On This Date in Mission History

Well, almost. This happened on May 16, 1979. I had been transferred from Northglenn, Colorado, down to Colorado Springs. I was supposed to take the bus. But we had a car, and it was not that long of a drive, so my companion and I decided to just drive me down there. So we’re going south on I-25, and I glance over to the right, and in the lane next to us is our mission president, tooling along in his car! Holy crap! Here is my epic journal entry recounting this experience:

Well, here I sit at the bus station in [Colorado] Springs. What a day! After we finally got out of Northglenn, we drove right by Pres. on I25!!! Whew–I don’t think he saw us.

Then, just north of Springs, I got a ticket–I was doing 74! There goes $25–and my Illinois safety citation.

We went to Sister [Name Omitted]’s, and she brought me to the depo. I hope they’ll believe I came by bus–if not, I’m shot!

I did this kind of stuff all the time. I had a woman take me to the bus station so people would think I had taken the bus. And my companion would have driven back to Northglenn by himself. It just never occurred to me not to do this kind of stuff.

And I can’t believe a speeding ticket was only $25. Man, that makes me feel old!


  1. Scott B says:

    Man, that makes me feel old!

    May 16, 1979 was roughly six months before I was born. Did that help?

  2. Curtis K says:

    I was almost 2 y/o and my wife was one month old. Feel any better?

  3. Peter LLC says:

    I, on the other hand, was already a published poet with a graying beard and a ramshackle spread in the Adirondacks.

    I actually ran into my mission president in Prague once, though both he and I had already been released at that point.

  4. Kevin,
    Looks like you and I were serving at the same time with me a few states over in California. Look at it this way: You were solving a challenge (transfer) in the most expeditious and cost efficient manner. The ticket was not likely a sign from Heaven but anxiety transferred to your right foot at the sight of your MP.

    Did he drive the same car as mine; a Chevy Caprice Classic? Our MP had an orange Mercedes he kept in the garage because as he said, “Mission Presidents don’t drive a Mercedes”.

  5. My MP drove a Caprice Classic too. The Church must have gotten a good deal on all those lame-ass cars, because when I entered the mission field, every single car in the mission was a chevy. And they were the worst cars I ever drove.

    When I was made ZL, all of the ZLs got to drive our old clunkers to the Fresno mission and we got brand new Toyota Corollas. It was like Christmas.

    I think that decision was based on a revelation from the prophet. For me, it ranks right up there with the end of the priesthood ban. The revelation has never been canonized but I believe it said something like, “The gospel may now be preached in any worthy motor vehicle, it need not be restricted only to domestic automobiles.”

    My companion was loath to accept the new Japanese car at first, but he had a dream in which a voice told him, “What God hath purchased, that call not thou foreign.”

    When he woke up, he said to me, “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a missionary that is a redneck to keep company, or come unto a car of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any car common or unclean.”

    We didn’t have any problems after that, but the MP never did get to drive anything but that Caprice Classic.

  6. John Mansfield says:

    I enjoyed the bus and plane rides between mission areas as the only occassions to spend hours alone. That enjoyment increased as the mission progressed.

  7. My companion was driving and we had just stopped at a red light. I looked up and saw my parents were in the car in front of us. Since I only had 9 weeks left I just let them go. If had just been my Dad I would have scored a free meal and what not, but I knew my Mom didn’t want to see me until she could see me. I was only in the next mission over from home and my last area was about 45 minutes from my house.
    My mission president owns about 2 dozen car lots in Utah so he had very nice cars through his various contacts. I remember dring the SAAB once to run an errand for him – very fun. As missionaries we drove mainly little Metro hatchbacks, but we did get a few VW’s at the end. After a month or so the mission returned them as they proved to be too powerful for the missionaries to handle responsibly. I believe the one year we had the worst collective driving record in the church.
    I once had a comp show up before the old one left – worst transfer day ever.

  8. re # 6, it was the same for me but for us it was train rides, not plane rides.

  9. re # 4, I thought it was because it was orange.

  10. Kristine says:


    My dad tells awesome stories about President Benson yelling at him to go faster in the European Mission’s Mercedes. I guess maybe mission presidents don’t drive them, but it’s ok for them to have the APs drive them around in ’em :)

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    1 and 2, auuggh, you guys are killing me!

    #5 MCQ, In our mission most of the cars were orange Chevy Vegas. I think there were a few blue Novas. My MP was and is very wealthy; it looked like he was driving a Lincoln town car or something like that. I actually drive a Toyota Corolla myself now.

    In my whole mission, I think I only had two areas that were bike areas. I almost always had a car. But that was typical for Colorado.

    I guess I came by my shenanigans honestly. When I was first out, my trainer wanted to go for a long drive up in the mountains. I thought that would be great so I readily agreed. Only later did it dawn on me that he wanted to put some miles on the odometer so it would appear he had been using the car regularly for, you know, stuff like actual proselyting. Most missionaries had issues with putting too many miles on the odometer; he had an issue the other way.

  12. John Mansfield says:

    How did having Sister [Name Omitted] drop you off at the bus depot instead of your old companion make it seem you had arrived by bus?

  13. My first transfer was to Potosi, Bolivia, in Feb 1979. After our first decent bus from Santa Cruz up to the town of Sucre (8500 feet above sea level), we were placed on an ancient small school bus. I was on a middle fold-down seat in the back. As we traveled, the elder in front of me smiled and said, “Hey, Elder Smith, the kid next to me just threw up!”

    About midnight, we came upon a bridge that was half gone. We carried our bags across the remaining part of the bridge to another bus awaiting us. From there, the road got steep, narrow, and winding through the Andes. It was a matter of prayer that no vehicle was coming the other way, or someone would have ended up off the road and plunging several hundred to thousands of feet below.

    Finally we arrived at Potosi, about 13,000 feet above sea level. What fun!

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    John Mansfield, I got there ahead of time and waited by myself. (This plan relied on my new companion not being prompt to pick me up, which was in fact the case.)

  15. John Mansfield says:

    But, how did the choice of which person dropped you off play into it?

  16. We had all Toyotas on my mission. MP had a nice 6 cylinder 5 speed Camry with leather seats. We NEVER had any issues with reliablity with these cars ever. The americans had much better driving records then the natives. We think it was because the Americans had much more exp behind the wheel. We also were letting the natives get permits and learn how to drive and get licenses on mission. Not a great idea. One notable exception was this American who had a unknown camera trap in his area and he got like 10 speeding tickets. He had to pay ofr all the tickets himself and ended up begging for food from the rest of the elders for a couple of months. I had to find out what was up with all these tickets and he told me that he was not sure what all the flashing lights were when he drove by.

  17. Mark B. says:

    If it makes you feel better, Kevin, that spring my wife and I were expecting our second child (she’ll be 30 in two months), I was finishing my second year of law school and preparing to move to New York for the summer.

    But, I remember two years of perfect driving on my mission (in other words, no driving at all)–it did wonders at erasing all the points I had piled up against my license before I left.

    And I’m with john f.–transfers by train were the only solitary moments I enjoyed during those two years, and they were terrific. (And a nice rest after hauling boxes down to the eki to ship to the new branch, and then hauling suitcases when I was ready to go–all by bicycle, of course.)

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    John Mansfield, I don’t recall the exact logistics. I suppose my comp had to get back right away to meet his new comp, and the woman was an old friend from when I had been stationed elsewhere in Colorado Springs before.

  19. Steve L says:

    In my mission an elder made his escape from the mission field by placing a dummy in bed and driving the church’s corolla home from the Bay area to Provo overnight. After a church employee drove it back his companion wrote “[Elder P.] drove to Utah” in the car’s mileage book.

  20. @ 19.
    So do you just leave the keys with the Stake President when you do that sort of thing?

%d bloggers like this: