by Devin Justesen
Devin Justesen is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he studied English and Business Management. He is a writer, photographer, movie-fanatic, and a lover of street-tacos. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
Halloween is one of the most fun holidays of the year, with so much candy, opportunities to dawn a fun costume, and spending time with friends in family during the crisp autumn evening. But what about those serving full-time missions?
Whether you've served a mission or not, it is easy to forget that Halloween can be a very interesting day for missionaries. By nature, many Halloween activities we enjoy are not appropriate for official representatives of Jesus Christ. Still, there are ways missionaries can use the holiday to relax, bond with members and the people they teach, all while staying true to their calling.
After speaking with a few returned missionaries about their Halloween experiences, we decided to share their stories so you could have a “behind the scenes” peek into what it’s like to be a missionary during one of the spookiest days of the year.
The first Halloween I experienced in Japan was of the most entertaining and fun Halloweens I had ever had! We followed the regular mission schedule of study and taking to the streets to talk with people about our message. I’ll never forget how as we were going about our day, we actually ran into members of our ward while we were out proselyting! They were always so kind, and gave us candy and treats and wished us a very Happy Halloween. As we went about our day teaching our close friends, our ward had put together a Halloween party that we were invited to attend. We had invited a few of our friends we had been teaching and they were eager to see what a Halloween party at a local church would even look like! They had a blast, and so did we.
While serving in Spain, we would throw a Halloween party with the members each year. It was a great way to bring people together at the church, and introduce our investigators to the great members of our area.
We would have to be home early on Halloween, usually before it got dark. We’d have some extra hours in the apartment on those days, but my favorite Halloween was within the first two weeks at the start of my mission. We went over to a members house and carved pumpkins with them while helping make some treats for her friends.
Halloween was one of the best days to teach about family history! Many of the people we taught saw Halloween not only as a day of fun, candy, and costumes, but saw it as a day to remember those in their family who had passed on. Many missionaries find Halloween to be a great day to teach concerning the life after this one, and the blessings of having an eternal family.
I’ll never forget how on one Halloween we had a lesson planned with one of good friends who was investigating the Church, and we happily made our way over to their house. One of their housemates opened the door and immediately started laughing, since he thought we were in costumes for Halloween! We tried to explain we were actual missionaries from the Church, but it wasn’t until our friend came down the stairs and explained he was meeting with us. Suddenly his face changed and he said, “Shoot, I was about ready to give you guys some candy!”
How We Can Help Make Their Halloween Memorable
One of the best things we can do is find ways to help brighten Halloween for missionaries. Like most holidays, missionaries can’t help but think of their own homes and traditions.
A member I served with while on own mission in Tokyo perfectly understood this, and made it his mission to help the missionaries know they were missed and loved on such holidays. I remember one Halloween evening while we were arriving back at our apartment that we suddenly received a call from Brother Hashimoto, asking if we were home for the evening. We said we were, and he said he had some deliveries for the missionaries, and would be by soon.
Not five minutes later we heard a knock at the door, and there was Brother Hashimoto is the most orange Jack-O-Latern T-Shirt and three large boxes of Krispy Kreme Donuts, Halloween editions. He gave us a big hug, thanked us for all we did, and wished us a Happy Halloween. Brother Hashimoto had two sons who were serving missions at the time, and he told us he wanted to make sure we knew how much we were loved, and thanked us for our service and diligent work. Brother Hashimoto was like a father to me while I served in his ward for a number of months because of his simple acts of kindness like this.
So this Halloween, remember those great missionaries that a part of your family, or maybe are serving in your area. Sending a simple care package with candies, letters, and thoughts of encouragement can be exactly what your missionary needs to keep their head up and continue on with the work they have been called to do. We have a great Halloween Gift Box for just such an occasion. Click the link here to learn more!