17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Every Mother a Missionary

Pukey likes to stand in the middle of the subway, holding onto the pole that goes from ceiling to floor and sing out at the top of her lungs: "We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ...second...." Thankfully she is somewhat sensitive to her audience and tends to refrain during rush hour (when MANY eyes are close).

My first reaction to this is almost always embarrassment. This is so surprising for me b/c I would basically do the same thing on a dare (or not), I have no problem calling attention to myself for really any reason, I am proud of my daughter and her singing, and come on, it's NYC. So I have to ask myself...why do I initially feel this way? And the answer is because she is singing about the gospel.

I want to share the gospel with others (I even read the missionary version of the BOM on the subway for Brand/Product Placement purposes), but after examining my reaction to her "performance" I have discovered a few things.

A. Part of living the gospel for me is to be accepting and (though I hate this word) tolerant of almost anyone. I of course draw the line at certain behaviors, but I do try to be like Christ, and often walking down the street or when in conflict I repeat: "God loves them, God loves them...I can too". I would not want anyone from another culture or religion to try to tell me that their way was right and mine wrong. I have done a lot of work and had many experiences in my life to bring me to knowing the Gospel is true, and I imagine many other folks have had similar journeys. Obviously if someone is actively searching, then I am happy to tell them what works for me, but I don't want to assume that everyone is searching.

B. The gospel for me is really personal. Some of the testimony-builders in my life I am not interested in sharing with people. I have tried to share the gospel with a few people close to me in the past, and when it is not accepted and in some cases turned around on me as being blasphemous, it hurts. Being the human being that I am, I am not going to return only to get hurt again. Sharing the gospel for me means going to a vulnerable place and it means risk.

C. I had an experience to teach a woman in her home one of the discussions with the missionaries. I felt that we really clicked and I tried to befriend her. After a few phone calls she just started saying rude things and hanging up on me. Here I am a human being still, and missionaries and mission leaders are asking why I stopped calling. Ummm...well she sort of hates me, and I am human and so is she and we really should be respecting each other especially if this is all over the gospel.

D. The way I like to do missionary work is to not socially lie. This usually involves people I don't know very well or have just met.
Lady: (picks up newspaper and refers to an article) How about that Sex and the City show? (in a way that implied it was cool to talk about or cool to watch)
Here I have a choice, I can say: Yeah, I heard it's good (a social lie) or what I really said:
ME: Actually I don't watch that show, I think it's innappropriate and I don't even subscribe to HBO for that reason.
Lady: Oh I totally agree.

So was she socially lying to me or did she really think that and was relieved/surprised to meet someone who agreed with her?

Eg. The other moms at ballet class helped me stuff all the Mother's Day Lindt chocolates after I made them listen to the entire story from Carnations with DH to chocolate with me in charge.
Lady: Next year it will be Eggs (I think that's what she said) and Beer.
I smiled and nodded.

This was a social lie. I first was thrown off b/c I didn't know if she said eggs or not, but I should have said, oh well Mormons don't drink. I did NOT do my missionary work that day.

E. I also try to reach out to others not of my faith. This is hard in the city. We live so close to our neighbors, and so you would think there would be all sorts of referrals for the missionaries, but city life is so couped up, that we just want everyone to leave us alone already. I have tried to reach out to a few friendly faces with the occasional plate of cookies, and small conversations. Lately it has been easier because my older daughter is involved in more activities, and I have made an effort to get to know the other moms. Talking and becoming friends is an easy way for me to do missionary work, but I only talk about the Gospel if it comes up. A few times recently I have asked someone where they go to church and asked about it, assuming the questions would be reciprocated, and when they weren't, I didn't talk about my religion. I recently invited my friend and her two girls over for an Easter Family Home Evening. This took courage for me, but they came and it was a success, and it was nice to know that we had some Christian commmon ground in the whole Easter thing.

I am sure there is more I could be doing. Ksl and Shaleen have always been great examples to me of reaching out and missionarying others. They can talk about the gospel so openly and they invite people into their homes a whole bunch. I don't know if I could ever be like them, but I am trying in small ways to overcome the challenges I have when it comes to sharing the gospel. And the first step is I always let Pukey finish her song on the subway, and hope that it was just freaky enough for someone to think to themselves: "What the bleep does 'laying on of hands for the gift of the holy ghost' mean?"


  • I tend to suffer from pearls-before-swine syndrome. Like you mention, sharing the gospel means being vulnerable. I don't want to start talking about my pearls only to have them hucked in the mud.

    Too bad you didn't go with eggs and beer. Either you never would've been asked to provide the mother's day gift again, or you'd be asked to do it EVERY year!
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 5/13/2006 09:46:00 AM  

  • There is a talk on CD called "The Missionary Next Door" you might like. It is given by a woman whose family were the only members in their little town and how they learned to reach out to others without opening themselves up too much.

    One things she pointed out is to introduce friends to the missionaries and then sort of let them do the talking. Missionaries don't care what people think about them - hence why the are so good at sharing the gospel.

