Mormon Monday: Missions and More

Before I get into the actual stuff of Mormon Monday, I must tell you about our alarming Sunday yesterday.  You know, alarming as in our kid pulled the fire alarm at church.  Greaaat.  Luckily, church was actually over, so people were just milling around visiting and waiting for their turn to meet with the branch president.  But still . . . .

You know when an alarm goes off like that and there is that brief moment where everyone is just looking around thinking, “What is that hideous, ear splitting noise?  Oh, yes.  The fire alarm.  Is there really a fire?  Should we vacate the building?”  Yes, well, in the middle of that brief moment is when McH looked around and then said, “Great.  It’s Tank Boy.  Over there.”  And, sure enough, there he was, slowly reaching down from the fire alarm he’d just pulled, a look of terror on his face.  Gah.

When I went over to him he immediately began screaming at me, “I don’t like you!!!  I don’t like you!!!”  You see, this is what he does when he thinks he is going to be in trouble.  It is the whole “I’m going to reject you before you can reject me” thing.  Early life trauma issues much, ya think?  Anyway, I told him I liked him very much, but he really shouldn’t pull the fire alarm because: a. it’s only for emergencies, when there is a real fire; b. it’s really, really, really, loud; and c. now the firemen are going to have to come to shut it off.

He immediately panicked and asked if they were going to take him to jail.  It’s funny, but it was also quite sad.  He was Terrified.  Luckily someone in the congregation knew how to turn it off, and they’d already called the fire department to tell them there wasn’t an actual emergency, so nobody showed up in the big red truck.  

I have, in the past, been known to roll my eyes when other people’s children have done the exact same thing mine did because, what kind of parent doesn’t pay any more attention to their kid than THAT?!?  Now I know.

Anyway, moving on . . .

Last week in my comment’s section, Melinda asked a couple of good questions, one of which I hoped nobody would ever ask, truth be told, because who wants to blog about their underwear?  But it’s out there, so we’ll dish about the delicates just a bit today.

First though, to answer her questions about missions:

Young men go on missions at age 19 (though it is not unheard of for them to go a year or two after that, but generally at age 19).  Women can go at age 21.  Missions are expected of the men, but are very optional for the women.  This does not mean, however, that a man who doesn’t serve a mission will be kicked out or ostracized in any way.  My husband is a perfect example of this.  When he should have been sending in his mission papers his parents were going through a very nasty divorce.  He just didn’t feel like he was emotionally in a place to be a good missionary.  I’m oversimplifying, to be sure, but complete strangers from all over the world apparently read this blog, so you can’t really expect me to share everything I know about his pain, right?  Right?!  Anyway, despite not going on a mission, he has served in a couple of branch presidencies, was the financial clerk in our last,very large, ward, been a gospel doctrine teacher, etc. etc.  So, yes, missions are expected of the young men.  Sometimes, however, life happens.  By the time McH felt ready for a mission he was in the Air Force, so it’s not like he could drop what he was doing and go.  He was also dating me, and, as we all know, as a single woman at 25 I was already a spinster.  Crow’s feet wait for no man.

Anyway . . .  no, I didn’t serve a mission either.  At 21, when I was unmarried (really, you have NO idea how many co-eds at BYU are married by the time they reach 21) and not dating anyone seriously, I prayed and pondered about going on a mission myself.  I never felt like it was what the Lord wanted me to do at that time in my life.  I did, however, feel that I was supposed to go through the temple.  Normally one goes to the temple for the first time right before going on a mission or right before getting married.  I was doing neither, but I knew it was time to go to the temple.

Which brings us to what Melinda called “the magic Mormon underwear”.  Hmmm . . . how to talk about sacred things?  You see, after you go through the temple for the first time, you begin wearing the garments (that’s what we call them), and they are sacred to us, and, yes, I realize how strange that must sound to all of you.  Underwear?  Sacred?  In short, yes.

