Monday, May 13, 2013

Who wants to go to Fiji, anyway, unless they're doing touristy things maybe?

It seems that tattoos in visible places on the body can pretty much get people banned from serving LDS missions.  I had never given this topic much thought, but my former on again/off again relationship knew this. I'm not sure about the rule if the tattoo appears on one's buttocks or some similarly not-normally-visible in Mormon-acceptable clothing. Maybe it's on the health form one takes when one has the required physical before a mission. Then again, maybe it's not.  I'll have to research that.

In Jared's case, it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as his tattoo (with my name on it; isn't that just special?) is in a place where at least part of it is visible in a standard T-shirt.

Jared was formally told by his bishop that he would not be serving a mission. no one told the hedge hogs in Provo or salt lake City or wherever the divine inspiration takes place as to whom will be sent where. So on Wednesday, Jared got his envelope. he and some friends, including my brother, got together and had a party at which they opened the thing. I think it's posted on youtube somewhere, but I cannot give more details because I'm supposed to be semi-anonymous, and reveling such details would reduce my chances of anonymity.

So Jared opened his white envelope and read aloud (I saw it all on skype) that he had been assigned to the Fiji Suva mission. (They almost always call each mission by first the nation, then the city  or region.0) So Jared would've been in Fiji, where the roads may be too sandy even for bicycles. I really don't know much about the Fijian islands. there's another topic I'll have to research.

My brother had been planning this demonstration or show of support for Jared, where a whole lot of people would put temporary tattoos on their arms, keep them covered until right in the middle of the sacrament, then take off their jackets and display their tattoos. Once my brother heard that Jared had been called to serve in Fiji, he wanted, instead, for the whole crew to dress up in Fijian attire, whatever that might be --probably floral patterns and those lava lava skirt things that men wear in other parts of Polynesia. Tim, a family friend, told Matthew that while it would be funny, it would be less effective, because the Fijian-attired people either wouldn't be allowed in the door or would be asked to leave shortly after entering. So they went with Plan A.

Tim's temporary tat featured the medical insignia. Matthew found a ridiculous one that was a stop sign. I don't know what would be the point, but Matthew said that was the beauty of it, that there was no point.  Other people got all sorts of interesting artwork. one guy even got a picture of his kindergarten teacher, who was a nun. I didn't know you could have temporary tattoos custom made.
Jared said that the whole thing was going to look a bit suspicious no matter how it went down, but the main thing was that everyone couldn't arrive and sit by him, and everybody couldn't show up in one large group. He said they had to act as though they knew what they were doing, sort of like no genuflecting. You just walk in, shake somebody's hand if they offer it, say either that you're an investigator or that  you're visiting from some made-up ward in any part of the country.

People arrived alone or in groups of two or three.  There were, Matthew believes, a total of forty-nine of them. Seventeen were female, and thirty-two were male. Most of them knew each other, or knew someone in the group. people sat mostly with one or two other co-conspirators, rather than clustering.

First in the Mormon service, the bishop or one of his counselors welcomes everyone. Next comes an opening hymn, for which no one stands, followed by an opening prayer, for which the members also remain seated. then the bishop or one of his counselors conducts any ward business. this might be a change in callings (jobs) for anyone, a new membership, a confirmation of a new member if it wasn't done at the time of the baptism, or that sort of thing. then comes the Sacrament hymn, after which they pretty much barricade the chapel as though they were the Branch Davidians in Waco with David Koresh in charge. The sacramental prayer, read or ideally recited verbatim by someone who holds at lest the office of priest, is said. then someone who is at lest a deacon passes the white wonder bread around. In a normal family wards, it would be mostly 12-year-olds passing the bread around, but there are no 12-year-old deacons in a student ward, so it was ordinary young men passing the trays of bread so that worthy members could partake,

At this point, sweaters, blazers, and jackets started to come off.  It was choreographed so that each person knew when to remove his outer garment rather than everything coming off simultaneously. it was almost like doing the wave, Matthew said. It wasn't until midway through the passing of the water (virtually every other denomination uses grape juice or wine) that the bishop, who had noticed Jared with his visible tattoo and was staring him down, started to notice others. It must have been a tough choice for him: interrupt the sanctity of the Sacrament or let it go for a few additional seconds. Rationality won in the end. The bishop allowed the sacrament distribution to proceed.

At the completion of the sacrament, once the doors were un-barricaded and the place ceased to resemble the Branch Davidian Compound, the Bishop approached the pulpit with an angrily red face. He said that all those present  who were bearing tattoos were invited to cover them with clothing and to keep them covered, or to leave immediately. Everyone watched Jared for his cue. He slowly  picked up his suit jacket -- it looked almost as though he was going to put it on -- then suddenly stood up, walked down the aisle, and out the door. The remaining forty-six followed. Matthew estimated that the forty-seven tattoo bearers comprised probably a third of those resent, so it was a noticeable departure.

Matthew and Jared said they both regret not plating a spy to sit through the rest of the meeting to see what was said and done.  one guy said he drive by shortly thereafter, and it looked as though people were leaving early, s in about two hours early. (The entire meeting trilogy is a three-hour marathon.)
Who knows what really happened?

I wish I'd been there, but Jared's father hates me enough as it is, and I didn't even do anything.  If I'd actually gone to the mini-protest, I would have given him legitimate reason to despise me.