Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
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You'll never forget the feeling that swept over you as you opened that oversized white envelope containing the location where you would spend the next 18 months or 2 years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You'll also never forget saying goodbye to your friends, family and significant other — you know, the one who swore she'd write you daily and be waiting in white when you returned.
How about the MTC orange juice you drank against the advice of your siblings and district? Yeah, you aren't forgetting that any time soon.
While missions provide memorable spiritual events, they're also petri dishes for some of the most awkward situations mankind has ever experienced. Luckily for you, we're here to let you relive those hair-raising, cheek-flushing moments.
1. The meal that requires two blessings
Whether you served in a foreign country or in a retirement community in Sun City, Arizona (hypothetically speaking), you were exposed to a myriad of frightening foods. Let's elaborate.
The coveted dinner calendar made its way through Relief Society and the sweet sister in charge of it carefully hands it over after church. You try and remain cool, but nothing hides the fact that this calendar contains 30 free meals — no cooking on your part and typically no cleanup required because the members don't want to "burden" you. You show up. They feed you. You leave. It's glorious.
Until your eyes fall on next Tuesday's family. "Sister Jones, 6 p.m." Both you and your companion swap nervous glances.
"Last time she pulled the half-opened Ranch dressing bottle out of the cupboard, and it was expired by two years," you say. "Yeah, well I pulled a hair out of my mouth when she wasn't looking," your companion adds.
Part of Monday-night planning is dedicated to your emergency escape routes, tight appointments sandwiched around dinner to avoid staying for dessert — or staying for seconds, for that matter.
You are sure to wear dark slacks or a skirt with deep pockets in case a tuck-and-chuck is required, and have a hefty lunch so desperate times do not call for desperate measures come 6 p.m.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
2. The naked door approach
It seems a bit uncanny that other human beings find it totally normal to answer the door regardless of their current activity. Maybe they answer the door while on the phone — sure, that's awkward. Interrupting the family dinner? A bit uncomfortable. But answering the door to two wholesome, naive missionaries while in the buff just isn't acceptable — not by any means, in any country or under any circumstances.
If you're one of the lucky ones, it's your companion's turn to do the door approach and, thanks to the angle of the door frame and your impeccable positioning, your focus is turned on your companion and you're protected from the ghastly scene. No actual door approach occurs since your companion goes into some sort of a coma, and you two slowly back away as if nothing ever happened. "When we get to the mailbox, run," you whisper slyly.
3. The setup
Nothing says awkward like an "assertive" parent trying to set you up with his or her son or daughter. Dinner appointments feel more like PPIs, and before long, you've succumbed to the pressure of looking through pictures of some hot young single adult at his/her first semester at BYU.
How touching. You nod in agreement as Mom and Dad brag about their little darling or athletic hunk and what cute babies you two would have. Suddenly your mental kite is a thousand miles away from the work as you stare at the photos you're holding. "Focus, focus, focus," you repeat in your mind. "Here's their address. They'd love to write you."
Hook, line and sinker.
4. Nursing nightmares
There you are in the middle of a lesson and hello... out comes the breast of a nursing mother. The surprise isn't that people breastfeed their children, it's that you weren't expecting to see that part of a woman's body when talking religion. Just keep your eyes on the investigator's eyes and stay cool.
5. "The boo"
For those unfamiliar with "the boo," lets refer back to number one on the list: every decision (eating expired food) comes with consequences ("the boo").
It's happened to all of us despite our every effort to erase, forget or deny. It's sneaky, unpredictable and unprecedented. It never sleeps, has no regard for location and doesn't adhere to social cues.
Teaching a lesson and there's only one bathroom available — with no fan? Good luck with that, pal.
On foot in the middle of Mexico, 45 minutes from your adobe house? Let us pray.
When it knocks, you answer — whether you mean to or not.
Whether you've experienced these same situations or are yet to experience them, make sure you do it in style.