You might have had them knock on your door, or you’ve seen them in the grocery store or on the streets. What do missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints do all day? What can they do for you, even if you don’t want to get baptized?
Today’s guest is my niece — Sister Grace Pope of the Minneapolis Minnesota Mission (and her compaion Sister Whitmore). She was kind enough to come on and tell us about her day and what things are like being on a mission during Covid. If you’re interested in anything else Grace does (and you’re not a perv) you can find her here. 🙂
This episode was inspired by my post on Missionaries
As a note, many people call our church “The Mormons” — but our church’s full name (and preferred name) is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints — but, we also get it that you know us as The Mormons. 🙂
What Do Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ Do All Day? & Why do they do it?
In this episode
We’re talking about making the choice about going on a missionary
The Church’s #startingtoday Easter initiative
What missionaries do all day
How missionaries are told where to go and who they live with
How a missionary companionship works
How missionaries are required to dress and look
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out all my podcasts:
[00:00:00.205] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast, it’s bonus time. It is a brand new bonus fresh off the presses for Easter. Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:19.805] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:44.675] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so today’s episode is a little bit different, I don’t want anyone rolling their eyes and like shutting it off because today’s episode is a day in the life with my niece, sister Grace Pope, who is on a mission in Minnesota. And I wanted to share kind of just behind the scenes as to what a missionary does every day. I think a lot of us have maybe had them knock on our doors or have seen them at the grocery store, but they don’t really know what that missionary is doing the rest of the time and kind of what it entails to be a missionary.
[00:01:10.895] – Hilary Erickson
Now, you might even meet somebody who went on a mission, and this will just give you an idea of kind of what it entailed and what it was like. It’s not really like Peace Corps anyway. You’re going to listen to the interview. You’re going to kind of find out what it is. We’re not here to convert you. That’s not what this episode is here, although it is Easter. And if you’re looking to make a change, the church does have an initiative called Starting Today, where it’s just about making a change today.
[00:01:32.195] – Hilary Erickson
And I think that spring is a great time to make changes no matter how you want to change in your life. And I’ll leave a link to that in the show notes. But for this episode, I want to introduce my niece, Sister Grace Pope. Hey, Sister Pope, welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:01:45.515] – Grace Pope
Hello. This is so fun.
[00:01:47.915] – Hilary Erickson
I have to say, when I said Sister Pope, I thought of my mom.
[00:01:51.465] – Grace Pope
Yeah, call me grandma.
[00:01:55.715] – Hilary Erickson
I don’t even refer to myself as Sister Pope anymore, although I guess for a brief moment in time I didn’t go on a mission just so everybody here knows. OK, so Grace, where are you at?
[00:02:05.915] – Grace Pope
Well, I am serving in the Minnesota Minneapolis mission, but I’m living in Anoka, Minnesota right now.
[00:02:11.795] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so Grace, how long does a female missionary serve for?
[00:02:16.055] – Grace Pope
So we serve for a period of 18 months.
[00:02:18.615] – Hilary Erickson
[00:02:19.415] – Grace Pope
And I have I’ve been out for about a year now. I have about six months left.
[00:02:24.035] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And boys serve for two years, right?
[00:02:28.415] – Grace Pope
[00:02:29.225] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so let’s just talk… Like I think what people want to know because they don’t want to talk to you on the street even though they should. You’re very, very friendly.
[00:02:36.395] – Hilary Erickson
Grace is also very, very friendly. But like what is your day look like. Normally like a regular day.
[00:02:43.145] – Grace Pope
It looks a lot different just covid right now than traditional missionary work. So we do a lot of our work just over a video call. So my day is a lot of praying with people. Bible studies over video call. We are allowed to meet with some people in person for mass in distance at our church buildings. But I do a lot of work on Facebook, also with a lot of Facebook calls, a lot of Zoom, a lot of technology face-to-face.
[00:03:07.055] – Hilary Erickson
Wow. So that is just so everybody knows that’s very different. Although, Grace, you have only been out during covid. Yeah.
