Friday, March 6, 2009

M&M's and Slam Dunk Missionaries

I did a recent post on symbols in missions many that were doctrinal and focused the attention of the missionaries on some aspect of missionary work with complex medallions, slogans etc. Symbols help missionaries to focus on the missionary work. I ran across one that I thought was rather amusing today.

It truly represents LDS youth and their culinary tastes well. I am convinced this one is a real attention-getter and probably produces fantastic results that keep a zone conference moving along nicely in the testimony portion. It is better than the approach my mission president M. Russell Ballard used which was pointing his finger and motioning while saying that the spirit starts on the end of the front row goes to the right then to the next row and then over to Elder So and So until we have all born our testimonies.

Ellen Slovacek, wife of the Czech Prague Mission President, shares this fun technique with us:

This is a random thing, but the Young Women from my ward back home will know the M&M guy stands for "Slam Dunk Missionary Moments". We've instituted it in our zone conferences, as well. The missionaries get to share their happy experiences (Sharing Time), and get a handful of M&Ms. By the way, many thanks to those of you who send us M&Ms!! Our missionaries LOVE them!
Basketball, M&Ms for missionaries is a natural combination for the tastes of Mormon youth and missionary elder specifically equate food and basketball with pleasurable things. From primary on up LDS young men and women have been socialized to answer a gospel question and then receiving a piece of candy. Even adult Mormons occasionally receive root beer floats at such functions as priesthood meetings and after general conference or relief society general meetings.

I think it is an appropriate symbol for a mission since it really fires up those missionaries to get up as fast as possible and share their spiritual experiences. It is an added bonus to have a few M&Ms to munch on while listening. Both hearing your fellow missionaries' testimony is sweet spiritually but munching on a few M&Ms is tactile pleasing. It is also probably a good lunch appetizer since it takes the edge off of their hunger. Missionaries are notorious for their consumption of food at zone conferences.

I remember when I taught seminary at American Fork High School back in 1984 for one tootsie roll I could get students to answer complex gospel questions and the competition was fierce for every single one in my jar. All I had to do was take one out and the students begged me to call on them. I bet for a handful of M&Ms missionaries are very motivated to get right up and share their testimonies.

I looked up the meaning of each color from various LDS sources. A blue M&M represents truth in our thought and our deed. A yellow M&M represents service from morning till night. A red one represents courage to do what is right. A brown one represents the International Church and what diverse members bring to the church. A green one represents a healing power and how the gospel can heal new members.

I really think symbols are effective ways to focus the missionaries minds on missionary work. I think every mission should have a symbol or motif, a slogan, and a mission statement. I think the blue M&M holding a basketball is one of the cuter mascots that I have found in the missions I follow.

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