A Mythical Mormon Mission
This story was a sequel which a couple of us created based on cliff hangers from the previously submitted post and this was the result. This was started by a Mr. A. Mr. E is me (Eric). We had both served missions and used that experience in creating this story. The story evolved between the two of us over a few months as we posted. A few definitions are listed for the non-Mormon who has happened to stumble on to this.
Mormon missionaries serve for 2 years if they are men 19-26 years of age and 1-1/2 years, if women, in countries all over the world. They always go 2x2 and a missionary refers to the other missionary who is with him at all times as his companion. The missionary, if male, uses the title Elder and he rarely refers to anyone's real first name for two years.
Interview - This is a private meeting with the mission president to discuss personal matters. Members of the Mormon church also have private interviews with their leaders where things of a very personal nature are often asked, especially about sexual practices.
Mission President - This is a man who with his wife and family are given a nice home (in most cases) by the church to use and everything they need to oversee about 120 or so missionaries in a "mission". He serves for 3 years as the adult supervisor of the mostly teenage or early 20s missionary group. There are also adult couples who are retired and go out as missionaries in various capacities.
Weekly reports - Missionaries are required to fill out a form and add some personal comments and mail it to the mission president every week.
Brethren - This is a term used to refer to the senior leadership of the church.
Seminary - In Mormonism, while in high school, a student attends a religious class every morning at a home or in a church owned building near the school.
Part 1 from Mr. A
Elder Goodman thought President Driver would make him feel like a sinner when he confessed to masturbating on a more or less regular basis during the first couple of months of his mission. Instead he said, "Elder Goodman I'm proud of you for sharing this information with me. As you know, I was president of Sparta electronics before I was called to be the president of this mission. I learned how to turn lemons into lemonade and what we did at Sparta, we can do here in the mission field. Whenever you take on a project like this you need a GOAL, A Way to MEASURE THE Goal, and a STRATEGY. Remember that when you get off your mission it will help you. So here's what I propose we do. I think your goal should be to stop masturbating all together. Zero M. We'll call it. Yes, I like it Elder Goodman Zero M.. Do you accept the challenge?"
"Yes", I said, "I accept the challenge. Zero M will be my personal goal."
Now in order to know whether we've met our goal we need to measure your behavior. If we don't have a measure, how will we know if your meeting your goal? The two spent about 30 minutes working out a coding system that Elder Goodman agreed to put on the back of his weekly report
Then President Driver said, "Now we need a strategy. A proactive approach to solving this problem. Instead of just saying to yourself I'm going to stop masturbating, you have to learn how to substitute some desirable behavior for the undesirable behavior. I suggest that every time you want to masturbate you recite scripture to yourself."
Elder Goodman said he thought that was a good idea. Operation Zero M was under way.
Part 2 from Mr. A
A few weeks later Sister Driver was in President Driver's office and noticed the numbers and letters on the back of Elder goodman's report. What do these numbers mean on the back of Elder Goodman's report. "That's operation Zero M.. I'm trying it out with Elder Goodman and if it works we're going mission wide. Mary, I can feel it, it's going to get the attention of the brethren.
Sister Driver looked at the codes for a minute and asked "What does the N mean?"
"It means nocturnal emission. If he gets all N he's reached condition Zero M. An M means he masturbated and the number following the M indicates how long he was able postpone masturbating by reciting scripture. We refer to that number as Delay time or D time. I've been doing some calculations. Since we've started Operation Zero M Elder Goodmans average delay time has increased from 12 to 18. Increased by a third. Pretty good huh?"
"!2 to 18 minutes?" she asked.
"No, not minutes. Seconds", he said with some impatience in his voice.
" Seconds?", she tried to hide her smile then she said, "It doesn't seem like very long to me."
"Well, Elder Goodman is a new missionary he doesn't know many scriptures."
Part 3 from Mr. A
"And what about the letters that follow the numbers?"
"Those are the people he fantasizes about. We developed 35 different categories. Like last Wednesday when he masturbated he wrote "OGF" that means he thought about an Old Girl friend. He used to write "GF" when he first started. He was thinking about the girl friend that was waiting for him, but she wrote a dear john letter to him a couple of weeks ago and since then he's been writing OGF."
"And what does FG mean?
"That means fantasy girl. Someone he's never met. Maybe a poster girl."
"And I suppose the "OT" means other?"
"Yes, if he starts writing "OT" I know its time to transfer him and get him away from his companion. But you know you're right, I don't think the strategy is working as well as it should. I'm going to call Elder Goodman " and with that President Driver reached for the phone..........
