dressed in their Sunday best, looking kind-hearted and yet, serious. There were two of them, both male: one tall and slender, fair-skinned with short, buzzed hair about a shade darker than chestnut. He introduced himself as Elder Moss (I swear all these mormon names sound so pioneer sometimes!). The other, Elder Phinney, who was a little older, had a broad chest and shoulders that made him seem slightly short compared to the other man. He had darker skin and spiky black hair that helped portray him as the more casual of the two. He turned out be just that. Even though his partner opened the conversation, within the first minute he had responded to my easygoing conversational nature as we shot the breeze about art (he designs cars!), California weather (as it relates to Utah and Montana’s), manual labor (he was formerly a construction worker too!), and the joys of giving and serving people.
As I told them about our community house’s mission and our story, they got excited and expressed an interest in helping out (Mormon doctrine places a large amount of weight on good deeds). Elder Moss (I’ll have to ask if that’s his first or last name one day) wrote down their names on a small folded piece of paper that had little Brady Bunch boxes of people’s pictures on it with the words:
I’M A MORMON
written in all caps on the front cover, and http://www.mormon.org on the inside. He handed it to me persuaded me to call if we ever needed help, then encouraged me twice to go to the website. I genuinely thanked him and Elder Phinney as they turned and left, and told them that I’d give them a call sometime. (I wasn’t lying either!)
As I closed the door and went inside, I thought about how they’d be going to the rest of the houses on our block seeking to convert them and oddly enough, the thought didn’t bother me at all. As I had told them earlier, we know everyone on this street: they came to our block party, they come to our Bible study on Thursday nights, we’ve given them bread and they make us meals, we wave when we see each other, they use the ‘give and take box’ with us, we’ve planted in the same garden. We laugh together, give rides, and we support each other in hard times. They know exactly who we are and what we’re about, and no Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness is going to have greater influence than we are around here. These are our friends and family, our neighbors, our neighborhood. Even when other Christian churches come and do traditional evangelizing around here, it’s awkward for them because they look stereotypical and the people here are turned off by that. The Christians they know are different. It’s like we’re two different species. It reminds me of a Gandhi quote:
“Ask the poor. They will tell you who the Christians are.”