Did you serve an LDS mission?


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I read one of Ram's posts that said he served a mission in Bolivia. I thought that was pretty neat, of course, serving a mission is a pretty neat opportunity regardless of where the Lord sends you. But just out of curiosity and for fun, where did the rest of you serve? How many years ago? If it was in a foreign country, was the language easy to learn and are you still fluent? What are some of your fondest memories of the people you taught?

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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I can't believe I'm a firster to respond!

1980 Canada Toronto Mission. It was English speaking and I didn't have any problem learning the language, ... eh? Well, I never said 'zed'. Some things are just wrong! But I also consider my self still fluent. I have too many stories to tell, but there's a reason they call it the 'best/worst two years. Oh, but the first day of tracting was in 4 inches of snow and I remember thinking, "I'm gonna do this for two years!" I challenged the mission more than it challenged me I think.

My son just returned from Ukraine (Russian speaking) and he's fairly fluent. But then, I don't think I ever really understood him. If you don't believe me, just ask him!

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Italy Rome, 1982-84. Learning Italian was very, very difficult for me, even though it's actually a rather easy language to learn. But once I learned it, it was as if the Language Section of my brain turned on, and I became an amateur linguist. I do not consider myself "fluent" now, but I can converse okay. I expect I would regain my fluency if I spent a few weeks in Italy. I found the Italians on the whole very warm and friendly; in Naples, we actually had people invite us in off the street to eat with them.

We didn't have many baptisms, but I loved Italy and the Italians. Lots of very cool monuments and ancient structures, too. Walking down a street that is over 2000 years old and has some of the original paving in place, or seeing works of painted or sculptured art from the Renaissance period in a museum or church off the street, or touring magnificent cathedrals that are themselves exquisite works of art and stand as a testament to the beliefs of former people who spent literally generations building them, is an experience a west-coast American doesn't get at home.

I spent the first two months of my mission, post-MTC, in Philadelphia (center city) awaiting my visa. While there, we saw several of the historical sites. I remember being in the "long room" in Independence Hall, where the guide proudly pointed out that the building was 250 years old, one of the oldest structures from the colonial period that survives. Heck, in Italy, people live in buildings that are 250 years old.

Just a different world in many ways. I loved Italy. I would love to go back.

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Once again, Bolivia Santa Cruz mission from 1978-80. Great experience. In my two years, the nation had 6 presidents and 2 military coup d'etat. I had a decent number of baptisms, and instrumental in many many more. My first converts I baptized in a dormant volcano in the Andes. My last converts I baptized in a river, where we had to travel a few hours to reach it over some mountains to a jungle basin.

The main language is Spanish (various dialects of it), but I also learned some Quechua while there. Because of my current calling in our Spanish branch, I am rather fluent in Spanish. My Quechua doesn't go beyond just a few scattered words I remember.

I fondly remember many of the people I taught and many of the members. I also remember the times walking down streets and having either the military or communist insurgents pointing their rifles at us. In 1980, there were 18,000 members in Bolivia. Now there are about 120,000 and a temple. What a wonderful change.

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Bulgaria Sofia mission, 93-94. Bulgarian wasn't too hard, but then I had already taken 2 years of Russian (a sister language) and one semester of Bulgarian at BYU. My father was born and raised in Bulgaria and I knew a few words from him, but it wasn't until I served my mission that I became fluent.

I've lost some of the language, but like Vort, I think I'd pick it up again pretty easily if I were to spend any significant time there.

I loved, LOVED my mission. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The living conditions at the time were well lower than what I was used to (no washing machine/dryer, water turned off for several days, unable to find toilet paper or feminine needs, etc). I didn't tract much--as a sister, I taught alot more than I tracted. The people were so friendly and hospitable....well, the ones who didn't hate Americans and harrass us. I learned so much on my mission and it was a fantastic foundation for my life--serving others, forgetting self, trudging through despite hardships, learning communication, etc.

I've gone back a few times since I have family there. Dravin and I would like to go back together sometime to see my family. I was able to go back about 4 years ago with my father and brother (his first time to visit)....that was a wonderful experience to have my brother see our father's homeland.

One great remembrance for me is I found, through Facebook, a brother and sister who were teens when I were there. They were not members because their parents forbade them to be baptized. But, they attended church and all functions regularly. It was often hard to remember that they weren't baptized. Once we found each other on FB, I discovered that they were now members of the Church. I was so happy to hear that they had persevered and endured until they were able to be baptized!

