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The Church has a fairly strong community in the Salem Oregon Mission. There are 8 stakes in the Salem Oregon Mission to which a missionary can be assigned. There is also a very large, strong Spanish-speaking community in the Salem, Oregon area with 8 wards and branches throughout the mission. There are many Spanish-speaking missionaries called to serve in this mission. The boundaries of the stakes, wards, and areas for missionaries are much smaller near major cities. As you get farther into the country or closer to the coast, stake, ward, and area boundaries increase dramatically in size, and you can expect to cover large portions of the mission if you are serving in the eastern half. The nearest temple to the Oregon Salem Mission is the Portland, Oregon Temple, about 40 miles north of Salem. It is located outside of the mission boundaries, but missionaries occasionally will have the chance to visit the temple.
Food in the Oregon Salem Mission is similar to food eaten throughout the United States. Missionaries can expect to eat lasagna, pot roast, fried chicken, etc. Near the coast, in small fishing towns, missionaries eat lots of fish and other seafood. The town of Tillamook is located within the mission boundaries and is famous for its dairy products including various cheeses and flavors of ice cream (I recommend the Oregon Strawberry).
In the Oregon Salem Mission there is also an extremely high population of Hispanic people (20% of Salem’s population is Hispanic, and nearby towns like Woodburn have populations that are as high as 60% Hispanic). This means that local cuisine is highly influenced by Hispanic (mostly Mexican) foods. There are many food carts in the area, many of which sell tacos and other Mexican foods. There are also many popular and famous Mexican Restaurants in the area. In 2008 while campaigning in Oregon, the then Senator Obama ate at a Mexican Restaurant in Woodburn called Luis’s Taqueria. For anyone serving in Woodburn area, it is a must visit restaurant (I ate there many times on my mission!).
Missionaries in the Salem, Oregon Mission will be assigned to either a car area or a bike area depending on the size and location of their area and whether or not they are serving in a position of leadership. Many missionary companionships are assigned cars to assist in their proselyting efforts due to the majority of the mission being rural area. In the more urban areas, such as the Salem area and Bend, missionaries can expect to use bicycles as they proselytize. There are also bus services in the more urban areas that provide transportation around the city. However, public transportation is rarely used by missionaries in the Oregon Salem Mission.
The areas covered by the Oregon Salem mission are generally very safe. Towns such as Tillamook, Silverton, Madras, and Lincoln City and many other cities in the mission have very small populations and are very safe. As you move into larger cities, crime does increase, but in comparison to other cities of similar size they have a lot fewer violent crimes. However, Salem, the largest city in the mission, has a slightly higher rate of petty thefts than other cities in the United States of comparable size. Missionaries should make sure they lock their cars and their doors if they serving in a more urban area, but shouldn’t worry too much about being safe.
Because Salem is located at the heart of the Willamette Valley and is surrounded by farmland, all through the year emphasis is placed on local farms and produce throughout the city. From May to October every year there is an outdoor Saturday’s Market that exhibits local produce, meats, crafts, and baked goods. There is also a weekly Farmer’s Market every Wednesday during the Summer Months in downtown Salem. In June, every year, for two days the annual World Beat Festival is held. It features international crafts, music, dance, food, and folklore from every continent. The Oregon State fair is also held every Summer from the end of August through Labor Day at the fair grounds. Thousands of visitors come every year to participate in the festivities. Two otherwise unknown towns in the mission, Hubbard and Mt. Angel, have festivals once a year that sees a large influx of people, the Hop Festival and Oktoberfest, respectively. While missionaries will most likely not participate in the majority of the festivities at these festivals, the influx of people will create more missionary opportunities. The local wards have also set up booths in the past to hand out fliers, pass-along cards, and other proselyting materials.
Many of the areas in the mission have festivals or local customs related to agriculture, art, and music, including the tulip fest in Woodburn among others.
Also, because of the high populations of Hispanic people in the area, many customs relate to Hispanic culture.
Willamette, pronounced Wool-AM-mitt (emphasis on the middle syllable). A river that runs through Salem and the name given to the valley where Salem is located. If you pronounce this word wrong, you will easily be identified as a non-local.
In the Bend area there are a lot of terms and local lingo associated with skiing and snowboarding. For example:
Blue Bird- A bright and sunny day.
Coons- Refers to people with a tan line resulting from sun protection used while snowboarding. Their eyes look like racoons.
Folks from Oregon tend to talk non-pretentiously in standard American English (although there is a heavy influx of Californians who have moved north). They commonly say “pop” instead of “soda.”
Umbrella and water-proof shoes!
There is no sales tax in Oregon so in most cases it is cheaper to buy things in the mission than to have them shipped to you. As well, it is illegal for drivers to pump their own gas in the state of Oregon; gas station attendants do that at no cost to the driver.
Some must-see places in the mission:
1) Silver Falls State Park- A beautiful state park located about 15 miles south of Silverton, it has over a dozen individual falls and 14 miles of walking trails. Parts of the movie Twilight were filmed in this state park.
2) The Coast- The Oregon Salem covers the coast of Oregon from Lincoln City to well north of Tillamook. There are beautiful beaches and although missionaries cannot swim (the ocean is likely too cold anyhow), they are allowed to visit the beaches. There are many state parks located along the beach that are great for hiking.
3) Woodburn Premium Outlets. A third must-visit place, especially for the sisters, are the outlet stores in Woodburn. It is located right off of Interstate 5 as you drive through Woodburn. There are 110 stores offering various services and products. Because there is no sales tax in Oregon, it is an extremely popular tourist attraction, with busloads of people coming from as far away as British Colombia.
700 Deborah Rd Ste 260
Newberg OR 97132
The Work is going well in the recently created Oregon Salem Mission! Check back in a year to hear what the first missionaries to the Oregon Salem Mission have to say!