Bizarre development in missionary assignments

My wife’s high school friend has a son who just got his mission call. Phoenix, Arizona, French speaking. We asked if his call was for somewhere else, and he’s serving in Phoenix until he can go, and she said, no, it is for the Phoenix mission, French speaking. We told her that . . . there really aren’t any native French speakers in Arizona, and she said that there is a large ex-pat population of people from Lyons and Nice (not sure where she’s getting this from).

We looked online, and there are 21,000 German and 16,000 French ex-pats in all of Arizona. That sounds about right, When we go to the German Christmas service at a Lutheran church, there is a large crowd, but . . . they all speak English as well. All the time. I think of our chapter president for German teachers (I’m one of only very few non-native speakers who teach German in Arizona). She’s from the Black Forest, married an American, and her small children all speak German in the home but are also fluent in English from school and life. They are included in that 21,000. What we don’t get is . . . how would a French or German or whatever missionary in Phoenix ever teach anyone in that language? How would you find them? It’s not like they all live in a Chinatown or something like that. And, if they were interested, the lessons would be in English. It’s just weird. Name tag in French in the Phoenix mission. . .

We have an elder in our ward from Orem who was called to Alberta, Canada, Tagalog speaking. Same thing — there are really no Tagalog speakers in Alberta. When he couldn’t go to Canada, they sent him here (Tempe Mission) to wait until September at the earliest, if then. He’s studying Tagalog, but has no real opportunities to practice (while Arizona is opened up from the shutdown, we still have no church in sight, and missionaries still are sequestered in their houses/apartments).

In both cases, I doubt either will get to teach people or really learn French or Tagalog. We wonder if the idea is to have missionaries trying to learn different languages for when they do get to go to those foreign areas, whenever that is. They could go immediately, instead of having to go through the call/MTC process.

We’re going to start looking for other examples. New Mexico, Russian speaking. Wyoming, Latvian speaking. :slight_smile:

My great grand parents on my mother’s side came from the Black Forrest. They moved into the Black Hills of South Dakota because it reminded them of the Black Forrest. Last names were Blumenthal. We are from Deadwood:-)

Very interesting. French speaking in Phoenix is a surprise. It does seem really common for US missionaries in big cities to learn another language. Boston - Portuguese, NYC - Mandarin, Atlanta - Creole, etc.

In the case you mention, I think the Church sees value to a missionary learning some of another language even if they will rarely use it in the US.

Correct, but in all of those cases, there are very clear and understandable target populations (Vietnamese and Hmong in Seattle and Minneapolis, Chinatowns in all big cities, etc.). French in Phoenix or even all of Arizona is weird. He’s not going to use it his whole mission. He may not even meet anyone who speaks French, unless they’re kids in the ward taking it in high school. I don’t think the Church gave the family reason in the call letter materials to think that there are large pockets of French speakers in Arizona; I’m not sure where that idea came from.

Your idea is kind of neat. Why not have all of the stateside kids learn a language as well, with remote sessions with MTC teachers? In the cases I mentioned (called Tagalog missionary to Alberta, too), I really think that the intent is to have dedicated missionaries “warming up in the bullpen” who can be sent if the world stops being crazy about Corona. But, since we have no idea of if or when that will be, they are officially called stateside, but with some non-traditional “other” languages.

You really never know… My friend in high school wanted to go to a German mission because he had taken German 4 yrs. in High school, our teacher was a former RM from there… and he had his heart set on going…

He took the church language course and scored the highest anyone in his stake had ever done (according to his Stake President), so he was so sure he was going…

Letter came and it said "You are called to serve in the Florida -St. Petersburg Mission…

My friend was crushed… but be obedient, he went. About six months later I got a letter from him saying that his new area in Florida was predominantly German and the people used mostly German. He told me that he now knows that is where he was suppose to be.

Much like me, I have issues with Heat, sunburn just thinking about it. But the Lord called me to Nevada to serve. Had a heat stroke while on my mission, but that mission was where I was suppose to be, I know that.

So I guess you never really know, do we…

The bottom line for me is simple: Either you believe mission calls are divinely called or you don’t. I trust that the prophet sends young men to where they are needed, especially now. His plans are not our plans and he sees the bigger picture, we don’t.

