Life History of Ralph Julius Lauper

Chapter 5b

Mission Memories

Memories of a More Serious Nature

#1 -My First Bombing: During part of September 1939 I was alone in Esbjerg, Denmark. The others had left already, to be shipped back to the states. England and France were already at war with Germany. A British twin-engine bomber on a mission to somewhere, apparently became lost in the cloudy weather and confused the Esbjerg Harbor with one in Germany, about 60 miles south. He dropped one bomb only. The bomb missed the harbor badly but it did land on an apartment house, with a loud bang, two blocks from where I was eating lunch in my basement quarters in the chapel, at just that time. One died in the blast and 5 or 6 were injured. Two more died days later. I had been exposed to the horror of war a full 2 years before my induction into the army.

#2 --I never did really enjoy or even like to tract door to door. It was such a low percentage way to gain converts. I thought so then and present day approaches, with modern methods in use today, seems to bear out my thinking of a half century ago. In those days the only uniform method used was door to door proselyting, which method was to me very frustrating. In the course of one four hour stint of it I had approximately 12 doors rudely slammed in my face and gained access only 2 times. The first was by a "good ole boy" red-neck, Baptist Minister. Everything I said seemed to upset him and he railed about first one thing, then another. The point of no return came when I referred him to scriptures in his own Bible to corroborate some references I had made regarding the personality of the Godhead. He read them, pondered a few seconds, and then in an absolute fit of rage, he threw his Bible across the room at me saying it was a lie. From his own Bible yet!! I thanked him for his courtesy, stood up and left.

The second door through which I passed was to the home of a basically good woman who was too polite to refuse us entry. She had no interest whatsoever in what we had to say. Her thinking ran somewhere between the agnostic and the atheist. She didn't have interest enough even to find out just where she stood. The represented another minister, a Methodist this time, who did open the door and let us come halfway in to provide a better shot for his pack of five or six chow dogs which came roaring out of the kitchen and which he ordered after us. We still beat them to the front yard fence and hurdled it into the street. He came out into the yard and cursing us while he did it threw our books and tracts over the fence into the street. We picked them up, I thanked him for his courtesy, invited him to visit California, to learn how decent people lived, and left. What else could I do?

I say I didn't like tracting and I didn't but it was the game plan and I accepted it. The statistical comparative report from the mission office, which was issued each month, showed the name Lauper in the #1 spot of the column titled "Hours Spent Tracting" each month I was on my mission. I totaled eight baptisms although elders following me did baptize a modest number from my contacts. It was tough duty fifty years ago. Although I was number one in hours worked in both missions where I served it still seemed to me an awful way to make a living. I continuously strove to find some variations which might break the monotony and be useful as well. My ideas were never adopted by more than a few. I was too unorthodox. I'll here refer to just three of them.

"A" -- Office Tracting: In far too many instances our knocks were not responded to, no one at home, or women afraid to answer, and who, when they did come to the door were afraid to invite us in and extremely hesitant about granting permission to return when their husbands would be at home. I decided to turn things around. I would and did go to where, at least, some husbands were. I targeted all offices having waiting rooms. I would gain a short interview with the promise of free literature. Once inside I could suggest to the one behind the desk that some of the material in his waiting room appeared a bit old and that all magazines and periodicals aged over time. On the other hand, the reading material I had to leave in his waiting room was free, of great worth, and it never aged. I was prepared to leave a large assortment of tracts and copies of the Book of Mormon. I was over 50% successful in stocking my contacts. I had some good visits with executives in their offices at the initial approach and also in check-up visits to "restock". I could tell some of them had done a bit of reading. I can surmise that a segment of the general public gained a better understanding of and hopefully, appreciation for the Mormons, as they sat with time on their hands, waiting in an office. The Mission President thought I had a great idea ...and to keep it up. He said he would not push it too hard with the other elders because most of them, even if they dared to try it, would "botch" things up somehow, and do more harm than good.

"B" --Travel Tracting: Hitchhiking among the elders was common in those days. Upon occasion my companion and I would employ that method to tract. The mission always reacted to my doings in the same way, "Great idea, keep it up, good for you, not a cinch good idea for others." What we did was to get on the highway, split up and hitch-hike from Knoxville to Chattanooga, a distance of 112 miles. We would meet on the courthouse steps, eat our brown-bag lunch and hitch back the same way. We had captive audiences, and I'm sure some good was accomplished.

"C" --FIyer Advertising: This is easily done by using tracts as flyers. You next pay a kid 50 cents per hundred to put them under the windshields of parked cars. The next thing you do is expect this to result in a softer reception when you go tracting. It doesn't work quite that way. Arthur McPherson, was the owner of a large business in town, a very prominent millionaire and influential LDS member. He called and asked me to drop by his office. The Chief of Police had complained to him about my "flyer" activity and said that he felt badly and all that, but if Arthur didn't succeed in stopping me from doing it then he, the Chief, would personally arrest me. He succeeded!!

