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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : The Great And Spacious Mission Survey Results » The Great And Spacious Mission Survey Results

The Great And Spacious Mission Survey Results

Rusty - February 12, 2007

98 responses, 175 years of service, thousands of baptisms, tens of thousands of testimonies borne, and one dorky-looking short-sleeve-and-tie wearing bloggernacle.

1. I served in the ____ mission during the years of ____

My favorite response here is “somewhere in southern europe, mid 1990s”. Either he was drunk/high through the entire decade of the 90′s or he is afraid we might be able to deduce who he is and the sins he later fesses up to. Unfortunately he didn’t know that Survey Monkey not only deduces full names from IP addresses but also bishop’s contact numbers. Expect a call from your bishop Ronan!!!

Barcelona Venezuela Mission, 1994-1996
California, Riverside 94-96
Australia, Sydney South ’94
Alabama, birmingham, USA – 1989-1991
Guatemala North, 1995-1997
Utah Provo Mission 1992–1994
Czechoslovakia Prague, 1991-93
ecuador guayaquil; 2000-01
Japan Okayama 1995-1997
Padova Italy, 1990-1992
Canada Vancouver, 2002-2004
Tegucigalpa ’00-’02
Sao Paulo South, Brazil 97-99
Chile Santiago West…99-01
Argentina Bahia Blanca, 1985-1987
Germany Duesseldorf, 1976-78
Japan Kobe 1973-75
Brazil Sao Paulo East 1995-1997
Salt Lake City 1997-1999
Japan Okinawa 1994-1996
Honduras Comayaguela 1997-1998
Brazil Sao Paulo North 1990-1992
Bulgaria Sofia, 1997-99
California Los Angeles 2000-2002
Swiss Geneva 1978 – 1980
mexico city east, 1998-2000
Guatemala Central 98-99
Ecuador Guayaquil, 1984-1986
Italy Milan, 1996-1998
Buenos Aires West, 1998-2000
Georgia, Atlanta 85-87
Belo Horizonte West Mission in Brazil- 1995-1997
Utah Ogden 1994-1996
Brazil Fortaleza 2001-2003
Australia, Perth; 1996-1998
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh 2001-2002
Munich Germany 1981-1982
Paris 1991-1993
Buenos Aires North, 1996-98
Honduras 2002-2003
Belgium, Brussels. 1995-97
Spain, Barcelona 2000-02
Brazil Belem 2003-2005
Chile Osorno 91-93
Washington Tacoma 93-95
Brazil Florianopolis 1999-2000
Louisiana, 87-89
Sendai, Japan 1984-1986
California Ventura spanish 99-01
Belgium Brussels 96-98
Geneva Switzerland 1989-90
Seoul 2003-5
Russia Moscow 94-96
Canada Montreal 1990-1992
Portugal Lisbon South
Brazil Porto Alegre South 1999-2001
California San Diego Mission 85-87
Illinois Chicago 95-96
Brazil Campinas 1993 – 1995
California Ventura, 1993-1995
Geneva Switzerland, 2002 – 2004
Utah Provo Mission 1999-2001
France Paris 75-77
Washington DC South, 1996-1998
Bucharest Romania, 1993-94
Canada Montreal Mission 1981-82
Oregon Portland Mission 1996-1998
philippines tacloban 90-92
buenos aires north (argentina); 1985-87
A Central European mission 1995-1997
California Los Angeles 2000 -2002
Spain Malaga; 2003-2005
somewhere in southern europe, mid 1990s
Canada Montreal 74-76
Texas McAllen – 1999-2001
CLAM 92-93
Ohio Cleveland 1992-1994
Brazil, Belo Horizonte East 1998-2000
Central British Mission 1966-1968
Kentucky-Tennessee 71-73
philippines cebu, 2000-2002
Guatemala City Central, 1996-1998
Argentina South 1982-1983
Canada Calgary 1998-2000
Texas Forth Worth 1992-94
Czech Prague 01-03
Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission, 1996-1998
Korea Seoul, 1978-1980
South Africa 87-89
A mission in the South of France, 1977-1979
North Carolina Charlotte 2003-2004
Japan Kobe, 1996-1997
Japan Fukuoka 1981-1983
Japan, Fukuoka 1994-1996
Scotland 1970-72

2. ____ paid for my mission.
This question obviously needed an option along the lines of “combination of me and my parents” or “my parents paid for most of it but I contributed just enough to be able to tell everyone that I worked harder than the missionaries who didn’t pay for their missions.”

