This letter is prompted by two recent visits from LDS missionaries. One was two nights ago, when I was knocked out on drugs and could barely register what was happening in the living room. Apparently the elders came by “just to visit” people on the ward list. John politely explained that he’s not a member of the church and said that our family has officially requested “no contact” with the church. He asked the elders to pass that information on to the powers-that-be in the ward, given that our earlier request was not honored. The letter below is from the previous of the two visits…
Dear LDS missionaries who helped me carry my groceries in the rain:
First of all, it was very nice of you to help me–particularly with that box of clementine oranges that I was grasping awkwardly with two fingers while having 3 or 4 bag handles draped over each arm. It was obvious I was about to lose some oranges, so the help was very considerate.
I liked how genuinely surprised you seemed when I greeted you each as “Elder” and asked where you came from. That you were both from rural Utah didn’t surprise me very much–you both looked pretty intimidated by the heathen graduate students milling around our neighborhood. When you found out that I was nearly done with my PhD, one of you asked for suggestions for a good college major. My reply that a degree in engineering might be a good way to support a family was sincere–I worry about young LDS couples and their ability to survive in today’s economy. That you both looked at each other and admitted that neither of you can do math reminded me just how very young you missionaries are, and I realized how hard it must have been for your mothers to let you go for two years.
It probably seemed like the reason that I didn’t invite you in after you helped with the groceries was because I was busy. But it really was because I didn’t want the conversation: the one where I would explain about apostasy, about not going to church for awhile. And about institutions and inequity and history. About needing a new place to call home. About wounds. About the kinds of life experiences that couldn’t be articulated to two nineteen year-old boys who don’t even know what to study in school.
I wanted your memory of the afternoon to be one of rescuing a fellow Saint who was about to lose her oranges. Not of a lost soul for you to pity.
And when I prayed, as you walked away in the rain, that you would avoid the doors of my neighbors who have been the most hurt by the Church’s influence…that was one of my most sincere prayers in quite some time.