[Two Mormon Elders stand adjacent to a popular thoroughfare, attempting to catch the attention of passersby. On a table next to them are displayed various samples of Church-produced art, most of which depict either families or images of the Savior’s ministry. At the center of the display is a framed copy of “The Family: A Proclamation.” A man approaches, his attention visibly piqued. Elder Q reaches for a copy of the Book of Mormon, while Elder P gears up to speak with man.]
Elder P: Good afternoon. Have you got a minute for a quick message?
Paul: Sure, I think I can spare a minute or so. You guys Baptists?
Elder P: Actually we’re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You probably know us better as Mormons. My name is Elder P and this is my companion, Elder K. [Extends his hand]
Paul: [Shakes hands with both Elders] I’m Paul.
Elder P: Today we’re just handing out some free literature with information about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and sharing a special message about families. You a family man, Paul?
Paul: You might say that, yeah. Married ten years. Anniversary next week. Here [produces an iphone with illuminated screen], these are my kids. Kelly is almost 8, and Matt and Adam, the twins, just turned 3.
Elder Q: That’s a beautiful family. I have a twin brother too. He’s a missionary in Poland.
Elder P: Actually Paul, our message is particularly important for families. Can I ask you a question?
Elder P: Do you ever feel like the world is not the most friendly place for families, for your family?
Paul: Well, honestly, we’re very happy and feel pretty secure most of the time, but, sure, there are times when it feels like there are forces in the world that aren’t exactly helping, you know what I mean?
Elder P: I think we all feel that sometimes.
Paul: I mean, I didn’t ever feel it before starting a family of my own, but now that we have kids, it’s pretty hard to miss sometimes.
Elder P: Are you a religious man?
Paul: Sort of. I was raised Catholic, but gradually drifted away from that as I grew older. My parents still give me a hard time because we never had the kids baptized.
Elder P: How would you like to learn how you and your family can be together, as a family, forever? For all eternity.
Paul: That’s an interesting question. I guess I just always thought that would be the case anyway, assuming there actually is some kind of eternity, some afterlife.
Elder P: That’s the core of our message. That there is an afterlife, there is an eternity. God is our father, our real, actual father who loves us and wants us to be like Him. Through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can not only return to our Father, but our family bonds will be in place forever. We can progress eternally, as families. And it’s all possible through the Gospel, as restored through this man, Joseph Smith.
[A brief discussion of Joseph Smith’s story follows, along with a cursory explanation of the Great Apostasy, the Book of Mormon, modern revelation, and temple worship]
Paul: So what exactly happens in these temples then?
Elder P: Well we consider the temple to be very sacred, and we don’t talk about the details of what happens inside when we’re outside the temple. But the most important thing is that once you have made certain promises to God—promises to live your life a certain way and to obey His laws—you and your family can participate in a ceremony that will seal you together for time and eternity. I know it might sound a little weird, but I want you to know that I know the power to do this is real, this ceremony really does seal us together. I know that I will be together with my family forever. Both the family I come from and the family I still hope to start after I’m done being a missionary.
Paul: I have to confess, when I first walked up I was more just curious than seriously interested in what you had to say You seem like nice, very sincere, and dedicated young men and I admire the work you’re doing. But it was still mostly just a mild curiosity. But I’ve also been thinking about some of these questions recently. Not so much about the Church in the New Testament or truth being lost or anything like that, but about families and about how family life might be a part of the afterlife. I think it’s very cool, and very interesting that you Mormons don’t just care about being with families in the afterlife, but that you make being a part of a family a key part of what it means to find salvation. And I have to say that I have found it very moving to listen to you describe it. It stirred something inside me. This is going to sound weird, but I kind of feel like I’ve been waiting for this. I don’t pray, I haven’t since I was a kid. But I do sometimes just silently talk to myself, almost as if there is a God listening. I feel like, if he is there, if he did hear me, then he might have sent me to you. Listen, I have to go, but I would really like to talk with you more, and I would especially like for my family to hear this message. Would you guys be willing to come to my house sometime and talk more?
Elder P: Absolutely. We’ll come anytime. Just tell us when and where. [Hands him a copy of the Book of Mormon and the Proclamation on the Family] Take these with you and read through them, particularly this Proclamation. Talk about it with your family and then we can answer any questions you have. I want you to know that what you felt when we were talking here, that was the Holy Ghost. It was God testifying to you that what you suspect is true. He did send you to us. We do pray, and we have been praying for to find someone like you, someone prepared to hear this amazing message. I felt it too, and it’s a powerful feeling. Remember it and trust it. I testify to you that your family can be together forever, through the power of the restored priesthood and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Paul: Wow. Thank you.
Elder P: Can we come sometime this week?
Paul: Yeah, any evening is fine. Can we feed you?
Elder P: That would be great. How about tomorrow, 6:00?
Paul: Sounds great. Just a warning, though. Brian—my husband—is much more skeptical about religion than I am, so he might be a harder sell. Still, he’s pretty open-minded so he should be willing to at least listen.
Elder P: Your husband?
[An awkward pause]
Paul: Is that a problem?