Barfing for Jesus

WARNING: This post is gross.

The Mormon Mission experience is a significant rite of passage for many LDS young men and women. But there is another important rite of passage within this rite of passage — at least for a signficant subset of LDS missionaries — that is less widely recognized. I refer, of course, to the various intestinal adventures experienced by elders and sisters who serve in the Third World. Many of us have stories about our adventures; not all of them warrant a retelling, to be sure. But some do. And I flatter myself in believing mine does, so here goes:

My first and only brush with intestinal chaos happened while I was assigned to my first area, about a month after I arrived in Argentina. I served the first part of my mission in the Mision Trelew (now the Mision Neuquen), which covered all of Argentine Patagonia. Somehow, I must have caught a bug from something I ate or drank. The consequences for me were two-fold: I developed (1) a nasty bout of nausea, and (2) a severe need to empty my bowels out the other end. Now, I don’t need to tell you the timing of my intestinal seizures was a tad inconvenient. These things always are, aren’t they? But in my case, I wasn’t struck down while tracting, or visiting a churchmember, or soliciting a baptismal commitment from an investigator during Discussion #2. No, no, no, for you see, God hates me. So I’m the lucky soul that was struck ill between the 1st and 2nd hour of a 9-hour busride.

I was assigned to the town of Carmen de Patagones, and my whole Viedma district was travelling overnight to Trelew for a Zone Conference. I had taken this bus route once before — in the opposite direction — when I was first shipped off to my area. It was memorable the first time because of the busdriver’s decision to blast Arnold Schwarzennegger’s Total Recall — one of my favorite movies — on the T.V. in English during the trip. There I was, fresh out of the MTC, watching an R-Rated movie on the first real day of my mission, and not feeling guilty about it so much as feeling guilty for not feeling guilty about it. But my second overnight ride in reverse was to be much more memorable. Best to break it down, hour-by-hour:

Hour 0:

“Wow, I can’t believe our whole district is going to be on this bus for 9 hours! And there’s only one stop the whole time, about 4 hours into the trip! Sure glad our bus is air-conditioned. Beats spending another night in our muggy apartment, I guess.”

Hour 1:

“Hmmmm. Well, this is boring. I wish I spoke Spanish better so I could pursue an interesting conversation with my comp. I wonder if I’ll actually be able to sleep in these seats. 8 more hours is an awfully long time to sit in this chair! Oh well, at least there’s A/C.”

Hour 1.5 (roughly):

“Oh crap. I’m really starting to feel nauseous. I think I might have diarrhea coming on too. This sucks! Maybe it’ll it pass. These things sometimes do. Please God, let this pass quickly!”

Hour 2:

“Oh my gosh, THIS REALLY SUCKS!!! I really need to use the bathroom. For more than one reason. I think I’ll go back and check it out. [I get up, quickly move to the bathroom door at the back of the bus, open it, and peer inside. I am utterly horrified by what I see.] “Oh my heck, there is NO WAY I’m ever going to enter this ungodly hellhole of a room, much less plant myself down on that toilet seat. I don’t care if I die, I am not going in there!”

Hour 3:

“Arrrrrrggggghhhhh. I can’t believe I’ve managed to sit here for an entire hour without completely losing it. AGONY! I can’t go on! Maybe I should get my comp to ask the bus-driver to stop the bus. Maybe they can just leave me by the side of the road to die. Whatever. I just need this to end.”

Hour 4:

“Dear Heavenly Father, this is it. I simply can’t go on. I’m going to explode! I can’t last another 10 seconds. Please, please, PLEASE let us reach the town this instant! NOW, NOW, NOW! The difference between now and 10 more seconds is an eternity! I’m not gonna make it!!!

Shortly after Hour 4, our bus finally pulled into the lone stop on our route: the sleepy town of San Antonio Oeste. It was past 1:00 am, so there was nothing to buy and no place to go. But I understood there was a bathroom in the station, and I was determined to bolt toward it. As luck would have it, all the missionaries were sitting near the back of the bus. As everyone stood up to file out, I informed my fellow elders that I needed to disembark first. They obliged me. I slowly inched towards the door, as I fantasized about murdering the folks in front of me if they didn’t hurry up and get out of my way. I finally reached the front of the bus, turned toward the exit door, and began my descent out of the vehicle. Alas, too late:

Bleeeeeecccccccch!!!

I let loose the most voluminous, most violent vomit imaginable. It’s as if the Three Nephites had all three simultaneously kicked me in the stomach, and I released the contents of the entire Great Salt Lake from some deep, dark, unknown reservoir in the depths of my soul. Lucky for the bus driver and passengers, I aimed well, and so managed to miss the interior of the bus completely. But because I hadn’t yet taken that first descending step, the distance from my mouth to the ground outside the bus was immense. As a result, my massive projectile hit the ground with tremendous force. And so — as if to prove that God has a wicked sense of humor — it splattered all over the back of the two Catholic nuns who had exited right before me.

Alas, I didn’t have the luxury of savoring this historic moment in Catholic/Mormon relations. I bolted towards the men’s bathroom, barged through the door, sat down, and promptly relieved myself in a slightly more conventional fashion. I then exited the station, hoping and praying that both recent releases marked the end of my bodily travails. I boarded the bus with a tinge of optimism that the worst was over. But it wouldn’t last. For I was only half right. After my initial bout of vomitory bliss, the need to repeat it would not return. But my lower half was just getting started.

