Friday, February 17, 2017

The Mission, Episode IV

When I was transferred to Peckham I was placed with a companion from Denmark, and we were both in the MTC together so it was kind of cool.  I’m going to call this companion Mark, as in from DenMark, ha, get it?  Ok, because of my mishap there in Hastings, I was now a junior companion to Mark.  I was being watched now, and Mark was going to get me back on track.  He was such a strict companion too.  We were getting up on time and doing everything we were supposed to do.  We also lived in the same apartment as the Zone Leaders, so yeah that was fun.  

My first impression with Peckham was quite shocking.  I had never lived around such a variety of nationalities in my life.  Peckham was home to a large African, Middle Eastern and Spanish population.  The high street here where we proselytized was ridden was open markets of foods.  Included with these markets were fresh animal parts.  I remember walking by this middle eastern market, and I saw every part of a pig you can think of, inside and out.  It was kind of gross.  One of the Zone Leaders I lived with was Spanish, and he bought a dehydrated pig leg one day, and that thing was hung up in our kitchen, where we could then cut slices off of as needed or desired.  I guess this was a normal delicacy for the Spanish.  I was also introduced to SuperMalt, which was a non alcoholic malt beverage.  I absolutely fell in love with this drink.

In Peckham I ate my first “foo-foo”, which is an African dish.  Foo-foo consisted of a very starchy bread/potato substance, with a type of soup poured around it and topped with some meat.  The idea is to use your fingers and take pieces of this foo-foo and sop it up with the soup and eat.  It was actually pretty decent, and I loved the peanut soup foo-foo.  However, I was forced to eat some less desirable items in my foo-foo, like cow hooves and complete fish heads with eye balls of course.  I couldn’t very well turn these dishes down, since it was given to us by members of the local ward we attended and served.  

I remember this Jamaican we had dinner with one day, who served us a bed of rice with a complete fish on top.  Not a grilled or fried fish, but a fresh fish that had been boiled in water then heaped onto the bed of rice.  The damn thing was looking at me, but I was expected to eat it.  I would take my fork and rake it across the body of the fish to produce the meat I needed to eat with the rice.  I pushed through it and finished my plate.  The only problem was, the Jamaican took this as a sign I needed more food, so he quickly returned to the kitchen and brought me back a brand new helping of fresh fish and rice.  Yum!  

Let’s move on...

There I was in Peckham, dutifully serving God.  One day while on the high street I was approached by a guy who wanted to speak to me.  This guy extended his hand in a gesture to shake.  I responded with my own, and he proceeded to shake my hand.  This was no ordinary handshake though.  The guy performed one of the secret handshakes we learn and do only in the temple.  I immediately withdrew my hand and rebuked him in the name of Jesus Christ.  I can remember the way I felt about this guy.  Because he so lackadaisically performed one of our sacred tokens of the priesthood, I felt very concerned over his eternal welfare.  I felt sorry for what would undoubtedly happen to him in the next life.  He would certainly be destined to Outer Darkness.

Mark and I made a pretty good companionship, but we both had one serious weakness.  We both were big fans of Lord of the Rings.  At this time in our mission, Return of the King was being released.  This was the third movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it was supposed to be epic.  We both had seen the first two movies prior to our missions, and this was just so excruciating to know we couldn’t watch the final chapter due to our missions.  So, we schemed together and decided we were going to sneak ourselves to a local cinema and watch the movie.  When I say sneak, I don’t mean literally sneaking into the movie without paying, but sneaking in the sense that we can’t be recognized by any members of the ward while we paid to enter the cinema.  The movie did not let us down, though we felt so bad about going that we spent a long time praying for forgiveness that night.  

This didn’t seem to stop us from converting people to Mormonism though, as we continued to have success.  I was then able to rationalize my escapades at the movies and I told myself God wasn’t so mad at me.  I correlated my success with baptisms to mean I was filled with the Holy Ghost.  Since I was filled with the Holy Ghost, I must be pleasing God still.  So I soon became numb to the fact I violated the Mission rules pretty significantly and continued on my way doing the Lord’s work.

I really enjoyed my time in Peckham, and I felt I was growing significantly spiritually, in spite of going to the cinema.  I continued to study the meats of the Gospel.  I now started to believe in evolution even.  After several conversations with my Mission President, I believed evolution did occur and that the first human of evolution’s natural selection process was Adam.  I also began to believe the Earth was as old as science says it is.  That there was death on the Earth before Adam.  Mormons believe there was no death on the Earth until Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, so my understanding was a bit heretical.  I justified my belief by proclaiming that once evolution had produced Adam and Eve, God changed the Earth so that there was no death.  So, there was no death from the time Adam was made.  

After I spent about 3 months in Peckham, I was given my first promotion of the mission.  I was given the mantle of District Leader, and was assigned to an area called Croydon.  I was going to be a great District Leader and would instill into my missionaries some sweet knowledge of the Gospel I’ve been learning.  I would also meet my future ex wife there….

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