Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Missionary moments I'd like to forget...

... but can't, since my companion always reminds me.

I read this rather humorous post over on Blogger of Jared. Eric wants to know what we did on our missions that would qualify as the "dumbest thing you did".

My memory may have blocked a number of such things. Others I may be intentionally forgetting so I can't be officially indicted. ;)

It seems there was always something that someone had done that was funny, or worth laughing about, and I guess as missionaries, in a sense, we loved those moments. Something that broke up the routine, something deliciously sensational.

I was just speaking by phone with one of my former mission companions. We were in the same MTC district, but weren't companions until close to the end of our missions. He was my next-to-last companion in the field. We spent two months together, working our tails off, and having a blast. If I had to pick one of the best times from my mission, that two months would be it.

Of course, you take the good with the bad. He reminded me of a dumb thing I did that ended up earning our mission president a death threat from a suspected member of the mob. I had completely forgotten about this. Until today. Rather timely given the Blogger of Jared post, now I have something to contribute.

Honestly, all I did was hold the door open for some kid. Who knew?

This happened before said companion (Elder L) and I were companions. I had just delivered a case of Books of Mormon to his apartment. Elder L and I hadn't seen each other since the MTC, so we took some pictures, chatted for a bit and caught up. On our way out of the building, a kid ran up and said, "Don't close the door!"

Sure, young man, there you go. Have a good day! My companion and I hopped in the van and drove off. Gee, we're so polite! We even made that little boy happy!

Now, picture if you will, a small apartment building. There were two homes in this building. The missionaries were upstairs, and a family lived downstairs on the ground floor. The family downstairs was... well, how do you put this delicately? They were... mean? dangerous? notorious? feared?

*cough* Need I say more? *ahem*

The next morning, the mother of this family gave the riot act to the missionaries. "You left the door open, and my kids bikes got stolen!! I've told you a million times to close that door!"

The missionaries insisted that they always close the door.. Then, they remembered. Elder Eddie had been there, and he didn't know about the front door. Or the screaming woman downstairs. Uh oh.

The woman insisted they buy replacement bikes. Elder L called the mission office, and spoke with our president. Our president said, "Hey, we didn't steal the bikes. It's not our problem." Elder L had to face this woman and deliver the news.

Her response? According to Elder L, it went something like this:

"Well it will be your problem when my friends come over and bash your heads together, and throw you off the balcony. What city did you say your president is in? We have friends there, too. They'd be happy to go 'talk' to your president. We'll make it his problem."

She demanded that the president call her. When Elder L called our president, he was on travel, and said, "If she wants to talk to me, she can call me."

She didn't. She wanted a call from the president.

After another palpable threat to the health and well being of Elder L, his companion, and our president, our president agreed to call her.

Within minutes, he called Elder L back. "Uhh, we'll replace the bikes. You'll have the money today."

And that was that. A simple act of holding open a door for a stranger, and I almost got my mission president rubbed out by the mob. And funds consecrated for missionary work were used to buy bikes for mob kids.

All in a day's work.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter

Today I have waxed nostalgic. I've been thinking of years past, and I remembered something that happened when I was in 7th or 8th grade.

Catholics have a devotion called the "Stations of the Cross". If you've ever been in a Catholic sanctuary, you will usually see the "Stations of the Cross" hanging on the walls, spread throughout the room. There are... getting rusty here... 14 or 15 stations. A group of worshipers will visit each station, usually there is a leader who leads the prayers, and you move from one to the next, to the next.

This is something that today, at Easter time, I miss. Why? That I can tell you in one word: tradition! (sorry, Fiddler relapse) It's something I did every year growing up, but haven't thought of for years... until today.

In 7th or 8th grade, our class conducted the stations of the cross for the students in our school (this was a Catholic school, remember). We did this in the school's gymnasium. I don't recall who lead the prayers, but I know many of my classmates and I were in costume, acting out the scenes of the cross. Somehow I worked my way up the corporate ladder, starting as an apostle in our first rehearsal but later filling the role of Jesus.

I remember a few things... I remember that all of the students were remarkably quiet. Looking back, that is rather amazing. I remember my friend Chris, who was playing one of the apostles, holding a staff. Here he was in a cloak, holding a staff, and my eyes zeroed in on his digital watch with built in calculator. Just as I was leaving the room where we changed clothes, another friend had grabbed my arm and took my watch off.

But one thing I remember the most was around station 11 or 12... This was the hardest part, trying to hold my arms out at 90 degree angles without moving them.. and holding them... and holding them... must.. keep.. arms.. up.

It may seem silly, but I remember that day with fond memories. It was an honor for me to stand in that place, in that role.

There aren't many things I miss from my Catholic days. Well, other than church on Saturday night so you can sleep in the next day, and don't forget about 50 minute Sunday services, and... ahem. Sometimes--not all the time--I do miss the ritual and tradition surrounding the "holy days" of Christmas and Easter, which for me served as a way to frame my thoughts for the true meaning of the holidays.

Happy Easter, my friends.