Hour 5:

“Oh boy. I don’t feel nauseous anymore, thank goodness, but here comes Round 2 in the other department. CRAP. What the heck am I gonna do? I’ve got 4 more freaking hours on this bus!!!”

Hour 6:

“CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP!!!!!!”
“%!#@$^@#^ @#$^@# (@*$#%(!!!”

Hour 7:

Words cannot express what happened during Hour 7. I experienced what can only be described as the low point of my mission, possibly my life. One can only sit in a chair, holding it all in, for so long. Eventually, you’re bound to lose it, and I did. Enough said.

Hour 8:

The horrible event of Hour 7 was not the end. And so I finally did the unthinkable: I decided to swallow my pride, my dignity, my sense of hygiene, and I raced to the bathroom at the back of the bus. I entered and sat down. I’m not one to normally speak in euphemisms, but perhaps I’ll break my rule here: There’s Montezuma’s Revenge, and then there’s Montezuma’s Slow, Sociopathic Sadism with a Blowtorch and a Pair of Plyers. Have you ever had fluid drain from your body so quickly that you could literally feel your insides dehydrating, moment by moment? Well, I have. Trust me, it’s not an experience you want. (Remember in War of the Worlds — the Tom Cruise version — when the alien tripod impaled the man lying on the ground and sucked all the life out of him? Yeah, it was just like that.) Fortunately, the other elders in my district passed me bottled water after bottled water through the cracked door, to keep me hydrated. Had they not done so, I seriously think I would have died.

Hour 9:

Arrival! Alas, I don’t remember a thing.

I have no recollection of entering the mission van, being driven to the apartment of some local elders, or collapsing onto a mattress on the floor. I missed the entire Zone Conference, and spent two days bedridden in the apartment, with sporadic trips to the bathroom. Not much fun, but it was Paradise compared to my overnight ride from Hell, so I wasn’t complaining. By the time my district was ready to return to our areas, I was much improved, and the return trip was uneventful. I never again experienced this sort of sickness on my mission.

Once we’d returned home, I reflected back on my experience. What was the source of my affliction? What in the world might have caused such horrible suffering? What might I have ingested that could have infected me so? My trainer — ever helpful — was quick to answer: The cause of my sickness was “sin”. Plain and simple. (He didn’t clarify if it was the Total Recall, or something else). And to speculate about any other cause did nothing but obscure this fact. Gee, thanks so much, Elder!

Feel free to share your own stories of mission sickness and mayhem.

Comments

  1. Epic intestinal awesomeness. I won’t try to top it with the one time on MY mission I got a bad French pastry.

  2. Hilarious – for me, probably not so much for you, Aaron. My brother just got called to Mexico – I’m sending this to him now.

    Having served in western Europe, I have nothing that compares…and I’m eternally grateful.

  3. Benjamin says:

    The only time I experienced food poisoning as a missionary was the day following a zone conference where the zone leader had ordered lunch for everyone. Sure enough, more than half the zone was home sick the next day.

    What I found more amusing was that in an effort to curb food-borne illness in Eastern Europe, the missions instituted a policy of not allowing missionaries to eat in member homes. The policy was established on the insistence of the missionaries who were so afraid of being impolite that they wanted to blame their declination of local food on the mission president.

    But food-borne illness didn’t decrease after the policy was established. Illnesses didn’t actually decrease until an aggressive campaign to get missionaries to wash their hands before eating. Turns out, missionaries needed protection from themselves.

  4. #3. Funny you mention that. I got food poisoning twice on my mission in the same month, and I lived in Midland, Texas. I had no excuse. I guarantee I infected myself. I will never eat canned beef stew again.

    I was in the States, but these illnesses were quite horrible for me. I had a fever of 104, and began light hallucinations at times. Apparently I was freestyle rapping and drawing woolly mammoths with crayons late at night. Not making that up.

  5. One of the biggest surprises to me on my mission is that I never threw up. There were many times that I left a dinner appointment hoping that my body would reject what I had just eaten, but it never happened.

  6. This post is awesome.

    I always told myself and my current companion that if I pooped/diarrhea-blasted my pants while in Korea, that was it, I was going home. It never happened but there were some calls so close that I wasn’t sure whether to praise God for the miracle or question his goodness altogether.

    One round of food poisoning sent me to the toilet to relieve wrenching guts. The ferocity of the wrenching coupled with the odor of the noisome expulsion caused me to vomit loads and loads of the raw oysters that caused the ailment. The cause-and-effect mechanics went on for a few rounds: cramp-spray-barf, cramp-spray-barf. The whole thing was tragi-comic to me even while it was happening since I was barfing in part because of the awful odor that I myself was emitting. The cramp-spray-barf routine was so intense that the blood vessels in my eyes burst and my abdominal muscles, neck muscles, and upper back muscles were sore for days afterward.

    Oh, and those raw oysters were from a ward dinner at a member’s house, for what it is worth to Benjamin.

