Author's Note: Hi there. I am a Mormon who has been a missionary and I have seen a lot of strange things while out there spreading the good word of God. This is an entirely fictional depiction of what might happen in a certain situation, but all of the doctrine in here is true. This is really how missionaries are on occasion. The missionaries in Forks would be from the Washington Tacoma Mission and there were Elders Baldwin and Hoffman in that mission in the year 2003. Basically they are fictional characters based on, I'm sure, very nice guys. Enough disclaimer. On with the show!
Oh and if you're lost on vocab, here are a few translations:
Trainer: Senior missionary who is in charge of helping a new missionary adjust to the life.
Greenie: Missionary who has just left the Missionary Training Center and has been a full-time missionary for six weeks or less.
Pass-along card: Just what it sounds like. These are spiffy little advertisements on card-stock that you can be given to get a video or a free book or to find the LDS church's website.
"Next one's yours, Elder."
They were the words I'd been dreading all morning. Elder Hoffman was great at this sort of thing—I don't think he had a timid day in his life—but what kind of trainer makes their greenie do door contacts on the first day? I was supposed to be learning how to be a missionary right now and I couldn't do it if I was stuttering my way through a contact. If he'd just hold off for a day or so...
But no, he was already climbing up the front steps. He stood there like I was holding him up and waited for me to scramble into position. I had just straightened my tie and checked my nametag when he knocked on the door.
"Breathe, Elder," he said quietly. "Serial killers don't usually live in houses this nice."
Before I could tell him that didn't make me feel any better, the door cracked open and a girl who was probably half my height and weight grinned broadly.
"Hello," she said politely. "Are you lost?"
"Hello, Miss," I said stiffly. "Are your parents here?"
Brilliant, Baldwin. She looks old enough to be your girlfriend. Don't treat her like a kid.
"Carlisle's still at work," she replied, "but Esme's here. Come in."
Elder Hoffman clapped me on the back as if I had just made a winning touchdown. It was either a way of congratulating me on getting through the first door I knocked or a way of shoving me through so I didn't chicken out. Either way, I found myself standing in the spotless living room with my muddy dress shoes and waiting for Esme to come meet us.
"She'll be down in a minute," the girl with the crazy black hair announced. "I'm Alice."
"I'm Elder Baldwin and this is Elder Hoffman," I managed to say.
"Nice to meet you," Alice said, shaking my hand; hers was just as cold as mine, but mine was ten times more clammy.
Okay, Elder, build a relationship of trust. Find some common ground.
Before I can say anything, Elder Hoffman turned to look at the grand piano. "Who's the musician?"
"My brother Edward," she sighed. "I'm rotten, but he might play for you if you're really nice."
"We'll try our best," Elder Hoffman laughed. "Is he here?"
She glanced pointedly at the ceiling for some reason. "Yes, he is," she confirmed. "Where are you guys from?"
"I'm from Idaho," I said.
"I grew up in Maine," Elder Hoffman added.
"Great," she burbled. "We lived in Augusta for a while. Great camping there."
"There is," he agreed. "Do you like camping much?"
"We go almost every weekend," she said. "Sometimes I think Edward and Jasper would live in a tent if we let them."
So, the family was made up of Jasper, Edward, Alice, Esme and Carlisle. This could be a great family for the ward around here. I was already wondering if Edward and Jasper could be fellowshipped by some of the more enthusiastic Boy Scouts. Maybe I was getting ahead of myself, but this was the first normal family we'd talked to today.
A few moments later, an older woman came down their stairs, followed by a young man who had the same pale skin and dark eyes as Alice. He looked us over suspiciously as his mother approached. From the look on his face, we'd interrupted something very important, like brooding in the mirror.
"I'm Esme Cullen," the mother said said warmly. "Can I help you?"
"Hi, Mrs. Cullen. I'm Elder Baldwin and this is Elder Hoffman. We're missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we're in your neighborhood sharing a message about God's plan for us. Do you have a few minutes so we could share a message with you?"
It had come out in a rush and Esme looked taken aback for just a moment. Edward glanced at Alice and she stifled a giggle.
"I think so," she said. "We're all Christians in this house."
Great. Some common ground to build off of.
"Wonderful," I said. "Can we sit down?"
They let us have the uncomfortable chairs—probably Edward's idea—and took the couch along the bay window. I glanced at Elder Hoffman, hoping he'd take pity on me and get things started, but he just nodded encouragingly.
Of course, my voice cracked on the second word. This could only get better, I hoped.
"Have you heard anything about our church?"
"You're the Mormons, right?" Alice piped up. "I've seen some of you around."
That wasn't surprising. The ward had enough teenagers and she probably had classes with a few of them.
"That's one of the common names for our church," I agreed. "What have you heard?"
"I know that you seem to place a lot of importance on families," Esme added. "And we followed the Salt Lake City Olympics, so we heard quite a bit about your culture."
I tried not to be too discouraged by the fact that most of her information came from newspapers and ESPN. It was better than a lot of people we'd talked to already.
"Great," I said enthusiastically. "You're right that we do think that families are very important. In fact, the family is a central part of God's plan for us. God is all-knowing and all-powerful, but he's also our Father in Heaven. We believe that as human beings, all of us were created as spirit brothers and sisters in his own im..."
The front door slammed open and two more teenagers burst into the house, both laughing easily. The girl, a stunning blonde nearly as tall as I am, moved into the living room and took me down a few notches with a single glance. She didn't even talk to us, just turned to Alice.
"We're heading north for some outdoor recreation in ten minutes," she said. "Are you coming?"
"We'll join you tonight," Esme said. "We have guests, Rosalie."
