walk, visit friends, do something nice for people where you are, make some personal connections. Not bad, until she says this:
“Most probably the best results will come from fasting together and talking about nothing but missionary work.”(pg 53)
Because when you’re feeling lonely and depressed, low blood sugar is just the thing to make you feel better? Seriously?
And she gives us this gem:
“You might even suggest thoroughly cleaning your living quarters. Sometimes a missionary can get depressed and feeling lonely just living in an unclean, unorganized apartment and it’s amazing what throwing away a three-month-old bottle of unrefrigerated mayonnaise can do for one’s morale!” (pg 53)
Yup, I’m sure that’ll do it! Next time a couple of missionaries knock on my door, maybe I’ll ask them if they are lonely and would like to cheer themselves up by cleaning out my refrigerator! It would sure help my morale, but I don’t really think that it would help theirs. Unless they actually enjoy cleaning, which coincidentally will be the topic of our next chapter.
(I also need to point out that commercial mayo is very shelf stable, it’s a myth that it spoils quickly.)