Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dinner with the Missionaries

Today, we had dinner with the missionaries. Usually in my personal history, I've associated dinner with the missionaries with happiness and such. This might have been, however, the most awkward dinner with the missionaries EVER. EVER in the history of EVER.

First, we had Pizza. Pizza. Not home made pizza, not some kind of special pizza, just plain old run of the mill pizza from Pizza Hut. I wanted to die from embarrassment right off. My mother doesn't like to cook, but I didn't think she'd go quite that low. I mean, seriously. Pizza... Heaven forbid we give them a good home-cooked meal. Good German fare, good American fare, SOMETHING other than pizza. She has let herself go so far from the days of Germany.

Anyway, the conversation at our beautifully decorated rosewood table, which had a table cloth that could have stood to have another foot in radius, was forced and awkward. Like a script in a bad play. "Where do you come from?" "A little town called _____, in Montana." The conversation would there end. Later a missionary would ask, "So, are you going to school?" "I just got back from my first year at BYU." "Oh." A penetrating silence followed as the looks in their faces betrayed them: wondering whether I was maybe unworthy or didn't have a testimony. Didn't bother to ask if I was even of mission age.

Dessert was ice-cream, from the freezer. It had been sitting out there a bit too long though, and I got the old stuff while everybody else got new stuff. But I was OK with that, in a way. It was OK. It was the quiet of the room as we ate that bothered me. No conversation whatsoever. My father talked briefly about his career with the government, and my mother brought up how I insisted on the correct pronunciation of Iran and Iraq. This brought more awkward silence and more of those looks.

Finally, they got to sharing a spiritual thought with us. It was the new first discussion. I don't think I've ever seen anybody less enthusiastic about anything. They weren't riveting and bursting at the seems with an overpowering spirit, dying to share a message of salvation. In fact, they didn't seem to care. They had a few lines that sounding rather robotic and memorized that I silently questioned. "We've searched it out for ourselves." Had they really, or had they taken it on faith? Could they answer the really tough questions. Not the easy ones, anybody can answer the easy ones, but could they answer the tough ones with a better answer than "pray about it [you weak testimonied filth]."

They said a prayer that lasted for a good five minutes. The phone rang twice during said prayer. Try as I might, I couldn't feel the spirit at all the whole evening, even during the prayer. I think they just wanted to get out of there as quickly as they could. And who could blame them? In a situation that awkward, I'd want out too.

Anyway, I think this is the first time I've had dinner with the missionaries and I didn't come away feeling spiritually charged and ready to take on the whole universe. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Maybe I'm not worthy... maybe I don't deserve to feel the spirit when they pray, when they give the first lesson. Maybe it wasn't there. I think I'm going to go force my way through three kilometers of freestyle. It's time for me to get back in good swimming shape again...

-Stephen

P.S.
The pool was closed early tonight for some special event or other. I'll have to go tomorrow instead.

P.P.S.
This blog should not be interpreted as "Pizza shook my testimony," which is what another blogger told me he got out of it. Just, for the record, that's not what's going on...

6 comments:

iwonder said...

Totally sounds like their problem, not yours.

Kengo Biddles said...

It could be that you might not be at a point to feel the message, but then, it could be your family, too, and frankly, they didn't seem like particularly "stellar" missionaries, either.

-L- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-L- said...

I haven't particularly enjoyed my moments with the missionaries for the last several months either. (And, there have been lots of them, somehow.)

But then I remember how hard it was to be a missionary. And it's a particularly hard time of year, probably. Most guys their age are heading home after finals, seeing family, having new romantic prospects... etc. And they get to look forward to the same day full of, well... missionary work. And it seems like an indefinite sentence.

I loved my mission overall, but there were definitely times. :-)

Abelard Enigma said...

Over the years we've had a lot of missionaries in our home for dinner, to teach discussions, etc. And, I have to agree with iwonder. It is quite possible the problem was with them and not with you or your family. Just because they've been set apart to be a missionary does not automatically endow them with extra spirit. They still need to do the things we need to do (pray, read the scriptures, etc.). The reason missionaries often have a special spirit about them is because they have more time to do those things than the rest of us. But, frankly, some missionaries are better at it than others.

I've certainly have had experiences with missionaries similar to what you described. Although, we probably get more than our fair share of goof-off missionaries because the mission office is nearby and mission presidents often like to keep such missionaries close at hand.

BTW, in my ward, when you invite the missionaries over for dinner - you get 4 of them (2 english speaking and 2 spanish speaking). It's not that we have a bunch of spanish speaking people in our ward. The spanish speaking elders cover our entire stake and happen to live within our ward boundaries, so we get to feed them.

Switch said...

Pizza?

Is awesome!

Also.. you can never tell what's going on with the missionaries themselves. They could have had a fight, or they'd just gotten paired up and aren't comfortable with each other yet, or any of a million other things that you and your family had no control over.

Contrary to popular myth.. missionaries aren't perfect either.

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