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Humor in the Mission Field

Posted on May 11 2018

We were playing a game with some little Hmong children called "pov pob," which means "ball toss." It is basically a game of monkey in the middle. It was 103 degrees and we were in our white shirts, ties, and dark slacks. Yet, it was really fun laughing and playing with the children. They were freshly moved from a refugee camp in Thailand and just arrived in America, so they didn't know any English.

My companion, Elder Mills, was in the middle while me and one child were on one side and the other 3 children were on the other side. Elder Mills tried his darnedest, but he couldn't get that ball. Elder Mills was an English speaking missionary and did not know Hmong, so I was the translator. Being frustrated that he couldn't get the ball, he hiked his pants up just a smidge, and really started jumping and turning and lunging for the ball.

As the children on the opposite side threw the ball to me on my side Elder Mills soared in the air and touched the ball with his fingertips. All of a sudden he froze and immediately started hunching over, his face being bright red. Being half delusional from the heat, I went for the ball and didn't notice. All of a sudden he hunch walked over to me and said "uhhhh I think we need to go." I asked him what was wrong, and he said "dude, I totally just ripped my pants."

In disbelief I looked at his backside and saw his pants torn all the way down the seam on the backside of his pants. I smiled and was about to laugh until the children all said in a laughing unison, "KUV POM NWS POB TW! KUV POM NWS POB TW!" Which translates to "I see his butt! I see his butt!" He asked what they were chanting and when he learned he ran for our car. The children and I roared with laughter, feeling as though we would faint from our laughing fits and heatstroke. We said goodbye to the children and went home so that he could change for dinner. 

Elder Richwin served in the California Sacramento Mission.