Ukulele Missionaries

Elders Nathan Cower, left, and Casey Clark play ukuleles as they walk along 1900 North in North Logan in March 2015. The two LDS Church missionaries from New York state and Florida said they draw some funny looks from motorists as they walk through the valley.

Here’s a little challenge for everyone similar to looking for the hidden objects in Highlights magazine while waiting for that dreaded dentist appointment when you were a kid. Scan the photograph shown here and see if you can identify how many ways, if any, these two Mormon missionaries might be violating rules set down in the LDS Church’s Missionary Handbook. Don’t look at the paragraphs beneath this one until you’ve completed the challenge.

This picture, taken by Herald Journal photographer John Zsiray, first appeared in the newspaper last March. It shows elders Nathan Cower, left, and Casey Clark walking along 1900 North in North Logan on a sunny afternoon with ukuleles in hand. The image was so delightful, an editor decided to use it again for the cover of the Herald Journal’s biannual LDS Living section inserted in Wednesday’s newspaper. But not long after the edition hit the street, the paper received a phone call from a local resident who did not think the photo was so delightful. She seemed upset by it and claimed the two young men were in violation of three rules set down in the “white handbook” for church missionaries. According to the caller, those violations were 1.) the missionaries were carrying musical instruments, 2.) they were wearing sunglasses and 3.) one of them was wearing a bracelet.

In a subsequent check of the handbook online, we could find only one of the three alleged violations, a rule related to bracelets. Here is that reference in the dress-and-grooming section of the chapter on missionary conduct:

“Jewelry — Do not wear earrings, necklaces, or any kind of bracelets (except those with a medical purpose). Tattoos, nose rings, other body piercings, or toe rings are not acceptable.”

Phone calls to church headquarters in Salt Lake City on Thursday produced no one willing to be quoted by name on the subject of missionary attire, although both church officials contacted said they knew of no restriction on sunglasses. Both also said the ultimate call on all such matters, including the musical instruments, would be in the hands of the mission president for any particular area.

“Their mission president may have had a reason for letting them take ukuleles out with them,” one of the two officials said.

Before leaving the topic, the subject of neckties also seems worth addressing since some readers may have guessed that ties were another possible violation committed by at least one of our merry North Logan missionaries. Here’s what the handbook says about ties:

“Always wear a white shirt with a tie that is conservative in color, pattern, width, and length.”

Does Nathan’s tie cross the line? You make the call. Or maybe you’d prefer to leave that to his mission president.