August 2017


Watching what YouTube tells me to watch: Mormon Missionary Call Videos

A couple months ago, YouTube started recommending to me that I watch Mormon Missionary Surprise videos. For a week or two, I was addicted.

Basically, the genre works like this: some kid (and by kid, I mean guy aged 18 or girl aged 19), has received their letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is ready to open the letter. Many of the videos feature large crowds of people – various relatives and friends – gathered together to watch the event. Before the opening of the letter, the camera asks people to guess where their relative/friend is going and they make wild guesses. Then the letter is opened, a bit of shuffling of papers, and then the kid reads aloud the letter, revealing to everybody where they are going and what language they will be preaching the gospel in.

Then there are the slight twists – like when multiple family members open their mission calls at the same time.

Naturally, Mormons like to pull pranks and there’s nothing more fun than giving your best friend a Call to some place improbable, like Antarctica:

Or maybe even Middle Earth:

What I’ve actually come away with is not something on my sarcastic side, but rather how valuable this experience is for people: individuals unlikely to leave home are compelled – for reasons of religion – to go forth for 18 to 24 months and live away from their parents. The Mormon religion seems to really value family and togetherness, so this forced departure from the nest is probably actually really valuable.

2 comments to Watching what YouTube tells me to watch: Mormon Missionary Call Videos

  • Bill Olesinski

    It actually is touching to see these young, seemingly innocent people get the news of where they are going.
    A few years ago I looked up gay bars in Weimar and one of your posts came up on google. I wrote and you replied. I have been reading your blog since then. I am in Weimar now – this is the 8th summer that I have spent here.

    • I’m glad that you keep on reading, even if I have been negligent in posting. And I’m glad that you’re enjoying Weimar. I need to stop by to see if it’s changed.