Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

Archive for the ‘Missonaries’ Category

The Parable of the Faithless Soil

Posted by Jon on March 28, 2008

In the scriptures, specifically Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we read that “the field is ripe already to harvest…” However, the experience of my own mission to France was, to put it lightly, quite the opposite… at least that’s how I felt at the time. It took a while after the mission to come to the realization that the field may have been ripe, Harvestingbut all that didn’t matter if the farmers stopped believing there is a crop (or didn’t work in the field to try and make it grow).

The beginning of this realization came a little more than a year into my mission. My zone leader invited me to a bishopric council meeting which he attended monthly. As happened every time missionaries were in attendance the missionaries were asked if we had any investigators, and where they were in the discussions.

The last straw for me happened during Bishopric’s council. The zone leader at the time invited me to attend with him that week since I was in town for the meeting (I was in a separate town where we met in a small room for “independent Sunday School” with only about 10 members in the town). The bishop asked if we had any investigators coming to church that week. Before we could answer, the Relief Society President at the time sarcastically blurted out, “Ha, yeah elders, do you have anyone coming EVER?” She laughed as she said it, and it made me furious with to see her lack of faith in our ability to succeed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Faith, Missonaries, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

“The church must be true, or the missionaries would have ruined it by now.”

Posted by Kerry on March 11, 2008

Have you ever heard that statement? It’s kind of funny, and in some cases, probably true. I have to admit I did some pretty stupid stuff as a missionary. Good thing we didn’t have Facebook or MySpace back then. 🙂

LDS Church issues apology in missionary vandalism case

LDS Church apologizes for ‘senseless’ vandalism of Catholic church, shrine

“Olsen said the LDS Church has initiated a “thorough investigation” of the incident and has arranged for a meeting with Catholic leaders to offer apologies.

‘We are providing the names of those involved to law enforcement officials and will continue to cooperate fully with those investigating the incident as well as with officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Those missionaries who have since returned home will face disciplinary action from the church,’ the statement read. ‘The missionary who was still serving in Colorado has also been disciplined and his mission terminated.’ “

Posted in Church News, Inter-Faith Relations, Missonaries | Tagged: , , , , , | 20 Comments »

A Tale Of Two Missions

Posted by Shawn L on February 22, 2008

muppmission.jpgMy wife and I were out to dinner the other night with some good friends of ours who are also LDS.  As I am wont to do, I shared with them an anecdote from my long-ago mission in Guatemala.  Admittedly, the story, which detailed the unpleasant experience of being tested for intestinal parasites in a third world country, was probably inappropriate for a post-meal discussion (hint: it’s not a blood sample they want).  It got a few laughs nevertheless.   Once she recovered from yet another rash of embarrassment at my hand, my wife asked a simple question that has stuck with me:   “Was it worth it?”

I was taken aback and, I’ll admit, a bit hurt by the question.  How could my wife even think to ask such a thing?  Surely she knows how important my mission is/was to me, right?  That it means much more than a few funny stories?  But as I have mulled over her question in the past few weeks, I have come to realize that it stemmed from the fact that I tell two very different versions of my mission experience.   And for each version, my answer is a bit different.

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Posted in Missonaries, Mormon Culture | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Ammon Approach: Redefining Missionary Work

Posted by Andrew on February 20, 2008

MissionariesWhen it comes to Church growth, the Church sets high expectations for itself. Likening the Church to that scriptural stone that rolls forth to fill the whole earth, Church members may expect to see exponential Church growth, with significant year-over-year gains in the number of convert baptisms. However, over the past several years, the number of annual convert baptisms has actually dipped and plateaued somewhat, corresponding in part with a decrease in the number of full-time missionaries. Moreover, retention of new converts remains a challenge, as we are often reminded by Church leaders. In this situation, it is natural for Mormons to consider possible ways to improve the Church’s missionary program to increase the number of genuine converts to the Church.

The mission in which my stake is located is currently testing a pilot program that hearkens back to a familiar Book of Mormon story about a man named Ammon who wanted to build a bridge between two long estranged peoples, one of which was completely unfamiliar with the Gospel. Setting aside the direct proselytizing approach to missionary work, Ammon embarked on a mission of simple Christian service that inspired thousands who were previously considered the most unlikely potential converts to join the Church. If every stake and ward in the Church were to adopt Ammon’s approach to missionary work by conducting a wide-spread campaign of consistent, meaningful, no-strings-attached community service, could the Church experience the same miraculous growth that occurred in Ammon’s day?

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Posted in Church News, Inter-Faith Relations, Missonaries, Mormon Culture | 16 Comments »

The Zen Of Moving Chairs

Posted by Shawn L on February 11, 2008

ZenAs a young missionary in the MTC, I expended a lot of energy worrying about the relative strength of my testimony. I was raised in the Church, my whole family (at that time, at least) was fully active, and I was excited finally to be heading out to Guatemala to serve. But I was troubled because I felt as though something was missing. For me, the issue was not whether I had a testimony, but whether it was sufficiently buttressed with spiritual experiences. Hoping to see tangible fruit borne of Moroni’s promise, I nightly prayed fervently for a sign — something physical, something remarkable — to cement my testimony, to give me the ability to state, without hesitation, that “I know the Book of Mormon is true.” I honestly believed that, if I prayed hard enough, it was simply a matter of time. I knelt in the dark for long periods after I had finished, just waiting.

And after nine weeks of this . . . nothing happened. Well, not “nothing” — my testimony did grow and I felt closer to the Lord than I ever had. But I still felt let down — why didn’t I merit a life-altering, veil-thinning sort of experience? Isn’t that my entitlement as a faithful seeker? In the many years since I left the MTC, I have often pondered the question, what do we do when we don’t receive the spiritual confirmation for which we are earnestly searching? For me, the answer has come from an unexpected, and positively mundane, source.

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Posted in Missonaries, Mormon Culture, Scripture, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Adventures In Apostasy

Posted by Shawn L on January 13, 2008

My “Bosom brother” Andrew has posted an interesting piece at Mormon Matters about the “10 Things Every Mormon Needs to Know” (check it out here).  I wholeheartedly agree with all of his points.  In thinking about them, however, I humbly submit that we should add one more to the list:  #11 — Full-time missionaries, although called as official representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, oftentimes have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. 

A quick disclaimer:  I love missionaries and have the utmost respect for the sacrifices they make to teach the Gospel.  I, myself, was a missionary many moons ago and I am absolutely sure I taught some pretty outrageous whoppers.  So while I can’t help but be a bit snarky in relating my experiences, I don’t mean to poke fun or belittle the Elders at issue.  In fact, as you’ll see near the end, I raise these examples to ask a couple of serious questions.  

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Posted in Missonaries | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »