One more door before District Meeting. We knocked and a woman answered. She was very polite and listened to our brief spiel. Then we asked a question. Perhaps it was, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” Or maybe something about the Book of Mormon.
Didn’t matter. Because we’d unwittingly contacted the undisputed world leader in conjunction usage.
She began talking about her lost faith. And then her house plants. And then the local school children. And that was just the start. With a mind-bending array of “ands,” “buts,” “sos” and “therefores” she moved us seamlessly from one topic to the next: health woes, family politics, international trade, neighborhood gossip, grocery prices.
Audible breaths: zero.
Signs of letting up: zero.
Consecutive clauses strung together through proper conjunction: not counted.
We were too busy trying to get in on the conversation.
“I agree, so…”
“That’s right, in fact…”
But there was no conversation. She had entered another realm, lost in her art. And she was going for the record.
An hour and a half later, we said, “Goodbye,” and stepped off the porch. I don’t know if she heard us say it or if she even noticed our departure. Because as we reached the end of the block, she was still going strong.
Missionary work is about relationships, empathy, compassion. It’s also about making the best of potentially frustrating situations. Years later, I wonder if this woman had some mental health issues. Or maybe just didn’t get the social training most of us take for granted. But I also like to think that somewhere out there is a woman, still standing on her porch, giving us all a piece of her mind.