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  1. This is a brave and important podcast. Thank you for what you are doing. I hope this changes for good! So sorry that you had such a terrible experience.

  2. It appears Mormons need to ask themselves if the Prophet told them to drink cyanide — would they? Apparently the answer is “yes” and that is scary.

    At some point Mormons are going to have to start using common sense. If you are a parent and are letting your children be interviewed alone regarding sex , you need help and your children need protection. You have a serious deficit of good judgement. In this case, when a missionary voluntarily goes into a part of the world where numerous government agencies have warned against traveling and they get assaulted, it is their deficit of good judgement that is the proximate cause of their injury. This isn’t rocket science — if there is a dog behind a fence with a “Beware of Dog” sign posted and one enters and get bit is it the dog’s fault?

    If your religion is making these kinds of decisions difficult , — Please get help before it is too late.

    1. James, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. I know of no organized religion with a missionary effort that doesn’t evangelize every country south of the border, with the possible exception of Venezuela. My female friend from Guatemala served her mission in El Salvador. Here’s the issue; if the Mormon church were to say what you just said, they would be labeled as racist (Beware of Dog). Maddy mentioned that she received extra attention for being a white girl south of the border. 100% of the people know that’s true but if the church says that, they will be labeled white supremacists and racists, even by those who actively solicit changing the policies. Are we going to have female missionaries accompanied by armed guards to ward off the brown rapists? Wait, maybe I’m a racist for posing a question that offends someone. You see, I’ve learned there’s absolutely no pleasing everyone……..or even anyone all the time. Political correctness is more important than lives, virtue, and common sense.

      1. Race has absolutely nothing to do with this. The State Department doesn’t issue warnings because of race but rather events. The Church removed all missionaries from Nicaragua because of violence not race. My point is incredibly simple — Mormons need to accept individual responsibility and stop trying to blame the Church. The leaders of the Mormon Church have a business to run and they need people to make it happen. When those leaders ask members to do something immoral (talk to children alone about sex) or illegal (talk to children alone about sex) or dangerous (travel to restricted countries) — PARENTS and individuals should say NO or gladly accept the consequences of doing something immoral, illegal, or dangerous.

  3. Mr. Nelson speaking in 2016 general conference. They really need to stop making up faith promoting miracles, because many might legitimately wonder why they aren’t equally protected.

    God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others. But He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them, as He did for Alma’s people in the land of Helam (see Mosiah 24:13–15). He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside, as He did with the uniquely powerful cyclone that threatened to prevent the dedication of the temple in Fiji;6 or He does blunt their effects, as He did with the terrorist bombing that took so many lives in the Brussels airport but only injured our four missionaries.

    1. And we’re supposed to feel morally satisfied that missionaries were protected in Brussels (epistemological problem — how does one “prove” that allegation? — What would count as proof?) when other people there were torn asunder by the bombs? Even if one could reconcile the notions of goodness and moral adequacy with a God who prefers the lives of missionaries to the lives of innocent children, what do you do about cases where missionaries/Temple card-carrying mothers/equivalent persons suffer and die? It isn’t logically or morally possible to treat, as an adequate object of worship, a God who would protect missionaries or a building while letting innocent human being be blown apart or washed out to sea. And what about the innocent child, suffering a grievous malady, for whom no one prays? Is our Father’s hand stayed by a lack of supplication? That is a not a Father worthy of adoration.

  4. Camille and Maddy,
    I am so sorry you experienced this terrible trauma. You deserved to be protected and not sent into areas that were dangerous for women. Your courage and strength is inspiring. May you have the support of loved ones during your healing journey, the kind of individual support that each of you decide that you need. This is the most powerful Mormon Stories podcast that I have heard. Thank you for your courage and willingness to share your personal stories. You are true survivors. Thank you for trying to effect change in order to protect other missionaries. This is an incredibly noble cause.

