The missionaries called her sassy. Today over 1,200 people know her as SassyDaySaint.
Ramona Morris, a young adult Latter-day Saint, is one of the few members of the Church on the island of Barbados. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 24 and today is a favorite with missionaries on her island and her Instagram following from all over the world.
Barbados lies in the eastern Caribbean islands, with a relatively small population of just over 275,000. Of that population, only 1,047 people belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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So you’ve been assigned to the Caribbean on your mission. Wait, do you even know where the the Caribbean is? No, every island is not Jamaica. Here are the 10 tips for serving a mission 1. Do read up on where you’re serving (there’s 26 missions consisting the Caribbean and Central America ) 2. Learn your mission language/accent. While most islands in the Caribbean missions are English. You will hear French or Patois or local slang on some islands. Learn it quick or you will scratch your head the entire mission 3. We drive on the left over here. Driving on the right is a death sentence. 4. Our food is edible. American brands are normally expensive and not worth it on a missionary budget 5. If you are polite to the locals they will protect you (even if they don’t want to be converted ) 6. Branches are small. Most countries don’t have wards or stakes 7. People say Caribbean missions are hard. But think of how much your testimony will grow 8. We will quiz you on the Bible. Even if we don’t go to church most people you meet will have basic knowledge of the Bible. 9. Keep your mouth shut. Verbal diarrhea is sometimes the worst thing to happen to a missionary in the Caribbean. We get offended very easily. 10. Words such as disgusting and poor should not exist in your vocabulary. If you wanna hear someone lose their mind refrain from the words poor on your mission bonus tip: we don’t live in thatched roof houses. We do watch the news and we aren’t illiterate. Do your mission research
In 2014, Elder David A. Bednar spoke at Brigham Young University about using social media to share the gospel, and since then the Church has accelerated its social media initiative. Thousands have responded to the call by creating Instagram accounts dedicated to sharing the gospel.
The Sassy "Mormon"
The sister missionaries told Morris she should start an Instagram account and post about her experiences with the Church, and on July 13, 2017, @sassymormon entered the Instagram world. The missionaries called her a sassy Mormon, inspiring Morris’s Instagram name.
She decided to use her Instagram account to post pictures of the missionaries for their mothers, having the missionaries tell their moms to follow her account. Every Sunday her followers watched for her #missionarySunday post.
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On my first day in the Dominican Republic my friends and I eavesdropped on a couple who had just gotten married. The joy on their faces was so evident and so contagious. Time and all eternity. As we watched we knew that we all wanted a slice of what they had. Turns out we can. Sure, we may have to wait forever to find our person but once we enter Heavenly fathers sacred place we are ensured that we can have a slice of the goodness prepared just for us. #latterdaysaints #latterdaysaint #churchofjesuschristoflatterdaysaints #ldssud #sud
Between Sundays, she posted quotes, pictures, memes, and open discussions about her thoughts. Now called SassyDaySaint to follow President Nelson’s recent counsel, Morris has an Instagram following of almost 1,250.
When she changed her name from SassyMormon to follow the prophet, she knew “sassy” needed to remain a part of it.
“I think that describes who I am; I’m not the model Latter-day Saint that wants to run the perfect Instagram. I have to be true to myself from the beginning to the end,” she explained.
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I’m probably never going to serve a mission. I just won’t. It’s not about my failure to have a testimony but for the simple fact that it doesn’t make sense medically for me to serve one. I realized the best thing we can do as members is support those out in the field and let them know how proud you are of them. Missionary work isn’t always far away from home. Starting where we are and strengthening the testimonies of those who share the gospel everyday in the mission field can truly help us to feel closer to our Heavenly Father #churchofjesuschristoflatterdaysaints #latterdaysaints #ldsmissionaries
An Umbrella and a Message
The sassy Latter-day Saint has a story before her Instagram stories, and it begins with an umbrella.
In Barbados, more than four inches of rain fall every month. For two sister missionaries who forgot an umbrella one rainy day, this was a blessing in the disguise of dripping, wet clothes.
Morris had just seen Meet the Mormons but had no interest in the Church. As rain poured outside, she welcomed the sopping young women into her home and lent them an umbrella, beginning a pattern of exchanging the umbrella back and forth week after week.
