Southwestern States Mission: First Snow

By December 16, 2012

I have rescheduled the previously-announced post on death in favor of something more light-hearted and seasonal. Below is Sister Amelia Carling?s 1901 Dec 05, Thursday, diary entry. Carling, with companion Sarah Giles, was a missionary in north-eastern Kansas. They were staying with a church member, Sister Hedges (first name not given). Elder Judd was another missionary.

The next morning when we awoke and looked out we saw the landscape covered with the pure white cloak of winter. It was a beautiful sight. The first snow of the season.

Well, Sarah and I, girl like, had to get out and take a run in the snow.

Sister made the pancakes for breakfast and she made Sister Hedges and I eat more than we wanted, but we had a good deal of sport while eating them. At about ten o?clock Elder Judd came walking down the road. Sarah was just unbraiding her hair which she had braided in small braids so as to have it nice and crimpy. I nearly made myself sick laughing at her when we told her Elder Judd was coming. She jumped and danced and squeeled like a little frantic child. Sister Hedges and I caught her and held her until he came in. That little joke was the first I had been able to get on her and she is frequently getting jokes on the rest, and especially me. About one o?clock we started for Bro. Hills?. When we got out in the yard Elder Judd took some snow and threw on sister Giles. Sister thot it was me so she washed my face and a little snow ball fight followed but I being so much more fleshy, was not quick enough for her so she got the best of the ?battle.? I was a pretty looking object. Had just had my hair washed so it all came down and my face was all streaked with dirt which was picked with the snow. We had a good laugh but we were so far from neighbors that no one saw nor heard any thing so it did not matter. We arived at bro. Hills? at one o?clock. After half an hours? visit we all went down to R.S. meeting. We had a nice cool ride thru the mud. Our meeting was very good. After meeting went back to bro. hills spent the evening in singing, talking and working at fancy work.


 The ?Southwestern States Mission? series (homepage) examines mission life in (mostly) Texas around 1900.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. What a fun story. I know very little about turn-of-the-century missionary training and “rules”, but it seems that the missionaries were conscious of how others might have viewed their levity. Did they have any formal expectations of decorum, or was it generally understood that you act–to use modern missionary parlance–with “quiet dignity”?

    Comment by Nate R. — December 16, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  2. Oh, nice. Reminds me of a lovely game of snow frisbee in the MTC; it was a very snowy winter, and everything was so quiet with most of the student employees gone home for Christmas. I seem to remember that my district may have had to bend some rules to play it, but the gym had been closed for renovations the whole time we’d been there, and we were all in real need of some exercise and fun.

    I like your index page. That’s a great resource.

    Comment by Amy T — December 16, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  3. Nate: the questions of what “mission rules” were and what the norms were and how they were different and how they both differed from the expectations of non-missionary church membership are, I think, important. I do not, however, have a solid grasp on them. (If I did, I would have already written a post.)

    Amy: thanks for the recollection. And I’m glad you like the homepage.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — December 16, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  4. Edje, BYU’s Mormon Missionary Diaries collection online lists the following resources:

    The basic history of the formal training of missionaries is presented in Cowan, Richard O. Every Man Shall Hear the Gospel in His Own Language: A History of the Missionary Training Center and Its Predecessors. Provo: Missionary Training Center, 1984.

    A brief overview of missionary training materials is
    Lund, Robert E. “Proclaiming the Gospel in the Twentieth Century.” In Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century. 29th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium Series. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000: 277-41.

    Comment by Nate R. — December 18, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

  5. A wonderful story. We focus often on the extremes of religious practice. But the quotidien is sometimes the best way to connect us to the past.

    Comment by Max — December 19, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  6. This is a delightful vignette. Seems like this camaraderie and lightness of heart would be nicer approach to missionary work than the rule-obsessed, guilt-perpetuating approach I and others seemed to have 🙂 It captures a more community-centered feel than the transitory and efficient methods of missionary work today.

    Comment by Rachael — December 19, 2012 @ 1:37 pm


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