So he started drawing cartoons.
“I had months of time where I wasn’t in school … waiting to go on my mission, so I started drawing and creating this story," Van De Graaff said.
From 1993 to 1995, he served in Slovenia, a small country bordering Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. And every week in his letters, Van De Graaff included a drawn joke or gag for his family back in Orem.
The first drawings of "Mission Daze" were on the outside of the envelope and became popular with both his family and other Mormon missionaries. Later, he included the drawings on the inside of the envelope, which allowed him to provide greater detail to the gags because he no longer had to work around addresses and stamps.