    It's a great talk.
    posted by Anonymous Amy at 5/13/2006 01:18:00 PM  

  • I am more afraid of introducing friends (or acquaintances) to missionaries, than sharing the gospel with them myself. Have you ever seen how the missionaries "stalk" their prospects? I would never subject anyone to that unless I was certain they were ready to hear the message.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/13/2006 03:20:00 PM  

  • I actually think you did the right thing in the ballet social lie situation. The woman was clearly making a joke. Stating something like "I'm mormon, I don't drink" could have made her feel stupid or could have made the whole event change in it's lighthearted, connected feeling to an awkward, weird moment . Taking a stand regarding your drinking habits in this situation hardly seems worth it as you start to build relationships with these women. Now when they invite you to a girl's night out at the bar, then you can decline with "I don't drink, I'm mormon but would you like to go out for COld Stone sometime?"
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/13/2006 03:30:00 PM  

  • My favorite missionary activity is giving out copies of the Book of Mormon in foreign languages paired with an English Book of Mormon.

    Me: Where are you from?
    Them: ____.
    Me: What languages do you speak?
    Them: _____.
    Me: My church has a book in ____. It's free. Would you like to see it?

    I keep copies in 50 languages in my car, but if you don't want to lug around books, you can give out a pass-along card. Or ask them if you can give it to them the next time you see them.

    If they accept it...

    Me: Would you like an English copy to go along with it?

    You can download a list of languages here:

    As of May 2005, the Book of Mormon is available in printed editions of:

    1. Afrikaans (South Africa)
    2. Albanian
    3. Amharic (Ethiopia)
    4. Arabic
    5. Armenian East
    6. Armenian West
    7. Aymara (Bolivia, Chile, Peru)
    8. Bengali (India)
    9. Bikolano (Philippines)
    10. Bislama (Vanuatu, Pacific Island)
    11. Bulgarian
    12. Cakchiquel (Guatemala)
    13. Cambodian
    14. Catalan
    15. Cebuano (Philippines)
    16. Chamorro (Guam)
    17. Chinese
    18. Chinese simplified char.
    19. Croatian
    20. Czech
    21. Danish
    22. Dutch
    23. Efik (Nigeria, Cameroon)
    24. English
    25. Estonian
    26. Fante (Ghana)
    27. Fijian
    28. Finnish
    29. French
    30. German
    31. Greek
    32. Guarani (Paraguay)
    33. Haitian Creole
    34. Hawaiian
    35. Hiligaynon (Philippines)
    36. Hindi
    37. Hmong
    38. Hungarian
    39. Icelandic
    40. Igbo (Ibo) (Nigeria)
    41. Ilokano (Philippines)
    42. Indonesian
    43. Italian
    44. Japanese
    45. Kekchi (Guatemala, Belize)
    46. Kiribati (Micronesia)
    47. Kisii (Kenya)
    48. Korean
    49. Kuna (Panama)
    50. Laotian
    51. Latvian
    52. Lingala (Zaire, Congo)
    53. Lithuanian
    54. Malagasy (Madagascar)
    55. Mam (Guatemala)
    56. Maori
    57. Marshallese
    58. Maya
    59. Mongolian
    60. Navajo
    61. Neomelanesian
    62. Niuean
    63. Norwegian
    64. Palauan
    65. Pampango
    66. Pangasinan
    67. Papiamento
    68. Persian (Farsi)
    69. Pohnpeian
    70. Polish
    71. Portuguese
    72. Quechua-Bolivia
    73. Quechua-Peru
    74. Quiche
    75. Quichua-Ecuador
    76. Rarotongan
    77. Romanian
    78. Russian
    79. Samoan
    80. Shona (Zimbabwe)
    81. Sinhala (Sri Lanka)
    82. Slovenian
    83. Spanish
    84. Swahili
    85. Swedish
    86. Tagalog (Philippines)
    87. Tahitian
    88. Tamil (Sri Lanka)
    89. Telugu (India)
    90. Thai
    91. Tongan
    92. Trukese (Chuukese)
    93. Tswana (Botswana)
    94. Turkish
    95. Twi (Ghana)
    96. Tzotzil
    97. Ukrainian
    98. Urdu (Pakistan, India)
    99. Vietnamese
    100. Waray (Philippines)
    101. Welsh
    102. Xhosa (South Africa)
    103. Yapese (Micronesia)
    104. Zulu (South Africa, Zimbabwe)

    Video Only: American Sign language.

    Braille versions: English, Spanish.

