Posted by: nflanders | March 30, 2005

Juanita Fulano, I’m sorry

I don’t want to give her real name, but she is one of my greatest regrets. I had been in the mission (located in South America) for two and a half months and my companion and I were teaching the mother of an inactive member. She was very nice, and always had a hot meal ready for us, despite our insistence that we had already eaten. We progressed through the discussions quickly, and mother and daughter returned to church for two weeks in a row. On the day before her baptismal interview with the District Leader (and just two days before her scheduled baptism) she told us about an interesting movie she had seen on television.
I’m still not sure what movie it was, but apparently it featured Brigham Young and at least some of his wives. Obviously, this was the first she had heard of polygamy and she had some questions. My senior companion was handling the “resolve concerns” phase of the commitment pattern. I was shocked to hear him tell her that there was no polygamy in the Church and that Joseph Smith only had one wife. At this time, I was mostly unaware of Joseph’s sticky marital situation, but I thought that he had at least one other wife, otherwise why did Emma get so mad? Of course I wasn’t certain about all this since it’s not exactly in the curriculum at the MTC or in Seminary. So while I thought he was telling the sort-of truth (and I’m sure he probably thought he was too), he was certainly not being honest with her.
I opened my mouth and promptly shut it again. Could I have said something? Sure, I could have tried to explain the history of polygamy, and explain why we don’t follow it any more, but I doubt I could have done it satisfactorily then or now. The heart-breaking thing is that she probably would have accepted the Church’s past polygamy had we told her about it. She was golden. But instead we chose the coward’s way out, and kept her in the dark so she would definitely get baptized. My companion went on to become ZL and I went on to become an eternal junior companion.
I try not to think about this and similar incidents from my mission often because they really disturb me. Like many other shameful episodes in my life, I try to put this out of my mind and pretend it never happened.
Is Juanita Fulano inactive today? Probably. Is she inactive because she found out about polygamy? Probably not. But she still deserved missionaries who lived up to the name on their tags.



  1. don’t beat yourself up, you were a naive 19 year old (or somewhere near that age). if missionaries were honest about the history of the church then there’d be only wackos for converts (not that this isn’t usually the case anyway).

    i was an eternal junior companion too. almost the whole mission, although i did get to be senior and DL for a few months at the end. welcome to the club. perhaps some time i’ll give you the history of why that was. it’s mildly entertaining.

  2. Interesting blog. Thank you.

    I invite you to come study baptism and the Holy Spirit with me.

    Terry Finley

  3. m–
    I always like hearing mission stories, especially from Elders like me (we always have better stories than the squares).

  4. perhaps i’ll post one here later. let me think about it.

  5. I’ve always liked you Ned, but to read one of your favorite books is El Juguete Rabioso—your the only other Mormon yanqui I’ve ever who has ever heard of Roberto Arlt much less has read anything he ever wrote.

    His Aguafuertes Porteñas is good too; Los Siete Locos and Los Lanzallamas are OK.

    The movie you are probably referring to is the Spanish language translation of “Avenging Angel”. I was in Argentina in ’98 on a trip when it was shown, and some of my old mission friends asked about it. They too had no idea about polygamy.

    Saludos te manda este rufian melancolico


  6. Nice Blog!!! It looks like you’ve spent a fair amount of time setting it up and keeping the content fresh. I’ll be sure to come back.

    I have a online dating blog. It pretty much covers dating desi india indian related stuff.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  7. […] not exactly true, however. Almost a year and a half previously, I lied about polygamy to an investigator too. Unfortunately, there is no denying this: I was a coward. I was content to let them believe in […]

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