#3 -My Career in Radio: My effort in broadcasting was short but fun and I think somewhat productive. Elder McKay Allred from Provo, UT was my companion and a genius on the piano. Hum a tune and he'd play it, tell him to transpose it on the spot and he'd play it, show him a sheet of heavy stuff and he'd play it, ask him to "play one of his own compositions" and he'd play it. He could create a concert out of a simple hymn. He had absolute pitch and was withal a very normal and personable chap.

A plan had brewed in my mind. I wanted us to become better known. We called on Jim Moyle, a cousin of Henry D. Moyle. He was the manager of the local radio station. Jim had been baptized but was strongly anti-Mormon. I got him to listen to Allred play the piano and as a result was able to coax two hour slots out of him. One on Wednesday, prime time at 7:30 pm, and the other at 1:30 pm on Sunday. On Wednesdays, McKay would play solo. Then furnish background music while I read poetry and short sermonettes that I would write for the program. On Sundays a couple of elders would come over from the next town. Elder Allred would open on the piano. We would all then gather around a microphone and extemporize theoretical questions from hostile non-members to typical Mormon elders. We changed questions each week and alternated as questioners and respondents. Those programs helped us in many ways and continued at least to the time of my transfer to Kentucky. I understand that the Ministers League finally got to Moyle and he shut it down.

#4 --In the city of Marysville, where I was stationed for a time, there stands a nice Presbyterian College. One day I chanced to read a flyer given to me by a student. It announced that Mormonism was a fraud and that its sins would be revealed the following Sunday evening in the campus auditorium by no less a personage than Dr. Childers of Battlecreek, Michigan. The circular described him as one of the finest lecturers and theologians in the church. It also pointed out that he was an expert on the Mormons. "We're hurting them bad here," I told my young companion, "Else why would they bring in a high-powered gun to fight us? We've got to be at that lecture!"

We were part of a packed auditorium on Sunday night at seven. The good doctor began with a slide presentation of Utah and its beauty. He spoke of some good Mormons he had known and he had good knowledge of their practices for he had lived 11 months with a good Mormon family while gathering information for a book he was then in the process of writing.

The man was clever and his lecture passed steadily from "those great Mormon people", to "those poor misguided people" to the final, "illegitimate, debauched sect, which must be curbed." Forty-five minutes of lively questions and answers followed. Can you imagine what kind of good, Mormon family would have a viper like that in their home for eleven months? The lecture, as well as his answers to questions asked, proved him to be an apt and eager pupil of apostates.

When the meeting ended, a rather large group of students gathered around a gushing and flattered Dr. Childers. He continued to appear that way until I shouldered my way into the circle, extended my hand and announced, "I'm Elder Lauper from California. I'm one of those poor, misguided missionaries you spoke of. I had to come up and let these students know that you are misguiding and misleading them."

The good lecturer protested and got red in the face. As I began to recite some of his more flagrant violations of the truth a young lady who was one of the students quite suddenly became my supporter. She loudly pointed out that the preacher was away off base. She knew better and he should too. She had known lots of Mormons and was herself, a member of the Reorganized L.D.S. Church.

Doctor Childers became thoroughly unglued. He hurriedly gathered up his projector and other materials. Then protesting his lack of time, a commodity he had already proved to have in rich supply, he dashed out as I called after him to be sure to pray for us, the way he had requested his audience to do. The students loved it!

#5 --A Friendly Minister: It is clear to the reader that most of the trouble I encountered was generated through my contacts with preachers. The majority of my difficulties did stem from that source but not all of them. Shiffley Adams was a Baptist minister about 40 years of age. He had married a woman who was baptized when she was 8 years of age. She never went to any Mormon church even though her husband urged her to do so. Their three children occasionally attended church with him. Both of the Adams were excellent hosts and were kind to us elders. We stayed overnight with them, upon occasion.

I had many long gospel conversations with the Reverend. I soon learned he had read the Book of Mormon more than once. He knew and understood the book. He had for some time believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was the Word of God. He further claimed to have a copy in the pulpit at his church and said he used it frequently, even to the point of both reading and quoting from it during his sermons. I found this hard to believe and determined that I would find out more about it at the earliest opportunity.

About a month later we were passing through town and I decided to accept his oft-extended invitation to attend worship service at this church. It was Sunday evening and arriving a bit late we slipped in unnoticed, or so I thought, and sat in the back row of the congregation numbering about 200 souls.

