Missionaries Make Great Salesmen

It's true. Missionaries are really some of the best salesmen out there. They are used to "convincing" people, sounding persuasive, talking about what they believe in, and closing the deal quickly. When I was meeting with the missionaries, I began talking to them in March. They had me baptized in April. I'll admit, I'm a pushover and can rarely refute the advances of slick alarm salesmen or satellite mongers. So getting me in the water wasn't really difficult (oh, that and the church is true...blah, blah, blah.)

I'm in sales. It's what I do, and while I'm not really great at it I still have a killer job. My husband is also a salesman. He's the annoying door-to-door type this summer, until school's back in session. Every day he drives out to new neighborhoods with five other return missionaries, and they storm the place. Now, I've met these other missionaries and they aren't the brightest crayons, if you get me. But they are charismatic, positive, and outgoing. And they all manage to rake in the dough and make a bunch of sales per day. As for my husband, well, if it weren't for his salary I'd have to sell my body on the street. And I probably still wouldn't make enough. So it's a good thing he had his mission to get him used to this door-to-door thing. I however haven't yet been able to really "sell" a whole lot, and I know exactly why. Walking up to a total stranger and trying to convince them that what you have is something they want, is terrifying for me. But missionaries do it for two solid years. So if nothing else good comes from college, at least your mission prepares you for any sales job on the planet!

Is it the fact that they are just "used" to worming their way into people's affections? I don't know missionary tactics very well, but I DO know sales tactics. From what I've seen, getting people to buy a car is just as simple as getting someone to join the church. I'm not bashing the integrity of missionary work AT ALL. Sometimes you need to be like that in order to get people to really listen to what you are saying. If you truly believe in a product/church, it's hard to get across your point without a little manipulation and fancy wordplay.

By the way, if anyone needs TV advertising or lawn care, shoot me an e-mail and I will send you a pamphlet. And a Book of Mormon. And a pass-along card.

Polygamy vs. Gay Marriage

So, if you've stopped by recently, you would notice a poll to the right of this post. This will be a regular thing, too. But the last two polls I posted asked "What are you're thoughts on the FLDS?" and "What is your opinion on gay marriage?" In both of these polls, readers were allowed to chose more than one answer.

The two most popular answers for the FLDS question were
"They have the same rights as everyone else." (75%)
"They make us [Mormons] look bad." (50%)

The most popular answers for the gay marriage question were
"It ruins the sanctity of real marriage" (40%),
"They have rights just like every other American." (32%)
"According to God, it is wrong."(20%)

While the responses weren't overwhelmingly one way or the other, we can still see that the majority of visitors to this site feel that the FLDS have more rights than gays. Okay, I'm making assumptions on a grand total of around 50 votes. But it's interesting to see that we approve of rights for polygamists, yet not as much for gays. Of course, the Mormon church has both approved of, and banned polygamy. We feel our Heavenly Father, just like in the Bible, both allows and condemns polygamy. However, the church has never approved of homosexuality, perhaps because we assume the scriptures tell us so.

However, why is it not acceptable to either ban, or allow BOTH? If you rule out one, you must rule out the other. If the people involved are over 18 and consenting, why not?

Many Mormons I know would defend polygamy because it's a "loving" marriage between a husband and his wives, meant to "raise seed unto the gospel." They assume that gay marriage is nothing but a bunch of sodomy 24/7. You can't assume that all polygamist marriages are "loving" just like you can assume that gay or heterosexual marriages are "loving." I ask this to Mormons: Do you even KNOW a gay Mormon?

Personally, I don't. And I am really still on the fence about both issues. I simply don't know what is "right." But if people can be in a happy, fulilling, and loving relationship, WHY NOT?

Here's an interesting site. http://www.soymademegay.com/

Let's try to keep open minds. God has made way for change in the church before, but only if we are ready. There's not room for hate in our church.

Women vs. Men

I am not a "feminist" per se. But equality among men and women is something that I have never thought about because I assumed it was never an issue. Men and women are different. They have different things they are good at, and they think in different ways. They should each have all the same opportunities offered to them, but it's not required of them to partake in any of these opportunities. For example, we all have the right to vote. Whether or not we choose to is up to us. Women have the right to have the same jobs as men. Whether or not they choose to be stay-at-home-moms is up to them. I feel this should be true for all aspects of political and religious laws.

Currently, women aren't called to hold the Priesthood and men are. Much like the church used to not allow blacks to hold the priesthood, women aren't able to. The reason for this, most everyone in the church believes, is because God hasn't revealed that this is necessary. We believe that God inspires our Prophet to lead and guide us, and apparently God hasn't spoken up yet.

I have participated in various debates on LDS forums about this, and have heard all the arguments until the above consensus of "God hasn't revealed it yet" is everyone's ultimate answer. Which is fine. I guess. But that was the case with blacks holding the Priesthood as well. Until God revealed that it would be acceptable for black men to hold the Priesthood. So perhaps one day, God will inspire women to have it as well, we don't know.

While debating, there were a few things that flat out annoyed me. First, women would write about how they "don't want the responsibility" of the Priesthood. I understand that it's not about superiority, or that having the Priesthood somehow makes you "better" than your spouse. Before women were allowed to have complete job equality, I am sure they said "Who would want the responsibility of working that hard all day?" or before women were allowed to vote, "Who would want the responsibility of choosing who to vote for?" That's best left to the men, right?

It's not just the Priesthood that gets me riled up. It's the fact that many Mormon women are bred to think that getting a college degree is a good thing, working is a good thing, but your ultimate decision should be to stay at home with the kids. Personally, this ain't all bad. For the women. I would love to chill out all day at home with the kids. But I feel bad for the guys. They have to work hard all day, and on top of that hold the Priesthood and be expected to be this upstanding guy all the time.

It's not the actual church that condones this. Well, it does in a sense that all of its members live this life, and talk about how great it is, therefore making it impossible to be socially accepted within your church unless you are a doctor or dentist with three children and a wife who stays at home. (Inhale.)

The roles of men and women are great. Different, but great. I don't really want to go work all day. I'd rather be with my children for sure. But I would like to be doing SOMETHING to contribute to the family funds. Working from home, starting a business, what have you. And I'm not so sure that my husband would want to clean up puke and poop all day either. He'd much rather be the bread winner.

Is this true for EVERYONE? Should we really be teaching our Young Women how to sew when we could be teaching them how to start an online business? Should we really be teaching our young men how to tie knots when learning how to change a diaper is obviously something they will do more often? Why don't young men learn to cook, or exchange recipies, and young women go fishing. I am sure this is probably due to varying interests, but you get my point.

We shouldn't be segregating our men and women so much. We also shouldn't be teaching that men are the "head" of the household and what men say is "law." Not everyone does this now I am sure, but the words of many church leaders suggest otherwise. Each person is the "head" of the household. Each have different responsibilities. Each person's word is just as meaningful and viable as the other's. Even the word "Priesthood" condones inequality. Women have nothing like this to call their own. It's always Priesthood this, and "lead your home" that. (P.S. Motherhood doesn't count - that's a biological trait, not a man given right.) What about "Priestesshood?"

My Embarassing Temple Trip

Last night our ward drove up to the Idaho Falls temple to do baptisms for the dead with the Youth.

I drove up to the church, making sure I had extra underwear and makeup for afterward packed away in my little brown bag in my purse. I was right on time, at 5pm. However according to Mormon time I was 15 minutes early. So I waited around for some others to show up. I was wearing a tea length skirt and flip flops as the other youth leaders arrived in long skirts, heels, and pantyhose. I huddled with the people I knew the most, and watched four suburbans pull into the parking lot. The prayer was given once everyone arrived, and the bishop handed me my temporary temple recommend. (Mine had expired, and I've been too lazy to get a new one.) We piled into one of the suburbans, and of course I sat in the very back next to the luggage. The women had these ugly floral laptop-case-looking bags, which I assumed carried the stuff that I brought in a paper sack. All in all, there were four girls and two guys in the car, all my age.

I looked around and realized that there is a distinct possibility that I was completely misplaced. This may be purely coincidental, but the three women in front of me all had the exact same cropped bob for a haircut, with blonde highlights on top, and a burgundy red underneath. They all wore the loose fitting empire waist shirts with short sleeves that gather at the shoulder. Pantyhose, long skirts, and black tacky shoes. They all started talking about their babies and toddlers. Drool this, poop that. I looked out the window and tried to remember where I was going, and what I was doing. Despite the fact that the Young Adults of the Corn were taking me there.

Once we got to the temple, we sat in pews to have prayer. The temple workers informed us that any endowed members won't be able to get baptized, and would have to help. Therefore all the adults went to get their temple clothes on. I am not endowed yet. So there I sat. The only woman over the age of 17. I talked to the girls, trying to pretend that I ELECTED to get baptized with them "to be cool."

I have only done baptisms for the dead once, so I was rusty. Rusty as in, I looked a little lost the entire time. Thankfully, the endowed sisters realized that I was terrified and guided me along in the least condescending way possible. When it was my turn, I stepped into the nice warm, chlorine filled water. The guy baptizing looked a little scrawny, so I decided beforehand that I would help him out a little and be sure to really "push" off the bottom when he brought me back out of the water. (Let's face it, his arms would get tired.) However, I was entirely too eager and had to be "re-dipped" twice. Frick, even the teenagers could do this part.

After all was said and done, I was basically over my sheer mortification. (What could be worse than being dressed in a white jumpsuit that gets completely soaking wet?) So I gave up on the whole "trying to look cool and knowledgeable" thing, and dripped my way into the locker room. I got dressed, and prepared to do my makeup. However, the slick counters, partnered with my clumsiness, made a fascinating scene as my foundation shattered on the floor. Thankfully, it was that “solid” mousse stuff, so it didn’t get everywhere. But if you ever visit the Idaho Falls temple, and get your foot sliced open by broken glass – that was my fault.

I barely made it to the “movie” room (which is new to me…) and tried to isolate myself in a corner to not cause any further humiliation. All the girls came in and sat next to me. They talked about how many times they had seen “Johnny Lingo,” and I ended up confessing that I had never seen it. They gasped in horror. Or maybe jealousy. Like, “Your mom let’s you watch non-LDS movies?” Yes. My mom.

The scrawny guy that baptized me came in and apologized for not knowing who I was, and having to ask my name at the font. He remembered that I was new to the ward. He said he assumed I was a new “Youth.” That was the best news I heard all day.

Now for the best part. The food. We trekked downstairs to the cafeteria. I was ravenous, but tried to minimize the piling on of food since the ward was footing the bill. I got a normal sized plate of food, with a piece of pumpkin pie. (And I even omitted the scone for diet purposes.) I sat in front of my visiting teacher and her husband only to witness that them, along with everyone else, had done the opposite of me. Three scones, pie, salad, chicken, veggies, Jello, potatoes, milk, soup, fruit, juice, butter, all on one tray. However, ultimately I am glad my eyes weren’t bigger than my stomach as it was more that satisfying. Apparently, people actually fast all day to prepare for this temple food, and I can see why. Yum!

It was a great experience. Embarrassing at times, but really great. And even though the women who drove with me are all a little “Carrie Conformist,” I think I am going to make a concerted effort to make them my friends.

Is This Appropriate?

Last night before I left work, I stopped to talk to my boss. He asked me about a few days I had requested off. While we were talking about it, I brought up the fact that the reason I would need those days off is because I am getting sealed in the Boise temple to my husband who I am currently civilly married to.

After a long pause and some awkward paper shuffling he said, "Let me just ask you one question...in the Bible it says that Jesus himself said there would be no marriage in Heaven. So why do Mormons think that they need to be sealed for time and all eternity?"

I honestly didn't know. I just said, "I don't know, I'll have to read that scripture and get back to you." He is a Roman - Catholic. During our hour long conversation, he asked me a bunch of questions and talked about Jesus a lot. He had the missionary discussions a long time ago, but never joined the church. He has been surrounded by Mormons his whole life, so he knew all my canned answers. Which are really the only ones I can spout off when I am cornered by my boss. I am very bad at talking to Anti-Mormons. I have no witty comebacks, and I haven't memorized the Bible and Book of Mormon so that I can recite scriptures and explain it all right then and there. It wasn't until after our conversation that I finally remembered all the answers, but by then it was too late. We dicussed the fact that the Bible was translated by people who weren't even around Jesus during his life, or how could we take the words of Jesus at face value since they were written by someone else entirely. We talked about more books of the Bible, and I explained as best as I could. Some things we agreed on, sometimes it seemed like he was de-bunking his own faith in favor of Non-Denominational Christianity. All in all, it was an awkward debate masquerading as a "discussion" between two adults. Afterwards I felt stronger in my faith, but a little hurt even still. He mentioned that the girl who worked there before me was also LDS. She had gotten pregnant and moved to the Midwest so her husband could go to dental school. Yes, the classic Mormon story. Apparently they too had a talk, and she said all the same things I did I am sure.

