They pass by my house just about every day.
They don’t have a strict schedule. Sometimes it’s shortly after daybreak. Other times it’s around noon. A few times it’s late afternoon. It’s not hard to spot a Mormon here in Iquitos. They’re always dressed in clean clothes. A clean but well used pair of black or gray slacks, a short-sleeve white shirt and a black tie.
They always travel in pairs. Usually a young American and a young Peruvian. California born Albert Johnson and native Enrique Ramirez (it seems that half the population in this town has the last name of Ramirez) patrol the neighborhood where I live.
Several times they have stopped and asked to speak to me about their faith. “Thanks, but not thanks,” is my usual reply.
I have a huge respect for Latter Day Saints. I know of no other religion that requires their young men to serve as missionaries in foreign countries. Also, Mormons insists that their believers donate ten percent of their earnings to their church. As a son of a Baptist preacher and once the husband of a Methodist minister’s daughter, I’m aware that just about all Christian denominations “ask” their congregations to give ten percent to their church. I’m also aware that those who do so are in the minority.
The last time Albert and Enrique asked to “chat” with me about my faith, I jokingly replied, “No, thanks, but I can offer you a cold soft drink.” It happened about eleven-thirty in the morning as the sun was scorching the street pavement. Enrique was at a loss for words. But Albert took the joke in stride.
“Thanks, Señor Leo,” he replied, a wide smile creasing his young face. “But we’ll pass on that.”
At least I didn’t ask him about Romney losing the election. As they left, Alberto called back over his shoulder, “Have a blessed day.”
“You, too,”I replied.
When it comes to the Mormons, you may not agree with their theology, but you have to admire their dedication to their faith.