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Snapshot of the Texas Dallas Mission area – Texas is the second most populous US state and the largest of the “mainland” 48 states. Once an independent republic, Texas became the 28th state in 1845. The mission includes Dallas and her suburbs (but not nearby Fort Worth). Dallas is the ninth largest city in the U.S.A. It makes up one-fifth of the larger urbanized area known as the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, one of the largest metropolitan areas in America, where one-quarter of all Texans live.
East Texas is described by former missionaries as “beautiful.” It does not match the stereotypical view of what Texas is (hot, dry, and desert). It is green, and very humid and hot in the summer with many trees. In what is called “east Texas” or “the country,” there are a lot of ranches and farmland. In these areas, the residents are known to be extremely polite. One missionary said he had never met a nicer people. They are considered “true Texans,” are courteous and very willing to talk to anybody they meet, even if they are not interested in gospel discussions.
A couple of cities in east texas have a heavy hispanic influence, but that is mostly in Dallas. In north Texas, there is a large Native American influence.
The LDS community is quite large in and around Texas, and in northern areas of the state. There are 15 stakes in the Dallas area. In Gilmer, a very small town with a high LDS population, there are four stakes. Inside the city, there is a lot of crime and gangs; this culture makes it difficult for youth to prepare for and serve missions. There are both Spanish- and English-speaking wards and branches in the city, with mostly English stakes outside of Dallas.
In east Texas there is a heavy influence of Southern Baptist faith. Also, the LDS members are not as affluent in these areas. An important thing for missionaries to understand is that there is a big difference between the church members in the city and those who live in “the country.”
There is a temple, built in 1984, in Dallas, Texas.
Pastas, Texas barbeque, sandwiches, normal breakfast foods like eggs, cereal. There is a Mexican influence and lots of Mexican food in Dallas. Hot dogs, corndogs, and other fried food is popular.
Spanish missionaries are mostly on bikes because they are in smaller areas. Almost all areas in the mission have bikes, and east Texas areas have cars. Most missionaries buy their own bikes. Zone leaders always have cars.
Public transportation is not very popular for missionaries in the inner city.
The people are usually very nice to missionaries in the inner city, but the poor areas can be very dangerous. In the downtown and south parts of Dallas, it is dangerous at night. There are certain areas that are restricted to missionaries at night because of drugs, gangs and crime. Missionaries need to be smart about where they go.
Hispanics have very large families that live together. They are an extremely friendly people.
In general, Texans are very religious. The suburbs (north-Dallas) have a lot of different religious communities, like Jewish and Muslim. In south-Dallas, there is a large African American and Hispanic influence. “Chicken and waffles” is a popular dish in those areas.
East-Texas is known for its courtesy. The “Bible Belt” is close to that area and people are not afraid to talk about Christ. Unfortunately, the LDS people tend to be much more timid than most of the population when it comes to talking about religion.
There is a strong accent in East Texas that missionaries will have to learn to get used to, including lots of slang words.
“Might could,” meaning “I might be able to…” or “I may want to…”
“Yonder” or “over yonder,” meaning “over there.”
Everyone says “Sir” and “ma’am” (practice!)
A lot of the talk among people in rural areas of east Texas is about cattle, farmland, and “the country.”
“Finer than frog hair,” meaning “that is fine” or a way for people to express a superlative about something.
“Coke” is used for all soda. If someone offers a Coke, you must specify what kind you want (i.e. Sprite, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, etc.)
Lingo in the inner city is very different: “If you watch a rap video, that is how they talk. Like gangsters.” —Dave Lewis
“I’m fixin’ to go” means “I’m about ready to go.”
A LOT of short sleeve white shirts. One for each day, maybe two, especially in the summer.
Gloves and/or earmuffs for the winter.
Heavy winter coat, because it feels colder than it actually is because of humidity.
A bicycle—it is almost impossible to do missionary work without a bike.
One pair of shoes for meetings, one for walking. Boots are also helpful.
For elders, a suit that isn’t straight black (because the Hispanic population may assume it is immigration).
Shipping packages—U.S. postal service
13747 Montfort Dr Ste 120
Dallas TX 75240-4479
Facebook group: Texas Dallas Missionary Moms
Straight from the Texas Dallas Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“None. There are WalMarts in almost every city population 10,000 or more.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“We were fed so much red meat it could not possibly be normal!” —Marie
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Squirrel in east Texas,” —Dave Lewis
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The difference between culture in Dallas, south Dallas, and east Texas. Also, the respect African Americans had for their mother and families—and with Hispanics, I never felt uncomfortable in their homes. They would give the shirt off their back to you.”
“Another thing that surprised me was the courtesy of the people in east-Texas. Getting into a religious conversation could be hostile sometimes because they are so passionate about their faith, but as people, they were very kind and courteous.” —Dave Lewis
“Everyone in Texas attends a church. The people are deeply religious and we found it easy to converse with most anyone about religion in general.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Texas Dallas Mission?
“Hard to say because whatever difficulties I did have served a purpose in making me a more compassionate person.”
“Bring a suit that’s not black—black suits are a terrible thing for Texas. The Hispanics think they are immigration!” —Jon
“Drink a lot of water. Make sure you take care of your body well enough to do the work.”
“Missionaries serving in poorer areas need to be careful of food poisoning. The food was sometimes not fresh or prepared well.”
“Be smart about your surroundings—including weather, the people around you, safety on your bike. Follow the rules about places to be or not to be, and follow the Spirit—if you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to leave an area.” —Dave Lewis
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Preach My Gospel.” —Dave Lewis
“Know your scriptures, because Texans surely know theirs!” —Marie
**Did you serve in the Texas Dallas Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.**