“If I could ask you to do a post? I'm not Mormon (but my sister is, hehe - I love saying that) what exactly do they do on a mission?
Dispell the crazy door knocking bible salesman myth for me? “
Great question! I’m so glad you asked. I would love to tell you........and I hope I don't make you sorry you asked!
I’ll answer this question based on Trammell’s experience in Cambodia. There are about 350 missions so some things vary, but for the most part all the missions follow the same basic schedule.
Trammell lives in an apartment in Cambodia with his companion and one other companionship. He is assigned a companion by the mission president and they are assigned an area to work in.
(four missionaries in their apartment)
Everyday, they get up at 6:30 and spend 30 minutes exercising and then get dressed, have breakfast, have personal scripture study, companionship study and planning time.
They leave the house around 10:30. Most of Trammell’s days are taken up by appointments. The appointments are with people who are investigators (people who are not members but are interested in learning about the Church), new members, or with people who have already joined the Church but don’t participate any more. About 96% of Cambodians are Buddhists. When the missionaries meet with people, they teach them about Jesus Christ, our purpose in life, premortal life, eternal families, priesthood authority, and church doctrine.
Trammell and his companion ride bikes everywhere.
In most missions, if you do not have an appointment, you go tracting. Tracting is going door to door in a neighborhood or apartment complex. They knock on the door and when someone answers, ask if they are interested in hearing a message about Jesus Christ. Most missionaries don’t love going tracting. It’s pretty rare that you knock on a stranger’s door, they are home, you ask if they want to talk about religion and they are thrilled to throw the door open and invite you in. It’s just not a very productive way to share the gospel.
However, in Cambodia, going door to door is illegal. It is against the law to go door to door talking about religion. They are allowed to go to people’s houses if they are invited. And surprisingly, they are allowed to approach people on the street and ask them if they would like to know more about Jesus Christ. Most of Trammell’s days are filled with going from appointment to appointment. They can take time off for lunch mid-day but they do not go back home for lunch. They usually buy lunch off the street. They can get a bowl of noodles with vegetables and little bit of meat or fish from a street vendor for about 50 cents. I get the impression though that they skip lunch most days and keep working. Usually, missionaries go back home for dinner around 5:30 and then go back out and work from 6:30 on. In America, the missionaries will often go to church members’ houses for dinner. In Cambodia, the people are much too poor to ask them or expect them to feed the missionaries.
I get the impression that most of the time, Trammell and his companion just stay out working and come home at 9:30 and get something to eat. All missionaries must be back in their apartments by 9:30. They will then eat, shower, plan for the next day and report in to their supervisors so that the mission president can know that everyone is home safe and sound for the day.
They follow this schedule six days a week. Each week they have a preparation day or P-day. Trammell’s is on Wednesday. They still get up at 6:30 and exercise and study, but the remainder of the day until dinner time is used to do laundry, shop for the week’s food, maybe do a little site seeing, and the most important part WRITE HOME! Yippee!!!! The missionaries go to an internet café and have 45 minutes to write their family and write a letter to the mission president telling him about their week, the people they are teaching, what they have learned etc. Cambodia is 14 hours ahead of us....so Trammell's Wednesday morning is our Tuesday night. We can't help ourselves. We find ourselves checking our computer every 15 minutes on Tuesday evening just waiting for that email to pop in. Trammell is an awesome writer. His emails are usually two pages long. He rarely tells us anything about the weather, the places he lives, the sites he's seen, the food or even anything about his companion. He writes about all the miracles he has seen everyday, the people he is teaching and how humble and wonderful they are and the things he's learned. It is obvious in his words and tone that he LOVES what he is doing.
After dinner on P-Day, it’s back to regular missionary work.
The everyday work/teaching schedule is broken up with church on Sunday, training meetings with supervisors, training with other missionaries, church activities, baptism and service. Missionaries perform 4-5 hours of service every week. In America, the missionaries will do yard work for the elderly, clean a neighborhood park or open space, help people move, work at the church cannery, or volunteer at a community event. In Cambodia, the missionaries might work in the rice paddies planting or harvesting, help build houses (huts), or do dental assisting at a clinic. That kind of scares me – the thought of an untrained 19 year old performing dental procedures……..but these people don’t have anyone one else who can help. It is a different world!
You can imagine what a life changing experience this is. Missions are wonderful opportunities for personal growth whether they are in the United States, South America, Europe or a thrid world country like Cambodia. There is nothing like it! It is a huge sacrifice and it is extremely demanding and hard. The missionaries give up comfortable housing, familiar food, cars, television, movies, music, and girlfriends and delay their education, romance, and careers to serve. And they serve at their own expense.
I know that Trammell is "getting" more than he is giving and I know he wouldn't trade these two years for anything. I don't doubt that when he gets home, he will tell us it was the hardest two years of his life, but I am sure he will say the rewards outweighed his sacrifice.
Thanks for asking Andrea. I hope I didn't bore you to death
I'm always happy to answer any questions and I'm glad you asked!