[quote=“Floyd_Edwards, post:5, topic:8705”]
My friend was crushed… but be obedient, he went. About six months later I got a letter from him saying that his new area in Florida was predominantly German and the people used mostly German. He told me that he now knows that is where he was suppose to be.[/quote]

  1. He wasn’t called there as a German speaking missionary. When he was transferred to other areas, they were “normal.” There are lots of stories like this where there are divine coincidences (for lack of a better word), but they weren’t called as a language missionary, with a language badge.

  2. How long ago was this? There aren’t pockets of German or French like this in the U.S. any more — not even in Pennsylvania or the upper Midwest. And we definitely don’t have anything like this in Arizona. Now, Spanish — we have lots of Spanish, and lots of Spanish speaking missionaries.

I do, too. It’s just really weird to see some special language calls (with badges, which indicate that you are intended to work in that language as much as possible) in areas without that language. :slight_smile: I’m not saying that that’s not where they’re supposed to be. It just seems like this is a new wrinkle in digging out from this mission wreckage from the reactions of world governments (and the Church).

On a separate note, some areas that rely heavily on missionaries to run the units are going to be devastated. It’s looking like these areas are not only going to be without church for a very long time, they won’t have had missionaries to work with them. And, when they start rebuilding the missions, it’s not like you can send out 30,000 missionaries on one Tuesday. It’s going to take years to build up these missions.

We had several missionaries in mission called to a language mission only to be reassigned to our mission. Mostly Spanish missions. Some were for health reasons (I had a friend in Chile that the flowers or whatever nearly killed him). others for language issues.

1976-1978… I am pretty old… Talking to my friends who kids were assigned to certain Balkan states, and then being reassigned to state sides were called where there were pockets of people… They stayed in those areas the whole time.

I think “Weird” is the new normal right now. One sister in my inner city mission just got called to St. Louis, she was suppose to go to Mexico. Now she will Spanish and “RedNeck”… Dual language missionary… LOL

Well, there is a big difference between missionaries being reassigned (temporarily or permanently), which is happening a lot right now, and missionaries initially called stateside for languages that don’t really exist in that area (to the extent that dedicated missionaries for that language wouldn’t really even have work to do in that language).

My son served in the Washington Kennewick mission while waiting for his visa to Norway. I mentioned this, and this is what he wrote this morning:

“The situation you described was more or less the case for the Marshallese elders in Washington. They were sent to Washington, but although they could technically teach others, they were strongly encouraged to teach solely Marshallese people. This was incredibly tough on them for a number of reasons. 1.) There are not many Marshallese people in Washington (or the U.S., for that matter…). There may be more there than in other states, but it’s still a microscopic amount compared to Spanish, Chinese, or Vietnamese speakers. 2.) Marshallese people loathe other Marshallese. I heard this one from Elder Alford, who served in the same district as them for a while. For some reason, Marshallese people want nothing to do with each other. 3.) They could never use the language. Marshallese people like English. Sorry. 4.) Since they were strongly encouraged to only talk to Marshallese, they spent hours in the apartment doing nothing or finding people on Facebook. 5.) Their only other contacting method was going to Marshallese block parties, so you can imagine what that experience was like. Needless to say, they were very bored, and not always the most obedient.”

I think the big difference between Marshallese communities and, say, ex-pat French communities is the communities themselves. Marshallese, along with other Asian or South Pacific communities, cling together in ways that French or German ones don’t. That is, the Franco-German people integrate better in the U.S. and are harder to find as a monolithic community (as opposed to German speaking pockets of Brazil or Argentina, even today). And every single one of them in the U.S. speaks English and would be taught in English — no need for dedicated missionaries targeted just for them.

That is how it is now, but they didn’t do that earlier, having German ancestors, In the 1920,30,40 and even up to 1950. German immigrants would migrates to pockets of Germans in Ohio, Pennsylvania,etc. so that they could continue to speak “Deutch”. With the global economy now a days, I don’t think that is true anymore.

So maybe the reason the Marshallese communities are doing what they do, is for the same type of reasons “easier to assimilate into the US”. Just a thought.