  7. 1996. Hour 3 of a bus ride from Quito to the coast–a nine hour ride down the Andes and across the tropical coastal plain. Van Damn was on instead of Arnold. 9 pm or so. Packed bus, standing room only for locals that just jumped on. Humid, subtropical air blowing through the cabin along with gasoline fumes. Complete vomit launch out the back window after eating corviche from a roadside vendor. Girls laughing at me. Baby crying and mom protecting baby from bizarre gringo. Commensurate turd launch at the next stop. Fell asleep after that, and felt like a million bucks when we arrived around 11 pm.

    PS–OP – I went to Neuquen three years ago on business. There is a Casino there, which is by far the nicest and busiest building in town.

  8. I didn’t go on a mission, but I did have food poisoning at a family reunion and the family had planned a temple trip. I had a 3 month old I couldn’t leave for large amounts of time because of nursing, so I planned on sitting out on the temple grounds during the session and relaxing.

    But when I got out of the car at the temple, I was really nauseous. I headed towards the temple in hopes to make it to the bathroom. In the meantime, I was praying in my head, “God- if you don’t want me to throw up on the temple grounds, you have the power to stop me. If you don’t care about those flowers, I’ll throw up in those, but if you do care, stop my nausea!”

    He obviously didn’t care about the flowers. I threw up in the flowers at the Sacramento Temple.

    I still decided to wait outside because I was in jeans- my plan was to be outside so I didn’t dress for being in the temple at all. My husband was doing baptisms so I figured he wouldn’t be long. I looked so absolutely pathetic sitting outside the temple in the heat, that someone invited me in and let me lie down in the waiting room with my 3 month old. I was so relieved to have air conditioning. The temple workers were so nice to me too. And of course, my husband’s “short” baptism session went just as long as an endowment session.

  9. 3 delicious licuados de banana chugged back to back at a members home gave me my violent reaction to local bacteria about 1 month in. Couldn’t even keep a teaspoon of Sprite down for two days. It certainly is a rite of passage within a rite of passage. And especially in Argentina.

  10. In Guatemala we called that intestinal fury “bu” which stands for “butt urine.” And we asked the question, “what’s the difference between bu and urine?” to which the answer was, “urine comes out slowly.” This was a regular malady.

  11. I served my mission in Tijuana. I got diaherra once after eating a torta from a street vendor, but it was pretty mild.

    My worst experience was at the beginning of my mission. It’s sort of gross, but I have to get into details so you understand the horribleness of it.

    When I first arrived to the mission, I got terrible constipation. I hadn’t had a BM for nearly a week and half. The problem was I was eating copious amounts of food. The sisters would just pile on the food and not wanting to offend, I ate all of it and then the seconds. It seemed like at every appointment we were given food.

    One night, I had the most horrible stomach pain. I honestly thought I was going to die. I remember praying “God, please don’t let me die in freaking Tijuana.” I ended up throwing up for a few hours.

    The next day, I was fed up of not being able to relieve myself. So I went to a pharmacy and bought a prescription strength laxative. I mixed it with my OJ in the morning and set off for the morning with my comp.

    A few hours later I was sitting in the house of a recent convert family. I suddenly had a feeling that everything I had consumed in the past 10 days was about to leave my body at once. My spanish sucked so all I said was “Bano!”

    As soon as I sat down on the toilet, it all came out. I had never felt or seen anything like what just left my body. It was just like soft serve ice cream and I filled the toilet with it. I mean I seriously filled the toilet. To the top. I was afraid it wouldn’t flush, but it did. I then proceeded to fill it again.

    I was probably in the bathroom for about 45 minutes, but when I walked out the door, I felt like a new man. I never had any problems keeping the pipes clean after that.

  12. On my mission I learned that barfing and having uncontrollable bowel movements at the same time is known as “the Mollies.” Thank you Bro. Standage.

  13. This is the best thread EVER.

  14. Yet another Argentina survivor here. The members were always telling us that whatever ailed us must be the result of “ataque de igado” (attack of the liver), which we interpreted to mean that if I am feeling unwell “Slow down Hermana! My liver is attacking me!”

  15. I got food poisoning as a greenie in Eastern Europe after being served borsch. The sad thing was that my trainer still made me go out and work when I was sick. I remember going to a less active member’s apartment and having the same experience that Brett had. After I had relieved myself, I was pretty tired and so I sat down on the couch as the member was making me some tea and gave me a thermometer. As she was in the kitchen I stuck the thermometer under my tongue to see how high my temperature was. She came back a minute later and started laughing at me and pulled the thermometer out of my mouth and promptly stuck it under my armpit. Let’s just say that she wasn’t the type of person to shower every day.

    Later that day I lost it at a park and I think I ended up using all the pages of the first three letters of my Bulgarian dictionary. I laugh about it now but I was less than happy then.

  16. I am laughing so hard I am crying. Most of the men in my family served in South America (or close to it) and have similar stories to Hour 7. Some have actually had life-long problems since then. DH still had problems for the first several years of our marriage.

