Mission Presidents + April Fools = Bad Idea

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Fool's came and went yesterday without any major pranks directed at me. I didn't come up with anything devious either, so it was a pretty lame April Fool's Day. Perhaps this is just another sign of the faltering economy - nobody has a sense of humor anymore. If you managed to experience anything funny on April Fool's, please post a comment and share it so that the rest of us can have a much needed laugh.

While my April Fool's Day was a letdown, it did make me think back to one of the pranks that I pulled a long time ago that I still remember. And regret. In fact, I think I should apologize to the butt of the joke and he just happens to be a General Authority now. I have never apologized to a General Authority before, so I am not exactly sure how to proceed. To make the situation even more complicated, I need to ask forgiveness for something that happened thirteen years ago. So, here goes nothing:

"Elder Spencer V. Jones of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy, I am sorry. Please forgive me and my knucklehead companions for making you the target of the worst April Fool's Day prank that I have ever been involved with. It happened on April 1st, 1996 in your mission office. You know who we are. You know what we did. And I'm sorry."

Elder Jones, then President Jones, was an ideal mission president. He presided over the Chile Antofagasta mission from 1994 to 1997 and I was blessed to serve under his inspired leadership. Both he and his wife loved the Lord, loved His work, and loved the missionaries they were called to lead. I could not have asked for a better mission president. The only person who could possibly give Pres. Jones a run for his money would be Steve Wilkos if he were converted and channeled his energy into missionary work instead of berating deadbeat 19-year-old punks. (In my best Steve Wilkos voice, "What? You haven't been baptized? YOU haven't been baptized? You haven't been BAPTIZED? Well, come on, tough guy. Be a man. Be a MAN! Get baptized right here, right now. RIGHT NOW! The font is filled, macho man. Come one, tough guy. GET IN THE FONT! RIGHT NOW!)

Toward the end of my mission I was fortunate enough to serve alongside President Jones in the mission offices for several months and got to know him on a more personal level than most missionaries did. I learned invaluable lessons from Pres. Jones as I heard him pray, watched him teach, witnessed him endure 14-hour days with a smile, and saw him bless the lives of hundreds of missionaries, members, converts, and nonmembers.

But I also saw another side of Pres. Jones. A lighter side. A humorous side. In fact, Pres. Jones is a really funny person. His sense of humor was easy to see in his first General Conference talk entitled "Overcoming the Stench of Sin" in which he talked about being a youth trying to pick up on young women after being sprayed by a skunk. Even in front of an audience of millions, Pres. Jones defaulted to humor to teach an important lesson about sin and its consequences.

Perhaps it was Pres. Jones' sense of humor that led me and my two companions to believe that he would be up for an April Fool's Day prank. My two companions at that time (yes, we were in a trio companionship for a while in the office) were not only two of the best missionaries in the mission, but they were two of my best friends as well. They were both hilarious and the three of us had a great time together. We were kind of like the Three Nephites (focused, dedicated, and wanting to do good) meets the Three Stooges (immature, funny, and really immature.)

For the sake of anonymity, I will call my two companions Elder Mad Dog and Elder Dry Cow. If the three of us were the Cullen brothers from Twilight, I would have been Jasper since I was the skinniest, least manly and I live in the South (though I'm not flying any Confederate flags, Jasper.) Elder Mad Dog would have been Emmett - burly, manly and always wanting to arm wrestle somebody into submission.

Elder Dry Cow would have been Edward, no doubt about it. I think every Chilean woman between the ages of 12 and 109 years old had a massive crush on Elder Dry Cow from 1994-1996. Whenever our teaching pool was getting low, Elder Mad Dog and I would joke that all we needed to do was to send Elder Dry Cow to the local college campus and we would have about 59 new investigators.

All female.

And all very much looking forward to a return appointment from Elder Dry Cow and his twinkling blue eyes.