Anyway, I could talk about what our little "debate" was all day. But the question I have is - Was this appropriate for a boss to ask these questions and start talking about faith in work? It's not like he was attacking me, but he also wasn't having a calm civilized conversation with tolerance and objectivity. He was questioning my faith and trying to prove it wrong by "citing" examples. Maybe I just felt uncomfortable - but does anyone else encounter this?

By the way, I asked my husband about the "no marriage in Heaven" thing, and what it means is that you can't get married in Heaven because someone has to do the work for you here on Earth. Rather, marriage must be done on Earth, it cannot be done in Heaven. I wish my husband were inside my head during times like that.

The Last One on "The Best Two Years"

I really appreciate the comments made by everyone, but in particular this one made me understand more about why my husband and many people consider their mission the "Best Two Years" of their life.

Please don't be offended by what your husband said. He might have been tactless in how he said it... but I understand what he means!Explaining your experience on your mission is like explaining how good chocolate is to someone who doesn't have taste buds - you just can't quite convey the experience. My mission was the most incredible thing I've done, but I would never want to go through those experiences again. I think the reason that missions are rated as the best two years is because of the level of emotion that you go through. You hit some of the highest points, and most of the lowest points you'll have in your life. You dedicate your life to serving people - many of whom don't want you. And you only have two years to do it.Marriage is quite different. I love my wife with all of my heart. I also love my children with all of my heart, but the experience I've had with them the past two years is quite DIFFERENT from my mission. There are highs and lows, but they are DIFFERENT. I have grown in these past 4 years, but not nearly the same amount of growth I did in two years on my mission.I understand your frustration, but please do not think that that phrase is replacing, or demeaning marriage relationships - they're just quite different things. And think, your husband wouldn't be the man that he is today if he hadn't gone on a mission - it got him ready for you - wouldn't you think that's a great thing?

Thanks a lot for that comment! A mission is definetly a huge step and I respect anyone, man or woman, who has the courage to uproot themselves and cut off almost all communication with the only people they really know and love. Any point in life where you grow and learn should definetly be considered a few of the best years of your life. Hopefully, since we should all be learning and growing, we can call every year a "best" year.

I personally liked the year when I went to Hawaii... and will later enjoy the year where I go to Puerto Rico, Cancun, Tahiti, etc... (If you can't tell, I need a vacation.) But I guess I didn't enjoy the entire year in those cases. Just one week.

More on the "Best Two Years."

Last night, my husband and I ended up watching the movie "Best Two Years." Since I'm a convert, I really enjoy "Mormon" movies like The Singles Ward, The Home Teachers, and yes even Mobsters and Mormons. Perhaps I don't always enjoy them for quality, but the fact that I even understand what they are talking about now gets me all excited.

Well, this movie was excellent! It made me laugh, it made my cry and was all around just awesome to watch. Before the film started, I mentioned to my husband about the blog I wrote (below) and he became slightly offended. He surely believed that the best two years of his life were his mission. He also didn't have any qualms saying that working for God is more important and far better than anything else in life - even marriage...to me. I was so hurt. And I still am.

Although, after we watched the movie I had even more respect for missionaries. But I still stand strong in saying that your mission should at least be TIED for first place. Granted, working for God is important, and two solid years of thinking and working for and about God are far and away one of the most important things you can do in your life. But still...

What's This "Best Two Years" Crap?

For men in the church, you've been told that your mission will be the "best two years" of your life. After which, you are told that your mission WAS the "best two years" of your life.

I say that's a bunch of horse pucky, and "Gee, thanks." to the guy who made that phrase up.