Magic?  No, I wouldn’t call them that.  Do I believe they are an item of protection to those who wear them?  Yes, though I usually think of this protection in mostly a spiritual sense.  However, I do not discount or disbelieve the idea that they can be protective in a more literal, physical sense.  Here is one example, from a 60 Minutes piece Mike Wallace did on the church in 1996:

Mike Wallace [standing in front of SLC temple]: Mormons know that some outside people think they are weird. Why? Well, for one thing, devout Mormons wear sacred undergarments for protection from harm–cotton undershirts with undershorts that reach to their knees.

[Willard Marriott interview]

Mike Wallace: Do you wear the sacred undergarments?

Willard Marriott: Yes, I do. And I can tell you they do protect you from harm.

Mike Wallace: Really?

Willard Marriott: Uh-huh. I was in a very serious boat accident. Fire–boat was on fire, I was on fire. I was burned. My pants were burned right off of me. I was not burned above my knee. Where the garment was, I was not burned.

Mike Wallace: And you believe it was the sacred undergarments.

Willard Marriott: I do. Particularly on my legs, because my pants were gone, but my undergarments were not singed.

I’m really not sure what more there is to say about the garments.  Like I said, they are sacred to us.  Since we generally don’t talk a lot, and certainly we don’t talk lightheartedly, about things of a sacred nature, I just don’t know what more I could add, except that, yes, I wear them.  I can’t imagine not wearing them, and I don’t know that I can adequately explain that.  I just know that while you are sitting there scratching your  head over all this, I am sitting here reflecting on what a blessing it is to me to have them.

Hmmm . . . I know somebody is going to be wondering this so let me just say, yes, we take our underwear off for all the same reasons you would take your underwear off.  You know, swimming and showers and . . . ahem.  And, as I’ve covered before, it’s all the “ahem” that produces all the kids that keep all those Suburbans and fifteen-passenger vans on the roads and in our church parking lots.

I’m glad Melinda asked the questions, and I’m happy to answer any more that anybody has.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

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7 thoughts on “Mormon Monday: Missions and More

  1. A very well written post, with a clear and concise answer included.

    As a side note, if it makes you feel any better, my child undressed completely and ran around the chapel naked for several minutes during the service (age 3) gleefully exclaiming “Look ev’body, I Nakked!” over and over while a frantic mother raced around the pews after her with bright red face. (It was a “test of my faith” to return the next week) Luckily there was a general outpouring of empathy, (and even several who appreciated the unusual half-time entertainment)


  2. OK, I’m too lazy to go look for the actual quotes, but the only thing I would add is that I have seen our garments described in comparison with the collars and such that paid clergy wear in other churches. Our church is run by an entirely volunteer “clergy.” All of our leaders have other jobs that they pay their bills with. It isn’t practical for us to wear our sacred clothing on the outside, as leaders in other churches do.

    The idea of sacred garments is not unique to our church–just the idea of wearing them in a way that is not easily noticed.


  3. you mentioned the temple. I was at the temple (obviously not in the temple, but visteded the grounds) there in Salt Lake City and have to say it was a beautiful place. The grounds were stunning and it was such a peaceful respite from the rest of the city. Not that the rest of the city wasn’t peaceful…just not lush gardens with quiet places to settle in the shade.


  4. terri

    My brother said (very loudly and for no known reason) “Don’t hit me again Daddy” in the middle of church. My other brother didn’t deal well with change and spent lots of primary classes under a table (in the classroom). When so many at church have children it is easier to understand those “moments” that happen.

    Great job handling the garment issue!


  5. Thank you Elaine! 🙂

    I thought maybe the “magic underwear” (which is what I have always heard it called) meant something similar to what you described. I think I can see what you mean. I have a jade hand of Buddha that was blessed and protects me. I carry it everywhere with me. I imagine it falls under the same lines.

    I had no idea that missions weren’t mandatory. I think that when I heard about it it sounded mandatory, and I just assumed.

    I do like having more information and understanding. I know that you aren’t the spokeswoman for being Mormom and I don’t mean to use you as such, but I thought I would ask. 😉


  6. Oh, Tank Boy. Yeah, he has a few issues, eh? Kinda funny about the alarm, but so sad about the other stuff you’ve been sharing (though sounds like he’s making progress???).

    Alright, I have to admit I’d never heard about the sacred undergarments before, but I find it all very interesting to learn about!


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