Mormon missionary experience

The Mormon church sends I’d guess ~100 missionaries a year to Taiwan to serve for 2 years. I was one of them from '94-'96. After that I went back and lived for awhile teaching English. I moved back to the states a couple years ago to finish school and have been here since(but I’m always looking for opportunities to move back ). When I was living there as an English teacher, I met lots of other Americans and Canadians. I was suprised to find out that many of them had also been Mormon missionaries in Taiwan years before…and that’s how they learned Chinese and decided they wanted to live there. When I was in school I took a Chinese class and was suprised to see many other missionaries that I had met in Taiwan were in the same class wanting to improve their Chinese.

I’m just kinda curious how many of you were first introduced to Chinese/Taiwan through missionary service (for any church) and how it changed your life goals. Had I not been a missionary, I would have never learned Chinese, never gone to Taiwan, never learned about Chinese culture and would have missed out on one of the greatest learning opportunities in my life. Because of my time there I’m always looking for chances to keep up on my Chinese—reading the local Chinese newspapers, reading Chinese news online, watching the Taiwan news on the International Channel, meeting Taiwanese living here, etc. If I wanted to spend $360/yr I could even get ~10 Taiwan TV stations beamed here via satellite. Some people call me an ‘EGG’ --white on the outside, yellow on the inside

To be honest, I don’t like to talk religion with someone who’s trying to convert me, so I tend to hide whenever I see a pair of young white men in black pants and white shirts riding bicycles in Taipei. However, I would like to say that I was always impressed at how quickly the Mormon missionaries I met seemed to learn Chinese. What program do you use?

Jeff, you bring up a good point. When I was a missionary I always felt like I got the ‘cold shoulder’ from other expats…and exactly for that reason:

quote[quote]To be honest, I don't like to talk religion with someone who's trying to convert me, so I tend to hide whenever I see a pair of young white men in black pants and white shirts riding bicycles in Taipei. [/quote]

For me, living in the boonies for several months, seeing another foriegner was a rarity. I guess some missionaries are more “aggressive” but I would typically only bring up religion if they brought it up (ie asked why I’m in Taiwan, etc.) I was just nice to talk with another foreigner.

As for Chinese the method we use is “get-out-there-and-talk” We’re sent to Taiwn pretty much cold turkey (sure, we spend 2 mos in UTAH learning nihao, 1-20, cesuo zai nali, etc–but we don’t learn crap). All of it comes with practice–making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, brute memorizing, etc. As we peddled our bikes around I would look at all the street signs and say the chars that I knew. I used alot of flashcards to learn words/chars and reviewed them on the bus/train. Learning Chinese isn’t easy–people always laughing at pronounciation/grammer mistakes. But for all the missionaries I met, they were pretty fluent within a few months.

That’s interesting that you feel like you didn’t learn anything at your program. I’d always heard that the best language programs in the US were those run by the Army and the Mormon Church. Maybe that’s just an urban legend.

Although I’m not a fan of “missionizing,” as far as missionaries go, I’ve never had a problem with Mormons. When I’ve been approached they’ve always been polite and when they find out that I already have a religion I’m quite happy with they leave it at that.

(A missionary in the States asked me what religion I follow, to which I replied Buddhism. “Do they beleive in Jesus Christ?” he asked. Hopefully they give the boys they send out to Asia better cultural lessons than the ones they dispatch locally)

good grief you guys get every where. I have the ‘blessing’ to live right next door to a ‘church of jesus christ and the latter day saints’ IN JAPAN! They have never ‘bothered’ me on the street just said hello, how are you etc…thats cool enough. but they are required to go knocking on doors and it was only a matter if time before they knocked on mine. I invited them in, even having absolutely no intention of signing up, i just wanted to know what was different about their branch of christianity and the one i was dragged kicking and screaming through when i was a child. They seemed a little taken back by my perceived enthusiasm but they were happy to indulge me. i asked the usual stuff about hot drinks etc…and then got down to the fundaments…it was interesting enough and i listened patiently…i then asked about whether these wonderful golden plates containing jesus’s words to the native americans still exist…“yea, sure”…“where are they then” ummm, smith (i think) gave them back to the angel “aaaahh!, i see!!”
This set me off, unleashing a barrage of questions about popints where i thought there were gapeing holes…Oh sorry, ill stop there, im sure that geng didnt want a religious discussion.

but those guys are excellent in japanese after about a year. in my 8 months here ive become more profficient than my peers but these guys are awesome.

Say, that brings up an intersting point. Did y’all know Joe Smith was a science fiction writer before he became the founding prophet of a popular religion? I always found that very compelling.

Um, don’t you mean L. Ron Hubbard? I don’t think there was too much in the way of science fiction writing going on in the early 1800s.

Although I guess his golden crockery from god er… crock, is close enough to science fiction.

Joseph Smith was indeed a science fiction writer… Then he integrated it into the Book of Mormon. He speaks of men who inhabit the moon, while Brigham Young expanded on that, adding that men live in the Sun, as well. Mormonism is a cute religion…but no scholar would be gullible enough to fall for it.

Please tell us the nature and the meaning of the symbols on the underwear that males are required to wear as Mormons.

is that for real? ive never heard of anything so absurd in my life, and yet, its conceivable.

Hey, let’s play nice. It’s my fault for hijacking the topic to begin with, but let’s hear some responses from Mormons who have returned here after doing missoinary service.

Well…this topic went in the wrong direction than I intended I was more interested in hearing from others who went to Taiwan because of their religion (ie as a missionary, minister, etc) and how it changed thier lives towards Chinese.

As for “Mormonism”…there’s lots of people that have a problem with it and make up stuff (ie aliens on the moon, “Joe” was a sci-fi writer, etc). That’s the first time I’ve heard of any of that. I would go to the source( or if you want to learn more about the religion.

As for the language program that the missionaries go through…it’s the same for every language: Spend 2 months at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. Learn the basics (ie grettings, numbers, basic phrases, etc), then they ship you to the country/location and you’re pretty much on your own. The only time you spend in a classroom is those 2 months at the MTC. Once you’re out in the “field”, how fast/slow you pick up the language is compelety dependent on the missionary. Like I said, most missionaries I worked with were pretty fluent within months–that’s because we spend all day talking Chinese with the local Taiwanese people. I used to carry a small notebook in my pocket and write down words I didn’t understand. I reviewed it often and made flash cards to learn new words and chars. The so-called “language program” is purely dependent upon how self-motivated you are to learning the language in that enviornment.

One of my ex-Mormon pals told me they actually ‘save’ the souls of dead people! Like ‘born again’ save. And as Mormons, of course. Born again dead Mormons?

Alien, you’re a moderator! Stick to the topic!

Sorry Jeff, I thought the topic was “Mormons and what they believe and do”
I appreciated your genital warts post, btw.
Oops! that has nothing to do with Mormons because they don’t have genitals, right?

Given the family size of many of my Mormon friends in high school, I’d have to doubt you on that one, Alien.

Oh yeah, married Mormons with multiple wives…

sigh I didn’t intend for this topic to be a discussion about the misconceptions about mormonism…I only brought up the Mormon church because:

a. I’m Mormon, and it was though this association I went to Taiwan

b. Many of the expats I met in Taiwan were Mormon (actually, most were ex-Mormon) that had come to Taiwan for the same reason. So I figured some readers here would have a similar experience (with any church).

I don’t really enjoy reading absourd generalizations about the church’s members…

To answer your original question, I didn’t come here because of religion, but one of the interesting aspects of being here was learning more about the local religions.