As I said in response to Galdralag’s post, my mission was a very positive experience overall, a sea change in my spiritual life. (It was also hard and unremitting, as missions are wont to be, and I’d never want to go through the daily proselyting slog again.) But in spite of my own positive experience I feel a little terror when I think about my children serving missions. I know people whose missions inflicted lasting damage on them–spiritually, emotionally, socially, even physically. I’m acquainted with a couple of men whose missions destroyed their testimonies, and more than a couple of men and women who endured emotionally abusive companions.
There’s much that could be said, and has been said, about how the missionary program could be altered to make such experiences less likely. But today I’m interested in a more immediate and practical question. Those of you who encountered serious dysfunction on your missions–problems greater than medium-level homesickness, culture shock, and run-of-the-mill personality conflicts, problems that cannot be solved by injunctions to “forget yourself and get to work,” problems like faked baptisms and companions who scream at you for the smallest rule violations and control all the money and mission presidents who express their hatred of sisters–what would you recommend that a missionary in such a dire situation do? What do you wish you yourself had known, or done, when you found yourself in such a situation?
- 14 February 2013