[00:03:13.205] – Grace Pope
So I actually when I flew out to the mission my first night, it’s tradition that you eat dinner with the mission president. And as I was eating dinner with him, he got the call that we were officially fully on quarantine and he came back and he was like, well, Sister Pope, welcome to the mission. And we just really had to learn how to do missionary work, not on the streets, because we I’ve never knocked a door as tradition, never street contacted or anything.
[00:03:38.585] – Hilary Erickson
So even before all this, when we lived in California, those missionaries were actually not allowed to knock on doors. It wasn’t part of their mission. I’m sure that wasn’t like, against the rules. But I will say the church was like we’ve been decreasing how often we knock on the doors. If you have gotten a missionary knock on your door in the last year, tell me in the comments of the podcast, I think that would be interesting. But yeah.
[00:03:57.305] – Hilary Erickson
So you meet with some people in their homes, right?
[00:04:00.665] – Grace Pope
No, I’ve actually never been in a home either. Wow.
[00:04:05.045] – Hilary Erickson
So you meet them outside.
[00:04:07.385] – Grace Pope
Yeah. So we can do lessons outside. If we’re masked, we can do lessons in our church building. Also masked and distanced. So the majority of the lessons I’ve taught my mission are actually over video call or just a traditional regular phone call. But yeah. Crazy.
[00:04:22.565] – Hilary Erickson
What time do you wake up?
[00:04:23.505] – Grace Pope
Six thirty in the morning.
[00:04:25.265] – Hilary Erickson
And that’s a mission rule, right?
[00:04:26.765] – Grace Pope
Yes. You have to.
[00:04:28.415] – Hilary Erickson
OK. So you wake up and you look at YouTube for a while, right?
[00:04:32.705] – Hilary Erickson
Like I do?
[00:04:34.235] – Grace Pope
I wish. No yeah, we wake up, we exercise for an hour every morning.
[00:04:40.325] – Hilary Erickson
Oh my gosh. What do you do? You’re in Minnesota. It’s not like you’re going to go for a run when it’s snowing. What do you do.
[00:04:47.195] – Grace Pope
Yeah, actually right now, I mean, my companion, Sister Whitmore, we’ve been doing as we’ve been doing exercise using a deck of cards. So if you get just a regular deck of cards and you like choose an exercise for each suit and then whatever number is on that, that’s how many reps you have to do. So we get really, really excited about you.
[00:05:05.975] – Hilary Erickson
We’re going to tell me you were playing poker for your exercise.
[00:05:09.255] – Grace Pope
Yeah, we’re starting off war. And right now we’ve we’ve also gone on runs or walks or anything. Right now in Minnesota, it’s a little bit warmer than it has been. So it’s not about OK. All right.
[00:05:22.925] – Hilary Erickson
So you work out for an hour right after you wake up?
[00:05:25.865] – Grace Pope
Actually, yeah, we do that and then we plan our day. So we spend about half an hour scheduling lessons, making sure people still want to come that day.
[00:05:34.265] – Hilary Erickson
While you’re sweaty, you don’t get a shower before you plan your day?
[00:05:36.845] – Grace Pope
You get to choose the order you do it in.
[00:05:38.585] – Hilary Erickson
[00:05:40.325] – Grace Pope
We just like to do that to get all the way out of the way, but
[00:05:44.195] – Hilary Erickson
yeah, that makes sense, especially if the day is shifting.
[00:05:47.195] – Grace Pope
So we spend time getting ready and then we hop into our study.
[00:05:50.705] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so are there requirements on makeup or hair?
[00:05:54.335] – Grace Pope
There actually are like dressing and grooming standards. Yes.
[00:05:58.415] – Hilary Erickson
Are you required to wear makeup or you’re required to not wear too much makeup?
[00:06:02.405] – Grace Pope
We’re not supposed to wear too much, but yeah, we’re supposed to look nice and professional, so nothing too crazy. But we need to look down, I guess.
[00:06:11.245] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And then hair.
[00:06:12.965] – Hilary Erickson
Do they have hair standards that you’re supposed to follow for women?
[00:06:16.685] – Grace Pope
Not as crazy as for the elders factor. So I’ve actually never really had too much trouble with my hair.
[00:06:23.645] – Hilary Erickson
It’s basically just nothing extreme for women, right? Yeah. Can you get a perm while you’re on your mission?
[00:06:28.715] – Grace Pope
I don’t even know. OK, probably. I don’t know.
[00:06:32.855] – Hilary Erickson
It probably. The problem is it takes so much time. I don’t know how you would do it and. Can you get it colored? Does anyone get their hair colored.
[00:06:38.975] – Grace Pope
You can get it colored. We just don’t we just can’t have any like extreme colors or anything.
[00:06:42.585] – Hilary Erickson
All right. And what about dress? Has it been hard to wear dress everyday? So missionary’s have to wear a dress every day?
[00:06:48.035] – Hilary Erickson
Pretty much, except for. Right.
[00:06:50.015] – Grace Pope
We even still wear the one because we where we have to wear those clothes in public also. And a lot of times we are just at the store or something like that. So I pretty much do wear a dress every day.
[00:07:00.845] – Hilary Erickson
OK, you don’t wear it while you’re working out though.
[00:07:03.395] – Grace Pope
No, thank goodness.
[00:07:06.155] – Hilary Erickson
And they do have rules about like how low it can go or not go. It can’t go all the way to the ground, but also can’t be what above your knee?
[00:07:12.335] – Grace Pope
Yeah, it has to go past your knee, whether you’re sitting or standing up.
[00:07:15.635] – Hilary Erickson
Now, I’m sure all of you listening or thinking what stupid rules these are. But you’ve got to think that there are all of these missionaries coming out at a time in their lives where fashion is somewhat important. And so I think this is just guidelines to try and keep everyone more focused on the work that other than like what they’re wearing, you think, oh, yeah.
[00:07:34.595] – Hilary Erickson
And do you ride a bike in your mission when it’s not snowy?
[00:07:37.505] – Grace Pope
So I actually was asked to come out with a bike, but the only time I used it is for exercise. So times that I wanted to do that. But I’ve actually always had a car. So, OK, missionaries do depending on their area that they’re serving in.
[00:07:49.325] – Grace Pope
But because of a journey we try.
[00:07:50.795] – Hilary Erickson
I will say here in Arizona, they bike. Even when it’s one hundred and ten, they still bike.
[00:07:56.135] – Grace Pope
Which is why I’m in Minnesota.
[00:08:00.575] – Hilary Erickson
So, you know, there’s just it’s just a different kind of way of life. It’s a lot more structured than probably people imagine or maybe people imagine it even being more structured than it is. But you got to think these are kids from like, what’s the eighteen? Is the youngest a boy? You can go. And then how old’s like the oldest missionary in your in your mission all the way.
[00:08:18.845] – Grace Pope
Twenty four. I want to say like twenty four probably.
[00:08:21.965] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. Yeah. So they go at some point during that time you can kind of make a choice. But here’s the deal breaker. Remember the missionaries always come in two Grace. You have a companion don’t you?
[00:08:31.205] – Grace Pope
I do. She’s right here. Always.
[00:08:34.355] – Hilary Erickson
OK, put her on because I want to ask her the skinny about living with bubbly grace.
[00:08:40.475] – Grace Pope
Oh yes, Sister Whitmore, like you said earlier, but…
[00:08:44.195] – Hilary Erickson
OK, Sister Whitmore, where are you from?
[00:08:45.935] – Sister Whitmore
I’m actually from Arizona.
[00:08:47.765] – Hilary Erickson
Oh, you are?
[00:08:49.365] – Sister Whitmore
Yeah, I am.
[00:08:49.655] – Hilary Erickson
I’m in Tempe. What part of do you want to reveal what part of Arizona you’re from?
