We LDS Missionaries Were Surrounded by Priests, Nuns, and Boxers

In 1970, after our short stay in the old Salt Lake Mission Home, a dozen of us missionaries flew together to England. (I think the church tried to save money by giving us the longest and most circuitous route. From: Salt Lake to Denver to Chicago to New York City to Shannon, Ireland to Dublin, Ireland to Bristol, England. It took about 36 hours. My return trip was from London to LAX direct.)

A Dozen LDS Missionaries Delayed at JFK Airport

While we were in New York’s JFK airport, waiting to fly across the Atlantic, our Aer Lingus (Irish Airlines) flight was canceled because of a bomb threat from the IRA (Irish Republican Army). So, we had to wait an extra five hours for the next flight.

Enter: 20 Priests and Nuns

About an hour before we boarded the door to the waiting room opened, and in walked about 20 priests and nuns. They were all dressed in formal black with clergy collars and habits.

Enter: 30 Boxers

About a half hour later the door of the waiting room again opened, and in walked about 30 of the biggest meanest looking dudes I have ever seen. They are mostly African Americans. We learned that they were the New York City Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) boxing team.  (This was at a time when relations between the LDS Church and the African-American community were at an all-time low.) 

Missionary “Surrounded” on the 5-Hour Flight

Twelve missionaries, and twenty priests and nuns, and thirty boxers, all on the same plane together for a 5-hour flight across the Atlantic. This could be very “interesting.”

  I was seated between two missionaries on the crowded Boeing 707. Directly in front of me was seated a missionary. To his right was a Catholic priest. To his left was an obvious heavy weight boxer.

Sometime after takeoff I overheard the priest on the missionary’s right explain that he and his religious order were flying to Ireland for a religious seminar where they would exchange ideas with their Irish brothers and sisters. 

I then overheard the boxer seated on the missionary’s left explain that there was an international boxing match between the USA and Ireland. “I can’t wait to pound some limey heads into the ground!”

These were the days before missionary name tags, and the priest then turned to the missionary and asked, “Why are you going to Ireland?” 

Echoing the priest, the boxer bellowed, “Yea, why are you going to Ireland?”

The missionary glanced at the priest, and then at the boxer, and replied, “I’m a student.”

(Other Articles. http://www.londonedition.net)

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