The Reverend was in the middle of a wonderful sermon on the doctrine of repentance. He had the Book of Mormon in his hand and was using the book of Alma as his authority. He read liberally from it, claiming it to be the Word of the Lord, as it was revealed to Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. A real Mormon sermon!!

I was surprised by this and further astonished when "Shiff" suddenly paused in his sermon and said, "I see that my good friend and colleague Elder Lauper is sitting on the back row with his traveling companion. The elder is a Mormon missionary as some of you know. He knows more about these things than I do and I want the elder to come up to the pulpit and testify." Reverend Adams gave beaming approval as I followed his whispered instructions to take 25 minutes of his pulpit time, in his chapel, before his congregation, and preached about what the Mormons believe. I ended with my testimony.

At his invitation we spent the night in the Adams' home. The next morning, after breakfast, I put it to him squarely. "Shiff," I said, "You are a Mormon convert but you won't admit it. You know the gospel is true. Now why don't you become a baptized member?" His answer, as best I recall it, sadly is as follows. "Elder Lauper, you are right. I know the truth and there is nothing in the world I would like more to do than to go west to live and take my wife through the Salt Lake Temple." To my question, "Well, why don't you?" he answered with another question, "What would I do? My income here would be cut off and I have no other way to make a living?"

I suggested strongly that he had lots of ability and could make a living like the rest of us. Shiffly Adams, like the young man who came to the Savior, had a testimony of the truth of the message, but not quite enough faith to practice it. I could do no more for him. My good friend and supporter had made his choice. Our paths were never to again cross each other.

#6 --Sister Williams, an elderly woman, had a testimony. She had for a husband a mean and violent man who would, upon occasion, physically abuse her. He threatened me with physical harm if I ever again came to their door.

He worked the graveyard shift. One of their neighbors, a young lad, knocked on our door late one night and said Mrs. Williams had been very sick and his mother told him to go check up on her. He said he believed she was dying, but that she had rallied long enough to give him my name and address and said to run and get me so I could administer or something to her. Quite suddenly my personal safety didn't seem to be of much importance at all. So we went.

We found her unconscious. The smell of pneumonia and death filled the room. We administered to her. Within a couple of minutes she was fully conscious. Within 15 she was sitting on the end of her bed in a normal fashion. She sent the boy back the next morning to thank us and to tell us that she had just put out a big wash.

#7 --We baptized a shoemaker by the name of Bill Green, his wife also joined. Bill proudly proclaimed his new church affiliation to all. It soon came to the attention of his former pastor, Reverend Brown, who denounced him publicly from the church rostrum. His business fell off to nearly nothing and he nearly starved. My expressed concern was met by his assurance that the Lord would fix things up for him. He went on and continued to conduct himself in the same loving and friendly manner towards all men. What faith that man had! The Lord did bless that faith and less than six months later he had all of his old customers back and many, many more. He was enjoying the best business he ever had. A modern day Job!

#8 --The town of Ribe on the Southwest coast of Denmark, near to the German border, is called the city of storks named for the many storks which make their nests atop the chimneys each summer. The town crier goes about each night chanting in Danish, "Eleven of the clock and all is well," as he snuffs out the open flame street lamps. The big church had been standing since the 11th century and when we visited one day we inspected the rather deep markings on the stone pillars in the great hall leading into the chapel. The Danish warriors of old would draw their swords over the pillars to invoke blessings from above as they went out to battle in turn, the Norwegians, Swedes, Germans and English, all of whom they usually defeated.

In Denmark, the Lutheran church is the state religion. Its chapels are owned by the state and the priests are salaried by the state. On the day we visited the chapel the priest was very affable and took us on a tour of the grand old edifice. All went well until we reached the baptismal font situated near to the altar. I noticed something interesting. While the font was not sunken into the floor it stood like a huge, round iron vat on the floor, open on the top but certainly large enough to baptize by immersion. I could tell that a shallow bottom had been braised into the font, rendering it capable of holding 6 inches or less of water.

The priest confirmed that baptism was performed by sprinkle, a practice which had been in use for some three hundred years. Yes, the church had once baptized by immersion. No, they didn't anymore. When I asked why and by what authority the change was made, he remembered an appointment he had to make. The tour was suddenly over and he left us standing there. To quote the scriptures, "They changed the ordinances."

#9 - Purse and Script: I tried this method. My companion and I set off with nothing in our pockets but $100 each plus identification papers. Our route was through towns, rural areas and farming communities. We planned to stay out ten days, we quit after eight.

We slept one night in a haystack, one in a barn full of pigs, one on a pile of gathered leaves in a forest, and one not at all. We managed to be invited to stay overnight the rest of the time. By the second day our very physical appearance was objectionable and very little real missionary work was accomplished. It may have worked for Samuel Smith and others of yore, in 1940 it proved to be a tough way to go. There were no Youngs or Kimballs left out there. We did manage to eat well in homes and off the land.

