Friday, August 28, 2009

Missionary Service: Finding Interesting Service Opportunities

When a person thinks of LDS missionaries giving service they usually think of them as helping people move or assisting in giving out food during a natural disaster which are all good service activities. I have heard of elders and sisters helping out as candy strippers in hospitals or working at the Red Cross in blood drives. Some missionaries even assist in schools cleaning up or reading to the kids.

When I lived in Vernal, Utah it wasn't uncommon during a large snow storm to find the missionaries digging out a driveway or going around pushing cars out of ditches. Missionaries help people to spruce up their homes. Missionaries are asked to do four hours a week service throughout the mission of the church. What they do can be quite varied or can be pretty consistent depending on the mission president direction or whether the missionaries choose themselves what they can do.

In one mission field in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission they have occasional car washes. President Mike Murray reported:

Our missionaries serving in the Logan, Independence and Philadelphia 5th Wards (ie congregations) held a free carwash for the public. They washed almost 90 cars, including a police car and an electrician's large truck. One man thought it was such a good deal that he went come and brought his wife's car back. He got a two-fer.
In the Washington D.C. South Mission the mission president actually organized the elders in to a moving service with accompanying vans and trailers. I actually think that has some merit as a potential for gathering thousands of referrals. You could place billboards around towns where LDS missionaries live with a sign that reads Free LDS Missionary Moving Services and a phone number. When the person calls the missionaries could identify themselves as missionaries and offer to help the person free of charge. Tacitly the person would know that the missionary would try in some way to get a referral. They could schedule as many or as few moves as they had time and work their schedules around their teaching appointments. Then they would spend more time serving others in what would have been otherwise unproductive time.

I have had a lot of experience with missionaries and service being a library director. When I worked at Prairie View A&M University I had four elders who shelved books. They actually made the request of my circulation supervisor. To cover my behind since it was an African American University I did not want to get in to trouble over the appearance I used religion so I instructed the missionaries that they could not discuss religion in the library.

Missionaries started to work the town of Prairie View and Waller, Texas where many of the students lived. One day an elder told me that working in the library got the missionaries in to a lot of doors. The student would recognize them from the library with their white shirts and name tags and let them in. They got a lot of gospel conversations from giving four hours a week. My circulation supervisor who read her Bible every day said that the Mormon missionaries were the best and most dependable volunteers that the library ever had.

In foreign countries most missionaries tend to teach English classes as a way to gain converts. Missionaries after several months on their missions begin to become bored of doing this for several hours month after month. It really is an effective way to find investigators and thousands of people have been baptized as a result of such efforts.

One missionary Elder Caleb Anderson serving in the Korea Busan Mission shares with us a refreshing alternative to teaching English that he and his companion encountered serendipitously:
Lately we have been getting sick of English class being our only service we are doing so we dropped a class and decided to try something new. I saw a building a few weeks ago with "social welfare" in English written on it and so we decided to take a shot in the dark and check it out. It ended up being pretty fun. They were more than willing to accept our service. We basically went around and visited room to room these old grandmas. It was a blast. They were all really cool. It was basically just a regular old folks home in America but they spoke Korean! It was really good Korean language practice as well.
When I was on a mission we did things like help people take their groceries to their cars at local grocery stores. We also would go in to schools and give presentations. We put up a lot of seats for various church activities. One bishop asked the missionaries to weed the chapel whenever they came by.


Bradpetehoops said...

Wow! Elders in action!

Bradpetehoops said...

Wow! Elders in action!