There’s a secret every missionary learns and mission prep just can’t teach it. It’s a super-awesome-secret that the best missionaries figure out pretty early on their missions, but most missionaries learn this secret through hard times, big trials, and rough patches. And I’m sure you’d prefer avoiding them. (You really would, I’ve been there).
Before I left on my mission I didn’t really get this. I thought I was a pro because I’d grown up with brothers and sisters and I was the oldest But until I’d lived with someone (and I don’t mean a one night sleepover with a few friends), I just didn’t get it.
So what is this one must-know secret every missionary should master before entering the mission field?
It’ actually really simple: companionship is all about communications, including missionary companions.
In this day of digital discussion, we’ve all found a way of communicating with people we’d rather not talk to face-to-face. We reply six hours later and give them the one-liner private message on Facebook, or in a text, or on iMessageor Viber.
But what do you do when this person is standing right in front of you? What happens when they do something you don’t agree with or like? What if they really irritate you? Like a companion who walks really slow, never lets you talk, makes you consistently late, or drinks that refreshing can of ice cold ginger ale you were saving in the back of the fridge as remedy for a bad day.
You can’t just ‘block’ them, hide them from your timeline, or ‘thumbs down’ their activities. It’s all face-to-face and sometimes that can be hard. Without talking, these negative feelings towards your companion can churn up and leave you without the spirit.
So, what’s the trick to better communication? Here are some tips to help you learn how to avoid some simple communication problems in the mission field, at home, or anywhere:
1. Seek to Understand
First try and understand that your companion might not have been brought up the same way as you and that they might do things differently to attain the same results. My mission president always told me. “Take the best and leave the rest”. Their culture, language and food maybe different than yours. It’s just different, not wrong. Appreciate their differences and try to learn from them.
The top ten mistakes that will ruin an LDS mission. That’s what one psychologist is putting in print after helping hundreds of missionaries deal with mental challenges while serving.
Dr. Gary Taylor, who spent 40 years in practice as a psychologist, and recently served two LDS missions as an area health advisor, says missionaries all respond differently to what he calls the three “Rs” they will face. Those are: Routine, Rejection, and Restriction. That’s why Taylor says future missionaries need to prepare not only physically and spiritually, but mentally.
“Missionaries typically really do come home with stories of changed lives and wonderful experiences. But all of that good stuff often comes at the expense of daily routine,” said Taylor to 2News. “So it’s a high-stress environment within a high-stress world.” . . .
From his years of counseling and experience in the mission field, Taylor is writing his sixth book. This one is geared towards young LDS men and women who are preparing for missionary service. It’s called, “Serve with all your Heart, Might, Mind, Strength, and Sanity: 10 Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Mission.”
So, here’s the deal: a reality of being a Latter-day Saint in the 21st century is that each of us has either personally struggled with a crisis of faith or we have painfully watched people close to us struggle.
Many people want us to believe that this is a Mormon phenomenon. But it isn’t. Far from it.
A wave of secularism is indiscriminately mounting an offensive against all religion, doing everything it can to undermine faith in the authority of scripture, the calling of prophets, and the existence of God. Religions everywhere are buckling under the pressure and actually, according to the data, the LDS Church is doing a better job retaining members than other religions.
But even if that is the case, we still can’t help but ache for close friends and family members (or ourselves) who face a barrage of doubts.
This article is a humble attempt to turn the tables on the doubt that so many members struggle to overcome. We seek to reach the members who desperately want to believe but no longer know how they can.
In this article we use a logical approach to overcoming doubt. And you may wonder why. The reason is simple. People who seriously struggle with doubt have come across information that they find to be both disturbing and convincing. They often feel so compelled by the arguments against the Restoration that exercising faith in the restored Gospel seems about as foolish as exercising faith in a unicorn.
In a manner that may be difficult to understand, they have lost the ability to exercise that particle of faith. You see, while faith precedes testimony, you still need a reason to exercise your faith. That’s why you’ve never tried an experiment of faith on the Greek gods or the Hindu ones. You couldn’t sincerely do so even if you wanted to. And that’s because your reason tells you that it would be silly to even think about it. And it is perhaps because we need a reason to exercise our faith that Peter admonished us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”
So, for those who may need a couple of reasons to exercise faith: We’ve got some.
