Dear Family and Friends,
I wish I had the ability to better express myself to somehow paint for you exact picture of what I experienced this week. I was blessed with the unique opportunity of going to downtown Jacksonville and proselyting amongst the crowds of people who were going to see the Book of Mormon Musical. (Local Newspaper Article)
Here is a quick rundown of the musical for those who do not know about it. It is not sponsored or supported by the church. It is from the same people who created South Park. It is the same tasteless and vulgar humor that they are used to creating only worse because it is a live performance rather than prime-time television. It is about two Mormon missionaries who go to Uganda on their missions. It focuses its mockery towards the church, but it really mocks all of organized religion in general.
Now, we understand that their goal is to make money and they are doing a great job of that. So, to get offended and protest the show would be a down-right foolish and childish response. Seeing as how the true church of Jesus Christ is neither foolish or childish, we have taken something negative and turned it into something very positive. The following is the church’s official statement in response to the musical.
“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” (Link to official statement)
Following in suite with the nature of their response we gathered together a group of 24 missionaries who alternated with each performance going in two groups of 12 to take advantage of this great opportunity. Before the shows we handed it thousands of cards which gave information for a church tour and how to download a copy of the Book of Mormon. After the show we would hand out copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone who was willing to read it. It was so much fun!! We were part of the group that covered opening night.
As we gathered at the rendezvous point there was excitement building in the air as we loaded our bags and our pockets with as many books and cards as we could carry. I drove the van that took us all downtown. No-one had any idea as to how the crowds would react to our presents or to how everything would turn out, but we were full of faith and excitement and we were ready to conquer. We had a pep-talk/ prayer after we parked and then we were off.
Elder Jorgensen and I were looking for the spot that would experience the most traffic, it wasn’t necessarily ideal for teaching or answering questions, but it was perfect for being in front of making an impression upon as many people as we could in the short amount of time that we were afforded. Our spot of choice was right next to the sidewalk that lead to the main entrance of the theatre. Thousands of people had to have walked past that point during the night. As people approached us we would great them by saying “HELLO!, how are you doing today?” With as much enthusiasm as we could muster, and trust me, Elder Jorgensen has more enthusiasm for missionary work than you can imagine. After they responded we would say, “We are the real Mormon Missionaries” Which solicited either a response of a pleasant surprise and some laughter, or… well the opposite, and enjoyable response. Luckily for us most of the people were very nice and happy to see that we were not there to protest. We would disperse our cards to the group and wait for the next wave.
After the show we tried to hold as many copies of the Book of Mormon as we could in our hands keeping another case close by. Before the show the crowds were a steady flow for about 45 minutes as they came for the performance, but afterwards just as many if not more people would all come through in about 10 minutes. We couldn’t hand out books fast enough. I felt like one of the newsies standing in the middle of the chaos holding a books and shouting as people walked by, “Will you read the Book of Mormon?… Here you go… Have a blessed day!… Will you read the Book of Mormon?… oh, okay then, well God bless ya… Will you read the Book of Mormon?” Never did I ever think that I would get to a point on my mission that people were flocking to me to get a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, so much so that I ran out of books every single time.
I hope that that somewhat adequately paints for you a picture of what I experienced those few nights. I could share plenty more details, but I my letter is plenty long enough!
I just want to bear my testimony to y’all that if you have the right attitude that any situation can be turned from bad to beneficial. Attitude is everything!
Have a great week! I Love y’all!!
Elder Joshua Cordon