Part 4 from Mr. E
And as he reached for the phone his wife touched his arm and said, "Oh honey, you are so spiritual, do you really think this idea will make you a regional representative when we get home?"
President Driver turned to his wife of his 9 children and replied, "Honey be careful, we are not to seek for positions in the church, but I would not turn down a calling from the Lord. There is room on this weekly report form and it fits perfectly as if the Lord were waiting for this item to be attached and He inspired me. I feel so grateful."
"It would be wonderful to go home and tell my friends and family what a man of God I married and be able to visit all those different places, at church expense, to where ever you may be called. What kind of clothes should I buy?"
"Remember" said Pres. Driver, "That I was only a returned missionary when you met me. The Lord will continue bless us if we are faithful. Did you notice that home the area president got from the church? Well I better make this call."
Part 5 from Mr. E - learning to teach by the spirit
Earlier in the day...
Elder Goodman: "You know that Pres. Driver allowing us to teach by the spirit instead of strictly by the lessons when all else fails should be worth a try with Mrs. Brown."
Companion: "I am excited to do it. We need to help get the mission goal of 35 baptisms this month. We as a companionship have not had a baptism for several months"
A knock on the door.
Mrs. Brown: "Hello elders welcome, would you like some ice tea?"
Goodman: "Oh Mrs. Brown, you are always tempting us. We are here to teach you some wonderful things tonight."
Mrs. Brown: "Have a chair I look forward to our meetings".
Goodman: "We have taught you the law of eternal progression, is it clear to you that God was once a man who lived on another planet?"
Mrs. Brown: "Not quite, that is a bit hard to understand. It almost seems like science fiction"
Companion: "It is actually more fantastic than that. Brigham Young taught that people also live on the sun. He taught that right here in the Journal of Discourses. Is it not wonderful that there are people who love and care for you right in our own solar system?"
Goodman: "I have a testimony that Brigham Young was a prophet. He also taught that the only men who will gain the Celestial kingdom are those who live the law of polygamy. Won't that be neat to be with your friends and many other women whom you have never met, who are also married to your husband, together for eternity".
Mrs. Brown: "Will my friends have sex in heaven with my husband? And if they do, do I have to watch?"
Goodman: "You not only get to watch, but as a Goddess, you will be able to see it from all available angles."
Companion: "Yeah and possibly from 4 or 5 more dimensions than we currently have!"
Mrs. Brown: "This may be a silly question, but could they get pregnant?".
Goodman: "That it is the beauty of the gospel of Mormonism. Women in the celestial kingdom spend the eternities pregnant or giving birth. It is forever. Is that not something to look forward to?"
Mrs. Brown: "I think I need to add something to my tea boys."
Goodman quietly to companion: "I think she is beginning to get the spirit"
Part 6 from Mr. A - Elder Goodman contemplates
That night Elder Goodman and his companion returned home exhilarated. Preaching by the spirit gave them an entirely different feeling about tracting. They hadn't realized how oppressive the lesson plans had seemed to them.As They talked to Mrs Brown they feel alive, in charge, connected with God and terribly humble at the same time. They could hear God's voice and not be tired of the overworked words of the lesson plans. They could hardly wait to tell the President about the experience. They knew this was the way the early missionaries must have felt when they traveled without purse or script or lesson plans. They imagined President Driver calling all the missionaries together when he heard about their experience and ordering them to throw their lesson plan books in a pile. Then with great ceremony he would pour gasoline on the lesson plans, light the fire and they would all sing, The Spirit of God like a fire is burning. And when they were through President Driver would say, "Now, go out to all ends of the mission and preach by the spirit" But that's not quite what happened when President Driver heard about their session with Mrs. Brown. Here's what happened....
Part 7 from Mr. E - back at the apartment
Companion: "We've waited nearly 2-1/2 hours for her to come back to the living room and she never came back. What happened?"
Goodman: "We best get back to our apartment and see if there are any messages from our investigators. We will see Mrs. Brown again soon. Let's schedule her for baptism for next Saturday. That way we will still get credit toward the mission goals for the month of May."
Companion: "Hey, the light is blinking on our answering machine. There are two messages. This is great, the Lord is really blessing us."
Beep.. "This is President Driver, please call the mission home at once."
Goodman.: "Stop the machine. Maybe one of us is being called to be the assistant to the President. We gotta call him right now." Companion: "I'll call. This is exciting, a message from the president."
A phone rings...
Pres. Driver: "Good evening, mission home. How can I help you?"
Companion: "This is Elder Stewart, we are returning your call."
Pres. Driver: "Put your companion on the phone immediately."