    Cakchiquel, audiocassette.
    Danish, audiocassette.
    English, CD and audiocassette.
    Finnish, audiocassette.
    Kekchi, audiocassette.
    Mam, audiocassette.
    Navajo, audiocassette.
    Quiche, audiocassette.
    Swedish, audiocassette.
    Tzotzil, audiocassette.
    posted by Blogger Bookslinger at 5/14/2006 02:52:00 PM  

  • Bookslinger, I'm so glad to see you commenting here. I find your blog overwhelming but very very inspiring - I've sent the URL to many friends and family. Thanks for coming to read a bit of what we have to say!
    posted by Blogger marian at 5/14/2006 03:39:00 PM  

  • bookslinger, that's quite the list. I have actually given a Croatian copy to my landlady. Somehow the language barrier made it a little easier to share.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/14/2006 07:57:00 PM  

  • Kage,
    Yes, using the language angle is a good opener. I believe it is a legitimate angle, topic or conversation starter. Because even if a person doesn't come to believe the contents of the Book of Mormon, it's still useful as a literary or educational object, especially when paired with an English copy. It then becomes bilingual material.

    The division into books, chapters, and verses further eases it. The only way it could be better is if the church published bilingual editions in one volume, with Spanish(or whatever) in one column, and English in the other column, in parallel.

    At Chinese restaurants, I've seen hostesses and waitresses read BOTH books (English and Chinese) side by side before I even left.

    People can use the Book of Mormon to pass along literacy in their native language to their children. I've actually given out several pairs of books that way after the person originally declined, but when I asked them if they had anything to use to teach the language to their children, they didn't, and then caught the bilingual material idea.

    I've met so many 2nd generation Americans who can speak their parents' language but can't read it, and that is sad.

    And the cool thing is that the foreign language books cost the same as English. $2.00 for softcover, and $2.50 for hardcover.

    Some, like English and Spanish come in both soft and hard cover. Some are only in one.

    I like to give out the hard cover editions because they last longer, and make a better impression. They don't get as dog-earred and dirty.

    And the Book of Mormon is cheaper than most foreign language Bibles and New Testaments. Check out the prices under "Other Languages" on the International Bible Society web site.

    Tagalog New Testament, $4.99.
    Tagalog Book of Mormon, $2.00.

    Such a deal!
    posted by Blogger Bookslinger at 5/14/2006 08:22:00 PM  

  • Did the lady at ballet say "kegs of beer" maybe? eggs and beer is so random....it's been bugging me and i've been trying to figure out what she said...that's the best I can come up with.

    I agree with Carrie, you have to choose your moments, and that one wasn't it.

    And I can totally picture Pukey swingin' and singin' on the subway.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 5/14/2006 09:38:00 PM  

  • When I was investigating the church I think I had over eighteen pairs of missionaries teach me and looking back I wish I had ward missionaries from a family ward teach me the discussions.

    Here are my favorite quotes about missionary work-

    "when the student is ready the teacher will come"

    "preach the gospel everyday...and sometimes use words.."
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 5/15/2006 09:03:00 AM  

  • "when the student is ready the teacher will come"

    The following only happened once on my mission: One night at our apartment, my companion and I received two addresses by revelation. The next day we went to those two addresses in our area.

    At the first one, we'd knock, and a man would answer the door and say "He's not here" then close the door. We never learned who "he" was. We tried saying "But we came to see you, not him" and he still wouldn't talk to us. After three attempts on different days we gave up.

    At the second address, three kids (two pre-teens plus a 17 or 18 year old girl) plus grandma took the lessons, while dad stayed in the bedroom and watched tv. We never even met dad.

    We taught two or three lessons, then grandma told us the neighbors were gossiping that we were there just for their teenage daughter, so we handed the family over to the sister missionaries.

    The sisters finished teaching the lessons, and the two older ones, the 17-year old girl and her pre-teen (12?) sister, got baptized. Dad wouldn't let the boy get baptized. Grandma didn't get baptized either.

    My companion and I attended the baptism. We could tell the older girl had a testimony. I don't know about the younger one, but they were righteous baptisms.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/15/2006 11:32:00 AM  

  • My current way of sharing the gospel: I attend a moms group every friday and am the only LDS member. Everyone else is evangelical. I like these women and am good friends with them, but I also know that their pastor activly speaks negativly about mormons from the pulput--which can be stressful for me. In fact, when I did discuss our different beliefs with a friend of mine, she gave me a notbook outlineing basically why not to be a mormon. Ususally the kids just play and religion doesn't come up, but we recently started a book study where we discuss each week (the book is evangelical-"a mom close to Gods own heart".) It has been a great way to share my beliefs without preaching. I have talked about FHE, how we have family scripture and prayer, how to make time for personal prayer and scripture study, ect. It has really helped them to understand what we believe in a positive discussion. Also afterward, they have a prayer circle. I always try to participate and pray and some have comented that they like the way mormons pray (thee and thy ect). I worry that I have a responsiblility to do more--to actively teach and tell them the truths they are missing out on, but for now I think I am making a positive impression.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 5/15/2006 04:37:00 PM  

  • Marian, I can tell from the counter/stats page that people have been clicking on email links to visit my blog. Thanks.
    posted by Blogger Bookslinger at 5/15/2006 09:29:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home