Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Geeks on the mission

When your called on a mission, you are told to leave the world behind and teach the gospel to the field you are called to serve in. But leaving the world behind doesn't mean you magically turn into a scripture spewing robot. Your still you, and the Lord needs you out there because you are you.
And if you happen to be a geek that means the Lord needs a geek.
I served in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission, and while there I learned that, above everything else, the Lord loves me for who I am. At first I was nervous revealing my geekness outside the proverbial small apartment (Inside it was blatantly obvious, with my Superman workout shirts and my stuffed Stitch that I slept with), thinking for some reason that mentioning Batman or Darth Vader would detract from the Spirit.
And then there was Sam.
Samitha Lively had been referred to us from church headquarters after having a very enlightening conversation with an LDS friend in Canada. My companion and I had been teaching her for a couple weeks when it happened. She was very interested in the gospel and had quickly become the legendary golden contact, someone prepared by the Lord to receive our message. Now Sam at the time had two dogs, named Dharma and Dax, one named for the Buddhist philosophy of the path to inner peace, and the other I presumed at the time named after the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character.
So we're teaching a lesson and I had the feeling that Sam wasn't quite getting what we were saying. I don't even remember what the lesson was on now, but I dived in and said "It's like if Jadzia Dax from Star Trek..." and taught from there. My companion, Elder Bracken, face-palmed. Our male escort just tried not to laugh. Sam got the lesson.

Sam and I credit that moment as one of the points when we became dear friends (That and a comment about biting the heads off chickens, but that's another story). I was right, the dog was named after the Star Trek character. After that I was a little more comfortable with my geekdom in public.
The other thing it helped me with was with my companions. Most people have some level of geekiness to them, but true geeks can always recognize their own kind. This became extremely helpful in Bolivar Missouri during Christmas. Bolivar is a tiny town in Missouri, but our area stretched miles and encompassed about a dozen tiny towns. To make matters worse we only got a car every other week, and the rest of the time we only had the tiny town to work with (Little piece of information: Bolivar is mentioned in Max Brooks's book World War Z as being a militarized town after the zombie apocalypse). Nobody wanted to talk to us, it was cold with 100% moisture, and any time there'd be enough snow on the ground to form a footprint the entire town would shut down and contemplated cannibalism.
To stave off madness, my companion Elder Gotchy and I played a game where we would pretend to be super heroes and made comedic melodramas featuring them. Despite the cold, missing our families at Christmas and the total lack of interest from anyone in our area, our spirits stayed up. We'd be wandering the empty streets searching for contacts when one of us would put on a Batman gruff voice and go "Flowers suck" and make the other laugh. Don't get me wrong, we worked, but a lot of our work was repair work towards the missionaries and the church itself. The next transfer Gotchy left and the game stopped, but the area picked up as the members and town had been softened a little towards seeing missionaries laughing with each other.

So if your a pre-missionary and your nervous because your still in love with your Power Rangers pillowcase, or your a post-missionary and your feeling guilty for that talk you gave in Brazil about Lord of the Rings, or even if your a current missionary and your companion can't see your screen at the library and you've found the most awesome geek site ever, first of all, ELDER GET BACK TO WORK! Second, don't feel bad. The Lord loves you for who you all, pointy ears and all, and there are geeks out there who are searching for the truth just as much as anyone else, and maybe your mutual love of Firefly will help reach them where nobody else could.


  1. I want a Power Rangers pillowcase......

    Great post Joe.

  2. I remember my mission president was talking to us about using parables in the mission. Parables and allegories are very specific to the son/daughter of God who is being taught. My mission president actually encouraged drawing from Star Wars for allegories because its symbols of light and dark worked perfectly to illustrate gospel principles.

    Great post!

    1. In a meeting with all the zone leaders, the Assistants to the President taught a lesson and used Dungeons and Dragons as the parable! I can't really remember now what they were talking about, but I distinctly remember them explaining what a DM is and that railroading is no bueno! lol! They included it because some of the people they worked with in the singles' ward would play D&D.