    I left the church 3 years ago for many reasons, one of which was because I did not feel the church adequately protected children and young adults and women.

    Be gentle with yourselves and grant yourselves the time and space you need for healing.

  5. Thank you John for doing this interview. I think this is the most important interview you have done. I have listened to most of your podcasts. Thank you for your continued efforts to tell Mormon Stories. This was one that was needed so much. So many important ideas for parents and missionaries to know and consider before and on a mission. I was put in a metal hospital for four weeks (while still on my mission) for the mental damage a mission caused me. I returned home early, but went back out again, as I knew that was what I was suppose to do, only to return home five months later early again. These things have a life time affect on people. Members (parents and youth) need to know the risks.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. Powerful. I’m am curious, though. Did your “day 1” companion continue and finish her mission? Can’t imagine what that would have been like if she did. I hope she went home, too.

  7. So a follow up to Phil’s quote above, so what Nielsen is saying is that the schedule of members of the first presidency and the 12 is more important then the lives of two sister missionaries in Mexico. Or Bolivia. Or anywhere else. He claimed that the cyclone changed course so that the temple in Fiji could be dedicated. What if it had not changed course? They would have had to reschedule the dedication. It would have been a minor inconvenience for all those involved. Anything positive is claimed to be God’s hand. Anything negative is free agency of others. what if the Cyclone had been a direct hit and wiped out the Fiji Temple even before it was dedicated. It’s just a building. It could have been rebuilt. Is that more important then the safety of missionaries?

    God will help me find my key’s because I’m too incompetent to remember where I put them, but He will allow sister missionaries to suffer for an hour and not intercede. Am I the only one who has a hard time wrapping my brain around this?

  8. After having gone through 3 of the 4 segments, I phoned a neighbor lady of 79 years and told her about these two missionaries. I tried to talk top her about how she might feel if her granddaughters were sexually assaulted while on missions. As I usually here from her, “I am too busy working for the Lord to be concerned with such things.” Many Church members can’t even imagine such things because they “know” that missionaries are protected.

    Now that my wife and I don’t attend, I find myself voting for women and minorities. Women are treated cruelly in this world and men, as well as women, seem to see no problem with this.

    Now that I have gone through all four segments, I can guess that, over the years Camille will probably begin to study the Church and its history. I know that for me I cried upon finding inconsistencies about the Church, which still bothers me after 6 years, but from these talks I believe what Maddy and Camille have gone through is much worse. My wife was date-raped before we met and though we’ve been married 50 years, her experience has affected our marriage quite a bit. I may not attend but I am still very interested in the church. Like Maddy said, “It’s my tribe.”

    Thanks John, Camille, and Maddy. I hope you two ladies continue to check in to episodes past, present, and future of Mormon Stories. They help many people with many kinds of problems related to the Church.

  9. Camille and Maddy, thank you for sharing such powerful and personal stories. You both demonstrated such strength and courage, and your efforts to change church practice are so needed.

    I too was a missionary in Latin America, almost 20 years ago, and had a number of “close calls” that, looking back, could so easily have ended in assault. In one of my areas, I remember the neighborhood we lived in was so dangerous that at night, there would be men waiting in the trees above us, and we had to pay them a fee (which went to a local gang leader) in order to pass through and get to our house without getting shot. We joked that this gang liked Mormons and was actually protecting us, but seriously—how did we think that was ok? It was just something that had become normal for missionaries there—the zone leader knew about it—and yet we were so vulnerable. (That nightly fee also ate up a huge chunk of our already meager monthly allowance, which resulted in us living for weeks at a time on tortillas that we made from flour and water and cooked using a stove that we powered with hairspray because we couldn’t afford gas!)

    Anyway, your stories could have been any of ours. I saw some interesting parallels between your experience with the church and what has happened with Peace Corps in recent years, as victims of sexual assault have spoken out and demanded changes in how volunteers are assigned, how they’re trained, and how the agency deals with reports of violence.

    I’m impressed by your courage and the way you told your stories head-on, without shame, and took control of your own healing processes. You both seem to have advocated for yourselves and shown great self-knowledge and self-care. You’re tremendous examples, and I wish you much peace as you move on with your lives.

  10. These two sister missionaries did their best but ended up being victims. I’m sorry for what they have gone through. I wish them the best.

    Many years ago, before President Monson was called as prophet he spoke at a regional conference for my stake at the conference center. He related the details about a car full of missionaries who crashed and the car burned up. All were burned to death. He told about the phone calls he had with the missionaries families. He said, that is one of the hardest things he sometimes is required to do in his position.

    Statistically, missionaries may be safer on a church mission than they are most any other place. But terrible things do happen. The two sister missionaries are an example of what can happen. My mission was considered a hardship mission. Back then, no sister missionaries were called to that country.

    The Book of Mormon testifies just how difficult it can be to follow the Lord. Look what happen to Nephi. Laman and Lemuel tried to kill him more than once.

    Alma the older and those who followed him were put into hard bondage, but were delivered because of their faithfulness.

    Alma and Amulek were beaten and would have been killed if not for divine intervention. Those who believed in Alma and Amulek’s teachings were cast into the fire. It appears they were all women and children.

    Abinadi was protected by God’s power for awhile, but when he finished his message he was murdered.

    Joseph Smith and early church leaders and members were killed, raped, and abused in all kinds of ways.

    The scriptures and church history do not give reason to believe that missionaries are invincible. The promise is that God will support missionaries in their trials, troubles and afflictions.

    We live in a day when risk for many things has been reduced. But risk still exist, when it visit us we can turn to church history and the scriptures and do the best we can to emulate those who have gone before us.

  11. The belief that angels walk around missionaries and protect them is really a dangerous belief. As a young female missionary in Peru in the 1980’s, I believed that I had the protection of God and Angels as I walked down dark streets, way out in the pueblojovenes, or public places at night, markets, and a variety of other potentially dangerous places – without fear. I “knew” I had special protection and so I walked wherever we needed to go without worry. I tremble to think what could have happened and I realize that I was very lucky. Young women should not be out walking around at night without caution in foreign countries. LIke Maddy in Bolivia, our mission also had a culture of “just suck it up” and don’t be a complainer. Don’t be a “wuss.” Those who did take more concern for their health or safety were kind of looked down upon. Also at this time there were many terrorist activities going on in Peru, in the area of Ayucucho, which was in my mission. They didn’t send foreign missionaries to Ayacucho, but it was a battle zone for the native Peruvian missionaries who went there. Some of them came back quite traumatized. I definitely believe that the safety of missionaries should be taken mucho more seriously by the church.

  12. Thank you for bringing attention and solutions to this problem. I’m so sorry those things happened to each of you. Your stories are both shocking and heartbreaking!

    It’s sad that the LDS Mormon Church seems more concerned with liability and the appearance of top-down decision making authority than with making positive, meaningful change. We keep seeing examples of that over and over. One would think that an organization with such vast resources and such high numbers of volunteer workers could do better. I guess it all comes down to priorities.

    While it is shocking to hear; I’m so glad you were both quite explicit with your descriptions of the assaults. I’ve come to believe that our culture’s use of catch-all euphemisms (the latest being “non-consensual immorality” [WTF?]) has made it WAY to easy for people to brush such occurrences aside. I assume it is extremely difficult to say exactly what happened. However, saying exactly what happened makes damn sure that ignorant people can’t white-wash over it as if you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Super relevant interview!

  13. I forgot to mention that I lived in La Paz, Bolivia in 76,77,78 (3rd and 4th grades); and I can relate regarding the wild dog packs! It took me several years to overcome my fear of dogs after coming home. The missionaries in our area would eat with us at least every other week and they would actually prepared and carry squirt bottles full of soap, peppers, etc to spray at attacking dogs! They had scary names for all the particularly viscous dogs in the area.

