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The Worst Thing I Did on My Mission

Tim - July 31, 2006

You see, there was this local Guatemalan girl who…

Kidding. Though I probably raised an eyebrow or two.

I am a very competitive person. If I am challenged, I don’t usually back down. Think of Marty McFly being called ”Chicken” in Back to the Future 2 and 3 (this attribute was surprisingly absent in the first movie). That’s me. This can probably be traced back to the fact that I have five brothers who are also highly competitive. But this particular time when I was challenged, I probably should have just walked away.

I was a newly called Zone Leader in Guatemala in an area called Santa Lucia, one of my favorite areas. Among playing soccer (or papi-fut), writing letters, and taking our weekly siestas (those were the days), we of course played a bit of basketball during our P-Day’s.

The place where we played basketball was a community playground that had an indoor basketball court. As luck would have it, a few members of the Santa Lucia team of the Guatemala National Basketball League also used it to work out. These were members of the Guatemalan NBA…okay so maybe the CBA…but you get the idea.

After having been in the area for a couple of months, and playing basketball every two or three weeks, one of the Branch Presidents approached me one day as I was enjoying my customary black beans and eggs for dinner.

“Hey Hah-cobe,” he said attempting to pronounce my last name in Spanish, and doing so in a taunting manner. “You play basketball?”

“I’m a gringo, aren’t I?” Did I mention I’m competitive?

“I’ve know some guys that saw you playing at the gym. Said they could beat you.” He sounded pretty confident. Which only made it worse, of course.

“Who? Some midget Guatemalans?” Yeah, I may have gone a bit too far with that one. There was no turning back now.

As you can imagine, this conversation went on like this for a while as each of our testosterone levels rose higher than Barry Bonds’ and Floyd Landis’ at the Balco Labs Christmas party.

It just so happended that the members of the Santa Lucia national team wanted to scrimmage us. So, not only was I going to whoop up on some of my Central American paisanos, but these were professional basketball players. I gladly accepted their challenge.

After attempting to set up the scrimmage for the following Monday, we soon realized there would be two problems…

First, only two, maybe three, of the missionaries in our Zone ever played basketball on a regular basis.

Second, we found out that most of the Santa Lucia players had to work their other jobs on Monday (P-Day).

I wasn’t too worried about the first problem, it’s not like we were going to play soccer. The second problem, though, was a bit of a concern. They wanted to switch the game to the following Thursday…night.

Now, I always tried my best to follow all the mission rules and to listen to the Spirit at all times, this wasn’t one of those times. I wish I could tell you that I thought good and hard about it, but I didn’t. I wish I could tell you I ran this one by the Mission President, but I couldn’t risk it–he might have said no. Thus, I gladly accepted the challenge to play Thursday night at the local gym.

That night I went back to or apartment and began to call the missionaries in our zone for two reasons. First, I had to get their teaching numbers, and second, I had to make sure they wold be at our place Thursday at 6:00pm sharp. And thus began my slow descent towards Hell.

Thursday night came, and the team had gathered, including the two Elders from the area adjacent to the beach, two and a half hours away. One of them was 6-foot-6, so we figured we could use him.

We began our walk to the gym, to our scrimmage, to our date with destiny. We were looking forward to playing a little pick-up basketball. You know, a little four-on-four, half-court, call-your-own-fouls, take-take-the-ball-out-on-top, play-to-fifteen, have-to-win-by-two, basketball. Well, it ended up being a little bit more than that.

As we approached the gym, something told me this was not right. (Most likely the Spirit–who had been mysteriously absent just a few days prior). We got inside and what had been our quaint little concrete floor, wooden backboard gym, had now become Cameron Indoor Stadium.

That’s right, the place was packed with half the city of Santa Lucia in attendance, including just about every member from the surrounding five branches, and what’s more is…they had to pay to get in! Tithing donations would be at an all-time low the following Sunday.

Not only was there paid attendance, but the concessions were fully stocked. The game would also be refereed by official Guatemalan referees and would be played full-court, and consist of two twenty-minute halves, and yes, of course, there was an official scorekeeper manning the scoreboard. What did I get myself into–not to mention everybody else?

To make an already long story short, the game was hotly contested. I had to remind a few of our guys, as well as myself, that we were playing in front of people and we needed to be on our best behavior, (i.e. play clean, don’t whine). In other words, pretend you’re not playing church ball.

So we ended up getting absolutely killed. I think we lost by at least 15 or 20 points. I’ve got to give them credit, they were pretty good–even though they did have home court advantage.

All right. I’ve told you mine. What’s the worst thing you did on your mission? Well, that you can tell us about.


  1. Gave myself a transfer.
    About halfway thru my mission, (Canada Montreal French speaking) I didn’t like the companion I was with. She used to take naps during the afternoon. So while she was sleeping I packed up my bags, walked to the bus station, and got a ticket back to one of my old areas. I stayed with the sis missionaries in a threesome for several days until I was discovered. Pres left me there for the rest of the month (thru Christmas). Everyone was very nice. I was a total idiot.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — July 31, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

  2. Well, Brazilian girls are really hot . . .

    But seriously, the traditional Brazilian Christmas dinner is late night on Christmas eve. So we stayed with a member family until 1:00 a.m. or so. I know, I’m the very embodiment of evil. Dinner was delicious.

    That’s the worst thing that comes to mind, besides my too-frequent failure to meet the contacts goal.

    Comment by Tom — July 31, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  3. B in V, nicely done! There were several times I wanted to give myself a transfer. Hilarious.

