“We were just walking, and he looked back and flipped us off,” [Elder] Brezenski said, adding the driver was carrying a cigarette in the hand he used to make the gesture. “Then the car flipped 10 to 12 feet in the air.”
Giving missionaries the bird + smoking + driving drunk = Invoke the wrath of God.
A combination of blunders and a marvelous slap from above.
This is the stuff of missionary folklore.
The car accident happened this week in Indiana, and the Elders were restrained in their description to local media, making no mention of whether feet had been dusted prior to the collision.
Rewind to 1935. Legrand Richards, then-President of the infamous Southern States mission, shared a similar story of missionary-vindicating justice in General Conference. I came across the legend while researching the history of LDS views on disabilities, and this may be one of the most unfortunate examples I’ve found so far:
I was in the city of Augusta, Georgia, a few months ago, and a good sister there told me this story: She said she had a friend in that city who was a member of the Church, and this friend said that her grandfather was the one man in the county in which he resided in former days who would receive our Mormon missionaries in his home. One day her cousin said to his grandfather, “Grandfather, the next time those Mormon missionaries come here if you receive them I will slap them in the face.” And, she said, “True to his promise, the next time they came he did slap one of them but the Elder did not retaliate.” She said, “That man’s mind left him and he became an idiot, and he has been in the insane asylum ever since.”
I could stand here and relate to you for a long time the evidences that the Lord is with his missionaries guiding them in their work (Conference Report, April 1935, pp. 40-41).
In historical context, the term “idiot” was frequently employed to describe people we now refer to as having intellectual or cognitive disabilities. I guess it goes without saying that it’s more likely that the individual already had some difficulties prior to the altercation with the elders. During that period institutionalization was rather common, less so today due to the advent of various psychotropic medications and a heavier emphasis placed on placement in group homes.
With stories like that it’s probably a good thing Pres. Richards refrained from relating more evidences…