One day on my mission (wait, donâ€™t tune out just yet), my companion and I were out tracting, weaving our way down the streets of a middle-class Chicago suburb. Of course no one was interested, so it was a fairly pointless exercise. We knocked on one door, and a girl of 18 or 20 answered the door.
â€œOh! Sheâ€™s not here right now, but come on in!â€ she eagerly greeted us.
We had no idea who â€œsheâ€ was, nor who the girl was, but we thought, â€œMembers perhaps?â€ Weâ€™d been double-transferred into the area about a month earlier, so there were a lot of members we did not yet know. Usually when tracting into members we didnâ€™t know, we could identify them by what they said or by artwork or other objects around their homes: an LDS hymnbook or Childrenâ€™s Songbook on the piano, Deseret Book Jesus art, or â€“ a dead giveaway â€“ a picture of a temple. This home had nothing like that.
The girl led us to the kitchen table to sit. There was a bulletin board in the kitchen and I scanned it for something resembling a ward list, but couldnâ€™t see one. She told us that Susan (not her real name, less to protect her identity and more to with the fact that I donâ€™t remember her name) hired her to take care of the kids when she had to take one of the other kids to a doctors appointment. So there was no Mormon-type discussion. I began to panic. Did she think we were someone else? We had our nametags on, but I was insecure and afraid sheâ€™s misinterpreted who we were.
Now, my Mor-dar (you know, the Mormon version of gay-dar) is usually pretty good. I offer up another example as evidence. A couple years ago, I was in Australia, doing the tourist thing. One of the weekends there I spent at a science fiction convention. One of the guests was Richard Searfoss who, even though this was a scifi con, is a real astronaut. This was a small con, so we had the opportunity to chat quite a bit one-on-one with the guests. It was great. Now I know that Richard Searfoss is LDS, but at the time I didnâ€™t. I spent a good bit of time with him, and he was definitely setting off my Mor-dar. He didnâ€™t say anything like, â€œWell, when I was a BYUâ€¦,â€ or anything that was an obvious clue. He just gave off a Mormon vibe. I wanted to ask him if he was Mormon, but if heâ€™d answered no, I wasnâ€™t sure how to push the question aside so that I didnâ€™t look like an idiot. So I didnâ€™t ask. A few months later I found out he was indeed LDS. So my Mor-dar usually works well.
But not that day when tracting.
She excused herself to go take care of something outside, where several kids were playing, and left an 11-year-old boy to chat with us. My companion had a good idea.
â€œSooooâ€¦ do you guys go to church?â€ she asked.
When he said yes, she asked him where. Unfortunately, he gave us the name of the street the church was on, and neither of us could remember the name of the street, so that didnâ€™t help us.
â€œSo, do you know the name of your church?â€ My companion was trying to make it sound like we were just, you know, kind of playing with him. He looked at us like we were idiots.
â€œWhatâ€™s the name of it?â€
In a sing-song, boy-these-guys-are-idiots-and-must-think-Iâ€™m-three voice, he responded, â€œThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.â€