    Tom, we did the same thing. Except when we got home, we decided to have a fireworks fight. In Guatemala, and elsewhere I presume, they have things called “catchy-flingies” which are like bottle rockets without the tails. They are also plastic encased so you can hold them for little bit after they’ve been lit. So as 20-year olds do, we would light them and throw them at each other–good times.

    Comment by Tim J. — August 1, 2006 @ 7:36 am

  4. This was a really funny post. Who made the money on the game?

    Comment by Susan — August 1, 2006 @ 7:45 am

  5. That’s a good question. We probably should have set it up to benefit a charity or something–but obviously I wasn’t thinking very clearly.

    Comment by Tim J. — August 1, 2006 @ 7:51 am

  6. I made a post or two on this topic. I will try to post the links.




    Also, we did a similar thing on a lesser scale with a city league team in Albany Georgia. Refs, scorekeepers, etc. The only difference was no paid admission or concessions. We also lost.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 1, 2006 @ 8:51 am

  7. sorry,


    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 1, 2006 @ 8:52 am

  8. Funny stuff, Eric. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Tim J. — August 1, 2006 @ 9:53 am

  9. As a D.L. we had use of a brand new car, but limited on the mileage we could drive. I wanted to go quite a ways out of our district “to check out a media referral” and to do some sightseeing (Where the Mayflower compact was signed). So we disconnected the speedometer cable and went. The referral wasn’t home, but we did see some great sights.

    Comment by Don Clifton — August 1, 2006 @ 10:14 am

  10. You guys are all such Peters. How about something truly regretful like not interacting more with the native (Latin) missionaries and always talking in English around them. Or getting money from home and not sharing the spoils with your poor (economically) Latin companion.

    Those are two things I truly wish I could change about my mission. I was never malicious or even unkind, but I could have been much more inclusive. Ugh.

    Comment by Rusty — August 1, 2006 @ 10:37 am

  11. My first day in Vegas, my trainer had a dinner appointment set up with a family in one of our wards.

    (Keep in mind, these events have just transpired after A. just leaving the MTC that morning and B. receiving a long lecture with all the other greenies about how the strip was strictly off limits).

    This family took us to the Excalibur for dinner. Let’s just say it wasn’t really the welcome to Las Vegas that I was expectng from my trainer. This was the first of many “strip trips” with him.

    Later on, I found out he was part of a missionary group that others called “The Twelve Apostates”. I was probably an experiment by the mission president to see if being a trainer would straighten him out. I don’t think it worked.

    Comment by JM — August 1, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  12. I don’t what’s THE worst thing, but I did allow my senior comp to go ring shopping for his fiance/fellow district sister missionary and give it to her. Thank the Lord Almighty he was soon transferred and she was too…to Washington D.C. (from L.A.) Glad the Lord looks out for me when I’m too stupid to do myself.

    OOOoooooooooooooo, you bad boy! Talk about a Peter! Anyway, Tim asked for worst stories, not regrets.

    Comment by Bret — August 1, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

  13. When I was in Mesquite, NV, I had a companion who listened to music, watched movies on the church library TV/VCR combo, and smoked. I did two of the three.

    Sometimes he would drive by himself to St. George to work with Hispanics (he was Spanish-speaking) leaving me in Mesquite by myself. I would arrange splits for all that time except when I was sleeping.

    When it was my turn to drive, I would make sure the radio was turned off before he got in (he left it on when he drove). After awhile, he’d forget to turn it on at all when I was driving.

    By the time the three months were over, we were having companionship study together. Not a total write-off I guess.

    Actually, come to think of it, I wish I knew what he was up to.

    Comment by Kim Siever — August 2, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  14. I’m with Rusty. When I think how we treated a lot of the Latino missionaries, it’s a miracle that 1) they stayed in the Church and 2) didn’t kill us in our sleep.

    Comment by NFlanders — August 3, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  15. I agree. I also think this was the main reason for the “no getting together on p-day with other missionaries” rule–which nobody obeyed. The Americans would sit at one table, the Hispanics at the other. And Spanish was never spoken.

    Comment by Tim J. — August 3, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

  16. Kim, I’m only 80 miles from Mesquite. When were you there?

    It’s not a nice little town anymore.

    Comment by annegb — August 5, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  17. Not mine, but — a newly-hatched RM at the Institute was talking about his mission in Scotland. They wanted to catch some local color towards the end of their mission. Liked to see new things. Ferry ran up to Norway, cheap. Didn’t like walking. Mission car fit just fine on ferry.

    Comment by manaen — August 7, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

  18. I was there from Jan 1994—July 1994. I’ve been following news and what not from time to time. When I was there it was only about 4,000 pop. From what I hear it is close to or above 20,000. I’d love to go back and see it.

    Are you in Vegas, annegb?

    Comment by Kim Siever — August 8, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  19. The worst thing that I did in Bulgaria was go see the original star wars trilogy in the theatres (yes, it’s worse that watching them on vhs/dvd somehow) with another greenie while our trainers were out the border getting their visas renewed.

    I wish I would have spent more time getting to know some of the members and becoming their friend, not just another missionary pumping them for contacts/referrals/etc.

    Comment by Chad — August 9, 2006 @ 12:02 am

  20. I just discovered this blog from the Nibleys nomination page.

    My weird, rule-breaking mission story is here.

    Comment by Jeremy — July 7, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  21. Like Jeremy I got here indirectly from the Niblets. On my mission I witnessed, but did not play in a similar game between missionaries and a local Brazilian team. The missionaries killed them. They had two JC players and a few guys that had played in high school. The next week there was a rematch, but the game was soccer, and the outcome equally lopsided the other way.

    Comment by a random John — July 7, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

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