“So You’re Going on a Mission!” Stay Healthy! August 5, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
Tags: books, christianity, doctors, healthcare, missionaries, Mormons, religion, stupidity
Continuing on with the series on the 1968 guide for prospective Mormon missionaries:
Chapter 7. Health Care
This is a very short chapter, which surprised me, even though I suppose it shouldn’t. What I noticed mostly about it was not what it said, but what it left out.
Of course, it’s going to tell the missionaries to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, get some exercise, and avoid exposure to infectious diseases, the normal basic stuff, since it would look really bad for their young people to be sent out to preach and then immediately collapse.
And there are a few old wives tales, also predictable considering that this book was written by an old wife. She says,
“Get out of wet clothing as quickly as possible, particularly wet shoes and socks.” (pg 58)
Which we know will not give you a cold.
And in the section about whether to take vitamins,
“…many of these habitual non-users do believe in taking Vitamin C when they feel a cold coming on.” (pg 60)
Which we now know does nothing for preventing or treating a cold.
She spends quite a bit of time talking about weight, and either losing or gaining weight while on a mission. At least she does connect being homesick and on an unfamiliar diet with possible weight loss, and being overfed by generous hosts as a possible cause of weight gain. But she connects weight entirely to the amount a person eats, and makes no mention of the effects of exercise, or that the missionaries are at an age where their teenage physique may be filling out into a normal adult physique. A missionary who suddenly finds themselves walking and biking for miles a day may put on some muscle weight, and there’s no mention of this. Her tone about weight is generally pretty negative:
“HINT: You must have a physical examination and take the doctor’s report to your stake president at the time he interviews you for a mission call. If you are really overweight at this time you won’t even ben called. Overweight not only poses a serious health problem, but it can cause friction between companions. A missionary who eats modestly could become a bit disgruntled when required to pay half the bill for a food gorger!”(pg 59)
I have a feeling that the reason they aren’t sending out overweight missionaries is more about the image of the Mormon church than about the missionaries’ health. A young person who is heavy, but does not overeat and is in pretty good health overall might be really good at preaching, and would probably benefit from all the exercise on a mission, but they aren’t going to be sent. And the biggest eater I ever knew was rail-thin! Having a thin companion is no guarantee of a low food bill.
But the part of this chapter that stunned me as to its brevity was is the part about getting medical and dental treatment while travelling. There is absolutely no mention of health insurance. Zero. Wikipedia says that by 1958 75% of Americans had some form of health coverage, but this author simply ignores this. What insurance information to bring, when to contact your insurance company, finding out what coverage you have before you leave, that’s just completely absent. This may be my 21st century perspective biased by our outrageous 21st century health bills, but a youngster who finds themselves needing costly treatment while in a foreign country could really use some good advice on what to do, and how to deal with insurance companies.
And another major subject that’s ignored is the fact that these kids may be travelling to places where the diseases and health hazards are different, and they should be prepared before they go. In her chapter on travelling she even itemized the airline weight limits for different airlines, and I was expecting that maybe she would give a useful list of different diseases prevalent in different countries, and what measures and equipment should be taken to avoid infection. A nice chart showing where you need mosquito nets, where guinea worm is a problem, and where you have to watch out for schistosomiasis would have been a great resource. Nothing. She also recommends that the kids get their flu shots, but there’s no mention of any other vaccine. She could have helpfully listed what vaccines are available for diseases prevalent outside the U.S. but again, nothing. Not even a friendly reminder to ask the locals about which snakes are venomous, or which insects carry disease.
And of course, it goes without saying that she doesn’t mention how to prevent STD’s, or even that they exist. Since 100% abstinence is what’s expected of the kids, there’s no consideration that they might need to know anything about disease prevention there. Mormons aren’t supposed to smoke either, so that’s not omitted as well.
Next up – cooking! Woo hoo!