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Back In Ancient History (You Know, 1985)

April 9, 2019

I went to a world-wide meeting last Saturday night. It was broadcast from Salt Lake City. I was attending with three of my five sons in Pleasant Grove, but there were literally millions of people attending in buildings all around the globe. Oh, and it was only men and boys in the meetings.

The meeting was the Priesthood session of the 189th semi-annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.

This post isn’t really about the meeting. But, it’s always amazing to me to realize I’m sharing an experience with millions of other people at the exact same time. Half way through the meeting we all sang a song together. It’s mostly to wake people up after sitting for an hour.

Anyway, we got to the meeting early so we got to sit on the soft pews in the chapel. Arrive too late and you have to sit on the folding chairs in the overflow, the gymnasium portion. Regardless all the seats have a great view of the large video screens.

As we settled into our comfy bench, the benches around us also started to fill up. My two youngest boys don’t have phones and they were peering over their older brother’s shoulder at his phone. I’m not even sure what they were watching. Suddenly my older son asked,

Dad, when you were. amissionary did they have an app that let you keep track of which people you had already contacted?

No. I didn’t have an app. I didn’t have a cell phone or a computer.

The gentleman in the pew behind me leaned forward,

Did he just ask if you had an app on your mission?

Yeah. They have no idea.


The guy behind me was about my age. Turns out he’d served a mission in Toronto. I went to Chicago. I was there in 1985. . .The year the Bears won the Super Bowl.

We had a POTS landline. A Plain Old Telephone System phone connected to the wall. As missionaries got transferred, we had to keep switching the name on the account to new missionaries. As a sign language missionary, we weren’t your typical “knock on doors” types.

We had a massive map of Chicago on our wall along with pins marking the location of all deaf people we had been able to locate. There were about 30,000 in Chicago. We had about 200 identified in our card file.

An app? No, we had a 3×5 card file.

My friend in the pew behind me had been an English speaking missionary. He didn’t even have a 3 x 5 card file. He had a map and as they contacted people on a street they would take a yellow highlighter and mark it off.

Missionaries today do have an app. They have email. They have tablets and cell phones.

To my kids, my experience 35 years ago was might as have been the same as the early Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains using handcarts.

It makes me wonder what technological wonders my grandchildren will use as missionaries.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Eric S Scott permalink

    Phones that project 3-D video holograms of the Joseph Smith Story?

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