I was also excited to hear about one of my former companions and another from our mission began a non-profit organization to help the orphanages in Bulgaria. I'm so proud of them and excited to see the progress they make as they continue to serve the little children in Bulgaria.

And don't forget Ivo_G here is from Bulgaria and was baptized! I was so excited and wished I could attend his baptism--it felt almost like I was his missionary or something. :D

Edited by beefche
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Spokane, Washington 2006-08. My fondest teaching memories is probably when we were visiting a less active family, one of the daughters had a question and one of her friends was also there and had a question. They were different questions. Long story short I ended up teaching the basics of the restoration to the non-member friend while my companion (sitting next to me) taught the less active daughter the basics of the Plan of Salvation at the same time.

Edited by Dravin
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I served 1976-1977 in Duesseldorf Germany. The language was difficult for me. I became fairly fluent by the end of my mission. I can still understand the language, but speaking is difficult. Whenever I've traveled to Germany post mission, the language starts to come back. Fortunately for me, I worked for a major airlines and have free travel benefits--plus, I had a son stationed with the military in Germany for 4 years, so visited quite often in those 4 years.

My mission experience was wonderful and it was difficult. Probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. One of the comical experiences was when my companion and I were chased by a rat! It wasn't funny at the time, but now I laugh whenever I think about it. I rode a bike, just like the Elders. But, of course the major difference is that the Sisters had skirts/dresses on while riding bikes. It could be rather embarrassing to have a bike crash. There was a lot of tracting in my mission. I remember the saying "Whenever we knock on a door over here, they're baptizing someone in Mexico". Some missionaries didn't have any baptisms at all while on their mission. The average was 1 to 2 baptisms before going home.

I wouldn't trade my mission experiences for anything. I loved it! I had wonderful companions. I am in contact with a majority of my companions via Facebook. The Elders were my best friends while there, and even after coming home. I learned to love the people I served and those I served with. The feelings I experienced when a convert was baptized was incredible--joy, exhilaration, peace, contentment--all mixed together. The love I still have for the members and the contacts I had over there is amazingly strong. I came home from my mission with a firm testimony of the Gospel and greater love for my Savior.

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Rosario Argentina- 1983-1984

I'm not fluent in Spanish anymore although every once in awhile I have dreams where I'm speaking fluent Spanish so I know it's still in there.

I was a Welfare Missionary. We didn't do whole lot of teaching non-members. We worked more with members teaching them to read, manage their meager incomes, trying to strengthen the branches by teaching leadership skills (pretty interesting when I'd never really had a leadership callling before I left- educational for me as well), health principles, etc. One of the most interesting experiences was teaching some little kids to read way out in the country after riding a bus, getting off at the end of the line and then walking dirt roads for about a mile. They invited us for dinner which was cooked over an outdoor fire. Their house had no doors or windows- chickens running in and out, no protection from the rain storms. But they shared their meal so generously. Very humbling!

We taught first aid to a RS homemaking group of 4 women including an 80yr old who walked 2 miles to get there. I saw Faith and Dedication like I've never seen since!

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Kentucky 1982-83. I lost my drawl, but I can still understand and speak Hillbilly when called upon to do so. I sometimes like to watch redneck shows to brush up on my language skills. Loved the people, some of the greatest, nicest people you will ever meet as long as they know you aren't from the government and trying to destroy their moonshine stills.

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Well, I served a mission—though it was not LDS. I arrived in Taegu, South Korea in 1987, and spent a semester as an exchange student at Keimyung University. While there, I participated in English Bible studies, as a fellow student along with my university friends.

After graduating from college, I took a job as a 5th/6th grade teacher at Korea Christian Academy, in Taejon, Korea. The school is now known as:

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While there I started teaching simple English Bible studies, modeled after those I experienced in Taegu. Within three weeks we had 20 students attending. After three years I had 150 students a week attending studies on five campuses, with two other “Native Speakers” helping out. Over half of our students were non-Christians.

Alas, my time at the elementary school came to an end, and I decided to teach English, instead. I went to the immigration office and asked the worker how I would go about getting a work visa, to teach at the university. He informed me that I could not do so, and must instead go down to Pohang and meet his brother. Fortunately, I recognized his dry sense of humor, and soon was teaching in Dong Gwangyang…at a steel factory:

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My stint working for an international company lasted just a year. Then I returned to my Korean home town, of Taejon, to teach English at university.

