Brace yourselves, former missionaries: you’re about to feel related to on a whole new level.
1. The Baptism Symbol
The first time I saw the baptism symbol, I employed all of my brain power trying to figure out what on Earth it meant. Was my companion just really, really wanting to go swimming? Maybe she was trying to draw a normal arrow, but had a very unsteady hand…? Or was she referencing Titanic and trying to point out where the old lady dropped the ring in the end?
Turns out, it symbolizes someone going under water; hence, baptism. I’d never seen it in my life before my mission, and I haven’t seen it since.
2. Laughing at dumb Mormon jokes
Okay folks; sadly, this is a true story.
When I was on my mission, a few months before my 18 months was up, I had a dream that pierced me to my soul and filled me with equal parts dread and fear: I told a missionary joke on a bus and no one laughed. Before I tell you what happened though, it’s important to know that every day in my mission, we had to recite certain quotes from Preach My Gospel, including part of Joseph Smith’s account of events preceding the First Vision. He talks at one point of trying to figure out which of all of the churches surrounding him were true and remarks, “If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”
So just keep that in mind as I tell you about the soul-crushing event that happened in my dream. Here’s how it went down: I was on the bus with my cousin. We were talking with other passengers on the bus and my cousin, trying to clarify something someone has said, asks, “Which is it?” Immediately, I see a side-splitting joke being handed to me on a silver platter.
“And how shall I know it?!” I remark loudly, sniggering inwardly at how hilarious I am. Except that NO ONE ELSE LAUGHED! I remember dream me feeling mortified — how were these people not doubled over in laughter at my joke? This would kill at district meeting!
And then it dawned on me: I only think this is funny because I’m a missionary and I recite this phrase every single morning. Naturally, I woke up and cried. Not really, but I probably wanted to.
Missionary jokes are hilarious when you’re serving a full-time mission, and personally, I still find them funny. I just, you know, try to keep them to myself when riding buses.
3. Knowing Every Line of the Restoration DVD
My husband, to this day, frequently quotes the Restoration DVD that missionaries play for their investigators and watch, on average, 88,000 times on their mission. Approximately.
4. Cringing When You So Much as Think of “The District” Chastity Lesson
I’ve always loved up stand-up comedy, but I wasn’t able to watch or listen to it while I served as a missionary. Luckily, though, I didn’t need it — I had a clip from “The District” to comfort me in times of sadness.
Oh, sweet, sweet Elders. I always wonder if the filming crew was cringing and desperately biting their tongues, or maybe weeping out of sheer embarrassment. I mean, it’s basically a Michael Scott blunder that happened in real life.
Personal favorite moment: “He breaks the law of chastity. He… breaks it.”
To be fair, though, we all make mistakes on our mission. Excuse me while I go say a prayer of thanks that my mission wasn’t recorded on video for the entire Church to see.
5. Seeking Solace in the Bathroom
As a missionary, you’re almost never alone. I heard the phrase “Sight and sound!” so often that by the end of my mission, I almost wondered if the words were actually stamped on my forehead this whole time and people were just reading them to me.
My companion and I were listening to a song in the car one day — some EFY song, probably. The singer mentioned something about being alone. Seeing an opportunity to crack a missionary joke (see above), I asked, “Being alone? What does that even feel like?”
Without missing a beat, my companion responded, “Going to the bathroom.”
I laughed at that for like, a solid thirty minutes because it’s so true. It’s the only time you’re alone! I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t, in a moment of weakness, gone into the bathroom to avoid smacking my companion upside the head… Multiple times.
6. Lunch Hour = Nap Hour
7. Gaining the Ability to Tie Absolutely Anything Back to the Gospel
You hear a lot of interesting ideas and theories when you serve a mission — and sometimes at very inopportune times. (To illustrate, another true story: one time, in the middle of a lesson on my mission, our investigators just started playing a card game. Yeah. They literally got up, sat on the floor, and just started playing cards as I was speaking.)
Thankfully, though, the Spirit is real and you learn how to tie the craziest, most random tangents back to the gospel.
“Oh, you like peaches, huh? That reminds me of the fruit on the tree of life mentioned in 1 Nephi.”
“Your son’s best friend’s uncle’s niece works at the carnival? That’s so fun. I’ve always loved the Ferris wheel because from the top, you see things from a different perspective — just like with the gospel, you’re able to see things from a more eternal perspective.”
I think you catch my drift.
8. Six Months to Sexy
There’s almost nothing in the world I love more than food. (Literally, the list is pretty short: the gospel, my husband, and my family. That’s it.) So serving as a missionary in the States in an area with quite a few members, I was in heaven — I got fed incredible meals every night. At least, I was in heaven until buttons started popping off my skirt and my shirts started looking like I’d purchased them from Baby Gap.
Gaining weight is a problem that a lot of missionaries have. Naturally, most want to shed the weight before they return home and become “anxiously engaged in getting engaged.” So the last months of an Elder’s or Sister’s mission started getting referred to as “Six Months to Sexy,” “Five Months to Fit,” etc.
My own Six Months to Sexy, unfortunately, turned out more like, “Six months to Spacious” and “Five Months to Flabby.” Why do brownies gotta be so irresistible? That’s all I’m saying.
9. Being the Happiest You’ve Ever Been and the Saddest You’ve Ever Been… All Within the Space of One Day
^Because this gif says it so much better than I can.
What else do you think only Mormon missionaries understand? Leave us your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!