Feed My Missionaries

In priesthood opening exercises on Sunday, our attention was directed to the fact that one of the approximately 19 pairs of full-time missionaries in our ward didn’t have any dinner appointments this week, and that this situation needed to be remedied.

A calendar was presented. Hands were raised. Appointments were made.

But this procession prompted my friend James to shoot me a text message, and the following conversation ensued:

Feed My Missionaries

It was my final text message that prompted an additional 10 minutes of deep, soulful meditation on how different our discourse would be if it was about pizza.

Street contacting would be way more fun–and effective.

Street contacting would be way more fun--and effective.

Our new celebrities would be AMAZING.

 New Celebrities

General Conference would be revolutionized.


Especially the stories in General Priesthood meeting.


In conclusion, this is the answer.


  1. Where do you live that there are 19 companionships serving in your Ward? NYC?

  2. But wouldn’t this create rifts in the Church? Chicago-style vs. New York style vs. Italian? Square- or wedge-shaped slices? Edible vs. Pizza Hut? I’m seeing a ton of offshoots. (Myself, I’d join the Church of the Pizza of Elitist Urban Taste.)

  3. Once again in our mission feeding the missionaries is now off the table. It has gone back and forth over the last decade several times, first it is our duty to feed them, then it is our duty to not distract them with food, now it is our duty to feed them…

    The only surprising thing this time is that it did not happen with the arrival of a new MP.

  4. You came out of retirement with this?

  5. “You came out of retirement with this?”

    Well, if there is a concern there, let me posit that “there were no jalapeños” was worth it.

  6. Sorry to be a snob, but Papa Johns is the outer darkness of pizza. In the Catholic Bible, there are additional verses explaining that Jesus began his 40-day fast when Joseph came home with a Double Cheeseburger XL with extra olives and a 2 liter of Pepsi Max.

  7. :)

  8. I’m with Dave K. It should be renamed Papa John’s pizza-ish-sorta-maybe substance. That is not the one true and living pizza.

  9. Well, too few people know about Campisi’s pizza to make that celestial substance the focus of this. Would be too exclusive.

  10. A Non-E Mous says:

    False doctrine on the President Monson image. They’re not jalapenos. They’re peperoncini.

  11. New capitalist venture: open a pizza chain and use that to feed the missionaries.

  12. “Well, too few people know about Campisi’s pizza to make that celestial substance the focus of this.”

    Because there’s nothing quite like having your pizza made by full-blooded Egyptians who may or may not be part of an organized crime syndicate, and whose grandfathers may or may not have something to do with the JFK assassination.

    In all seriousness, I liked Campisi’s when I lived in Dallas, but I never understood the incredible fervor some people showed towards that place.

  13. I live in Dallas. Campisi’s is awful. Eno’s is much better

  14. FYI My brother was fed a handful of times at the most on his mission in Ireland. When the missionary dinner calendar comes around, he makes a point to pass it on down the row. And he made sure his wife didn’t sign up either – if he had to make sure he was fed on his mission, so should they!

    p.s. my oldest brother had a mamacita in Chile who did their laundry and cooked most of their meals. YMMV.

    p.p.s. mmm, pizza!

  15. My understanding is that they have cut the living allowance of missionaries (as a financial measure to help make money go farther in covering the expanded missionary line up) with the idea that by getting members to feed missionaries every meal they won’t need to buy as many groceries. Can others confirm?

    Also, the other problem they are trying to solve here is missionaries that 1) don’t have as much to do and 2) are having less uplifting mission experiences. Getting them into member’s homes for meals both takes up time and puts them in a supportive environment.

    That said, maybe the church ought to propose that where possible members build their own pizza ovens. Self-reliance and all that. And much better pizza. I recommend Peter Rheinhardt’s Neopolitan pizza dough recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

  16. it's a series of tubes says:

    In my ward in the US southwest, not only are the missionaries fed daily, but the ward mission leader announces in priesthood opening exercises when their apartment is running low on paper towels and toilet paper (donations are solicited). I’m all for making sure they are well fed, but supplying their toilet paper? C’mon.

  17. The dependence of the Missionaries seems to wax and wane from mission to mission and from President to President. We were invited to eat with members very seldom in New Zealand in the late 60’s. Our Mission President (who was absolutely an outstanding leader) was a business man and subtly passed on some great skills to us. I really wonder if we should be helping the Missionaries to become more independent during their time of service, as I felt my time did.

  18. When we were running low on toilet paper we used to use the church news. Felt awkward at time in more ways then one!!