  17. Barefoot Mike says:

    Near the end of my mission in Japan, I went on a nashi-gari (pear hunt) to a farm in the mountains of Yamaguchi-ken. For an entrance fee of like $15, you could eat as many nashi (asian pears) as you liked while there, plus they allowed you take two home. These nashi were huge and the sweetest, most divine fruit I’d ever eaten. So I ate seven during the 60-90 minutes we were there. Each nashi tasted as good as the first. I was quite proud of myself and was gloating to my companion and the sisters about my feat.

    On the drive home back in the city, I could feel my bowls bubbling over, begging for a release. I remember sprinting from the car to the church’s bathroom and making it just in time to expel the worst diarrhea I’ve ever experienced. It just kept coming and coming and coming. We were holding our English conversation classes at the church in a few minutes, and I was praying the whole time that none of the students had to use the bathroom.

    I’d do it again. Without question. Totally worth it.

  18. I, too, am limited in what I can type because my laughter tears make it difficult to focus on the screen. Most of my laughter comes from the fact that I know whereof you write having been visited by the Slow Sociopathic Vengeful Wrath of Montezuma whilst traversing the South American countryside on a bus.

    Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt.

  19. I wore the splattered habit of your Catholic nuns. My trainer was lactose intolerant, but valued dairy products over intestinal integrity. He threw up every morning. In the sink rather than the toilet (he insisted that’s how they do it in Idaho). The larger chunks always caught on the stopper. He never fished them out. On a daily basis, he would lean his head to the side while riding his bike and hurl. Since I had no idea where we were going for the first few months, I had to ride behind him. I hated windy days.

  20. “The next day, I was fed up of not being able to relieve myself. So I went to a pharmacy and bought a prescription strength laxative. I mixed it with my OJ in the morning and set off for the morning with my comp. ”

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long time.

  21. Nice to know that my 4-month bout with giardia in Brazil (and subsequent 40 lb weight loss) was due to sin. Silly me, I thought it was because the city kept shutting off the running water to our part of town for a few days at a time all summer long. There is nothing quite like asking your comp to come dump a bucket of water down the toilet while you flush away your diarrhea. Not surprising that she got sick soon after.

    Maybe I should start sinning again–it might make losing my last 20 lbs of baby weight easier.

  22. Coffinberry says:

    Not so awesome. My son is currently serving in the Chilean side of Patagonia, and his tales sound very much like yours. He’s still trying to find some way to calm the beast that is is belly.

  23. Wow… This thread is awesome in a horrifying kind of way! Here I am thinking that the worst reaction I had to anything consumed on my mission in Victorville, California, was the strange Korean natural energy drink my comp and I got from the 99 cent store. It tasted like potting soil and gave us both severe stomach cramps, but that was all.

  24. Not to brag or anything, but I served a South American mission, drank the local tap water the whole time (both at home and in members’ houses) and never once threw up or had diarrhea.

    I can only assume that I was more obedient than the rest of you (which would be a funny thing to say if I had never met so many RMs that would say such a thing and absolutely mean it).

  25. I am laughing … big belly laughs, with tears.

    I’ve been there, brother. I’ve experienced the manifest indignity of standing/sitting in a shower in Brazil (which is really just a shower head in the middle of the bathroom–so you can, um, do other stuff while showering) and slowly washing the evidence of my intestinal lack of fortitude from my britches (dry clean only!). Sometimes, after all the pain and suffering, you just don’t make it. I failed only once in that regard. And it was a magnificent failure.

    I’ve confessed many things to my wife. This one, to her, may be the most disturbing.

  26. Fallon, NV. Our residence was on a dairy farm owned by members. They let us have all of the free (raw) milk we wanted.

    The night after that first dinner and about three full glasses of milk, I had it coming out of both ends until there was nothing left to give.

    My stomach hurt like it had never hurt before and the pain lasted for about three days. Another three days of bedrest and I was back on my feet.

    I’ve never had raw milk since.

  27. mapinguari says:

    Rio Branco, Brazil, 1996. I was a ZL and was out working with the DL for a couple of days. The DL and his comp previously decided to work in an area that required a 25-minute bus ride to the center of town and then a 15-minute ride to the work area. The DL began complaining about stomach problems during the early afternoon and continued to register stronger complaints as evening approached. We finally decided to stop teaching for the day and caught the bus to the center of town, which was packed with people. AFter waiting for several minutes for the next bus, the DL suddenly bolted to a brick wall behind us and began puking his guts out. Horrified onlookers were everywhere. I kept a safe distance. After retching for an interminably long time, the DL gingerly made his way back to me and deliberately pointed at his shoe. I looked down and could see the poop-brown liquid trickling out of his pants and into his shoes and onto the sidewalk.

    Moments later, our bus arrived. Not many people got on, so I grabbed the DL and boarded the bus. Mission rules required us to sit separately on the bus, so I had little choice but to sit in the third row while the DL crept further back. At least there weren’t a lot of people on the bus.

    Until the next stop, that is, at which point the bus filled with people. I don’t think the bus could have held another person, it was that full. Some hapless girl sat next to the DL in the aisle seat.

    Pretty soon, people began noticing the rank mixture of vomit and poo and began throwing open the windows. The woman next to me asked whether I had stepped in dog crap. People began leaving the bus to catch another. The poor DL hung his head as low as possible.

