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Tulsa is the second largest city in the state of Oklahoma. The city includes nearly 400,000 residents, while the entire metropolitan area is said to include around one million residents. The other major metropolitan center in the mission is Springfield, Mo., with nearly half a million residents in the entire metropolitan area.
For most of the 20th century, Tulsa was the “Oil Capital of the World” and still maintains that claim even though Houston, Texas is now the principal hub in the American oil industry. In addition to the downtown oil capital historic district, Tulsa’s biggest historical attraction is the 76-foot Golden Driller located at the Tulsa Expo Center. A 2006 online consumer poll by Kimberly Clark (parent company of Kleenex and Huggies) named the Golden Driller as one of the top ten “quirkiest destinations” in the United States.
Tulsa and Springfield both lie on historic Route 66, one of the first American interstate highways. Springfield is officially known as the birthplace of Route 66, as it was the location where officials first proposed the highway linking Chicago to Los Angeles. As the city of Tulsa developed along the United States’ “Mother Road,” it acquired cultural influences from the South, the Southwest, the Midwest, and Native Americans.
The Oklahoma Tulsa Mission currently includes 9 stakes. Almost every stake has a singles ward, and there are 6 Spanish-speaking units (wards/branches) in the mission as well as one military base unit (ward/branch).
The members are enthusiastic about missionary work. The mission has been promoting a “We Are One” theme since July 2013 to encourage the members and missionaries to work together as prescribed by Church Headquarters in the Worldwide Missionary Training Broadcast earlier this year.
President and Sister Shumway hold regular youth missionary firesides in their home or at stake centers across the mission and attendance is normally 40 to 50 youth. Members have also been invited to attend certain zone conferences. As the mission focuses on member-missionary work, members’ response has been supportive.
Oklahoma meals include the typical staples of southern soul-food. Biscuits, sausage and gravy with grits are the mainstays of a traditional family breakfast. Barbecue pork, chicken fried steak, corn, fried okra, black-eyed peas, and cornbread are the most popular dinner items.
Most of the area of the mission is suburban or rural apart from the immediate surroundings around Tulsa and Springfield. Given the wide geographic reach of most wards, many missionaries are provided with cars. Bikes are necessary not only for missionaries serving near urban centers, but also for companionships that have a car. Mileage limitations require missionaries to plan appointments carefully and budget their trips to outlying rural areas.
There are currently no mass transit rail lines in Tulsa, although the prospect is being researched. A bus system with 19 different lines serves the downtown district and the surrounding suburbs. The Tulsa airport is a crucial contributor to the economy of the region with American Airlines operating its global maintenance and engineering headquarters there.
Beside taking necessary precautions to prevent petty theft and bicycle accidents- things that most missionaries face- Oklahoma Tulsa missionaries should learn about what actions to take in the case of a tornado. Tulsa is located near the heart of “Tornado Alley” as the region is sometimes called. Spring and summer usually bring severe storms with hail, damaging wind, and occasional twisters.
It is best to remain indoors away from windows during such storms. Most towns in the area have sophisticated alert systems letting residents know of danger. Keep in mind: a tornado watch means conditions are right for twisters to form, a tornado warning means a funnel has been spotted in the area. A tornado warning may be broadcast just moments before impact, as these storms can move quickly and twisters move unpredictably. A tornado warning means get below ground in a storm cellar if possible.
The people are friendly and very religious. “Oklahoma is the place to be!” according to Rogers and Hammerstein.
Oklahoma is known as the “Sooner State,” and Oklahomans are referred to as Okies.
3640 S New Haven Ave Ste OTM
Tulsa OK 74135-2255
Straight from the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
*What did you eat the most of?
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“A Hmong dessert: sticky purple rice wrapped in a waxy banana leaf. Yum.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“How “young” some aspects of the church were, even though I was still in the States.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission?
“Careful when you go to a Wal-Mart in a shirt and tie… Everyone will think you’re a store manager.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“How much fun it is to be a missionary! It was a nice surprise, though…”
“It’s hard to have a testimony of something you’ve never done. If you are afraid you don’t have a testimony of missionary work, go anyway. It will develop while you serve.”