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Snapshot of Kentucky – Kentucky, “the Bluegrass State,” was originally part of Virginia but separated and joined the United States as the 17th state in 1792. Kentucky has diverse characteristics of the South, Appalachia, and the Midwest, as it borders seven other states: West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. There is a wide range of people in the mission between those in urban and rural areas; this is especially apparent from dialect differences. Kentucky culture is influenced primarily by the Scots-Irish and German immigrants that came to America centuries ago. Although during Civil War times up to 25% of the population was of African ancestry, this has declined to less than 10% today. College sports, especially basketball, are very popular as Kentucky has no major league teams (although people often root for the nearby Cincinnati Reds, baseball, and Bengals, football). Kentucky has a large number of wildlife, including cattle and wild turkey, and this is reflected in its cuisine. Generally speaking, Kentuckians tend to have meat-based diets and fried food—Kentucky Fried Chicken originated in the state.
“The mission is a mix of big strong wards to little branches. One of my areas was a branch that met in a trucking school. Some wards had good member missionary work, others had little. Overall the members are pretty mission-minded. However, they can always improve. Advice to the missionaries serving in the area: do everything you can to become trusted by the members. Interact with them, visit them and they will find you people to teach.”
Overall, Kentucky boasts Church membership around 33,500, with 77 different congregations and 23 Family History centers–and a temple. The Louisville Kentucky Temple serves Church patrons from 12 stakes in 4 different states: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Car is common in the rural areas. In the bigger cities you will be biking, walking, or using public transportation unless you are serving in a mission leadership position with a need to travel.
There is some petty theft in the area. Make sure your belongs are secure when you are on the street and that your apartment is locked up tight when you leave for the day. The West End of Louisville has a poor reputation. It can be dangerous especially after dark– so obey mission rules and be aware of what is around you when tracting after dark.
Natural disasters have included tornadoes, ice storms, and severe flooding, although major events happen relatively infrequently.
“Basketball is a BIG deal. The rivalry between UK (University of Kentucky) and Louisville is a hot topic. I was shocked that proselyting became very ineffective during basketball games, at least in Lexington, Kentucky. I was also shocked by how much smoking there was. Kentucky is one of the highest percentage smoking states, if not the highest.”
Many of the people are extremely welcoming and warm. They have the “southern hospitality” you would expect in the South. However, the accents can be so thick that even if you are a native English speaker, you have difficulty understanding some people.
“‘Thunder over Louisville’ is a firework show that happens over the river (it is typically after missionary hours though). The Kentucky Derby is also popular, but missionaries typically aren’t allowed to attend. Typical American holidays and traditions.”
ya’ll = all of you
Farsee = As far as the eye can see
Lou-uh-ville = Louisville
Leave your silk ties at home, Kentucky rain will ruin those faster than you can blink an eye!
Some missionaries are called Spanish-speaking to the Kentucky Louisville Mission; while the Hispanic population is less than in some other states (the West Coast, New York, Florida for example), there are still a number of Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers in the state!
1325 Eastern Pkwy
Louisville, KY 40204
Current mission blog (request access): http://gklm-woodbury.blogspot.com/
For alumni: http://www.mission.net/kentucky/louisville/
*What did you eat the most of?
“I mostly ate frozen pizzas and chicken-pot-pies. I had a lot of sandwiches. [In] some areas I frequently ate fast food, especially Taco Bell or Little Caesars.”
“Members commonly made chicken, ribs, or other meat-based meals. Lasagnas and casseroles were pretty common as well. Members also made a lot of fried and deep fried meats, like chicken or turkey.”
*What is the crazies thing you ate?
“I didn’t eat anything crazy, but I was offered squirrel, which I politely declined.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The food was shockingly good. Families served delicious deep fried dinners. I often would have multiple thanksgiving dinners to attend… I was shocked by the way people sometimes treated us. Cars didn’t move much for us on the road. Items were thrown from vehicles at me.”
“I was expecting the bible belt where people would want to bible bash all the time, but it was more like the “religion belt.” It shocked me that there were so many huge non-denominational churches. These members were active, but didn’t study or know the doctrines of the Bible like I expected. I didn’t have a lot of bible-bashing confrontations.”
“I was surprised that some areas had dominant churches who were anti-Mormon. In some areas I ran into a lot of anti-Mormon literature and opposition. Almost 100% of the time our investigators who were preparing for baptism received anti-Mormon obstacles that seemed to come out of the woodwork. I think this is common for the Midwest missions.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to your mission?
“It rains a lot. Don’t bring any silk ties. Bring professional-looking suits, but ones that are cheap, because they are going to be shot when you are done. With all of the rain, sweating, and smoke you will encounter you will never wear these clothes again. Have a couple of suits, and save one of them for nice things like baptisms and zone conferences. But one or two of them should be a junk suit that you wear for the daily grind.”
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I had known Preach My Gospel better. Kentucky is a Preach My Gospel mission!”
Did you serve in the Kentucky Louisville Mission? If so, we want to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your unique experiences!