Shaken, Elder Stewart gives the phone to Elder Goodman.
Goodman: "Good evening President how are y...?"
Interrupting quickly Driver asks: "What were you two doing earlier today with a Mrs. Brown?"
Goodman thinking that the spirit had inspired President Driver to ask that question replied: " We were teaching like you taught us. It was wonderful. It was one of the best spiritual experiences of my life."
Pres. Driver: "We do not cast pearls before swine and milk before meat. Do you understand?"
Goodman: "Yes President"
Pres. Driver: "besides, Mrs. Brown called here earlier, she said that you two were teaching her, can you imagine what she asked me?"
Goodman: "Well, uh, she seemed to be talking to herself as she left the living room wondering what kind of sperm count a god has."
Pres. Driver: "Yes, that reminds me of another question..."
Part 8 from Mr. E - the next day out tracting
Elder Goodman: "That was some thrashing we got from Pres. Driver."
Elder Stewart: "Yeah, I guess we won't become APs real soon. I have been thinking about milk before meat."
Elder Goodman: "In what way?"
Elder Stewart: "I think that note you left on Mrs. Brown's table telling her that Jesus was a polygamist and he therefore approved of polygamy was perhaps into the meat category."
Elder Goodman: "The early brethren were very inspired. It is too bad today the average person can not handle the teachings of those fine men. At times, I think the people of the 1800s must have been a lot smarter and more spiritual than us."
Elder Stewart: "My dad said that all he really remembers about Pres. Kimball was that we need to keep gardens. What a contrast huh? Perhaps the church needs a revival like all these tents we see set up here all over Mississippi."
Elder Goodman: "The D&C says a one mighty and strong will come. Could he be one of us?"
Elder Stewart: "We better work on getting our mission goals first. Let's go and talk to this man over here who is sinning as he is reading the Sunday paper on the wrong day, on Sunday."
Elder Goodman: "Good afternoon sir. We represent the Church of .."
Contact: "Another cult at my house in less than a week. The JWs were here last Weds and tried to get me to take a Watchtower magazine. They wouldn't get out of my yard until I threatened them."
Elder Goodman: "They are a cult, we are from the true church."
Contact: "Oh good, I am glad you clarified that for me. Could you tell me why you guys are trying to baptize the holocaust victims. Baptizing dead people sounds a bit cultish to me. Do you guys try to make contact with dead people?"
Elder Stewart: "Members of the church have wonderful experiences in the temple when their ancestors contact them."
Contact: "So you guys talk to the dead?"
Elder Goodman: "Not exactly, we baptize for the dead and if we are spiritual enough the dead people will let us know they accepted our works for them."
Contact: "This sounds like necromancy and other weird stuff."
Elder Goodman: "We'd love to teach you more."
Part 9 from Mr. E - later in the day
Goodman: "My father was telling me that when he served a mission here in the south in the early 70's, he and his companions used to have tie races."
Stewart: "Tie races?"
Goodman: "When they happened to accidently tract into a black they would roll up their ties to their necks, let go of their ties, and then ask the person which tie was faster. The unsuspecting black would usually tell them which tie won and my dad and his companion would thank him or her then go on to the next house. If they could see there were blacks in the next house, they would keep going until they found some whites."
Stewart: "Wow. My dad's friend Steve served a mission in England around 1965 and they had baseball baptisms."
Goodman: "Baseball baptisms?"
Stewart: "Yeah, the elders formed baseball teams and if a boy wanted to play baseball with them, he had to get baptised. They got a lot of baptisms that way, though the church has purged many of those records in the last few years."
Goodman: "I am getting confused."
Stewart: "How? The Lord inspires the brethren to put these programs into each mission and besides blacks could not have the Priesthood until 1978 so why should the church have tried to baptize them then?"
Goodman: "There seems to have been a little deception in both of those programs. It troubles me."
Stewart: "Remember, Joseph Smith denied having polygamous wives even though he already had children with some of them. His denial is in the official church history and his lying was necessary to protect the Lord and His church."
Goodman: "I understand we need to protect the church, but even if it requires lying?"
Stewart: "We don't need to directly lie, we concentrate on milk before meat and stay on the basic principles of the gospel. We just don't tell them everything. Investigators do not need to know the real history. It seems to confuse them. Look at what happened with Mrs. Brown. Actual church history even confuses members of the church, so they don't think about it because they don't want to weaken their testimonies and any problems it presents goes away if ignored long enough."
Goodman: "I am becoming more troubled..."