And just to be clear, the evidence included in this article is not the type of ‘archaeological’ or ‘DNA’ evidence that is never really conclusive. We should avoid that type of evidence because it can quickly be invalidated by new evidence.
Instead, we focus on textual evidence because it isn’t refutable and you don’t have to be an expert to inspect it for yourself.
(Note: there are many links throughout this article. It would be best to read the entire article and then go back to the links you were interested in later. And please consider sharing–this article could help someone you didn’t even know was struggling.)
1. The Money System Described in the BoM Is Distinctly Ancient
I was 23 and had graduated from BYU two months earlier. Now I was nearing the end of my summer internship at a very fast-paced advertising agency.
From my apartment window, I looked out over the Hudson River where a city that shimmered with opportunity lay before me. The whole world was looking bright, but inside, I felt…cloudy.
I had doubts.
I wasn’t sure where to live after my internship, what to do for work, and worst of all, I went from having a huge support system in Utah where everyone encouraged me to choose the right and where gospel conversations were a norm, to a bustling city where my thoughts rarely fell on the gospel. And when they did, it was mainly questions about Church history. I began doubting whether or not I believed in the Church anymore.
But how could I—someone who prayed every day, hadn’t skipped a day of reading my scriptures since I was 15—have doubts? In my mind, doubts were for those people who had serious struggles in life or who chose paths that took them away from the Church—not for an active returned missionary like me. Right?
It was at this time of great confusion that my friend called me from the airport, en route to his mission. After a few minutes of talking he said, “Zack, you don’t sound good.”
I was going through my notes when I found this paper that my trainer from my mission gave me. There are only two options when it comes to The Book of Mormon: It is either a true record and Joseph is a Prophet who was called to translate it. OR it is a forgery and Joseph Smith wrote it and was a con-man who made it all up.
So which is it? True record or forgery? Well, let’s look into what it would take to “write” the Book of Mormon. I invite you to take the 30 point challenge to write The Book of Mormon!
Here is the challenge: Can you accept it?
1. Write a history of ancient Tibet covering a period from 600 B.C. to 450 A.D. Why ancient Tibet? Because you know no more about Tibet than Joseph Smith (or anyone else) knew about ancient America.
2. You are 23 years of age.
3. You have had no more than three years of formal school education and have spent your life in backwoods farming communities.
4. Your history must be written on the basis of what you now know. There was no library that held information for Joseph Smith. You must use none. There is to be no research of any kind.
5. Your history must be 531 pages and over 300,000 words in length.
6. Other than a few grammatical corrections, you must have no changes in the text. The first edition as you dictate it to your secretary must stand forever.
7. This record is to contain the history of two distinct and separate nations, along with histories of different contemporary nations or groups of people.
8. You must describe their religious, economic, political, and social cultures and institutions. Cover every phase of their society, including the names of their coins.
9. Change your style of writing many times. Many ancient authors contributed to the Book of Mormon, each with his own style.
We’ve all heard it before. The ‘Doom and Gloom’ speech that starts with, ‘Missions are tough’! Like that shocks anyone anymore. No, we’ve all heard it a thousand times in mission prep classes. “Missionary work is work, and it’s tough, and you can’t come home, you’ll get bitten by a dog and have people slam doors in your face every day… oh, and you’ll lose your right leg on top of that…. b.u.t. (with a long pause) It’s worth it” they say.
So, if you’re looking for a Doom and Gloom list, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Here are 8, very common, positive parts of being a mormon missionary. So whilst you mission prep, think of the good times you’ve got coming.
1, You may actually like your companions
RM’s can’t seem to talk enough about their ‘worst’ companions, but in fact you’ll probably make more lifelong friends than be stuck with challenging people. I’ve not met a missionary yet who doesn’t keep in contact with at least a few, years and years on. They are kind of comparable to your war buddies. You come back into civilian life, where most people don’t know what it was really like. But your mission companions do, they relate completely. Remember, you can learn something from everyone you meet.
