Crazy Mission Stories, Part II

Huzzah! New question in the inbox! This one comes from someone identifying themselves as “Elder Smith”.

Will you share some of your mission stories with us? We are trying to collect and publish a collection of great LDS mission stories.

Ok, now wait a minute. Does this question sound familiar to anyone? It should, because just over a year ago, my internet friend Joey asked a very similar question. Joey asked if I had any great mission stories to tell. I felt like kind of an ass, because my answer was more or less, “No. Mission stories are dumb and I don’t want to talk about it.” I felt bad, because I get that people who aren’t Mormons probably think Missionaries come home with a zillion great stories, and I felt like I was giving Joey the brush-off.

But it’s true. Missionaries have great experience – meaningful and important experiences – but they make terrible stories. And you know you are in for a particularly terrible story when  it starts with “This one time on my mission…”

Just to set the stage, I’ll quote myself from my post a year ago:

After a while, you get a little bit jaded. Now, if I’m sitting in Sunday School and some dude raises his hand and says, “Well this one time on my mission…”, I just roll my eyes.

“Oh great,” I say, nudging the guy next to me. “It’s Mission Story Guy.”

But like the fulfillment of prophecy, guess what Elder Smith’s website is called where he’s publishing a bunch of mission stories. It’s called This One Time on my Mission. And if anyone needs any further proof or convincing that the vast majority of mission stories are dumb, please click through to the website and read a dozen of them or so.

I don’t want to be a downer about mission stories. I’m glad “Elder Smith” has this website thing going on. Good for him. I hope it’s a successful venture and that everyone has a few laughs, but I’ll sit this one out. Well, if anyone out there has a great mission story, don’t share it here – send it over to This One Time on my Mission.

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5 thoughts on “Crazy Mission Stories, Part II”

  1. This one time on William Shunn’s mission…

    Though that’s shorter than the book it became, it’s still longer than the original blog posts years ago. It’s been a while since I read this, but I really enjoyed it.

    I actually like a lot of mission stories, though they are rarely the stories former missionaries think are great (stories of important/meaningful spiritual experiences). While those experiences mean a great deal to those involved, they rarely make good stories. However, missionaries often do stupid/strange/funny things, and they certainly meet a lot of interesting people.

    I’m interested in whether Ryan McIlvain’s novel “Elders” will do a better job making those types of stories interesting, in part because they are coming from an author who doesn’t “believe” any longer and they are part of a broader narative. That said, it will probably be a while before I read it.

  2. Ok, I was feeling cranky when I posted. I really have no beef with mission stories. There are certainly many very interesting mission stories out there, and of course a really great storyteller can make anything sound interesting.

    I will have to check out William Shunn’s stories, and also the McIlvain novel. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Oh, I don’t think you’re wrong at all about how most are horrible. Even most of the “funny” ones aren’t funny or entertaining.

    But, it’s just such a strange experience that some interesting things are bound to happen.

  4. Well, at least you’re consistent!

    I think people expect good stories because generally, people who are in the business of proselytizing run into good stories. This could be door-to-door salesmen, religious evangelists, or any other position in which you’re seeking to speak to a lot of people who don’t necessarily want (or at least hadn’t planned) to speak with you. Even positions where they do want to speak with you – carpet installers, for examples – can provide some great stories. Meeting lots of different people often results in good stories.

    I’ll have to check out one of these links to see what the so-called “good stories” are really all about.

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