A Strange New Start
Finally, after seven months as a junior my day of opportunity came. I was promoted to the senior position. I was somewhat baffled over why this took so long as I was the last one in our group to be so promoted, but among the first to learn the lessons as well as being the recipient of high marks on teaching ability.
When I arrived in England I had a goal to baptize 100 people during my two years stay. Some thought that was very unrealistic since the average missionary only was credited with 3 to 4 baptisms during his term. Some missions were a lot more difficult than others. Some missions in Europe had less than one baptism per missionary whereas some in the states had over twenty. So the northern English were resistant, but not as bad as people in some other countries.
I had been out seven months and had only baptized two so I figured I had 98 to go and had to make up for lost time.
I found out my next assignment was one of the smallest towns that had a branch of the church. It was called Peterlee and had about 18,000 people. It was located a couple miles from the eastern sea and the nearest town of significance was Hartlepool, a few miles to the South.
Little did I know the impact this area would have on my life including finding and converting the woman I was to marry who would become the mother of my children.
I arrived in Peterlee the first part of May in 1965. When I entered my new digs I met the last of the two Elders who had worked there before me. He was just leaving. So I asked him about the area. His response went something like this:
“This is the worst town of my mission and has a reputation of being the most difficult town in the mission. One problem is that it is so small that you can knock on all the doors in a month and then you have to start over. I’ve been meeting people here lately who say, ‘Weren’t you just here a few weeks ago?’
“The members are also few in number and discouraged and the mission home was going to shut the church down here and send the members to the branch in Hartlepool. I felt bad for the few members that want the branch to stay open and asked President Payne to give it one more chance. Well, Elder Dewey, you are their last hope. If you can’t make something happen here then there will be no more church in Peterlee.
“Thanks for the heads up,” I said. “I’ll give it my best shot.”
The elder gathered up his luggage and took off to his next assignment. A few hours later my new companion arrived. This time I was to be the senior and he the junior.
When an Elder is made a senior he always hopes he will receive a fresh companion from the states as his junior. The reason for this is a “green elder,” as they were called, is not yet set in his ways or discouraged and is usually much more cooperative than one who has been out a while. Well, I never did get a green elder during my two years there and my new companion was no exception. He had been out for over three months.
Finally, he showed up. His name was Elder Huish. He was a nice looking blond kid about six foot and seemed to have a good personality. By all appearances, it seemed that he would be a good companion for the work.
But then after we finished the small talk I learned that not only was I assigned a problem town, but a problem elder.
Elder Huish explained to me that he was raised in the church but was never sure if it was true or if there was a God. He said he was particularly desirous to find out if God existed and thought that maybe if he went on a mission he would find proof about God’s reality.
“So, what have you concluded so far?” I asked.
“I’ve concluded that there is no God,” he said.
“Are you telling me that I have an atheist as a companion?”
“I suppose so, unless you can convince me that there is a God.”
“Good grief,” I thought to myself. “Is this some type of cosmic joke? After all this preparation and waiting for opportunity I am sent to what is supposed to be the worst town in the mission and given an atheist as a companion to convert people to God!’
I paced the floor back and forth and concluded, “Just my luck; here’s my big opportunity to be in charge and I have the worst town and the worst possible companion.” I had never heard of an atheist missionary.
We talked further and Elder Huish was somewhat apologetic. He said, “I never wanted to be an atheist and have always wished there was a God. Going on a mission was the final step I could think of to prove His existence and that hasn’t worked. There is only one thing I haven’t tried yet.”
“Praying to Satan.”
“Praying to Satan! I gasped. “Are you out of your mind? Why would you consider such a thing?”
“Here’s my reasoning,” he said. “If I were to pray to Satan and he were to show up that would prove that he exists and if Satan exists then there also has to be a God.”
“But if Satan were to show up he would try to convince you that there is no God or that he is the only God,” I said.
Elder Huish didn’t accept my reasoning and insisted that just a glimpse of Satan would give him evidence that there was a God. He had prayed for God to show his face or give him evidence and nothing happened so maybe the devil would be more cooperative.
“You’re not still considering praying to Satan, are you?” I asked.
“Matter of fact, I am. After all, it is the only thing I haven’t tried.”
I then tried everything in my power to get a commitment from him to not pray to Satan but he wouldn’t give one.
