Mission Experiences, Chapters 21 & 22

This entry is part 11 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-One
Magic Fingers

After Elder Eldridge went home I was sent a new companion named Elder Cooper. Now when I was with Eldridge the members called me the quiet one, but it was not because I had nothing to say but that Eldridge had a very outgoing personality and it was often hard to get in a word edgewise.

On the other hand, Cooper was truly a quiet one. I tried to give him plenty of opportunity to speak but he never had much to say. The members of the branch thought that I had undergone a personality transformation as now I had to be the main person to interact and Elder Cooper was happy to let me dominate.

Elder Cooper had majored in chemistry back home and one of the first things he communicated to me was that his grade average was a perfect 4.0. I remember the first time we were to teach a lesson together. The way it worked was that one missionary taught one half and the other the second half. I told Cooper that we had to teach a lesson that evening, I believe it was number three. I noticed a short time later that he was intensely involved in studying. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was studying the lesson that we were going to give that evening.

This surprised me as I was only about an average student and he had a perfect 4.0. I thought to myself that with my average scholarly ability I never had to review the lessons because I had them memorized but Cooper here was the perfect student and a year into his mission he had to review his lessons.

As we worked together I noticed that he could never give a lesson without first spending about an hour in preparation and review first, and I never had to review them and could give them very close to word for word.

This started me thinking about what true intelligence was. Elder Cooper was the perfect student yet his emotional growth seemed to be stunted and he seemed to lack the ability to apply intelligence in a practical way.

Later on a book was to become popular called “Emotional Intelligence” where the idea was presented that there are a number of levels and layers of intelligence and for making a success of yourself one has to have emotional intelligence which aids in human interaction.

Something else occurred to me and which was that Elder Cooper had a good short term memory but not so good on the long term. After reviewing a lesson he then had it pretty good in his head, but he would lose it and have to review again if he had to give it a few days later.

My memory seemed to work differently than his. My short term memory was not so great which explained why cramming for tests in school wasn’t a lot of help for me. On the other hand, when I did actually learn a thing I usually retain it for a long period or for life.

For instance, I am writing this account from memory as I did not keep a journal. I do have the letters I mailed to my mom but they contained very little to help recall the story.

I guess if I had to choose between having a good long term or short term memory I would chose long term, even though that puts one at a disadvantage in taking standardized tests.

Now my wife has a good short term memory and had a good grade point in school but her long term is not so great. This kind of works well because between the two of us we have a petty good composite mind. She’ll see a movie listed and ask if we have seen it. If we have I’ll say yes and tell her what it was about. Then she may ask me if she liked it. I will then clearly recall how she felt about the movie and relate that to her.

Then I will often make use of her excellent short term memory. If we both meet a new person and are introduced I will often forget the name within a few seconds. I’ll then ask her, “What was that guy’s name?” She’ll just about always remember and tell me. Then sometimes I’ll come up with an idea and explain it to her and then forget what it was five minutes later. I’ll ask her what it was and she will recall and remind me.

So, as it works out between the two of us we have a fairly good brain.

So Elder Cooper got me started thinking about intelligence, but I didn’t stop at examining memory or even emotional intelligence. Later on I did a lot of thinking about how intelligence works out on many different levels. I could probably write a book on the subject, but that’s for another day.

I could see why they were keeping Elder Cooper in a junior position because he was not a leader and seemed happy to let others take charge. At least he was supportive

Now I was in charge we set out the best way possible to establish a good pool of people to teach. It was difficult because of the age of the residents in Scarborough and the other duties foisted upon me as the District Leader. Even so, we did make some progress, but nothing like happened in Peterlee.

Most of the work with Elder Cooper and the other missionaries at that time was pretty routine but still several interesting things happened.

Shortly before my mission I had taken several hard knocks on the head. I noticed that the pupils in my eyes were different sizes and I had heard this was a bad sign. Throughout my mission I sensed that something was not quite right with my computer brain. Then one day we were working in an area of mobile homes and as we approached one I hit my head on a metal open window pane that I didn’t see. I struck it so hard that it made the whole mobile home shake.

During the next few days I really seemed to be out of it and let Elder Cooper teach as much as he was willing. I looked in the mirror and saw that my pupils, which had been returning to normal, now really looked off size. I figured that if I didn’t start feeling better soon I’d have to see a doctor about taking some tests.

Then one evening we had one lesson to teach and I told Elder Cooper to just teach it as long as he wanted. I sat in a comfortable chair and just about went to sleep. I felt surprisingly peaceful and at ease.

Shortly after Elder Cooper began teaching I felt a presence. I sensed that the were at least two invisible beings near me and I felt a message entering my mind which said:

“Do not be alarmed. We are here to help you. Just relax and sit perfectly still.”

Because of the peaceful feeling I thought I could trust whoever this was and complied. Then a most amazing thing happened. I felt their hands on my head and sensed they were spiritual physicians from the other side. They spent the first couple minutes in some type of preparation as I felt their fingers moving around on my scalp. Then after this process was finished I felt an actual instrument enter right through my scull into the center of my brain. I was surprised but not alarmed as the feeling of peace continued and again was reminded mentally to remain perfectly still.

The instrument was not made of physical matter and produced no pain, but made a tingling sensation. On hindsight I would guess I was sensing it through my etheric instead of my physical body.

This instrument did some probing for around five minutes or so and then another instrument was introduced. This seemed to be some kind of etheric laser and I sensed the real work of repair was now happening. Again, this produced no pain, but a rather pleasant tingling sensation right in the physical brain itself. This process took another ten or fifteen minutes and finally I sensed they were finished as the instruments were withdrawn.

Shortly after this the entities left. Their presence felt so good I would have been happy to have them hang around indefinitely.

After we left the home I took note of how I felt and my sense of well being was much better. Later, when I looked in a mirror, I was delighted to see that both my pupils were the same size. I took this to be a good sign.

My head felt much better the rest of my mission but it seemed I did need a final repair. Right after I got home I had to head up to college at the University of Idaho, 300 miles north. During the drive I felt their presence again. Again I felt their fingers on my scalp and received the impression that that I needed a final touch up. Then for about 20 minutes I drove onward keeping my head as still as possible while they repeated a similar process to the earlier one. After they were finished they left just as they did before.

After this my head felt great and the ole brain has served me very well ever since. As it turns out some people are happy with what my mind turns out and some are not but hopefully I can leave a legacy of an overall good effect.

I know that I personally will always feel indebted to those spiritual servants.

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Chapter Twenty-Two
Miracles

Somewhere around this time period we had a couple more interesting, or what some might call “faith promoting,” experiences.

One evening we received a call that a sister in the branch had been in a serious car accident and we were requested to give her a healing blessing.

We went to the hospital and were allowed into her room. She was in bad shape indeed for her face was so bruised we would not have recognized her if he hadn’t known it was her.

She was conscious though and looked our direction and I knew she recognized us. She could not speak though for her jaw was broken badly in several locations and we were told that she was going to require some major surgery to reconstruct it.

We did our best to speak consoling words to her and then laid our hands gently on her head and gave her a blessing promising her a quick healing.

Several days later when we attended church we were surprised to see her there, a little beaten up, but well on the path of recovery. This quite surprised us as everyone was expecting a long hospital stay following several major surgeries. As we approached her she recognized us and we also discovered that she could now speak.

She pointed her finger at me and said, “It was you!”

“Me what?” I said curiously.

“You healed me.”

I, of course, replied that none of us has any power to heal on our own but any healing is done through the power of God and the person’s faith. We then asked her for more details and here is what she said:

“Shortly before you visited me they took X-rays of my jaw and they saw it was severely broken in several locations and would require major surgery. Then after the blessing I began healing very quickly and after a couple days they did another X-ray just before they were going to do the first surgery.

“I was in the room when the doctor pulled the second X-ray and looked at it. He then pulled the first X-ray and look at that. He then kept looking at one X-ray and then the other and saying over and over, ‘This cannot be. There must be some mistake. These cannot belong to the same person.’

“I asked him what the problem was and he said apparently there is no problem for if the second set of X-rays are accurate the bones in my jaw have moved perfectly into place and no surgery will be required.

“Then they released me to go home and now here I am almost as good as new.”

We were thrilled with her story but that was not all. When visiting with her a month or so later she related one more thing. She said the dentist had taken an X-ray and after examining it asked her if she had ever broken her jaw. She then related the recent accident.

He then said that he could barely tell that her jaw had ever been broken for the pieces were knitted back together with more exactness and precision than he had ever seen before. There was only a very slight hairline witness that her jaw had ever been broken.

Another lady in the branch was having major problems with pernicious anemia and was at the end of her rope and confined to her bed. She had received several blessings from several elders but was no better. She asked us for another.

When we laid our hands on her head I did my best to tune in to the Spirit and discern as to whether she could be healed. I didn’t sense any go-ahead so I just gave as encouraging of a blessing as I could.

We saw her a few days later and were not surprised that she was no better. She then requested another blessing. We gave her one but again felt no go-ahead.

A while later we visited her again and she was worse than ever. She requested still another blessing. This time I felt a different direction was in order.

I took her hand and told her that even though she had not been healed that I did receive the reason for this. I told her hat her faith was at a low ebb.

She then insisted she had lots of faith.

“You do have lots of faith in the normal sense,” I said, “but I picked up that you are very depressed and feel you are at the end of your rope. This depression you feel is interfering with your faith and is causing you to not be able to use it. If you want to be healed you must let the negative thoughts and depression go and tune into the joy that comes from God. If you can do this then you will be healed.”

“You are right about the depression,” she said. “Maybe it has caused me to expect the worst. What can I do to rid myself of it so I can be healed?”

“Over the next couple days we will fast and pray for you,” I said. “During this time you must pray and tune into the spirit of God and sense the joy and fullness that is there. Then when we reach the end of our fast we will come back and give you another blessing.”

She agreed and as we left, for the first time I saw real hope in her eyes.

I do not recall whether we fasted for two or three days but I do remember that my own personal faith also had an increase because of it. When we visited her again she said that she had been thinking of what I said and that she now saw that her depressed state was indeed getting in the way of healing and that she felt that her state of mind was much better.

I told her that was encouraging and we laid our hands on her head ad gave her another blessing. This time the feeling I had was different and I felt permission from the Spirit to give her a positive healing blessing.

I didn’t sense a powerful spiritual feeling as we left and was hoping I had said the right thing. That evening though something strange happened. As I laid down to go to sleep I felt a powerful spiritual presence and suddenly as clear as a bell I saw the inside of her body. I saw that there was a great sore or wound near her stomach and this was draining her body of energy and its ability to heal. Then I saw that this sore was being closed up and would be as if it never was. I then went to sleep and slept sound as a baby.

I never saw her for a while after that but then one day at church there she was. I saw her cheerfully talking to friend and approached her, telling her she looked pretty good and asked her about her recovery.

She said she started feeling better right after the blessing that the doctor had given her a clean bill of health and the pernicious anemia was healed wad no longer a problem.

As an ending thought let me add that spiritual healing is not an exact science. It would be nice if we could do a ceremony or speak certain words and always get a result, but it doesn’t work that way. There are many factors involved and sometimes no matter what you do the person may not be healed. That can be troubling for all involved. Even so, I have seen enough miraculous healing in my life to know beyond any doubt that when higher will gives approval that there is nothing impossible for us. May we always be open to all possibilities.

