I confess that I’ve overstepped the bounds by giving myself two mission calls. The first is greeting newcomers. This means I try to come early to Sacrament meeting, and in addition to preparing for the service, make sure nobody can say this was an unfriendly ward. I’ve also called myself to labor in the “wherever I am” mission, English speaking.
I’ve had my “greeter” mission call for several years, and everything was going fine until COVID hit. We had to have church via Zoom, and then we had to wear masks. This meant that you could say, “Hi, are you new?” and the person could reply, “No, I’ve been here two years” and you could look like an idiot. However, I am not deterred by looking like an idiot, clearly. So, I just explain that I haven’t actually seen their faces, but I’m very glad to meet them. At the very least, they will feel smarter than at least one person in the congregation.
My “wherever I am” mission has also been going on for some time (there’s no handbook for this, so you improvise) and can span the globe. I picture a little 2-ft. square box around me—okay, 4-ft. square after gaining weight (and I blame COVID for this as well), and I take it everywhere I go.
I have no tag, but I have the assignment to get to know everyone I can, and see if I can somehow bring the gospel into the conversation. I look at them and picture the Child of God they are, and hope they can feel love and acceptance. Again, if nothing else, they will know that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are friendly.
Sometimes we laugh together. Here are some examples from my latest medical appointments: In a hospital waiting room I couldn’t pick a chair (every other one was taped off for—you guessed it, COVID again–) so I was turning in circles. “What a time to be indecisive,” I muttered. Then I paused. “Or, maybe not,” I said. A woman chuckled. Aha. She got my sense of humor. So, I sat as close as I could and we chatted as we waited.
In another waiting room I sat beside a woman who was filling out the same tedious forms I was. I whispered to her that I was going to check prostate trouble, just to see if they’re paying attention. She threw back her head and hooted, and it felt like we were instant friends.
Then my physical therapist said I should give myself an M&M for doing the exercises I dislike. “Just like when you’re potty-training a kid,” she said. I stared at her. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t be house-broken to this very day if all I’d been offered was one measly M&M!” Now she and the other therapists all busted up laughing. Later I was able to invite her to a genealogy event.
My lab nurse was a whirlwind, tossing papers into a trash bin, bandages into their cubby-holes, folders onto a stack, and I said, “You could work at Benihana.” She laughed and I said, “Please wait until you finish laughing before stabbing me.” It’s tough when everyone’s wearing masks, but you can still connect in ways that work for you— for me, humor feels genuine.
So now we come to this whole idea of giving yourself a secret mission. Think of your hobbies, the things you enjoy. Think of your talents. I like to break the ice with humor, which I used in my book, As the Ward Turns, and so many others. When we laugh, we connect. For me, this makes it easy to introduce gospel truths.
Let’s say you’re musical. Why not learn your favorite hymns and set up a concert? Or invite nonmembers to sing in a quartet with you in Sacrament meeting. Join a community choir or a city orchestra where you can share your love of the Savior with others. Music can be a great missionary tool. Tell yourself you’ve been called to serve a Musical Mission, in the key of C.
Are you athletic? Reach out to join with non-members who have your same interests. Make your house the gathering place for televised games, so visitors can feel the spirit of your home. If you play, make sure you pray with your team before every game. Become a coach or mentor to young people who love sports. You can unofficially be called to an Athletic Mission, Sports Speaking.
There isn’t one field of interest that doesn’t bring you into contact with non-members: Traveling, crafting, cooking, science, genealogy, finance, fashion, cars, computers, politics, books, animals, volunteering, trivia, gardening—and that can be your pretend mission!
Yes, we should all try to serve actual, real missions and have actual, real callings whenever possible. But, in the meantime, why rest on our laurels? Incidentally, laurels are branches of bay leaves and believe me—not comfortable to sit on.
I guess I’m just saying we need to think outside the box (Another cliché! What is it with her?) and look at what already fills our life. Then use it to create opportunities for sharing the greatest news since the Resurrection—the Restoration!
You could do this as a family as well. Look at your pastimes and activities that bring your family together. Skiing? Boating? Barbecuing? Movie or game night? Surely there’s another family you could invite to share the fun and see if they might just find the answers they’re looking for.
It’s all about taking a fresh look at the things you already like doing. Missionary work doesn’t always have to take you into unfamiliar territory. Do it where you’re comfortable. And here’s what will happen: What you already love will become even more enjoyable.
Hilton is an award-winning playwright and the author of many best-selling Latter-day Saint books. Those, her humor blog, and YouTube Mom videos can be found on her website.