3. My regular wardrobe consisted of: (check all that apply)
Admittedly this was a poorly thought-out question as I completely overlooked an entire group of missionaries…ward missionaries! Oh well. But I’m surprised so many sisters admitted to wearing ugly ties and cotton pants.

I remember the very first missionaries I met in Guatemala were the secretaries who picked us up at the airport and I couldn’t believe how they looked: worn-out cotton pants (which were completely faded in the thigh area), chains coming out of their pockets (holding their keys), their name plaques were dirty, their shoes were thrashed, their ties were ugly…and I immediately felt ashamed for not having worked as hard as them.

4. Check all of the following that apply
I love that five of you got so fed up with waiting for your boy/girlfriend while you were on your mission that you dear johned them. I mean really, what do they expect, that you should wait around for them while they date other people? And if you were one of the nine who were dear johned and your name is Adam Palmer, dude, I’m sorry Sara had to do that to you, she felt really bad. I didn’t though because I knew it would make you a better missionary.

The eighteen of you whose girl/boyfriend waited for you should be ashamed of yourselves. I think we can safely assume there will be a few people up in heaven asking you why you were more concerned with your girlfriend’s dating habits than their salvation.

For the four of you who married fellow missionaries, was it easier to make-out on P-day or at zone conference?

5. By the end of my mission my foreign language skills were
I love that over 50% of you were in the top 10% of your mission. No sabo de ustedes, pero yo estuvo.

6. I baptized
Of course by “people” I don’t mean “children you went swimming with” or “names from gravestones” (John Dehlin, I’m looking right at you, buddy). And for those of you who baptized over 60 people, just know that strong primaries make strong stakes.

7. The worst thing I ate in my mission was ____.
Many of these answers are codenames for their missions. Incubated duck fetus: Phillippines. Cow stomach: Central or South America. Blood sausage: UK. Cold cabbage soup with fat globules: Russia. Jell-O casserole: Provo. Some sort of leaf soup from Africa: Africa.

• goat
• cow tripe
• garlic juice
• Habanero sauce on rice
• Raw egg cracked into lukewarm chicken noodle soup
• blood sausage
• cow brain
• a mexican interpretation of chinese food
• coleslaw
• watery beans
• Yellow smoked fish with live worms in it
• Possum
• Incubated Duck Fetus
• Cow stomach. Or jocote (the fruit of the cashew nut)
• Blood sausage and cow stomach and armadillo
• fruit cake
• My pride
• dobradinha (tripe)
• ground bean “soup”
• Kidney Lasagne
• horse
• Turnip Greens
• nanto
• macaroni with ketchup
• lukewarm, day-old ramen
• Kidney Pie
• Turkey Head
• Mondongo (cow stomach soup)
• taco bell
• Poke
• Wheat meat (fake meat made from wheat gluten)
• tlacenka — liver/kidney suspended in a gelatin and served as a loaf
• cow hoof soup
• fermented beans
• polpini (mini octopus)
• Rice casserole
• Liver
• clams in water
• mondongo (cow stomach)
• mettwurst
• what Elder Williams cooked
• cow stomach (dobradiha)–although I’d like to try it again
• Green Jello with tuna in it and mayo in top
• pig intestines
• mondongo, fried izote flowers, dry crumbly cheese that tasted like smelly feet
• Unidentified meat like substance
• American Food
• soured milk (that was supposedly healthy)
• Expired eggnog
• Tripe
• atol
• squid
• cold blood sausage
• rattlesnake
• Pig Liver
• Bad fish from Alaska
• oily fish with farofa
• Kangaroo Tail Soup
• undercooked chicken that gave me food poisoning
• spargel?
• Next day cold cow kidneys – left a urine-like aftertaste…yum!
• Sopa de Mondongo – cow stomach soup
• too old oysters
• some kind of rice caserole with way too much garlic
• tripe
• Cow hoof
• Spam casserole
• Liver
• raw squid guts
• Cow kidney
• other missionary food.
• it was all good
• Sun-de (not sure how to spell it, it’s like some blood and noodles steamed in a sausage casing)
• meat jello (holodets)
• Poorly-seasoned salmon pâté.
• Sheep stomach
• Tripe
• Cold cabbage soup with fat globules
• Bratwurst (it was a U.S. mission; the food was normal)
• dog sausage. That is the worst that I know of.
• tomatoes salad with hairs in it
• Some sort of Leaf Soup from Africa
• my own cooking
• Jell-O casserole
• kidneys
• Mondongo
• -A huge dry cow liver
• Tongan Refried Bean Enchiladas

