The New York Times has published an in-depth piece about Mormon missionaries in Uganda. The article by Josh Kron, “Study Abroad, Mormon Style,” focuses on the lifestyles missionaries lead, and the transformative effect missions have on the young men and women who serve. It also touches upon a few of the misconceptions regarding Mormons.
The nature of missionary work
Kron dives into the unique work of missionaries, including the sacrifices of personal pleasure. The article does make a few minor mistakes, the author obviously unaware of language unique to the Uganda mission, (for instance, “Missionaries are paired, six weeks at a time, with a companion – in missionary lingo, the first companion is called “father,” and the second is called “mother.””) and a reference that the MTC is a part of BYU. Kronmakes mention of the MTC, the skills, languages, and ethics taught there. He notes that missionaries “study doctrine, learn how to teach the gospel and hone their communication skills. Some 50 languages are taught at the center, in Provo, Utah, which can accommodate 4,000 learners and has a gymnasium, medical clinic and bookstore. Training centers in other countries also prepare students to serve in one of the church’s roughly 350 missions.”
“There is not much time for recreation. At 8 a.m. they are at their desks for an hour of personal Scripture study. They then study with one another for an hour. By 10 a.m. they are out the door, visiting homes of families they already work with or scouring the streets for new recruits. Sometimes it is 9 p.m. before they return home, where they pray, compile the day’s results, cook dinner and switch off the lights by 10:30. … They are polite, not pushy. They volunteer to help local members or anyone curious about joining, even digging ditches or hauling bricks.”
Correcting Mormon myths
Kron accompanies the missionaries as they teach, he notes that several people with whom the missionaries associate have common misconceptions about the faith.
In correcting these misconceptions, Kron says that “Mormons worship Jesus Christ … do not [practice polygamy] – the church banned the practice in the 1890s,” and that, for Mormons, the Bible and the Book of Mormon “are meant to complement each other.”
Read Josh Kron’s entire piece in The New York Times (subscription may be required).