    Near the end of the 30-minute ride, the DL called to me in English. He pleaded for me to get up and stand in the aisle behind his seat. It was the least I could do. When we arrived at our stop, the DL stood and squeezed past the girl sitting next to him. I glanced down and saw a puddle of poo water in the seat. We hightailed it off the bus.

    We raced to the DL’s house. The other set of Elders living there had barricaded the door as a prank. It took us 10 minutes to get through. The DL spent the rest of the night on the royal white throne.

    I was not nearly as compassionate then as I am now: In the weeks that followed this incident, I told the story to every missionary and member who would listen. It became legend.

  28. #26 really is gross. I feel kind of sick after reading it. (Poor, poor elder)

  29. I posted this previously under the Mission Soccer stories thread from about a month or so ago but will repost here.

    First P-day in the field (Tampico Mexico). Two zones from the same city go to play indoor soccer at a little arena downtown. After about an hour of doing more exercise than I had done in about six months (the MTC half-court basketball notwithstanding), I am toast and decide to go with another Elder to a store around the corner to grab a drink. I go for the orange juice/Sunny Delight rip-off and proceed to drink about 1/3 of a gallon in about two minutes. Then back on the field. Following about another 30 minutes of up and down the field, I start to have awful stomach cramps. We wrap it up, and as we are leaving the field, I proceed to puke my guts out in front of all the missionaries in two zones. On my very first P-day. I count myself extremely lucky that the event did not seem to make an impression on anyone that day, as nobody ever mentioned it to me, even though I was deeply embarrassed.

  30. Oh my heck…

  31. along these lines… one day we had lunch at the other elders place… pancakes… great – no prob… the plan was to go to the park and go hiking (p day).. still no prob.. on the way up there, the rumblings started… show up at the park anticipating a bathroom… out of luck, they were all locked down for the winter… i told the guys sorry, but we’ve got to go find somewhere.. we were a few minutes from some other elders place, so we rushed over there.. but they weren’t home. we ended up breaking into their place and I found relief in their bathroom. problem was that someone left the TP on the floor and it soaked up the water from the shower, so it was a bit of a challeng if you know what i mean. anyway, i completely destroyed the bathroom. later that night we come to find out that when those elders got home they were mystified and disghusted by the smell of their apt. ah, good times

  32. Wow. Got nothing, but am crying as I laugh.

  33. No stories, but for all you 30-somethings, this will all serve you well in about another 20 years, when you learn about “colonoscopy prep day”.

  34. Latter-day Guy says:

    My mission was definitely 1st world, but that didn’t make it any easier to tell my companion that I just shat blood. (An intestinal ulcer of some kind, named Lucy. She never goes away for more than a month, and no doctor I’ve visited has any idea what causes it. A mission souvenir I doubt I’ll ever get rid of.)

    My favorite story along these lines comes from my brother’s mission in Ukraine. Short version: his comp was experiencing the thunder down under. (Public restrooms in that nation are apparently as common as gold plates and holy grails.) That evening they try to get to the house of a member in the area, so as to use their facilities. The poor kid has to stop every couple of dozen steps or so in order to encourage his sphincter to keep fighting the good fight. Finally, they arrive at the member’s house, ring their apartment bell, and see the lights click on upstairs.

    “It’s too late,” the companion says, furiously attacking his belt and fly.

    “What are you talking about!? We’ll be inside in ten seconds, and you can use their bathroom. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

    “It’s too late.” And it is. Conversation is ended as he takes an explosive––nay, cataclysmic!––dump on the front steps. He rummages around in his bag and finds a Joseph Smith pamphlet (sorry, Joe) to try to clean himself off with.

    By now they can hear footsteps coming down the stairs inside.

    “Run.”

    “What?”

    “RUUUUUNNNN!!!” he yells, hiking up his drawers after a final effort at defiling the pamphlet. They arrive at their apartment later, and burn that poor Elder’s garment bottoms.

    That week at church, they listen sympathetically, and try to comfort a member family that was the victim of a disgusting anti-Mormon prank. Apparently some hoodlums left LDS tracts on their porch, covered in human feces. The elders teach an impromptu Sunday school lesson on adversity, and all are edified.

  35. LDG 34 FTW!!!

  36. My stomach hurts right now, but it’s from trying to keep my laughter quiet.

  37. Rob Briggs says:

    1969. Guatemala City. (Guat.-El Sal Mission) We were all in the capital for a zone conference. We had eaten at Pecos Bill’s, the only eatery in the country that served American-style hamburgers. I didn’t know anything about E coli at the time, but I now think it was probably the culprit. I and several others became VIOLENTLY ill during the conference. I hurled till I couldn’t dry hurl any more. I had the most violent stomach cramps of my life. It really got to the point where I thought sweet death would be better. But by evening, the waves of pain had passed. We missed the whole conference. But having been miraculously healing, we felt fit to go out and see “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid” which had just arrived in Guat. City. (No restrictions on movies back then.)

    Of course, there were many other experiences that were a lot like Aaron’s in the Argentine backcountry. I remember being hit with a wave of gambu on the street and not making it back to the apartment in time. Sticky situation. But the mission record for serious gambu was held by Elder Beck who hit the head 50 times in a 24 hour period — about every 30 minutes. Beck got highest marks for consistency.

