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Stories: Noche NAM (English)

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Noche NAM (English) 10 Nov 2001
When I was in Venezuela there was a weekly ward activity called the noche NAM noche actividad misional or Missionary Activity Night. It was on Wednesdays and effectively took the place of mutual. Theoretically the ward mission leader was in charge of the planning the meeting, but often someone who was as enthusiastic about his calling as the young men's president held that position, so responsibility for the activity fell to the missionaries.

Ideally, we would have a baptismal service, but otherwise, we would try to plan something that members could invite their neighbors, too. If we had a good ward mission leader or if the elders planned the even, then it was either soccer or basketball. In Venezuela, the church builds parking lots next to the chapels with soccer nets at both ends with basketball hoops just above them. The pavement is painted in three colors, one for parking, one for soccer and one for basketball. Of course the missionaries play basketball every p'day.

In Barrio Ciudad Bolivar, Hermano Abized planned a ward soccer game. He loved soccer. He played on a community team. They played at night. I stood on the sidelines, against the wall of the chapel, and my zone leader nearly crashed into me going for a ball that was headed out of bounds. Everyone had a really good time. It was probably the most successful ward activity they had while I was there.

In Puerto La Cruz, we had a lot of success. We baptized about half a dozen single young men between the ages of 20 - 25. They had all referred each other and they all lived within six blocks of each other. It was a great time in my mission. Anyway at that time, in that ward, noche NAM became a time when they all got together at the chapel to play basketball and show off their athletic abilities in front of the single twenty-something women in the ward. It got to be such an important event that they couldn't stay home to meet with us anymore. We were just their missionaries after all. We had done our job, and we were leaving. We said our farewells to their mothers.

I remember being surprised that basketball was usurping soccer as the favorite pastime among the members. I had read that baseball was the national pastime in Venezuela, and they really did love to watch the professional games, but sometimes I wonder if those that preferred basketball to soccer thought it was the true sport of the restored gospel on account that the missionaries played so much.

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