For the last two months or so we've been hosting the Mormons at our house once a week.
Let me explain how that got started: They came to the door in the usual way that they do and this particular day I was feeling quite fair and just. I decided to talk to them and make an appointment. After all, everyone could use a little human kindness and, really, is it so difficult to talk to other human beings like they're... human? I think not.
At first, as the day approached when we had our first appointment, I was feeling like kicking myself. Why did I sign up for this? How stupid do you have to be to fall for this crap? When the big day finally came, they showed up and we had a nice hour of conversation. Not a conversation focused on religion, although that was certainly in there, but a conversation based on getting to know each other. It was actually a very nice visit. I enjoyed them immensely and I eagerly made another appointment next week. It went on like that for 6 weeks. They'd come over, we'd chat about life mixed with a little religion, and I'd schedule again. As time went on we got to know more and more about them, and they got to know us. I had always assumed that they lived around the area and were raised Mormon and were trained to be pushy and rude. I'm not clear on how I made that assumption as my previous dealings with them were few and far between at best. I've come to know that they are actually missionaries who come from far away, in this case Montana and Oregon. They go in groups and call their partner their "companion". They spend all day going door to door, often times not eating, although I guess where I live is actually a great place for them and they do get served dinner most days. Other than that, they're on their own. They don't have jobs, and therefore have no money, and they need to feed and clothe themselves. They live in small apartment/hotel room set ups and they're with their companion 24 hours a day for 2 years. They're young kids who, most of the time, have never been on their own. They get plunked in a mission field that they do not choose and they spend all day going from house to house and being treated like crap. This is where we, as rational human beings, should be able to put ourselves in that place and perhaps make a real effort the next time they show up to use our manners the way our Mommas taught us. Regardless of religious belief, we all deserve to be treated with basic respect, do we not?
Let's get beyond that though. The Mormons come to our house more often than our friends do. They have also in the last few months, asked to help out, offered things to us, and followed through on that, more often than my friends do. Their ministry has gone beyond religion and we have a real friendship with them. I can tell you about their parents, their siblings, what they do for fun, and they know the same about me- it's been a great blossoming relationship and I look forward to seeing them every week and think about them often in between meetings. Our meetings have gone from an hour to three hours and now include a meal and a LOT of laughing. It's truly excellent and very much appreciated.
As does happen though when you make friends with missionaries, there comes a point where you are asked to make a decision about your religious future. For us, that point was today. I will admit that the more I learn about Mormonism the more a lot of it makes sense, more so than other religions I have looked into. I was raised Baptist and had a lot of questions that no one could ever answer, nor did anyone ever look the answer up. It was just, "we don't know and we don't care that you don't know. Don't question so much, some things you just have to believe on faith". Which was not good enough for me. I have a spirit that hungers for knowledge, and I hate being shoved in a corner just because I'm a girl and therefore I must lack some sort of essential part of my being that makes me worthwhile, and I felt like that was the gist of Baptist, at least in my church.
The Mormon beliefs that I really like are, the three kingdoms- celestrial, terrestrial, and telestial vs. Heaven or hell. I also like that they believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not the same person, just three people who want the same goal for you- quite frankly if the father and son are the same person there's something going on in that family that I don't want to cling to. However, no coffee? No tea? No smoking? Oh, man. I don't think I can do any of that. Well, ok, I don't drink coffee so I wouldn't care about that, and I could probably do without tea, but it would suck. The smoking? I'm not giving that up. I honestly had some part of me whisper, if I just didn't smoke at church, nobody would know. Isn't that awful and dishonest?
But I digress, it saddens me that we're at a point where we either embrace Mormonism or lose our friends. Is this really what it's come down to? I have no doubt that they would still be around and still talk to us, but it wouldn't be the same, or as often. They're missionaries after all. I'm sure that making friends is a great side effect for them, but it isn't their goal. So the question today is, am I able to quit smoking and adopt a new religion for the sake of friendship? Is giving up all that worth what I would gain?