Elders Dry Cow, Mad Dog and I decided it would be funny to play an April Fool's Day joke on President Jones. After all, we knew him pretty well and thought we had a feel for his sense of humor. Instead of studying our scriptures and planning our teaching appointments on April 1st, 1996, we brainstormed all morning on how to play a prank on our trusting, unsuspecting mission president. This is how it played out:

-Elder Mad Dog and I walk into Pres. Jones office, "Hey, President Jones, do you have a minute?"
-Pres. Jones: "Sure, Elders, what's on your mind?"
-Us, pretending to look worried: "Um, we need to talk to you about something pretty serious."
-Pres. Jones looks concerned: "Okay, what's going on?"
-Us: "It's Elder Dry Cow. Last night the two of us (Elder Mad Dog and I) went out to teach a discussion and Elder Dry Cow went out on a split with a young Deacon in the ward. And...well...you know how popular he is with the ladies..."
-Pres. Jones' face falls and his shoulders slump: "Yes, I do. Please go on."
-Us: "Well, when we were walking home from our appointment we passed the house of an attractive young woman we are teaching. We heard what sounded like a party coming from her house and her windows were open. And, well, we saw Elder Dry Cow partying and dancing with her and her friends. His Deacon companion was nowhere to be seen."
-Pres. Jones looks like somebody just repeatedly stabbed him through the heart with a dull butter knife: "And you're sure it was Elder Dry Cow?"
-Us: "Yes. We are positive."
-Pres. Jones looks like his dog just got hit by a car: "Go get Dry Cow. Send him in. Alone."

Elder Mad Dog and I left Pres. Jones' office tyring to stifle our giggles. We grabbed Elder Dry Cow and told him that Pres. Jones was totally falling for our prank and asked him to string Pres. Jones along for as long as he could. The three of us laughed and probably did something dorky like giving each other high fives. Elder Dry Cow put on a somber face and trudged into Pres. Jones office. Elder Mad Dog and I began laughing after the door closed.

After about only a minute the door to Pres. Jones office opened. Elder Mad Dog and I were a little upset with Dry Cow for not turning this into a longer, more elaborate prank. The three missionaries cracked up at the hilarious April Fool's Day prank we had just played, but Pres. Jones only managed to muster an uncomfortable chuckle.

Later, Elder Dry Cow told Elder Mad Dog and me that it looked like Pres. Jones was on the verge of tears when he walked into his office. Elder Dry Cow felt so bad that he immediately told Pres. Jones that it was a joke, but Pres. Jones looked really shaken up about the whole thing. Looking back, I can understand why. There is nothing funny about joking around about somebody's personal worthiness to his or her presiding authority. Maybe we should have just put a whoopie cushion on Pres. Jones' chair or have spoken Spanish with terrible Gringo accents all day.

So, Pres. Jones, I'm sorry.

Just don't be surprised if a whoopie cushion gets sent to church headquarters next year.

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Rebecca said...

Sometimes subtle is good. The best April Fools' Day joke I recall was done by our sister missionaries in New Jersey. April Fool's Day was on a Sunday that year and our lovely Sisters took a bag of Oreos, removed all the creme filling from every cookie and replaced it with toothpaste. Then they passed them out at church.

10:49 AM
Amy Btw M said...

This year I successfully short-sheeted two beds in the house. It felt good to pull a prank.

When I was in high school I came up with this prank. I taped the button down on the sink sprayer, so when somebody went to use the kitchen sink they would get sprayed with water. This particular year I was mad at my mom and hoping to spray her. Well, instead my brother was standing at the sink and got the spray right as his school car pool showed up. I laughed so hard, and he had to hurry and change his shirt. This year my niece pulled that prank and I was there to witness her mom get sprayed. That one never gets old.

12:40 PM
Danielle said...

Wow, that is a serious prank! Yikes.

(I hope you've repented) ;)

2:07 PM
Maren Hansen said...

High five here. And it's even better that's he a GA now... :)

5:40 PM
Olivia said...

