I get a weekly group e-mail from my nephew who is in Brazil on his mission. In his latest installment, he talked about teaching the word of wisdom to a “golden” young couple, and them throwing out their coffee. I remembered doing this on my mission, pretty typical for missionaries world wide. Then he wrote about teaching them that our bodies are temples, and we should not pierce our bodies, and the man took out all his piercings and gave them to the missionaries to throw away. This part I don’t remember!

This got me to thinking about all the crazy things missionaries do and say when they are trapped in the bubble of the mission. They eat, drink, and think the church 24/7 for two years. Little things (like men having an ear pierced) become big things, so much so they are woven into the lessons.

The down side of this is that they come home with some pretty crazy ideas of what a regular member is. Also, the new convert is going to be confused the first time he sees a fully active member of the church passing the sacrament with pierced ears.

I don’t remember teaching stuff like this on my mission, but one companion of mine told about a woman in his previous area that really wanted to get baptized, but couldn’t because her husband made her take birth control pills. I was still a new missionary, and hadn’t really thought this through, but I was left with the impression that married people could not be baptized if they used contraception. It didn’t dawn on me to ask how this came up in conversation with this woman as they were teaching her! It should be noted that this was the 1970’s, and birth control was a topic on conversation in several general conference talks of the day.

So what crazy things have you seen missionaries teach, or your younger self taught as a missionary? Are current missionaries teaching things not in the lessons? Are things more tightly controlled today?