Category Archives: missionaries

Ask Mormon Girl: I’m an out gay Mormon serving a mission, and I need help.

Just over a year ago, I stood at the back of the first-ever Mormon temple in Kirtland, Ohio, and witnessed a choir of gay Mormons sing “How Firm a Foundation” with a grace and power that would make the Mormon tears roll down your face.  And next to me stood a young gay Mormon man, nineteen and red-headed and freckle-faced, who’d travelled across the ocean from Europe, just to be in the company of other gay Mormons.  Just to be understood.  And as tears rolled down his freckled face (of course), he asked me: “If they could see us”—they being, I don’t know who, perhaps Church leaders?—“don’t you think they’d change their minds about us?”

I didn’t have a good answer for that.  But I fell in love with him (of course) the way forty year-old Mormon feminists can’t help but fall in love with nineteen year-old gay Mormon men who are preparing to serve their missions.  And I’ve been writing to him from time to time, as his friend and sister Mormon.  Which is what we do for one another.

This week he sent something of an SOS:

I’m not doing so well. I’m struggling to get along with my companions, who I have so little in common with.  And the “no hug” rule really hurts, since I tend to connect readily with women, and a hug comes naturally to me.

Not to sound like a spoilt child, but I need wisdom.  Bigotry exists, and people have formulated ideas that are hurtful, and I’m desperately trying to be graceful, but I am what I am and I won’t be made into something I’m not.  A lot of positive changes have come through service so far—forgiveness, trust, reliance of myself, strength for the underdog—I just need wisdom on how to make it through.

Continue reading

91 Comments

Filed under lgbt, missionaries

Ask Mormon Girl: I’m in a missionary love quandary. Help?

 

Two letters this week, both about love and missionaries.  What a topic.  It’s true–I once promised myself to a soon-to-be missionary after a tram ride to the top of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.  (All Mormon girls do at one time or another.)  And it’s true, I failed miserably, miserably, to wait for that missionary.  You can read the whole saga in The Book of Mormon Girl.  Every painful detail.

This week’s two questions come to us from young women who are also thinking about “their” missionaries. And, yes, well, there are some painful details here too.

Letter the first:

I’m not a Mormon, and I’ve met a Mormon guy on mission that I’m interested in.  From what little I’ve read it seems Mormons on mission aren’t allowed to have any kind of dating interaction with females.  So I get that, but are they allowed to be friends?  If so, how do I go about letting him know I’d like to be friends without seeming like I’m coming on to him?  I don’t want to be inappropriate or offend him or get him into trouble.

And here’s the super-easy answer.  No, I’m really sorry, but you can’t be friends with the missionary.  Make him a lasagna, drop it off at a neutral third party location, and then say sayonara.  Really.  It’s the most merciful thing you can do.  He’s supposed to be 100% focused on finding people to teach and serving the community.  He’s supposed to be 100% celibate.  Like a eunuch.  He can’t do that with you as his friend.  Because you’re cute.  You smell like Bath and Body Works. When you laugh, the way your head tilts–it’s irresistible. And he’s 20.  Big boundaries.  No “friendship.” End of story. Sorry.

Letter the second:

For the past 7 years, I have been best friends with an amazing guy. We were both LDS. He’s always had a huge crush on me and I’ve known that, and he continues to feel that way while on his mission currently. The problem is that since he has left, I am a completely different person. No longer go to church, have a boyfriend that I live with, etc. 

The man I am with is amazing. I do love him and enjoy everything about him. The problem is that my friend is coming home in August and suddenly I am having these thoughts for him and the church and I’m freaking out because for so long I thought that I didn’t believe in the church, but I miss it and I miss the people and now I am torn between two worlds. 

I’m afraid…afraid of changing my mind about what I’m doing. The man I’m with does in no way believe in any religion. I don’t know how to go forward or how to make a decision. I love him. And thinking about leaving him for (pretty much) another guy/lifestyle feels like I’m betraying him and that hurts. 

If you were me, what would you do? 

