Feeding the Missionaries

These are the missionaries in our ward right now. You might have seen guys that look a lot like them around your own neighborhood. They wear backpacks to carry things like the Book of Mormon, Bible, other Church materials, snacks, letters from home, etc. Some missionaries get a car, others ride bikes, and others just walk everywhere. They spend most of their days trying to talk to people about Jesus Christ, and they give up 2 years of their life, usually from the ages of 19-21 to do it.

While the missionaries are out serving for the Church, we members sign up to feed them meals. When TH wasn’t eating with members, he existed almost entirely on bologna sandwhiches, cereal and Ramen while he was serving his mission in New York City and so I feel motivated to pump the missionaries up with as much healthy whole food as possible since I’m sure they are getting their fill of refined grains and fat otherwise. When T1 was two months old I decided I was ready to cook dinner and have them over. I’ve only fed them a few times because male missionaries can’t be alone with women, so I needed to pick a day when TH would be home before 8 (and female missionaries can’t be alone with men).

We ate pasta with sausage and veggies.

Foccacia I made myself, using our bread machine to mix the dough and the recipe found in the bread machine booklet.

This plum tart was delicious, but I can’t remember the recipe! If you are the one who told me about it on Twitter can you comment and tell me where to find it?

After we’re done eating they share a message from the scriptures. We talk about ways that TH and I can spread the Gospel in our own lives. Bringing the missionaries into our home brings the Spirit into our house and helps us think about ways we can be more devoted to the Gospel.

I’ll be signing up to feed the missionaries once more in August, when TH can help me with meal prep and clean up a bit more.

One of my double cousins is currently serving a mission in Brazil, and I hope that the Brazilian people will welcome him into their homes and feed him well! I’m so proud of him for putting his own desires and ambitions aside for two years in order to serve the Lord.

33 thoughts on “Feeding the Missionaries

  1. Unfortunately, not all wards allow members to feed missionaries dinner. :( In ours, the sister missionaries can only eat dinner with an investigator otherwise they are supposed to be out tracking from 6-9pm every night (unless they have an appointment). When my husband (a members) found this out, it irritated him to no end! I’ve been an investigator for a few years now so we try to feed them and send them home with tons of leftovers when we can.

    Jenna Reply:

    I admit I’m irritated by this rule as well! I ranted a bit to my husband about it. Good for you for helping them out! TH said that he wasn’t fed much on his mission because of the areas he was working in and those meals meant SO MUCH to him.

  2. That pasta dish looked so yummy!! I’m sure someone else will ask, but I’ll be the first – do share the recipe if you can!

    Your cousin will likely get fed lots of feijoada in Brazil – it’s a black bean and meat dish (sometimes with rice). Landon lived in the Porteguese house for a semester at BYU and the native Brazilian that lived there cooked that all the time – - now we cook it all the time.

    Jenna Reply:

    You just reminded me that I lived in the Italian house over the summer once! Do you sometimes forget about things that happened to you?

  3. I’m confused though, because when missionaries came to talk to me, they were alone with me. But there were two of them, so does that not count as being alone?

    Anyway, I think it’s great to feed them and offer fellowship. I know when my HS best friends’ brothers went on their missions (to Brazil and Russia, respectively) they were awful lonely and I hope they were able to experience this kind of hospitality.

    That plum tart looks amazing.

    Jenna Reply:


    Were they visiting with you as a first contact? Or was this a scheduled appointment? Mission rules differ from place to place, but generally if they set an appointment up with you they are supposed to find another female to be there as well.

    Valerie Reply:

    It was an appointment. Didn’t bother me, since I didn’t even know about the rule, but now it seems strange. But no big deal.

    Love the new pic, btw!

    Jenna Reply:

    Different missions have different rules, so maybe I’m wrong! Who knows.

  4. What a great meal! When we were living in CA we often had the missionaries over for dinner and we loved it! It was wonderful to have them in our home. Now that we are back in Utah we don’t get that opportunity :(

    My brother leaves for Nicaragua next week for the MTC and my parents leave for Samoa in Septemeber! So excited and hoping that they will be able to meet the members there in this way!

  5. I never thought I would say this, but I’m actually jealous you get to have the missionaries over! I’ve never seen a missionary in my ward…in the almost two years we’ve lived here! That’s why I need to move out of Utah, or out into the mission field, as my dad would say. :)

  6. My brother is serving a mission I’m Argentina right now so I have a soft spot for people who feed the missionaries. Down there a lot of the families are so poor it’s a major sacrifice for them to have the missionaries over, so they will save up money for extra food before inviting them. It is neat to see how excited they get about having the missionaries in their home though.

  7. I sooo want a bread maker. That foccia looks delicious!

    We’ve fed the missionaries so many time and it’s always fun to hear their stories and then get a lesson from them after. I try to make sure I give them anything other than pot roast for dinner when they come.

  8. I love this line – “I’m so proud of him for putting his own desires and ambitions aside for two years in order to serve the Lord.”

    We had friends over last night and we were discussing how both couples would like to be part of a small bible study. My friend’s husband said, “maybe in October, when things slow down at work.” It is harder than we will admit to put aside our own desires and make time to serve. I love that you are contributing to the missionaries’ experiences with food. Well done!

  9. I’ll admit that I’ve seen the missionaries around Chattanooga before and felt very uncomfortable because I didn’t want them to try to discuss religion with me. It’s just such a private matter in my world. BUT now I will think differently of them, because I never knew that they were serving a required mission. By the way, your meal is making me drool!

    Jenna Reply:

    A mission isn’t required, more like… encouraged. For young men it’s definitely an expectation, and for young women it’s an option. They do sacrifice 2 years to do nothing but talk about Jesus Christ though, so it is a huge deal! Most of the time they just appreciate a friendly smile. :)

  10. I just finished 2 years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. It’s not really a “mission” because its not focused on evangelization. Its where adults work in a social justice related field (I worked with kids one year, with homeless people the next) and also focus on community (you live with other volunteers), spirituality, and simplicity. We received a very small stipend, so we always loved it when people reached out to us and invited us over to dinner! It made us feel like we were part of something bigger.

    Do women do 2 year missions or shorter ones? Are they allowed to have more contact with home? I only know my high school friend’s brother who did a mission and I know she missed him a lot and couldn’t talk often. Does that vary placement to placement?

    Jenna Reply:

    TH was trying to feed, clothe, and take care of himself for $170 a month when on his mission… in NYC! He definitely learned how to budget. :)

    Women serve 18 month missions, versus the 24 months that men serve. The contact rules are the same. Letters home for everyone, email on the “off” day (my cousin only has 30 minutes of computer time each week though), and phone calls on Mother’s Day and Christmas.

    Mission rules can vary slightly around the world, but the contact with home rules are pretty similar no matter where you are called to serve.

  11. I’ve seen two missionaries biking around our neighborhood, and have had them stop by our house to offer materials. I’m curious as to the proper etiquette when they do stop by. I’m Catholic and have no intention of converting religions, but I also do like to hear about people’s passion for our Lord – so I would never turn them away. What’s the polite thing to say that lets them know you’d love to listen, but aren’t interested in changing religions?

    Jenna Reply:

    I think just being honest and telling them you’re not interested in converting, but would love to talk more about their own beliefs. They like to talk to people but are generally wary about people who are just wanting to “bible bash” with them, which is something they try to avoid because it just never does any good. :) But it doesn’t seem like you want to bash their beliefs, just learn more about them, and you should tell them that!

    Just keep in mind that they will probably write your information down, and another set of missionaries might contact you later on to follow-up.

    Many missionaries I’ve talked to cite the discussions they had with other religious peoples to be some of the most interesting times on their mission!

  12. My sister in law is leaving to serve a mission in Toronto, Canada in September. She’s currently living with my husband and I. When she got her mission call we all got on a conference call (I was at work, she and my husband were at home, their dad was at work, their mom and sister was at home in California) and she read us the call. We all cried. It was so special.

    I am going to miss her so very much, but am so proud of her and her choices. I love the missionaries.

    None of us would be “here” if it wasn’t for a missionary somewhere.

    Am so grateful to them. And to the people (like you!) who feed them!

  13. Hi Jenna,
    I’m not LDS, but have enjoyed reading and learning about your Faith. I’m curious about learning more about the missionaries, and hope you can do a follow-up post. (Or perhaps link to one you might have written before – I’ve been reading since your post-weddingbee days.)

    I’m specifically curious about the rules of the missionary time, and hope you can explain the reasoning behind some of them?

    For example, why men and women can’t be alone together (it strikes me that your Faith would prevent anything untoward happening, so not sure about why this would be needed?) and why the phone calls to family are allowed so infrequently.

    Hope you can follow up. Many thanks!

    (And looks like a yummy meal!)

    Jenna Reply:

    Kate, I’ve been talking with a recently returned missionary in hopes he will write a post that answers your questions (probably better than I ever could).

    The limit on phone calls is to help keep the young missionaries mind on the task at hand. I would imagine it helps prevent extra homesickness from talking too frequently to one’s family (and girlfriend!)

    My understanding is that the rules were put in place after an important leader in the Church committed adultery with a woman he was spending a lot of time alone with. Our faith may help us believe in what is right, but we are still made up of the “natural man” and it’s important that we give ourselves boundaries that will keep us from doing wrong.

    I enjoyed answering your questions and I hope that my missionary friend will write that post!

  14. My brother is serving his mission in Mexico right now. This week in his email he said that they were going to eat dinner with a family and he saw one of the boys. My brother asked if he was excited to eat with them. The boy said, “Elder Jackson, when we feed the missionaries, we don’t eat that day.” Chris was so humbled by what these people were willing to sacrafice for them. I am grateful for people feeding these great young men (and women!) while they are serving the Lord.

    Jenna Reply:

    These stories really touch my heart. We are so fortunate here.

  15. I suppose you have to be Mormon to have give them a meal? A really good friend of mine is on his mission in japan right now so this kinda hits close to heart. But if a women can’t even be a lone with them I’d figure they’d shun me, a non Mormon, even more.

    Jenna Reply:


    Actually, they gave up 2 years of their lives (leaving behind girlfriends, careers, family, missing out on weddings and babies and all other important life events), just so they CAN spend time with people like you. :)

    Andrea Reply:

    Good to know! So next time I they come to my door I could just be like “Come inside and I”ll make you some lunch/dinner/snack”? I’d talk to them, but I’d make the worst Mormon. I’d have to be honest about that.

  16. I’m not LDS, but my husband was raised in the faith. I love having the missionaries over for dinner. It is such a nice way to get to know more about your religion, and the guys are always so excited to visit with a young couple. We also try to cook them anything other than pot roast! I think they see a LOT of that in our area!

  17. I’m not LDS, but the Missionaries have been visiting me lately, and sharing their teachings with me. I try to make them something special each time they visit, because I imagine it is hard being away from family, and Moms home cooking. Are there foods I should avoid feeding them? I don’t want to be giving them super unhealthy things, but I think treats are nice.

    April Reply:

    Dear flower,

    I would ask the missionaries what they would like to have. I try to give then food they enjoy. They can not have anything alcoholic, coffee, some teas, some choose not to drink soda. Mostly they are happy that someone is willing to feed them.

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