  14. Camille and Maddy,
    Thank you so much for teaching us how to more effectively mourn with those that are mourning and comfort those that stand in need of comforting. I only know you both through hearing your stories so I hope that in some way you know that my heart ached to hear what you both went through. I’m so sorry for the trauma you endured on your missions. I’m also so sorry for the trauma you encountered after your missions from those who should have known better. Thank you both for your courage to share such sensitive information to help heal us from insensitivity. Your stories have helped me know my next steps in my areas of influence. And John, thank you for your work. I don’t know you personally, although I feel I do. Please thank your wife and children for their contribution to your work.

  15. Camille and Maddy, thank you for your bravery and in telling your stories and making a difference. I’m sorry for what happened. Thank you John for doing your podcast and asking good questions – even the “devil’s advocate” questions on behalf of believing Mormons because they highlight the absurdity of such questions and allow us to see both sides of the issue. For me, this issue is very disturbing but clear. My family and I have left the church, so my kids won’t be serving LDS missions, but I now have a better understanding of mission risks and what people go through during traumatic events. I will tell anyone I know about this who are thinking of sending their kids to Latin America for any reason – mission or not. I can’t believe the new and surprising ways the Mormon church demonstrates its negligence and non-inspiration.

  16. Dear Maddy and Camille,

    I watched all four of your videos. Thank you both for being so brave. I love your honesty and openness, and sharing your tragic and incredible accounts. I admire too how both of you are striving to improve things for others.

    I found myself crying repeatedly as you shared your stories. I could relate to your feelings. I was abducted from my family by an on duty law enforcement officer. Stolen from my bedroom, I was taken in a patrol car to a government jail. I lived for years as a teenage sex slave. Sometimes I was kept imprisoned in a government jail being sexually assaulted, beaten, and even tortured. What I lived happened in Sacramento, California, USA, so don’t think America is any safer than Mexico or Bolivia.

    I joined the Church at age 19, and was a missionary at age 20. I found myself later on my mission afraid to tell my mission presidents or even a general authority why I was having so many psychological issues as a missionary. Being a male sexual abuse survivor makes me feel even more isolated. Be grateful someone listened. In my case even the FBI refused to help me. My kidnapper still lives free.

  17. Thank you Camille and Maddy for sharing your truly horrifying stories. I’m so sorry you had to experience such violence and fear. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live through such a thing. Hopefully your bravery will lead to a systemic overhaul of church procedures on missionary safety even if you don’t get a dimes worth of credit from the brethren. I’m astounded that an organization like LDS Inc. doesnt have procedures already in place. That, in and of itself, is alarming when you consider how many young people they are responsible for sending all over the world. I wish both of you the very best life has to offer going forward. Thanks again for sharing; I think it is important.
    As I listened I couldnt help but think about what the church has actually been doing during this same time frame. Apparently god was busy revealing his displeasure about how folks refer to the church as Mormon or LDS instead of calling it whatever it was Nelson gleefully proclaimed a while back. Then all the concern about what the policy should be concerning legally married LGBTQ couples and their children was also a very important and time consuming concern the good lord supposedly had his other PSRs dutifully working on. Is God supposed to have time for everything? Are we to expect the omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe to think of everything all at once? I dont mean to trivialize what Maddy and Camille have been through but Mormonism is so rife with contradiction it’s hard not to scoff at their claims of recieving revelation from the almighty. As Maddy expressed during part of the interview one eventually comes to wonder, “Where is God in all this?” Where indeed!

  18. I didn’t want to hear this episode but I’m glad I did because I learned a lot on how to be more sensitive and caring to those who have suffered abuse.
    Hopefully we can make a better church together after learning from your experiences.

  19. Ladies, thank you for your courageous efforts to change the church’s policies towards missionaries who are assault victims. Too bad our trusted leaders are slow to respond to your concerns. Like that ol’e missionary urban legend about swimming as a missionary would be a detrimental to one’s life, teachings of having divine protections is also a joke.