What about your wife? Your kids? Your LIFE? You're telling me the best two years of your life was when you were living with various people of the same sex, with almost no family contact? Not to mention all the other "wonderful" things that come along with a mission. (Early to rise, the dress, the door-kocking.) Yeah, I know you're closer to God and you are doing His work - yada, yada, yada. BUT - wouldn't your mission be in like...the top 10 years? Maybe? Of course, no one would admit that.

I would've hoped, as a woman, that my husband would find the first year of his first child one of the best years of his life. Or when he was dating me. Or the first year after we got married. For a female missionary, I would guess that being pregnant, having her first baby, or even getting her first job, losing weight, etc... would be right up there in the "best years" category. You're telling me that the people you spend the REST of your life (and death for that matter) with, aren't even a part of the best two years of your life?

What would it be like to live your entire life knowing that it doesn't get any better than your mission?

I'm being a little brash, and playing the devil's advocate a little here. I know how important, wonderful, and meaningful mission work is. But to put it as #1 and #2 on your "best years" list is a little insulting.

My Very First Lesson

Now that I am a Young Women's Advisor, I get to prepare a lesson every other Sunday. This past Sunday was my very first lesson in the Mia Maids group. For some "lucky" reason, the Beehives also joined in on my talk on "Temple Marriage."

How appropriate, I thought. I will be talking about something I myself know hardly anything about, because I haven't gone to the temple yet. Me and hubby will be going on 08/08/08.

I made little triangles out of paper illustrating that God was at the very top, and man and wife were the other corners. I researched and prepared my lesson like the manual said. Then I just thought - "Screw it, I won't pretend to teach these girls about something I don't know."

So I figured I would approach it like this:

Me: How many times have you been talked to about Temple Marriage?
Them: About a billion!
Me: Why?
Them: Because it's important!

Here is where I confess that I haven't been married in the temple yet. I explain that I am only civilly married to my husband.

Me: So since you guys have been talked to about it already, why don't you teach me a thing or two?

Since our ward has no chalk in the building apparently, I took my finger and drew a triangle on the board in the chalk dust. At the top I put "God" and on the corners I put "Hubby" and "Me" respectively.

I handed them an answer sheet, and started asking questions.

Me: So, if I never get married in the temple, how long will me and hubby be married?
Them: (hesitant but accurate) Until you die?
Me: Right! And in the temple?
Them: Time and all eternity!!

I continued with questions, and allowed them to answer for me.

Everything was going smoothly until a spry young Beehive started asking the, Umm, difficult questions.

Beehive: So it says we will be Gods and Goddesses. What about everyone else? If I don't get married in the temple, will I be their servants? What if my parents get married in the temple and I don't? Will I be with them? Will I be with my husband? Will I ever see my husband? What if my kids don't get married in the temple?

Another advisor spoke up and offered her opinion on the theory of eternal progression. One thing lead to another, and we all began talking about the galaxy, milky way, where we are, and if there is life on other planets. We came to the conclusion that there is life on other planets, much like this one. And according to the other advisor, they are more advanced than we are. Thankfully, she instructed the young girls not to take her too seriously. They all looked a little stunned. I was picturing lanky green men on a purple mushroom studded planet. It seemed the others were too.

Plus, I don't know what school has been teaching these kids, but among the Mia Maids, Beehives, and two adult advisors, not a single one knew that our solar system is only a very small speck in the milky way galaxy and that the Universe is made up of billions of galaxies like our own. Not sure what they thought, but they were all completely surprised when I informed them. Perhaps thats what you get when you go directly from high school to motherhood.

If I could tell the Young Women anything, it would be this:

1. Go to school after high school. I don't care if you've met your soulmate and want to procreate as soon as possible. There will be a time when you CAN'T, and you will regret that you didn't.

2. Relax. God's watching out for you. If you don't meet "Mr. Right" now, that's probably a good thing. Take time for YOU first. Find out who YOU are. Then concentrate on meeting someone of quality, instead of someone in high school.

3. Don't underestimate family. Many Mormon girls take the whole "family" thing way out of hand and feel that marrying Peter Priesthood and having 6 children is the way it should be done. Do it the way you WANT to. If you don't want children, don't feel pressured. If you do, go ahead. But don't let church stereotypes and cliques influence your life so much that you lose yourself.