    Some months back I had prostate surgery. A return to full continence can be a problem for some, but not for me. I explained to my wife that it’s b/c my innards have been “Guatemala-tested.”

  38. My entire mission (in Japan) got food poisoning at the Christmas conference. At the time, I was in an apartment with 4 other sisters and we were sick sick sick all night. I have never before nor since been as sick. So sick, I called my mom. She told me to drink Coke (strictly against mission rules)–apparently something in it helps the tummy. The next morning we got a visit from the mission president and wife because we were a critical mass. It was only when they told us they were headed all over the mission because everyone had fallen ill that we realized it was anything widespread.

    Ugh. I hate thinking about that night.

  39. Christmas Eve dinner is an Asian land far, far away, circa 1979. The stake president owns a restaurant and invites the entire mission over for dinner. Unfortunately, about half of the missionaries ended up with horrendous chow-blowing diarrhea. What a wonderful Christmas gift!

  40. Aaron. This is how I’ll aways remember you.

    I was in Thailand traveling with people from the Agriculture ministry. We were deep in the back country staying in a little cottage. I was in one room by myself. Three men in another room and four woman in another. The walls are paper thin and I can hear everyone breathing. A bathroom links the rooms. In the middle of the night, the lunch we had at a small rural cafe strikes havoc. Again and again the others listen to me as I run into the bathroom and noisily explode. Five, six times. In the morning no one could look me in the eye. When one of the women politely asked me how I slept and I said, ‘fine.’ All four women covered their mouths and giggled.

  41. I have not laughed this hard in soooo long. #34 definitely wins.

  42. I was dang lucky to be called to a mission in the US because there are a TON of foods that I can’t eat without getting sick, including many staples in third-world areas: beans, onions and seafood especially. What’s also sad is that a lot of the stuff I can’t have, I love.

  43. I spent most of my mission in Corona del Mar, CA. I think I was more valiant in the pre-existence than all of you.

  44. I have a story. It was my first area (Gorbea), second companion (Elder Vega). I think we were treated by eggs for breakfast, quite a rare occasion. It was Sunday. We headed out to pick up our investigators, we had a family of three that were coming to church that day. We had watched the first vision or restoration of the priesthood filmstrip at their house the prior day. I remember it because I had to carry the filmstrip projector in my backpack the prior afternoon until we got to their house. Anyway, we picked them up and I started not feeling well. Got a cold sweat going, and then started to suddenly feel achy. It came out of no where. While walking from their house to the church along a long dusty dirt road, I just knew that whatever was in my stomach was going to come out. I excused myself, and walked off of the road over to a fence and threw up. I immediately felt better, but having some water to wash out my mouth would have helped even more. That cycle repeated itself again before we arrived at the church. I excused myself again from sacrament meeting and threw up in the bathroom. I remember walking out of the bathroom feeling better, but also feeling dizzy. Someone saw me and said “Elder, do you feel okay” because I was pure white. Not just a normal gringo compared to a South American Latino, but I think my skin had nearly become translucent. Sacrament meeting ended and I went home. I woke up about 8PM not remembering anything between church and that night. It was over, whatever it was that I ate (I still believe it was that egg for breakfast) had left and I was a new man. Nothing like barfing in front of your investigators, but they ended up getting baptized and I think she eventually became RS president in that little branch.

  45. For the first six months of my mission there was indescribable matter coming out of both ends. But during those first six months, something was happening inside by plumbing. I was developing an amoebic library, and the walls of my bowels eventually became and invincible alloy that has yet to be breached to this day. So this post reminds me how grateful I was after 1996 to be able to fart again with full confidence and integrity.

  46. #34 stole everyone’s thunder, I’m sorry to say.

    And the only reason I can come up with for why Aaron has greedily withheld this story for so long is that it took him this long to make it up. :-)

    I have a bus and diarrhea story, too, but the inability to decide between sitting or standing in a Halifax public transit bus and the lugging of heavy duffle bags to Dalhousie dorm whilst still afflicted and the horror upon finding our room had only a sink and I had to use a public restroom with stalls doesn’t quite compare to the humour I now find in the cause of my affliction. For, you see, it was brought on by eating spoonfuls of flax seeds, on a Greyhound bus, for lunch, with carrot and celery sticks in maple butter, recently purchased at a little shop in Sackville, New Brunswick, after waiting behind Dana Plato from Diff’rent Strokes. I was a vegan back then. My family had probably never heard of flax much less stocked it. That it should really be consumed ground and not whole, as well, was waaaaay sophisticated flax knowledge. All I knew was that they were seeds. Like sunflower, or pumpkin, right? Chomp, chomp away, stupid 15-year-old vegan, half a cup of flax seeds by the spoonful.

  47. Natasha, I suppose it adds to the shame of the story to know that the problem could have easily been avoided!

  48. #34–thanks for that. I woke up my 2-year old and my husband I was laughing so hard.