2, You could lose that extra bit of weight or, bulk-up
What a perfect opportunity to walk, cycle, run and play sports. Even if you don’t normally. Just start slowly and build it up. You’ve got 18-24 months to get into some good habits and a companion to help you to do it. The more you notice a change, the more motivated you’ll be. Whether you want to bulk up or lose the weight, there’s time and support to make it happen. It’s easier when everyone’s doing it. To read more, check out: how to lose weight on a mission #bestversionofyou
This article was originally published on The Returned Missionary and has been republished in it’s entirety on this blog with the author’s permission.
Winning the battle with pornography isn’t easy. This post isn’t the answer to all the questions about overcoming pornography addiction, but I hope to at least share things that have helped me and my friends, who have battled with pornography, to WIN that battle. Way too many returned missionaries struggle with this, and too many of them do it silently, and completely alone. I have known of YSA wards where up to 90% of the young men struggle with this. This should not be. We can help them, and instead of shrinking away from them out of fear of the stigma, we need to reach out to help them, in love. You can help your friends who are struggling, and if YOU are that friend that needs help, then I hope I can be your friend and help you with this post.
1. Be informed and educated about it
I think before anything, we need to be informed about pornography addiction. Orson Scott Card once said that he is “a lover of goodness and a student of evil.” 1 Many people avoid learning more about the evil of pornography because it is evil. If we are going to help anyone we love to win the battle (or if we are trying to win the battle ourselves), we need to be more educated about pornography addiction, and specifically about why it is that men and women are even motivated at all to seek out pornography in the first place. Here are just a few resources that I have found helpful:
If you don’t know about Fight The New Drug, go to their site and learn more or just download their 2016 reference guide of the harmful effects of pornography. A comprehensive review of the most current and reliable, peer reviewed research on the harmful effects of pornography. This document is perfect for all individuals who want to dive deep into the research and gain a solid understanding of what science is teaching us about how pornography effects individuals, their relationships, and the world we live in.
Watch Johann Hari’s TED talk: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.
7 Levels of Addiction. If your friend is battling pornography, don’t put him in the same boat (in your mind) as the person you hear about on the news who went to prison for committing some horrible sexual crime. There are many varying levels of addiction and your friend is most likely in a less extreme area of the continuum. Even if they are at level seven, it is good to understand that there are different levels of addiction. Here is a PDF where you can read about the 7 Levels of Addiction.
Read Donald Hilton MD’s book He Restoreth My Soul. As an LDS neurologist, Dr. Hilton doesn’t just write about why pornography is bad for you spiritually. He also gives an in-depth review of the modern science and brain chemistry that undergirds an addiction. It is fascinating to understand his research because he suggests that spiritual repentance does not equal recovery from addiction. This is very different from what I assume most people believe about someone who has an addiction. I used to believe that no one has truly repented of this until they have completely recovered from it. According to Hilton, this is not always the case. Here’s Dr. Hilton talking about some of these things at a BYU Pornography Addiction Conference:
Study the 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program with your friend and on your own. This is very informative and is not just about pornography addiction, but about addiction to anything and is really a great guide for anyone who wants to fully and joyfully repent of any personal vice.
Look up the studies of the growing body of researchers on this topic including Mark Chamberlain, Maurice Harker, Dan Gray, Jill Manning, Jason Carroll, Brannon Patrick, Tyler Patrick, Rich Tripp, Mark Kastleman, Geoff Steurer, Jeffrey Ford, Kathy Kinghorn, and many others. Just Google their names and you’ll start finding their work.
Go to a conference or watch the videos from the conferences. One conference I have found to be extremely informative is the UCAP conference. It is in Utah, so all of you reading this won’t be able to make it to this, but they post most of their presentation videos online and it is excellent information.
This presentation, from Dan Gray, changed the way I look at addiction and how I look at addicts. It goes right along with the information that Johann Hari presented in his TED talk above.
Look up the amazing resources and information at the SA Lifeline website.
There are a dozens of other resources to get educated and informed about it for your friend, for your children, or for yourself. The important thing is to learn about it before you dive into the fight or you will be fighting blindfolded.
2. P.E.R.M.A. VS. B.L.A.S.T. The power of the Science of Happiness (Positive Psychology)
If you watched Johann Hari’s TED talk above, you listened to the research about “rat park,” or heaven for rats where the rats were first put in an empty cage with two types of water. One water was normal water and the other water was drugged with heroin or cocaine. In the empty cage, the rats would consistently return over and over to the drugged water and die from overdose within a short amount of time. However, they redid the experiment and instead of putting the rats in an empty cage, alone, they put them in rat park where they had plenty of friends, toys, all the food they could imagine and could do whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted.
