The Dreaded Prayer Card. I’m sorry you have to see this.

One of the very worst things about being a missionary is that you have to have this thing called a “prayer card”. It’s kind of like a rule…

The rule says that you have to have your picture taken with your whole family, and you all have to be smiling and matching and stuff. Somewhere on this perfect happy family picture, you have to print junk like your name and where to send “gifts”. Then you have to give this picture to everyone you’ve ever known. After that, you carry a stash around with you and give them to every one you meet. It’s like a business card, only bigger…and more obnoxious.

Two things about Prayer Cards; They are generally lame. ~ and ~ They are generally a lie.

I mean come on. Are we really supposed to believe that you all like each other that much? Is your color scheme trying to convince us of some kind of peaceful and balanced harmony that surrounds you because you serve the Lord by vocation? Is this single frame, this fraction of a smiling second, a fair representation of your family? Because, dang, if it is? That’s just….scary… And, I don’t buy the whole “we’re so happy because Jesus gave us these matching denim shirts” scenario. No.

But, the thing is, if you wanna do this missions thing, you gotta have a Prayer Card. You just have to, there’s no getting around it…believe me. So a couple of weeks ago, my family headed out to a secluded spot with a talented photographer to pretend for five minutes the we can stand each other. Originally, the plan was to just do a Christmas card. It was supposed to be just the kids and I told them they could wear whatever they want (totally against the rules, but whatever). I just wanted one fake smiling picture of my kids pretending to love each other to send to all the people that support us and pray for us. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?

The photographer took over 200 shots. Today she gave me a disk with like 30 pictures on it. “The good ones.” Thirty! Thirty that include, um, this one:
Nothing says “Merry Christmas from your favorite missionaries” like (from front to back) duck-lips!, pre-teen skeezer in a Santa hat, and OMG-my-brothers-are-retards.

And then there’s this one:
Yeah, there’s kind of a lot going on here; A) Santa kid looks like he’s been huffing industrial adhesive. B) The big guy is either swearing a blue streak, or saying the word “Rawk” – neither of which is ok. Aaand, C) I’m pretty sure the little creeper on the right needs an exorcism…
Um, for real kid? Why do you have to look like a pshyco right now?

So, then I flipped my lid and started screaming and yelling about just wanting one decent picture of my children before I die, and could they PLEASE? Just for ONE. FREAKING. SECOND. pretend like we are a NORMAL. FREAKING. FAMILY….PLEASE?!

Which resulted in this:
“Screw you, Mom! We’re so outta here….”

When they came back, the photographer suggested that we try to grab a couple of shots with the whole family!
“Wait…Like this? Where are we looking? Should I stop talking so you can take a picture? Smile, kids, smile!”

In the end, we got the shot. The perfect picture for our 2010 Prayer Card. A picture that says, “Oh, Yes! These are the people I want representing Christ in Latin America!” Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the most awesome Prayer Card pic in the history of the world!:

It’s a thing of beauty, is it not? Ok, it’s true that it breaks all the rules of Prayer Card etiquette. But, seriously, how could we not use this? Everybody is gonna want a copy of this stuck to their stainless steel fridge! Right?

The only thing missing is the caption, and the names and crap. I am totally open to suggestions, but I’m thinking something like:
These are No Ordinary Missionaries – Pray for Costa Rica!

But, what do you think? Any ideas?



  1. Kirk on December 14, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Do I have to go get a stainless steel fridge…will my current fridge do?

  2. The McClain's on December 14, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Jamie- hey. this is a great pic- and LOVE the caption…hope you're doing well. have a great time in he states! 🙂 merry Christmas

  3. Deemus on December 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    "sheep in wolves clothing"

    much better than our pic about 10 years ago, with all of us in. purple turtlenecks. I swear. And, they had our names monogrammed on the neck. I prayed for the rapture to come the day I saw that picture.

    I knew it would not be pretty, and the noticable lack of smiles proved me right. I begged my wife to never let them leave our house, but to no avail. They resulted in several mocking calls, and a couple near fights. And just last week, I found what I hope are the last remnants. Don't tell my wife I threw them away. Please.

  4. Maureen on December 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    We wore brown. You described the day perfectly. I love you my friend !

  5. Jenna on December 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    can i please order an 11×17? i will frame it. and it might replace our family photo on the wall. because yours is just cooler.

    that caption is perfect btw.


  6. curiousceridwen on December 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I have to go buy a stainless steel fridge for this. It's totally worth it. Except, um, I'm definitely not giving you my address so you can mail a card. Not a chance. You can't know where I live; stalkership is not a two way street.

  7. JP and Jessica on December 15, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Purple monogrammed turtlenecks… And only TEN years ago?!?! We're talking like, 1999… it would've been a little less hideous if it had been like, 1985…

    I'm 100% against matching outfits in ANY circumstance besides maybe a costume party when dressing up as Bananas in Pijamas or something… hehe My husband and I just made our first prayer card together, and we just used a cool pic taken on a weekend getaway… in my opinion, unplanned prayer card pic = less cheesy. However, your picture, Jamie, is AWESOMENESS. You guys are rad.

  8. Emily :) on December 18, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Okay. I want a copy. Seriously. Hahaha.

  9. Vicki on December 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I want a prayer card to stick to my old white wrinkly fridge. Please.

  10. Paul on January 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    thanks for this post, and everything else you write. we love reading all of your posts because you say the things that we wish we were clever / creative / bold enough to say. keep it up!

  11. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on January 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Paul, thanks for reading and for your encouragement! I love it when other missionaries can relate – it's so nice to know I'm not the only one!!

  12. Hi! My name is Janet. on March 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Dear Jamie, I like you (and your family). I cannot wait to see the final product 🙂
    Sincerely, Janet.

  13. sundog on March 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Perfect! How can I get me one of these?

  14. Sara on March 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I share your sentiments completely. We don't have kids yet (waiting to finish our first year of language study in-country), but when we do, there will be no matching outfits, no cheesy poses, and no monogramming of any sort. Ha! You have now paved the way for the rest of us who want cool pics for our prayer cards. 🙂

  15. misspicture on March 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

    ha! tell ME about prayer cards. haha! for the caption… uhm… im thinking.
    "You think you know? You have no idea- Pray for Costa Rica"

  16. miller_schloss on March 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Those are freaking amazing. Thank you for not being boring.

  17. alittlebitograce on April 8, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    love love love the prayer cards. my husband and i both cracked up over the final product post.
    our prayer card features all five of us laughing hysterically. however, this was after several days of way too much excitement and my kids had been having hysterical meltdowns when my FIL started taking pictures. We are all laughing hard enough to pee because my dad grabbed the hose and started pretending to spray my sister who in turn pretended to be elmo. Everyone comments on how happy we are in that pic and I'm was a miracle.
    Second secret of our prayer card: It was photoshopped! Child #2 had a black eye as child #1 had pushed him several days before. Oops! I am so thankful for technology! 🙂

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