Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Coddling Missionaries

Going on a mission is hard work. You have to get up early in the morning, make your bed, shave and shower, prepare, cook and eat breakfast, exercise, wash dishes, have companionship study and learn concepts from Preach My Gospel, plan out your day hopefully in a planner, you have to call people and set up appointments, or ask members to pick up investigators or you and your companion, or on occasion go on missionary exchanges with you. You then have to walk, ride or drive miles to an area for tracting or appointments. At dinner time you have to meet with a member family who may or may not be helpful in giving you contact but you have to learn how socialize with them in hopes they will like and trust you to give you contacts. Missionary work is hard, tedious, monotonous work.

Then you have to go out in to the mission field and contact people you don't know who for the most part will reject what you have to say. Many will make appointments that they won't keep. If they keep their appointments you have to help them feel the Spirit so that they can accept commitments on the way to being baptized which means you have to be in tune yourself all the time. You have to not be afraid and be bold and challenge them to accept the gospel. Missionary work takes a strength of character. It is not easy to get up every morning knowing that it is cold and dark and that you will be going out to baptize possibly a handful of people. You will push yourself physically and mentally to travel thousands of miles and may or may not see immediate results.

Many missionaries become discouraged or despondent when they find out how hard a mission really is. They become tired and look forward to going home. It is not unusual for missionaries to want to go home early.

Betty Pearson thinks that thousands of missionaries abandon their missions because mothers are coddling their children. She relates the example of an ex-boy friend of her missionary daughter whose mother made his bed, cooked his meals, scraped the ice off his windows, and let him live at home until he was 25. She gives examples of parents who wrote their missionary every day filling the letters with things about home and talking about the stuff they would do when they come home which trunked the missionary out. She suggested parents should concentrate on their kids missions and avoid talking about home and to only write once a week.

I agree that parents need to prepare their kids better for missions. Teach them to make their own beds, clean their rooms, learn how to sew buttons on clothes, learn how to conduct a hymn, shine their shoes, learn how to cook meals, wash dishes, and exercise. Many missionaries are so obese today they can't walk a mile let alone walk ten or twenty miles which many missionaries have to do. I walked so many miles on my mission that I put a hole in the back of my heel that was so deep it bleed constantly. You have to be tough to be a missionary.

Missionaries should also be taught to live within their means while on a mission. In my mission we had an Elder whose parents gave him so much money that he would do things like buy televisions which were against the rules. The mission president had to struggle with this elder mostly because he was constantly goofing off because he would buy things to entertain himself from radios to dart sets to televisions.

Suzanne at Meridian Magazine says: " One of (last week’s) readers noted that missionaries serving in her area often come with credit cards from home to use on the mission. I find it disgusting that such enabling parents are baby-coddling their children on missions. For those parents who might be tempted to send their kid into the mission field with a credit card, consider this: A) The Church doesn¹t even let people go on missions if they are in debt to ANYONE. B) Since when does a good missionary have time
to use a credit card!?

As a returned missionary, I can assure all the Nervous Nelly parents out there with kids on missions, your son or daughter is surviving just fine without you. It may be hard to accept, but your child does not have time to think about you as much as you are thinking about him. Good missionaries are never homesick and wishing they were at the mall with you. They are reveling in the Spirit and work of the Lord, and the last thing they think about is home, except on P-day when they either a) have to write a letter home, or b) they don¹t get a letter from home. Even though most missionaries are being supported by their parents (with much sacrifice on their part to say the least), the mission is a deeply personal and private experience that has very little to do with the people back home or with the missionary¹s parents. Doting parents need to back off and let the kid grow up while he¹s away from you long enough to do so!

My dad left for his mission without enough money to even get to Korea, at a time when people traveled by ocean liner. He had some wonderful spiritual experiences because he had to learn to rely on the Lord and others around him for help. Do your kids a favor and let them have those experiences too. Stop sheltering them from life by putting a credit card in their hands. Without it, maybe both you and your children can grow up over the 24 months they¹re gone!"

Parents need to do a better job in preparing their kids for missions. They need to talk about enduring to the end while on a mission. My mission was the hardest thing I ever did. I was ill-prepared for a mission but one thing I did learn was that by sticking it out I could be persistent in any task and complete things that others would have given up on. Don't enable your kid to fail. Encourage them to stick it out. My non-Mormon father when I spoke to him once told me don't quit or you will feel like a failure your whole life. I didn't like his counsel but I made it through and I am glad I did. Remember the old adage when the going gets tough the tough get going. Be tough the Lord will bless you.

1 comment:

jared said...

As a YM leader I used to make sure to tell the YM that going on a mission is hard work. I think that sometimes they sit in church and listen to returned missionaries and they only hear the good stuff. They don't stop to think of the challenges that will be presented and then they don't know how to deal with them when they occur in the mission field.

Thanks for the blog.