8. Check all that apply
The 20 of you whose best two years of your life was your mission obviously aren’t very good member missionaries. And those who considered it the most difficult time of their life obviously aren’t married. ZING!!

The perfect mission for you? Right. You probably think your cranky, “spiritual”, farting, prude, demanding spouse is perfect for you too.

For those who gained their testimony and read the BoM for the first time on the mission…well…that’s great!

Lost 20 pounds in your whole mission? That’s nothing, I gave up about 20 pounds to just one tapeworm!

9. Check all that apply
How many presidents realize that almost 50% of their missionaries are sleeping in regularly. I guess the solution is obvious: change the rule to 9:00 wake-up, that way there won’t be so much disobedience which means more baptisms.

My trainer said “hijo de puta” meant “nice person”, I swear!

Not only was my and Elder Torres’ anthem the Maná song Me Vale (I don’t give a damn), but our time together in Chimaltenango was by far and away my most successful and happiest of my mission. Coincidence? I think not.

My greenie’s regular study schedule consisted of BoM, the Missionary Guide, Spanish, and Ender’s Game. Yeah, I know, the Missionary Guide was probably a little excessive.

Does this really mean 84% of you memorized the discussions? Don’t you feel ashamed now that missionaries are now supposed to “rely on the Spirit” rather than memorize? Only 16% of us were doing it right all along!

No wonder you 15 whose flirting didn’t result in baptisms aren’t married yet, you never learned how to seal the deal.

If you consider your companion screaming at you in your face as a “physical fight” then yes, I got in a physical fight. If you only consider fists flying as a physical fight then yes, the ten of you guys got in physical fights.

10. My biggest regret of my mission is ____.
Many of these answers were disheartening to read. No regrets? How about lying about having no regrets! This question actually kind of reminds me of the famous job interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” (with the inevitable answer being, “I’m too much of a perfectionist.”). Oh, you should have relaxed a little more. Too focussed on obedience. Yeah, next thing you’ll say is that you grew too much and baptized too many people. Oh well, there’s always a senior mission!

