For those awaiting mission calls from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s naturally fun for family and friends to examine a world map and speculate as to where a future missionary will serve.
Wesley Mangum, a senior at Springville High School, has taken the idea to a new level by creating a free app that allows users to generate and send out a link inviting people to join in a Mission Guessing Game.
“Nobody else had created such a game, through a website or anything,” said Gary Mangum, Wesley’s father. “So we thought, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
When daughters Abby and Sadie Mangum were preparing to receive their mission calls a few years ago, the family placed a map on the wall, solicited guesses from family and friends through social media and posted the predictions on sticky notes. On other occasions, they would sit at a computer, find a Wikipedia list of the church’s missions worldwide and scroll fast to randomly pick a destination.
“Whatever mission your finger was on, that’s your mission,” Wesley Mangum said. “It was fun, but pretty ghetto. Then I’m like, ‘What if there was an app that made that really easy? You press a button and it gives you a random mission. That’s where I originally got the idea.”
Mission calls are assigned by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The process of receiving a mission call starts when a young man, young woman or senior couple meets with local ecclesiastical leaders and submits paperwork online to the church’s Missionary Department. Apostles have said they review the candidate’s information on a computer screen under divine inspiration as they make thousands of assignments a year. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the process in his April 2010 general conference talk, “The Divine Call of a Missionary.”
“Every missionary called in this church, and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission, is called by revelation from the Lord God Almighty through one of these, his servants,” Elder Rasband said in his talk.
Mission calls arrive in a letter, via email, signed by the church president and prophet.
A guessing game involves extended family and friends in a young person’s mission and adds an element of anticipation and excitement to receiving a mission call, but the Mangums said what was most special was knowing the Lord had a personal hand in their daughters’ mission calls.
“As my daughters read those words from a prophet telling them where they have been assigned to labor, I think we all knew at that moment that it was right,” Gary Mangum said. “And for both of them it ended up being exactly right.”
Wesley Mangum, a top student, Eagle Scout, track-and-field athlete and well-rounded young man who codes in his spare time, built the app and the father and son launched it about a month ago. So far they have received positive feedback from hundreds of users. The biggest challenge has been getting the word out, they said.
The most significant step comes when a patron starts a game. By tapping the “share” icon, the user generates a unique game code/link that the user then shares with others via text, email or any variety of electronic means.
Participants click on the link to join in the game. Once you place your guess, including a mission and the language, you can see a list of others’ guesses.
The app also allows users to explore and learn about the church’s nearly 400 missions worldwide, boundaries and languages spoken. The Mangums even created a widget for users with iOS 14 that displays a random mission every hour.
People have asked if the Mangums will add a cost to play the game?
“Of course, nobody would say no if there was a money opportunity,” Gary Mangum said with a laugh. “But we’re more interested in having lots of usage and having the joy of people using something that we created.”
Wesley Mangum, who has previously created two apps, is looking forward to playing the game for himself as he will be submitting his own mission application in the coming months.
“For me, the most exciting part is helping people get excited about their missions,” he said.