[00:08:54.455] – Sister Whitmore
Yeah, I’m from Gilbert. I’m not too far away though.
[00:08:57.275] – Hilary Erickson
Not far away at all. OK, so Grace is your companion. Have you ever wanted to kill her because she’s too cheerful.
[00:09:04.055] – Sister Whitmore
No, never going to be cheerful.
[00:09:07.595] – Hilary Erickson
But what is it like being so companionships have to say you have to stay in the same room like you sleep in the same room, not in the same bed. Yes, that is in the rulebook. Right?
[00:09:19.425] – Sister Whitmore
[00:09:20.075] – Hilary Erickson
And you can use the restroom alone.
[00:09:22.355] – Sister Whitmore
Yes, actually we can.
[00:09:23.735] – Sister Whitmore
Which is a good thing.
[00:09:26.285] – Hilary Erickson
Have you ever stayed in the restroom a little extra longer just to be alone?
[00:09:29.945] – Sister Whitmore
[00:09:31.895] – Sister Whitmore
I’d say it’s more showers than just the restroom. That’s like the best time because you’re alone and you just just take very long showers. That’s what I learned.
[00:09:42.005] – Hilary Erickson
That totally makes sense. Although I will say that as a mom, you spend more time in the bathroom just to be alone also. So that doesn’t change from here.
[00:09:49.115] – Sister Whitmore
Goes is preparing us, right?
[00:09:50.645] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. OK, what is the best part about having a companion? I want both of you to answer while you pick.
[00:09:58.625] – Hilary Erickson
What’s the best part?
[00:09:59.435] – Sister Whitmore
I think the best part is like have a best friend with you all the time and there’s not going to be other time in your life where you have someone with you all the time like you when you’re married, you still aren’t with your spouse 24/7, like you have a life and work and things, but you have a best friend with you all the time. But I what your day just so fun.
[00:10:18.785] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, that’s a good answer. What’s your answer, Grace?
[00:10:20.795] – Grace Pope
I would say one of the best parts is just like. Want to say just all that I learned and like the help that I get, I mean, like the spiritually, but also just having someone with you to laugh with you and do two things like, I don’t know, like she’s teaching me how to braid my hair right now and maybe I should expose myself. But little things like that where you have a friend always, but also in lessons like if you want help saying something or I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, but.
[00:10:48.725] – Hilary Erickson
Well, can you imagine being on a mission alone, know like all these awkward things you had to do alone?
[00:10:55.245] – Grace Pope
And I think that’s part of it.
[00:10:56.345] – Hilary Erickson
That’s like being a nurse.
[00:10:58.715] – Sister Whitmore
I think that’s part of it, too, is just having someone you all the times, there’s never they never miss anything. Whenever I talk with her, she was there. She’s been with me all the time. So we go through the same experience all the time. There’s always something to talk about and relate to and look back on. Yeah, yeah.
[00:11:16.535] – Hilary Erickson
I think that’s really cool. And I think it really gives you so many great life skills. Speaking of which, what’s the worst part about having a companion, whoever wants to go first?
[00:11:25.025] – Grace Pope
Oh, I don’t know.
[00:11:26.795] – Grace Pope
I mean, sometimes just two people are just not going to get along very well. And when you’re stuck with them 24/7 for at least a month and a half. But it’s definitely hard.
[00:11:37.505] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. What about you, Sister Whitmore?
[00:11:40.685] – Sister Whitmore
Yeah, I think the same, which is the best thing with someone 24/7, but also sometimes the worst because. Right then I need to a really long shower today because when, when there are conflicts or problems, it’s, there’s no escape. But I guess this is part of learning how to deal with them and how to work through it anyways, because they’re definitely not going anywhere.
[00:12:02.675] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I will say that Grace’s dad had a mission companion that my parents thought he might kill at some point. So there are times. So but you only get like Grace was saying, you you are together at least six weeks, right?
[00:12:16.235] – Grace Pope
[00:12:16.625] – Hilary Erickson
And the president decides when you move, right?
[00:12:19.445] – Grace Pope
He does. Yeah.
[00:12:20.645] – Hilary Erickson
So there’s a lot of, like, uncertainty about where they’re going to be at.
[00:12:25.715] – Grace Pope
Oh yeah. Makes things exciting and scary.
[00:12:28.565] – Hilary Erickson
[00:12:29.075] – Hilary Erickson
It makes things exciting for the members of the church too because we never know when the missionary is going to leave. So if a member is like getting attached to one and then all of a sudden they send them away, that can be frustrating for everyone. Yeah. Yeah. OK, so Grace, what what made you want to go?
[00:12:44.555] – Grace Pope
So I’m going to be honest, I didn’t always want to serve a mission. I was actually terrified of all the things that I don’t have to do, like knock doors, talk to people on the street.
[00:12:54.305] – Grace Pope
And around the time that I was eight- or around the time that I was nineteen, when I had the option to go serve as an I just felt strongly. I prayed about it and strongly that that God’s next step for me. And I don’t know if you remember this, Hillary, but I remember going to lunch on my 19th birthday and you made a joke. You were like you could serve a mission now.
[00:13:13.145] – Grace Pope
And we both were like, ah ha. So funny. I don’t know if I do, but it was pretty clear that I needed to do that. So I’m really glad that I did a couple of months, probably like four months after that when I left and I came to Minnesota and I’ve loved that ever since. Yeah.
[00:13:29.435] – Hilary Erickson
And you were thinking maybe later, right?
[00:13:31.685] – Grace Pope
Yeah. I always thought maybe I do college for a year and then go see what plans are taking me. But I only did a semester of school before I headed out.
[00:13:39.545] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And how great that you just went when you did. Right, because you got the full. So missionaries back in the day used to go to the MTC in Provo, Utah, and you would hang out there for a couple of weeks and get a bunch of training before you went out on your mission.
[00:13:52.715] – Hilary Erickson
And now people are doing the MTC sort of at their home, MTC standing for missionary training center. Yeah, but you got to go to the big one.
[00:14:00.065] – Grace Pope
I did. Yes. I was there for three weeks just learning how to be a missionary. The different lessons we would teach them. And I actually left probably like a week before down. I barely made it out. It’s just like Indiana Jones.
[00:14:15.725] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so I told Grace she couldn’t make this super churchy because that’s not the kind of gal I am or the kind of podcast Pulling Curls Podcast is. But I think it’s important for you guys to understand why these missionaries are out and what they are trying to do. So, Grace, what is your big aim as a missionary for you? Sister Pope?
[00:14:31.295] – Grace Pope
Yeah, the reason we’re out here is to share the message of Jesus Christ. Share that peace and that whole thing can come from allowing him into our lives. So I think that’s one of the biggest rewards of being a missionary, is to be able to, like I said, do Bible studies or read scripture with people to really experience that with them, be able to see their lives change the superiority.
[00:14:52.085] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I always think of it as like when I get this is a pretty literal translation, but when I like like a moisturizer on my face that I just love, like, I want to tell everybody about it because I get a real dry face sometimes. And I think it’s the same idea. You want to just go out and share something that’s really working for you so the other people can have a good life. And I think people think we’re brainwashing these kids into going out.
[00:15:14.465] – Hilary Erickson
But I think most of them that have come to my house really feel like they’ve found that moisturizer that works for them. If we’re going to use that metaphor again. What do you think, Grace?
[00:15:22.895] – Grace Pope
Oh, yeah, I totally agree. I know, I mean, missions are hard and like I said, I didn’t always really plan on going, but it was definitely my decision and I’m so glad that I came. And there’s so many things that I’ve learned in my testimony.
[00:15:35.205] – Grace Pope
My faith of Jesus Christ has grown. So much. So I definitely feel that I just want to share it with everyone. Yeah.
[00:15:40.235] – Hilary Erickson
OK, Grace, is there a way that people can get in touch with you? You don’t have Instagram. How can they get in touch?
[00:15:45.665] – Grace Pope
Yeah. So one of the biggest ways is through our church’s website, come unto Christ dot org. People can I guess a lot of forum that says what why they want to be a missionary and that information gets forwarded to us to your missionaries in your area because there’s missionaries all over the world and that’s how we contact you. Whether you want to do a Bible study or you want to pray together or you want to hear more about our beliefs and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
[00:16:09.665] – Grace Pope
But another huge way for Facebook. I have my own Facebook profile. So does every other missionary where we post more about what we believe and how we want to help people. That’s a big way that we can affect the people.
[00:16:22.315] – Hilary Erickson
That’s awesome. And I think people feel like if you’re just at a point in your life to my listeners, where you just want something different, I don’t want people to feel like when you fall that Church of Jesus Christ, dot org, you can also go to LDS dot org if you’re lazy and typing, but are the real name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. So they changed it. But if you’re just looking for something different, those missionaries could just provide you maybe some insight into the Bible or something like that.
[00:16:48.815] – Hilary Erickson
It’s not that you’re you’re saying yes, for sure. I want to get baptized. Is that true?
[00:16:52.595] – Grace Pope
Oh, yeah. Yeah. We just want to help in any way that we can. And I think a lot of people are scared that we’re just going to baptize and we’re just going to dunk em real quick. But we we really know that it’s important and we just want to share what we can. Yeah.
[00:17:04.745] – Hilary Erickson
And I think a lot of people, especially during quarantine and maybe even coming out of quarantine or just feel like something’s missing. So that’s a great way to get in touch with people that could just see, ah, maybe some positivity and then you see where it goes. And if you’re not interested after a while, that’s fine too.
[00:17:18.975] – Grace Pope
[00:17:19.715] – Hilary Erickson
One other thing I forgot to mention. So missionaries do a lot of service, right, Grace?
[00:17:24.305] – Grace Pope
We do. Yeah.
[00:17:25.535] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And do you have to be a member of the church to have missionaries help you out?
[00:17:29.495] – Grace Pope
No, certainly not. We want to help everyone.
[00:17:32.315] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And the missionaries in our area, especially during quarantine, are always looking for ways to serve other people. So they were looking to help do yard work like move stuff around in your house, stuff like that. So that’s that’s a great thing that they’re doing while they’re out there. I’m not saying that you find the missionaries so that they can serve you, but just keep in mind that even when you see them on the streets, they could be out doing good things and helping other people around them, right?
[00:17:54.425] – Grace Pope
Yes, we love that. We’re always looking for service opportunities.
[00:17:57.335] – Hilary Erickson
So that’s awesome. OK, Grace, this was awesome. Get out there and missionary it up. All right. I will. Thank you for having me on today.
[00:18:05.135] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. All right. Thanks. You guys have a good one.
[00:18:07.595] – Hilary Erickson
OK, I hope you guys enjoyed that episode. I hope it was just kind of some insight into what these young kids have made the choice to do while they’re out on their mission. I’m super proud of Grace and the choice that she made her companion, those to actually get along super, super well. I haven’t I’ve seen grace, maybe not love certain companions as much, but she’s really gotten along well with most of her companions.
[00:18:26.075] – Hilary Erickson
So that’s really fun. And in fact, like since she’s been on her mission, I’ve kind of been like this seems more like girls camp than a mission. But that’s probably because Grace is so fun and makes whatever she’s doing fun. So I hope you guys enjoy this episode. I hope you guys have a great Easter. It is a great time to make a change. As the hashtag says, starting today, if there’s something you want to change in your life, Covid shrinking… Easter’s here.
[00:18:47.405] – Hilary Erickson
Let’s make the world a little bit better of a place. So, yeah. Happy Easter, everybody.
[00:18:51.875] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the smiles in your life. We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review until next time. We hope you have a tangle free day.