MISS THE MORMON MISSION...
...OR YOU WILL BE ISOLATED FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND POSSIBLY LOSE A CAREER!
US Census to Utah: Missionaries don't count
(AP) – August 16, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Census Bureau has told Utah's elected leaders it won't count Mormon missionaries serving overseas in the nation's next head count.
Census Bureau officials, rejecting Utah's lobbying efforts for the better part of a decade, say there's no way to reliably count the overseas missionaries.
Utah leaders say the omission cost the state an extra congressional seat in 2000, when the state fell just 857 people short of receiving the last available slot in the U.S. House.
The Census Bureau does count military and federal employees serving overseas, and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, says it should include Mormons on proselytizing missions.
"The bottom line should still be fairness and accuracy," Bishop said. "If we are currently counting some people abroad and not others, there is just no logic to that whatsoever."
An experiment in counting Americans abroad in 2004 turned into a "colossal failure," said Louis Kincannon, a former Census Bureau director under President Bill Clinton. Few Americans responded to an outreach program in three sample countries — Mexico, France and Kuwait.
A government consulting firm, Election Data Services, estimates that 6 million Americans are living overseas. But federal officials say there's no dependable way to track down citizens who move around and may not want to be found because they don't want to pay U.S. taxes.
A review by the Government Accountability Office found that counting Americans overseas is impractical, and it suggested the Census Bureau abandon the effort. The bureau says overseas counts produce erratic results that could distort state-by-state counts.
Census officials said that if Congress wants them to count all citizens overseas, it will have to enact legislation making it a requirement.
Utah sued the Census Bureau in 2001 in an attempt to get the military count thrown out, saying it unfairly benefited North Carolina, which claimed the 435th House seat a year earlier largely because of the state's military bases, such as the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg and the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Utah's claims and ruled the Census Bureau enjoys wide discretion on counting.
In early June, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, included a provision in a bill that would require the secretary of state, attorney general and the Census Bureau to study whether they could use passports to track citizens internationally. The legislation, however, has no effect on requirements for the 2010 Census.
Ben Olson re-injures foot and won't participate in pro day
By Chris Foster
Los Angeles Times
March 31, 2009
Ben Olson just can't seem to get the right kind of break.
The former UCLA quarterback has re-injured his right foot and will not be able to participate in UCLA's pro day today for NFL scouts, Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
Olson has sustained broken bones in the foot three times in the last year, starting with 2008 spring practice. When he re-injured the foot in August, it knocked him out for his senior season.
Olson was rated the nation's top quarterback recruit as a senior at Thousand Oaks High in 2002 but never reached the level that was expected by those doing the rankings. He spent one season at Brigham Young, then went on a two-year Mormon mission before transferring to UCLA.
Olson suffered knee injuries that required surgery as a sophomore and junior and he played in only 12 games in three seasons.
Olson could not immediately be reached for comment. He said last week that he had spent "five to six days a week," training to prepare for the pro day, hoping to catch the eye of scouts and revive his career.
Said Neuheisel: "He was in a boot here the last couple days, and I don't think he'll be able to participate. It's a real shame. A huge disappointment. He worked hard to get himself ready."
Calling home: The best LDS missionary present
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 12/19/2008 05:47:45 PM MST
While others are wildly unwrapping piles of presents under the tree, one group of Mormon families sits quietly by the phone awaiting a unique gift of incalculable value - a call from their missionary children.
More than 50,000 full-time missionaries between ages 19 and 30 are scouring the globe looking for potential converts for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whether in Kansas or Kenya, South Dakota or South Korea, they are allowed two phone calls home a year: on Christmas and Mother's Day. All other communication is via weekly e-mails or handwritten letters.
Jody Yeats of Lindon can hardly wait for this year's call from her son Jesse, who is serving in Bangkok, Thailand. This will be his second Christmas away from home.
"The best part of last year's call was to hear his laugh," Yeats said. "He is the funniest, most happy young man, and I missed his laugh."
Jesse's five siblings all came over to talk to their brother. They put him on speaker phone, then each person in the room had a chance for a little one-on-one interaction.
"But we save the last 10 or 15 minutes for Mom," Yeats said, growing emotional at the memory.
The semiannual calls have become a cherished part of the carefully choreographed rituals governing the church's two-year mission assignments.
Though Mormon missionaries have been going out from church headquarters for a century and a half and the telephone was invented in March 1876, the phone-home tradition didn't become an established pattern until the late 1980s, according to LDS spokesman Scott Trotter. "Prior to that time, opportunities to call home were determined by each mission president."
William A. Wilson, a retired folklore professor at Brigham Young Univeristy who served for 2 1/2 years in Finland in the 1950s, was not allowed any phone call home. It was "out of the question," Wilson said, probably because an international call was far too expensive.
Nor were he and his wife allowed to talk with any of their four children who served missions in the 1970s and '80s. One went to Japan and the other three to Finland, where they were able to have Christmas dinner with their Finnish grandmother.
But J. Bonner Ritchie, who taught organizational behavior at BYU for decades, called home often while on an LDS mission to the Eastern United States in 1955.
"Whenever I had a challenge on policy issues or anything, like how to conduct a funeral or give a [healing] blessing, I'd call my dad," Ritchie recalled this week.
He speculates that the twice-a-year phone calls were initiated in response to some perceived need, such as reassuring anxious parents.
"Policy is funny," said Ritchie, an expert on group dynamics. "It is never decided. It evolves as a default process."
Yeats doesn't care when the tradition of Christmas calls started, she's just glad to have it.
She enjoyed calls with her older three sons who served missions to Chile, Brazil and Dallas and is thrilled to hear from her youngest son now.
"I don't think it gets any easier," she said. "You just don't want to hang up. I watch the seconds tick off on the clock and can see the time going. I know I won't get to talk to him again until Mother's Day."
When the call is over, she sobs her eyes out, Yeats said. "It's the best Christmas present ever."
...OR YOU WILL FALL BEHIND YOUR PEERS!
Opportunities were limited for Olson
UCLA's No. 2 QB has had to play catch up.
By ROBERT KUWADA
The Orange County Register Tuesday, December 20, 2005
LOS ANGELES – Two games. Twelve snaps. Four passes that were - in order - incomplete, complete, complete and a drop. And, that's about it for this season.
Ben Olson has done much less on the football field than he imagined upon returning from a two-year Mormon mission as the most prized recruit in the first three classes brought in by UCLA coach Karl Dorrell.
A left hand injury late in fall camp kept him out for three weeks and set him back immeasurably. And though he will be expected by many to slide in and take a stranglehold on the quarterback position at UCLA during spring practices, the UCLA coaching staff will have Olson in something of a catch-up mode.
The emphasis in the spring with the heralded, Brigham Young transfer will be tightening his throwing mechanics and working on his knowledge and gaining a comfort level within the offense.
"It's a really important spring for him," offensive coordinator Tom Cable said.
While some bowl-bound programs will, over the next few weeks, use a portion of their 15 extra practice sessions to get younger players work, that is not the case at UCLA. The Bruins' focus is solely on beating Northwestern in the Dec.30 Sun Bowl and notching a school-record tying 10th victory on the season. As the No.2 quarterback to senior Drew Olson, Ben Olson will be prepared to play, as he has since returning from the hand injury that he suffered when he struck the helmet of a linemen when throwing a pass.
That, to this point, has been part of the problem.
"I think the thing that's been tough for him is that every week it evolves because it's a different defense, a different coverage package and all that. While everyone is comfortable in it and it's evolving every week, that's been a struggle for him," Cable said.
"Getting hurt really set him back because he really couldn't ever catch up in terms of how it changed every week. So, there are some things he does really well. But there are some other things ... he needs to do it more, he needs to throw it more and say it (the terminology of the offense) more..."
Olson said he feels comfortable with his progress within the offense and is confident that he got enough out of the year, despite the limited opportunities to play during the Bruins' 9-2 season.
"We've been running it now for so many months," Olson said. "It is a very complicated offense that we run, but once you understand the basic concepts, (you're OK). That's the whole thing about our offense, it is all concepts, and once you have those in your mind, it makes things a lot easier. I feel completely, 100 percent different than I did in the spring."
But he also acknowledged that there is work to be done.
"Obviously I want to get better. In no way am I satisfied with where I'm at. But it's coming, and it's going to continue to get better and as long as I work hard I believe good things will happen. I'm not happy with where I'm at, but I don't think I'll ever be happy with where I'm at, regardless of what happens."
For quarterbacks coach Jim Svoboda, that means an opportunity to work with Olson on his footwork and shorten an elongated stride into his passes.
"If you're outside the pocket, it's not so glaring," Svoboda said. "But when you're working in the pocket and you have to get rid of the ball fast and it's a matter of sidestepping that defensive lineman a little bit and having your feet set and getting the ball put of your hand, that's where it's an issue.
"For every quarterback, there's a different style. I would say, by and large, most people work with what the quarterback can do - you see guys with long releases, you see guys hold the ball low, you see all kinds of things, side arm, over the top. And all kinds of things work. But he wants ... to get to that next level mechanically. He would be fine doing what he's doing, it's just not the best that he can be."
To get there, Olson needs work within the offense as well.
Cable said that the Bruins' quarterback is about "halfway there" with the basic concepts of the offense. Svoboda also said there are gains to be made in understanding and running the offense. That will come in film sessions and on the practice field during the spring, where Olson is expected to get a severe competitive push from redshirt freshman Pat Cowan.
