A Brief Threesome

A couple of weeks after arriving in Trinidad, we got word that we would have a third companion, Elder Crouch, the soap-opera-loving guy I’d worked with in Cochabamba briefly. His companion, Sheldon, had finally gone home after he hadn’t improved from his bout with typhoid. Cannon would be heading to La Paz in a couple weeks.

Cannon was pretty happy about it. “Crouch and I grew up in the same neighborhood, just around the corner from each other. This is kind of bizarre, being together down here.”

Crouch was a big guy, 6’4″ and a little heavy. There were a few missionaries who couldn’t seem to lose weight, no matter how bad the living conditions. Crouch was one of them.

He moved in, and Cannon slept on a mattress on the floor, which was kind of brave, given the number of bugs that lived down there. But we all got along just fine.

The first night, he asked the landlady, “What time does Tu o Nadie come on?”

“You can’t be serious,” I said.

“Sorry, but after all that time stuck in the house with Sheldon, I got kind of hooked,” Crouch said sheepishly. “I have to find out what happens in the end.”

So every evening Cannon and I would read while Crouch watched his novela with the landlady. They seemed to be having a glorious time.

That week the church custodian came up to us in the street looking very distraught.

“Is it true, elders?” he asked.

We had no idea what he was talking about.

He held out a small newspaper clipping that announced the death of Mormon church president Spencer W. Kimball at age 90. Even though the death of a ninety-year-old is not unexpected, it was still a jolt for me. He was the “prophet” I had grown up with; it was his signature (well, at least an autopen copy) at the bottom of the letter assigning me to Bolivia.

“Who will be the next prophet?” asked the custodian.

“Ezra Taft Benson,” I said without skipping a beat.

“Not necessarily,” Cannon said. And thus began a week-long argument about how the church chose its prophet. It seems silly now, but we got kind of heated a few times. We would be walking down the street, and Cannon would say, “Just because they have always done it that way, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way.”

“Wanna bet?” I said. “Admit it. You’re wrong.”

I can be pretty stubborn when I know I’m right. I was finally vindicated a week later when President Nichols called. He confirmed that the new prophet had been chosen the way they always had: the apostle who had served longest was chosen.

“Well, it could change,” Cannon said, still not admitting I was right.

“Not likely,” I said smugly.

At church, the congregation gasped loudly when the announcement was made. For them, as with me, Spencer Kimball had been the only prophet they had known.

That same week I got a surprise phone call from Beck, who was calling from his home in Utah.

“I’m engaged,” he said.

“That was quick,” I said. “You just got home, dude.”

“Yeah, well, you know how it is. You get home, and it’s expected.”

“Don’t remind me,” I laughed. “So, who is she?”

“She’s from Cannon’s neighborhood,” he said. “Her name is Sandra Jensen, and we’re really in love.”

Even though I was going home in just over a month, I had a hard time imagining me or Beck or anyone else getting romantically involved. For better or worse, I had completely blocked out that part of my mind as much as possible.

After I hung up, I said, “Do either of you guys know Sandra Jensen?”

“Yeah, she was my next-door neighbor growing up,” said Crouch. “Why?”

“She’s engaged to Beck,” I said.

“Ooohhh,” said Cannon, exchanging a strange look with Crouch.

“What?”

“She’s, um, kind of, you know, wild,” said Cannon, looking a little embarrassed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah, you know, wild,” Crouch said. “She’s really nice and everything, but … ” and that was all they would say about it. I figured Beck knew what he was doing, so I didn’t ask again.

We decided to take the afternoon off for Thanksgiving, and we went to a restaurant where they served Turkey sandwiches. It wasn’t much, but it sort of reminded us of home. After lunch we sat on a bench in the plaza eating ice cream cones. A sloth was perched on a tree branch above us, and for some reason Cannon stood up on the bench and picked up the sloth. Because sloths are slow by definition, the sloth didn’t do much but look a little disgusted at having been disturbed. But a piece of ice cream cone made him happy, and Cannon put him back in the tree.

Later we went to pick up our laundry and found our temple garments hanging on a line along the sidewalk, as if on public display. We tried very tactfully to explain that this wasn’t just underwear but represented our temple covenants.

“You mean they come from the temple?” our laundress asked, her eyes wide.

“Yes,” I said. “You receive these in the temple, and they have special, sacred meaning to us.”

“Oh, elders!” she cried, tears bursting from her eyes. “Forgive me! I had no idea!”

I assured her that it was all right, no harm intended. As she folded our clothes, I noticed that after two months in El Beni, my white shirts and my garments were all the same color of pale rust.

Cannon quoted scripture: “Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence.”

“I wonder what that says about us,” I said, only half-joking.

Soon Cannon was getting onto a plane for La Paz, and Crouch and I would be together for my last month in Bolivia.

Advertisements

4 Responses to A Brief Threesome

  1. zackc says:

    I swear runtu, are you working on a novel? You blog like its going outta style.

  2. runtu says:

    I have nothing better to do.

  3. zackc says:

    You could be posting on MDB 😉

    You’re no longer the #1 poster…so now you must come back and attempt to regain your crown!

  4. Christopher Thomson says:

    I enjoyed your very good writing and stories. I served a mission in 1980-1982 to Finland. I have often attempted to “get out of me” the stories I’ve kept inside. Keep it up. You are doing so many a lot of good with this effort. I was there when the MTC president came up with all those demon stories. I wonder how many Mormons are convinced on “scare” rather than comfort. I was one of them for quite a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: