In 1935, fresh off his own mission, the 25 year old Gordon B. Hinckley accepted an assignment to run the newly created Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee of the Church. By 1937 this new department had released the first edition of The Missionary’s Hand Book. This book drew on several publications in circulation at the time and was published with the copyright of Heber J. Grant. Nine years later, the second edition was released, retaining the Grant copyright. In this post, the first of a series, I will review the first two Chapters of the 1946 edition, those dealing with general mission rules.
Chapter 1, The Council of Authority, is a letter from George F. Richards on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve, which new missionaries received in the mission home. After a brief introduction, it relates 42 numerated rules. Chapter 2, Mission Regulations, is a series of rules and council in paragraph form that cover several topics. While the bulk of the material is consistent with modern perceptions of Missionary service, there is some that is interesting, odd, fun or otherwise entertaining:
Traveling to the Mission Field
2. While in cars, ships, hotels, or other public places, never indulge in loud speaking, heated discussions, inappropriate singing, games of chance, vulgar stories or in any conduct whatsoever that is rowdy or boisterous and not becoming a gentleman.
4. If you have the privilege of “sight seeing” within the larger cities, you should refrain from visiting the “districts” of bad reputation. If you cannot assist in correcting evil, avoid it entirely.
In the Mission Field
11. Portray the excellencies of the gospel but never ridicule the religious beliefs of others. Impute sincerity of mind and purpose to other men as you claim it for yourself.
14. Bless, but do not curse.
18. Observe the Word of Wisdom in all strictness, refraining from the use of tea, coffee, tobacco, and intoxicants of every kind.
19. Care well for your health, remembering always that you life is precious. All excesses are wrong and bring ill results. You should not walk too much, fast too much, eat or drink too much, nor attempt to do without needful things.
24. Do not let your ambition to bring new members into the Church lead you to baptize those who are unworthy…
26. Never say in public or private that you do not know the gospel is true.
40. Be charitable in your judgments of others.
The previous chapter consisted of what might be called “fatherly advice” from the general authorities of the Church. The great majority who have followed it have proved the value of these instructions. Experience has taught that there are yet other necessary regulations not listed in this letter of counsel, which have been adopted as established mission practices. pg. 22
Wear rubbers in stormy weather and keep your feet dry.
Do not sleep in stuffy rooms; open the windows and let in fresh air. pg. 23
Venereal diseases are universally present, and can be innocently contracted by careless use of towels, clothing, etc., that have been used by infected persons. Extreme caution should be exercised against such. pg. 23-24
If you should be seized with pains in the abdomen which will not disappear in a few hours do not take a laxative. Take an enema. If relief does not come at once, consult a good physician… pg. 24
Fasting and Prayer
Concerning fasting and prayer President Joseph F. Smith once said:
“A man may fast and pray until he kills himself, and there isn’t any necessity for it nor wisdom in it. I say to my brethren when they are fasting and praying for the sick, and for those that need faith and prayer, do not go beyond what is wise and prudent in fasting and prayer. The Lord can hear a simple prayer, offered in faith, in half a dozen words, and he will recognize fasting that may not continue for more that forty-eight hours, just as readily and effectually as he will answer a prayer of a thousand words and fasting for a month.” pg. 24
“They Had Better Keep Away”
In advising missionaries the late President Joseph F. Smith said, “It is not a good thing, neither is it at all wise, for our elders to go out on excursion on dangerous lakes, or streams, or bodies of water, just for fun. They had better keep away. The Lord will protect them in the discharge of their duty.” Mixed swimming should be avoided. pg. 26-27
The successful missionary cultivates friends wherever he goes. If they are not members of the Church, he earnestly seeks to get them to investigate the tenets of Mormonism. He visits them often, but is extremely careful to avoid staying too long lest he become unwelcome. pg. 27-28