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Visit from Mormon missionaries - any experiences?

(116 Posts)
BodyUnknown Tue 27-Sep-11 10:34:48

I have recently been away for a hen weekend with a group of around 15 women, one of whom was Mormon. She fascinated me, and I found myself dying to know more about why she chooses to live her life the way she does. I devoured her stories about her missionary work in Utah, and as soon as I got home from the hen do, with a raging hangover, I went to bed with my laptop and logged on to mormon.org. There is a facility there to chat with a missionary (which this girl recommended that I do if I were curious about the church).

I read the website for a while before plucking up the courage to speak to someone, and when I did, I was there for over an hour asking questions which this missionary patiently answered. I came away from the conversation with a really really good feeling - I can't describe it better than that - and I haven't been able to stop thinking about everything I've read and learned and everything the missionary said. I'd told him I sometimes felt silly praying, like I was doing it wrong, and that I always felt self-conscious and that God would think me a fraud. He said, 'if I tell you how we pray, it might make you feel less silly?' and he did, and last night I prayed for the first time in years.

I lay in bed for hours last night, I couldn't sleep, I felt so excited.

Sorry this is so long...

Anyway, of course I have heard all the stories about the Mormon church, and have always thought of it as some kind of strange cult, with living prophets, miracles, tithing, baptisms for the dead and all kinds of things that I've never understood and never tried to. But the things I've read feel right to me now, I feel inspired to live my life in a better way - I literally cannot take my mind off this.

So, on mormon.org you can request that missionaries visit you and deliver the Bible and Book of Mormon. I decided to do that, and yesterday evening I had an email from missionaries wanting to confirm the visit.

I wrote back to say it was me who made the request and that I would like a visit (I suppose they get a lot of timewasters). And now I'm feeling a bit nervous - and wondering, have any of you any experience of the Mormon church? Have you spoken with missionaries, have you attended a service? Have you read any of their literature?

I'll add that I am a drinking, sometimes smoking, generally non-religious person (went to church years ago then decided God wasn't really there for me) and if you'd asked me a week ago if I'd consider reading the Book of Mormon I would have laughed my head off.

DrSeuss Tue 27-Sep-11 21:00:14

Not myself a Mormon but have a number of Mormon friends (BTW, they prefer LDS or Latter Day Saints). I believe very little of what they believe and am more mainstream CofE but have generally found them to be lovely people. Have been to a number of events at their church and found that the social/family aspect is very big in their faith. They are generally not pushy but will welcome you and allow you to commit as much or as little as you want at any time. They have some lovely traditions, such as Family Night, where they dedicate a night each week to TV free family time.
I would suggest that you just go slowly and find your own way in your own time. I have never found them to be pushy, only welcoming.

Grockle Tue 27-Sep-11 21:05:20

I have a friend who is an ex-mormon (went to great lengths to be an ex) but is incredibly patient and answers all my ridiculous questions. I don't know that I'd want a missionary to come to my house but I find the religion fascinating.

Good luck

hiddenhome Tue 27-Sep-11 22:54:28

read this first

before you get involved.

hiddenhome Tue 27-Sep-11 23:00:21

here

Mormonism is not Christianity.

It's in their best interests to be nice to you because they are always seeking new members who bring their money with them.

Henrythehappyhelicopter Tue 27-Sep-11 23:03:46

My DF was a member of the Mormon church during my childhood. I found it an excellent religion.

It was very family orientated. A very good social life. The church itself had a basket ball court in it, and a large garden with BBQ. Everyone I met was lovely. It was infact the first time I had met men you could trust.

My DM eventually gave my DF an ultimatum making him leave the church as she felt it had taken over their whole life.

I myself am an aetheist, but if I were not, this would be the religion for me.

hiddenhome Tue 27-Sep-11 23:06:51

What are people interested in, the lifestyle or the beliefs? hmm

Joseph Smith was a false prophet who had criminal convictions.

Grockle Wed 28-Sep-11 03:46:03

I think that's part of what is fascinating.

BodyUnknown Wed 28-Sep-11 08:01:27

Thanks everyone for your replies. It is odd, I have heard the stories about the church and have always wondered who on earth would choose to follow it - really, Christ went to America? Tablets from angels buried in hills? But the only thing I can now say for sure is that since I met this girl on the hen weekend, the church is consuming my thoughts. Every spare minute I have, I'm online reading about it. I just have this feeling that it's right for me, which I have never had before, and I can't believe I'm saying this but I am seriously thinking about reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it.