You know what worries me about this letter, love?  You tell me all about these two “amazing” guys in your life.  You ponder the possible betrayal of their feelings. But I hear nothing about you.  As if you are a pile of iron filings that can be magnetically drawn this way and that by the influence of the men who love you.  But what about you?  If both your missionary and your lover (*poof*) magically disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow, what kind of a conversation would you have with God? If all men–every last sweet handsome one of them–(*POOF*) magically disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow–all the grandfathers, fathers, priesthood leaders, bishops, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, used-to-be-boyfriends, friends–what would you do with yourself?  Or, in the words of the great poet Mary Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Notice that she does not ask what you think someone else would like you to do with your one wild and precious life.  It’s yours, honey–all yours.  It’s sacred.  And it’s scary.   And in that power to choose, that is where you meet God.

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

16 Comments

Filed under feminism, missionaries

I’m an unorthodox 21 year-old Mormon gal, and I’m considering serving a mission. Should I go?

Greetings, readers! Before I launch into this week’s column, I wanted to encourage those of you who live in or near Southern California not to miss this weekend’s Mormon Stories Conference in San Diego, featuring Mormons for Marriage founder Laura Compton and a raft of other excellent Mormons like you sharing their stories, bonding, and eating tacos. More info is here. And now, on to the show . . .

Dear AMG:

I am an active, LDS, young-adult female about to turn 21. I have a desire to serve a mission. Living the principles of the gospel and trying to emulate Jesus Christ has been a wonderful foundation in my life as I’ve been striving for enlightenment. I would like to share it with people who are not as fortunate as I am.

However, I’m not entirely sure that the organization of the Church would like me representing them. I’m not a very orthodox believer. I feel in my heart that saying that this church is the only true church is wrong. I feel that all religions have a great deal of truth in them and to belittle the value of that truth only does us, as members of the church, a disservice. We could greatly benefit by learning about and taking into our lives the perspectives and truths of other religions. I also have questions about the historicity of the Book of Mormon and about many of the things that Joseph Smith did. I feel uncomfortable saying “I know” that the Book of Mormon is “a true record” and Joseph Smith is “a true prophet.” I also can see a lot of problems in the church. Faithful Mormons do a lot of wonderful things, but in a lot of ways, I can’t help feeling like we’re the ones who refuse to come down off our Rameumptons and repent.

Do you still think that going on a mission could be a good thing for me? That maybe my unique opinions and skepticism could be a potential boon in relating to investigators and non-members? Or do you suppose that the ultra-conservative atmosphere of a mission and the MTC would swallow me up and spit me back out like a bad pill?

Sincerely,

A Would-Be Preemie
Continue reading

70 Comments

Filed under missionaries

How do missionaries get assigned to a place like Colorado Springs? Did they do something wrong?

This week’s query comes from a non-member in Colorado Springs, Colorado:

There are a couple of young missionaries who visit our neighborhood pretty regularly. I turn them from the door with a “No, thank you,” but what I really want to do is ask them this question:  what did they do to get stuck with a sucky mission like Colorado Springs? Do you have to do special stuff to go someplace cool? Do you have show a gift for languages to go to a new country? Do your parents pay extra to send you to Italy or Costa Rica? Or is there special honor in the challenge of having to deal with jerks like me?  Which brings me to my second question: why are the missionaries who come to my door always boys? I saw girl missionaries as a teenager, so I know they exist, but I don’t think that I have ever seen a girl missionary in the U.S. Is it a testament to the kind of neighborhoods where I have tended to live that an adult in a position of responsibility wouldn’t send young women alone into them? Or do girls not go out into neighborhoods in general?

LP in Colorado Springs

Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under missionaries

Ask Mormon Girl: Proselytizing makes me uncomfortable. What should I do?

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I feel the sense, as a liberal Mormon, and get the sense from my other liberal Mormon friends that Mormonism doesn’t need to be a “one true church” nor does it to be constantly promoted through the narrow “missionary approach” lens.  However, at the same time proselytizing seems to be such a crucial part of the institution and the Mormon experience that I have a hard time seeing Mormonism without it.  How is a liberal Mormon like me to react to the constant pressure within the LDS church to proselytize and “spread the word,” especially when I don’t feel deep conviction in promoting its packaged message?  Would Mormonism be better off as a non-proselytizing religion that is maintained as family tradition, such as Zoroastrianism?  Would it be worthwhile for liberal Mormons to play an active role either in promoting a progressive representation of Mormonism to outsiders or in swinging other Mormons to their side, or should they be more passive?  What is the best approach to take?

Sincerely,

Dan in Salt Lake
Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under missionaries