More AMA Answers....
You mention that fornication and adultery were rather common in the country you served in. Why do you think that is?
We had missionaries in my assignment from USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Spain and Mexico. EVERYONE wanted to know the same thing, including me! Why so much fornication and adultery? Especially compared with the congregations in the countries we originated from. One, the Catholic Church makes it expensive and hard to get married in there, and most of the country is Catholic. So people live in common-law marriages instead. A great percentage of the country are couples who live together but are not married. That erodes the idea you have to get married to have sex. Second, there is an old saying that goes around there that every man needs seven women to stay strong. The uneducated believe that, however crazy that is. Another reason is that it's a male-dominated society. I had to give advice literally hundreds of times to sisters who worked in the bigger cities who were being reprimanded at work because their skirts are too long. Yes that's right. Too long. Their male bosses pressured them to wear shorter skirts because they needed to look "feminine" to draw customers and clients. Women there have few rights. Sexual harassment lawsuits are almost unheard of.
Plus there isn't a lot of recreation, they are mostly poor. They can't afford to go out to dinner or to the movies or hiking or traveling. So they look for fun where they can. The special pioneers have a difficult time of it in those rural areas. No TV. Sometimes no electricity. Nothing to do but preach. The local guys and girls are friendly and so they sit around talking and one thing leads to another. Sometimes special pioneers get pregnant by their bible studies. On the surface it doesn't seem like fornication is everywhere but once you examine congregation records it seems everyone has had sexual experiences.
Does this lax attitude carry over into anything else? Such as: less zeal for meetings/service, overuse of alcohol, more willing to browse apostate material on the internet when available
The lax attitude towards sex yes carries over into alcohol use. A lot of elders have been removed for alcoholism. As far as the ministry is concerned, the opposite is true. They are way more zealous. The preaching work is easier in the sense that way more people want to talk, most at least listen out of politeness, and also due to the lack of recreation, almost everyone goes in service on the weekends.
From a JW perspective, how competent were the local elders in Central America compared to the US?
Competent elders? The elders there are less educated. So their talks mostly consist of reading the outlines. The accounts are usually a mess. The congregations are disorganized. The elders are usually friendly and nice people, but they are in a cult so they disfellowship and break up families, it's hard to term an elder competent unless you define competence as following the Society's direction. For a circuit Assembly I always had a hard time finding good speakers.
In recent years, in the country you served, if you know, has there been an increase in those waking up from the org? Or at least an increase in internet usage?
No way have more woken up from the country I was in. I am Facebook friends with hundreds of them and they are stuck in the organization mentality of we have the truth and that's it. Plus there aren't a lot of websites in their language that could help them. The only thing that could help them is if more missionaries in that country woke up. The gossip would get around. I am trying my best to get my Facebook JW friends to at least think a little.
What do you think the likelihood is that any very high ups (GB helpers, Branch Committee members) will wake up?
I do think a higher up will wake up. As the years go by and Armageddon doesn't come, and the meetings get more crazy, I think more people on general will wake up, and that includes the higher ups. The difficulty lies in that the higher ups feel a responsibility to "keep the faith and set a good example."
I was raised a Jehovah's Witness from the age of 10 I became the p/overseer at the age of 32 and just like you I became disillusioned with the 1995 change of the generation . I gave talks at circuit assemblies, conventions, sat on many judicial committee and special committees. I was media spokesperson for a country in the UK - Wales. I witnessed many circuit overseers come and go but I always felt that they were genuine people. I am now disfellowshipped for adultery of course. The only thing that I miss about the JWs is giving lectures and talks - I used to get a big kick out of that - so my question to you, do you feel the same way?
I loved to give talks and teach pioneer schools and Kingdom ministry school. As a CO, we often got to make up our own outlines. I loved that.
When will the WT be forced to change 144k from a literal to a figurative number? I've read "insider" rumors that this was planned - and I consider it the one thing that might shake my power elder couple parents awake. They HAVE to be running out of explanations for memorial partaker fluctuations soon.
Circuit Overseers often write to the Branch office regarding policy and procedure. I know I did. But as far as doctrine is concerned, I never heard about any new light before it was announced.
In normal circumstances the heads of corporations are somewhat tuned in to the needs and wants of the people. My experience as a JW is that the Society never consults regarding doctrine. So if you heard a rumor that a change in doctrine regarding the 144,000 is "planned" my opinion is that is false.
That being said, the GB will have to address that issue. And if and when they do, most JW's will just follow whatever they say. "Oh the 144,000 is not literal now! What wonderful light from the GB!"
If you want to help your parents, use Socratic questions. "What If..." questions. Draw them out.
"If the Society changes the 144,000 doctrine and says it's now a figurative number like Christendom says, what would you do?"
"IF" questions really make people think.
How many people did you convert during your years as a missionary/CO? How do you feel about it now knowing TTATT?
None that I know of.
I had 8-13 Bible Studies in my first 3 years in my assignment. None of them were baptized while I was studying with them. I kept getting moved around from congregation to congregation every few months due to the lack of elders. Then I became a CO and I had no studies due to being in a different congregation each week.
But yes, I feel terrible about how I supported a corrupt organization. There are very few foreigners in the country I was in so a missionary Circuit Overseer is a big deal. I had a lot of clout and influence. I wish I could go back and change that and wake people up. I am trying to do so on Facebook, I have hundreds of friends from that country but it's not easy.
I was never an elder, but the son and grandson of elders. There were always feuds and factions among the elders. When the new CO came to town, there seemed like a running of the bulls (sort of like when the convention doors open at 8AM) to meet the new CO and air their side of whatever longstanding grievance there was. What was your perception of this when you came to a new circuit?
Oh yes. I served in 4 different circuits. As soon as I got into a new Circuit elders would start calling me about the big issues in that circuit. Big families and big problems. I recommended deletions of elders then I found out I was wrong then had to delete the elder i thought was right at first. Business dealings, verbally abusive elders, drunkenness, flirtatious elders, lazy elders you name it.
Have you thought of writing a book to add to the collection? One like Franz's one. A genuine insight of the inner working of missionaries and COs?
Interesting idea. I never thought about it.