Part 10 from Mr. A - Elder Stewart contemplates
Elder Stewart began to watch Elder Goodman more closely. Lately, he'd been asking so many questions, he wondered if he was losing his testimony. Elder Stewart asked alot of questions himself, but it was different with him. He had a testimony, his father had a testimony, his great grandfather had a testimony. He knew the church was true so there was no chance that talking about problems would ruin his testimony. Even his own dad confessed one time that he had concerns, but it didn't destroy his testimony. He remembers his dad telling him, "Remember son, Joseph Smith was a prophet but he was also a human being and he made mistakes just like other humans do."
Elder Goodman, on the other hand, believed everything the church leaders told him. Elder Stewart knew that if Elder Goodman found many more discrepancies between what he was told in seminary and what actually happened, like the fact that Joseph Smith lied about how many wives he had, it would seriously threaten his testimony.
After their morning prayers the next day they headed for their tracting area. Elder Goodman seemed a little preoccupied.
"What's going on Elder, got girl problems?"
"Yes, I've got girl problems but that's not what's bugging me.Think about it Elder Stewart, doesn't it seem a little weird. Here God has protected these plates for hundreds of years so they could be revealed in the last days, he even goes to the trouble of sending a special messenger to Joseph Smith to tell him where the plates are. Joseph Smith retrieves the plates, works his buns off translating the first 116 pages and then Martin Harris loses them when he takes them to show his wife what he's working on. Now think about the situation. How would you expect God to respond? How would you expect Joseph Smith to respond? Remember, about that same time God sent John the Baptist to visit Joseph to restore the Aaronic priesthood and then a little later he sent Peter James and John to restore the Melchizedek priesthood.Doesn't it seem reasonable that maybe God would have said to one of these messengers, "While you're down there, tell Joseph that the transcript he lost is behind Martin Harris' cupboard. It slipped off when when his wife was wiping up some spilled soup" I mean if God can work all these miracles couldn't he help Joseph find a lost manuscript?" He thought for a minute and then he said almost as if he were talking to himself, " I think if I were God I could think of a hundred ways to get that manuscript restored."
Elder Stewart took a deep breath, "I knew you were obsessing about something Elder Goodman. I don't think you should be trying to figure out what God would do or wouldn't do. You're a bright man but not that bright and those kinds of thoughts will get you in trouble with the Lord. I promise you. "
"OK Elder I admit I don't know what God would do, but think about what Joseph Smith did? He still had the plates in his possession, he still had the Urim and Thummim for awhile before God took them back, he still had contact with God, wouldn't you expect that when he learned the manuscript was lost he would say a few words in frustration, ask for forgiveness for losing the manuscript and immediately begin to translate the same plates again. He said it took a lot of mental energy to translate, why throw that work away? Since he's done it once wouldn't it be a piece of cake to go back and retranslate it. He now knows the story. He's done the hard work. It would be a piece of cake. Instead what does he do, he starts all over translating a new set of plates. It doesn't make sense. "
"You're forgetting something Elder Goodman. Joseph was worried that if the original transcript was found someone could compare the two and if there were minor discrepancies which there would be they would say he's a fraud."
Part 11 from Mr. A - Lost Manuscript #2
Elder Goodman smiled at this comment. "I've heard that story too and that's the part that started me thinking. If God's messengers had spoken to me, I wouldn't care if anyone thought I was a fraud or not. I would know I wasn't and if someone thought differently then it would be their problem not my problem. Besides why is he worrying about enemies, this happened in 1829. The church wasn't even formed yet. There was no Book of Mormon. He posed a threat to no one. And one more thing, what type of person generally worries about being caught in a lie? I'll tell you who" he paused to make his point stronger, " liars do." He smiled inwardly at the nice little rhyme he'd made up and repeated it again under his breath "I'll tell you who, liars do." He liked the sound, he liked the rhythm. He repeated it to himself four or five more times, "I'll tell you who, liars do." "I'll tell you who, liars do." I'll tell you who, liars do." He caught himself. Maybe he Elder Stewart was right. He was inordinately obsessive. Then he started again, "I'll tell you who, pause, pause, Liars do.
He stopped talking to himself when Elder Stewart stopped walking. They were in the middle of the block. Elder Stewart looked at Elder Goodman, put his left hand on Elder Goodman's left shoulder - he was carrying a copy of the Book of Mormon and his appointment book in his right hand - and said, "Elder, you're on very dangerous ground. If you keep this up I'm going to talk to the Mission President about you.."