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By this time I had a true sense of missionary calling, and continued on for three more years. From 1987 to 1993 Korea transitioned from a military dictatorship to a full-fledged democracy. The country was experiencing phenomenal growth, as it also transitioned from a Newly Industrialized Country, to an economic powerhouse. Today, when I visit Korea, I’m the one that feels like a country bumpkin.

As a parachurch ministry, we did not focus on baptisms. However, we introduced the gospel story to many who were not Christians. We saw many come to faith. Also, some Christians became very mature, and went on to leadership in their churches. I still carry fond memories of my 6 ½ years in the land of the morning calm.

Edited by prisonchaplain
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Northern Brazil, 1999-2001. Portuguese wasn't terrible--slipped into my brain and completely replaced the Spanish I'd learned in high school. I let the language lapse for years but am slowly getting it back as I have a couple of Brazilian clients at the moment.

I'm an introverted, laid-back kind of person and didn't really fit well in my mission, which was somewhat numbers-oriented and where the APs, ZLs and DLs all insisted that we take a hard-sell approach with investigators. So frankly, I really have to rack my brain to come up with a lot of good memories from my mission. But I do remember the Church members there and seeing how hard they were working to try to get their local congregations on a solid footing.

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the APs, ZLs and DLs all insisted that we take a hard-sell approach with investigators.

My mission had that to some degree though it was more a hard-sell on the finding. For example I knew Elders who wouldn't leave someone alone until they said no three times (which I think is a telemarketing technique actually), I refused to use such approaches.

Edited by Dravin
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I served in the Northwester States Mission from 1967 to 1969. One interesting memory is one time when my companion was transferred but a new companion never came. After 3 weeks a bishop in one of the stakes I covered asked where was my companion. He did not like my answer and took me immediately while he called the mission president. Come to find out - they had forgotten to send me an companion during the transfers.

Some other memories - getting a speeding ticket on a bicycle. Being snowed in for two days in northeastern Washington and training a green elder in my first area and being arrested on his first night in the mission - we were picked up by the FBI and were the prime suspects in a bank robbery murder because we walked into the middle of a stakeout. And since my not so bright district leader did not know either of our first names - said he had never heard of us. Very fun night.

The Traveler

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One more post kinda off-topic: I find it difficult to have the spirit when you are being forced to use hard-sell tactics (like requiring you get 3 no's).

My goal was to just ask questions, listen to them and add to the conversation. If they weren't interested, I didn't think I was good enough to get them to instantly 'change their mind' - no matter what else I could say. I just wished them a good day and moved on to the next door.

There are two kinds of baptisms: The easy ones... and the ones that don't happen. Why waste mental and physical energy on the one's that didn't want what we offered?

Besides, if we don't get them in this life... there's always the next! :)

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Just remembered another story. My companion and I were walking to somewhere I do not remember. We use to think of different ways to talk to people. Anyway as we were walking we saw a man at an open car port getting in his car with his wife at the back door. My companion yelled out from the street, "Hay mister - do you love your wife!"

No response - the both of them are looking at us like we came from outer space. We walked towards them and my companion asked again, "Well do you love your wife?" No answer no motion no nothing - they just kept looking at us like we were from outer space. Now we walk right up to them - I was expecting the man to run us off - So my companion looks the guy dead in the eye and says something like, "Are you deaf? I asked you if you loved your wife?" I kid you not the guy was shaking like he was scared of us and timidly answered, "yes".

So now my companion asks the wife if she loves her husband and she does not answer - she just burst out in tears trying to say yes. The whole story is that they had not been getting along. They had had several fights and filed for a divorce and had just been granted a legal separation til things had been finalized. The husband had dropped by on his way to work to pick up some personal things and they had had another argument each telling the other they hated them. Now for the first time in years they were telling us that they loved each other.

Rest of the story - they did join the church and were later sealed in the temple. Under the circumstance - most likely had we just walked to the door or said anything else they would have dismissed us even though they both had been praying for help. Sometimes, even when young missionaries are acting their age and being silly - the spirit still uses them to do incredibly wonderful things.

The Traveler

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I read one of Ram's posts that said he served a mission in Bolivia. I thought that was pretty neat, of course, serving a mission is a pretty neat opportunity regardless of where the Lord sends you. But just out of curiosity and for fun, where did the rest of you serve? How many years ago? If it was in a foreign country, was the language easy to learn and are you still fluent? What are some of your fondest memories of the people you taught?

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Detroit. You get all sorts of countries there.

I wasnt fluent in the language then... Unfortunately i am more so now.

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