Comments about ‘Habits, mannerisms and cultural quirks that return home with missionaries’

Return to article »

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 6:15 p.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Barstow, CA

I'd be interested in making the Kefir. I had it growing up in Germany - it was a staple at our house. Really miss it.

Alexandria, VA

I served in New Jersey. Can you guess what I learned how to do well?

Park City, UT

DC- Gym, tan, Laundry?

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA



Murfreesboro, TN

The missionaries in the Japan Fukuoka Mission during the late 70s and early 80s all ate eggs and rice for breakfast, usually soaked then with kyupi and ketchup. 30 years later, I still eat it from time to time as a comfort food. My Japanese wife thinks it is disgusting.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

I was a Mandarin Chinese Speaking missionary and I fell in love with the culture. To this day I use the common "Ugh" sound that Chinese people make when they are acknowledging something that is said. Kind of like the way we say "uh huh."

I also cannot eat asian food with a fork. It just feels wrong!

I wear slippers around the house in the manner that the Chinese wear them. And I never wear shoes in a house which is considered very disrespectful in the Chinese culture.

Lastly, the Chinese have a counting system using one hand that I still use today. I will catch myself going into a restaurant and when the hostess asks "how many?", I flash the hang loose sign which in chinese represents the number 6.

Bend, OR

My husband served in South Africa from '79 to '81 and, although he has since left the Church, we still have a few Afrikaans words floating around the house and we both LOVE Rooiboos tea :-)

Salt Lake City, UT

Served in Japan twice. As a young missionary and as a senior couple missionary. Can't eat disgusting "Uncle Ben's" long grain rice. Gag on the stuff!!! Have to have Short grain rice cooked in a proper rice cooker (Not a cheap $20 dollar one). Eat it almost daily now. Love it. Although I hate to agree with UteNationAlum (I'm a U of U graduate too but I prefer Y football) he is correct, eating Japanese food with a fork is like eating a Whopper with chopsticks.

Served with my wife in Canada. We use "eh" a little but it can be annoying as the Japanese girls saying "Ne" (as in neck) after every other word.

Vienna, Austria

My son and I both had the blessing of most or all of our companions being natives of the lands we served in (Mexico and Brazil, respectively), few of whom spoke much if any English. My mission president even had a firm policy never to put two Americans together. Not only did it give us a fluency far beyond what most missionaries have an opportunity to develop, but it brought the local culture home at night inside the missionary apartment with us. We were living our languages and the culture 24/7. The interaction was a blessing to Yanks and natives alike, as we (most of us, anyway) learned to respect and love both cultures. I learned that there are some aspects of Brazilian culture (open acceptance of others, unstinting hospitality, kindness being more important than bleak honesty) that, really, are more in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ than their counterparts in my culture are.

Salt Lake City, UT

I guess it isn't faith affirming but it is a reality the church is dealing with. Many returning missionaries bring back with them a realization that Mormon/utah culture is rather racist. It happens to many people who live outside the US but it is more common and dramatic. I don't consider this post disruptive or bashing but we shall see.

Mapleton, UT

I'll have to use my alias on this one, but I really must tattle on my dh, who served in Brazil back in the 1970's. Hopefully things have improved there by now, but when and where he served, toilets could not process toilet paper. Occasionally, I will find it in our little trash bin beside the toilet. I simply remove the bin-liner and toss it without a fuss now. (As a new bride, though, I threw fits until he explained himself.) It actually makes me smile to think he's remembering those happy days when he served the Lord full-time in a land so far from his home and customs.

I wonder sometimes if Sister Orson Scott Card has the same issue with her famous writer-husband. They served together in the Brazil-São Paulo Mission.

omni scent
taylorsville, UT

I'm still regularly drinking Yerba Maté over a decade after serving in Argentina.

Fort Collins, CO

Those of you that want kefir--look at your local grocery store. My mom used to buy it back in the 70s in ordinary LA grocery stores all the time and there's some in my fridge right now here in Colorado. It is not at all exotic!! I bet Harman's has it in Utah, and Whole Foods does for sure. You definitely do not need to make it from scratch unless you like to do that sort of thing. My family loves the stuff.

South Jordan, UT

Agree 100% with sixpacktr and SLCWatch on Japan - I did/do the same except I was in Okayama mission. I love cooking an occasional okonomiyaki and oyako donburi. And I think about all of the Japanese holidays as they come and go each year. I have the benefit of traveling to Tokyo often on business though, so Japan is not just a memory, but something I continue to be involved with. That's why I sometimes point to my nose when pointing to myself.

Puyallup, WA

My thought when reading this is I love that missions get sometimes sheltered LDS young people out to see how the rest of the world lives. It makes us care about other cultures ... makes us less ignorant, broadens our world view. Just as I was thinking about that, I saw the comment by Sigmund5. Interesting to me are the wide variety of responses and outlooks.

kaysville, UT

Three of my 6 sons have served missions so far..One son who served in Melbourne as a Vietnamese speaker returned home, got his degree at BYU, and got a job in Saigon. He comes home for visits, but he is so happy there and is doing amazing work, both professionally and for the church!

I am so thankful for the love they have for those they have served! My sons became men of God in a short 2 year span! We have all sorts of new "traditions" that are included in our year now, and it's definitely made us more multi-cultural!

Utah Native
Farmington, UT

My husband served a mission in Seoul. Before his mission, he was a picky eater who'd only order a "cheeseburger with nothing on it" but cheese. After the mission, he could eat almost anything. Kimchi will do that to you! We also lived in Korea after we married, and picked up the habit of accepting items handed to us with two hands instead of one, removing our shoes at others' homes, saying, "Why?" instead of "What?" if someone started laughing, and eating far too much garlic than is culturally acceptable. Like SLCWatch above, we only eat "sticky rice" and found a $200 rice cooker is a must. When we returned from Korea, we found Americans to be much too brash, loud, scented (with perfume, cologne), and...uh, fat...than we were accustomed to.

m.g. scott

I served in England, so I learned to speak English as opposed to American. You'd be surprised at some of the differences.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

@ Utah Native

That is funny that you bring up the grabbing things with two hands custom. The Chinese are the same way and you made me realize that I do that all the time!

Walnut Creek, CA

Had a couple Australian companions in Japan. Came home loving Vegemite.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments