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The Funeral

March 23, 2012

Who do I think I’m kidding?  I’m not going to go back in there until this thing is over.  It’s not just the sight of that poor kid’s dead body that’s bothering me.  It’s the whole situation.  I’m 20 years old.  I can’t take the responsibility for directing a funeral.  Elder Slinker and the Sisters will have to deal with this one on their own.

Geez, I hope nobody comes by and sees me crying.  That would be the talk of the town.  “Hey, did you see the gringo whimpering down there by the plaza?  Yeah, that’s right, the short one.”  Man, this is just too much.  I mean, two weeks ago this family was doing just fine, taking care of their animals, minding their own business, and BOOM, we happen along.  “Hi!  We have a message for you from Jesus Christ.  Could we come in and tell you about it?”

I just don’t know anymore.  They seemed so golden, listening to every word, praying with us, asking if we’d come and teach them again tomorrow.  It really was starting to look like Concepción was going to have its very first convert baptisms.  I was sure the father would be the town’s first branch president before the year was out.  Just a month after opening the area we were going to have some real members.

And then this.  What could be the reason for it?  A family, opening their hearts to our message, leaving behind their Catholic beliefs and WHAM, their 10-year-old boy is run over by a transport truck.  A transport truck!  This isn’t supposed to happen.  They sure never taught us the correct procedure for explaining why an investigator’s kid dies just as said investigator is deciding to join the Church.

Oh great, here comes somebody.  No problem, just turn away as they walk by.  I can hear Slinker and the Sisters in there singing.  Isn’t that I Know That My Redeemer Lives?  What should I say to them when they finally come out?  I guess I’ll just say I’ve never been able to handle funerals.  If we hadn’t appeared on the scene the family would at least still have their Catholic beliefs to look to for strength.  As it stands we’ve convinced them to set aside their previous beliefs but they don’t know enough about the Mormons yet to fill the void.  This is too much to put on a 20-year-old, especially one who’s not sure himself about what he’s teaching.

It’s too late to back off now though.  We’ll just have to testify to them some more. We can’t just leave them in limbo after the impact we’ve had on their lives to this point.  I wish my buddy Billo were here.  He’d at least put his arm around me and say, “Knock it off, things will work out.”  He wouldn’t actually know how things would work out, but just to hear him say it would help.

I just hope the Church is true.  If it’s not, then… I mean…  Why the hell am I here?  I’m only in Concepción because the Mission President found out that I broke the rules to see that Charles Bronson race movie and he decided that office Elders had to be more of an example for the other missionaries.  So he thought that having me finish my mission as a branch president in a newly-opened area would change my ways.  Oh well, I didn’t want to finish up as a mission accountant anyway.  Yeah right, all assignments are inspired.  I guess old Elder Fail, you know the one out here in the street whimpering while his companions console a suffering family, he’s definitely the one to go up there and begin the work in Concepción.  Good move!

Am I a good missionary?  For that matter, am I even a good Mormon?  Hold up, here they come.  Alright, calm down.  Straight face.

“How are you Elder?”

“I’m ok.  Sorry I couldn’t help you out in there.”

“Don’t worry about it.  I understand.  The Sisters want us to go with them to their place.  Sister Lopez made some rice pudding.”

“Sounds good.”

Concepción, Junín, Perú – February 1985

From → Church

4 Comments
  1. Hey, man. Nice photos to go with you textual experience. I’m enjoying your thoughts. I wore a similar name badge in South London Mission, 1990-1992. Best wishes forward with you music write ups ect…

    • Thanks much and sincerely appreciated. Amazing to think about how much and in how many unexpected ways my time wearing that name badge has ended up steering my subsequent path. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. (Peru Lima South Mission, 1983-85)

  2. Et cetera, I mean. Forgive the mispell.

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