  19. Every Member a Mission President.

    One week we are guilted into feeding them. The next week we are guilted into feeding them only if we have a “qualified” dinner guest. And the next week we are not supposed to distract them with a brief dinner.

    Our last experience with the missionaries over for dinner was less than uplifting as they buried their faces in their mission provided ipad’s seemingly the whole time (which they get to keep after their service BTW since the church buys them by the tens of thousands). Its bad enough that carrying on a polite after dinner conversation is a lost art, now we get to subsidize the missionaries with these electronic crutches as well. I guess they are busy with their virtual work at the expense of those in their very company that need some real-life ministering /end_rant

  20. reaneypark says:

    We stopped having the missionaries over for dinner after the ( then new) mission president came out with Draconian rules about when missionaries could eat dinner and with who (before 5:30 pm and never on weekends unless with an in investigator). I’ve since heard that the president has relaxed his ill-advised rules (we don’t get home from work before 6) but we haven’t really cared to find out.

  21. Meldrum the Less says:

    We should invent our own kind of pizza, superior to every version ever cooked up by a gentile.
    Don’t these missionaries have the Spirit any more?

    Begin with 30 year old food-storage wheat ground by hand, tomatoes grown in pots in windows by members living in small apartments in large cities, jello with shredded carrots as a topping, milk before meat, spiced with Utah sage brush, bits of old boots, (wasn’t it the pioneer Dan Jones who was forced to eat his boots to stay alive and found them quite flavorful under the circumstances?) etc. I don’t know , help me out here with the rest.

  22. Meldrum the Less says:

    Many years ago we lived in Mississippi where the members were few and far between. But our next door neighbor happened to be a fellow member and a bit on the nosy side. We invited the mishies over for dinner and I proceeded to tell them this was going to be one of those inspirational experiences they would never forget. We were to kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to miraculously provide us with our dinner. The missionaries looked hungry and disappointed but did kneel and began to pray.

    At this point our neighbor could see what was happening since we didn’t have the curtains closed and she carried over a nice warm Dutch oven dinner I had cooked before their arrival and left it on our front porch. She rang the doorbell and then scooted back across to her place. Since I was saying the prayer at this point (and peaking a little bit) I gave her plenty of time to escape.

    These two were smarter than average and suspected a trick, especially when the neighbors invited them over a few days later and they could see how easy it would have been to pull this off. The mishies are young, have some fun with them.

  23. I know this is a tongue and cheek post, but in our area, the missionaries are fed every night by members. They live rent free in a members house, even though they use the water and electricity. They pay nothing. They live with a new convert family on a tight budget. My question is where is all the Mission Money these boys saved up going to?

  24. @Carrie
    The mission office pays for the rent and utilities and such and arranges those arrangements with the landlord, so you can be sure that the new convert family is getting paid, just not by those actual missionaries. If that family isn’t charging the mission office for rent in hopes of blessings or out of the goodness of their hearts, they should repent and change their ways :)

    All of the payments from the missionaries go into the mission fund, so that is what covers all the rent, transportation, and on and on.. Each month the missionaries get ‘paid’ a little bit of money to support their food, hygiene, and misc – its not much, but if wisely budgeted it can be done with some effort and sacrifice – this amount varies by mission but it isn’t very much – probably around $150 or so monthly state-side – just a guess.

    And ‘all the Mission Money these boys saved up’ is very cheap living when spread out over 24 months – incredibly cheap living actually – where else can you get your room and board and run around money on a $400 (or whatever it is) per month? Probably not many places at all.

  25. @Carrie. A long while ago the mission funding went from a “support your missionary where he was called” to a one price for everyone mission. So people who are in expensive missions (Paris) aren’t paying more than those in the inexpensive missions (Argentina). There is a lot of cost sharing that goes on. The missions are run in tight budgets and they all try to save where they can. Many missionaries from less affluent backgrounds are subsidized.

    I agree this family should be charging rent. Certainly, no one should have pressured them to give the room for free and the MP should have refused when offered (IMHO).

  26. In our ward we have the opposite problem. The missionaries aren’t allowed to have dinner appointments after 5p and sign up sheets during church are also “not allowed”. So as a result we have 10 missionaries that never get fed. I think they get 1 DA every month or so. Supposedly the rule came from SLC to the mission presidents in order to discourage standing weekly appointments. Seems inane to me.

  27. I served mostly overseas in a poorer foreign country, but I had a brief stint in a well-to-do area stateside as well. We actually got a larger allowance in the poorer foreign country (because the members weren’t expected to feed the missionaries), and the money went much further there because the cost of living was so low. I never spent my full monthly allowance.

