1. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as LDS or Mormons. We send out young men and women for 18 months to two years to proselytize, preach the gospel, and baptize. They put aside their regular lives for these missions and far from being compsensated for their efforts, they rather pay for the privilege to serve. To help them out financially (and also to get to know them) church members are encouraged to feed the missionaries meals at least once daily. That meal is generally dinner.
2. I have four children, three girls and a boy, whom I refer to on this blog in birth order as #s 1-4. They are aged 14, 12, 9, and 7. Numbers 3 and 4 are just under 23 months apart. They have a love-hate relationship. If we're keeping score, hate is usually ahead.
Now to my story. A few months back, a new elder (missionary) was transferred into our ward and announced to the congregation. His last name grabbed my attention, being my uncommon maiden name. I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "If he's from San Diego, we're cousins of some sort." He was indeed from San Diego, and we are second cousins--our grandfathers being brothers. I introduced myself to him after sacrament meeting and suggested we'd have to have him to dinner.
The dinner calendar in our ward is in high demand. In Western Mass, where I grew up, we had two sets of missionaries assigned full time to our ward because of the geographical size. In Southern California we usually had one. Here in the Boise area we have 5 wards sharing a set. The end of each month a calendar with 8 available dates is passed around Relief Society, and it's often filled after it has passed through 8 pairs of hands. So I approached the woman who manages the calendar directly and asked to be put on for February. Last night they came.
It was great to get to know Elder K. a little. There wasn't much to catch up on. The only person he had contact with in my family line was my grandfather. And I did not grow up in San Diego anyway, and really had very little interaction with my own first cousins. He was surprised my granddad wasn't a baseball fanatic like his. I can't picture mine with sports equipment. My uncles liked basketball. And out-jumping each other. Out-anythinging each other. We did find that harassment is apparently a family trait that crosses over through all of us.
At the end of the meal, Elder K. asked us if they could leave us with a short message. This is standard. And truly, I enjoy the spirit that the missionaries bring with them into our home, and usually this is part of that. Usually.
We adjourned to the family room where Elder K. asked if we had something to blindfold one of the kids with. A bandana was produced and tied around #3s eyes. He had her feel our family Book of Mormon and #4 set it somewhere out of the way. He spun #3 around several times and then instructed everyone to make tons of noise, except me. I was to be quietly giving #3 directions to find the book. I'm sure we all see where he was going with this. It was a good object lesson. Or it was until #4 ran and slammed into his blindfolded sister, tackling her to the floor. He thought that would be a more effective distraction than the yelling in her face that he was previously engaged in. He was right. But no one was hurt, no one even cried, and once we continued with the search, Elder S., who we'd learned earlier was #8 of 11 kids in his family, had a difficult time keeping a laugh suppressed.
Scriptures located, object lesson completed, Elder K. tried to make the message concrete by talking to the kids about listening to the Spirit and the Prophet and their parents rather than the negative influences of the world. This is the point at which #4, who had been laying exhaustedly on the floor, rolled to the side and let one rip. "Are you kidding me?," I quietly yelled. (You know that quiet mom yell. If you're a mom, you've done it.) Elder S. lost it this time, the suppressed laugh, that is. It was so embarrassing. Luckily the missionaries were in a hurry to get on to their next appointment before my son could act even more the part of the natural man, or I guess the natural boy.
It was so bad that when they left it was Larry who started the lecture about behaving with company in the house. Although, he added the caveat that it would be okay to pass gas if the visitor was Dustin (an employee and friend of Larry's) or Uncle Eric. Nice. I guess they never truly out-grow this, do they?
Brooke, Kim--be warned. #4 has permission from his father to act like a slob in your presence.
I would really like to have my cousin to dinner again before he's transferred. I assume he'll be happy to come. But I won't be surprised if he has his companion give the spiritual thought.