Today Elder Watkins and Elder Brown – in their short sleeve white shirts, tie, black pants and black name placards – visited me. I was coming in from the grocery store, and they knocked on my front door which was left open when I stumbled home with hands full of groceries. As soon as I saw them, I knew they were Mormon.
"Hi there. Can we talk with you for a few minutes about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?"
I said yes, they helped me bring in the groceries, and we talked. And before you start worrying that I’m changing my name to the Mormon Zephyr – no, I did not accept Joseph Smith as my personal prophet. But I listened. In fact, I was glad they came by. I think I’m the only one of my friends who had never been visited by Mormon missionaries. Now my life is complete.
Of course, on the surface these guys are clean cut, God-loving, faithful servants of the church. And the way they spoke of Jesus Christ and God’s love for the world isn’t all that different than what you may hear in any "mainline" church. But when they got into the whole thing about apostacy, Jesus’ appearances in the Americas, and the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith, the plates and modern-day prophets – that’s when it got a little odd. Nonetheless, they were nice and we talked for about 20 minutes before I told them that I needed to tend to dinner. That’s when they asked if they could come back to talk some more.
"Well, I’m a sales rep, and I’ll be traveling most of the next few weeks . . . "
"How about next week? Can we come by for just a few minutes one night next week?"
So we set a date for Tuesday evening. I even have my reading assignment from the Book of Mormon – 3 Nephi 11. I figure that my wife – who is a pastor, a PhD candidate, and much smarter than I – can take the lead with our Elder friends next week. We won’t play games with these guys, but we may start asking some tougher questions . . . We’ll see.
There’s much more to describe about this experience, including:
- their very polished, scripted presentation (which included a semi-dramatic reading of Joseph Smith’s encounter with God as I looked as painting depicting the scene). (I work in sales and I know a sales schtick when I see one!);
- the ambivilence I’ve felt since college about Mormons and their place in the spiritual pantheon;
- the ambivilence I feel knowing that Elder Brown and Elder Watkins are praying that I recognize Joseph Smith as prophet and the Book of Mormon as the word of God; and
- whether I should just tell these guys that they’re wasting their time.
I’ll give an update next Tuesday or Wednesday.