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 23 & 24

This entry is part 12 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-Three
Bob and Betty

When I was first transferred to Scarborough and met Elder Eldridge I was immediately presented with perhaps the only real serious instruction that he had for me during our time together. As we were making rounds visiting members a certain couple named Bob and Betty Moore were on the list. As we approached their house Elder Eldridge stopped the van and looked at me and said:

“You need to listen to me and give heed on this one. The Moores are nice people but Sister Moore is not so great as a cook. Unfortunately, they love having the Elders over and love feeding us. Now we can handle most everything she makes except for one dish and that is her chicken curry. If we ever are visiting with them and they offer us chicken curry we are fasting. Believe me, you don’t want to be mister nice guy and eat it.” Then he again emphasized with great feeling, “Remember WE ARE FASTING if she ever offers us chicken curry.”

“What’s so bad about her chicken curry?” I asked.

“There are horror stories going back years about what happened to Elders who ate it. Believe me you don’t want to find out.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said making a mental note to not partake of her chicken curry. “It shouldn’t be difficult as I do not like anyone’s chicken curry here.”

Note: When they killed chickens in England they didn’t cut their heads off and let all the blood drain out but hung the chickens for several days in the marketplace with their heads on with the blood still within the body. This had the effect of giving the chicken a very bad taste in my opinion.

“Anything else I should know?” I asked.

“Well, they are a little strange, “ he said.

“How’s that?’ I asked.

“They are not exactly a ‘follow the prophet’ or follow he authorities type of members. They are sincere but do things their own way.”

“For example?”

“I’ll give you a good one,” he said. “As you know when we give healing blessings two or more Elders are supposed to be present. Well, Brother Moore ignores this protocol and often gives blessings to others all by himself. Then instead of working with the Branch President he just goes off on his own and visits members and blesses them. He does a number of things like this without having authorization. Word has gotten to the Stake president and they are thinking of disciplining him, maybe even disfellowshipping him.”

This arose my curiosity and I had to ask, “So what about the people he blesses. Are they healed?”

“That’s the really weird part,” he said. “A lot of people in the branch swear they’ve been healed by him and keep calling on him when they need a blessing. But then, instead of getting another Elder to help he just goes off by himself contrary to church instructions.”

“But if he blesses people and they are healed, wouldn’t that be an indication that he is not under any condemnation by God and shouldn’t be disciplined?”

Elder Eldridge looked at me with some surprise and expressed strong disagreement. I found it strange that even though he was in trouble himself for violating rules that he didn’t have much tolerance for Brother Moore doing it.

“Anything else I should know?”

Brother Moore has read a lot and his thinking does not conform 100% to the modern church. He believes he gets revelation and visions and everything he comes up with does not meet with approval from church leaders.

“And how about Sister Moore. Is bad cooking her only vice?

“She supports her husband but hasn’t done anything odd that would get her into trouble with the church. She does have one odd belief though.”

“What’s that?”

“She thinks she will meet the resurrected Joseph Smith before she dies. She is almost obsessed with this and tells everyone about it.”

“Where’d she get an idea like that?” I asked.

“It’s in her patarchal blessing. The Patriarch told her that she would meet the Prophet Joseph in the flesh in this life. She interprets that to mean that he will return as a resurrected being and she’ll get to meet him some way.”

“That’s an odd thing to have in a blessing,” I said. “Usually patriarchs stay away from specific prophecies or usual statements like that.”

“Usually,” he said, “but fortunately for her the church won’t find fault with her for merely believing what an authorized patriarch told her.”

That said, we went in to visit with them and we hit it off right away. They were what some would call simple folk. They were rather plain in looks, mannerisms and speech but were spiritually sensitive and had their own kind of intelligence that went over the heads of orthodox thinkers.

I worked a total of eight months in Scarborough and maintained a close relationship with them for the whole time period. It wasn’t long before we began just calling them Bob and Betty rather than the more formal “Brother and Sister Moore” as mission protocol demanded.

Bob was completely bald and reminded me of a Telly Savalas, except much softer in nature. Betty was tall and thin and reminded me a bit of Olive Oyl from Popeye fame.

Fortunately, as time passed the Stake President didn’t take any action against Bob for giving blessings alone. After Elder Eldridge left and I was in charge I made a visit to the branch president. He told me that the Stake President passed along to him the decision as to whether to take action against Brother Moore. I asked him what he thought and he said he didn’t like handing situations like this.

I told him that I didn’t think there was any major problem to handle and would encourage Brother Moore to take someone with him when he gives blessings.

He seemed relieved and during my time there I never heard any more talk of disciplining Brother Moore.

One day when we were in their neighborhood we paid them a visit. They both seemed more cheerful than ever and Bob had an announcement for me.

“Elder Dewey, last night I had a vision so real that it seemed like I was right there. In it I saw your wife – the person you will marry.”

“Really?” I said. “What did she look like?” No one had ever had a vision like that about me before and my interest was indeed aroused.
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Chapter Twenty-Four
The Girl with the Long Dark Hair

“I saw you and your wife in the Valley of Adam Ondi-Ahman and she seemed fairly tall with long dark hair.”

“Can you give me any more details?

“I can’t draw you a picture he said but I did see her clearly enough that I think I would recognize her if I ever saw her in the flesh.”

“So, if you had a true vision then I should only get serious over someone who is tall with long dark hair,” I said half joking.

“All I can say is that is what I saw and I felt like I was there for the spirit was very powerful.”

I had a lot of faith in Bob’s purity of heart and if anyone would receive a true vision it would be him. Therefore, when I returned home, attended the University of Idaho and started dating again I was always keeping an eye out for a tall girl with long dark hair.

I dated quite a few girls and got fairly serious over a couple but couldn’t find anyone who I found attractive who fit the description. This person had to be in the church for at that time in my life this was an essential criteria for a mate.

Finally, after some time, I did meet someone. She was a girl named Diane who lived in Moscow but had been attending another university. I met her in the hallway of the church and immediately noted she was tall with long dark hair, longer than average anyway.

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I turned on my charm and managed to secure a date. We dated about three times and really hit it off. At the end of the third date she told me she had some news I may not like.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m going on a mission,” she said

“A mission – where?

“Finland. I’ll be gone for two years.”

Now, normally I was happy to see anyone follow his or her dream and go on a mission, but this disturbed me.

“Are you sure that’s what you want to do now? After all, we’ve seemed to hit it off here.”

“The decision was made before we started dating and the prophet has called me so I have to go,” she said. “In fact this will be the last time you will see me. I will be doing some traveling, visiting friends and then I will be off to Salt Lake.”

“What a bummer,” I thought to myself.

We said our goodbyes and she promised to write. Then a couple days later I had this vivid dream and in the dream I clearly saw her and a voice told me I would see her again before she left. I thought that was an odd message but then next Sunday at church there she was. She had unexpectedly returned home for the day. She was rushed but we did spend some time together and again said our goodbyes.

After this my imagination went into overdrive and I asked myself why I had such a vivid dream. Since she fit the description of the tall girl with long dark hair maybe it was a sign that she was the one. The irritating thing was that I was going to have to wait two years to find out for sure.

During the next two years I dated a lot of females but none of them were tall with long dark hair. There were several that I liked but the nagging question as to whether Diane was the one caused me to keep a distance in a number of cases.

Then I had a bright idea. I would send Bob a picture of Diane and see if he would recognize her from his vision. This I did and a short time later I received a reply.

He said she was close but didn’t think she was the same one he had seen.

This did not totally discourage me for several reasons. First, I really liked her and secondly, that dream kept gnawing at me. I couldn’t shake the possibility that she was the one. After all, Bob said she was close; maybe he just wasn’t remembering correctly.

I managed to remain unattached for the two years and finally the day of her return arrived. I called on her at her parents home in Moscow and I was somewhat concerned that she didn’t seem to be as excited about seeing me as I her. Then to add to my consternation she said, “I’m leaving tomorrow.”

“Leaving? You just got here.”

“Everything was arranged before I returned,” she said. “I start a teaching job in Portland in a couple days and have to leave immediately. Maybe I’ll see you during the holidays.”

She was only able to spend a short time with me for she had lots of relatives to entertain during her short stay at home. We again said goodbye.

“What luck,” I thought to myself. How was I ever going to find out if she was the one if she keeps taking off on me?

During the next few days I was beside myself wondering what to do and then I decided there was only one course of action. I would move to Portland and date her and find out for sure one way or another.

At that time I was a member of the AFLCIO union and I called the Portland office to see if they could supply me with a job there. They said they could so in a few days I was on my way.

I was nervous as the dickens a I approached her door in Portland. After all, we had only dated a short time and maybe in her mind I was just one fleeting guy on a string of many in her past.

The door was answered by a kindly older couple who owned the home and Diane was lodging with them. They explained that Diane was gone and would return in about an hour and I was welcome to wait. We hit it off right away and remained friends for years.

During that next hour I tried formulating something in my mind to explain why I was there so I didn’t come across like a stalker. Finally, she arrived and didn’t seem surprised at all to see me. I told her I had a job in the area and had moved there so I decided to pay her a visit.

We had a nice visit, but the old spark didn’t seem to be there. Even so, I still had to find out for sure. I asked her out and we dated a couple times, but that old feeling seemed missing. She seemed different and I couldn’t put my finger on the problem.

Finally, on our third date she said, “There’s something that I need to tell you.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” I thought to myself.

She continued, “I fell in love with an Elder on my mission and we plan on getting married when he gets home in a couple months.”

“Really?” and I thought I didn’t have to worry about her getting romantically involved on a mission.

Then I told her the real reason I came to Portland. I told her about Bob’s vision, my dream and that I needed to find out if we are meant to be together.

She was fairly open to the idea and said, “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to marry this missionary, but if it’s God’s will you and I be together I’m willing to follow. Let’s both pray about it and see what answer we get.”

I agreed that sounded like the best plan. We decided to be apart for three days and pray and contemplate and then meet again.

I prayed like crazy and didn’t really get a yes or no but finally did get an impression. The impression was that Diane was going to get the right answer and I was to accept it.

Finally, the three days were up and I anxiously awaited her answer. She said she received a clear answer that she was supposed to marry the missionary and not me.

I reluctantly accepted and we agreed to be friends. I still saw her now and then and with the pressure being off we seemed to enjoy each other’s company more than ever.

Meanwhile I met another young lady named Rhea and I fell for her big time, more than I ever did for Diane or anyone else I had dated.

Earlier I had made this list of about 30 characteristics that the girl I marry must possess and she had almost all of them. The only thing she lacked was the long dark hair. She had light brown hair of average length and was fairly tall.

On a lark, I sent Bob a picture of her, but he wrote back giving me a definite no. This did not discourage me though for I was head over heels crazy about her. I consoled myself thinking that maybe Bob didn’t see the real thing. After all, a lot of people have dreams and visions that do not come true.

One thing that was of supreme importance to me was that I marry the right person and this choice be confirmed by the Spirit. One of the reasons for this was that from the time I was a small child I strongly felt within that there was one certain person I was supposed to marry and I had to find her.

I had finally found a person that met all the points on my list including capturing my heart. Now the question was… did the Man Upstairs approve?

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 25 & 26

This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-Five
Lost love

As our relationship progressed I became more and more optimistic that I had found my ideal mate. Then, one day when I was with her it happened. A message came to the core of my being telling me that I was not supposed to marry her. I tried to shrug it off but then a short time later it came again.

I felt terrible about this message as it made no sense to me at the time. Rhea was as serious about the church as I was. She had even gone on a mission – something only a small percentage of females do. Not only was she spiritual in her interests but I loved being with her in every way. I couldn’t bring myself to break it off with her. I also couldn’t bring myself to propose to her because of the message I received.

Finally circumstances intervened. One evening when we were together she looked at me with an intensity that made my heart melt and said, “Our relationship seemed to progress so far and then it seemed to stop moving. I’ve been waiting for you to take the next step and you have not.”

Her words, “The next step” whirled around in my mind. That could only mean marriage. Yes, I thought silently to myself. I would love to ask you to marry me, but for some damn reason I am not supposed to.

Then she looked at me with her penetrating eyes and continued, “Are you prepared right now to tell me that you love me and want to move forward together.”

I did love her, but felt it would be unfair to tell her so if I wasn’t prepared to marry her. I knew that telling her I loved her at that moment would be a virtual marriage proposal. For one of the few times in my life I didn’t know what to say and cannot even clearly remember what I did say. All I know was that it wasn’t the words she wanted to hear.

For the first time since I knew her she became visibly upset and started to cry and asked me to leave. I was reluctant to leave her when she was feeling so hurt and tried to sooth things over but she just became more upset and ordered me out. She said our relationship was over and didn’t want to see me again. She shoved me out the door.

I never felt so low in my life. Here was a girl I loved and wanted to marry who I had just devastated and over what? Some message from on high… yea right. Maybe someone was just pulling a cosmic joke on me or maybe I did not know a divine message from a hole in the ground.

After a few moments I composed myself and thought, “The message came through loud and clear. She is not the one I am supposed to marry. Some greater good has to prevail in the end.” I had to have faith in this or I think I would have went insane.

That was the last time I saw Rhea, and on reflection I would bet she is probably greatly relieved she did not marry me. I am sure she is still in the church and is a faithful member and would not want to be married to someone viewed as an apostate.

As a side note, after I was thrown out of the church, I sent Diane some of my writings. I thought she was open-minded but she told me she burned them and warned me about the dangerous path I was on.

Meanwhile, as I said earlier, I had been writing Margaret for the past four years. I had considered her a friend and pen pal and had told her about Diane and Rhea. One of the reasons I didn’t take her more seriously was, even though she had long dark hair, she was not tall. She was only five feet two inches.

I was therefore somewhat surprised that I received a powerful witness that I was supposed to marry her as I always had the feeling Bob really did catch a glimpse of my future wife.

When I journeyed to England to see Margaret I was expecting smooth sailing. I thought we would hit it off and that would be that. After all, our relationship seemed to be approved of by God.

To tell the whole story (which is quite fantastic) would take some time but in a nutshell we found we were very different from each other and I was about to back down from marrying her. She wanted to go ahead but I did not even though I received even more powerful confirmation on her. Finally, I said to God, “Look, you gave Bob a vision of my wife so I’ll make you a deal. If Bob says that Margaret is the one he saw then I’ll marry her.”

I thought I had God over a barrel because Margaret was not tall like the one he saw. Obviously she couldn’t be the one in his vision.

Usually when you speak to God like that nothing comes back, but this time it was different. This time I heard back clear as a bell…

“It’s a deal. If Bob says she is the one, you marry her. If not then you do not.”

Well, this ought to be interesting I thought. Unless God is going to perform a great miracle and make a short person tall, I do not know how Bob could say for sure that Margaret was the one he saw.

I took a picture of her, hopped in my rented car and drove from Peterlee to Scarborough to see my good friends, Bob and Betty. It was going to be interesting to see what was going to happen next.
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Chapter Twenty-Six
Revelation

I arrived in Scarborough an hour or two before Bob came home from work so I had a little time to kill. I decided to just spend some time walking around the uptown area and check out some of the stores. It seemed odd to stroll around the town alone after I had previously spent eight months there always being with a companion 24/7. As missionaries we rarely took any time to just take a look at a town the way a tourist might.

As I was walking around I saw a palm reading shop. I hadn’t recalled seeing that when I was working there and debated with myself about going in. The church discouraged us from using anything occult and most members think such things are from the devil, but I couldn’t see the harm and it seemed as good a way to spend time as any.

I went in and met a younger slender lady with dark hair who seemed fairly intelligent. After paying her we sat down at a desk facing each other.

I said, “I understand you are supposed to read the left hand, but mine has been injured. Can you use the right one?” She said that was no problem.

She studied my palm for a moment and then looked at me with a fairly serious expression on her face…

“Do you know a girl who has the name of Margaret?” she asked.

I about fell off my chair. “Yes,” I managed to whisper.

“You are supposed to marry her,” she said.

I gasped, pulled my hand back and looked over my shoulder halfway expecting to see God telling her what to say. After all, she was telling me the same thing I had already received directly, once back in the states, and then just recently when I was with Margaret.

Then she grabbed my palm, took another look and stared up at me again, “There’s another girl…” she paused as if trying to receive the name. “Do you know one whose name begins with “R?”

Again, I was astonished. “Yes, there is one named Rhea.” (On hindsight there are not many Rheas in England so picking up just the first letter of the name is understandable).

“She would make a good wife,” she said, “but you are supposed to marry Margaret.”

She then went on to give me a standard reading but my mind was so sidetracked that I didn’t pay a lot of attention. I do recall though that she said I would be a writer.

Then after the reading was over and I was up, getting ready to exit, she stopped me and said, “You are sensitive, like me. You should use your talent in service. You could do what I do.”

I explained that I was not interested in being a commercial palm reader or psychic. Then she explained that there are many ways to use this ability, which she thought we had in common, and I should look for ways to put it to use.

I realized I was sensitive to the Spirit but always considered that ability to be much different than psychism. I will note though that I have had my palm read many times since meeting this lady and none have been able give me anything so impressive as her statements. She was definitely not a run of the mill psychic.

As I left her I continued walking about town musing to myself. She definitely received something beyond normal human ability, but did it come from the Adversary or God? Was this part of a trick being played on me to force me into a decision I did not want to make? I wondered.

One thing I knew for sure and that was that Bob was sensitive also and was a man who was pure in heart. Any revelation coming from him would definitely be from God.

Let me remind the reader that I was not making the trip to see Bob as a confirmation of God’s will concerning me, as I had already received it twice. I knew without doubt that for some reason the Powers-That-Be wanted me to marry Margaret, but I also knew that it did not make sense to me. In that list of 30 things I was looking for in a wife about the only thing that was a match for Margaret was that she was a member of the church.

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Bob offered me the only hope of getting out of going against the will of God, for the revelation I received said that if she was not the one in his vision then I would not have to marry her. On the other hand, I had agreed to submit if he definitely said she was the one.

It seemed the air was filled with witnesses telling me that I should marry Margaret include Margaret herself.

As I wrote earlier, Margaret was told shortly after I first met her that I was to be her husband, that she should wait for me and that I would return to England at a later time and marry her.

I did now return and it appeared that her revelation was turning into reality until I announced to her that we were not a good match and I was heading back to the states as a single man.

She was very upset at this and made me promise to stay a while longer. She said she had never doubted what she received but now felt she needed another confirmation as this was not the way things were supposed to work out. She needed to have another talk with God to find out what was going on. She was not beyond giving God a piece of her mind if he didn’t play his cards right.

Anyway, she said she was going to fast without food or water and pray for three days and asked me to meet her after this period to discuss whatever answer she received.

I agreed and did not see her for the three days. Finally, after the three days I stopped by to pick her up. I was very curious as to whether she received an answer and if she did, “What was that answer?” I thought.

I remember clearly driving up to her front door and her exiting the house, walking toward me with a serene expression on her face and then a smile forming on her lips as she approached.

That smile unnerved me and I calculated that it meant that at least she thought she received some type of positive answer.

She got in the car, sat next to me and then I asked, “So… did you get an answer?”

“Yes,” she said. “And in a way I am ashamed of myself.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I already received an answer and I shouldn’t have had to seek another one.”

“So what did you receive this time?” I asked.

“I received a confirmation of my first answer and if there was even a particle of doubt it has been completely removed. The answer was a definite, indisputable, undeniable yes. There is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind and I feel bad that I asked for confirmation of that which was already confirmed. Then I did receive something else that I was not given when I was first told to wait for you to return and marry me.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Here it is,” she said. “It is of extreme importance that we marry.” Then she became even more serious in tone and said with great feeling, strongly enunciating her words, “If you do not marry me you will be cursed! You have a mission in life and if you do not marry me you will not complete it. There is no other way.”

I looked back at her in astonishment. This struck me to the core because I had always had a strong sense of mission and was surprised she used that word. I could see that her answer affected her so strongly that she was expecting me to be influenced by the results, but then I replied, “It may be okay with God that I marry you, but it’s not okay with me. We disagree on almost everything and are not compatible. It doesn’t make sense that God would insist on us being together when we would have such a stormy relationship.”

My answer was not what she wanted to hear and I could see she was very disappointed. She replied, “But you said in your letter you received the same answer as me. You said that you received a revelation that we were supposed to be man and wife. That is why you made the trip to England. Are you going to go against the will of God?”

“I’ve been reflecting on that answer I received,” I said, “and here is what I have come up with. It is fine with God if I marry you and I have His blessing if I should decide to do so. But He didn’t tell me I had to marry you or that I would be cursed or not complete my mission if I did not. I still have my free will and my own mind and my common sense tells me that marriage would be a disaster for both of us.”

“You are wrong,” she said. “God is not just giving us approval He is giving us His will and if you do not obey you will be cursed and not complete your mission.”

Saying I would not complete my mission was strong enough to cause me concern, but I thought the word “cursed” was over the line.

I was not swayed by her words though they did concern me somewhat. Even so, I couldn’t think of a greater curse than a bad marriage so I decided to avoid a curse I could understand rather than one that I could not.

I told her, “If we are not going to get married then it is best that we end our relationship as soon as possible. I do not want to cause you any more pain than you have already experienced. I have visited with a travel agency and have made plans to depart for Amsterdam in three days. I will be visiting parts of the continent and then I will be heading for home.

She was extremely upset and said, “This cannot be. God promised me that you would be my husband and God does not break his promise.”

I know he approves, but we still have our free will,” I said. “I do not believe this is something we have to do and I do not think it is in either one of our interests to continue the relationship.”

She became even more hurt and upset and I felt like dirt. Here within a short span of several weeks I had devastated two potential mates with rejection. I had always tried to live a harmless life but it seemed that even when you do your best you sometimes can cause great pain to others.

Even so, I figured it was better for Margaret to have a short period of pain now than a whole lifetime in a stressful marriage.

I tried to console her and told her that I could still spend some time with her the next three days. I didn’t plan on this but when I saw how upset she was I thought it was the least I could do. Maybe I could smooth things over a bit before I left.

What happened the next three days is a story unto itself that I will consider telling in full another time, but at present I will say this. At the end of the third day as I was supposed to be saying goodbye to Margaret I had a revelation so powerful that I felt fortunate to be alive afterwards. After this I knew that marrying Margaret was not just a divine suggestion but it was of extreme importance that I do so and indeed I would not complete my mission if I did not yield. I wouldn’t use the word “curse” but perhaps that slant would apply if I did not complete what I came into this life to accomplish.

Even after this, I resisted because it did not make sense to me so I made one a desperate attempt to change the mind of God.

I reminded Him of the vision he had given to Bob about my wife and told him I would marry Margaret if Bob positively confirmed that she was the one he saw in his vision.

To my surprise the immediate answer was, “It’s a deal.” This puzzled me because Bob saw my wife as being tall and Margaret was not tall. Surely God knew of this discrepancy and Bob could not give a positive yes on the matter because of this. I thought I had a way out of what looked like a bad situation.

I then told Margaret that for the time being I was canceling my trip to Amsterdam, but was going to take a trip to Scarborough to see an old friend. I would see her again in a few days.

It seemed odd to her that I would suddenly cancel my trip abroad and go see an old friend in Scarborough but she had hope again that God was performing some strange work to make the pieces come together to fulfill divine will.

These were the memories that went through my mind as I approached the door of Bob and Betty’s house. Little did I realize how much my destiny was about to be changed.

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 27 & 28

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-Seven
The Answer

Bob and Betty were thrilled to see me again after an absence of about four and a half years. I was equally happy to see them and renew our friendship. After catching up to date on various events I finally explained why I had come back to England and why I had come to visit them.

I pulled out a picture of Margaret and showed it to them. It was a professional portrait she had taken a couple years ago and had mailed me a copy a some time ago. Bob took it in his hands, looked closely at it and studied it in silence for a moment. It was a long moment for me as the course of my life depended on his response.

Finally Bob spoke, “You know, you sent me a couple other pictures of girls you were dating in the past and none of them stirred any response. I was pretty sure that none of them was the girl in the vision. But this one… This one is different. This one strikes a chord. This one looks like the one I saw.” Then he reflected a moment and continued, ”But it has been a long time in the past now. I’m pretty sure, but can’t say with 100% certainty.

I guess I could have let it go at that, but I figured I needed to give the effort my best shot else I may have some type of additional problem to deal with.

I spoke to Bob, “There is a good possibility I can take you back in time and have you recall your vision with perfect clarity. If you’ll trust me and allow me to take you back we may be able to solve this thing once and for all.”

Bob gave his permission and I used a guided meditation technique to take him back. He was an excellent subject and went back with total recall. (Note: This was before I believed in reincarnation or did past life regressions, but I did a number of regressions concerning people’s current lives sometimes clear back to the moment of their birth)

I guided him back in time so he would relive the event as if he were right there going through it the first time.

Finally, I asked him what he saw. He then said that he saw a great gathering of the Saints at the Valley of Adam Ondi Ahman. They were waiting for the appearance of the Ancient of Days. He said he saw a lot of people that he knew. I then told him to look in my direction.

He then seemingly looked at me and exclaimed, “You have your hand back!”

“That’s interesting,” I said. ”Now look at my wife. Do you see her?”

“Yes.”

“Is she the same one that is in the picture?”

He then said, “Your wife that I see here is ten to fifteen years older than the one in the picture and she has a partially transparent veil over her face so it is difficult to tell for sure, but she really looks like the one in the picture, but older.”

“Take a very close look and tell me how sure you are,” I said.

There was a short silence and then he spoke, “The more I study her face the more sure I become. I am pretty sure, but not absolutely. I’m over 90% sure. It not only looks like her but I feel that it is her.”

Finally, I asked the clincher, “How tall is she? Point your finger at my body as to how far the top of her head comes up on me.”

Then to my astonishment he pointed to the exact spot that indicated her true height of 5’2″. What made it even more interesting is that I never told Bob how tall Margaret was.

Then I said, “When you first told me about your vision you told me that you saw my wife as being tall with long dark hair. Why would you have said she was tall when she was not?”

He was still reliving the vision and studied her again. “There’s something about her that stands out in my mind when I see her and she just seems taller than she is. But I can see her clearly now and she is not actually tall but only comes up to here on you.” Again he motioned to the point on my body indicating her height.

“That’s interesting,” I said and directed him to go forward in his vision, and at the end of it he saw the Ancient of Days arise to speak and he said these words:

“Now have the Sons of Levi offered an offering of righteousness unto me.”

When he heard these words he was overwhelmed and almost passed out. The Spirit seemed to very strong to him. I brought him back to the present and he related his astonishment at the powerful feeling he felt when the Ancient of Days spoke.

After he composed himself I said, “It sounds like the woman in the vision looked at lot like Margaret, but are you absolutely sure?”

“I’m pretty sure,” he said, “but look. Marrying someone is a serious step and I do not want you marrying anyone on my say-so unless I am 100% sure. So I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.”

“What?” I asked.

“I’m going to pray tonight and ask God if she is the one in the vision and if you are supposed to marry her. I don’t want you doing anything on my word unless I know for sure it is God’s will.”

“Okay,” I said haltingly. This was a step I hadn’t anticipated, though knowing Bob the way I did, I should have.

“After everyone goes to bed, I will stay up in the quiet of the night and pray and seek a sure answer,” he said.

So that’s what we did. Betty, the kids, and I all went to bed and Bob stayed up and sought an answer. Amazingly, I slept like a baby. I was awakened earlier than I expected by Bob rapping on my door about 6 AM.

I roused myself out of a deep sleep and took a look in Bob’s direction. He looked happy as a lark and had a big grin on his face. Just like Margaret’s smile was an indicator of her answer so was Bob’s.

He approached my bed and said, “I have been up all night praying and have not yet had any sleep. I know this is important so I decided to pray until I received an answer.”

“And did you get an answer?”

“I did,” he said with some excitement on his face.

“And what answer did you receive?”

“Here is what happened,” he said. ”I prayed for several hours and finally I received an answer. The answer was yes, Margaret was the one in the vision and you are supposed to marry her. Then I asked myself if I was absolutely sure for I did consider that I was imagining the answer and I was not 100% sure. I decided to ask again. Then I received the answer for the second time even more clearly than the first. Still I could not say that I was 100% sure so I asked again and prayed through the night. As the morning came I received an answer for the third time. This time it came with such power that there was no room for doubt.”

Then he looked at me in all seriousness and said, “I do not know why, but for some reason you are supposed to marry that girl. Of this I am now absolutely sure and have no doubt.”

I then recalled the commitment I made to God. I told Him that if Bob positively identified Margaret as the one in his vision then I would agree to marry her. And now before me was Bob who was supremely positive not only that she was the one in the vision, but that it was the will of God that I marry her. I found it amazing that this Higher Intelligence knew in advance that Bob would be convinced.

I was now faced with the difficult task of following through with my promise. After all, a promise to God is not something that you can just walk away from.
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Chapter Twenty-Eight
For Time and All Eternity

After a nice visit and saying goodbyes I returned to Peterlee. It was now clear beyond any doubt that a higher power wanted me to marry Margaret and was prepared to go to any length to make sure our union became a reality. The question in my mind was, why.

At that time I believed in the church’s doctrine of eternal marriage, that when you are married in the LDS temple ceremony that you are not only committed for this earth life, but all eternity. Now, I knew a lot of religious people who did not seem to understand what eternity was as many seemed willing to risk trillions of years of grief for a few minutes of pleasure. I was not like that. I understood numbers – that eternity was indeed a long long time. This as one of the reasons I put such intensity into finding a compatible mate. If it was in the celestial cards that I live with a wife for eternity I thought it wise to chose one that I would enjoy being with – one with similar goals, interests and temperament to myself.

That’s why I made a list of about thirty characteristics that would be desirable in an eternal mate. Rhea was the first to meet almost all of those thirty points yet I was told that I was not to marry her. Margaret had almost none of the thirty points yet it was revealed to me with great power (I haven’t written the full story) that I must marry her.

Margaret’s revelation went so far to say that I would be cursed if I did not marry her and it appeared she could be right. After all, it would seem that one would be risking a great curse indeed if the will of God is indisputably revealed and then one goes against it. Was that not what made Lucifer himself fall from heaven?

On the other hand, if I married her it looked like I was in for a tempestuous life with her that would extend into the eternities. Just one of the things that concerned me was her whopper of a temper. Was God going to miraculously change her nature on my behalf and make her easier for me to get along with? Very doubtful.

I had given my word to God and I have always kept my word so this would be no exception, but there was one thing I wanted to know. Why was it so important I marry this woman when there were many others with whom I was more compatible?

Not only that, but I was sure there were others better suited for Margaret. When I arrived in England she had a boyfriend that admired her and I am sure would have made her happier than I was about to. Yet she was prepared to dump him in an instant because she knew that our marriage was the will of God.

I explained to her my philosophy, which was this. Any problem or conflict you have before marriage will not get better but will magnify and become 5-10 times worse after marriage. She didn’t agree with this and seemed to think love would conquer all and we could live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, time proved me correct. Any problem you have before marriage is magnified afterwards – because of the closeness of the relationship of living together. It is very logical therefore, to get a mate with whom you are in great harmony, and even in this case there will be difficulties to work out..

“Yes,” I told whoever was listening as I drove back to Peterlee. “I will keep my word and marry her, but I want to know why.” It had been revealed to me that there was some grand purpose in the direction that the Spirit was leading me, but what was it? There was a puzzle, that if put together would reveal the answer and I didn’t have enough pieces to see anything clearly. I had to trust my eternal happiness on a picture that was not yet put together, a picture that was a great blur. My only hope for happiness seemed to be to trust in the ultimate goodness of God.

But what if God was just this spoiled brat that pulled jokes on his subjects? Anything seemed possible at this point.

I arrived back in Peterlee and took Margaret out that evening and near the end of our date I proposed. I don’t think she was entirely surprised as she knew I received some type of revelation that prevented me from leaving England. On the other hand, since I had spent so much time explaining to her how we were not compatible I thought there was a possibility she might give me a piece of her mind. As it was, a piece of her mind came later but she went with the moment and even surprised me with her response.

She said, “Yes, even if I were to be one wife out of a hundred I would marry you.”

To non Mormons this wording may seem odd, but to good Mormons it is indeed a possibility that polygamy may one day be introduced again in the church. After all, it was in the church in the beginning and any prophet could bring it back.

We got married twice in England. At that time the English law did not recognize LDS marriages as was the case in the U.S. We therefore first got married civilly by an English authority and then we went to London and got married in the LDS temple there for “time and all eternity.”

For some reason I had hope that when time exact time of out temple marriage came that I would receive a revelation that would clarify the will of God for me. But as we knelt before the alter and looked each other in the eyes as the Elder pronounced the words of the ceremony nothing happened. There was no answer, no spirit, no comforting voice or feeling. There was only emptiness and I thought, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

I felt forsaken for a number of years after that as I went from having a lot of spiritual manifestations leading up to my marriage to none afterwards. That did not stop me from trying, for every day I asked God why. Why did You tell me I could not have the woman I wanted and instead I was to marry what seemed the most incompatible person on the planet. It just did not make sense, especially as our marriage grew more difficult with each passing day. There was obviously no miracle on the horizon that was going to turn our marriage into a happy relationship.

Finally after years had passed, I think it was about five, but not sure, I did receive an answer to the thousands of times I asked why. I will not relate the experience here but will say that the answer was that we have more than one mortal life. I had been married to Margaret in a past life and had some serious karma in relation to her. This karma could only be worked out by marrying her in this life.

Marrying her sent me on a quest for answers. If I had not married her I may not have come to accept reincarnation, which doctrine opened up a whole new world of knowledge for me.

It is possible that if I had married Rhea that I would have been comfortable enough in the Church that my quest for knowledge would have been limited to things approved by the church.

If that would have been the case, then, on hindsight, I am happy indeed that I married Margaret, for now I know that any step forward I have made upon the path was worth the price I had to pay, however great it was in my mind at the time.

Then too, we had seven great kids together. I have always wished I could have given them a more peaceful and stable life, but fortunately, that did not stop them from turning into beautiful souls.
Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 29 & 30

This entry is part 15 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chicken Curry

I have one more story to relate about Bob and Betty. They were such a sweet couple I am reluctant to tell it, but even the nicest people seem to have their blind spots.

Remember the warning that was given me by Elder Elderidge? He told me to never eat Betty’s chicken curry and if it is ever offered to make some kind of excuse and then get out. He recommended saying that we are fasting if necessary.

Anyway I was in Scarborough longer than any other town – eight months altogether. We had hot drinks and cookies at Bob and Betty’s regularly and a couple times we had dinner. She wasn’t that great of a cook but at least it wasn’t chicken curry.