100% of the rats overdosed in the isolated cage. 0% of the rats overdosed in rat heaven.
Why? Because they were happier. Maybe you’ll debate weather a rat can be happier, but we all know that humans can be both miserable and happy.
Positive psychology is a growing field that doesn’t study what is wrong with humans. It studies what is right with humans. What makes humans flourish. Why are the happiest and most engaged humans they way they are? Why do they flourish? This is what positive psych aims to find out. I won’t go into detail in this post, but the father of positive psychology (Dr. Martin Seligman) has come up with what he called the Well-being Theory that can be summarized with the acronym PERMA. Every single one of the below areas has loads of studies on how this leads to human flourishing. Read his latest book, Flourish, about PERMA and Well-being Theory.
Positive Emotion – through gratitude, play, acts of kindness, mindfulness, awe, interest
Engagement or “Flow” – exercising your natural strengths/skills in activities that challenge you
Relationships – cultivating, strengthening and maintaining positive social relationships
Achievement – set goals, and work hard to reach those goals
I honestly believe that no matter how many ARP meetings you go to and how many books you read about the problem of pornography addiction, if we are not flourishing in life, we will never overcome any addiction. However, if we are flourishing, our life will be abundant and there will be no reason for us to go to the “drugged water” in our isolated rat cage. We can help our friends to create for themselves their own little rat heaven. A place where they can play, and become engaged with something they are amazingly talented at, be a part of many wholesome and meaningful relationships, find their life mission and do something that creates meaning for them, set goals and move with all their heart toward achieving those goals. I would honestly be surprised to see a person who creates their own personal “rat heaven” involved in level 7 pornography addiction or even level 2. This just wouldn’t make sense.
This will help them fight against BLAST, or the things that make viewing and seeking out pornography more likely:
Bored – or any form of apathy about life in general
Lonely – lack of social connection or any hope of social connection any time soon
Angry – at self, at God, at circumstances of life or at other people
Stressed – overwhelmed in thinking that it’s just too hard, not fair, or too much is expected, a sense of helplessness.
Tired – in a physically exhausted state all of the above are more difficult to overcome
When you are flourishing, you will rarely be bored or lonely. You may feel stress, but it will be the good kind. You won’t be paralyzed by helplessness because your learned optimism will help you push past thinking that your problems are personal, permanent or pervasive. Anger will be much less likely because you will train yourself to be filled with gratitude and self compassion. When you are tired, it will be at the end of very fulfilling days and there won’t be a need to find connection, because you already have it in positive and meaningful relationships you have built. And when you feel like you are working toward a goal that is larger than yourself, motivation will be more powerful to fight.
I really did not go into detail here, but read about PERMA and watch this TED talk on the happiness advantage by one of the most well known positive psychologists out there. I believe what he says about work directly applies to the desire to win the battle with pornography. You can’t just say “once I have overcome pornography addiction, then I’ll be happy.” That, my friend will never work. You MUST be happy and fulfilled first. Then you will overcome.
Your friend will have a great “happiness advantage” if they follow the principles of positive psychology.
I believe PERMA will always win in a fight against BLAST (and the research backs me up).
Want even more books that talk about the science behind boosting your levels of happiness? Here they are:
“Guilt is: I DID somethingbad. Shame is: I AM something bad. Guilt: I’m sorry I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry, I am a mistake. There is a huge difference.” – Brene Brown 2
We need to remember that we should not be the messengers of shame to a friend who is battling pornography addiction. God will never deliver shame. None of us are a mistake. ALL of us have made mistakes. God is okay with us making mistakes, but He is not okay with us thinking that we are a mistake.
Every person who has chosen to seek out pornography has made a mistake, but not one of themis a mistake. There is a huge difference.
Remember that there are multitudes of others who are either battling with pornography or who have battled and who are in recovery. If you don’t believe me, check out this list of blogs at LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs. These are all personal blogs of real people who are openly talking about their fight and recovery.
