Memory Lane Series.
I was lying in bed the other day reminiscing about some of the funnier, and more unique experiences I had on my mission. Within a minute I had come up with at least 10 things. I kept having a bit of a giggle to myself over them and wondered if anyone else would find the humour in them.
As a result I have come up with a new idea for a series – Memory Lane. It is here that I will begin my reflections on things you should never do on your mission – from my perspective.
I also figure that after 30 years, they have probably passed the test of time, and can be considered narratives of a time gone by.
Each week I will share two of these things, and will continue until I run out.
Hope you enjoy them
1. Never take a shortcut home through the cemetery when it’s dark.
In my first area, our flat (apartment) sat at the back of the town cemetery. I have never been superstitious about these kinds of things. In fact I really love cemetery’s, especially from a photographers point of view. And the standard statement our family makes every time we drive past any cemetery is that we have just passed the ‘dead center’ of town (haha, right?).
But one of the things I learnt never to do on my mission was to walk home through a cemetery at night. You never know what will pop out from behind a headstone.
On this particular night we chose to walk our bikes through the cemetery on our way home from a long day of tracting. I guess we were just too tired to ride the long way round, as our weariness got the better of us.
Unknown to us, the Elders had decided to meet us at our flat that night to get a report on our days statistics and activities. Now, I’m not sure how they worked out that we were walking back through the cemetery, but what I do know is that as we walked through – pitch dark and quiet – two very tired and vulnerable sister missionaries were scared out of their brains as two dark suited elders emerged from behind a very big headstone making very strange ‘dead person’ noises (not sure what kind of noises dead people make, but it sounded like it that night).
Needless to say, we never did try to walk through the cemetery at night again. We figured that if two well-meaning missionaries could pull off such a prank, then there was every chance that some other not so well-meaning person could do the same, with less humorous outcomes.
2. Never make the Elders so mad that they break the car window.
Every missionary plans for the day (or days) when they will face opposition. It comes with the job, and cannot be avoided. But they never think that the opposition will come from other missionaries.
On this occasion, it was very close to Christmas, and everyone was in the festive mood – including the elders. There is something about the Christmas season that makes you just want to come bearing gifts and offering service to everyone and anyone – especially on a mission. This was not lost on the elders, so one day they turned up on our doorstep with the fantastic idea that, as a gesture of Christmas cheer, we (being the sisters) could make cookies and cakes for their (being the elders) investigators.
Our first thought was that we could combine our efforts, and actually come up with some great treats to share with all our investigators. But no, from the Elders reckoning, we would make all produce for their investigators only.
On that understanding they then drove off to do some ‘real’ missionary work, declaring as they drove out that they would be back to pick it up when we were finished.
Can you picture the look on our faces?
But, as every good missionary learns, ‘Obedience is the first law in heaven’ and since they were our Zone Leaders we got down to the serious work of baking and decorating.
Fast-forward…and that afternoon the elders returned as promised. We felt proud of our culinary efforts, and satisfied by a job finished and well done. We were now ready to focus on our investigators and do what we could do to wish them a Merry Christmas.
So it was with some amazement that we heard the elders suggest we needed to come with them to deliver the goodies to their investigators. We were perplexed as to why they would need us to come with them. But, obedience was the rule of the day, so with some reluctance we jumped in the back seat of their car and travelled with them – all the time trying to put on a cheerful and festive face.
Driving along, our patience and long suffering were really put to the test when they further indicated that they would be staying in the car while we hand delivered the goodies to the doors of their investigators.
This was really the end of all attempts to obey. I know, I can hear you saying, “But what happened to the part about obedience being the first law in heaven?” We just couldn’t play along any more. This was just too ridiculous. We had never met any of their investigators, so felt sure that had we been the deliverers, they would wonder who the strange women were bearing festive gifts on their doorstep. Besides, slavery had never been a pre-requisite of serving a mission.
So we flat out refused to do their bidding.
I would just like to say at this point, that I learnt a lesson that day. When people are pushed to the edge, you often discover their true colours.
Elder #1 was so taken back by our refusal that he found some kind of super human strength at this point. He bounded out of the front seat of the car, opened the rear door and insisted that we get out and deliver their cookies to their investigators. Refusal again…
Before we knew it, the plate of goodies was swiped from our hands and the rear door returned to the closed position – very rapidly and with great strength (remember the bit about the ‘super human strength’?). We were then greeted with the sound of shattering glass as the entire door window disintegrated into tiny shards of very pretty, sparkly glass bits. A bit like snowflakes actually…Christmas had arrived for my companion and I, as we couldn’t contain the laughter – Christmas joy.
All we could think about was how the Elders where going to explain this one to the Mission President…
N.B. I would like to conclude this little narrative with the comment that since that festive experience, my companion and I have felt the need to repent of our disobedient ways. We both believe that we should have obediently followed through on their request. The blessings could have been without number if we had. Can you imagine the coup we could have pulled off, if we had met each of their investigators? We could have doubled our teaching pool in just one afternoon if we had thought this thing through 😉