The Mormon church is getting a lot of press, due to the Manti Teo story. People who never gave a thought in the world about the Latter Day Saints are becoming aware that this church even exists.

Today there was a big news article all about the missionary movement in the Mormon church. Evidently men are expected, but not required to serve for two years. Women only for 18 months. And it is not as usual for women, but getting to be more popular.

The minimum age to allow one to go on a mission was just lowered from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. This is supposed to be much more appealing to women, who now can go soon after high school and not right when they are wanting to get married and raise a family.

When you decide to go on a mission, you have to go to missionary school to learn exactly how to do this. Also, if you are going to another country you have to learn their language, be it Mandarin Chinese or whatever is appropriate.

Fifty four years ago, I was a twenty year old new mother with a baby. I was pretty much trapped at home with no car and so when the Mormon missionary guys came around I always invited them in for some lemonade. I got to talk to another adult, although I didn’t much care for the subject.

They always looked so hot. Coming from Utah with their white, white skin and having to walk around in the Hawaii sun all day with no hats had to be tough. Sunscreen hadn’t been invented yet, and I’m sure they got sunburned, with their pink cheeks and short sleeved shirts. I felt an offer of lemonade was the least I could do.

We lived about two blocks from their tabernacle so we always saw them walking in twos up and down our street. They always wore the same outfit. Black pants, white shirt, tie.

When I lived in Mesquite, Nevada, on the Utah border, I often read the Salt Lake City Sunday paper. There were always large ads for a ‘missionary’ wardrobe. This usually consisted of three pairs of black trousers/pants, three white shirts, three appropriate ties, black shoes and socks and church approved undergarments. I think ten years ago, the cost for this was just under $1000.

(You could probably purchase all these items at Walmart for $200 max.) But maybe these are blessed or sprinkled with some special water. Maybe they are made with special cloth or thread. (Sort of like kosher chicken).

There are currently about 58,000 missionaries world wide and it expected with the new age lowering, that this number will rise to 90,000 by the end of the year.

All this is pretty remarkable when you realize that these young people are committing to two years of their lives and the average number of converts that each one has during this period is five.

That seems like an awfully small number to me. Imagine talking to people five or six days a week for two years, telling them how great your religion is, and only getting five of them to agree.

If these folks were selling cars or timeshare, they would have been fired long before their two years was up.

Also, since dating is not allowed during the missionary period, think of close to 100,000 boys and girls between 18 and 21, who can’t date. Of course Mormons aren’t supposed to have premarital sex, so this is not so strange.

Another ‘rule’ is that if you are converted, you can’t get married in a Mormon temple for one year from the date of your conversion. Marie Osmond was recently devastated when her daughter married her boyfriend in just ten days due to this ‘rule’. He converted for her, but they didn’t want to wait a full year to have sex.

I guess going out for an ice cream cone is just about the only permitted date anyway. They can’t very well meet at Starbucks, as coffee and tea are not permitted either.