4. Get to know the guy before you marry him. There's no church doctrine that says you have to marry him within a few weeks, or even a few months of dating. Mormons are notorious for meeting then getting married a few months later. (I suspect this is due to our vow of chastity however.) But wouldn't you much rather be happy for the rest of your life, than marry some guy you barely know because you're horny? Relax. Take your time. A good rule is to date for a year. That way you get to see him at all seasons, and during all Holidays.

Hopefully, the girls won't be scarred for life and tell their parents that we're teaching them about aliens.

Breaking the Sabbath

More like completely snapping the Sabbath in half.

As Mormons, we are to act as good abiding Christians and keep the Sabbath Day holy. This means going to church, dressing appropriatley, not shopping, going out to eat, or doing other recreational activities that might require "work" from someone else. Likewise, we aren't supposed to work ourselves on Sunday.

It is NOT a day...

1. To go to Wal-Mart and buy groceries for the week.

2. For inviting over friends and watching rated "R" movies.

3. To play video games all day and leave your family to fend for themselves. (This excludes Rock Band of course, which can be played by everyone... and it's awesome.)

4. To go workout.

5. To surf the internet, unless it's about Mormon stuff.

6. To go to the movies, water park, mall, skiing, biking, hiking etc...

7. For chores. (Woo hoo, a good one!)

Alright, alright. So what the Hell (pardon) do we sit around and do on Sunday?

It IS a day....

1. Of rest from our labors.

2. Of worship.

3. To remember the Lord’s atonement and resurrection.

4. To renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.

5. Of prayer and fasting.

6. Of finding uplift in music, hymns, and songs.

7. To prepare, meditate, and study the gospel.

8. To visit the sick and the afflicted, the widow and the orphan.

9. To strengthen our ties with our living families, do work for those who died without the ordinances of salvation, and write family histories.

10. For missionary preparation and work.

While many of us, I'm sure, regularly observe the Sabbath day properly, I am also sure that some of us have found our way to the grocery store more than once. Monday is swiftly approaching, and work hangs over our heads. Especially for those families with two working parents. Grabbing that necessary gallon of milk, bag of cereal, ground beef, taco seasoning, chocolate chips, cod filets, doughnuts, etc... Seems crucial given that you didn't buy these things Saturday, and tomorrow is SO out of the question at this point. And if you are at Super Wal-Mart the toilet paper, eye-shadow, steering wheel cover, and bolt of fabric seem essential as well. There have also been times where recreational activites on Saturday just weren't enough, and Sunday seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up on that movie premiere. Then there's the couple at Applebee's who shows up around 3pm in their church clothes. You know they are Mormon, first of all because it's 3pm and they aren't out of their church clothes yet. As if that wasn't enough, they each have the "celestial smile" (the visible crescent that the neck of garments makes under the shirt). It's just so much easier to "go out" than get all those dishes dirty, right?

However, we Mormons rarely get in "trouble" for this type of behavior seeing as anyone who bears witness of these transgressions, is in fact, transgressing themselves. I would be hesitant to confront John Smith and his wife if I saw them at Indiana Jones on Sunday. Or if the Bishop came up to me and said, "I've seen you at Alberton's a few times grocery shopping on Sundays."

What about working? My husband could have earned $224 dollars working an 8 hour day on Sunday. Instead we have to tithe 10% and GIVE the money to church!

Okay, it seems like a real crappy deal when outsiders and potential converts look in on our "cultish" little world. I have to admit, I have no personal advice for this particular subject given that I would not be practicing what I preach. (What can I say, I'm not perfect. Surprising, I know.) It's not like I visit the strip club during church, but I have been known to be a part of that family at Applebee's once or twice. I can personally vouch for the blessings of tithing, however.

I do know this...

Devoting ONE day to God, out of the Seven he gave us ain't bad. And 10% of our monthly income could probably buy no more than a few nights out to dinner and a few movies. (Unless you're rich, in which case think about how much you pay in taxes and it'll make you feel better.) The blessings that come from abiding by these rules are astronomical given that we don't really give that much to begin with. It's a small price to pay for eternal happiness.

Anonymous (or not, for that matter) comments with Sabbath Day Breaking confessions will be taken now.