Elder Goodman looked down at the sidewalk to avoid his gaze. He felt a wave of anger come over him. He wanted to punch Elder Stewart out. He was sincere. What had he done that was so wrong. Then he felt guilty for being angry . He forced himself to relax and told Elder Stewart he was sorry and that he would fast and pray for forgiveness until he was sure the Lord had forgiven him or until he passed out from starvation. Elder Stewart took his hand off his shoulder so he could look Elder Goodman more squarely in the eye and said, "That's the spirit Elder, that's the spirit. And by the way, Joseph Smith didn't make the decision to translate a different set of plates. God did. He also took his power to translate away for awhile, so don't go blaming Joseph Smith for something God did."
Before they moved down the street, they checked the address in their appointment book to make sure they were headed in the right direction. Yesterday, the Elderly man in the third floor apartment told them to come back the next day when his son would be home. They didn't know if he was serious or just trying to get rid of them, but they couldn't afford to ignore anyone, so they were there. Just before they started up the stairs Elder Goodman said, "You know I have just one more question. Why didn't Joseph Smith recreate those 114 pages verbatim. Then he wouldn't have to worry about people finding discrepancies. ."
Part 13 from Mr. A - Lost Manuscript #3
Elder Stewart controlled his anger, "Because brother that's not the way a translation works. It's not a word by word thing. It's more general than that?"
"I understand that's the answer we would give to an investigator, but couldn't God have figured out a way to download what Joseph had done word for word?"
"There you go again, trying to figure out what God could or could not do. "
"OK, but didn't Joseph Smith go through and make word by word corrections in the Bible without the original transcripts and without the Urim and Thumim? If he could do it for the Bible why couldn't he do it for the 116 pages?"
Elder Stewart looked at him in exasperation shrugged his shoulders and started up the stairs. Just before they knocked on the door he said, "You were easier to get along with when you were writing three letters a day to your girl friend." He paused for a minute and then said," By the way Elder, what kind of girl friend problems are you having anyway?
Elder Goodman ignored the question not because he didn't want to answer but because he couldn't answer. He didn't know why his girl friend had suddenly stopped writing.
Elder Goodman really would have been worried had he known that at the exact moment that Elder Stewart knocked on the elderly man's door, his girl friend was......
Part 14 from Mr. A - Meanwhile in Utah
...checking her lipstick one last time while she waited for Jim Kelly to pick her up for their first date.
When Elder Goodman first entered the mission field Elder Jim Kelly was his first senior companion. As they walked their tracting area Elder Goodman used to tell Elder Kelly how he wasn't concerned about getting a Dear John letter because his girl friend, Janice Dupre, was so loyal to him.. At night as he and Elder Kelly knelt on opposite sides of the bed to pray, Elder Goodman would take Janice's picture off the bureau and kiss it just after saying "in the name of Jesus Christ amen" and just before he got off his knees and hopped into bed. The more he told Elder Kelly about Janice the more questions he asked. Elder Kelly thought several times to himself how thoughtful Elder Kelly was to listen to him go on and on about the girl he left behind. One year after Elder Goodman arrived, Elder Kelly finished he mission and headed for home.
Part 15 from Mr. E -
Elder Stewart: "Elder, that sure was some Missionary Development Meeting we attended. That was the best monthly MDM I have had on my mission."
Elder Goodman: "The sales techniques we learned will sure help us when we get home from our missions. Perhaps I will be able to get a job with Novell in their marketing department."
Elder Stewart: "Yeah, we got some of Covey's habits too and it did not cost us like a seminar would if we were regular members or gentiles. We are sure being blessed. I can't wait to try out some of these new persuasion techniques Pres. Driver taught us."
Elder Goodman: "The Lord is teaching us how to get people committed to simple concepts then lead them on to the ultimate glory of becoming Gods and Goddesses."
Elder Stewart: "It is so simple. Just get someone to commit to something easy with concepts they can already accept then move them on to Joseph Smith and when they are members and give ten percent of their money to the church, they can then learn how to be Gods. It is such a wonderful plan."
Elder Goodman: "I don't know how I could have started doubting. Surely no other church or organization could possibly use such inspired techniques. I can't wait to get back to our apartment and write in my journal."
Back at the apartment...
Elder Stewart: "I am going to take a shower."
Elder Goodman: "Be sure to keep the bathroom door open and only take a 3 minute shower like Pres. Driver told us."
Elder Goodman quickly pulls out his laptop computer to pretend he is writing in his journal. Goodman can log unto AOL and talk to his old girlfriend back at Provo in secret. He logs on and IMs for his girlfriend.
They used to "meet" every other night in a private room. He hopes the dear John letter was a mistake and she will be waiting for him. He tries searching for her and she is not logged on. She has never failed to meet him. His heart starts racing...
The end... Is there other inspired literature that ends in mid-sentence?