#10 - As stated previously in my memoirs, by the time I had returned from Europe and checked into the East Central Stated Mission, I was pretty much without the spirit of missionary work. I asked President Tew to send me to the toughest place he had in his mission. He made me Senior Companion to an elder who had spent more time in Sweden then I had in Denmark, and packed us off to Knoxville, Tenn. That city was reputed to boast more churches than any other city south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I soon learned something else. There was probably less religion in the place than any other. We did baptize a family while we were in Knoxville.

A few months later a new mission president came aboard. I had a rookie companion by this time. The Boss wrote a letter to transfer to Tellico Plains, Tenn., a town of 500 people over against the Great Smokey Mountains. That range divided Tennessee from North Carolina. He enclosed the letter from an LDS who lived somewhere in Texas. The writer told the president that his brother lived out there. He felt certain that his brother would respond to visits by the elders and become a baptized member. I still believe that his assumption was based more on filial love and concern than upon facts and sound judgment. Any person who would allow himself to live in a place like that, and remain there for twenty years as that man had done could not possibly have thinking which squared with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The president wanted me to go in, convert the man, and open the place up for missionary efforts. Being a new president he couldn't know what he was getting me into. There was no bus service into the town. The Greyhound bus driver stopped at a seldom used intersection, turned around to me as he opened the door, and pointing down the dirt road blandly announced, "You go six miles up that thar road".

During our walk into town I informed my companion of the first three things we should try to do there: find a place to live, contact our man, and time permitting we would begin to do some tracting, in that order.

The main street appeared to contain about 90% of the business district in one block. We walked down that street and inquired of quite a few people we met as to where one might find a room to rent. Their natural suspicion of strangers, plus a seeming sense of who we were, resulted in taciturn and uncommunicative brush offs by all of them. At long last an old geezer told us that Widow Smith rented a room occasionally. He didn't think she had anyone now and gave us directions to her house. On the way to the Smith home, I noticed a seedy-looking chapel. It proved to be owned by the Southern Baptists and was the only church building allowed to be erected in town.

Widow Smith was a breath of fresh air in an already stuffy atmosphere. I liked this abrupt but friendly woman about 70 years of age, who had been widowed about half of her life. She made her own way as a seamstress, wash woman, and landlady when she could find a tenant for her little upstairs room.

Mrs. Smith's philosophy was simple and direct; "Live and let live." Yes, she would rent us a room; we looked like nice young men. Yes, she was a baptized member of the local church. No, she didn't attend any, and hadn't done do for years and years. Too bigoted! Yes, she had heard of the Mormons and they seemed decent enough people. No, she didn't want to hear anymore about them or any other religion. All churches were too intolerant for her! I'll bet I could have baptized her in less than three months.

What raised my eyebrows was when she expressed regret that the last two Mormon elders who had come there to preach, some twenty years prior to that time, had both been killed. She said it was a shame for a preacher to not be able to preach without getting himself killed over it. I'll bet the President hadn't heard about that one either. Mrs. Smith assured us that no harm would come to us at her home. "Nobody better mess around my place. I won't put up with it and they know it!" She was a tough woman.

We unpacked our bags, walked over to the little cafe, ate lunch under the silent, watchful stares of the patrons and waitress, then set off to find our man. He apparently lived on a small acreage right outside of the town. Would you believe it? No one in the town had ever heard of him, much less knew where he lived. And he had been there for twenty years!! What a weird bunch! Of course I didn't believe them either!

A couple of hours later we began to tract. Everyone seemed aware of our arrival. We were still without even a conversation with a single person by the end of three solid hours of door-banging! Most were on the rude side. The resident preacher had already done a pretty good job on us.

The next morning found us out early and pounding doors. The "resident" had apparently worked most of the night. It was much worse than the day before. People were now downright rude and ugly. Some resorted to epithets, name calling, and even threats, as the doors were slammed in our faces.

The whole town was rabid, deep-south Democratic. During the previous Presidential Campaign, a long convoy of Republican supporters descended upon the town, with the aim of converting them to the Republican Party. Those guys slashed the tires on over 50 cars belonging to the "outsiders." Widow Smith told me about it. They were primitive in Tellico Plains!

The town did boast of a single track railroad line. Passenger trains were infrequent and stopped only upon signal from the Station Manager, mail bags were thrown off on the go. Pick ups were made by hooking bags suspended from a cable stretched across the track above the train.

The soil was good in the area. Good enough, in fact, to lead the Stokely Van Camp Company to build a sizeable cannery there. The wages were low but the plant was the life blood of the town, and most of the townspeople worked there, canning baby food. Freight trains came off the track onto a siding where they picked up the finished goods.

