You’ve seen them walking and biking in your town. They knock on doors, talk to strangers in the street, approach people on the bus or subway. They’re talkative, dressed up, fearless, and maybe a little weird? They can even be girls! And I was one of them.
Who are they?
These young men in white shirts and young ladies in modest skirt or dress outfits are missionaries for (or representatives of) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
They are young! The young men can begin their two year service at 18 years of age, and the young women begin their 18 month service at age 19!
There will always be at least two of them together. These are called companionships. They will always be two young men together or two young women together. Sometimes they come in threes. That’s called a trio!
They are usually pretty far away from home. I served in Dallas, TX. That’s over 1,000 miles from my hometown. My dad served when he was a young man in the Netherlands! That’s quite the distance from his hometown in California. You don’t get to choose where you serve, you are simply assigned and off you go!
They are sometimes learning a foreign language! I was assigned to learn Spanish. I became fluent in the time that I served, because the people I met were Spanish speakers.
They might be biking in the heat or cold! I had the pleasure of riding a bike in the middle of a Texas summer. In a skirt.
They are volunteers and don’t get paid. In fact, missionaries and their families actually pay to serve. They put their lives on hold and go serve for 18 months or 2 years, full-time. No school, no other jobs, no relationships, just dedication to God.
What do missionaries do?
A missionary’s purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ AND to serve.
They go door to door bringing the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
They teach from the Bible.
They teach from the Book of Mormon.
In the morning they arise to exercise, prepare for the day, and study the scriptures (and the language if they have been assigned to learn one). By mid morning they leave their apartments to find people to teach and teach lessons that have been previously set up. They return to their apartments at 9:00 or 9:30 PM each night to review the day, prepare for bed, and sleep. The next day is the same.
They only speak to their families twice a year by telephone (or Skype) and they only email their families once a week. This allows them to stay focused on their purpose and their mission experience.
They serve others in the community, member of the restored church or not. I always loved our community service. One of my favorites was at a community center in a teenie tiny town where people with Alzheimers and dementia came to socialize. I also loved serving at food banks and with tornado relief!
They are friends to the friendless, lift up the downtrodden, and strive to walk where Jesus would walk if He were here.
Why should you let them in?
Besides the fact that you may be the only door they get in all day? People go to great lengths to keep missionaries away. I was squirted with a hose in the dead of winter, I’ve had a back woods gentleman ‘sic his dogs on me, I’ve had a “Cup a Noodles” chucked at me from the window of a moving vehicle. I’ve been spat on, cussed out, and threatened at gun point, but I’m lucky. Other missionaries have experienced far worse. All in a days work! Just sacrificing for the one person who might just let you in and listen to your convictions. Who knows, maybe their hearts will even be touched.
(Thanks to the person who threw this at me, my misspelled sign was brought to my attention.)
All jokes aside, they are eager to speak with you and bring a message that is specifically for you! They teach about Christ! They desire to make people happier and lift their burdens! Your day will be brighter if you let them in. And besides, don’t you remember the scripture about clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc? When you let a missionary in and give them an ice cold drink of water, the blessings are poured out upon your head.
Also, did you know you can actually request for the missionaries to come visit you?
Want to learn more?
The best resource to learn more about these missionaries, what they actually do, and how they can connect with you is by visiting www.mormon.org.
At Mormon.org you can read frequently asked questions, request a free copy of the Book of Mormon, and even chat online with missionaries! This is something very special to me, so don’t wait! And if you see missionaries on the street, give them a smile and a wave!