The following comment by Dave K was posted on BCC (27 Feb 2013). It was in response to a blog entry on missionaries removing their name tags:
I served in Southern California in the mid 90’s. For the first half of my mission we were allowed to do service in elementary schools. Basically, we helped as teachers aides, tutored struggling kids, and translated for parent-teacher conferences if the parents spoke little English. The service was awesome. The kids loved us, we actually did a lot of good, the service was regular and easy to schedule and it took place during the middle of the day when it was otherwise difficult to set appointments or tract. Most importantly, when we would inevitably tract into the kids’ homes we had an immediate bond. Often families would invite us in solely on the recommendation of their children who said “these guys work at our school and are the best.”
Then, suddenly, we were told of a new church policy that prevented missionaries from serving in schools. I image there had been some incident or concern of abuse. It’s the same logic that now prevents missionaries from even touching children. From a legal liability standpoint, I understand. From a moral and human standpoint, it sucks big time. We continued to do service thereafter, but nothing ever approached the good we could do in the schools.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that, when we served in the elementary schools, we were required to remove our name tags. Obviously schools need to keep a church/state separation. The mission president was fine with that. We also did not go by “Elder” or “Sister” because those are religious titles. We still needed some name for the children to call us, so over time the practice developed that we would use nicknames. My companion was “Jake.” I was “Elwood.” (Yes, the blues brothers)
One of my fondest memories was tracting one day. When the door opened, a child we had tutored stood there mouth agape, and then ran screaming through the house “Mom, it’s Jake and Elwood, they finally came to visit us.”
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