We came in from tracting, both tired and frustrated after hours of batting zero. The battle, however, was due to heat up and soon did so. A car was heard to pull up out front, followed by a loud knock on the door. Loud voices soon came up to us. First a man was speaking, then I could make out the voice of Widow Smith almost shouting, "Reverend, you ought a be ashamed of yourself for behavin' this way. Now git!"

He was back about a half hour later, apologized to the widow and she allowed him to come upstairs to our room. Once there, he declined my invitation to sit down but, instead lashed out in a tirade. I'd never even seen the man before and here he stood calling me by name and saying I was scum, and had no business coming to spread false doctrine. He called me a willing tool of the devil and other things about as complimentary. When he stopped for breath I told him that I had nothing against him personally, hadn't come all the way down there to see him or to argue about anything. I also pointed out that what he thought of me didn't matter to me really and that he might as well go. He stormed out!

Mrs. Smith apologized for letting him in. I told her not to worry about it, and that our meeting each other was inevitable anyway. "Besides," I told her, "He'll be back." In a few minutes I saw his car pull up down front. I didn't want a scene in the house, out of respect for Mrs. Smith and her home. I quickly led my companion downstairs and out to the car, warning him on the way to stay close to me at all costs and not to open his mouth. He had shown an excitable nature and a propensity for saying the wrong thing on several occasions.

The preacher had brought reinforcements as I had suspected he would do. I asked him what his problem really was. As he began his harangue from the safety of his seat behind the steering wheel of his station wagon five big, menacing goons seemed to roll out of every door and quickly surrounded us very tightly, except for the spot by his side window. I was standing there, my companion pressed tightly against me. The good reverend was hurling all manner of insults my way, such as, "We know the real reason you came here in the first place was to get our young women and take them out to Salt Lake City," and "We would be a lot better off with a bunch of rattlesnakes. We don't want you here, so get out!" He looked as though he might soon have a heart attack! "Is that all?" I asked. He then hit me with the expected ultimatum "We have decided to give you until sundown to get out of town or suffer the consequences!"

My reply was terse, tense and definite. I, too, was aroused. "Well Preacher, I know what you think of me. I don't think very much of you either. I don't intend to ever speak to you again. You are a disgrace to the cloth which you represent. I don't like the way you act. I don't like the way you talk, I don't like your arrogant manner and I guess I really don't like you. Come on Elder, let's go." I still remember that short speech. I then turned, put my hands ever so gently, upon the chest of one of those big men and carefully moved him aside. We went into the house, leaving a surprised and startled "hit squad" standing there, staring after us. They had expected we would cave in under their show of force.

Up in our room, Elder Terry and I knelt down and I thanked the Lord for his protection, pleading for more of it in the hours ahead and for the blessing of good judgment, so as to not do anything foolish. We felt much better and lay on the bed, discussing the whole situation. At one point I told Elder Terry that, lacking divine intervention, the chances were good that within a very few hours we would be beaten, tar and feathered or even worse, at the hands of a mob. I asked him if he was prepared for that and he told me he thought he was. He also said he was scared, very scared, but that I was the Senior Companion and he would gladly do whatever I told him to do.

I lay planning our next move as I watched the sun sinking low on the horizon. I decided that a good offense was still the best defense. At the moment the sun started to dip behind the hills on the west side of town I said, "Come on Elder, let's go over and talk to Mr. Hill at his mercantile store."

The widow had told us that Hill was the real power in town. He was the Mayor, one of only a handful who had ever gone away to college, and was the only man in town who gave orders to the preacher. In fact, she claimed Hill was an American dictator, a man who loved power and used the minister to attain and keep his hold on the town. "He's a backstabbing hypocrite and I don't like him. No man ought to use religion that way."

As we walked down the street toward the store, small groups of men broke up their conversations, fell in behind us, and joined the parade. Inside the store I greeted Mr. Hill. He, in turn, greeted me with a warm friendly smile, calling me by name and telling me that my visit had been expected. Hill was somewhere between 30 and 40 years of age, well dressed and a handsome man, wearing rimless glasses. It was his voice that got me. It had an oily, persuasive quality to it. I quickly decided I was in the presence of a guy who liked to rule, his problem with me was not religion at all. He could care less about the church. He was merely using it because it was the real source of his power. He wouldn't tolerate having some outsider to come in and siphon off any part of it, and disturb the order of things.

The preacher's message was repeated, basically, only this time in a much different way, he seemed even sorry to have to tell me all those things. I told him how I had heard it all before and that it only seemed natural, inasmuch as he had told the minister exactly what to say. He denied it. He grew more serious and explained in a confidential manner that the Reverend had whipped the men up to a near-frenzied level; they had been seriously drinking "corn-liquor" since early afternoon and always got real ugly when they did that. "Your safety and life are at risk here now," he added, "and I won't be responsible for their actions."

To that I blurted. "Hill, you are the one responsible for all of this. You and I both know that you started this thing. Now it's up to you to stop it. If something happens to us, then our people up in Louisville are going to be real active. When the FBI and other lawmen come in here, it'll take them only about 30 minutes to find out who is behind all of this!" Hill laughed at this and said, "Don't try to threaten me, Lauper. Haven't you noticed we don't have any police in town? Haven't had any for years, don't need 'um and don't want any. Our last Constable got his fool self killed in a fight here years ago. We didn't bother getting another one. The Sheriff came in here a while back, messing around and causing trouble. We scared him so bad that he never came back. Any lawman who comes here is nice and sociable-like or he don't come again."

Mr. Hill then put it to me squarely, "Lauper", he said. "We don't want you here and we're not going to allow you [to] stay around here. It's as simple as that! Now why do you insist on staying some place where you aren't wanted, can't do any good, and can only get yourself in trouble? Why won't you leave us alone and go do your preaching where you'll be welcome?"

"You know, Hill," I replied. "That's just about the first sensible statement I've heard from any of you guys since I arrived here early yesterday. The only problem is my church doesn't work quite that way. If I had been on my own, I wouldn't have stayed around you and your goons for even an hour. But you see, I didn't ask to come here in the first place. I was sent here. I leave when the man who sent me here tells me to go, not until!"

"I'll say this for you, Lauper, you've got guts," said Hill.

"I'll tell you what I will do," I went on, "I'll send him a telegram and ask him what I should do. If he says stay, then you'll have to carry me out."

The crowd parted enough to let us out and we walked over to the railroad station where I gave the Station Master my hand-written message to the Mission President and I watched him clack it out on his key: "OUR LIVES THREATENED, CONSIDERED BONAFIED THREAT, PLEASE ADVISE." My name and address followed. It amounted to virtual surrender, and I knew it. I was sort of warming up to the fight and was quite angry. It still seemed like the prudent thing to do but it made me pretty upset nonetheless. We went over to the cafe. Our escort waited outside while we ordered, and began eating a big bowl of soup. I already knew how the President would react when he read that wire. Even then I was a stubborn man and it galled me that these guys could order me around and get away with it. I rather hoped that the President would be out of town for a couple or three days, just to see what would happen. I was fed up with the place.

The President was at his office. Our every move was being closely watched and the Station Master's son placed his reply into my hand before we left the cafe; "LEAVE IMMEDIATELY, ONCE OUT WRITE FULL PARTICULARS ---JAMES P. JENSEN."

We walked over to Hill's mercantile where I handed the wire to Hill to read. "Good," he gloated, "You'll be leaving right now then?"

"No, I will not be leaving right now! To me, immediately means tomorrow morning!" He told me that quite a few of the boys were pretty drunk and he couldn't guarantee my safety a bit longer. My reply was, "I'm walking out that door and I expect you to keep your thugs away from us now, and all through the night at Mrs. Smiths' home. You see, Mr. Hill, you've told me what I can expect from you and your tin-horn gangsters. What you don't know is what you can expect from me!" I suddenly felt larger than the whole mob combined. The crowd was so dense I couldn't even see the door. The minister had slipped in and was standing a few feet from me. I went on in a loud voice, without a trace of fear, because I didn't have any.

"Hill you are a miserable excuse for a mayor, and public servant. I feel like I've been talking to Satan himself, and probably have been. Now get that pipsqueak lackey and his gang out of my way or you'll suffer the consequences. Just try me and see what I'll do!" He stood there stunned by my outburst. The hoodlums had been waiting for his signal to grab me. He failed to give one and as I walked toward them, with Elder Terry at my heels, they opened a narrow path to the door, and stood in shocked silence as we left. They had seen their leader humbled, their hero silenced. On top of that, my threats put some questions in their minds. "What were you going to do?" asked an excited Elder Terry. My reply, "I don't have the slightest idea, but that liquor will give them some false courage and they'll be back, trying to get up enough nerve to do something. This has never happened to Hill, or the preacher, or them before. They are beaten and don't know it.

We were settling up accounts with Mrs. Smith. I told her they wouldn't dare to do anything. She wasn't completely mollified. The crowd had regrouped and was standing in the street, where they had lighted a huge bonfire, right near her gate. One of them started fiddling with the latch as though to come into the yard. The old widow proved to be a competent and formidable ally. She grabbed a shotgun off the wall and walked out on the front porch. She shouted, "Y'all bunch of liquored-up liver-bellies better stay out of my yard. The first one of ya to set foot in my yard is gonna get a load of buckshot. When ya haul him off I'll do the same thing to the next and the next 'till y'all have had enough!" Many of them had guns and clubs, but that old woman faced then down. The mob got larger and when their women joined them they became more unruly. Their curses and shouted insults came up and into our room. I had a sense of peace and told my companion we could go to bed and rest in peace. Nothing would happen to the widow or us. The orgy lasted most of the night. I was awakened a couple of times by it, but went right back to sleep. Elder Terry said he slept through all of it.