I've read heaps of things about the church being a cult, the way it takes over your life with callings and teaching, and I was completely shock about the tithing but the more I think about it, and the more I read, I find myself justifying it all to myself. And that's without any missionaries drumming it into me.

I've never felt this way about anything before, and when I explained to my new Mormon friend how the conversation with the online missionary made me feel, she said that the religion gave her that feeling of peace and joy throughout her life.

My friends and family will think I am a nutter for even considering it, and I am not sure the church allows for people who are not willing to teach and try to bring their friends and family into the faith... I suppose that is one of my many questions for the missionaries.

DrSeuss, I keep saying Mormon because on www.mormon.org they all say 'I'm a Mormon', it stuck smile I also read that there are other LDS-movement churches with different prophets.

Oh yes, the living prophet thing. Half of me thinks 'what complete rubbish', the other half thinks 'well, if we all believe God had prophets in the Bible, why not now in our times?' But I confess I have never heard the current prophet or apostles speaking, and I think if I didn't find them holy at first 'listen' the illusion would be ruined for me, since you are not supposed to question anything they say.

There are other, slightly darker reasons why the church appeals, which I know I should mention as relevant. I often feel like I've completely messed up my life. The chance to start again with God, wipe the slate clean through baptism and start to live my life according to his commandments which are part of His plan to make us happiest is very very appealing.

I'll keep investigating. At least none of you came with absolute first hand horror stories!

Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:23

I agree that the Mormon church is not actually a christian church. They do not believe in the Trinity which is the central belief to the 'christian' church.
I don't know how important this is to you or not though.

As said above it is in most missionary's interest to be 'nice', They want you to come into the fold and to become one of them. If they were completely horrid would you go?

I also think some some sects target people at their most vulnerable - so ask yourself are you in a position at the moment to really get out if you wanted to or didn't like being there? Unfortunately I have an aunty whose husband committed suicide after joing the JW's and their marriage just fell apart. You need to ask yourself if you have friends and a support system in place OUTSIDE the mormon church too and you shouldn't let these people disappear from your life.

I'm not saying it's not for you, that is not my place but I certainly think there are questions you need to ask yourself before signing up to this or any other religious sect for that matter.

Allboxedin Wed 28-Sep-11 08:22:05

''Potentially unsafe groups or leaders "come off very nice at first, they go for vulnerable people who are looking for answers, lonely, what you'd call 'normal people.' They're very good at what they do and can get people to believe anything. You might think you'd never get taken in, but don't bet on it. "

-- Margaret Singer, Ph.D.

Katisha Wed 28-Sep-11 08:29:44

BodyUnknown you are obviously experiencing an exciting spiritual wake-up.

As has been said on here, Mormonism is most certainly not Christianity - it is a pretty recent religion using elements of Christianity, and it will take over your whole life. Now this is probably part of the appeal as you want direction and caring people around you and all the rest.

Could I appeal to you as part of your awaking and quest for answers to try a Christian Church as well? Maybe go for one of the more evangelical ones in your area and see how you feel there? Hopefully the people will be equally as welcoming but they will not try to control you in the way that the Mormon church will end up doing.

NotADudeExactly Wed 28-Sep-11 14:54:17

Hmm, before you buy into this, please reflect for a moment on whether you should really believe anything Joseph Smith wrote.

This guy claims that he translated (with the help of an angel named Moroni, now there's a pointer!) the Book of Mormon from something he called "reformed Egyptian". Conveniently, the originals were "taken to heaven" after he finished. Unfortunately for Smith we can still tell that he doesn't understand the tiniest bit of any sort of Egyptian - because he was careless enough to write a book on Egyptian grammar, too. Guess whose book doesn't describe a single aspect of any known Egyptian language correctly? That's worse than chance, FFS!

Did you also know that Mormon scriptures describe horses and other animals on the American continent before colonisation? Even though it is known that these species were introduced to America by European discoverers?

Look, there are special people of all faiths and none - but looking at individual believers can tell you next to nothing about the merits of a belief system. I have no doubt that the woman you have met is charismatic, perhaps truly fascinating. That doesn't really change anything about the fact that her beliefs are based on complete bullshit. Mormonism is demonstrably impossible from a scientific point of view. Don't be so open minded that your brain falls out of your head!

bellybuttons Thu 29-Sep-11 13:02:44

I was bought up in the LDS church. I think you should meet with the missionaries and see how you feel about what they say. You can do your own investigating and Mormon.org is a good place to start. There are many people ready to slate the church and jump on the band wagon of polygamy and the usual things people who don't understand it say but, with all religion, it is something you need to find out for yourself. Trust your instincts and remember that feeling good about it is not wrong.

