The Accidental Terrorist : Glossary of Missionary Terms
            
Aaronic Priesthood
Lesser of the two divisions of the Mormon priesthood, sometimes called the “preparatory” priesthood.
anti-Mormon; anti
Opposed to the doctrines, practice, or culture of Mormonism; one who opposes Mormonism, often through an active attempt to persuade members that their religion is false.
ape
Assistant to the president.
apostate
A former member who has willfully denied and abandoned Mormonism.
area
A companionship’s assigned proselytizing territory.
arm’s length
The nearest a missionary is permitted to approach members of the opposite sex.
assistant to the president; a.p.
One of two missionaries assigned to administrative tasks at the mission office.
basher
A missionary who lives to Bible-bash.
bear one’s testimony
To express a testimony verbally.
best two years of one’s life
A platitude widely mouthed about mission service.
Bible-bash
To attempt to prove the truthfulness one’s beliefs at the expense of one’s opponent’s, competitively and contentiously, by recourse to Biblical citations.
blister
Derogatory term for a sister missionary.
blue planner
A cumbersome weekly scheduling form issued to missionaries.
Book of Mormon, The
A book of scripture, sacred to Mormons, purported to be an abridgement of the writings of ancient prophets, translated by Joseph Smith.
bucket
A lazy, rule-breaking missionary.
busted
Caught breaking rules; demoted in rank.
calling and election made sure
Guaranteed a place in the highest level of heaven; sometimes said of elders whom the mission president seems to be grooming for the role of assistant.
Celestial smile
The scoop neck of the men’s garment, visible through a white dress shirt.
coequal
A companion of equal rank.
companion; comp
A missionary’s assigned partner.
companionship
A pair of missionaries.
cool family
A member family that frequently invites the local missionaries over to hang out.
creative addition
Inflation of weekly numbers for reporting purposes.
D’s
Discussions.
daughter
A sister one trained.
dear John
A breakup letter from a missionary’s significant other.
die
To be released from one’s mission and go home.
diligent; diligent-head
A missionary who works tirelessly, often joylessly.
dinner appointment; d.a.
A meal invitation from a member family.
discussion
A missionary lesson.
discussions, the
The complete set of six missionary lessons, which must be taught to an investigator before baptism.
district
An administrative unit of a mission, consisting usually of two to four companionships.
district leader; d.l.
The missionary who supervises a district.
double-digit midget
A missionary with less than one hundred days remaining until release.
dunk
A baptism; to baptize.
dust one’s feet; shake the dust off one’s feet
To perform the priesthood ritual that seals condemnation upon a house, neighborhood, or city who have rejected the messengers of God.
elder
The first or lowest office of the Melchizedek Priesthood; a male missionary; the term of address applied thereto.
endowment
An ordinance or ritual conducted in Mormon temples, in which the recipient is taught the signs and tokens necessary to pass the sentries at the gates of heaven.
eternal investigator
One who takes the discussions repeatedly without being baptized, possibly out of loneliness.
Every member a missionary
A common exhortation for all church members to talk about the gospel with their non-member friends.
ex
To excommunicate.
farewell
The sacrament meeting where a departing missionary speaks to his or her ward.
father
An elder’s trainer.
fellowship
To befriend a non-member for purposes of proselytization.
field, the
Mission field.
fireside
A special evening meeting, usually for teens or young adults, featuring one or two talks on a particular gospel topic, so called because these gatherings originally took place near the hearth in someone’s home.
garment; garments
The sacred underclothes worn by Mormons as a constant reminder of the oaths sworn during the endowment.
gator
Investigator.
gentile
A non-member, so called because Mormons consider themselves to be spiritually adopted into the Tribes of Israel.
gift of discernment
The ability conferred upon Mormon leaders to tell truth from falsehood, or to glean hidden information, by means of the Spirit.
girl challenge; g.c.
The situation of a male missionary tempted by attraction to a local female.
golden
Highly receptive to the discussions.
Golden Plates, the
The engraved record from which Joseph Smith purportedly translated the Book of Mormon.
Golden Question
“What do you know about the Mormon church?”; the prototypical opening gambit in proselytization.
grandfather
An elder’s trainer’s trainer.
grandmother
A sister’s trainer’s trainer.
greenie
A missionary new to the field.
grip
In the endowment ordinance, a special handshake.
homecoming
The sacrament meeting where a returned missionary reports on his or her mission.
investigator
One taking the discussions from the missionaries.
junior companion
The lower ranking member of a companionship.
Language Training Mission; LTM
Forerunner to the Missionary Training Center.
legend
A missionary of accomplishments so memorable that his name lives on long after his release.
