I have to admit, as a missionary, I had it good when it came to food. Not only was I serving in the California Fresno Mission, which covers the fertile soil of the Central Valley, but I was consistently blessed by the generosity of members and non-members alike. From a humble meal of cold bologna sandwiches to skirt-splitting three-course feasts, some of my fondest mission memories come from around the dinner table.
While we were always grateful for whatever was put in front of us (as it should be with any missionary in any part of the world), the adamantly asked question of what we wanted for dinner was about as common as “How many wives does your dad have?” and “I guess you’re voting for Mitt Romney?” So if you’re stumped about what to make the missionaries for dinner, here’s some tips and suggestions to get you started!
Make Regional or Cultural Dishes. Before serving in California, I had never hear of a persimmon. Nor did I have any clue as to what tri-tip was. But I definitely know now, and I hope you get to know someday too. (Especially with the tri-tip.) Some of my favorite meals came when I got to try the foods that the Central Valley was known for. Wherever you are, if there is something your town, city, state, or even country is known for, your missionaries will likely be excited for the experience.
Provide Options. Meals that allow missionaries to customize their plate are an easy way to please everyone at the table. Breakfast for dinner, assemble-yourself-tacos, pastas with different sauces, and homemade pizza are always fun and sure to please.
Incorporate Some Fun. When my family had the missionaries over, one of our favorite things to do was make a fire in our backyard and have a roast. Hot dogs, peppers stuffed with cheese, and s’mores were all popular. Going outside around the fire provided a relaxed, family environment. While you and the missionaries always want to honor their calling, I know it felt great as a missionary to feel relaxed and laugh a little. Roasts, barbecues, state fairs, community activities, or simple holiday meals with a few traditional activities can revitalize your missionaries when they’re missing home. It’s also a great way to connect with your missionaries and build a relationship that can further the work.
Make YOUR Favorites. By my third transfer, I had run out of favorite foods. While asking what a missionary’s favorite meal is is a great idea, making YOUR favorite meal is a sure-fire way to make a successful missionary meal. Not only will you feel confident and at-ease cooking it, alleviating stress, but there is likely a reason why it is a favorite for you or your family. Share that with your missionaries and they’ll feel like one of your own.
Remember the Spiritual Feast. I had a lot of chances to go to restaurants as a missionary. When feeding missionaries, I’ve also taken them out to our local town fairs and festivals. These can be different, delicious experiences. However, remember that your missionaries should want to feed you spiritually in return. My companion and I always had small lessons prepared for the families we dined with. If you would like to take missionaries out, invite them to give their thought before you leave or in a more private place after the meal is over. Getting the chance to have a lesson with members was always a spiritually-invigorating experience and was the best way we knew how to express our gratitude.
In Conclusion. My mission president had what would become a famous saying in our mission while I served there. He would quote it to anyone who served the missionaries in any capacity:
“The Lord loves His missionaries. And the Lord loves those who love His missionaries.”
Remember, no matter what you make for dinner, you are doing a great service and the Lord and His servants are grateful. Even if it’s a casserole.
We’d love to hear what you make when you have the missionaries over for dinner! Share your comments below.