Then one day near the end of my stay there long after Elder Elderidge went home, the unthinkable happened. We stopped by there around dinnertime, not planning to eat there but on some type of missionary related business. As we sat in the living room talking to Bob in walks Betty looking as cheerful and happy as can be with a large plate in her hand.

“Guess what?” she said. “This is your lucky day. I just made Bob’s favorite dish and we have plenty for everyone.”

She laid a big plate of the substance next to Bob and he exclaimed, “Chicken curry, terrific!”

It had been so long since I received the warning that I had almost forgot about it, and I do not think I warned my companion. By this time Elder Cooper had been replaced by another elder and he knew nothing about the chicken curry legend.

Betty turned to us and said, “I’ll be right back with a big dish for the both of you.”

I tried to make every excuse I could think of without telling a bold-faced lie but she just replied with, “I won’t hear of it. It’s not every day that we get to share Bob’s favorite dish. Now just sit there and I’ll be right back.”

If I hadn’t become such good friends with these two we would have bolted one way or another but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Besides, I thought to myself, “How bad can it be?” After all, Bob liked it and he’s still in one piece.

Finally, I acquiesced and said, “Just a small amount please.”

Betty didn’t listen. Because she liked me so much she brought me a bigger dish than she gave my companion. It would have been difficult to eat it all even if it was something I really liked.

I took a look at the dish before me. It didn’t look very appetizing, but the English are not famous for their good food and I had eaten a lot of meals since I arrived in England that didn’t look or taste that great by American standards. Again I asked myself, “How bad can it be,” and took a bite.

From the first bite I knew that I was in trouble and that Elder Eldridge had told me the truth. The chicken was like nothing I have tasted before or since. It tasted like sawdust mixed with gasoline and the rest of the ingredients were not any better.

Then I looked over at Bob and to my surprise he was wolfing the alien substance down like it was the most finger licking good meal he had eaten in his entire life. I think that to this day I am still more puzzled over how he could have enjoyed the dish so much as by the mysteries of the universe. It just did not seem possible.

Within minutes Bob had finished his large dish and asked for a refill. Betty came in and replenished it and gave my companion and I a lecture to eat up, because there was lots more available.

My companion looked at me with a look of helplessness. By this time he also realized we were in a life and death situation. I felt bad that I got him into this and there was nothing I could do for him. I did see something I could do for me though. Next to me there was this large plant and when no one was looking I scooped as much of the stuff as I could into the pot. The dirt was recessed quite a bit and not visible so I was hoping the substance would decay and become unrecognizable by the time Betty came across it in the future.

Betty came back from the kitchen and gave Bob still another refill. He continued consuming it with eagerness so great that I was truly baffled and figured he should donate his stomach to science.

Then she asked me if I wanted more. I still had about a half a plate, as I couldn’t get rid of it all on the plant. I told her that I couldn’t eat another bite and handed her my plate. She reluctantly took it and then pestered my hapless companion who still had a full plate. The poor guy did the only thing he could do in that situation. He told her he had an upset stomach and didn’t feel like eating anything.

She looked at him with suspicion and I suspected she was going to insist he eat, but Bob saved the day.

“Great,” he said. “That just means there’s more for me. Pass it over. I’ll take care of it.”

As I watched Bob eat yet another dish I was amazed indeed. What a guy!

After we finished and Betty gathered up the dishes we visited a while and then left, happy to have escaped with our lives.

I believe it was about two days later that we paid them another visit. Betty answered the door and invited us in. “Where’s Bob?” we asked.

“He’s caught something and has been terribly sick since we saw you last. I was wondering if it could have been something in that chicken curry. Did you get sick at all from it?”

I shrugged my shoulders and told her I seemed to be okay. This was one of those situations where I told the truth, but left out some details. Sometimes you have to do that in life.

Fortunately, Bob healed quickly and was back to normal in a day or two.

And what was real fortunate was that I was not offered another dish of Betty’s chicken curry during my stay in England.

What happened to the plant, you ask.

On hindsight I ask myself the same question. I do not recall checking into it but would not be at all surprised if it suffered an early demise.

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Chapter Thirty
The Two Sylvias

After Elder Eldridge left and Elder Cooper became my companion we settled into the nuts and bolts of the work. Between the fact that Scarborough was a difficult town with an aging population and the duties of being District Leader we were unable to duplicate the results obtained in Peterlee. Even so, we plodded along and did manage some success in proselyting.

It was around this time that we came across and baptized two of the most unique characters of my mission. They were two fairly good-looking blond females, both having the name of Sylvia.

The first Sylvia was about 35, had previously worked in a bar and was a fairly worldly gal. Even so, she liked our message and decided she wanted to get baptized. Then an odd thing happened as we picked her up in our van to take her to the baptism. Just as I started to drive off a powerful message came to me telling me not to proceed with the baptism.

I found this to be extremely awkward timing as the van was packed with local people expecting to go to a baptism. What would I tell them if I did not proceed? “Hey, guys, we can’t go to the baptism because I received a message from God?” That would sound like crazy talk.

This was one of the few times I ignored the internal message, and I soon found out that it was correct and Sylvia was not ready to take her next step in her spiritual progression.

Shortly thereafter we began teaching a second Sylvia. She was a young blond lass of about 16. I remember clearly the first time I met her. We taught her with a group of three or four other investigators. After we finished with the first lesson we invited the group to kneel with us in prayer. We all got in a circle and with Sylvia to my left side I offered the prayer. It must have been an impressive one for the second I aid “amen” she threw her arms around me and attempted to kiss me.

This, of course, was against mission rules for the policy was that all missionaries are suppose to keep an “arm’s length” from all females, especially those that don’t remind you of your sweet grandmother.

I found myself in the rather embarrassing situation of constraining her as she seemed quite determined to plant one on me. After I was assured she was at a safe distance I explained to her about the mission rules and my rejection had nothing to do with her personally.

This didn’t seem to sink in, as from that point on she seemed very captivated with me and did everything in her power to draw my attention. The first thing she did was to take all the missionary lessons and then ask for baptism.

After getting a negative message on the first Sylvia, I almost expected one on the second. I did my best to tune into the Spirit on the matter as I didn’t want to get another one on the way to a baptism. A message a few days before the event would be much more convenient.

No negative message came and her parents gave her permission so there was no reason to deny her membership in the church. We went ahead and baptized her giving us the odd credit of two blond Sylvias to our baptism record.

Shortly thereafter the two Sylvias met and became the best of friends. There was about a 20-year age difference but the two really hit it off. Even though the younger Sylvia was 16 she could have passed for 20 so the two palling around did not look that out of place.

Around this time Elder Cooper was transferred and I received a new companion. The strange thing is that the new guy was the most supportive companion I had during my mission but, try as I will, I cannot recall his name. It’s odd that the two companions whose names I cannot recall are the best and the worst. I cannot recall the name of the elder from hell nor the heaven sent one that was a great sidekick during my last few months at Scarborough.

From now on we’ll just identify him as “my companion.”

My companion thought he was walking into a pretty standard situation but little did he or I know about the experiences we would have awaiting us in dealing with the two Sylvias.

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 31 & 32

This entry is part 16 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Thirty-One
Getting My Attention

The younger Sylvia had a terrible crush on me from the beginning. Mild crushes were common toward the missionaries and we had a name for it. We called it “Elderitus.” I attempted to follow mission protocol though and treat her like any other member.

The older Sylvia seemed to be happily married and I didn’t receive any romantic overtures from her, but she was a constant companion to the younger Sylvia and sometimes didn’t seem to be a positive influence.

Whenever we had a baptism, special event or worked with other Elders we sometimes allowed members to come along. On all these occasions the Sylvias came along. They were like groupies.

After trying every normal means to get my attention and failing Sylvia the younger decided to try stronger methods. The first attempt was assisted by Sylvia the Elder. These attempts seemed to coincide with me giving a speech or some kind of presentation in church.

One Sunday morning while I was giving a speech I looked down in the audience and noticed that both Sylvias had bottles of aspirin in their hands. Then one after another they would put an aspirin in their hands and throw it in their mouths and chew on it. After it was consumed each would start on another tablet. After they had each consumed over a dozen tablets each I wrapped up my address and sat down. On finishing they stopped eating the aspirin.

I approached them and asked them if they were going out of their minds and they laughed, thinking it was funny that they had finally got a response out of me.

Then a short time later I had to give another speech. This time the younger Sylvia really got my attention. As I was about half way through my address I noticed that younger Sylvia was paying a lot of attention to me as usual but then suddenly she had a humongous asthmatic attack. She suddenly stood up in the middle of the congregation, grabbed her throat and took long, loud heaving breaths, gasping for air as if she were about to die.

Everyone was very alarmed and since the group always looked toward the missionaries for leadership my companion and I rushed to her aid. When we got there she fainted into our arms and we carried her outside for fresh air where she seemed to recover.

When she came to she explained to us that she had asthma and had missed taking her medicine and that she sometimes had attacks like this at unexpected moments.

Unexpected moments? My companion and I wondered if this was not a planned moment, but there was no way to prove anything.

A few weeks later we were invited to speak in the nearby town of Whitby. The senior companion there was named Whitby and he was descended from Captain Kidd who actually founded the town. We thought that was pretty cool.

We became best friends and we even discussed coming back to England after our missions and working as missionaries on our own together. He was sensitive to impressions like myself and was having problems with evil spirits in his town also. Some investigators were having the daylights scared out of them by supernatural means. They had filmed the original Count Dracula movie in that area and we wondered if the area had a reputation for being haunted.

Anyway he and his companion were working very hard and were having success and wanted me to speak on an important day where there would be a lot of investigators. Basically, he wanted me to inspire them with a good speech. He also wanted us to bring over some members from Scarborough as the branch there was very small and needed support.

When we called for volunteers, of course the two Sylvias wanted to come. I warned them that this was an important meeting to Elder Whitby and they needed to behave themselves. Of course they agreed.

After we got there everything seemed to be going as planned. More local people than normal came out and with the group we brought Elder Whitby finally had a regular looking congregation.

Then I got up to speak. I was only a few minutes into it when Sylvia had the mother of all asthma attacks that made the last one look mild. The congregation was startled to say the least and must have thought she had either suffered a stroke or was possessed by a demon.

The available missionaries ran to her aid, and grabbed her to carry her outside while I explained to the audience that she was having an asthma attack and this type of thing happens sometimes. As she was being carried out by the missionaries I got the feeling that this was a fake attack, again to draw attention – especially since it occurred again during my speech.

Once outside she recovered very quickly and I gave her a piece of my mind for faking the attack and ruining the meeting. This made her angry and she took off in a huff toward the center of town. Since she was depending on us for a ride home I felt obligated to run after her. It took about 20 minutes to calm her down and get her to return, and by that time most of the meeting time had passed.

I apologized profusely to Elder Whitby and he took it well and said he would make the best of things.

A few days later the younger Sylvia approached me with a prescription bottle and told me that her doctor had given her a new prescription that should solve the attacks she had been having. She explained that the new prescription was very powerful, about ten times more so than her last and she was only supposed to take one pill a day. She said something to the effect that several of these pills taken at one time could kill a person.

I took a mental note hoping the new pills would solve her problem.

Then a few days later a bunch of members threw a major birthday party. I can’t remember whose birthday it was but we had it at Bob and Betty’s place and had over a dozen members, including the Sylvias, and a half dozen missionaries, including Elder Whitby attended.

We were all having a good time. The group was making the cake and food from scratch and most were busy with various preparations.

For some reason I wondered into an adjoining room where I found myself alone and then suddenly crossing my path I saw Sylvia the younger. She stopped, looked me in the eye, and showed me her clenched fist. She opened it up and in her palm was a couple dozen pills that looked just like those super powerful ones she showed me the other day. She then threw the whole batch of them in her mouth and started to run away.