They also migrated into South Dakota if they were from the Black Forrest. On my mother’s side, she had grandparents and Uncles settles in Deadwood, South Dakota. Her father also did too but he came from the Ukraine which then was a part of Russia.

Last night, my son’s BYU roommate (David) opened his mission call via Instagram Live. My son and this young man are in Seattle selling pest control. Our whole family was there as we had the Insta feed on our TV.

He got called to Los Angeles Mandarin speaking. This is awesome. David just joined the church 18 months ago in high school. My son baptized him and now they will be on missions at the same time. David is from China and moved to the US with his family 8 years ago. David speaks fluent Mandarin and English. David’s family has no interest in the church, but they do understand his decisions to attend BYU and serve a mission. David recently got his Patriarchial blessing, which he shared some of with me. It was incredible.

Neat! When does he report (virtually)?

My aunt and uncle’s reporting date of June 10 for Little Rock, Arkansas has been moved to September. I’m still unaware of couples actually being sent yet, although I’m aware of some that have calls. The ones I know keep getting moved back or changed to “indefinite.” Hopefully, opening up church services leads to opening up missions.

He reports on Aug 12th to the Provo MTC. Unknown if the MTC will be open then. It should be. All this social distancing and quarantine stuff has gone way overboard. At least in Oregon. We’ve had 137 deaths this year and EVERY one of them was either elderly and/or immune compromised. Let’s let people use their judgment and encourage us to be smart and use precautions. But get back to work, school, and real life. Our governor Kate Brown here in Oregon is an imbecile.

Wasn’t that your nickname on your high school sports teams? Deadwood?

I always wondered whether it was because you were always on the bench or what?


My son finally got his re-assignment and he will be going to Salt Lake City mission. That is what he has been told. It was my belief that there is more than one mission in SLC but those are the exact words written in his mission reassignment, “Salt Lake City Mission”.

If you remember the history back in the beginning of March when the whole plandemic started he was told he was being reassigned to Omaha, Nebraska. We thought that was inspired for different reasons but then 3 days later he emailed me and asked if I could pick him up at the airport that evening. He flew back from mexico city with another missionary from this area and was told to self isolate for 2 weeks. He spent the days dressed as a missionary and did his best to follow what he was told. He was released from his mission 3 weeks after getting home and then about 2 weeks after that he was asked if he wanted to defer or serve, he chose serve. Then, 2 weeks ago he received this reassignment to SLC. I informed them, through the Stake Pres that we will drive him there to help save costs and it is more inconvenient right now to fly anyway.

He will be there in less than a month. We keep thinking that countries like the Dominican Republic need to open soon because they are so dependent on tourism but it remains to be seen. If it does open it is our understanding that he will go there but things change from day to day so who knows.

I do know that he is very adaptable and easy going. He will do whatever he can to serve wherever he is called. He is the most prepared of all 4 of my boys so I have no real concerns. I am mostly frustrated with the political nonsense associated with this plandemic…

Recently they reorganized the missions in Utah, here is the list:

There is one mission called the Salt Lake City Mission, that area covers the inner city mission I work in. There is a Spanish side and an English side.

I would be grateful if you had the chance to meet and work with him in some capacity Floyd. He is a great young man and has a desire to serve the Lord in whatever way he can.

I would enjoy that as well…

One thing your son has to look forward to is meeting many General Authorities while on his mission. The 12 and the Quorum of the 70’s have a habit of just “dropping in” many wards within the SLC mission.

We went to our Spanish ward for Sacrament meeting, we were running a little late (it is about half drive from my house). We walked in and notice some people on the stand, it turns out it was Elder Ballard just dropping in to visit.

The meeting was the farewell of our old Bishop Daughter who was going to Chile on her mission. Now image how you would feel to give a talk in front of Elder Ballard? Poor sister missionary.

I did learn that Elder Ballard’s grandfather is the one that dedicated Chile for missionary work.

I know the mission is hard, but if your son needs anything, let me know. I would gladly help if I can.

I remember President Kimball coming into the Marriott Center for a devotional (before I was baptized). The students all stood up. He noticed this and motioned for them to not stand for him and for us to sit down. What do you think he was suggesting to us?