Another One Of My Many Mormon Mission Experiences In Argentina!! This Particular Time, I Could Have Died, In The Name Of Baptism Numbers!!
Well, I've shared several of my mission stories but I felt that I really needed to share this one since it could have cost me my life. When I think about it, the places we were late at night, walking home at 1 or 2 in the morning, etc, it's amazing that more Mormon Missionaries aren't harmed. We were told to stay out as long as it took to get the numbers and charlas(discussions). In Argentina, they take the siesta everyday starting from some time between 12 and 2 and going until at least 5, depending on where you are in the country. It's not the safest thing in the world for two "rich" American missionaries,as they perceived us to be, walking home at 1 in the morning in a country full of poverty.
I think about it now and man was I naive to the dangers that existed and it's obvious to me that my leaders, specifically the Mormon Mission President, didn't give a damn about my safety or any missionaries safety for that matter. As long as we got his numbers for him, I'm guessing that a Missionary losing his life would have been justified. All I can do now is be thankful that I'm alive and shake my head in disgust at how our lives were literally put at risk for baptism numbers and stats.
Anyway, we were told to make up those hours that we had lost during the siesta. In reality, we were supposed to work the siesta too and wake people up in the middle of their afternoon nap but we never did it. Nobody really did but then we felt that we needed to stay out late, as we were told to, to make up for that lost time. Anyway, this experience that I'm about to share was just another example of the pressure that we all felt, especially the Zone Leaders and what it could ultimately lead to. I'm just glad that I'm still hear to share the story.
Here's my story:
Lets see, we had gone to bed probably around 10:30, I was a very strict by the rules kind of missionary, especially when I was with a rebel missionary, which I was. Anyway, we had gone to bed, were sound asleep and about 1:00 am we heard one of our windows shatter in the bathroom.
Now I have to explain where we lived. We lived on top of the Church. It was a two story building and we lived on the roof basically. There was an outside spiral staircase that went from the second story to the roof. Anyway, we of course had no telephone or anything as is the case with a lot of missionaries in South America, especially back then. Also, you couldn't get to us unless you went through the Church and it was locked with a skeleton key.
So we heard the window shatter and it woke us both up. We were still kind of out of it and wondered what the hell was going on. So my companion went outside first and I followed and we walked to the front of the roof/building to look over and see where the rock came from. Now of course, the dumb asses throwing the rocks were still throwing them, not knowing that we were awake. Well, guess who it was? It was the Freakin Zonies of course!! Yeah, zonie is mission speak for Zone leaders!!
So, anyway, we shouted "hey, were coming" so that they would stop throwing the rocks at us. They of course were laughing and thought the whole thing was hilarious for some reason. We were still half asleep!! So, my comp went down to the bottom level, unlocked the door and let them in. They of course asked about the broken window and we told them it was our bathroom window, which was our only window and they laughed hysterically. We of course had to later clean up all of the glass that was all over our bathroom floor and take cold showers in an already freezing bathroom, but now with the very cold outside air coming in too, so we didn't find it funny at all!!
So, the reason that they had to come and wake us up at 1 am was for numbers, yep damn numbers. It was near the end of the month and they needed to get one more baptism in and they needed to be there early the next day for the interview. So they had come to do a work division with us so that they could cover their area and travel to the other area for the interview.
My companion took off running with one ZL to catch a train to that area....it was leaving in like 15 minutes and was the last train. Meanwhile, I was perfectly content to stay at our place with the other ZL. However, he didn't bring anything with him and he talked me into going to their apartment where I could get a hot shower, something I hadn't had in like 4-5 months.
I got dressed in my missionary clothes of course, still had to be a missionary, packed a few things and headed out. There was one more bus left for the night that came in like 15 minutes so we hurried out. If we missed that bus, it was like a 5 mile plus walk to the downtown and there were no taxis at that time of night. Anyway, the bus stop was right across like a field or a park that was in front of the Church. So we headed over there to the bus stop but on the way, we saw a group of guys coming toward us.
Now keep in mind, it's like almost 1:30 am and nobody else is around but these guys and us. I would say that there were at least 10-12 guys. We just kept walking straight to the bus stop but they cut us off and surrounded us. The one guy spoke very broken English and kept trying to talk to us. They knew who we were, American Mormon Missionaries. To top it off, these guys were wasted, had knives with them and weren't too friendly or happy to see us. Well, after 5-10 minutes(It seemed like an hour), they finally told us what they wanted. We were scared out of our minds as we were both wearing glasses and the one guy came over and removed both of our glasses.
What did they want? They wanted money of course from the rich Americans. Well, we had just gotten paid that day and we both had our entire months money in our wallets. My Mom had always taught me that nothing material is worth your life, so I was prepared to give them everything I had in my wallet, no questions asked, based on the situation we were in. The ZL of course was trying to test them and see how much they needed or wanted. Well, the bottom line is all they really wanted was money for beer. The ZL gave them the equivalent of like $5.00 and that was it.
They gave us back our glasses and we headed on to the bus stop, of course, shaking like a leaf and terrified. We could both barely even speak. I can't really explain this nervous feeling except to say that it was the type of feeling when you think you might actually die or get hurt very badly. It is an awful feeling and I've never felt that way before or after that experience.
I was left to reflect on why it happened, why we could have died that night and it was all for one thing, MISSION NUMBERS!! We were in bed, obeying mission rules, they weren't, but they were under so much pressure to get those damn numbers, that it could have cost us our lives. This particular ZL was a pretty good guy, we got along well, but his judgment that night was awful. I never would have done what he did when I was a ZL, never!! But that's why in my mission, I was no longer a ZL!! I would have told them to go screw themselves and that we'd just put the number toward next month.
Anyway, that's one of my many stories but it was the worst one and the scariest one by far. Also, by the way, in case your wondering, as we stood at the bus stop, shaking and trembling, barely able to talk, the last bus of the night came by like 3 minutes later. So, the bottom line is that I survived to tell the story but I never should have even been in that situation considering one minute I'm in bed asleep and the next minute my life is on the line. I guess if I would have died, the Church would have made up something good to cover their asses. I know without a doubt that the "real truth" would have never gotten out and everyone would have probably been left to believe that I was breaking the rules and therefore died.
What they wouldn't have told you was that the rule to be in by 9:30 pm didn't apply in my mission and had been waived by my Mission President. We actually had no curfew as long as we were teaching somebody but I still personally tried to stick to it whenever possible. Then, everyone would have heard the line that I died doing what I loved, serving the Lord, what better way to go. Damn cult!!
Here are a few of my other stories from my mission for those that haven't read them yet. These aren't life threatening, just mind bending and sickening and also one funny one regarding my President:
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