I was alarmed and instantly figured that if she indeed swallowed a couple dozen of those pills that she could die. I had to stop her before she swallowed them. Immediately I tackled her and brought her to the floor. She resisted with all her strength, which was quite a lot for a girl. As I was wrestling her to the floor the group heard the commotion and gathered round. Several members gasped out my name in disbelief, “Elder Dewey,” they said. They thought I was breaking mission rules and just horsing around with this young blond girl.

I spoke out, “she swallowed some pills and could kill herself. Help me get them out. Elder Whitby, who had played football and was quite strong tried to pry her mouth open while I held her still but we discovered that prying open an unwilling jaw was almost an impossible feat.

Finally I had a bright idea. “Hold her nose,” I said, “then she’ll have to open her mouth to breath.”

She held her breath as long as she could and finally she opened her mouth and we were able to get the unswallowed pills out.

Then one of the bystanders was brave enough to taste one of the pills and declared that it was just aspirin.

Then I reflected on her showing me the powerful pills in advance and staging a fake suicide attempt and saw how she had cleverly planned the whole thing, just to get my attention. I had to admit that she did get my attention, but not in a good way.

Unfortunately, she was not done.

.

Chapter Thirty-Two
Strange Occurrences

I wondered what could happen next with the Silvias, Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

One evening, just as my companion and I were retiring to bed I received a terrible feeling. I had the strong impression that we needed to find the two Silvias. I didn’t know what the problem was but knew something was wrong. As I laid on my bed I turned toward my companion’s bed and it looked like he had gone to sleep. If I were to wake him now and tell him we had to go find the Silvia’s surely he would think I had a screw loose.

I decided that whatever the problem was it could wait till the morning.

I had a very restless sleep that night and when morning arrived I was anxious to find the Silvias and see what they were up to. They lived only about a block or two apart from each other and often hung out together during the day as well as the evening.

We went to the older Silvia’s place and found them both there. As they opened the door and invited us in the first words from them was, “Well, Elder Dewey, did you get one of your funny feelings last night?”

I replied, “As a matter of fact I did. What have you guys done?”

One of them replied in disbelief, “If you really received something then you would have come and stopped us.”

“Stopped you from what? What did you do last night?”

They started crying and one of them spoke, “Last night we did something terrible, something that we may never be forgiven for.”

“And what was that?”

“We burned a Book of Mormon,” one of them said.

“That’s a very odd thing to do,” I said, “but it is not unforgiveable. Did you do anything else?’

“We also burned the Bible, several pages anyway.”

“So, what possessed you to do such a thing?” I asked.

One of them replied, “It all started out with having some good innocent fun. We were playing music and started dancing to it. Then we got out some alcohol and started drinking. We were drinking and dancing and really started getting kind of wild. Then we noticed a Book of Mormon and the Bible laying on a table and we took them and put them on the floor and started dancing around them.

“Next we got the crazy idea to start them on fire and dance around the fire. First we burned the Book of Mormon and then part of the Bible. Before the Bible was gone it dawned on us what a crazy thing we were doing. We thought we may have done something for which we can never be forgiven.”

I tried to explain to them that there were many worse things they could do but that they should obey the rules of the church and not drink. Then they should maintain enough composure to not do anything like that again.

As we left I kicked myself for not responding to the strong impression I had the night before. I just imagined how they would have felt if we had knocked on their door around midnight just as they were burning the scriptures.

At that moment I made a commitment to God that the next time I received an impression like that I would respond no matter how inconvenient. Little did I know that my commitment would soon be put to the test.

After a period of time in working together my companion seemed to gain a lot of faith in the impressions I regularly was picking up. I would tell him of difficulty an investigator was having and it turned out to be true. Sometimes he believed in what I received more than I did.

Here’s an example: We had started teaching Sylvia the younger’s mom. She was a pleasant person and didn’t give us any difficulty. The most difficult hurdle to baptism was the Word of Wisdom. Each prospect must commit to give up smoking, drinking, tea and coffee. She smoked so we committed her to quit and she agreed and seemed to be kicking the habit. Then one afternoon I had a strange feeling and said to my companion, “I have the taste of cigarettes in my mouth. I think Sylvia’s mom is smoking one right now.”

He looked at his watch and said, “It’s a quarter after three. When we see her tomorrow I’m going to ask her if she had a cigarette at exactly this time.”

I told him that maybe he shouldn’t as we’d look silly if I got this wrong. This wasn’t as strong as the impression I had about the burning of the scriptures so I thought it could have been my imagination. Even so, he was not deterred as he was starting to have faith in anything I said. I figured I better be careful what tell him casually.

The next day we met with the mother to teach her another lesson. Just as we sat down, ready to begin my companion looked her straight in the eye and asked with great authority in his voice, “Did you have a cigarette at a quarter after three yesterday?”

Her face turned white. She had only one cigarette since we had seen her last and, yes, it was about a quarter after three to her best recollection.

“How did you know?” she gasped.

My companion looked at me and smiled, “We have our ways.” Then I think he told her something to the effect that God is aware of everything.

It looked like she was on the road to baptism until a very strange occurrence happened a day or two after the Sylvias burned the scriptures. In fact, after this happened a number of strange occurrences happened.

We went to see how Sylvia’s mom was doing and she refused to see us so we spoke to Sylvia to find out what the problem was. Then she looked at me and asked, “Were you in my Mom’s room last night?”

“No,” I answered. “I am with my companion 24 hours a day and he can vouch for this. Why would you think I was in your room?”

“Here’s what she told me,” Sylvia explained. “She had just laid down to go to sleep when she heard something and looked up and saw you standing over her. You then took a pillow and started to suffocate her. Just as she felt she was a goner you released the pillow and disappeared. What she can’t figure out is how you got in the house for all the doors and windows were locked.”

“It certainly was not me,” I said, somewhat concerned. My companion then vouched that I had not been out of his sight and we were not even in the area at the time.

Then I told her that this sounded like a supernatural being as he was able to enter and exit through locked doors and windows and somehow assume my shape. That idea was disturbing.

From that time on Sylvia’s mom was deathly afraid of me and refused to see us again.

But then it seemed that this dark entity had his eye on Sylvia next.
Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 33 & 34

This entry is part 17 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Thirty-Three Keeping a Promise

It was a few days later that we saw the younger Sylvia again. This time the plot thickened for she told us of an encounter she had apparently with this same being that attacked her mother. She said this person appeared next to her bed. He had a gold amulet around his neck and he offered it to her saying that taking it was a sign that she belonged to him. She was afraid and refused to take it and he disappeared. She asked us what it meant. I considered this may be just another ploy to get my attention, but I knew for sure that her mom was scared by some unknown entity so it seemed logical that the daughter could have an experience with this same being – especially after burning the scriptures. Also, this seemed to be beyond her imagination to just make up. I told her that if she really saw this being that he would probably be the same one who tried to strangle her mom and if he appeared again to not take the amulet. Over the next couple days he appeared several more times, again offering the amulet and giving her enticing words that this would be some key to great power. After about the third time she acted like she was thinking of taking the thing. Finally he told her to meet him at a certain stream near a hawthorn tree at the stroke of midnight and he would give it to her. She said she didn’t go but claimed he gave her another offer similar to this. The next time we visited with her she was extremely troubled. I didn’t know if everything she was telling us was the truth but I did definitely sense she was troubled by a supernatural force. We attempted to counsel her and she got up and ran outside. I ran after her and caught up with her and she turned around and let out a blood curdling scream. Then she ran away again. Again, I ran after her and when I caught her this time she looked at my face and calmed down a bit. I asked her what terrified her so. She said that when she looked at my face it turned into the being’s face who appeared to her. It terrified her and she ran. She said that now my face had returned to normal. This time I didn’t think she was making things up as she did indeed appear terrified beyond one’s ability to act off the cuff. For a few days things seemed to return to normal. Then one night after we had retired and settled into a deep sleep I was suddenly awakened by a powerful negative feeling. I rose up in my bed wondering what it could be when I realized that my mouth had an overwhelming taste of aspirin. It was so strong it felt like my tongue and most of my mouth was made of the stuff. I looked at my watch and saw that it was three in the morning. What a time to get a message I thought. Surely whatever it is can wait a mere couple hours. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. The feeling just became stronger and the taste even more powerful. I had the feeling that someone was thinking of committing suicide by taking an overdose of aspirin. But at 3 AM? What kind of ungodly hour is that for someone to be planning such a thing? Surely I didn’t have to attend to this now I thought and again tried to go back to sleep. This time the feeling became even more intense and the impression came: “This is what you did last time. Remember your promise.” When this thought came into my head I could no longer think of sleep. The last time I ignored the Spirit I regretted it and vowed I would respond the next time no matter how awkward. Can you get any more awkward than 3 AM I thought? If this was some kind of test the timing was surely right for several reasons. First, I was tired and did not feel like getting up. Secondly, even though my companion was supportive, he would probably think I was crazy for wanting to respond in the middle of the night. Thirdly, anyone behind any door we knock on at this hour would think we are out of our minds. I turned and looked at my companion. He appeared to be sound asleep in his bed. I really didn’t want to wake him up, but a promise is a promise and I nudged him awake and explained the feeling I had. I was surprised how accepting he was. He was willing to check things out. We got dressed as quickly as we could and soon we were ready to go. Then my companion asked me where we were going. Who could be the source of the problem? I told him my impression was that it was the older Sylvia, but was not 100% sure. All I was sure of was that someone was having a major problem. We headed off and got to her place a little before 4 AM. We stopped the van and looked at her house. If there was a problem you would think someone would be up and a light would be on, but it looked dark with no sign of life. We looked at the dark house and then at each other and concluded that we ought to check out other possibilities until we find someone who is up and around. If someone is thinking of committing suicide then you would think they would be up. We started to drive away, but as we did I felt a strong pull drawing us back. I began to feel with certainty that we needed to knock on that door. As we approached the door we checked the windows for any life of life and couldn’t see any. On top of that Sylvia’s husband was not a member of the church and wasn’t that friendly toward us. What would he think? Maybe he would call the cops at this hour. After just standing there for a couple minutes I finally knocked on the door. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. After pounding on it a couple times, finally a light came on and Sylvia answered the door and looked at us with nervous bewilderment. From upstairs we heard her husband shout, “Sylvia. What’s going on down there?” She shouted back, “Nothing, honey. Go back to sleep.” I then told her that it was important that we talk to her and asked if we could come in. She invited us in and we sat around a coffee table. I didn’t know quite how to word my question so I just blurted it out, “Sylvia, I received a message this morning that you were thinking of committing suicide by taking an overdose of aspirin and we have come here to stop you. She looked at me with a blank stare. Then I said: “Have you been thinking of committing suicide?” Then she laughed at me and said, “Of course not. Everything is fine. What in the world made you think that?” I felt kind of foolish as I blurted out, “I just had a feeling about you.” “Well, tell that feeling to go away. I know from some things you have taught me that you think you can get messages about things, but let me tell you, this time you are 100 per cent wrong. I’m fine, my husband is fine, everything is fine. Now you’d better go before he wakes back up.” As we left her place I considered that it seemed that I had made a fool of myself, but at least I kept my promise and we started to head back home. Then the inner voice came again, “You are not done, the there is still danger and you must find the person with the problem.” I thought that perhaps I was wrong about Sylvia. Maybe it was someone else. I reflected over a list of friends who may have been the problem and went to their houses. Between about 4 AM to 6 AM we woke up about a half dozen friends and asked them if they were thinking about suicide. After they got over the shock of waking up so early most of them thought it was quite funny that we were rambling around town waking people up asking them if they were going to kill themselves. They kidded me about this “funny feeling” I had for some time afterwards. I didn’t think the problem was with the younger Sylvia but decided to check with her. I didn’t want to go too early since it may really alarm her mother. We went there around 9 AM and she maintained that everything was fine. We went back to the digs and rested for a short while but the Spirit within me told me the job was not yet done. So we took off again and spent most of the day visiting every friend I could think of asking them questions trying to discover if there may be a problem, but could find none. Finally in the late afternoon we had exhausted all of the possibilities, but the powerful feeling persisted telling me that I had not discovered the problem. Finally I withdrew into myself and reflected trying to discern who the real suicidal person was. As I reflected I had the feeling that I was right the first time. The person was the older Sylvia. About 4 PM (around 12 hours from the first visit) we returned and knocked on her door again. She answered and was there alone while her husband was at work. She invited us in and we sat down again. After some small talk I told her again that I suspected that she was not telling us the truth and was thinking about suicide and pleaded with her to come clean with us. She said: “You may get some inspiration from time to time, but this time you are wrong. Everything is fine. How many times do I have to tell you that your feeling is wrong?” I looked into her eyes and they seemed to be so honest, so sincere, so truthful. How could I be so silly as to think she is telling me such a bold face lie? Maybe, just maybe I was wrong this time. Maybe I was just lucky in times past that the inner voice was right.” We started to get up to head for the door when the Spirit rested upon me and somehow I finally knew for sure that Sylvia was lying to me. We sat back down and I looked Sylvia in the eyes and said these words: “Sylvia, the Spirit of God is resting upon me and telling me that you are not telling the truth. There is a major problem and you must tell me about it now. Why were you thinking of killing yourself?” I couldn’t believe I was saying those words. What if she laughed at me again? But she didn’t laugh. This time her countenance changed in an instant and she put her face in her hands and wept with great emotion. She cried out, “You are right. Last night I did something terrible. I committed adultery and when I came home late at night I was thinking of committing suicide and the only way I could think of doing it was to take a bottle of aspirin I had. Then I went to bed still thinking about it when I heard a knock on the door and it was you. I immediately thought to myself that somehow you knew my intentions, but did my best to deceive you, but you wouldn’t leave me alone would you?”

