Thursday, February 18, 2010

LDS Lesson #10

Another meeting with LDS missionaries... in America? You betcha. When I left Greece, Creon and Orestes agreed to forward my contact information onward to the mission president of my area. (Turns out to be a fairly large mission, apparently.) So after playing a fair bit of 'e-mail tag' with that guy for a while, I eventually succeeded in getting in touch with a pair of missionaries from the ward under which my college would fall. I'll be calling these guys 'Sthenelos' and 'Demophon'. (Think those are terrible choices? Deal with it.) So today I had a meeting with them at the local pizza joint. They had a dinner scheduled for after that, so all we really got was perhaps a soda or cup or water for Demophon before I got there - if I was going to be the only one eating, I can save money and just use the campus meal plan for lower quality food.

At any rate, as I walked around the building from behind to the sound of helicopters overhead, I caught a glimpse of the missionaries in the side window and smiled at them. I think they knew I must be the one they were looking for. Finally entering and sitting down, we struck up a chat with some brief introductions, and they asked how my day had been, what I study (religion, philosophy, and math - the third is a minor, not a major), why I picked religion as a field of study, etc.

The next part really caught me by surprise. Sthenelos asked me if I'd met Creon when I was in Greece, and I said that I had. He was surprised to find that Creon was one of the missionaries I'd studied with there... and I was surprised to learn that Sthenelos and Creon had been college roommates at Brigham Young University! We were all absolutely amazed at the idea that the missionaries I'd meet here back at home should have such a close connection to the ones I met in Greece - the elders of course ascribed this to divine providence. Anyway, we spent some time sharing some stories, and I filled in Sthenelos on how Creon's been doing over there, and told him that Creon had been transferred from Athens to Thessaloniki a month or so ago, and all that. Creon really is a great guy, and I could tell that I'd also get along with Sthenelos and Demophon. I agreed to help Sthenelos get in touch with Creon again.

Also, they asked where I'd met the missionaries in Greece, and I mentioned that I'd met them in Mars Hill in Athens. Demophon asked if that was a cafe of some sort (he thought he'd been to one in NYC), and I replied that no, it was where Paul preached when he was in Athens, and then Demophon felt somewhat silly. They also asked if I had been able to attend church over there, and I said that while I'd been to some functions at the LDS Church, I hadn't attended any actual 'services', though I had gone to an evangelical church in Athens. I did say that I'd like to attend one sometime, though, so we'll see if we can work that out. I won't be able to attend as soon as I'd like because I agreed to attend a service that my interesting roommate 'Childeric' is organizing on campus.

Anyway, we basically got to know each other better, and they asked how far I'd gotten in my discussions with the missionaries in Greece; they were a bit surprised to know that I'd gotten basically all the way through. They also asked what interested me in their church, which has always been a difficult question for me to answer, but I basically said that the range of opinions present there that aren't common in other Christian groups really interested me--which I think is the reason why I'm so fascinated with the field of Mormon studies; I told them the story of how I got my first copy of the Book of Mormon. Also, somewhere in all of this, the missionaries presented me with, not just a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, but a full-scale triple combination. That's the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price, all in a single volume. Cool!

They also asked if I had any questions to throw at them, which kind of caught me off-guard. For some reason, when I envisioned this meeting, it never occurred to me to think of that. So I didn't have any, for once, but I said that I'd try to think about it until next time. And they also asked me whether, if I came to believe in their church and all that, if I'd be willing to be baptized; my reply was that "if God tells me it's the truth, then I'm going with it", and when asked about the First Vision, I also said that if it was indeed a real occurrence and was indeed from God, then it's undoubtedly significant. I could tell that they weren't really used to finding people who are passionately willing to act on those sorts of things; they said basically as much themselves, and said that when most people come across the First Vision, they don't seem to get what the fuss is about.

Anyway, I don't recall everything that happened at our meeting, but I do remember being asked about the atonement and explaining how grateful I am for what Christ did for us, and the missionaries essentially said several times that they were very confident that if I kept praying sincerely as they recognized that I currently am and would persist in my determination, God would reveal the truth to me. Also, I don't recall either of them explicitly bearing testimony ("I KNOW that this Church is true", etc., etc.)

The last thing I remember inside the restaurant (after setting up a next meeting) was them asking if there was anything they could do for me, and my answer was simple: "Pray for me." After that, we left, and we got to walk to the corner down the street together while chatting before we had to part ways, and I headed up to the cafeteria where I had a decent light dinner with a number of my friends from the campus gay rights group.

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