Yeah, they are. For the most part.
Like all groups of people, there are always the few bad apples, and LDS Missionaries are no exception. In my life, I’ve run across perhaps one or two that have driven me up the wall, but for the most part, they’re harmless. They also tend to be kind, decent, well-mannered, and all the rest of that good stuff. So if a set of them comes knocking at your door, play nice even if you don’t want to listen. Who knows? You may just change your mind.
At church last Sunday, one of the set of missionaries in my branch asked if they could come over and get to know us, us being Fahim and I. Well, they didn’t name Fahim by name since they don’t know him, but were using that collective you indicating me and all other concerned parties. This is a fairly standard missionary thing – if they know the members in the ward, then it’s also easier for the members in the ward to be less shy about sharing what we know about the gospel with others we interact with outside of church. Or asking those others if they’re interested in learning more about the gospel. You know. And if you don’t, let me know and I can explain in more detail.
I said yes, of course, but let me talk to my husband instead. As I’ve stated only I don’t even know how many times, Fahim is Muslim, and I’m not going to pressure him into learning about my religious beliefs, nor am I going to pressure him into doing anything religious with me. I’ll ask, but it’s his decision. Fahim was all for the missionaries coming over, so they did tonight.
Their appointment was for 7pm, and Fahim warned me that they would likely be late. Fine, I understand that, but still, we’ve got to be prepared for the eventuality that they’re on time. So supper had to be ready so that, as soon as Fahim broke his fast, he could eat immediately instead of waiting until the missionaries were gone. Check and roger that. Done. We finished eating by 6:45 or so and sat down to watch television while we waited.
At about 7:45, I hear some English voices talking in front of the house and they came from two young men knocking on the garden gate of our downstairs neighbor. I quickly ran out the door and called out, "Elders! Over here! Follow my voice – you have the wrong gate!"
Remember me mentioning that our front door light is burnt out? Well, this is one more example of why we need to get this rectified. Right, Fahim?
Luckily, it didn’t take much for them to hear me – I can have a very loud voice when I want to (shut up!). They came over to our gate and I let them in. All the way up the stairs and into the living room they kept apologizing for being late. Fine, fine, yes, okay, thank you for apologizing, I understand. Eventually I ended up saying something along the lines of "Will you quit apologizing already? It’s not necessary. I understand, and for that matter, Fahim warned me that you would." Our place is not easy to find in the light of day – for the local trishaw drivers. They live over at the church, so their driver no doubt had to ask for directions several times.
Fahim was in the bedroom praying, so I sat down with the missionaries, and we started talking about Fahim and I and how did we meet.
It gets really funny when I told them that Fahim and I met online on June 13th my time zone. "Of this year?" croaks Elder Lawrence. Both Elder Lawrence and Woo had eyes nearly dropping out of the sockets at this. Yup. This year, I confirm. They nearly choked. I nearly snorted from laughing. This is a fairly typical response. Are you surprised?
So of course they want to know how it happened, and I told them the broad brush strokes. Fahim came into the living room in the middle of it – or somewhere near the beginning, perhaps. It was fun telling them. But then, it’s usually fun telling people our story – I get such a kick out of the reactions I see. "This year?" being the most common phrase I hear. Yeah, folks, this year. And yes, Fahim and I were totally smitten with each other after about a week of chatting online, and yes, Fahim and I were completely and totally in love to the point of wanting to marry each other after a couple of weeks. And Fahim and I were making plans for me to move to Sri Lanka a week or something after that. All told, Fahim and I met in person for the first time just barely two months after we met, and yes, we got married about 8 hours after that.
Yes, folks, those are not typos.
I married Fahim 8 hours after meeting him in person.
The reality is that if my plane had gotten in at some time other than one in the morning, we would have been perfectly content to get married five minutes after meeting each other in person for the first time. We had looked for a way to do that, in fact. But a flight arriving at one in the morning can put a damper on things like that.
Back to the missionaries.
We continued talking, and the topic got on to religious beliefs and faith in God and things like that. Fahim spouted off his opinion – but I don’t mean spouted as in heated or anything like that, just spouted as in voiced his opinion. He was perfectly polite and well behaved. Well, I agreed with most of what Fahim said, and those things that I didn’t agree with, I could see why a person would believe in them, so no biggie. Elder Lawrence, on the other hand, well, he’s a Utah Mormon, which basically means he’s most likely been sheltered all his life from other religious views, among other things. Something like half the population of Utah is LDS. Do they have Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, Catholics, Mennonites, Baptists there? Do they have them in any great number?
In Canada, we have a few Bible belts, as they’re called. One is the Fraser Valley in BC – Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Sardis. It’s called that because the people there tend to be much more religious, go to church more frequently than the rest of the country, and perhaps they even have more Bible-thumpers?
Southern Alberta has a lot of LDS people (LDS, also more commonly known as Mormon. For more information, see the LDS Church’s main web site here.) And culturally, the Utah Mormons and Southern Alberta Mormons tend to have a lot more in common with each other than Mormons from anywhere else. And yes, there is a Mormon culture, but more on that some other day. Maybe. If you want to know more, leave a comment or email me and I’ll get on it.
Anyway, everywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve been exposed to other cultures, religions, value systems. I have in the past and the prest had friends who were everything from Sikh, Jewish, Catholic (both Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and standard Vatican versions), Baptist, Anglican, United Church, Muslim, Buddhist, Athiest, Agnostic, Wicca, LDS of course, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, and probably a whole heck of a lot more than that. I like discussing religion. But let me stress the discussing part. I will not argue, I will not get heated about it, I will not participate in any conversation where there is anything other than an open exchange of ideas. You want to argue, go talk to someone else. I’m a curious person, what can I say? I like knowing what other people believe, and I like understanding the basis for other religions. It’s that curious thing. But now I’m merely repeating myself.
Back to the missionaries. Elder Lawrence has very likely, before coming on his mission, not been exposed to a whole lot of other religions. That’s fine, no biggie.
Anyway, so Fahim’s talking about his opinions, and I understand what he’s saying completely, and agree with some of it too, and Elder Woo is listening and perfectly comfortable. Elder Lawrence, on the other hand, well, he’s making faces. Not funny faces, but not knowing what to do with what Fahim has said. Okay. Half the time, I don’t know what to do with what Fahim says either, but that, again, is a whole other topic.
Anyway, it gets to be nine, and I mention that Fahim has to be in bed by nine because of Ramadan and such. The missionaries nearly freak out – yes, of course I’m exaggerating – apologizing for keeping us up so late and . . . And I tell them to relax, it’s not gonna kill Fahim to wait another ten minutes.
The missionaries ask if they can come back to show us a video. I mention we have no VCR. They ask if the DVD player can play VCDs. Of course, says Fahim. Why am I not surprised? So we arrange for them to come back and show us their video.
And after they’re gone, Fahim reminds me that tonight is Dark Angel, so Fahim isn’t going to bed immediately. Oh. Oops. I forgot. Oh well. And then Fahim tells me I should go to bed anyway since I’m so tired.
So I get an hour or two more sleep every night than Fahim does, and I’m still too tired to stay up until 10:30 watching Dark Angel?
Yeah, pretty much. But I do anyway.