Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The "M.F." Bomb

As a preface to this story, my wife and I both spent time growing up in the Washington, DC area. For those of you not familiar with the area, it is a hotbed of church activity. The church is very strong here, with good leadership and a growing number of members. In fact, in recent church "Census" data, it was revealed that the state of Virginia has more members than any other state East of the Mississippi.

That being said, the DC area is a great place to be a member of the church. You never have to drive very far to get to church; there's always a friend to be made in church who lives in or around your neighborhood; and there are plenty of opportunities to discuss your faith with others.

Now, let me return to the title of my post. A few years ago, my wife and I had family visit us from Utah. On the night of their arrival, a family that I home teach had a crisis. The crisis family had not been members of the church for more than 6 months. The crisis was of such magnitude that I called the Bishop and R.S. President, and both met me at the home of this family. After an hour or so of discussion, we left feeling we had helped this family to the best of our abilities.

Upon returning home to our guests, I explained in very general terms where I had been and what the general nature of the crisis had been. I now relay the rest of the conversation to you. This is where the "M.F." bomb was dropped by our guest:

Visitor #1: "Wow! What a great experience. It's so great to be back in the mission field again."

(what were you thinking M.F. stood for? huh?)

Me: [stunned silence]

My wife: [mouth agape]

There was an awkward moment of silence, as my wife and I attempted to think of something polite to say.

Me: "The... mission ... field?!"

I really had to try and supress my laughter. I mean, what is this, 1930? This visitor had lived in the very area where we were now living. This visitor knew that the church is very strong, very vibrant and self-sustaining here.

To me, "mission field" implies a tone of condescension. So what is the difference between the "mission field" and whatever is not considered the "mission field" (Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, I suppose)? Does this imply that there is no missionary work to be accomplished in those areas? Does not the term "mission field" imply that the church in such areas is relying upon the strength of the mission program to sustain normal church programs (i.e., outsiders filling positions of authority and leadership)?

My answer to such condescension, at least now, in my mind--because I was too stunned to answer verbally at the time--is that I live in a Stake of Zion. Since that time, my stake has been split, wards have been realligned, and the membership continues to grow. In that sense, maybe this is the mission field. But to think even for a moment that the church here is somehow less "perfect" or "complete" than the church anywhere else is a fallacy.


At December 26, 2004 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments; I also resent it when any area outside of Utah is referred to as the Mission Field. Hi? They send missionaries to Ogden now!  

Posted by Oozaroo

At December 28, 2004 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to the 'Nacle East Coast!
I HATE THAT TERM. The absolute worst way to hear is it when some pasty people from Utah are visiting your ward and feel compelled to take up your ward's time on the testimony meeting to share theirs. And it's so pukey and obnoxious and goes something like this:
What a pleasure to be in the mission field. And it warms my heart to see such a strong ward blah blah 

Posted by JL

At January 06, 2005 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for stopping by!

JL: LOL @ pasty Utah people. I've witnessed the EXACT same thing at testimony meetings before. Too funny.

Ooz: Yes, you said it correctly. There are missionaries in Orem for crying out loud.


Posted by EastCoastEddie


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