Tuesday, January 14

Our Little Missionary Experience

Dear Guy Who Sat Next To Us On The Airplane to Orlando,

Thank you for making our third flight that day more entertaining than it otherwise would have been, particularly because we were on an old plane with no wifi which meant entertaining ourselves the old-fashioned way.

We enjoyed hearing about Kansas which was a state we knew nothing about and about your cute grandkids which you showed us several adorable pictures of on your tablet. They had sweet curly blonde locks like our nephew Maddox, which we told you.

Thank you also for complimenting our daughter's behavior--that made us feel really good (even though we did nothing to teach her how to behave her then four-and-a-half month old self on an eight-hour trip).

We really did enjoy talking to you even when you made a few beer references that we (well at least I) didn't understand. Everything was great, even when you mentioned Margaritaville and said, "You guys like margaritas, don't you?" I then told you that we actually don't drink alcohol but we like drinks that are similar to margaritas. You seemed surprised but continued to talk to us.

When you learned we were from Utah, you asked if we were Mormons and we told you we were. Your next comment was, "That show 'Sister Wives' must be giving you guys a hard time." Your wife sitting in the row in front of us reached behind her seat and gave you a smack along with a look that clearly told you to drop it, causing you to smile sheepishly.

I almost burst out laughing right then but I didn't want to embarrass you so hiding a smile I responded, "Actually that show is not about our church. We don't believe in that at all." You said, "Oh," then I explained further. "That's actually a branch that broke away from our church." Then I added, "Trust me, our church doesn't support that at all."

You nodded then we changed the subject, and for the remainder of the trip we had a nice time talking about our individual plans in Florida. We only brought up subjects like going to BYU and other beliefs in passing. But I hoped in my heart that our brief discussion about the church would stay with you, and that because of it you would someday open your heart to hearing a little more about the gospel.

Since our trip, I've wondered about you a few times, mainly wondering if you met an LDS missionary whether you'd be more interested about our church because of the example we set. If we had gotten your name, I might have looked you up at Kansas State University where you teach and sent the missionaries your way (don't worry though--I didn't have your name so I couldn't).

Anyway, thank you for being friendly and talking to us and also allowing us to have that little missionary experience. It reminded me of why I love living in the world (but not of the world) so much. I am so looking forward to having more of those experiences wherever we end up after BYU because I know the joy the gospel brings me and want to share it with everyone.

So thank you for that. And I hope you had a marvelous Christmas with your family in Florida.


Olivia Gunnell

P.S. And thank you for being so personable! I always appreciate that quality in others.


  1. Why can't you do missionary work in Utah? You don't have to be outside Utah to have those experiences. In fact, there are many people in Utah that don't know a lot about the church.

    1. I definitely agree with you that there is plenty of missionary work to be done in Utah. But I think you might agree with me that it can sometimes be a little trickier to identify people who might be interested from among the hordes of Mormon folks we rub shoulders with every day. And that doesn't diminish from a fun missionary experience on an airplane. What about you? What are your best tips for doing missionary work in the great state of Utah? I am always eager to learn new things.

    2. I no longer live in Utah but when I did I found it to be a great place to do missionary work. I would ride Trax and talk to the people around me and often they were not members. I also met many people at work who were not LDS and knew nearly nothing about the church. I've talked to people at school who we're interested. Maybe the difference is that I lived in Salt Lake and not Provo. I only lived in Provo for a short amount of time so I didn't have much time to get a feel for the atmosphere. I apologize if my comment seemed like I wasn't recognizing the great missionary opportunity Olivia had. I just simply meant to point out that you can have fun missionary opportunities anywhere.

  2. Darn it! This is Lauralee - not Topher. And the above reply is also mine but I can't figure out how to put my name in instead of my son's!


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