  49. John F., yes, that was implied. :-)

  50. I, like many of you, also served in a South American country. In my first area and month of my mission in country I got sick at a members house for lunch. Lunch was the main meal of the day and that is when all of meal appointments were made. I managed to eat some of the food given me and not wanting to offend, I ate as much as I could before I couldn’t stand it any longer. I excused myself and made for the bathroom. Where I served most bathrooms do not have doors and you’re often lucky if you even get a curtain to offer some degree of privacy. Well after taking care of business I was horrified to find out the toilet would not flush properly and it became clogged with its contents. I staggered out of the bathroom, apologized for what I had done and went outside where I laid down in a hammock until the rest of the lunch was over. Alas this would not be my only experience with intestinal issues. For the rest of my mission, at least once a month (sometimes more) I had intestinal problems. (To this day I have issues off and on and I can’t help but wonder if it is somehow directly related to my mission experience.) Sometimes it was diarrhea, sometimes it was vomit, and sometimes it was even both at the same time, but I continued to fulfill my responsibilities the best I could. In my second area I became so ill that I almost died, literally. I would share this experience, however seeing that this is not a thread about NDE’s (near death experiences), and due to the fact it is somewhat of a personal experience and not wishing to cast my pearl before swine ;) (Joke), I will forgo the details. Basically, “I needed to live.”
    I believe what I contracted was a bout of cholera. Soon after I was transferred from this area and there was an outbreak of cholera which resulted in death for many. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to think that I could have been the first.
    So why do these things happen, especially to missionaries? This was a question I continually asked myself during my mission. There were times when I was so sick I had dry heaves and I thought my body would tear itself in half through the many fits of violent coughs and gags. I spent time in the hospital and the mission home on different occasions for illness. I don’t know why I wasn’t sent home or stateside, maybe I should have been. However, I didn’t want to be sent home and wimp out so most of the time I kept my illnesses to myself and often worked not feeling well because I didn’t want to let anybody down. I don’t think there is any reason why these things happen that fits everybody. Could it be because of transgression, as a form of punishment? Perhaps; although, I don’t believe this to be the case most of the time. People get sick because people get sick. Often times I found myself asking, why are these things happening to me? Am I not about the Lord’s business? Why am I not being protected from this? While I don’t have some really insightful answers to these questions (maybe some of you do) I did come away with the thought maybe this is just the way it is. At least I didn’t get stoned to death or sent to prison or crucified for preaching the gospel as were others we know. I wonder if the sons of Mosiah had any intestinal issues when they went to the Lamanites for those many years. Ahh, the things Mormon could have included on those plates had there been room.
    As a side note, for those of us who were sent to foreign lands to preach the Gospel and endured such hardships shouldn’t we get purple hearts or something?

  51. Oh, something I forgot to mention. When I had cholera I lost about 10 kilos in three days. So those of you wanting to lose weight cholera may be just what you need :)

  52. hawkgrrrl says:

    Serving in the Canary Islands, I have nothing to compare to this in terms of personal illness. But there was one apartment in the mission (elders lived there) in which the bathroom had flooded and the landlord refused to fix it. Necessity being the mother of invention, the elders created some fancy workarounds. In addition to bottling their own waste and storing it in the 2nd bedroom (I believe there was some sort of nasty contest involved), they also created foot gondolas out of empty water jugs to row through the sewage on the bathroom floor and get to the shower at the other side. I’m sure their mothers would have been proud.

  53. #34, I bow before you. (Partly because I can’t stand up straight ‘cuz I’m laughing so hard.) And I consider myself edified.

  54. Guys, I don’t often comment on posts but I’ve just got to break cover for this one. This is the funniest thread I’ve ever come across on the bloggernacle. A short while ago I had surgery on my stomach to fix an epigastric and umbilical hernia. I’ve laughed so much I’m certain I’ve just burst the hernia repair.
    I vote #34 the funniest response of all time…

  55. WackoJacko says:

    sometimes it’s necessary to utilize what’s commonly known as the “Vietnamese squat” when using hygienically substandard restrooms. I walked half a mile through the desert to a port a john once, only to find that I had to do the “Vietnamese squat” not so much because of the hygienically substandard conditions of the port a john but because of how FULL it was… The contents of the port a john were actually ABOVE the seat…

  56. I just threw up a little bit.

  57. Best. Diet. Thread. Ever.

  58. It's Not Me says:

    I served in Japan. Had been there just a few weeks when I caught some nasty diarrhea. In a train station. Went into the bathroom and took my pants off (not easy to do when trying not to let your pants touch the dirty floor). Several years later I learned the proper way to use a Japanese toilet whilst leaving your pants on. Would have been nice if they’d told us that in the MTC.

    Later in my mission we went to a restaurant with an investigator who order #20 curry for me. They served it with ice cream. After several bites our friend begged me to not eat it, saying he’d ordered it as a joke. Being a 19-year old idiot, I refused to stop. I finished the meal and left the restaurant with a buzz. The next day was worse, because what goes in must come out. I screamed, and screamed some more. I still like curry, but I only eat the kind that’s hot going down.

  59. It's Not Me says:

    Another time early in my mission all of our district missionaries were at the local church for a meeting. We were about to leave when my stomach began to ache and feel quite bloated. I quickly went into the restroom and released the longest flatulent I have ever experienced or heard. I had to cut it off because my body began to vibrate in places it shouldn’t and it became painful. I think everybody in the church heard it and I was quite embarrassed.

  60. #34 does it for me too. My wife and I just finished reading that one and had to stop several times to wipe our crying eyes we were laughing so hard…..and, Latter-Day Guy, you are one heck of a writer- very descriptive.

  61. Latter-day Guy says:

    For the many kind comments, my thanks. I remember vividly hearing my brother tell that story the first time, all of us unable to breathe because the laughing was so uncontrollable––so I was glad to be able to share it!

    59: Wow. That is impressive. I have only been blessed/cursed with a few experiences where I was present for such an event. You know it’s spectacular when you feel compelled make horrified, incredulous eye-contact with a total stranger while you’re both standing at the sink, wondering if you ought to call an ambulance for the poor guy in stall #3.

  62. I was in Mexico. My green companion and I left in the morning and got about 2 blocks from the apartment before my sphincter lied to me, saying that I just needed to fart. I foolishly believed it, and was rewarded with a brown-out.

    My companion had quite a chip on his shoulder for those of us from the states, and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him I’d just crapped myself.

    I said, “Elder, do we have any First Vision pamphlets with us?” He had the pamphlets in his bag, but I knew full well we didn’t have one. (I didn’t know they could be used for hygiene purposes. Thanks 34!)

    My comp said we didn’t. I told him I had “a feeling” we should have one with us that day. I said I didn’t know if it was inspiration, but it never hurt to follow those hunches. We went back to the apartment. I asked him to find the pamphlet. I went and discretely changed my drawers.

    We did not end up needing the pamphlet that day.

  63. mark steed says:

    After reading this thread my brother emailed me and asked that I contribute my story so that it may be included in the annals of intestinal legend.

    Nicaragua. 1998. Splits. I was working with a brand new missionary who had only been out a couple of weeks. Naturally, he didn’t speak spanish. After lunch he indicated that he needed to get to a bathroom . . . quick. He was panicking. As a missionary in Nicaragua you are taught to never panic. That’s the first rule. You can’t control your sphincter in a panic. I was trying to calm him down but we were 20+ minutes from home according to him.

    I told him that I would get us in to the next house and he could use their “bathroom” (which was usually four sticks with some garbage bags wrapped around it and a hole in the ground). At the next house I was successful in getting inside. After the usual BRT I asked the husband if my companion could use the bathroom, and, because it was such and awkward question, I immediately turned my attention to the rest of the family to resume the conversation. I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that my young companion did not understand where the guy was telling him to go. When you live in a rainforest the “bathroom” could be 50+ yards away, hidden in thick foliage (which I always found to be quite relaxing). It’s never in the home.

    My companion darted off as I started the discussion. Five to seven minutes later he returns and fifteen seconds after that, a pungent odor wafts across the room like a soft afternoon breeze. Now, because bowel warfare was such a common occurrence I dare say we role-played how to react as much as we role-played how to commit someone to baptism. I was prepared. Nothing I hadn’t seen before. The smell was getting worse and some of the family was taking notice. I felt the spirit telling me “Abort, Abort”. I quickly blamed the smell on the dog, who was then punted out the front door, and ended the discussion. As we stood up and turned to walk out I noticed the back of my companion’s pants, covered in poo.

    Unfortunately, my companion never found the bathroom but ran into the adjoining room, and, in desperation, dropped his pants and took a dump on their bedroom floor.

    Back in ’98 you weren’t a missionary until you soiled yourself at least one time. BU (Butt Urine) is so common in Nicaragua you forget that you have it, unless it’s your first time. I gave this missionary the proverbial upside down smile, put my arm around his shoulder, and said, “Come on, lets go work on your technique so that you don’t hit your pants next time.”

  64. It’s funny how this topic has brought up such entertaining memories for me–Guatemala, early 80’s. “I think I have BU” was all it took. I got on a bus in Guate to Jutiapa and as it pulled out it hit me. All I could do was dig my fingernails into the bar over the seat in front of me and wait out the four hour ride. I was practically pushing old ladies out of the way as I ran off the bus as it pulled into the terminal. I ran down the street until deep down inside of me, my primieval physiological sensors told me that I was not going to make it. I turned left and ran into the first open door I saw–it was a typing school and thirty typing students looked up from their clack clack as this crazed gringo burst in running, yelling “Donde esta el bano” and kept running into the next room as the teacher directed. The bathroom was really just a corner of the room. Anyways, I felt better but was stuck with the next dilemma. After about 10 minutes a hand came around the corner with papel and I could move on. I sheepishly walked back in front of thirty clackity clacking students out the door. My companion was waiting for me at the apartment–we didn’t go out that evening because I was exhausted.

  65. Max Lybbert says:

    I remember getting pretty sick on my 21st birthday (plus a handful of other times). I am still grateful to the family who suggested that I get a few green coconuts to replenish fluids (it turns out that you aren’t supposed to go overboard on the coconuts, though; luckily I didn’t).

    But I didn’t have anything compared to one of my zone leaders. He had an amoeba, twice. And the first symptom both times was blood in his stool, which led to a visit to the proctologist. I’d had a companion get his appendix taken out in one of the better hospitals around, so I knew what kind of health care to expect. So the day I heard about visiting the proctologist I swore that if I ever found blood in my stool I wouldn’t mention it to anybody until I returned home. I figured the diagnosis was worse than the disease.

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