Finally, I said, “I encourage you in the strongest terms not to do this. We’ve all heard horror stories told by missionaries of Elders having dealings with Satan and the end is always catastrophic. I will tell you this. If you work with me and cooperate you will see evidence of God and won’t have to pray to Satan to get it. Are you at least willing to put in the required hours doing the missionary work?”
He said he was, but he didn’t want to teach or pray that I would have to do all of that. He said he liked people and would be friendly and supportive as long as we were together.
“Have you thought of just going home?” I asked.
“Actually, that is my plan,” he said, “but it is easier said than done. As you know, the mission home keeps all of the missionaries’ passports in a safe and will only release them and pay your way home if you complete a successful mission. Now if I were to get excommunicated they would give me my passport and send me home in disgrace, but that would break my parents’ hearts.”
“So what is your plan?”
“My plan is to save up enough money to get home and then somehow get in the mission home, get my passport and head back to the states. At least I’ll still be a member of the church and my parents can live with that.
“Okay,” I said. I then thought of the old truism that we have to plough with the horses we have and so I would give this most difficult town my best attempt as well as do my best to work with my non-believing companion.
That night and every other evening for the next two months I worked with him I slept with one eye open being somewhat nervous that he would hop out of bed in the middle of the night and pray to Satan. One of the missionaries’ favorite pastimes when they get together is to tell horror stories of wayward Elders’ encounters with Satan. Who knew if they were true or not but they were strange enough to give anyone the creeps.
Elder Huish didn’t always rise on time and didn’t spend much time in the required studies but he did agree to be ready for work at 9 AM. As a senior the main thing I decided to do that was different was to only spend essential time with members and all the time possible knocking on doors. Much of the time we did spend with members was late at night when knocking on doors was impossible as we often visited until midnight. This was frowned upon by the mission home but it was not a big enough infraction to warrant discipline. I guess they thought we might be working overtime.
As I plunged into my new assignment I experienced a rather delightful change in consciousness. Before this time I seemed to be going through what is commonly called the dark night of the soul – at least as far as I was concerned. At the age of sixteen I began having some unusual spiritual experiences and one of the problems they generated was that I felt that there was no one I could share them with else they might think I was going crazy. This and some other problems made me feel very isolated and alone. I felt such a deep aloneness that it made me wonder if my feelings were unique to me. After experiencing this for about five years (I was 20 at this time of my mission) I then experienced something else that seemed unique in that I never heard anyone talk about such a happening in the church.
This event could have been just one more thing I couldn’t share leading to more isolation of my feelings except this event became the cure and not something that exacerbated the problem.
What happened was this. My companion and I were walking down the street and we were both pretty much lost in our own thoughts. Then very gently a pleasant feeling distilled upon my soul. It was a spiritual feeling but not “the spirit” as seen by the church. As I contemplated the feeling something interesting dawned on me: I was not alone. I was a part of a group mind, an intelligent network, or a spiritual internet as I now call them. This was the beginning of my understanding of the “Oneness Principle” that I have taught about so often.
As I tuned into this group mind I began to perceive several things about it. The first was that its vibration was very high and uncomfortable until one adjusts to it – something like a bright light takes some adjustment.
The second was that it has always been linked to me – at least in this life, but I was unable to perceive it. They had been helping me prepare for contact for some time sending me energy to increase my vibration. When this came I didn’t understand it and thought maybe I was going crazy. These weird feelings didn’t make any sense to me at the time, but when the link was finally established I then understood.
The third was that my group was not infinite in number but was maybe a couple dozen souls, but they were linked to other groups and the whole composed an “innumerable company.” See Heb 12:22
I sensed that I was to pay attention to this contact and continue to adjust to it. Its purpose was not to give me any particular revelation but open a door for me to share intelligence and raise my consciousness. This I sought to do and by the end of my mission experience the group consciousness seemed quite normal. The group eventually seemed like one mind rather than numerous minds linking.
The positive effect of this experience was that I never felt alone again. The downside was I was more sensitive to the vibration of all those with whom I was working or dealing with and I would sometimes literally share their pain. It took me a couple years to adjust to this so it wouldn’t be such a distraction.
The extra sensitivity was also very helpful in the missionary work. When we knocked on a door and started giving the presentation I could sense right away if there was a chance of teaching them. If there was not I would cut the presentation short and move on. If there was, then I would spend whatever time necessary to get their interest, even if it took an hour. Thus my atheist companion and I moved onward in the little town of Peterlee, the supposedly worst town in the mission.
Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey