Elder X (a recently returned missionary) was riding his bike in the mission field without a helmet when he was hit by a car. He sailed 25 feet, landed in a bush, and was miraculously free of serious injury. The thing is that he wouldn’t have been riding without a helmet had it not been for the strange limits placed on missionary car mileage.
Elder X had been assigned to a zone where they used cars and not bikes. Hence, at the time he had neither a bike nor a helmet. However, missionaries with cars are given a limit on the amount of mileage they can use each month. As far as I can tell, this limit appears to be somewhat arbitrary, but I’d appreciate insight into how it is determined. Elder X had used up his mileage for the month, and for three days was unable to reach his investigators because he couldn’t drive and he didn’t have a bike. After these three days, he borrowed a bike from a member so that he could keep his appointments, but he wasn’t able to get a helmet.
A few months earlier, elders in my hometown experienced a similar dilemma. My neighbor, an investigator at the time, invited them to have dinner at her house, after which they planned to attend a baptism at the stake center. However, it was the end of the month, and the elders didn’t have enough mileage left for the trip. So, they called us from the stake center where their car was currently parked—a thirty-minute drive one-way from where my neighbor lived—and asked her if they could get a ride to her house for dinner. But, alas, she is a female (meaning she can’t give rides to the virtuous elders). Consequently, her husband had to leave work to go pick them up. However, her husband could not then give them a ride back, which he felt more adamant about after he was shocked to see their car when he drove into the stake center parking lot. As a result, they had to call a bishopric member (who lived on the other end of town) to drive to my neighbor’s house, pick them up, and take them back to the stake center where both their car and the baptism awaited.
These stories are absurd. And yet true. My point: We ought to give our missionaries who we assign to cars enough mileage that they can fulfill their obligations. I’m not sure that we fully realize how bad it looks to non-members when the missionaries can only meet with them if given rides. Is it worth this to curb occasional abuse of car privileges? Have other people observed issues like these in their wards?