We were up at six a.m. as usual, and a short time later we were thanking Mrs. Smith and telling her goodbye. I can remember how embarrassed that dear lady became when I kissed her goodbye. Fifteen or twenty big guys were still around the bonfire. Some were armed. I spoke to them as we closed the gate and started up the road, "Good morning Gentlemen. I hope you had a nice sleep. We've had such a fine time here that we want you to visit us next. We'll treat you just as good as you've treated us." A half dozen of them walked behind us for a quarter of a mile. I know what Satan had in mind for them to do but the Lord wouldn't let them do it.

I sent a report to the President and he called me. We talked a long time and he expressed great regret. I told him to forget it; it's all in a days work, etc. I did say, "President, I suppose it was a learning experience in a way. It still seems an unnecessary and potentially costly way to do it. I personally don't like to put the Lord on the spot, in order to prove what he can do. I already know that. If we test him too much he may just decide to let us stumble along on our own. We ought to do a better job on our homework." He heartily agreed and I don't think we ever spoke of it again. He could tell it was a sore subject for me.

#11 - My Greatest Compliment Received as a Missionary The "bouquet" of which I write, occurred on the tail-end of my service and was preceded by events painful enough to me as to make it doubly appreciated. Strangely enough, it was more or less triggered (I mean the problem) by the poor judgment shown in the more or less unwitting actions of a lady missionary.

Doris Rose came into the mission from Nampa, Idaho shortly after I arrived there from Denmark. Sister Rose was a beauty who seemed somehow out of place in the milieu. She was confidently aggressive in her approach to missionary work. Doris would nearly convert the shoe salesman or the grocery clerk. She converted a few.

Shortly after my arrival the mission president told me to be companion to and travel with the district president, who was soon to be released. He told me to acquaint myself with the district. It seemed clear to me and all the other missionaries in attendance at the conference where the assignment was made that I would soon succeed him. That was the system employed whenever feasible to effect such changes. Information coming out from mission home personnel tended to confirm this.

We traveled a lot and in our travels I came in contact with Doris on numerous occasions. She took an instant liking to me and constantly maneuvered me into one-on-one conversations of a personal nature. I got the impression that there was something in her past that needed clearing up, and she was seeking someone in whom she could confide. In the beginning that was probably a true assessment of the matter. When she was transferred in the normal course of events she began to write warm letters to me. I answered a few, since I didn't consider myself romantic bait. I had told her about how I was "signed up" with a woman in California (it didn't pan out). Doris wouldn't accept that and one day wrote me a letter asking if I would marry her, after our missions were over. Action was called for and I took it! I match-made her into a mission association with an elder who had been smitten with her from afar, going back several months in time. It worked out and they later married. It was for me a disaster.

Because I was traveling with no set address Doris had written letters to me through the mission office, to be forwarded. I had considered myself guiltless of any wrongdoing, when less than two months later I was abruptly transferred back to the "beat." No reason was given and it troubled me for a time. One day it hit me with a bang! Someone in the office or elsewhere had rung the bell on me and had bad-mouthed me to the president. I had been demoted without being promoted. Having become the victim of a vote of no confidence, from the man at whose pleasure I served, I said nothing to anyone and went about my business, deciding to let my performance speak for me.

After several months had passed, the boss began to use me for specific assignments. Such as planning district conferences, which he invariably called to be held in whatever area I worked at the time. I even gained his permission after one such conference to guide all the elders to attend the movie "Joseph Smith" on the Sabbath. Heady with my success, I then convinced him and his wife to go with us! It was enjoyed by all. My landlady, who was very good to me, invited the couple to a grand dinner at her home. She occasionally went to church with us and had attended the conference.

The president called me to be president of the Kentucky East District and showed great confidence in me and all my activities. Upon one occasion, in a private conversation with one of the elders in my district, the contents of which he could be sure would be relayed by that elder to me, he took occasion to say many nice things about me and concluded with the remark, "Sometimes we believe things that are told to us by others as they concern an individual. We ought not to do this. We should find out for ourselves."

The compliment to which I previously alluded came about as I was winding down my mission. The president wrote me a nice letter, citing my' long experience in the field and knowledge of both personnel and the requirements necessary to be a good leader. He asked me to please send to him "eyes only" my recommendations as to which ones would be good district presidents.

