Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mormon Mission World: My Thoughts on A Valuable New Tool for Research

Each week there are dozens of new blogs coming on to Mormon Mission World.  When I started two years ago there were only a handful.  In fact there are many mission presidents who are using their blogs as missionary tools legitimizing the process.  One general authority M. Russell encouraged the last couple of groups of mission presidents to blog.  About 20 out of the 345 mission presidents have taken him up on that. 

I have read several posts over the past couple of years that claim various sites are the best place for finding out about missionary work.  I disagree with most assertions since the best place to find out about missionary work is from the missionaries and the mission presidents in the field.  When I worked on my doctorate fifteen years ago I learned that field research is the best way to find out what is really happening.  Mormon Mission World can help you find out what missionaries are really doing out in the mission field.  You don't have to guess since you can read exactly what they are doing and what they think they are doing.  You can examine the mind of missionaries in specific missions throughout the world.  You can glean information about the progress of the work

Things change even in a short period of time so the best indicator to find out what is going on is to read the current posts of missionaries now serving under a specific mission president in a specific mission.  The personality of the mission president and the missionaries who will serve with will determine what is really happening.  Not a bunch of speculation or studies about what some person thinks is happening.  Reading the words of missionaries currently serving or the mission presidents will give you a more accurate snapshot of what is going on in a specific mission.

Even though the General Authorities and mission presidents have certain programs or philosophies about what should be done by missionaries.  The best source of feedback is to read what the missionaries themselves have to say about what they do on a weekly basis.  You can find out through Mormon Mission World whether or not they are implementing them.

I have learned a lot about different missions and techniques being conducted.  Over the last couple of years I have witnessed through the words of missionaries many different ways of approaching missionary work.  Mormon Mission World is the most complete place for finding out about a specific mission field.

It is a pleasure to have many of the missionary blogs in one place so you can quickly find out about the progress of individual missionaries.  You find out about the ups and the downs of missionary work as well as the success in terms of changing lives of the investigators and the missionaries themselves.

I have spent literally thousands of hours collecting these blogs as a labor of love.  I spend at least two or three hours a day every day tracking them down.  So far about a quarter of million times things have been viewed at my blog Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.  To make sure people can find what I post I created an aggregator specifically on missionary work Mormon Mission World.  I originally designed a general aggregator the Mormon Blogosphere but the hundreds of blogs over ran it so I am in the process of making specific aggregators for different areas of Mormonism.

I have had to limit my interaction with people who email me so to reduce conflict I have a policy that says if it is on the Internet I will aggregate it.  If a person doesn't want it out there they need to make their blog private which takes a couple of keystrokes in the layout of their blog.  For the most part less than ten people have ever threatened me but their moral indignation toughened me up so I say as a librarian I stand on the Intellectual Freedom and the law allows me to aggregate another in the public domain.  If you don't like it too bad Google or Blog Pulse will spider it and make it known to anyone interested in it.  Lazy is no excuse if you want to limit it take your blog private.  It just requires you authorizing someone to view it.  I don't have time to get everyone's permission.  I don't aggregate private blogs it messes up my aggregator.

Also when the missionary comes home their blogs are a source of family history since they can reflect on what they did as missionaries.  I have been reliving my mission for the past thirty-five years.  I also have relive the missions of three of my children.  Their weekly emails don't really reflect everything that happened on their mission.  In fact they are instructed by their mission president to sanitize their weekly emails and to be positive and upbeat.  If a missionary isn't then he or she has some real issues.  When I see them reflected I think mission presidents should require every missionary to blog so they can find out what they honestly are experiencing.  Mormon Mission World helps us to catch a glimpse of what really is going on out in the mission world.  Every general authority, mission president, members of the missionary department and MTC should see how well they are influencing missionaries in the field.

I had a professor that use to say you can't know one hundred percent of anything but you can know a little bit by doing research.  Twenty percent knowing is better than guessing.  When you read the blogs of people engaged in the process you learn from them.  For the most part the blogs of those on Mormon Mission World are uplifting and motivational.  I can't think of a better way to help young men and young women go on a mission than for them to read the blogs of those engaged in the process.


Hellmut said...

I am wondering if there isn't a way to collect this information in an automated way.


Valuable information!!!!

Dr. B said...


That's a good question do you have any ideas.