This year I announced on Facebook that we were moving to Canada and I also blogged about it. You can check my blog link and read the last two posts (the most recent one I wrote is the fessing up that it was all a prank). I can't believe how many people believed me, even after all the hints I gave that it was a joke. It was by far the most fun prank I've ever pulled. I don't know how I'm gonna top fooling that many people that well again. It might have to include staplers... and a LOT of jello.

9:23 PM
Graham Chops said...

For April Fool's, my friend in New York changed her Facebook status so that she was "engaged" to me. Then she told all of her friends she was ditching med school out there to be closer to me.

Then, last night, she put her status back to normal.


9:40 PM
Amie said...

Ohh...that's so very sad... naughty!

11:37 PM
Admiral Lily said...

Ah, youth. The best thing about life is that it's full of second chances and then some. More opportunities to learn and grow from our mistakes. Repentance and the Atonement make it all possible.

I'm not much of a pranker and people don't seem to want to prank me. I suppose I should take this as a good thing.

But I did see some funny skits at my bother's college men's pageant show on April Fool's this year.

8:15 AM

Holding on to guilt for 13 years, shows how kind hearted you really are and I'm sure that he knew it then too.

I can never come up w/anything good enough to pull off for April Fools. This year though I'm old enough now to say "I'm pregnant" and it freaked a couple of people out. I know that is an old one so I was surprised it worked. That was awsome. Next year maybe the sink sprayer?

8:28 AM
Nicole Casey said...

Just a word about the sink sprayer prank... When I was about 17, I decided to do it. I had the perfectly clear scotch tape, and it was going to be awesome. As I sat at lunch talking to my mom, (she was standing in front of the sink) She started choking on whatever she was eating. Gasping for air, she turned on the sink hoping to get a drink to help her situation out. Instead she got a face full of water. It kept spraying and spraying and she kept turning red. I was sure I was going to lose my mother because I was such an idiot, and tried to un-tape it as it was spraying. I had put several layers of tape on, so eventually I just turned it off. To the relief of my mom. She stopped choking and was fine... but I never dare tape the sprayer again. I am afraid the worst will happen. =-)

5:57 PM

Nicole Casey - Holy Cow! You almost killed your mom on April Fool's Day? Those types of things never happen in real life. They only happen in Adam Sandler or Chris Farley movies.

Hey, wait a second. Are you sure that your mom didn't discover your prank and then stage the choking incident as YOUR April Fool's Day gag? That. Would. Rock!

9:55 PM
Jill said...

Last year, my beloved husband decided to turn all our milk green before he left for work. All three gallons we purchased the night before. The kids wouldn't touch the stuff. Said husband was pretty upset when he had to go and buy more milk because the family wouldn't drink it. Milk is expensive!!!! Thinking about that shopping trip still makes me giggle.

7:32 AM
Chellers said...

This year I posted on Facebook and also on my blog that I had been chosen to compete on the Amazing Race. I couldn't believe the positive response of friends and family! Then I found out it sparked an argument between my parents---my mom didn't believe me, but my dad was adamant that I was going on the show! I got a lot of laughs, but also a few "shame on you" comments the next day when I told everyone the truth.

I guess that whole "honesty is the best policy" business might have something going for it...but I'm still not convinced.

1:26 PM
Amber Chappell said...

Hey thanks for sharing Elder Jones' talk on The Stench of Sin. I'm speaking in church next Sunday on the Atonement and was trying to come up with a good story for an intro. Nothing like a good skunk story to grab peoples attention!

6:41 PM
Joy Tincher said...

I papered my uncles mailbox with Obama stickers. I thought that was a great joke because who want's to be seen supporting obama.

7:44 AM
Marta said...

Thanks for writing this post about Elder JOnes! I work with an orphanage in Guatemala, and through it have had the opportunity of speaking with Elder Jones and his wife. They are a fantastic couple, and it was fun to hear a little bit more about him.... even if you did almost make him cry. Yeah....you SHOULD feel bad! haha Anyway, thanks for the story. I have immense respect for him.

4:52 PM