"So I see," the other, a dark-haired man who could have broken me in half with his bare hands, said. "I'm Emmett."
"He's my boyfriend," the one named Rosalie said sharply. "He lives with me."
Esme glanced up quickly as if she were restraining herself from rolling her eyes at the two of them. I could feel my ears getting red and if she was trying to bait me, it was working.
I made a note to myself to not teach the repentance and law of chastity principles for a while yet. No need to rush into things.
"I'm Elder Hoffman," my companion finally said. "And this is Elder Baldwin. We're missionaries from the Mormon Church. Would you like to join us for a short message about God's plan for us?"
"Maybe later," Rosalie said dismissively. "We have to get packed."
They were out of the room and, from the sound of it, halfway up the stairs before they turned around. By that time, Elder Hoffman had taken pity on me and was getting Esme to read a verse in Genesis. I should have been paying attention, but I could still hear their conversation.
"Behave yourself, Rose. That one looks like he's about to have a stroke."
"Just a little fun," she said airily. "I'll be up in a minute, all right?"
"No," he growled. "I want to watch."
I wasn't a psychic or anything, but I could see trouble coming five stairs away. Edward seemed to be picking up on it and he even looked annoyed when his siblings came back.
"Sorry to interrupt," Rosalie trilled. "Do you mind if we join you after all?"
"Not at all," Elder Hoffman said.
"Oh, good," she said. "I have some questions for you."
"Rosalie," Esme said.
She had the same kind of edge in her voice that I heard every time my sister chastised my four-year-old nephew for his mischievous streak.
"At least wait until the end of their message," she requested. "It's impolite to interrupt."
"Not at all," I said. "If you have any questions, we'd be happy to answer them for you."
Edward and Esme exchanged a Look, but no one stopped her. Alice looked even more amused than before, but she didn't laugh this time.
"All right," Rosalie said, obviously comfortable with being in the spotlight. "I heard that you guys don't drink beer or wine, right?"
"That's right," I blurted. "We believe in living the Word of Wisdom, which says that we should not drink any alcohol, non-herbal tea or coffee."
"No problems there," she replied, nodding. "So nothing that's bad for the body, right?"
If all her questions were going to be like this, I might just survive this. Somehow, I didn't think it was going to be that easy.
"We don't drink any of that stuff anyway," she continued, "but what's your rule on drinking blood?"
"You mean like having a medium rare steak?" I asked stupidly.
"No, like drinking blood the way you might drink a Dr. Pepper," she corrected. "Or how someone else might have a six pack of Bud Lite. Let's call it social drinking."
I looked desperately at Elder Hoffman, but he looked just as lost as I was.
"Well, it says that we're supposed to use meat sparingly and avoid hot drinks," I said weakly. "I guess drinking animal blood counts for both."
"And human blood?"
"Rosalie," Edward said warningly.
"No, it's just curiosity," she insisted. "I mean, I get the urge sometimes. I want to know if I'm being unrighteous or anything if I do that."
"Let's get back to you on that," Elder Hoffman said urgently. "Do you have any other questions before we get back to our message?"
"And no killing allowed, right?" Rosalie added.
"Right," Elder Hoffman said.
"Good," she responded. "We haven't had problems with that in, oh, sixty or so years. We're vegetarians now."
I couldn't tell if she was being serious or trying to see how far she could push us. I wasn't sure I liked either option.
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Yeah," Emmett interrupted. "All churches talk about life after death. Do you believe in it?"
"We do," I said, grateful for his intervention. "We believe that family ties can continue on forever, even after death. God's plan allows for all of us to be resurrected so we can live with him and our families for all time."
"Great," Emmett said. "So, how does that work if you're undead?"
Up until now, I hadn't seen Elder Hoffman speechless, but right now, he looked like a fish out of water. I probably wasn't too much better.
"I'll leave you with that thought," Rosalie gloated; turning to the others, she gestured expansively. "We're leaving in ten if you want to ride with us."
She and Emmett raced up the stairs, leaving everyone else looking vaguely uncomfortable. After a long moment, Esme stood.
"I'm sorry, Elders," she said. "I'm not going to excuse what they said, but I think that this is perhaps not the best time to entertain you."
That was one word for it.
"Do you have some literature you could leave with us?" she invited.
I dug into my pocket and found a pass-along card. Elder Hoffman grabbed it and wrote down our number and the meeting times on the back before passing it to me.
"This is a card about a free video that talks about what we were sharing with you," I said. "It's called 'Together Forever' and it's all about God's plan for families in this life and the life to come."
"It sounds wonderful," she said politely, shaking my hand after she pocketed the card. "We'll give you a call if we have any further interest."
"Thank you for your time," I said quickly.
Three handshakes later, we were back on the porch and I could finally breathe normally. Elder Hoffman clapped me on the back again and this time, I knew he was trying to make me believe that had gone well.
"We got to share some of the message with a nice family and you did a great job in there," he said. "You built on common ground and you answered their questions with respect."
"Yeah," I muttered as we retrieved our bikes. "I guess it could have been worse."
He shrugged. "It's something to write home about," he mused. "I always have a crazy story or two about the people we meet. Some people will tell you anything just to get you out of their living room."
From the upstairs window, I could hear Esme's raised voice. "I swear, Rosalie Lillian Hale, this is the closest I have come to grounding you in the last thirty years. I know you were not fond of them, but I will stand for no disrespect in my house..."
"It'll be easier at the next house," Elder Hoffman promised. "You'll see."
I climbed on my bike and strapped on the helmet before looking at that gorgeous house one more time. "You know," I groused, "they could have just said they weren't interested..."