At first glance, I remember thinking to myself that the place was teeming with missionaries. I couldn’t have told you specifically why just then, but the impression was unmistakable. The more I circulated throughout the building I began to zero in on the cause… the illusion only worked its magic from behind.

Fanny packs. The giant, dorky, filthy missionary variety: all attached to what can only be described as a weight belt, every one emblazoned with a different mission logo, each incorporating its own variation on at least one of the following words: celestial, obedience, service, faith, or charity. If you’ve seen one, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’m not really sure how to explain it — this is the best approximation I could find:

fanny.jpg

Just stick Moroni or a temple with a slogan where it says “Kelty” and imagine that grey is not the fabric’s original color, but rather a result of natural causes.

Now picture twenty or so men in white shirts with these things slung over their shoulders. Toss in a few outliers with full backpacks (that also share the aforementioned characteristics) and you can see why I thought I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up at a zone conference.

On closer inspection, it was evident that many of these fanny packers were no longer as young as they might be (i.e. they’d been trucking these smelly things to church for more than ten years). Let it also be noted that the young men in the unit showed an unusual propensity for carrying similar accoutrements, though theirs were conspicuously cleaner.

I’m not quite sure what to think of this. I understand the desire to want to hold on to a piece of your mission; yet, I wondered if this wasn’t taking it a little too far (especially from a public health perspective). I have no real evidence to back up what I am about to say, but my intuition tells me I was watching a colorful show of male bravado. (No, I didn’t see any women clinging to the squalid things — if there was a female equivalent, I was blissfully oblivious.)

This happened to be in a unit outside of the U.S. What are some of the forms you have seen the post-mission status symbol take, at home or abroad?