    In no way am I trying to take away or lessen your horrible experiences, but I think there should also be some kind of protocol in missions for any kind of assault against a missionary. There seems to be an increase in violence against Mormon missionaries. Citizens in some countries do not give credence or respect to members of any form of clergy when it comes to committing acts of violence.

    My companion and I were accosted and punched while walking the streets of Worcester, England by some local thugs. So much for godly protection! Long story short, no one from the mission leadership followed up with us about the incident. It was almost like they thought since we didn’t get beat up too badly and we were still walking then we were alright. It was a traumatic experience, but we sucked it up like we were supposed to because we were young men and we needed to make some numbers.

    I’ve always wondered why we were never taught any basic self defense in the MTC…oh yeah, I forgot, because we would always be protected by divine intervention…but only if we were obedient. Then again, even if we weren’t obedient, any self defense skill would have still come in handy!

  20. I couldn’t agree more with what these two brave young ladies are doing. It is obvious the system that was in place for dealing with sexual assault when their incidents occurred was and is broken. It needs to be addressed and fixed.

    My personal experience with assault by a male on a female was an incident that involved my wife, who is now deceased. It happened many years ago when full bench seats were common in large cars. A man forced his way into my wife’s car about 10 PM one night after she had been grocery shopping. She returned home and parked in our garage. I had been on a trip and just got back home. Since we lived in what had been a very safe neighborhood, I left the garage door open for her return from the grocery store. For that reason, I didn’t hear the car when she pulled into the garage. That is when the man forced his way into her car. With his full body weight on her in the front seat and his hands holding her mouth shut so tightly that her face was significantly bruised for weeks, he tried to gain control of her for several minutes. Eventually she was able to get out a muffled scream that sounded like a small child screaming. I was puzzled by the sound and went to the door of our attached garage to investigate. It was completely dark at the time so I had no idea what was happening inside the car. As I opened the house door to the garage, the man on top of my wife bolted out of the car and ran. He was never caught.

    A good friend of mine who was the chief of a nearby local police department told me he was convinced the man was trying to get my wife under control so he could rape her. I think he was probably correct. In spite of the fact that no clothes were removed, no weapon was visible and no long term physical damage was done, my wife was severely traumatized by the experience. Her whole sense of security and safety in what had been a very safe suburban community was shattered. Many months later, something as simple as a garbage can that had been moved to a different location outside our garage startled her when she was backing out of the garage. That short experience of several minutes changed her life forever from the standpoint of feeling safe and secure. Things eventually got better for her, but it took a lot of time and support.

    The only reason I am relating this personal experience is to say that it is very important to realize the severity of the emotional trauma when an event of this type happens to a woman. It is extremely important to validate the experience and not trivialize it. It is also very important to approach the event with an extreme amount of sensitivity for the victim. As was mentioned during the discussions, no one who has not personally experienced an event of this type can understand how difficult the situation was for the person attacked. I include myself in that last statement. As a husband, I could feel my wife’s pain and emotional struggle, but I did not personally experience what she went through.

    I wish Camille and Maddy continued healing as they process what happened to them. I am very sorry you had to experience the very difficult things the two of you discussed. Be assured, it was evil men who perpetrated those acts. They are the ones who are fully responsible for what happened to you. Nothing you did during those events should cause you to feel even a tiny bit of responsibility for what happened. It is fully on the ones who committed the crimes. It was completely their decision to do what they did and you are not responsible in the least.

    Even though the men may not be adequately punished during their lifetime, I believe they will eventually face a judge who is totally just and totally righteous. From my perspective as a Christian, I believe justice will prevail in the end. That is why I can forgive the man who attacked my wife. Unless he confesses his sin to God and seeks forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, he will spend eternity in hell. That is a far worse punishment than anything I could do to him.

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