When I arrived in the mission field, nineteen and green as grass, I was mostly frightened and homesick. That lasted about four weeks. The homesick part. Fortunately my parents, though poor, were entirely in favor of this adventure. After spending a night in the mission home, sleeping alone upstairs in a quiet Cambridge neighborhood, where I didn’t actually sleep, I was sent to the airport at 9 a.m. where I had to buy a ticket to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This was all new stuff to me and I was pretty nervous about it. But I finally boarded my flight. I had no glorious experience on board, you know, meeting someone who was utterly disarmed by my simple faith, etc., etc. I was met by my companion at the airport, and we were driven to a small town on the peninsula. The area had not seen missionaries for some time, though it sported something miraculous: a chapel housing a branch of about 50. I have no idea how they raised the cash (70% in that era). But I think it must have had a golden age sometime previous, and then lost some significant population. I played the piano in that branch (too loud and too fast) a few times, until they suddenly felt a cappella held heretofore unrealized virtues. I think it was about that time that the mission president forbade us from attending church, unless we were accompanying a potential convert. So I think we attended once in the next six months.
One of the things new missionaries discovered with some shock was the responsibility of establishing a home. This is the sort of thing your mom took care of, you know, figured out WHERE TO GET BED SHEETS AND SPOONS. And of course, find a furnished apartment. A substantial river ran through the town and across the bridge from the chapel we found an apartment with one bedroom. My companion slept on the couch, and I got the bedroom. Next day, I got my first dose of tracting. It was unpleasant for a nerdy introvert, as many others can attest, and sent me off to repair my nearly complete lack of knowledge of the Bible (we actually talked to someone–who turned out to be Jehovah’s Witnesses overseer I think).
P-day was Monday, and as we were discouraged from visiting with members, following a scouting trip to the post office where we set up a General Delivery relationship, we ran into the person staying in the next apartment. Caleb Bunch. He was remarkably friendly, perhaps because he was about as friendless as we were. I can’t recall why he was living in this out-of-the-way hamlet, but he was. Next week we spent most of P-day in his company and had dinner with him. It was then I think that our District Leader took a notion to visit us. I’m sure to see if we were blowing off the entire day rather than just the requisite hours to 5 p.m. (which of course, we were). We got the tongue lashing for it. What baffles me just a little, is the degree to which we were somehow cowed by this. Not that I’m a Rebel. It’s just that he was a kid, a couple of years older than I was, but a kid. Anyway, I’m getting away from the object of this thing. Caleb.
Caleb was single, Jewish (not practicing), an attractive man by my judgement, but alone–possibly reflecting the very Protestant nature of the region. I think he only had about 4 months in country and then he was heading back to the UK. I don’t know for sure now, why. I can’t recall. But Caleb welcomed our attempts to convert him. We gave him “discussions” (mostly for practice as far as I could tell). We were puzzled as to how to approach the problem of Jesus, and to be honest, we were unprepared for such a possibility. And he remained impervious but very jolly and open to our visits, usually on P-days. In that time, tracting for 60-80 hours a week was considered a must. I don’t know what would happen to you if you conspired not to do that. Nothing I imagine, except possibly solemn stares or phone calls. In any case, we did count that time with Caleb as missionary time, though it was more friendly banter, which sometimes degenerated into laughter and then a kind of broadening of cultural horizons. Of all our “investigators” he was most fun I think, but the Rules made it difficult to keep spending time with people where no progress happened. Stern voices bade us move on, and we did. It was too bad for us I think. Winter closed in, and Caleb departed, while we trudged the snowy streets smelling the woodsmoke and getting our faces frozen off. Where are you Caleb? I wonder. In the hereafter, I hope we can sit down and chat, unimpeded by the rules.
 Our other countable investigator was the semi-retired Baptist preacher at the south end of town. We bought bicycles to get around and while drunken sailors (what *do* you do with them?) sometimes swore at us or threatened to beat us up, it was mostly a quiet ride down there, where we debated the merits of the Book of Mormon. He was pretty fun to talk to, but obviously considered us a lower form of life. The startling thing was that he had actually read the book, and was prepared to debate what he saw as major inconsistencies with the Bible. Another reason to actually read it.