Melchizedek Priesthood
Higher of the two divisions of the Mormon priesthood.
member
A local Mormon.
member discussion
A discussion taught by the missionaries to a member family, either as practice or in the course of a member visit.
member family
A family of active local Mormons.
member visit
An attempt by the missionaries to persuade a member family to introduce their non-member friends to the church.
mid-month
An unscheduled transfer affecting only a few missionaries, usually brought about by an illness or other emergency.
mission
An administrative unit of the Mormon church, consisting usually of one to two hundred missionaries; the corresponding geographical region; the term or act of service of a missionary.
mission home
The residence of a mission president.
mission office
The administrative headquarters of a mission.
mission president
An individual called to supervise a mission, usually for a term of three years.
missionary
An individual called to proselytize far from home for a set period of time, usually two years for males and eighteen months for females.
Missionary Training Center; MTC
The facility in Provo, Utah, to which most new North American missionaries report for a period of training, usually three weeks for simple training and eight weeks for those learning foreign languages, before entering the mission field.
Mo-Tab
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Monopoly money
Canadian currency, so called because different denominations come in different colors.
morality issue
A matter of personal worthiness adversely affecting a missionary’s ability to perform his duties, usually sexual in nature.
mother
A sister’s trainer.
non-member
One who does not belong to the Mormon church.
numbers
The weekly statistics that reflect the accomplishments of a companionship, district, zone, or mission.
P-day
Preparation day.
part-member family
A family split between members and non-members, usually with one spouse of each persuasion.
penalty
In the endowment ordinance, a pantomime of gruesome injury representing the punishment for violating an oath.
Pharisee
A missionary who breaks rules in secret but works hard to appear diligent.
pit
A missionary apartment.
poach
To teach and/or baptize an investigator residing in another companionship’s proselytizing area.
preparation day
The one day a week set aside for missionaries’ personal errands and recreation.
prez
Mission president.
priesthood
The literal power and authority to act in God’s name, passed down from one man to the next through ordination by the laying on of hands. Also, collectively, holders of the priesthood.
pross clothes
Proselytizing clothes.
rat
One who informs on rule-breakers, often in hopes of personal advancement.
release
To honorably discharge from mission service.
resurrected being
One who has been raised by God from death into a perfected, exalted, and immortal state.
returned missionary; r.m.
One honorably discharged from mission service and gone home.
road trip
Any unauthorized journey outside one’s proselytizing area, but most often applied to long journeys for purposes of additional rule-breaking.
Saint
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
senior companion
The higher ranking member of a companionship.
senior couple
Older missionaries, usually of retirement age, who serve missions with their spouses for a period of six, twelve, or eighteen months.
sent home
Dishonorably discharged from mission service.
sign
In the endowment ordinance, a gesture accompanying the swearing of an oath.
sister
A female missionary; the term of address applied thereto.
son
An elder one trained.
split-off; splits
A temporary period of working with a partner other than one’s assigned companion.
sticks
The volumes of scripture a missionary carries, so called because Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be the “stick of Joseph” mentioned in Ezekiel 37:16-19, while the Bible is the “stick of Judah.”
testimony
One’s strong personal belief in the Mormon gospel as a whole or in specific portions thereof; the spoken or written expression of that testimony.
three-leg; threesome
A companionship comprising three missionaries.
token
In the endowment ordinance, a grip accompanying the swearing of a specific oath.
tracting
The act of proselytizing door-to-door, sometimes distributing pamphlets or tracts.
trainer
One’s first companion as a greenie.
transfer
Assignment to a new proselytizing area and, usually, to a new companion.
transfer missionary
A missionary reassigned from a different mission.
transfers
The usually monthly occasion when many missionaries are moved around within a mission, accommodating promotions, releases, and new arrivals.
translated being
A personage who has been transformed by God into a perfected, exalted, and immortal state without first tasting death.
trunky
Homesick.
wait
To refrain from dating or serious romantic entanglement while one’s significant other serves a mission.
White Bible
The missionary handbook, containing rules and behavioral guidelines.
whites
Proselytizing clothes.
without purse or scrip
Devoid of money or supplies, relying on the grace of God for survival; said of Jesus’s disciples as they ventured forth to proselytize, and of the earliest Mormon missionaries.
Word of Wisdom problem
Recurring use of forbidden substances that precludes an investigator from baptism or a member from temple attendance.
Word of Wisdom, the
A revelation purportedly received by Joseph Smith, interpreted as forbidding the use of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.
Zion
To Mormons, the gathering place of the Saints, a term often applied to Utah itself.
zone
An administrative unit of a mission, consisting usually of four to six districts.
zone leader; z.l.
The missionary who supervises a zone.
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About the Book

What happens when an ambivalent young Mormon missionary is pushed to the limit in a challenge to prove his faith? Hint: the outcome is explosive. The Accidental Terrorist is the long-awaited memoir from Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated author William Shunn, based on his popular podcast. Available now from Sinister Regard!