• Not trying harder
• Not having tried hard enough.
• Missing opportunities to teach due to fear. Not completely overcoming fear to open my mouth and teach all. Not focusing enough on retention. Baptising children without complete parental support.
• Regrets? There are only mistakes to be learned from.
• I wish I had been a little bit more understanding of the members
• I have no regrets
• Wasting so much time feeling guilty about little things…and not writing in my journal more.
• I didn’t write in my journal more often.
• Disobedience
• I can honestly say I have no regrets.
• Inflexibility of program: we were told to drop people if no solid baptismal date after 3 weeks. Alternate: baptizing people who were not worthy of baptism.
• That I wasted so much time feeling guilty, like I could never be good enough for God. I don’t really regret any of the goofing off we did. I do regret spending so much time doing mind-numbing proseletyzing that was really for the most part a waste of time. There had to have been a better way.
• Sometimes, I think that I could have worked harder.
• Not working harder.
• Not having it out with a rude and demeaning AP when we were on splits.
• The “Dark Age” in my 2nd area during which I followed my goof-off senior companion’s lead too often.
• Not being brace enough and not working hard enough.
• That I can never recover the two years I spent convincing people to join a false and oppressive religion.
• No regrets. Glad I went and glad it’s over.
• Not standing up to the jerks in the hierarchy sooner.
• None.
• Perhaps being a bit too uptight at times.
• Taking advantage of the members generocity.
• That I probably didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. There was one other Elder I remember from my first city who was pretty laid back when I first met him, and I felt we had similar attitudes about our missions at the time. Later on, at a zone conference, he bore a testimony that made it clear that something had happened to him that made him much more of a “straight arrow” missionary with regard to what he felt his responsibilities were, and I remember feeling uncomfortably and ambiguously envious that this thing had happened to him. He seemed much happier, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to pay the price that he seemingly had paid in order to get to that mental place.
• That I couldn’t and didn’t keep in contact with those that I baptized during and after the mission.
• Not keeping touch with some of the people I met on my mission after returning home.
• I wish I had been more compassionate and understanding of the other missionaries
• Not focusing 100% on the work, and worrying too much about how I compared to others.
• I wish I could have relaxed more and let little worries not bother me. I was pretty stressed on my mission…I like things to be just so, and in the philippines things have a way of never turning out the way you expect. Alls well that ends well tho.
• Not leaving mission boundaries more often. As it was, I started a trip to Rosario and turned around midway. A trip I and my friends planned to Uruguay had to be canceled when the ferry we were going to cross the River Plate on sank. I also wish I’d bought more books, visited more museums, and attended lectures at local universities more.
• Not relaxing more
• Not working harder
• Not making as many street contacts as I could have when I worked in the office.
• Biggest regrets: 1)being an obedient little elder and passing up the only chance I ever had to see my favorite band play; 2)regarding certain missionaries as “bad missionaries;” 3)Not travelling more (outside of my area, mission).
• We spent 80% of our time tracting, and I hated it. As a result, I did not accomplish as much as I might have.
• I was too judgemental and cocky. I should have been more humble and just loved people.
• Having gone
• Those new members who fell away
• I adhered too closely to the text of the discussions.
• Not enjoying it and the people more. Not working harder and smarter.
• None. It’s one of the few things in life that I nailed.
• My mission was Awesome, absolutely no regrets.
• Not treating the native missionaries with more respect.
• No regrets
• I’m not telling….
• Going
• Unmentionable
• Not paying enough attention to my diet/health (as this affected my ability to work well and to be happy about it).
• I waited too long to decide I didn’t care what people thought of me, and that it was easier to just get a “no” and move on than to fight to get a reluctant “yes.”
• None
• That I didn’t relax and enjoy things even more.
• Not extending.
• Not being more Christ-like
• Missions were shortened to 1.5 years, and I lost that last 6 months.
• Focusing on my own deficiencies and needs at the expense of church members, investigators, and acquaintances (not my companions though – I’m fine about them).
• Not working hard enough. Not following the rule like I should have.
• Not preparing for one particular zone conf. talk … to this day I think it “costed me” the AP position.
• None
• Going
• Thinking I knew how it all worked.
• Not being more proactive.
• No regrets. It was a formative experience.
• Doing the full schedule but slacking off whenever there was gray time. Not giving the marginal extra 10%.
• Not staying in contact with my first baptism, and his ultimatley leaving the church
• I didn’t keep a more organized record of names and contact info for people I met there.
• Not trying harder.
• Trying to get a (sick) mother to sign a baptismal permission form for her 10-year old daughter, who never set foot in the church either before or after that incident.
• That I didn’t keep a journal
• Not being more relaxed/having more fun
• I have none.
• I wasn’t more open, talkative, loving, and selfless with the people. (Though I certainly came a long way in all of that throughout my mission.)
• Never getting to open an area – not being able to boldy go where no missionary had gone before.
• Not jumping into the fight when I had the chance.
• Not being more forward with people; companions, investigators, etc.
• Not looking at more art in the south of France and Should have been less dilligent knocking on door it would have been better to enter into the culture……
• Worrying too much about things i couldn’t control
• Failing to really train the greeny that was given to me my final month.
• Not being more social and getting to know more missionaries than I did.
• I would have liked to have picked up a language.
• Not getting more addresses from the converts and members to keep in touch later
• I couldn’t do more to baptize quality people that wouldn’t leave the church. Also getting my camera stolen with 36 high quality pictures of my best area is a huge regret.
• I didn’t keep the habits I formed there…
• One morning of watching TV with a member.


