Mike Bush via Reuters
Mitt Romney, left, stands with fellow Mormon missionaries in this handout photograph taken in front of the police station in Limoges, central France, in autumn 1968. The fresh-faced Latter-Day Saints who came to France in the late 1960s to preach the message of Jesus Christ -- of which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the most well-known -- discovered a secular and skeptical populace, and few willing converts. On bad days, the young Americans were greeted with guns, or barking dogs chased at their heels.
Alexandria Sage of Reuters reports on Mitt Romney's French education:
Alan Eastman, also a missionary at the time, remembers Romney as "an adaptable personality, kind of a born leader, and his mission positions reflected that. He was also one who was kind of gung-ho, 'this is what the rules are, we will abide by the rules 100 percent.'"
Those rules involved arising at 6:30 am and lights out by 10:30 pm; in between came a full day of prayer and proselytizing, a grueling schedule that has not changed much today.
Missionaries pay for their time abroad themselves, live in modest apartments, and travel in pairs with a same-sex companion — a strategy that provides moral support but also, say cynics, keeps the potential for waywardness, theological or moral, in check. Male missionaries are instantly recognizable in their white shirts, ties and black trousers, women in their modest skirts.
Most time is taken up going door to door, following up on leads, or teaching potential converts. Missionaries study their Bibles, do charity work, and have one "free" day per week for laundry, letters home, or occasional sight-seeing. Missionaries do not go to parties. Sunday is church. Read the full story.