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Three Little Mission Stories

Rusty - July 21, 2006

The Stake Young Men’s president asked me to jot down a few funny missionary experiences so that he could read them (along with stories from other RM’s in the stake) to the youth at our stake youth conference that is going on today and tomorrow (missionary theme). So I obliged and figured I may as well put them on the blog for others to read as well. Keep in mind these were written for an audience of youth.


Back in the olden days (the mid 90′s) missionaries would talk on tapes and send them to family, girlfriends and friends back home. One night on our walk home from our dinner appointment, my second companion and I were walking on opposite sides of the street, both making tapes for friends back home. In Guatemala there aren’t too many street lights so our passage back wasn’t fully illuminated. We passed a drunk man carrying a machete (this is actually very, very common as most men are drunk and have machetes). As we passed, for reasons I can’t comprehend, my companion says to the fella, “HOW!” Indian style. So we keep walking and talking into our portable tape recorders. A few seconds pass and we turn around and see that the dude has done an about-face and is now following us with his machete in the air. At that moment my companion screams like a little girl and we both take off running. We weren’t too afraid that he’d catch us considering he was like 4′ 5″ and drunk and we were both over 6′ and filled with the Spirit of God!!

As we settled in at home we then enjoyed our beans, eggs and listening to the recorded scream and following play-by-play of the whole run. Yeah, he sounded just like a girl.


Guatemala has good food. Really good food. Frijoles negros con huevos, tortillas y plátanos fritos. MMMMmmmmm. I didn’t even like beans before the mish but a healthy portion of black beans twice a day will cure that in about a week. They serve some food, however, that’s not so delish.

Our investigators, the Cuellar Muños family, was as solid gold as they come. One night they invited us over for dinner. We didn’t think much of it until we sat down and they brought out the sopa de mondongo. Cow stomach. Have you ever eaten a 1/3″ thick rubber band? Kinda like that. Except with flavored water poured over it.

As if the taste wasn’t bad enough (and it was excruciating) the texture was literally like chewing on a rubber band, ya know, like impossible to break up into pieces small enough to swallow. So of course my first bite went half-way down my throat while the other half was conveniently stuck in my mouth, thus choking me making my face go bright red. Instead of distracting the family from my trauma (what a TRUE companion would do) he laughed out loud. Eventually the chunk of former-digestive-sack went down, I swallowed a swig of Coke and we baptized the whole family.


My companion and I were teaching a man in the town of Escuintla, Guatemala. As we began to talk about the priesthood he quickly told us that he already had it. Really? Yeah, he got it because a piece of paper said, “Yes” on it. What? Yeah, his pastor wrote “no” on two pieces of paper, “yes” on another, put them into a hat and this guy picked the paper that said “yes” on it. TaDA!! Priesthood!!

After we asked him all the relevant follow-up questions like, “is that how Peter got the priesthood?” and “where did your pastor get the authority to do that?” we decided it was probably time to leave. Not because he didn’t want us there but because this dude was crazy! But rather than just leaving, my companion decided to leave him with (what we thought to be) a throwaway question: “If God told you to change your religion would you do it?” It was such an obvious question I was kind of embarrassed my comp even asked it. But the response was golden: “I’d have to talk with my pastor first.” WHAT??? At that point I figured he didn’t fully understand the question, I mean, my companion’s Spanish wasn’t that great so that must have been the reason he’d answer with such an asinine response. So I clarified: “If God Himself were standing in front of you, put His hands on your shoulders and said, ‘Jose, you must change your religion and be a Mormon’, would you obey Him?” Same response. So my companion follows up and says, “So are you saying that your pastor has more authority than God Himself?” “Yes”

“BUH bye.”


  1. Rusty, your last two stories reminded me of two of my own. I’d ask your permission to share them but what RM ever turned down even an implied chance to bore others with stories from the field?

    In Chile we had pensiones that included the room and food. Our landlady told me that she had prepared a wonderful “watita” or cow stomach for our lunch. I guess my face gave me away and she asked me if I’d prefer something else. I said I would. That afternoon we sat down to eat. I had a nice beefsteak with a fried egg on it (common in Chile but I don’t know where it comes from). My relatively new companion had the watita.

    He said, “What’s this?”
    “Cow stomach,” I said.
    “Why don’t you have it?”
    “I told her I didn’t like it.”
    “Why didn’t you tell her that I didn’t like it?”
    “I didn’t know that you didn’t…”

    It took several weeks to heal that rift.

    Another time I gave a discussion to a Pentecostal minister. When we had finished we asked him to offer the prayer. Halfway through he said, “Lord, if the message these young men have told me is true make them fly around this room!!!”

    I cracked open my eye and found my companion looking at me with a raised eyebrow. Unfortunately we had to walk out of his house…

    Comment by KLC — July 21, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  2. Ah, Mondongo. I served next door in Catracholandia (Honduras). Fortunately I only had the pleasure of eating the delectable delight once, towards the end of my mission. The rubber band analogy you gave is dead on. Here’s a picture of my mondongo.

    Another fun experience in the mish is having to “go” when you aren’t near your favorite toilet. Folletos (brochures), in that event, come in quite handy.

    Comment by Connor Boyack — July 21, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

  3. I served in Korea. One day the landlady asked what we wanted for dinner. I told her dog soup. This is a typical summer meal in Korea as it helps you handle the heat so they say. The other Elders liked it and I politely waited until they were done to tell them what it was.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — July 22, 2006 @ 8:39 am

  4. Cow Stomach??? Try Pig Intestines. That was an Okinawan specialty. It tasted quite nice, but the thought of what used to be pushed through those intestines on its way out the back door ruined the appetite.

    Comment by John Cline — July 22, 2006 @ 10:19 am

  5. Cow Stomach…called “tripe” in England. It is worse than bad, but yellow smoked fish was my “can’t ever eat this again food”. It tastes bad to start with but I was flaking off some of the meat when a LIVE worm wiggled out thru the flesh.

    Now triffle and yorkshire pudding and english chocolates….that’s good eating.

    Comment by don — July 24, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  6. Okay, as long as we’re all sharing “I ate worse food than you on my mission” stories, I’ll go ahead and put out mine, as lame as it may sound.

    The absolute grossest food memory I have was of the cheese. Yes, to me, the cheese in Honduras was worse than the mondongo (that is, until I ate it rather regularly for months on end and one day discovered I actually liked it. Mondongo I only had once, so maybe if it had been a regular thing I would have acquired that taste too?)

    So, I was a greenie sitting with my Guatemalan companion as our investigator brought out a nice respectable meal of beans, fried plantains, and a hard roll. And a huge hunk of white, crumbly, smelly (like the smell-of-your-feet smelly) cheese. At this point I hadn’t learned the art of mixing the foods on my plate to choke them down better, so I saved the worst for last. Never can I forget the feeling of that dry, stinky white cheese filling up my mouth and refusing to go down. It just sat there on my tongue and in my cheeks, turning my stomach. I was eating someone’s processed toe jam, I just knew it.

    The funniest part about it to me now is realizing that my companion LOVED that kind of cheese — it was a delicacy to her and she wouldn’t have thought twice about accepting my chunk if I had offered it. DOH!

    Comment by Amy — July 24, 2006 @ 11:24 pm

  7. We had some strange food on my mission (chicken feet soup and fish head soup), but they only looked weird, they tasted great.

    Comment by jjohnsen — July 25, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

  8. My son-in-law will eat anything since his mission, although it’s sort of sweetly sad to see his revulsion at some of my cooking and how he chokes it down.

    A mission could be a good experience in that way.

    Comment by annegb — July 27, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

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