  1. Man, I missed out on filling out this survey. But it sure is interesting.

    And don’t be dissing on the jocotes. I liked ‘em.

    Comment by danithew — February 12, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  2. I knew when I saw the language question that most people would put themselves in the top 10%. I guess the 9M readership is a highly proficient bunch of linguists. That or we’re all full of ourselves. Of course, I really was in the top 10%.

    Comment by Tom — February 12, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  3. Where are you expected to baptize over 60 people?

    Comment by Tim — February 12, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  4. LOL, Rusty! Actually, I kept that secret so that my buddies wouldn’t feel bad that I baptised 5 (5x the mission average)!!!

    Comment by Ronan — February 12, 2007 @ 10:29 am

  5. Tim,
    I don’t know, but my guess: northern Brazil.

    Comment by Tom — February 12, 2007 @ 10:30 am

  6. That top 10% measurement thingie must be in missions where you actually have to learn a really hard language. I don’t recall anything like that in the Guatemala City North mission …

    Or maybe no one ever asked me.

    I’ll never forget during my first month, waking up from a nightmare. I woke up in a sweat because in the dream I was having a Spanish conversation and couldn’t come up with the right word to teach something. Who could think that this could be the kind of thing that would cause such horror (and relief, when I realized it was night-time and I was in bed).

    Comment by danithew — February 12, 2007 @ 10:31 am

  7. I baptised 5 (5x the mission average)

    Tsk, tsk, Ronan. Five times zero isn’t five!

    Comment by Peter — February 12, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  8. Rusty’s analysis of #5 is proof positive that the artsy-fartsy types should stick to growing 2 ft. long cockroaches and calling them induatrial art. Let’s assume that language acquisition is a function of time spent speaking the language (not unreasonable, I think). Let’s say there are 100 FL missionaries in a mission and that the average mission lasts 22 months. Lets further assume that the entry and exit of new and retired missionaries happens on a regular monthly basis in proportion to the average number of months in a mission. That means that, on average, 5 missionaries (5%) leave the mission every month. If we assume that the average missionary reaches the pinacle of his/her language skills in the last month of service then we should expect to see 100% of respondents say that “[b]y the end of my mission my foreign language skills were in the top 10% of my mission.” The real implication of the responses to the survey is that the average respondent was either a slacker or dimwitted.

    Comment by endlessnegotiation — February 12, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  9. The GAs aren’t stupid and must be aware the most successful missionaries work hard but ignore silly rules. So why do they continue to preach that exact obedience nonsense that is the antithesis of effective and positive missionary service?

    As far as regrets, that’s a complete waste of time and brain cells. I am what I am via my experiences and wouldn’t change a damn thing. Absolutely no regrets! That’s why Satan’s plan wouldn’t have worked BTW.

    Comment by Steve EM — February 12, 2007 @ 11:06 am

  10. endlessnegotiation,

    I think my brain hurts.

    I will say that I feel my Spanish was far better at a year in the mission (after having 2 Hispanic comps in a row) than at the end of my mission, after having served in the office and having only gringo comps.

    Comment by Tim — February 12, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  11. Steve EM,

    I don’t think following the rules actually hinders missionary work, I think it hurts that we say that obedience is the ONLY way to be successful.

    Comment by Tim — February 12, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  12. Where are you expected to baptize over 60 people?

    Utah baby. Utah.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — February 12, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  13. In the philippines, 60 baptisms is pretty standard for a good missionary. And they are mainly families.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 12, 2007 @ 11:45 am

  14. I second, CJ’s nomination of Utah. I was the sole person who checked “31–60 people (and that was bad)”.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 12, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  15. Who served in Tacoma in 93? I think I was living in Hilltop then.