"I think he has some growth in terms of the finer points with defenses and the different things that he's seeing. But he's still a pup really, relative to doing those things, to understanding of what he sees before the ball is snapped and after the ball is snapped," Svoboda said.
But the pieces gleaned from the preparations in the final seven weeks of the season will all come together at some point. That, perhaps, is where this season will prove most valuable for Olson, who was the top-ranked quarterback in the nation when he came out of Thousand Oaks High in 2002.
"I was just happy I was able to come back and not miss the whole year," the Bruins' quarterback said. "I was able to continue to get reps in practice and continue to try to get better every day, whether it was watching film or whether it was practicing. I mean, it just made a huge difference just being able to play football regularly, after not playing for two years and then trying to come back and play catch up. I think it's been great in that aspect."
UA Football: Wildcat linebacker itching
to play again
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Saturday night can't come soon enough for Spencer Larsen.
That's when the University of Arizona linebacker is expected to make his return after a two-year Mormon mission and a four-month knee rehabilitation.
"I didn't think it was ever going to get here," the sophomore linebacker said of getting medical clearance to face Purdue at Arizona Stadium.
UA coach Mike Stoops has not said whether Larsen will start, but it will be the sophomore's first game since a 34-20 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 29, 2002, at Arizona Stadium.
Larsen's comeback is ahead of schedule and couldn't come at a better time for the Wildcats. They need a boost at linebacker, with Ronnie Palmer (ankle injury) out and Randy Sims (ankle sprain) not 100 percent.
Initially, Larsen was expected to miss most of the season after tearing an ACL in his right knee on the second day of spring practice. The injury came after he had finished a two-year Mormon mission in Chile.
But Larsen tackled an extensive rehabilitation with fervor. He refused to sit by and watch his football days get wasted.
"(Doctors) said it was going to be six to nine months. I'm glad it was not six," he said. "I never let them tell me it was going to be six. I kept working and set a goal, and the trainers worked with me.
"They held me back just enough, and they pushed me just enough."
The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Larsen earned UA's top defensive newcomer award in 2002 after making 41 tackles, including 3.5 for losses and two sacks, while a starter in seven games.
"Spencer is full go and part of our game plan," Stoops said. "He is a guy we are counting on here on out."
Between rust and his knee, it would be easy to think Larsen might be hesitant.
"Getting the speed of it (is the most important thing)," Larsen said. "I can run. I can cut and go up and down the field with the trainers, but there is nothing like a receiver coming up the field at you and stopping, and then him determining when you have to cut and break."
Fewer Mormon youth will do mission work
The Arizona Republic
October 1, 2005
For the first time, the number of missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declined. There were 61,638 missionaries serving worldwide in 2002. In 2004, there were fewer than 52,000. This decline comes despite continuing growth of the church and is the result of a "raising of the bar" for missionaries.
The LDS Church has decided to move away from the days when young people went on a mission because they felt they were supposed to. Now the church wants people to serve because their faith is so strong they feel they must. The mission remains the same. It is hard work, there are many sacrifices, and missionaries end up talking to strangers about things those potential converts may not want to talk about. But now, if a young man is not ready at age 19 to start his mission, he will be advised to wait.
Quentin L. Cook is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the LDS in Salt Lake City. In this high-ranking position, Cook helps to direct missionary activities of the church throughout the world. "There is a very strong idea they should have their own strong testimony of the church, and they should be more spiritually prepared. We are trying to raise the bar." The goal is to have missionaries serving for the right reasons. If that means fewer missionaries, the church is fine with that.
Cook says the church is also working to remove the stigma young men and their families may bear if they do not go on a mission, but knows that this will take time. Tracy Watson, who as president of the Arizona Mesa Mission is in charge of 160 missionaries, agrees with Cook on the policy change: Peer pressure is not a good enough reason to serve the church.
The Orange County Register
LOS ANGELES – It's a seven-on-seven drill - running backs, tight ends, outside receivers, linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks.
And a quarterback - UCLA's Ben Olson - who must direct one unit while dissecting the other.
This is where Olson most struggled in the spring. The mechanics were closer to sound after not throwing a football for two years while on a Mormon mission. The footwork was better, the release quicker. His throwing motion was far more fluid than it was when he had first arrived at UCLA as the most-heralded recruit landed by Coach Karl Dorrell. And he appeared to deliver each pass with an ever-changing and grinding number of creaky parts.
But when the defense in front of him moved, he struggled.
With switching coverage or rolling one way or the other, he did not automatically adjust along with it. He would drift back into his drop, looking, thinking, digesting the information, and often end up holding onto the football too long.
"We need him to speed everything up a little bit," offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda said.
On this day, competing against Harbor College, Olson is getting the ball out of his hand.
He is throwing it all over the new artificial surface at Spaulding Field - he hit only three of his first 11 passes, one of the completions a dump-off to a running back. Afterward, he would poke fun at himself for all of the errant throws.
But Olson said that he can feel the improvement in his pre- and post-snap reads and getting through his progressions on a particular play, which has been his focus through the summer.
"A lot of it is trying to get everything to become second nature, where you're not thinking about the offense and what people are doing, where it's just you know it," Olson said.
"If you can do that, you can get to the point where you can just look at the defense and that's all you're worried about. When I first got here, I didn't know what my guys had and then you had to put the defense on top of that. Now, I'm getting to the point to where I feel very comfortable with the offense and be able to focus on the defense and what they're trying to do."
That will be a key for Olson when fall camp opens on Aug.6. The sophomore, who threw only four passes last season as senior Drew Olson set school records for completions (242), touchdown passes (34) and passing yards (3,198), has to turn back a challenge from sophomore Pat Cowan to win the position.
And the Bruins have been throwing four days a week - up two from this time a year ago. They have had junior college teams in for seven-on-seven matchups.
Olson also has been spending an additional hour or two each day reviewing the playbook and watching film - he got a start on Utah, the Bruins' opening opponent, months ago.
"I've seen big improvement," senior split end Junior Taylor said. "It is coming more natural. In the spring and early on, he struggled because he was making the calls, the checks and then all of a sudden the defense started moving and he wasn't prepared, then the play clock was winding down. Now he's starting to get more confident and more smooth with it, making the adjustments and at the same time reading the defense."
He is closer. But the pieces do not yet fit seamlessly, which is important in an offense in which routes pop open in sequence. Staying in rhythm and on time is crucial.
"There's always more to learn; there's always more to rehearse in your mind and to make it automatic. I think he has a better grasp of that," Svoboda said.
"Part of his thing is that he had quite a lot of success very early in the year, just in terms of picking up the system and competing last fall. He really had a good fall last year until he broke his thumb. But, we didn't have much of the offense in at that point, either.
"What we had in, he did a nice job. But he does have a way to go with regard to understanding defenses. That's where he can become better."
Olson, the top quarterback prospect in the country in 2002 coming out of Thousand Oaks High, understands that part already. "The game is simple if you can simplify things," he said. "When you're out there and you're thinking too hard and you're trying to do too much, that's when the game can get confusing.
"Coming back, I was struggling. But now I just feel like a completely different player. Physically I'm in the best shape of my life right now. I feel good. And mentally, I feel like I've been running the offense for a long time now. ... It's nice to have a good idea and know what you're doing out there - what your reads are and what your protection is. That makes it a lot easier.
"At first I was trying to go off raw ability, really, just trying to find the open guy and everything. But last fall camp, I feel I made a lot of improvement, and I'm just trying to keep it going."
Olson's next mission: UCLA starting quarterback
Ben Olson awoke at 6:30 a.m. and spent an hour studying Scripture before heading out for endless hours knocking on doors to preach the Mormon life. He lived in cramped quarters, off $130 a month for groceries, which turned into mostly ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese.
Twice a year - Christmas Day and Mother's Day - he was permitted to call home. Each conversation was limited to 30minutes.
Once a week, Olson was allowed to e-mail home from the local library.
He could not watch television, nor read a newspaper or listen to the radio.
"I came home and didn't know who Paris Hilton was," Olson said.
It was not a glorified two years for the former glamour quarterback out of Thousand Oaks High, although Olson describes the time as glorious.
But the discipline and maturity developed during a two-year Mormon mission is what the highly talented Olson, a 23-year-old redshirt sophomore, said will help him overcome the rustiness of not playing a meaningful down in more than four years, digest a complex offensive scheme, and lead UCLA this season as its starting quarterback.
"Having done the things I've done to get to this point in my life, I believe will do nothing but help me," Olson said. "People thought I was kind of crazy, leaving for two years to go on a mission because it will harm my career.
"You know what? I believe the things I learned will make me a better football player. Physically, mentally, I believe I'm better now than I've ever been. It has been hard to get there. I worked really hard, but it's worth it."
Bruins coach Karl Dorrell insists redshirt sophomore Patrick Cowan can win the job, even if very few take him seriously.
In fact, it is so widely presumed Olson - the most sought after recruit as a high school senior in 2001 and again when he returned from his mission and announced he was seeking a transfer from BYU - will be the Bruins' starter, Dorrell was not once asked about a possible quarterback controversy during last week's Pacific-10 Conference media day.
So as UCLA opens camp Monday, all eyes will be on the 6-foot-5, 230-pound red-haired Olson, a lefty with a rocket arm, a confident swagger and a maturity beyond nearly every teammate.
"You can tell in his leadership, his savvy, the way he carries himself," Bruins fifth-year senior receiver Junior Taylor said. "He's really mature. He's just as old as I am. He's done a great job of getting the guys to follow.
"Most (sophomore) quarterbacks aren't doing what he's doing already. He has the offense. He's teaching it, learning it."
Said Dorrell: "He's learned this offense faster than anyone else since I've been here. He's been able to do that in a much shorter span, and I think that's because of his age. What he's missing right now is game experience, and playing under that pressure."
Olson completed two of four passes for 11 yards last season in mop-up duty behind record-setting teammate Drew Olson (no relation). But those were his first competitive passes since 2001, when he was a senior at Thousand Oaks High.
"It's like your car that you have in the garage that you haven't started in a while," Dorrell said. "It takes a while to get it going, and once you get it going it starts purring. I think its the same thing with him."
But no one knows how long it will take Olson to shake the rust, or if he will.
"Imagine having this craft that you're very, very good at," Olson said. "What's the best way to get better at that skill? Do it, right?
"It comes easy for you. It's just like football. I did it for four or five years straight all the time. Then, I don't do it for two years. That's going to take a lot out of your game."
During his mission in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Olson's only brush with football came when a few minutes opened during a week and he could play catch with his roommate. But even then, complications arose. Roommates changed every six months.
"Sometimes they had no idea how to catch a football," Olson said. "I got a couple of guys pretty good, but I tried to take it easy on them. Some were about as athletic as that pen."
Olson, who set single-season records for passing yards (2,989) and touchdowns (32) as a senior at Thousand Oaks High, made the best of it, often telling himself his religious work was more important than throwing a football, anyway.
When Olson, who attended BYU for a semester in 2002, arrived in Westwood in January 2005, Cade McNown-ish expectations followed.
"The thing about Ben is he understands what playing quarterback at a school like UCLA means," Bruins offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Svoboda said. "That doesn't scare him. He wants to play on TV, in front of big crowds. You have to have, in some ways, a rock star mentality."
UCLA fans began clamoring for Olson the moment he committed, days before a loss to Wyoming in the 2004 LasVegas Bowl.
But in his first spring practice, it was evident Olson was away from the game for a considerable time. His delivery was slow, his throwing motion long, his ability to read defensed nearly nonexistent, and his knowledge of his own offense limited.
More than 18 months later, his mechanics are tightened and his ability to read opposing defenses is better.
But during several 7-on-7 passing contests against area junior colleges this summer, Olson's decision-making remained a bit slow.
"He's as talented as anyone I've been around," Svoboda said. "He's probably as talented as there is; size, strength. He's worked hard to correct his overstriding, which allows defensive backs to break on the ball easier. He's really got his priorities; football and family and schooling and football. There's not a whole lot else going on there."
Olson said his mission was hard work, and he continued the behavior immediately at UCLA. He was a regular in the football offices, watching film and reading his playbook more than his textbooks. He spent time at home watching more film and quickly got to know his teammates.
"He's one of those kids that gets along with everyone," Dorrell said. "He didn't come in with a strong ego. He wanted to come in and prove to his teammates he's a very good football player and wants to win. I think that's always helpful when a guy with that type of name comes in and wants to show his teammates, `Hey, I'm just like you. I want to win, want to work hard to be a champion. They appreciate that.' "
It's been widely noted that no quarterback has taken a two-year mission and returned to become a star quarterback.
Olson knows that, but he offers a caveat.
"It's important to me, plus I'm blessed with a lot of talent," Olson said. "I'm better than any other guy that's gone on a mission."
There will be struggles, Olson says. And it is during these times he can rely on the patience he cultivated knocking on all those doors in Canada.
Olson estimated he knocked on 100 doors a day. Of those, how many would invite him in?
"One, maybe, on a good day," Olson said. "People are slamming doors in your face, swearing at you. At first, I wanted to fight them. But you get thick-skinned, and it's awesome when you get to enjoy it.
"It was the hardest two years of my life, and the best two years of my life."
Young missionaries live by rigid rules
Latter-Day Saints missionaries are expected to abide by a long list of rules during their two years in the field. While the rules may strike an outsider as excessive, missionaries Brigg Barron and Mark Williams said they welcome the structure and security they provide. Here are excerpts from a four-page list of rules for male Minnesota missionaries:
• All missionaries wear a part and comb their hair to the side. You will be the minority and feel out of place if you do not.
• Cut hair above the ears and neck. Do not buzz in a part or buzz your head. You should have a line between your hair and shirt collar.
• Sideburns are not allowed. Shave all sideburns above the middle of the ear.
• Dry clean suits frequently and wear a crease in the pants.
• Please only wear nice business style ties. Flashy or bright ties that attract attention should not be worn. This includes, but is not limited to, '70s style polyester, pink, and purple-based ties.
• Refrain from using slang (i.e., hey, like, sucks, freakin', you're the man, chill, dang, cool, etc.). Be dignified in your speech. Quiet dignity will open doors.
• All cars must be vacuumed and washed every preparation day [one day a week when chores are performed].
• It is required to clean apartments for one hour (the first hour) every preparation day.
• Do all bike repairs outside of the apartment.
• Make sure carpet is covered where bikes are stored to prevent stains. Bike stains are the biggest reason why we lose our deposit money.
• Always wear a helmet.
• You may only call other missionaries within your district. ... You may not call single converts of the opposite sex.
• You may call home [only] on Mother's Day and Christmas for 45 minutes.
• Missionaries may only access mldsmail.net, lds.org, mormon.org and josephsmith.net.
• Internet usage [allowed only one day a week] is only permissible if companions can see each other's screens. No exceptions.
• Missionaries may not drink caffeine.
• Missionaries may only e-mail family. This may include immediate family as well as cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. If you receive e-mail from someone not in this category, you may respond only to tell him or her not to e-mail.
• The following music is approved: Especially For Youth, church-produced music, LDS hymns, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, appropriate Christmas music (i.e., no rock) and classical music.
• Please strictly follow the Elbow Rule: Always be near enough to your companion to hear him at a whisper while outside of the apartment. Do not separate for long periods of time within the apartment.
• Always obey the Rule of Three: In order to enter a home to teach or visit a member or nonmember, there must be three men or three women 16 or older present in the same room. A person in the next room does not count. ... The only exception to this rule is that you may enter the home of a person of the opposite sex who is 70 or older. If a person 70 or older is home with someone younger than 70, you must follow the normal Rule of Three.
• Do not become too familiar with children. Children, of nonmembers as well as members, may not sit on your lap. Tickling and hugging are strictly prohibited.
• The Mall of America is off limits to missionaries.
• Missionaries may watch "The Other Side of Heaven" [a movie by Mormon filmmaker Mitch Davis] on preparation day only. No TVs may be in missionary apartments.
• Letter writing is only allowed on preparation day during preparation hours.
• OYM! [to] everyone (Open Your Mouth!)
• LYB! (Lock Your Bike!)
• 100% on the plan [seven days a week for two years, with only minor variations on preparation days and Sundays]: Out of bed by 6:30 a.m. (not 6:31). One full hour of personal and companionship studies (not 59 minutes). Out of the apartment by 10 a.m. (not 10:01). One hour for lunch at the most. One hour for dinner, the latest time being from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Be out of the members' houses by 6 p.m. (not 6:01). Be in by 9 p.m. If you are teaching, you may be out until 9:30 p.m. at the latest. Plan the next day's activities starting right when you get in the apartment. Be either in your bed or praying by 10:30 p.m. (not 10:31).
Source: 2006 expectations list for Minnesota missionaries
It's not easy for a college quarterback to come back from two years off. UCLA's Olson and BYU's Hall are trying to show it can be done.
By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 6, 2007
UCLA quarterback Ben Olson was
living on $130 a week, rising at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for work. There was one
hour for lunch, then the nose went back to the grindstone until he returned home
at 9:30 p.m.
This was his life during a two-year Mormon mission that took him from the football field to Sparwood, Canada. The only "sack" he knew during that period was welcomed, the one he fell into after a long day on the job.
"It's a very disciplined life,"
Olson said. "Your mom's not there to do things. You're responsible for
"I'd be lucky if I tossed a football around once a week," Olson said.
Max Hall, who will be playing quarterback for Brigham Young on Saturday against UCLA at the Rose Bowl, experienced similar lessons during his two years of missionary work in Iowa.
"I learned it is a lot different than home," said Hall, who grew up in Mesa, Ariz., and transferred from Arizona State. "I served in areas that had small towns and farms with dirt roads. People would hang out on the porch every afternoon. There were a lot of good experiences and I was able to bring the gospel to a lot of people, with a fair amount of success."
"In high school, I felt I could run all day and never get tired," Hall said. "That took a lot of hard work when I came back."
Although mission work is not required by the Mormon Church, it is strongly suggested, and many followers serve for two years sometime during their college years. No matter what the timing is among quarterbacks, it seems their football life is more difficult when they return.
Olson and Hall are only the latest case studies, though both have an opportunity to alter history.
BYU, the university most associated with Mormon athletes, has won 22 conference championships, but only two with a starting quarterback who had gone on a mission.
While the assignment can be beneficial for some football players, particularly linemen who can grow and mature, the two-year timeout seems especially tough for a quarterback.
"The experiences I had, they don't come back ready to go," said Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who spent 27 seasons on the football staff at BYU. "It is awfully rare if they come back and have a lot of success. You're away, you don't get a chance to work out, and for two years your focus is not on football."
That theory is disputed by BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall, who said, "We encourage our kids to go. We make it the right priority in their life and, secondly, we think they will be blessed when they return, that's regardless of position."
Yet, even quarterbacks who experienced success said the return flight was bumpy.
Brad Otton spent two years on a mission in Italy, then transferred from Weber State to USC when he returned. He led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory over Northwestern in 1996, but he said the road back wasn't as simple as crossing the Rubicon.
"Quarterback is such a mental thing and, if you miss that mental progression as a college kid, it is going to be hard when you come back," said Otton, who now owns pizzerias in Henderson, Nev., and Salt Lake City.
"I was fortunate, being the son of a high school coach I was raised to look at football mentally. My dad mailed me a football and I had a mission president who would let me go throw the football a couple times a week."
Still, Otton said, "If you take two years off, when you try to come back, you're mentally behind that kid who is a redshirt freshman."
The missionary's position
Written by Greg Hudson
(The Eyeopener) -
After seeing my family for the first time in two years, we drove straight from
the airport to the Church so I could be released. There was nothing spectacular
about it. No ceremony, no diploma, no applause.
I sat in a room with all the pomp of an office, surrounded by my family and a picture of Christ. There, a local leader of the Church simply told me I was honourably released — that I was no longer a missionary. I could take off my name tag whenever I was ready. No longer Elder Hudson, I was just Greg again. I broke down. I felt like I was being punished, like the leader was stripping me of everything I had experienced. The moment epitomized my mission: for 24 months, I set to convert Southern Ontario, wanting nothing more than to serve my God. But I was always inadequate — I understood what the job was, but I was never commensurate.
As I sat there being released, it wasn’t my own shortcomings that made me cry. My chance was just over. My sister-in-law, not usually prone to poetics, said it looked like a king was losing his crown.
If you are a male born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), you’re preparing to go on a mission from the time you can talk. But somehow, nothing can prepare you for coming back. For a lot of kids growing up in the church, missionaries reside somewhere between superheroes and big brothers in the collective consciousness. They are mythical, living symbols, and you look at them knowing that you will one day join their ranks.
But when I became one, it was surprisingly anti-climatic. I had planned for it my entire youth, and it snuck up the same way Christmas does. Suddenly, I was that spiritual giant you always looked up to — only I wasn’t. I wore the suit, I parted my hair, I had an iconic black name tag with ELDER HUDSON engraved in white, but I was still the same kid who loved quoting The Simpsons and knew every lyric to Ice Ice Baby. My first struggle when I landed in Sarnia, Ont., was with myself. I had a new purpose, but I didn’t know how to go about doing it. I had to be patient; I had to wait to become the missionary I had always imagined. And I don’t know if I ever did. That’s the paradox of being genuinely religious: The harder you try to be godly, the more you realize you aren’t, the more you realize your weaknesses.
Missionaries travel the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, within the Latter-Day Saints context. They serve the communities where they reside, but mostly in a spiritual capacity, helping people establish a proper relationship with God through repentance and baptism. In short, they are out to baptize the world. Make everybody Mormon. (That may sound sinister, but really it isn’t. Imagine you are certain that you hold the key to eternal happiness and salvation. It makes sense to share.)
I tried hard to follow all the rules of my mission. I worked at obedience with the sincerity of an orphan hoping for a birthright. I woke up before the sun every morning, exercised and studied the scriptures for two hours. Then, I would leave my apartment, companion at side, and try to find people to teach until we would return to our apartment at 9:30 p.m. Any deviation, I felt, would jeopardize my success. Looking back, I don’t know if obedience really led to more success, or if it was a matter of people skills and salesmanship.
We tried to avoid knocking on doors — not because we felt it was intrusive — but because it was actually the least effective way of finding potential converts. But there were times when I felt driven to a certain street. There were baptisms that I’d see and feel a small portion of fatherly relief and pride. I imagined what God must be feeling, not for me, but for the new convert. But all the faith in the world can’t get you into the house of a stranger.
One morning, after praying over a tiny laminated map of Sarnia, I felt a distinct pull towards a specific street: Hazelwood Avenue. Revelation is hard to quantify, but at the time I was certain that I was supposed to go there. Someone was there. When we met the man on Hazelwood Avenue, I knew I was sent to speak to him. He grew up in an offshoot of the Mormon faith: he was raised to believe almost everything my companion and I would teach him; not just the general themes that all Judeo-Christian faiths would espouse, but the unique doctrines that are the toughest part of our message to accept. He already believed.
But he wouldn’t let us in. I tried explaining to him that we had a message that would change his life. Using history and doctrine, I told him that he needed to give us a chance. Nothing worked. I felt frantic. So, I told him the truth: I had prayed over a map, and I was certain that I was directed to that street just to talk to him.
He apologized before he shut the door.
In the span of two hours I had felt the calm certainty of spiritual guidance, the quiet grandeur of Godly acknowledgment and the peace that comes from knowing I was doing my service. And I felt the flip side. Walking away from that house, I not only felt my inadequacy, but I was amazed by how little I understood God and his methods. It must have been something I had done. God set it up perfectly, and I somehow messed up.
But that’s one experience, one day. There were other people that my companion and I would meet on the street and I knew that we were an answer to their prayers. There were times when I was used perfectly, despite my weaknesses.
That’s the power of a mission.
From our apartment on the sixth floor, we could see the fledgling skyline of Niagara Falls. Almost every night, the city shot fireworks above the falls, giving every day a festive farewell, which became less and less impressive by the seventh month.
But as I spent each night on my balcony, I didn’t bother watching the fireworks. Kneeling, arms resting on a plastic wicker chair, I would pray into the night. I didn’t want my companion to hear how desperate I was. I didn’t want him to hear me beg and plead to Him, because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I couldn’t understand why after 23 months as a missionary, I was having so much trouble now. I couldn’t understand why my last month was my hardest.
I would look up from my prayers and see the tired houses of the small city, and feel like I was their only hope, and I was failing. So I’d pray more. Night after night, I would pray more.
Two weeks ago, my editor and I were standing in the quad, eating free hot dogs. We spoke briefly about how many Mormons there were on campus (about five, including a professor) and how there probably was no need to talk to them. He didn’t mean to, but the way he said it implied that their viewpoint would almost be unneeded, because, unlike me, they didn’t have doubts. And a missionary who comes home as zealous as he left isn’t a good story.
I didn’t say anything, but it represented a dichotomy that I nurse. On the one hand, I see his point — not about the specific Mormons on campus, but about radical religious people in general. Maybe they don’t evaluate their faith; perhaps they accept Mormon culture a little too readily at the exclusion of other culture. But at the same time, the implied pity in my editor’s off-handed comment reminded me that I still have pretty strong feelings for my faith, like a past love you can’t forget. But there’s been trials, there’s been reasons why I can’t forget.
Not too long ago, I was out with some friends in a sweaty bar in Calgary. They were both former Mormons. Over the beats slipping through the walls of the club, they tried to get me to drink. They had found peace outside the Church, and were inviting me to join them. As stupid as it may sound, drinking was symbolic: they knew I didn’t go to church as much, and that I was no longer living all the tenets of my faith. In their own way, they were being supportive.
But it sounded so hollow. Maybe I’ve just been too indoctrinated to change, or maybe I didn’t want to disappoint my family. But mostly, I think it was my past. Neither of my friends spent those hours on that balcony, praying in seeming vain, pleading to God because my mission, my life and doubts weren’t becoming any easier.
And it never got easier. I left the mission feeling beaten. But, I couldn’t doubt I was heard. Now, I just have to figure out if I’m ready to talk to Him.
(TRUE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORK DOES NOT REQUIRE A SPECIFIC TWO YEAR TIME FRAME)
Faith defines Florida's Tebow
By Mark Long
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has the build of a linebacker, the mentality of a coach and the skills to play just about anywhere on the field.
Off the field, he is just as engaged in his Christian faith. Florida’s star quarterback spends much of his spare time going on mission trips, working with underprivileged youth and visiting hospitals and prisons.
He even helped perform a few circumcisions in an impoverished Philippines village — during spring break.
Although some might question his too-good-to-be-true persona, Tebow wants to make it clear that his achievements off the field define him more than his accomplishments on it, where he set all sorts of records running Florida’s spread offense as a sophomore.
”If people don’t believe it, that’s fine,“ Tebow said. ”There’s always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it’s fake.
”How I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good, because that’s gonna mean so much more when it’s all said and done than just playing football and winning championships.“
Tebow threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns last season and ran for 895 yards and 23 scores. He became the first underclassman to accept college football’s most prestigious award and prompted Gators Coach Urban Meyer to call him ”the best quarterback of our era.“
Instead of basking in the spotlight or trying to hobnob with celebrities following his newfound fame, Tebow went back to work — spreading his message of faith further than ever before.
In March, Tebow traveled to his father’s orphanage in the Phillipines. He visited schools and marketplaces, speaking mostly about his faith, and was invited to assist with some medical procedures.
”It was a great experience for me,“ Tebow said. ”It’s something I enjoyed doing, I love doing. It’s something I’m very passionate about. Doing those things, taking my platform as a football player and using it for good, using it to be an influence and change people’s lives, that’s more important than football to me.“
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