Planks asked how we were received.
Missionaries are always in pairs, sometimes in threes. They do not choose to whom they are paired, nor do they stay with that person for the entire two years. The rule book says these “companions” are to be within sight and sound of each other at all times, the restroom being the sole exemption.
There is scriptural basis for this practice “in the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”, (2 Cor. 13:1) but there are also reasons practical. When sending 19 year old males out into the world it is safer for all concerned that they have another with them. It is also wise to have another set of eyes to witness what goes on; to later defend or quite often mock, the players in events that transpire.
Doorsteps were usually safe. If large dogs were present and angry, we went elsewhere. If inhabitants were present and angry, they would usually just curse us and our cause, and then we would go elsewhere. The thing that was probably least safe was the commute to elsewhere.
While riding my bike along city streets I dodged three beer bottles (that I can recall) but was unable to avoid a bagel, two donuts, and one motorcyclist.
I was riding a good 50 yards in front of my companion, he was slow. I was well over on the shoulder, a good five feet from the lanes of traffic. It was a busy highway so I did not think to be alarmed at the motorcycle swerving over toward me. I never saw it. No, I take that back, I did see it as it sped away. There was a passenger riding on the back, twisting around to watch me. I could not see, but I’m sure the passenger was smiling. There was no way not to see my companion’s smile when he finally came skidding to a halt beside me.
“Dude, that was the funniest thing I have ever seen!” He exclaimed as I stared up at him from the ditch. “I totally saw it coming too. That guy was riding the yellow line and the passenger leaned way over to get a good shove on your backpack.” I asked him why he didn’t warn me. He said there may not have been time but more importantly, he wanted to watch it happen.
I was luckier than another missionary we knew. He was in a more rural part of Georgia with a different demographic. Rather than a motorcycle his assailants were in a pickup, with a bat, and he received two broken arms. He healed just fine. I have no idea if his companion warned him.
I’m smiling as I type this. I’m remembering Elder Reese and me walking down Campbellton Road. We were on the sidewalk, he between me and the road. A large town car, built before either of us were born, honked as it went by, the passenger leaning out the window screaming. This was normal, I just kept walking. Elder Reese didn’t. He stood frozen and silent. As I turned to look at him I saw he was completely wet from head to foot. “It’s warm. Is it…?” He couldn’t finish his question. I sniffed him. “It’s just beer, maybe Schlitz’s, I’m not sure.” Relieved, he simply swiveled about and began walking back home to change. I just chuckled as I caught up to him, taking my turn to walk on the side facing the street.