. “It’s God who won’t leave you alone,” I said. Well you certainly distracted me so I didn’t take the aspirin, but I’ve still been very depressed. Immediately, I felt the burden lifted. I sensed that this was a sign to her that God cared and that she wasn’t going to make a suicide attempt. We gave her our best counseling on handing the problem and left. From this time to the time I left Scarborough things kind of settled down with the two Sylvias. When I returned about five years later to Scarborough to visit Bob and Betty I was able to visit with the younger Sylvia. To my surprise she was still in the church and was leading a fairly stable life. I asked about the other Sylvia and she told me she had many problems and was currently in a mental hospital. Then I thought back to my strong impression that the older Sylvia was not ready to get baptized and change her life and that I wondered why I didn’t get a similar impression on the younger Sylvia who seemed even more unstable. Now the answer seemed clear. As I was ready to leave her I thought back to all her strange efforts to get close to me or to kiss me and decided that since I was no longer under mission rules that I should fulfill her fantasy. I grabbed her and gave her a big kiss and then left. Hopefully, it gave her the thrill she had dreamed of for so long. . .

Chapter-Thirty-Four The Fiery Finisher

I was nearing the end of my mission and was thinking about tackling one final challenge. I thought back to the days in Peterlee when I was able to do missionary work the way I thought best and had achieved satisfying success. There were two things in the way in Scarborough. The first was that I was a district leader and had to tend to other duties besides regular proselyting. The second was that even though Peterlee had a reputation as being a difficult town, Scarborough was more difficult still. The main reason was because it was a resort town that drew people of retirement age and older people are rarely looking for change. I had a couple months left and had been in Scarborough almost eight months whereas the average stay in an area may be around three months. I knew I was due for a transfer soon. If I were promoted I would become a zone leader. A missionary in this position works with other elders full time and doesn’t have a territory of his own. Many missionaries aspired to this position, as it was prestigious, and allowed them a lot of freedom to travel, work with many Elders and escape some of the pressures of regular missionary work I was one of the few who did not aspire to higher leadership. It wasn’t because I wouldn’t enjoy it but I thought the highest good I could accomplish would be to bring the largest number of people possible into the church. The best way to do this was just to be a regular missionary with no responsibilities except to teach. The problem was that I was a district leader and any assignment to be a regular missionary was considered a demotion. Consequently, such a change only happened to a royal screw up. However, I saw a ray a hope that I could become a regular missionary again without having to convince President Payne that I was a terrible leader. The mission had recently created a new position that they called “The Fiery Finisher.” They were selecting missionaries in leadership positions, releasing them from that position and making them regular missionaries for the last couple months of their missions. The stated purpose for this was so leaders could use all their skills to get back to the basics and work at bringing souls to the Lord. The mission home didn’t fool us Elders though. There wasn’t a missionary that didn’t clearly understand what the fiery finisher program was about. For years the Mission Home realized it had problems with certain leaders but once a leader was in position it was devastating to let him go for it meant he was a screw up and President Payne didn’t want to send that message. Instead the staff figured they would create a position that sounded like a move up, but was really a move down. When we got the first list of fiery finishers in the mission newsletter our suspicions were confirmed. Those selected for the position were indeed the slackers, sent to areas where they could do little damage. Then when I read the work statistics of the fiery finishers they were low indeed. Most of them were just relaxing, biding their time until they went hone. No leader wanted to be a fiery finisher… Except me. This was just exactly what I wanted and my time was running out. If I was to accomplish anything as a fiery finisher then I had to act. I wrote President Payne a letter telling him that I liked the fiery finisher program and wanted to be one. I could just visualize him reading my letter and almost falling off his chair. I was positive that no one besides me had ever actually requested the position, as every day mission leaders who were demoted to it were looked upon almost with pity. It was as if they were branded with a scarlet letter. Anyway a couple weeks passed and I began to wonder if they were just going to leave me in Scarborough for the rest of my mission. Then I received a letter in the mail. I hastily opened it and it stated that I had been selected to be a fiery finisher and was to be transferred to the city of Scunthorpe. I was thrilled. At last I was given one final opportunity to dedicate myself to do the work and since I was to be a senior I could do it my way. The only problem was I had a mere six weeks left on my mission and it took 6-8 weeks to get a person ready for baptism. Even so, I was happy to see what I could accomplish one last time. As I left I learned that my companion had been promoted to a senior and was going to stay on at Scarborough. He deserved it and I was glad for him. When I arrived at Scunthorpe I discovered that before my arrival, there had only been one set of two missionaries working the town. Now the mission home decided to have two sets. The previous missionaries had been transferred and a couple days before I arrived the first new set of Elders had already settled in. These two were led by the new district leader named Elder Paxton. On arriving I met elder Paxton who instantly struck me as the type of guy the mission would pick for leadership. He was enthusiastic, emotional and energetic. As he was showing me to my new digs he gave me word of advice. “As you know your new companion will be Elder Hobbs. You know about Elder Hobbs, don’t you?” “I’ve met him a couple times. Seems like a likeable fellow,” I said. “Don’t be fooled,” he said. “I worked with him as his senior for a couple months and the guy has to be the most difficult elder in the mission.” “What’s the problem?” I asked. “What isn’t the problem?” he replied. “First the guy sleeps in every morning. I had to wake him a half dozen times and then finally had to forcibly pull him out of bed every morning. Then when it was time to go he wouldn’t be ready and had to threaten him to get him out doing the work.” He looked exasperated and continued, “Then when we were in the field he was useless as he never did learn his lessons and I had to do all the talking and teaching. He was like having a dead weight to haul around. He was always holding me back. I’m warning you that you are going to have a major problem on your hands.” “Does Hobbs believe in God?” I asked. “Yes, I suppose so,” said Elder Paxton a little puzzled. “I’ve met Elder Hobbs and he seems like a nice guy and if he believes in God I think I can work with him.” “Okay,” he said suspiciously. “By the way,” I said, “where are our share of the leads left by the previous missionaries?” “We got here first so we took them,” said Paxton. “We’ve already gone through them all, sorted them and decided how we are going to work them.” “So you’re telling me with only six weeks to go that Hobbs and I will have to start with nothing?” “Sorry, we were here first, I am your district leader, and that’s the way it has to be,” he said. No wonder Hobbs didn’t feel like doing the work with this guy, I thought as I settled down in my new digs and waited for my new companion to arrive. Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Mission Experiences, Chapters 35 & 36

This entry is part 18 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Thirty-Five
A Visit with Elder Hobbs

After Elder Hobbs arrived we sat down and visited. I had met him several times previously so he wasn’t a total stranger. My impression was that he was a nice guy, but after Elder Paxton’s warning I was curious to find out more about him.

“I understand you worked with Elder Paxton,” I said.

Elder Hobbs rolled his eyes and cursed under his breath, “You could say that.”

“Are you aware that he is our District Leader?”

“That’s what I heard,” he replied. “Fortunately, we should be able to avoid him most of the time.”

“You know, he didn’t have very good things to say about you.”

“I’m not surprised. I don’t have very good things to say about him either.”

“So far I am not impressed either,” I said. “He arrived here a few days before us and confiscated all the leads left by the previous missionaries so we have to start with nothing. He even took the leads belonging to our side of town.”

“That sounds exactly like something he would so,” he said. “So what did he say about me?”

“A number of things,” I replied. “He said that you were not that great about following mission rules. For instance, he said you would not arise at 6 AM and he had to drag you out of bed each morning. Is that true?”

“Basically,” he said. “I just seem to require more sleep than most people and it is very difficult for me to rise at six. But that didn’t justify the way that Elder Paxton manhandled me. He didn’t just tap me on the shoulder or give me a gentle tug but grabbed me and pulled me out of bed on to the floor.”

“Doesn’t sound very tactful, all right,” I acknowledged. “He also said you never learned your lessons.”

“I’ve had two problems in learning the lessons,” he said. “The first is that I’m not that good at memorizing and the second is that this missionary work is not what I expected and my heart isn’t in it. But again, that didn’t justify what Elder Paxton did to me.”

“What did he do?”

“He kept assigning me a lesson to study and if I did not learn it to his specifications he would punish me.

“Punish you… How?”

He’d come up with all kinds of things from denying me meals, making me study extra hours, do extra tracting and so on. When none of these things worked he gave me an ultimatum, telling me he was really going to let me have it if I didn’t learn a certain lesson.”

“So did you learn it?”

“Afraid not,” he said. “Then Elder Paxton got really angry and put me in the van and drove me out to the Moors (English version of a desert). It was an extremely cold night and he ordered me to study and learn the lesson or freeze. Well, I was freezing all right and there was no way I was going to learn the lesson. We stayed there most of the night and I never felt so near to death in my life.”

“How about Paxton?” I asked. “Wasn’t he cold too?”

“Probably,” said Elder Hobbs, “but I don’t think the guy is human. I think he could stay out in the Moors three days and nights in his underwear and not feel a thing.

“So what happened?”

“I wound up getting pneumonia and had to go into the mission home to recover. It was worth it though to get away from Elder Paxton.”

“Well, you’re not completely away from him. He’s our District Leader now, so technically he’s our boss,” I said.

“I can handle that since I won’t be his companion, but on the days he wants to work with us, you’d be doing me a great favor if you work with him and I’ll take his companion.”

“No problem,” I said as wheels were turning in my brain. “Say, how’d you like to get revenge on Elder Paxton?”

“Revenge? Sounds interesting but not likely to happen.”

“But we can make it happen,” I insisted.

“Okay,” he said, “you got my attention. What do you have in mind?”

“Have you heard the statement that success is the greatest revenge?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Well picture the look on Paxton’s face and how he would feel if you succeeded here with three or four times the results that he can achieve. He thinks you’re the worst elder in the mission and he is the best. Imagine him being not only beaten but overwhelmed by the likes of you in the same town he is working. That would be pretty devastating for him would it not?”

Elder Hobb’s eyes lit up. “It would indeed,” he said. “But Elder Paxton is a tireless worker and would be hard to beat. Even if we gave it our best shot I don’t know if we could even keep up.”

“Believe me,” I said. “We can leave him in the dust.” I then explained the success I had in Peterlee and that we could have even greater success here because this seemed to be a better town for prospecting.

“If you really think we can beat the dickens out of him then I suppose I could give it a try, but as you know I’m not very good at giving the lessons.”

“That’s all right,” I said. “I’ll give the majority of the lessons and you can participate as you feel comfortable.”

“I’m also not good a rising at six in the morning.”

“So, how late would you like to sleep?” I asked.

“To be honest, I really need to sleep until about 8 AM to function well.”

“8 AM it is then,” I said. “Can you give me your word you will be up by eight and ready to go at nine?

His face came alive with surprise, “I haven’t been able to sleep in undisturbed since I arrived on this mission. That would be great. Yes, if you let me sleep in, you have my word on the rest.”

“It’s a deal then,” I said, shaking his hand. “We’re going to teach Paxton a lesson he will not forget.”

“But have you forgotten that he has taken for himself all the people that were being taught by the last missionaries? That gives him a tremendous starting advantage.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Besides, it will just make it all the more humiliating for him when the worst elder in the mission out performs him and wipes that smile off his face.”

My words put a smile on the face of Elder Hobbs and as I saw a feeling of hope surface in him I hoped within myself that I would not let him down. Most of all, I didn’t want to let myself down as I contemplated my last six weeks of missionary work.
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Chapter Thirty-Six
A Fiery Finish

Elder Hobbs kept his word and was always ready to go by 9 AM and turned out to be one of the best elders I had worked with. Even though he didn’t know the lessons well he was always willing to add some helpful comments and could give a good presentation in tracting. The best part was that we liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company. True he was a natural born slacker but most of my good friends back home were slackers too and I had done my share of slacking in my life myself.

Elder Hobbs and I got to work the next day, which was Friday and by Sunday we had already taught a few lessons and had an investigator attend church with us. Elder Paxton and his companion had no investigator. As we sat in church with an investigator and Paxton had none I could feel a sense of satisfaction coming from Hobbs.

The next week we taught around ten lessons, the next 15 and the next 20, which was a mission record. From that time on we taught around 20 lessons a week. These were not baseball type meetings that some have counted for lessons but full fledged lessons taking an average of about two hours each, sometimes lasting three hours. By the time we reached the record twenty lesson mark we had far surpassed the number of investigators Elder Paxton had even with the advantage of taking all the leads. Not only that but Paxton and his companion were only teaching around four lessons a week compared to our twenty. That had to be humiliating for him.

Elder Hobbs was thrilled that he was having the first real success of his mission and knowing he had contributed. After we had reached the twenty lesson milestone we had a regularly scheduled district meeting with Elder Paxton presiding.

As we walked intro the room Elder Paxton approached Elder Hobbs and exclaimed for all to hear: “What’s going on with you? I can’t believe you and Elder Dewey taught twenty lessons in one week! No one working with the Elder Hobbs I know could teach twenty lessons let alone ten. Are you sure this report is correct?”

“It’s correct all right,” said Elder Hobbs. “We’re just working hard and getting the job done.”

“But you never worked hard with me. I had to drag you to work kicking and screaming. Tell me. What’s the difference between then and now? Why are you working so hard now with Elder Dewey when you dragged your feet with me?”

Elder Hobbs smiled and said, “It’s fun working with Elder Dewey.”

This statement was followed by a short silence as Paxton registered internally the impact and meaning of it. It was at this moment that I knew that Elder Hobbs had achieved his revenge. Elder Paxton had to be asking himself why Elder Hobbs was making record-breaking achievements with me whereas they had virtually no results when Hobbs was with him. A large part of the difference was the way Hobbs was treated.

Whether any real truth dawned upon Paxton, we knew not, but we did know that he was forced to do a lot of reflecting and his pride was strongly wounded as he watched his old slacker companion out perform him with over four times the results working in the same city.

Elder Hobbs was thrilled that he was able to teach his old taskmaster a lesson and continued to work hard with me until the sixth week. Near that time we reviewed the mission newsletter, which had some mission statistics, and we were tickled that they had a section on fiery finishers. There were about six of us and we noted that none of the others had taught more than two lessons a week compared to our twenty. It was funny irony and obvious that the real slackers were these fiery finishers just doing minimal work while waiting to go home. On the other hand, my slacker companion, Elder Hobbs, who Paxton saw of the laziest guy in the whole mission, was working hard breaking records. This was a satisfying moment for both of us.

As I said earlier it takes around two months to properly get a prospect ready for baptism. I was hoping to baptize a few by the end of the six weeks but the best prospects were a couple weeks away from joining the church. At the end of my stay in Scunthorpe we had about forty serious investigators and it looked like we could have baptized a lot more than we did in Peterlee if I could have stayed longer.

I hated to leave so many people so near to joining the church, but I had done my best and it was time to go.

Meanwhile Elder Hobbs received a new assignment. He was to stay in Scunthorpe and be a senior companion to a new elder arriving from the States. Breaking in a new elder is a privilege all involved missionaries desire and one that I never had the opportunity to do. For some reason, the mission home thought it wisdom to send me problem elders to work with.

I had mixed feelings about Elder Hobbs’ promotion. Obviously the mission home thought he had turned over a new leaf and deserved to be made a senior, but the trouble was he still didn’t know his lessons and on his own he was likely to revert back to some of his old habits. I was concerned about what would happen to the forty souls that we had slated for baptism.

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Well, it was out of my hands now so I wished Elder Hobbs well and headed for home. As I boarded the plane to fly to the states I received a nice little bonus, almost as if God was giving me a pat on the back. The airlines had made a mistake with my ticket and had me assigned to first class. First class on an overseas flight in the Sixties was pretty cushy and we even had a lounge where we could take in a nice view. Then too, the food was fabulous. I ordered “pheasant under glass” as it was called on the menu. Unfortunately, I didn’t drink in those days so I couldn’t take advantage of that perk.

I visited with the Corrigan family in Winnipeg, Canada on the way home, as I related earlier, and then made my first stop in the States in two years at the Chicago airport. As I was waiting to change planes I eagerly ordered my first American hamburger after a two-year wait. It wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered them tasting but part of the problem was the low quality airport food. The funny thing was after I got home I had a yearning for English fish and chips, similar to my yearning for an American hamburger when I was in England. Even as I write this my mouth waters as I think back to some of the best fish and chips I ate over there. The best ones were usually from small stands located near the sea.

I finally arrived in Boise and was to be greeted by my mother and my younger sister, Sandy. As I prepared to exit the plane I knew there was one important thing I needed to do before they laid eyes on me for the first time in two years. I reached into my onboard luggage and retrieved a certain object and placed it on my head. I then walked out of the plane headed toward them wearing… you guessed it – a Beatle wig!

My younger sister about passed out, but after a couple hugs they soon discovered the real me under the wig.

In those days when a missionary returned home the local ward gave him most of the evening service to relate his mission experiences. When my turn came I knew I had to speak to two audiences.

First, I had to share spiritual uplifting experiences to the standard believing adults and, secondly, I had to let the younger crowd know that “they didn’t get me.”

What’s that about, you ask? Let me explain.

When attending church as a teenager in the big city of Letha, Idaho where I made up about two percent of the urban population we used to watch the missionaries leave and then listen to them when they returned. When a good portion of them gave their return address we noted they seemed to turn into what we thought of as spiritual idiots. They didn’t seem to talk normal anymore but had a glassy-eyed look, a freakish ubiquitous smile on their face and babbled nonsense in a spiritual twang – at least to us anyway. Then there were others returning who still sounded like they normal human beings, similar to the way they were when they left.

If a returned missionary turned out to be in the first category we declared that, “They got him.” When we went to listen to a returned missionary give his homecoming speech the question on our minds was always, “Did they get him?”

So when I got up to give my homecoming speech I knew the teenagers who had known me before I left were very curious. They were all wondering, “Did they get him?”

As I got up to give my homecoming I reflected back two years ago when I was at the same podium giving my farewell speech before I left to England. I remembered that as I started to speak that members of the congregation started getting up and leaving. By the time I was done about a third of the congregation had disappeared. Was it something I said, I wondered?

What happened was a good friend of mine was on the way to the meeting when he met with a horrific accident that almost killed him. Word spread through the congregation and many left to go to the hospital and check on him. I was glad to discover they weren’t leaving because of me but sad about the accident.

However, upon arriving home I found my friend completely healed and that his dad sued the state over improper signage and won enough money to buy a new farm.

I was glad to see that this time around that no one was getting up and leaving. They all seemed pretty riveted with all the mission stories I told. Through it all I thought I came across fairly normal in presentation but just to make sure I didn’t lose the young guys I ended with a couple of spiritually incorrect jokes.

That seemed to do the trick as several of them came to me afterwards and told me how much they enjoyed the jokes and that they couldn’t believe I told them.

For about six months after the mission is over the mission home sends the ex-missionaries a copy of the newsletter. One thing I noted that I found curious was that Elder Paxton was promoted to be the assistant to the mission president. This was the highest leadership position that a missionary can achieve. I wasn’t surprised as Paxton did come across a little like Tony Robbins, but I thought it was too bad that so many only see the surface of people and not all of what is underneath.

And that my friends is the story of two years out of my life. I have just one thing to add. One of my favorite all time songs was the one we adopted as our mission song. Every time the North British missionaries got together for a meeting we sang it and the spirit was so sweet that some were brought to tears.

I wish had a recording of a group of missionaries singing this song as it seemed to be made to be sung by a group of young men. For the next best thing you can listen to a couple versions of it on the internet.

First, here are the words to the song, Jerusalem written by William Blake

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JERUSALEM
And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land

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Here are two renderings of the song well worth the listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIo7mzjmsik&feature=related

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Beneath this poem Blake inscribed an excerpt from the Bible: ‘“Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets” From Numbers 11:29

Here are some comments from William Barclay’s commentary on the book of Matthew where he mentions this song:

But there is a lesser-known legend, commemorated in one of the most famous hymns and poems in the English language. It is a legend which is still current in Somerset. Joseph, so the legend runs, was a tin merchant, and came, long before he was sent by Philip, on quite frequent visits to the tin mines of Cornwall. The town of Marazion in Cornwall has another name. It is sometimes called Market Jew, and is said to have been the centre of a colony of Jews who traded in tin. The legend goes still further. Joseph of Arimathaea, it says, was the uncle of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Can it possibly be that he did actually exercise a relative’s right to claim the body of Jesus under Roman law?) And, it is said, he brought the young boy Jesus with him on one of his voyages to Cornwall. That is what William Blake was thinking of when he wrote his famous poem:

“ And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the Holy Lamb of God

In England’s pleasant pastures seen? And did the Countenance Divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here,

Among those dark Satanic mills? “

The dark Satanic mills were the tin mines of Cornwall. It is a lovely legend which we would like to be true, for there would be a thrill in the thought that the feet of the boy Jesus once touched English earth.

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey