It’s no secret that missions are a time of intense spirituality — after all, you’re immersed in the scriptures basically 24/7, and I do mean that literally because eventually you even dream about doing missionary work — but fun fact: missions are also really, REALLY hilarious.
Seriously. Take this story from my own mission, for example:
I served my mission in Denver, and my last area covered Denver and some of Original Aurora — and, like in any big city, there were some colorful characters there. One of my absolute favorite people in that area was an old man named *Clyde (name changed) who was originally from the deep South and had the thickest Cajun accent you’ve ever heard. He’d recently been baptized and had a fierce love for Christ.
One day, during our Sunday School lesson, our teacher — a really reserved, quiet man — was teaching a lesson on the keys of the priesthood. Clyde, somewhat exasperated, shouts out, “What about the keys of life?” Totally taken aback, our teacher goes, “Uh, I’m not totally sure where that’s from. Is there a scripture that talks about that?” Clyde indignantly responds, “No!” to which our teacher, very confused, asks, “Where is it from?” Five years later, Clyde’s answer STILL makes me laugh so hard: “A Stevie Wonder song.”
He was totally serious, too! Oh, Clyde. Stevie Wonder’s lyrics aren’t doctrine, close as they may be.
And that’s just one of many great mission stories. Keep reading for more, and add your own in the comments below!
Each Rat That Touches Us For Good
“I served in the Philippines, and one time a rat crawled out from underneath the portable washing machine (the machine was running as we taught) that was next to our investigator. The rat proceeded to die at my investigator’s feet and when she saw it (she was a super skinny, toothless old lady), she literally LEVITATED in the air with a shriek! It. Was. HILARIOUS! Then my companion and I sang “Each Rat That Touches Us for Good” from the hymn book.”
When Someone Bought Drugs During My Prayer
“One time the Relief Society president asked us to go visit a less active Sister in our ward. She didn’t really preface the visit; she just said “she needs love.” So we set up an appointment and when we got to her apartment, she invited us in. We sat down to share a message, and I started to say a prayer. About three seconds into the prayer, I hear her talking, so I opened my eyes to see what was going on and she was on the phone. I kept praying, because what else was I supposed to do? “One sec, Heavenly Father…?” Then she got up and walked out the door… I quickly ended my prayer and looked at my companion. We were super confused and pretty unsure of what to do. Then the woman came back in and said “Sorry!” She sat down, and then said, holding up a brown paper bag, “SO glad this stuff is legal now!” That was the first and only time I had ever had someone buy drugs while I was praying…”
I Can’t Help Falling
in Love With You Through Your Coal Chute
“[I knew this] Elder that went to Sweden. He knew no Swedish, but learned just to introduce his senior companion at the door, and then his senior would just take over. Mid-winter, a lady answers, and the new Elder does his thing, but when he turns around, his senior companion is gone! He’d slipped on the ice off the front landing and down the coal chute into the basement! He came up inside behind the lady.”
When Your Mission Turns Into American Idol
“My companion and I had contacted an older woman, probably in her eighties, and went to her apartment in a retirement community for our first lesson. We sat down in her front room and noticed a karaoke machine (the ones that look like the big stereos people had in the 2000s with a little screen for the lyrics). She told us that she wouldn’t let us give her a lesson until she showed us her unique singing style and then went straight into her karaoke version of “Joy to the World.” (Not the Christmas song, but the one about a bullfrog…)
After complimenting her own performance, she then informed us that she wouldn’t listen to our lesson unless we each performed a song on her karaoke machine. We tried to explain that we don’t even listen to music other than religious songs, and probably offered to sing a hymn instead, but she was adamant. We decided it was a “means to an end” situation and conceded. As a non-singer, I think this old lady is probably one of three people who have ever heard me give a solo “vocal performance,” which was “Hey Jude” by the Beatles (crazy ending and all).”
The Result of a Few Too Many Dinners
“Serving in Utah, members love watching everything missionaries do. An older woman in one of our wards called the mission to complain that my suit the previous Sunday had been “too tight” and was causing “impure thoughts.” I guess all those dinners made it a little small on me. What a creepy lady.”
Mo’ Tires, Mo’ Problems
“One time a bunch of hip hop/rap folks (this was in Long Beach near Snoop Dogg’s recording studio) were filming a music video and my companion and I were riding by on our bikes. My companion’s front tire got stuck in a drainage grate and he flew off and crashed, and then I fell after him and the entire crew stopped in the middle of a shoot to stare at us. So great.”
Feeling (and Sounding) Like Death
“We were at the home of some new converts in Uruguay teaching them how to do FHE. Well, while we were there, I started to have some, um, stomach problems. The whole family was in the living room, and the only bathroom was located immediately adjacent to the living room. The bathroom didn’t have a door, just a plastic curtain dividing the bathroom from the living room where the family was. Things were so bad that I had no choice but to use the bathroom. When I went in the bathroom, the family was noisily playing a game, but as soon as the noises from my problem started, it became dead silent. After about 15 of the most awkward seconds of my life, the mother of the family quietly said, “Pobre elder” (poor Elder). Try to imagine what it was like coming out of that bathroom.”
The Dark Side of the Moooooon
“I served in St. Louis Missouri. I’m pretty sure I saw every body part on my mission. During this particular story, I was about seven months out and I was serving in this podunk town in Missouri. My companion and I had planned to go contact a potential investigator we found in our area book. She lived in this tiny apartment complex that was notorious for crazy people. Well, we knocked on her door and this really big, tall guy is standing on the other side. We started to explain who we were and who we were looking for, and then out of nowhere, he says, “If y’all don’t leave, I’m gonna show you my [naughty word for butt ?]!”
I turned to my companion and when I look back, he’s turned around, bent over, with his pants dropped! He was mooning us! The only thing I could do was to laugh! So I burst out laughing, grabbed my companion by the arm, and dragged her away. I’m not sure what happened to the potential investigator, but I’ll never forget that moment!”
When They Have a Dirty Addiction… Literally
“We were teaching this woman and everything was going great. She loved lessons, went to church, and kept all of her commitments. After a lesson about the Word of Wisdom, avoiding addiction, agency, etc., she said something like, “Well, there is one addiction I should probably tell y’all.” I was heartbroken. Of course this would happen just when she was making such good progress. I internally started preparing myself for the worst. “It’s dirt,” she said. Chewing on gravel, licking rocks, and eating dirt was her addiction. My poor trainee didn’t know what to say for the rest of the lesson. Neither did I, to be honest. We checked with the mission president later to be sure there was nothing drastic we needed to do.”
Clipping Someone’s (*Cue Gag Reflex*) Toenails
“[W]e were [serving] in a remote area and visited a couple of elderly members every other week or so just to read them scriptures and keep them involved in the gospel since they often couldn’t make it to church. We were at this one man’s apartment and I’m talking with him, [but] my companion is SO obviously disinterested that he just leans back and starts trying to fall asleep. Whatever. I’m having a good chat with this old guy and start to wrap things up. I ask if there’s anything we can do to help him, and he reaches over to a table and shuffles things around and grabs some industrial-sized nail clippers. I know what’s coming. He asks if we can clip his toenails.
Normally, I would probably defer to a doctor or something, but I looked at my companion, head leaned way back, fast asleep with jaw open, heavy breathing. [So] I slapped him on the shoulder, “[My companion] here would LOVE to help you with that, wouldn’t you?” He snaps awake: “Sure, yeah, what do you need?” Still not knowing what’s going on, the old man has [my companion] down on his knees removing [the man’s] compression socks, then hands him the nail clippers. The realization hits my companion and he looks up at me with terror in his eyes. He is a total germophobe and these are the world’s nastiest, longest toenails ever. Made me want to barf. Well, props to him, this Elder goes to town, using all his might to clip these nails, and shards go flying like shrapnel, some hitting him in the face. I can tell this is the single most disgusting moment of his life. Me and the old guy just go on chatting, but I’m having the hardest time not just breaking down in laughter. We get done and leave, and my comp unleashes on me as soon as we’re out the door, letting me have it. However, he never fell asleep during an appointment again!”
“Elder, What Do You Need the Shower For?”
“One of my companions got on this healthy kick, (it was at that point in your mission where you realize you are headed home soon and don’t want to be rolling off the plane) so every morning he started making weird health shakes with raw eggs, veggies, protein powder, etc. Well, you can guess the repercussions of this new diet. Basically every day at some random time, our attempt to tract turned into potty patrol. He would say, “Elder! We need to find a bathroom!” And, well, he didn’t really have to say it, because before he said anything, his whole body would suddenly tense up, his eyes would squint, his face would contort, and he would start walking like he had just ridden a horse for an hour.
Usually, we could find a bathroom, but one day we were walking in a rural area when my companion did that jolt, body-tensing-up thing… And I knew that this was not going to end well. The nearest restroom was back at our house, so we started sprinting back home (about 20 minutes away if you ran). Judging by past close calls, I figured my companion has a good 15 minutes in him. So now it becomes a double endurance game, running back to the house as fast as we can while my companion tries to figure out how to run without exerting too much pressure.
We made it to the last block before our house; I’m out of breath, but my companion just takes off even faster, yelling back at me, “Meet you inside!” About three minutes later, I get home and it’s pretty silent inside the house, so I go to the bathroom door to check on my companion. I ask, “You okay now?” He doesn’t answer back, but I can hear him moving—but before I can ask again, the shower turns on. Laughing, I asked, “Elder, what do you need the shower for?” He just yells back, “Be quiet, Elder—and don’t mention this to anyone!” So #sorrynotsorry for sharing. Needless to say, my companion did stop the diet shakes and just stuck to running… But every time he would get in the shower after his workouts, I would ask, “Elder, what do you need the shower for?” Best inside joke I ever had with a companion!”
It’s fine, just wiping tears from my eyes over here and praying I don’t get nightmares about clipping people’s toenails. What are some funny stories from your mission? Leave them in the comments below!