    But in the stateside mission, the presumption was that the members would feed us and help offset the cost of living. However, that rarely happened. And without that, the monthly allowance was simply not enough to pay for food and toiletries, so we often fasted a number of meals during the week. One Sunday, one of the sister missionaries fainted at church because they’d run out of food and hadn’t had anything to eat for over 24 hours. It was kind of a shame it had to come to that, but happily, the members signed up to feed the sister missionaries on a regular basis after that and brought them over some groceries as well. Sadly, they didn’t think to do this for the elders. The sisters shared the groceries, but it was still tough.

    So comparing different missions isn’t really a valid way of deciding whether the missionaries should have to feed themselves because missions, allowances, and expenses vary so much. That said, I think the rules for when the missionaries can be fed and by whom need to be discarded. If the church wants the members to subsidize the missionaries’ food budgets, then it needs to do it in a way that works for the members. Besides, the best time to feed missionaries is during the regular dinner hour, when most people would be irrirated to have them tracting at their door anyway.

  28. Everyone knows when Jesus said “Pizza I leave with you, my pizza I give unto you,” he was talking about pepperoni Hot Pockets. Why do you think the Romans and Pharisees banded together against him? Too radical.

  29. The missionaries in our ward are fed every day. After a few picky missionaries we had decided that next time we would just meet buy them dinner at chick-fil-a or something, as the stress of getting extra food made and the house presentable for a 5:00 dinner wasn’t worth it if they weren’t going to eat. However when we attempted to do this the ward mission leader said thanks but no thanks and they fed the missionaries instead. So no we don’t sign up to feed the missionaries and I just try and go drive them around and do visits with them more often.

  30. Our church sends missionaries out without enough money for food?? Huh?
    They just built the City Creek Center in SLC. But there isn’t enough money for food?

  31. The point of meal apt for missionaries isn’t about food. Its about meeting members and being in their homes. Its about gaining their trust, so that they will trust you with referrals. If missionaries are in it for the food then they are doing something wrong.

  32. I loved it when we had dinner or lunch appointments on my mission — generally twice a week or so — and I have fond memories of the generous members. I especially loved spending time with children in a home setting. For that reason, I feel some guilt that I don’t have the sisters over more frequently. I only sign up three or four times a year — our weeknights just feel too harried already, and I want to relax on weekends. But it’s been a positive experience every time I’ve done it, and it’s good for my older kids to be around them and get familiar with the missionary role. I have also heard that their living allowance is reduced in expectation that they will be fed by members every night — and they generally are, in our ward.

  33. M says: In our ward we have the opposite problem. The missionaries aren’t allowed to have dinner appointments after 5p and sign up sheets during church are also “not allowed”. So as a result we have 10 missionaries that never get fed.

    We have the same issue – they have to be done with us by 6:00 unless we have a non-member or less-active member over. I get home from work at 5:45. On days when the schedule works but I’m maybe running a little late, they’ve had to wait in the driveway until I get home since my 15-year-old son doesn’t provide adequate priesthood protection from the evil wiles of my wife and my Beehive daughter. Our sister missionaries have better luck, since they can eat with the unaccompanied wife before I get home.

    Not a very subtle way to manipulate member missionary work.

  34. the mission experience is a microcosm of mormonism. that local leaders, mission presidents, zone leaders, assistants to the president, missionaries, and the general membership seek to ‘add to’ the guidance and strive that a ‘higher law’ be adhered to within their respective area of influence should not surprise anyone.

    it is plausible to consider this playing out with such a scenario: a mission visiting area authority mentioning that in a neighboring mission one set of missionaries tried to complete their dinner appointments by 6pm – when retelling the story, the mission president determines that in his mission, all of his missionaries will set that as a goal… the zone leaders and assistants in their training meeting decide that if it is a worthy goal, it would make an even better requirement. As this higher law trickles back to the local leadership, alternatives are discussed about ‘what if a non-member is at the dinner appointment’ and additional guidelines are decreed. rinse and repeat.

    to the earlier commentators – it is both about food and fellowship, not just fellowship, and no, the church doesn’t send anyone out hungry, but adjust a few points in my above example to see how simple it is for eager missionaries to engage in weekly if not more frequent fasts and on and on.

  35. Jeffc, the mission experience is most definitely not a microcosm of Mormonism. It is its own thing, an evangelical moment within Mormonism but day to day lived Mormonism is quite different in every respect.

  36. Steve Evans – agree

    I should have been more precise that the experiences obtained and observed through the mission experience have application in other areas areas of mormonism, not all of it of course – most notably IMO is of the leadership and strive for perfection as evidenced via the leadership hierarchy. But yes, certainly the proselytizing and much of the mission time is an exclusive experience.