In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, young men are commanded to go on a mission when they turn 19.
Spencer W. Kimball said,
Every young man should serve a mission. It is not an option; it is
your obligation (Church News, October 9, 1983).
Going on a mission is voluntary in the sense that keeping any of the
church's commandments is voluntary, but the social pressure that the
church and its culture place on the kids to fulfill this particular
obligation is intense.
The links on this page are my attempt to give a little insight into
the lives of the Mormon missionaries. You'll find my opinions on
missionary life are jaded, but sympathetic to the people who find
themselves living it. Have empathy for them.
The Life of a Mormon Missionary: This is a short story that tries to give the reader a first-hand feel for what being
a missionary is like. Many facets of missionary life are missing,
and many missionaries have experiences that don't resemble this. But when
many missionaries dream about their missions, this is what it is like.
Why Serve: Spending 2 years trying to
convert others to your religion isn't what most 19-year olds would
consider a good time. This looks at the most
common reasons why individuals choose to go.
Objectives: What are missionaries really trying to
accomplish? Consider this.
Creed: In some missions, the missionaries memorize this creed and
recite it whenever they meet. It both inspires and puts pressure on
Rules: The missionary's life is dominated by rules. The
core rules are in the infamous Missionary Handbook, commonly known
as the "White Bible". There are many rules in addition to
these that tend to vary from mission to mission, but these are the basics.
Lock Your Heart: Mission presidents often
instruct their missionaries to carefully study this patronizing discourse.
It gives a lot of insight into the pressure missionaries are under.
Missionary Etiquette: If you've read the preceding links, you've
probably inferred the following things:
I really like missionaries.
I really don't like the way the church as an institution treats
I feel sorry for the poor guys.
Be good to the missionaries, please. This is how.
Advice for Missionaries: Like all
returned missionaries, I feel compulsions to offer advice to those who are
following the path I tread.
Theobald Pontifex: The Way
of All Flesh by Samuel Butler is one of the greatest novels in the
English language. Read some experts about how the semi-fictitious
character Theobald decided to be a clergyman.
Offsite Links About Missionaries
Missionary Life by Spencer J. Condie. An Encyclopedia of
Mormonism article about life as a missionary.
Flight 789 by William Shunn. Arguably the most insightful and
entertaining story about missionary life ever written.
Sin and Death: Mission Adventures of a 19 year-old. Even when people
believe you, love you, and welcome you into their lives, being a
missionary isn't easy.
Should You Go on a Mission? by Michael Carr. A thoughtful essay about
some things to think about when deciding if you should serve a mission.
to Self Brings Peace by Wayne Rayner. A powerful story about life as a
missionary from somebody who took his mission too seriously.
Get the Fire! by Nancy du Plessis. A PBS documentary about the
Mormon missionary experience.