I’m one of them. So is Terry Crews (the crazy Old Spice guy). I have gone through the 12 step addiction recovery program. I used to think that only skid-row bums and ex-convicts had a problem with sexual addictions. I was wrong. Normal, sharp, attractive, successful, fresh-off-the-mission returned missionaries do too. I also used to believe that those who admitted to a flaw like this would ruin their lives forever because no one would trust them and they would no longer be able to be an example of the believers. Now I believe differently. Vulnerability is powerful and it opens the doors to immense growth and progress, not the other way around. Brene Brown, the evangelist of vulnerability said this: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” 3 If you are vulnerable enough to admit that you have a problem (whether you are at a level one or a level seven on the addiction scale mentioned above), you will see growth come of it. And I promise you that if you keep hiding and continue to hold back, it will only stagnate your progress, creativity and innovation in your life.
Don’t forget to be your own best friend in this process. You can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy as you battle.
4. PERSONIFY the porn star
The problem with pornography is that it has twisted and devalued the subject of the pornography to an object. Nothing more than a piece of plastic that can be viewed a billion times after the picture or video has been taken. What your friend may not think about when they are fantasizing with porn is that each one of those porn stars has a life. They all have a mom. Each one has a family, a past and a future.
Even if you feel like you are winning the battle with pornography, you may still have thoughts that are less appropriate or maybe you get frustrated when women wear clothes that show more than garment lines would appropriate. Well, they have lives too. The next time this happens, instead of fantasizing about an object, imagine that person’s future dreams and goals. Imagine them giving a talk in church or making dinner or changing their baby’s diaper or in a job interview or praying for the things that they need or desire in this life. Imagine them growing up and becoming a grandparent. Would you objectify Mother Theresa as she holds a dying baby or comforts a leper? Would you objectify Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt or Nobel Prize winning Marie Curie? What about J.K. Rowling or Abigail Adams or Martha Washington, Joan of Arc or Anne Frank or Lucy Mack Smith? What seed of potential greatness is not found inside each and every girl or woman, porn star or not???
Whether they know it or not, YOU can know it. Keep that truth inside of your heart. Remember that each and every woman is a real human being. A person, with feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, and who can experience joy in their own right. They are not an object. Period. Keep that locked in your heart. You’ll see the world differently if you do.
5. Find an ARP meeting and go with your friend to the meeting
ARP (addiction recovery program) meetings are powerful. Even if you have never struggled with an addiction to pornography, you should go to one of these meetings. It will change your life. And if you are struggling, you will benefit immensely from attending these (in person or by phone, but I highly recommend in person). You can find a meeting here.
I mentioned above getting a 12 Step Addiction Recovery book. The meetings follow these steps one by one for 90 days from beginning to end. If your friend really wants to win the battle with pornography, I would highly recommend attending these meetings.
The first time I went to one of these meetings, I thought it would be filled with ex-criminals and skid-row bums like I mentioned above. I was surprised to see that the guys at the meeting were impressive, hard working, successful, well-groomed men who were in the exact same stage of life that I was in, in many cases. Some of them had been recovered for years, but still come to strengthen others. For some of them it was their first time. The general feeling is an absolute love for each other, despite the battle with addiction and a total authenticity that is often hard to find anywhere else, including elders quorum. Every time I have gone to a meeting, I have left strengthened and full and true to my highest self. It is an inspired program. One of my friends who has gone through the program has made videos of each of the steps. Here is his video of Step 4:
6. Activate the power of the Atonement
Remember where you are headed. The atonement isn’t just there to get you from sin to clean or from clean to saint. It’s there to get you from saint to god. I have received hate mail from people in other faiths about this doctrine, but I believe that it is one of the most inspiring doctrines we have, and the only way it is possible is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Like I said, this list is not comprehensive, but I hope at least one of these things have helped you to help your friend (even if YOU are the friend). Don’t lose hope. Your friend is worth it. YOU are worth it.
Hastening the Work of Salvation – As our Heavenly Father hastens His work of salvation, it is up to us as members of His Church to keep pace. I am inspired by the words of Elder David A. Bednar from instruction given at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents in 2014 –
“The hastening of the Lord’s work requires His followers continuously to learn, to change, and “to press forward with faith in the Savior . . . Elder Bednar suggested that members ask themselves if they as individuals and as a Church will choose to keep pace with the Lord’s hastening. “Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?”