    Comment by Susan M — February 12, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  16. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t baptize a bunch of 9 year olds of innactive parents giving into playground peer-pressure(although there were a couple). In fact, my first area was serving on BYU campus where we taught and baptized often. We also heard a lot of stories about people’s cars breaking down on their way to Cali and then just living in Utah and getting baptized.

    Comment by CJ douglass — February 12, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  17. Who else went to Canada Montreal?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — February 12, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  18. CJ Douglass wrote: “We also heard a lot of stories about people’s cars breaking down on their way to Cali and then just living in Utah and getting baptized.”

    That’s hilarious. Utah as the Bermuda Triangle for automobiles. That actually makes sense.

    Comment by danithew — February 12, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

  19. CJD, if there’s a strong basis for that, I’d really like to see a collection of “my car broke down in Utah” conversion stories.

    Maybe there could be warning signs posted on highways leading into Utah: WARNING, drive here and you may end up settling down in Utah and converting to Mormonism.

    Comment by danithew — February 12, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  20. The three Nephites are hanging out in Denny’s parking lots disabling cars with out of state plates.

    Comment by KyleM — February 12, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  21. Northern Brazil’s (Fortaleza) expectations were 1 person a week, later upped to 2 people a week, later reduced to a non-numeric metric (goal: strengthen Zion by converting men and families) when the new mission president arrived.

    Hooray for new mission presidents!

    Comment by Jon in Austin — February 12, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  22. It would actually make a great horror flick. A couple’s car breaks down and out comes a bunch of modestly dressed zombies moaning about BRT and a ward picnic. I think this could actually be produced!

    As far as a collection of stories, I’ll do some digging with my UPM alumni. If only I had written in my jourmal more, DOH!

    Comment by CJ douglass — February 12, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

  23. 22: CJ: and if it was done by an anti-Mormon, the movie could be called: “The Hills Have Lies!”


    17: Bored: I went to the CMM.

    Rusty: That marriage question was hetero-sexist.

    : )

    I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only gay one in my mission… and there were a few I wouldn’t have minded dating… but I’ll just have to wait until the first reunion after the (next) proclamation to start flirting. So let’s revisit this in 20 years, k?

    ; )

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 12, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  24. CJ,

    When I was there, it was people from Cali moving to Utah (low housing costs, good jobs, yada yadda).

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 12, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  25. On number 4, a none of the above would make the statistics more accurate.

    On #7 one of those made me shudder – and it wasn’t my own. It was the green jell-o with tuna! Blech!

    I’m forwarding the regrets list to my brother who has been in the field for 3 weeks. There are some things in there I wish I had at least contemplated early in my mission. Very interesting survey results.

    Comment by cantinflas — February 13, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  26. I was actually tempted to say my biggest regret was not having the guts to chuck the extra boxes of outdated Japanese Book of Mormons in the dumpster (in outright defiance of mission rules, policies and programs). As a result of my inaction, some poor missionary who replaced me probably had to waste hours handing out over 300 utterly incomprehensible Book of Mormons (Church HQ in Tokyo wouldn’t allow us to get the new translation until we handed them ALL out).

    I thought better of it though.

    Comment by Seth R. — February 13, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

  27. For the first year of my mission we averaged between 400 and 600 baptisms per month with about 180 to 200 missionaries. So being conservative lets say that was 4800 in a year divided by 100 (because both members of the companionship get to count it) giving you roughly 48 baptisms per missionary per year. The second year the rate dropped to about 180 to 250 a month.

    In any case plenty of missionaries baptized over 100 people in my mission, and while taking the survey I thought the scale was quite biased on the low side. Guess I was wrong.

    This was in Brazil.

    I know that my brother’s mission in Chile made us look like we were in France.

    Comment by a random John — February 14, 2007 @ 8:35 am

  28. Who served in Montreal Canada?

    Comment by Lizzilu — February 15, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

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