Saturday, June 19, 2010
Thanks to Auli Summerhays for translating this article for me:
The Mormons want to meet everyone
The bicycle messengers of the Mormon standpoint tour the city of Savonlinna and spread the message both on the streets and at home doors
Tidily dressed in slacks and white dress shirts, the three-man group has been a familiar sight in Savonlinna during the past weeks.
The bicycling missionaries are members of the Mormon society. The American Elder Behnke, Elder Linn and Elder Slade tell they try to meet as many people as possible in Savonlinna.
“We meet people on the street and at times, we go door to door,” shares Linn.
Having spent already four months in Savonlinna, Behnke says that the Mormons want to spread their message everywhere.
“It is a message of hope and love which we consider true. That is why we want to share it with everyone.”
Linn and Slade came to town to accompany Behnke two and a half weeks ago. The missionary assignment given by the Mormon church lasts two years, and a new assignment to a different city can come every six weeks.
The missionaries are mostly male. Currently in Finland, there are about 50 men and 10 women.
According to Slade, there are two reasons for that.
“Most girls accept the call as 21-year-olds while the guys do it as 19-year-olds. Many girls go to the university or get married first, so they will have other things in their lives.”
What gets a twenty-something guy to depart for two years to tour different towns on his bike?
“All our lives, we’ve been told that this is the right thing to do. This is an opportunity to serve Christ and also learn about people and their attitudes towards spiritual things,” clarifies Slade.
The missionary calls of young men have been a practice since the early years of the Mormon church.
“This is for us guys a good experience that prepares us for becoming good husbands and for all things required in life.”
The Mormon preachers travel in twos or threes mostly because of safety. Linn notes that you meet all kinds of people on the streets.
“There are those who are interested and those who truly are not. Often those whose lives aren’t fully in order are interested more easily.
According to Behnke, people who have it well, aren’t usually interested in getting more into their lives.
“We don’t actually know what kinds of people become interested; we just try to speak with everyone.”
You recognize a Mormon ambassador in the city by their clothing, their bicycle and their name badge. According to Linn, people have learned to recognize them already.
“We meet many kinds of people while biking around.”
During a warm day they aren’t required to wear their suit jacket – even if the tie is still hanging around their necks.
“On Sundays, we’ll wear the suit to Church, and during cold weather, we wear the suit coat,” tells Behnke.
After the interview, the missionaries point their bikes towards town to meet people.