I gave President Jensen the names of eight elders from all over the mission who I felt would qualify although some were rather green at that time. Considering my rocky beginning with the president I was greatly pleased to later learn that all of them were to serve as district president, a position of more responsibility than that of counselor to the mission president in the missions of today.

#12 - My Mission Closes At the time I was sent from North Carolina to East Kentucky as the new District President there, I took a circuitous route, one which would not be permissible today. I hitchhiked out of my mission, to visit my sister Alice, then serving in the Eastern States Mission. She was in upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philly [Philadelphia]. I spent two enjoyable days with her and her charming young companion.

Margie Barton had been sent on a mission by her parents to break up a romance of which they disapproved. Alice said she was a good girl and a good missionary.

We did some sightseeing with them as guides, but we also worked. They were happy when I took them tracting and somewhat surprised at some of the techniques used by a veteran elder, a system born of long experience. I enjoyed the visit and when I arrived in Lexington, Kentucky by bus I immediately called the president in Louisville to check in. When I told him of my side trip he said, "Fine, fine," and hoped I enjoyed the trip.

Sister Barton wrote to thank me for coming and when I replied we began a quick exchange of letters, with hers warming up by the minute. Not wanting to be bitten twice I quickly put a stop to that monkey business. Alice told me later that Margie married well.

In August 1941 I was released and again went to visit Alice on my way home. She was then in Harrisburg, PA. I spent a couple of days visiting and tracting with her and her companion Clare Van Damm. Clare was later excommunicated when she joined a polygamous sect.

My nature is such that when I am finished with something, that is the end of it! It was pretty much so with my mission. I never went back, nor did I write to anyone, not even the elder who bought my car. He promised to pay me but did not.

I talked to only two elders from the East Central States Mission when I chanced to meet them later. I attended one single Annual Reunion of the Danish Missionaries which is held in Salt Lake during April Conference. I wondered why I went! It was depressing to see what had been a vibrant, energetic and handsome group of the 30's were all old, worn out, decrepit looking rest home candidates of the 70's. John Steinbeck echoed it best when he said, "You can never go back". You can't! I never again tried!

I did see my first president, Mark B. Garff. I stayed at their home during the war and later when I was in Salt Lake on business. I even went boating with the family on Utah Lake. I came into contact with him in his office during the 70's when I was a bishop and he the Chairman of the Church Building Committee. There were some other meetings and while he and Gertrude were always super-kind, thoughtful and considerate of me, it was never quite the same once the mission experience was behind us.

I met my second mission president when I took up my labors under him in the East Central States Mission. He was a seminary teacher from Springville, Utah. His name was James T. Tew. He had nearly served his term and was released shortly thereafter. My memory of Pres. Tew is of a humble, deeply spiritual man who was long on spirituality and rather short on administration. The mission ran, more or less around him, rather than by, or through him. He was, however, a fine idealistic man. I loved him.

President James P. Jensen was my third and final mission president. He signed my release 28 months into a 30 month foreign mission call. In the cases of many of us from Europe who spent the bulk of our time English speaking, the 1st president knocked off two months. Twenty four months was, and still is, the standard length of a stateside call.

Back to the president. He was a 63 year old, overweight, retired meat market owner from Sandy, Utah who had served a long term as a bishop and told me his call to the mission field was to provide an excuse to release him. He was a great president, a bundle of energy who came into the mission field with his track shoes on, giving no heed at all to a bad heart, saying he could think of no better place to die. He was a man of action and created lots of it with sweeping changes. A great man!

#13 -- Final Episode. For me the curtain rang down on an unusual mission with a little, but chance event, which took place at St. George, Utah, where we [Jane & I] lived after the war. I was walking along the sidewalk and turned through the driveway of a big service station to go down Center Street and was conscious of a car parked at the pumps. An elderly couple emerged from the station, where they had gone to pay their bill and were walking slowly toward the car. The lady suddenly slipped and fell heavily. Her husband, even though he had his arm through hers, was powerless to break her fall. I quickly dashed over and helped her up. In the act of doing so, I said with surprise, "Imagine me meeting you like this!" It was Sister Jensen! I helped them into their car and stood visiting with them for several minutes. She was not injured and they soon went on their way.

With that my mission ended. I walked away from it. It had been a spiritual experience I could never have had in any other way. It had also furnished me with just about every emotion known to man. Success and failure, faith and doubt, pleasure and sorrow, humility and pride, elation and disappointment, courage and loneliness and a host of other feelings, but above all else a spirit of accomplishment and right standing with the Savior, because of the little service I had rendered. The testimony endured, but that part of life was over, done, and now I got on with something else, with the solid conviction that a mission, as with a war experience, doesn't relay change a man. What it really does is intensify what he already is.

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