The LDS chuch is a Christian organisation. They believe in the trinity of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

It is not a cult and is not only there to take your money.

Good luck and I hope it goes well for you.

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 14:55:40

'The LDS chuch is a Christian organisation. They believe in the trinity of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit'

Mormons believe that the trinity are three seperate beings, the Christian church believe that they are three in one, why not explain that to the OP in simple terms bellybuttons?

In the eyes of the christian church it is a cult because it does not adhere to mainstream christian values and traditions.

elizabethsiddal Thu 29-Sep-11 18:18:06

There are other, slightly darker reasons why the church appeals, which I know I should mention as relevant. I often feel like I've completely messed up my life. The chance to start again with God, wipe the slate clean through baptism and start to live my life according to his commandments which are part of His plan to make us happiest is very very appealing

God offers this to Everyone All the Time. you can start again right now! your slate is wiped clean as soon as you ask. You don't need any extra rules from Joseph Smith or anyone else. God already knows and loves you.

As for mormomism, all you need to get to know God better is the Bible. It is all there for you. Most ordinary christian churchs offer adult baptism too.

BodyUnknown Thu 29-Sep-11 21:53:57

Allboxedin, I am not sure that the Trinity being three separate entities is any less believable than the Trinity being three in one. I have heard that other Christian traditions do not consider the LDS to be true Christians because they do not follow this fundamental doctrine. As it happens, I believe in Christ and in the resurrection and that he died to save us from our sins but I do not believe that he is God - so does that mean that I am already at odds with mainstream Christian doctrine?

NotADudeExactly, yes, I read about the horses and other peculiarities... but the Bible has tosh in it too... I am not sure of the merits of taking any scripture absolutely literally. No, I am not convincing myself either...

elizabethsiddal, the problem there is that I just don't believe what you say. If God already knows and loves me, and all I have to do to be forgiven my sins is to ask, well... it just all seems a bit too easy. What's the point of baptism if you can sin and sin and all you have to do is ask for forgiveness and a clean slate, and God loves you anyway no matter what? I think that is the crux of my issue with the more mainstream churches I know.

As an update to my tale, I had a phonecall from a missionary today to ask when they could come and visit me. It will be Saturday at lunchtime so I will be sure to let you all know how it goes... I feel quite nervous, and very excited. I have honestly never ever felt this way before.

bellybuttons, I think that is what I will do. I do have a lot of questions for the missionaries and I don't expect them to be able to answer them all categorically, I just feel, for reasons I cannot adequately express, that I have to follow this up.

The missionary on the phone sounded pretty excited too. To be fair, I have read that the average conversion rate is 4.7 converts per missionary per year so they must be DELIGHTED to talk to someone with a genuine interest!

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 22:06:23

It does Body, because you do not accept the concept of 3 in 1 and that Jesus is God. Like I said earlier that is a fundamental doctrine of the christian church whether you believe it or not.
It sounds as though you know and feel more than you are letting on OP. Are you actually a recruit for the Mormons?! grin
You asked a question and have got your answers, it doesn't seem as though you will follow up on them or read into them any further so all I can do is wish you well!

Allboxedin Thu 29-Sep-11 22:09:15

....how can you believe that christ died though for our sins and yet do not believe God can forgive you?!

'I believe in Christ and in the resurrection and that he died to save us from our sins'

'the problem there is that I just don't believe what you say. If God already knows and loves me, and all I have to do to be forgiven my sins is to ask, well... it just all seems a bit too easy.'

onagar Thu 29-Sep-11 22:27:14

I'm an atheist so I'm not on the side of any church, but having had some experience with the Mormon church/LDS I can say that they are no worse than any other.
The people I met were ordinary people doing ordinary things and not especially out to trap anyone. The missionaries are generally young and excited about what they are doing and that is enticing of course.

Hiddenhome says "Joseph Smith was a false prophet who had criminal convictions" but Jesus had a criminal conviction too and was executed for his crimes so not a big problem.

As for the actual religion.. well I've looked at them all and I'm still an atheist.

BodyUnknown Thu 29-Sep-11 22:30:06

I know more than I did when I wrote the OP because I have literally not been able to stop thinking about it! Every spare moment I'm online reading. The anti sites as well as the official church sites. I've read hiddenhome's link.

I am not familiar at all with doctrinal matters though, and honestly what I see of Mormon scripture is no more or less bizarre than canonical scripture, when I really think about it. It's the slightly cultish, ritualistic nature of it all that concerns me more than whether the Book of Mormon says horses were in America in 400BC.

I'm definitely not a recruit smile

Maybe I didn't make myself very clear with what I said about believing in Christ and the resurrection. I do not believe that Christ died for us so we can all sin as much as we like now and get away with it because he loves us. Actually I am not entirely certain what I do believe about that.

At the moment, what I like most about what I have read about Mormonism is that in baptism, you make your covenant with God to follow his commandments and live without sin, and in return, you are blessed with the gift of the holy spirit. The more you adhere to his commandments, the happier you are making God and the happier you are making yourself, and the gifts and blessings of the holy spirit are your reward. Feelings of peace and security and all kinds of other nice things.

Of course it is entirely possible that as the only 3 Mormons I have ever met/spoken to are/were missionaries, they are coached by the church to extract exactly the kinds of feelings of discovery and awakening as I am right now. I was going to argue with whoever called my friend 'charismatic' because she isn't, but the missionary I spoke with online left a MASSIVE impression on me and I was totally convinced that I was feeling the holy spirit after that conversation. I mean really, I was shaky and that night I couldn't sleep from excitement. It's certainly powerful when someone you believe is living a godly life tells you exactly what you want to hear, and I am not so deluded that I can't acknowledge that...

BodyUnknown Thu 29-Sep-11 22:46:55

Allboxedin, I really do appreciate the time you have taken to post on this thread. Despite my avid reading since last weekend, I am pretty new to this and my questions in my OP were just about peoples' experiences of the church and of visits from missionaries in particular... I have read everything I've been recommended, and more, so I don't think it is entirely fair of you to say I haven't followed up on answers or read further into them. It wasn't a 'save me from the Mormons' thread after all smile

elizabethsiddal Fri 30-Sep-11 18:42:57

At the moment, what I like most about what I have read about Mormonism is that in baptism, you make your covenant with God to follow his commandments and live without sin, and in return, you are blessed with the gift of the holy spirit.

Although no human can live entirely without sin, only Jesus managed that on earth! All have fallen short of God's standard, we all do daily, even the most pious. That is why God's Grace is so important and amazing. We don't deserve it and cannot earn it, yet He gives it endlessly! It may seem 'too easy', but He knows that you are human and always a work in progress, and forgives all sins that you repent of. Repentance simply means to turn away from, and the Holy Spirit is there to help with that!

What's the point of baptism if you can sin and sin and all you have to do is ask for forgiveness and a clean slate, and God loves you anyway no matter what? I think that is the crux of my issue with the more mainstream churches I know.

the point of baptism for me was a) obediance: Jesus says to do it. b) symbolic of being 'made new' or having my slate washed clean c) my public confession of my faith.

of course God forgives sins over and over. He forgives me daily when i mess up, He also knows my heart, and knows if my repentance is genuine. if i apologise for speaking harshly to someone but have every intention of doing it again it is not repentance. God DOES love you no matter what, nothing you could do could make Him love you less, and in a relationship with him you then have His help to turn away from sin.

oh gosh. I feel so inarticulate. I wish I could explain it all better! also apologies for inappropriate lowercase. i only mumsnet when i am breastfeeding, and rarely actually post!

BodyUnknown Sat 01-Oct-11 14:02:30

My missionaries got lost sad

I had spent the morning nervously cleaning my flat and baking a cake and generally feeling antsy... and they got lost and couldn't make it in time because the tube was down on a crucial section of the line and they had another appointment in town at 4pm sad

The meeting will be rescheduled for sometime after this weekend as there is a very important conference on in Salt Lake City.

Thank you for your post, elizabethsiddal. You were very articulate. I will write back later, my daughter has just woken up!

mousymouse Sat 01-Oct-11 14:19:32

I have relatives who are (moderate, modern) mormons.
they are very keen on answering any question you might have but are also interested in other views. all mormons I have met so far (have been to temples and sunday services) were respectful and not pushy.
the religion is not for me, though. but I am not really religious.

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