When it comes to missionary work missionaries must now enter the mission field better prepared to serve! We no longer have the long stays once possible at the MTC’s (Mission Training Centers) and CCM’s (Centro de Capacitacion Misional). Stays are brief, focusing for many on learning necessary language skills and a brief introduction to the missionary lifestyle and Preach my Gospel.
From Day One!Upon arrival in the mission field missionaries begin teaching and testifying from day one! You will have an assigned trainer and companion who will lead you through the prepared lessons of the booklet “The First 12 Weeks”as you become familiar with and gain a testimony of missionary work and the gospel principles and doctrines of the Church found in Preach my Gospel.The following video describes the importance of “The First 12 Weeks” program and the great blessing it is for missionaries as they begin their mission.
It is absolutely true that there are many things young men and young women of the Church can and should do so that they will enter the mission field more prepared and effective upon their arrival. The Lord is hastening His work of Salvation, there can be no doubt. We are seeing both the challenges and the blessings of increased emphasis coming to pass all around us daily. We see an outpouring of the Spirit and blessings upon those missionaries who have the desire and come prepared to serve.
Not very long ago young men and young women of the Church had an opportunity to spend a lengthy time in the MTC’s (Mission Training Centers) of the Church located throughout the world. Amongst many things, a particular purpose was to educate and train them to be more effective missionaries, to help them comprehend gospel principles they did not yet understand, to help them increase the strength of their testimonies. Young people do not have such a luxury at this time. They need to come prepared. Although to loved ones, two years or 18 months seems like a long time . . . and it is . . . the time passes rapidly. You will want to make use of everyday!
Missionaries come from many different backgrounds . . .
We see that not all missionaries come to the mission on equal footing. They come with many and varied experiences in the gospel. Some missionaries arrive after learning gospel principles from their days of Primary, Young men / Young Women and seminary and institute classes. Many missionaries, especially outside of the United States arrive in the mission field as new converts to the Church. Each has a fervent testimony and a desire to share, but their experience in the gospel is somewhat different.
The most important convert of a missionary is him or herself. Each missionary will see long term blessings related to missionary service. Yet, the missionaries of the Church are the mouthpiece of our Heavenly Father and Savior in proclaiming His restored gospel here upon the earth. They are called and set apart by Priesthood authority to be representatives of the Savior and to teach in His name. They can fulfill their sacred calling more effectively and have more meaningful experiences by taking the time to come well prepared.
I would advise young people (and ALL people really . . . for are we not ALL missionaries and representatives of the Savior?) to read carefully the article referenced above.
In addition to strengthening your testimony and gospel knowledge in the weeks and months before your mission, there are some other important preparations to make.
As I think back to my mission I found I had a few regrets. Either things I wished I had done, or that I had not done. I wanted to know if these feelings were unique to me, or if others felt the same way. So I talked with many returned missionaries, as we talked I found a lot of our regrets were similar. Here are 6 Common regrets of LDS Missionaries.
1. Writing In Your Journal (Or lack thereof)
This is probably my biggest regret, and I’ve found it is the same for most missionaries and RM’s. Let’s face it, people especially guys don’t like to write. Plus, we’ve all had those days that at the end of a day of tracting we can’t even think of anything worthwhile to write about. Here are some ideas to record your journey.
If you’re a missionary with an iPad record what happened that day using voice memo, you can email yourself the recordings every week (to save space). Record not just the miracles but the funny things, and how you’re feeling. And this is my personal favorite, look for and record how you saw the Hand of the Lord in your life that day. I love the words of President Clark’s wife.
“We can see the hand of the Lord in every experience we have if we are willing to look. That is how we find joy through our trials.” ~Sue Clark
2. Taking More Pictures.
It has been said, “A picture is worth a thousand words” I did not fully understand this until my mission. Why is it worth a thousand words? Because a picture contains more than just an image, it contains a memory. When I look over the pictures from my mission and pictures of companions, I am reminded of my companions, our funny experiences, and most importantly miracles that happened to us. Looking through mission pictures is like reading a mission journal.
So take a minute, step back and ask someone to take a picture! Who knows, if you ask someone they might be curious and it gives you a contact situation! (Just make sure not to look like a tourist)