One week a new young woman arrived at Morris’s doorstep with the umbrella, and she invited Morris to listen to a message about Jesus Christ. Morris agreed to listen and continued to hear the missionaries’ discussions with polite uninterest.
Stigma and prejudice against the Church are high in Barbados, where members of the Church comprise less than 0.4 percent of the population. Combined with the opposition from Morris’s Methodist family, this was enough to make Morris hesitant.
Weeks of discussions and learning passed, and Morris still didn’t want to join the Church.
The Cruise of a Lifetime
The missionaries wanted to give up, but when Morris went on a cruise, they sent a Book of Mormon and a daily reading list with her. Morris decided she didn’t want to bother with reading every day and read all of them on the first day—check, check, check, done.
While reading the Book of Mormon didn’t interrupt Morris’s vacation, a panic attack did. In her room, her copy of the Book of Mormon lay unnoticed on her dresser.
Her hand brushed its cover. Beginning at her fingertips and spreading all the way to her soul, peace replaced her fear, anxiety, and panic.
The missionaries said the Holy Ghost felt like that. With the peace of the Book of Mormon replacing her worry and confusion, Morris knew she needed to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She began doing the things the missionaries had asked her to do, read the scriptures and pray, and light entered her life brighter than ever before.
Amanda Buhrley, Ramona Morris, Anna Fuller (from left to right) near Temple Square. Images from Rachel Nielson.
Faith Over Fear
Moving past the opposition she faced from her community and family, Morris encountered yet another obstacle in being baptized. As a child, Morris had almost drowned, and she warned the elder baptizing her that she had a deathly fear of water.
“I don’t know how you’re going to survive tomorrow,” she joked.
On Dec. 18, 2016, Morris was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While the experience changed her life, her fear of water made it imperfect. As the elder baptized her, she dug her manicured fingernails into his arm, covering his arm in claw marks and making the missionaries in the corner laugh.
The sassy member of the Church kept the missionaries laughing.
Morris’s church experiences aren’t all laughter, however, so neither is her Instagram.
“Being okay with not being okay is a struggle,” she shared in a recent Instagram post. Her post captions reflect her real-life experiences, which aren’t perfect.
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Heavenly Father loves me right? He loves me right ? Maybe he doesn’t love me. A few months back when I was still in Utah I felt the most unloved I ever did. My friends love wasn’t enough. They tried their hardest to make me happy but I couldn’t be happy. Heavenly Father just didn’t love me. Then towards the end of my trip someone who I had never met before cried when I was leaving their ward to head back to Idaho. My heart gave a little. Why would a stranger love me? I realize in the grand spectrum of things that accepting Heavenly Fathers love is one of the hardest things for us. We carry around our unworthiness like a second skin and forget that our father in heaven is merciful and will embrace us even if we don’t feel loveable. Loving Heavenly Father starts with loving and forgiving ourselves for past mistakes and realizing that we too have an important role in his eternal plan. So does Heavenly Father love me? He sure as hell does #latterdaysaints #latterdaysaint #churchofjesuschristoflatterdaysaints #ldssud
Doing hard things and taking leaps of faith are necessary challenges in life, as Morris knows well. Since she joined the church, she lost her grandmother, went on a trip to the temple in the Dominican Republic with other young adults, and took a trip to Utah and Idaho.
These experiences required putting all her faith in God and trusting that He would work everything out.
For those going through hard times, Morris offers words of encouragement and advice through her Instagram.
“Your Heavenly Father is going to get you through everything,” she said. “He’s going to make everything that seems impossible possible. . . . If you think you can’t get through something, Heavenly Father is saying ‘Just trust in Me, and I will help you.’”
The missionaries called her sassy. They were right.
Lead image from Rachel Nielson
Rachel Nielson is a communications student at Brigham Young University – Idaho. She has enjoyed writing throughout her life and is studying journalism. She loves music, chocolate, and making food. More than any of that, she loves the Lord and being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! When she isn’t studying or working, Rachel enjoys the outdoors when it’s not cold and reading when it is! Connect with her on Instagram, @anothersistersunshine, or read more from her blog, rachelnielsoncomm.wordpress.com.