Friday, February 3, 2017

The Mission, Episode III

                                                                   (Hastings Castle.  Photo credit: Kreepin Deth via Wikipedia)

Hastings was a real adventure for me.  Both myself and my companion were relatively new missionaries.  I had been on my mission now for 4.5 months.  He had about 3 months under his belt.  Hastings is the area in which I obtained my UK driver’s license.  I had to learn to drive a stick shift AND driving on the left side of the street, in the right side of the car.  I passed my test on the first try, and now I was a licensed driver in the United Kingdom.

I also started to break a few more mission rules.  Here, my companion and I watched movies with one of the members in the area.  I finally got to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  I absolutely loved it.  I didn’t even feel the slightest guilt for watching it either.  Take that “Missionary Handbook”!

The Missionary Handbook was a small white pocket book we were required to have on us at all times.  Within the book, we were reminded of all the rules a missionary shall obey while on a mission.  I didn’t open it up often.  While my first companion and I got along just fine during our six weeks together in Hastings, the real fun didn’t begin until my second companion and I were assigned together.  I will call this companion Ben.  

Ben and I got along well, and we made the most of our time together.  We had fun, and didn’t allow the strict rules to impede upon our enjoyment.  We still did the work, and did the street teaching and even had baptisms.  But, like I said, we had fun too.  One thing we did that was strictly forbidden, was bought hamsters.  I know, rebels.  Ben’s hamster got out one day and it was never seen again.  I had to give mine to a non Mormon family in the area. 

We hung out with this family a lot.  I’ll call them the Smith’s.  We were actually slowly teaching them the church lessons and bringing the daughters to church on Sundays.  I say slowly, because we wouldn’t always teach them Mormon stuff.  We would sneak over there late at night after we had checked in with the District Leader (DL).  Every night at about 9:30pm, the District Leader calls each companionship under his span of control to ensure they were in, and also to get “numbers”.  Numbers were our stats.  How many people we talked to in a day, how many people we taught a proper discussion to, how many Books of Mormon we gave out in a day, how many baptism commitments we got, how many baptisms we did and finally, how many investigators did we bring to church.

The District Leader was another missionary who had been assigned this leadership role.  He had a companion too, and did the same work.  Then There was also a Zone Leader(ZL), which had the span of control over all the District Leaders and areas within a Zone.  These were alway male missionaries.  The female missionaries were never given the leadership roles because, well, they don't have the priesthood.  

To put a Mission's organizational structure into a little perspective, think of the United States.  The Mission President would be like the President, and each State is like a Zone on the mission.  The Zone Leader would be compared to the Governor, and within the Zone are Cities.  Those are the Districts, and the District Leader is like the Mayor.  Then the City, or the District is divided up into 4 or 5 areas which are each assigned to a companionship of missionaries.

So, after Ben and I spoke to the DL and ensured we were dutifully inside for the night, we would sneak back out.  Now this was somewhat tricky, as we lived in a walkout basement apartment underneath a member’s home.  We managed though, and would walk about town and on occasion over to the Smith’s.  I can remember one of these times, Ben and I had gotten separated in the Smith’s home.  He had gone upstairs with one of the daughters, Michelle, and I stayed downstairs with another, Haley.  Haley and I just sat there on the couch and watched TV.  To this day though, I still don’t know what Ben and Michelle did upstairs.  I would ask him, teasing of course, but he would never divulge that information.  Ben and I were having a good time, but then I really messed up.

Living in another country can cause some confusion when dealing with the difference in languages.  I understand English is spoken in England, but some of the words meant different things there.  I found myself to be a victim of this terrible truth while in Hastings.  You see, in my first area of Christchurch I had heard one of the member’s call her kid a “tart” when the child was being silly.  So, naturally I had assumed “tart” was like a fun or flirtatious way of calling someone silly.  There was a girl in the ward in Hastings that was kind of cute, and she was very into us missionaries.  One day as she was flirting with us, I found it a good opportunity to call her a tart.  She acted as though I had just told her she was a slut or something.  Which, later I learned by the Bishop of the ward, was exactly what I just called her.  Oops!

I was later told this girl had given a missionary a blowjob about a year ago or so, and she assumed I knew about it, which is why I would call her that name.  I had no clue, nor did I know what tart had actually meant.  It didn’t matter though, this incident made it’s way to the Mission President, and I was immediately moved to a new area.  I was really enjoying Hastings, and I would miss Ben and I’s late night walks and adventures.  I spent a total of about 4 months in Hastings before being sent to Peckham.  

Peckham was an urban location within London proper.  It was a culture pot of people, and I was in for a shock!

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