You know all those old jokes about how Mormons are always getting mistaken for Jehovah's Witnesses (and vice versa)? Well, I'm living that joke and it feels more like the Twilight Zone than anything else.
Here's the situation: for the last few Saturday mornings two sweet Jehovah's Witness sister missionaries have been stopping by to share a scripture with me and bear their testimony of God's love. They usually stay for about five minutes and chat with the kids and ask about my life and then open up their Bibles. (Side question: Do they use the NIV? Because theirs is slightly modernized and sounds a little different, and my inner literati wants to know.) They smile so big and they are so genuine, I think they think I'm their golden investigator!
The first time they stopped by I made sure to mention that I was Mormon twice during our discussion and I even mentioned the Book of Mormon and that we read it every single day as a family. I think what the JW missionaries heard was "Yes, we're religious and we'd love to hear what you have to say!" But the truth is, I don't want to hear what they have to say--at least not in the way they want me to. I DO want to be respectful. I DO want them to know that I am happy that they have a testimony of Jesus and His love for them. I DO want them to know that I appreciate their good intentions. But I also want them to know that I am deeply committed to the religion I have and that they are not going to change my mind. I don't want to be a Jehovah's Witness. I'm a Mormon, a Latter-day Saint, and I firmly believe that the priesthood we have and the covenants I have made make the LDS church the right one for me. However,I don't want to be rude or insensitive to their beliefs. I also don't want to waste their time.
I have to admit that the part of me that was a ward missionary back in college keeps thinking that there must be a way to turn this around and share my beliefs with them. Who knows, maybe THEY are the golden investigators and they just don't know it! Doesn't that sound like the kind of story that would make the Ensign or a General Conference talk?
But that's just the thing. That's a story. Not real life with real people. Real people and real testimonies are a lot more complicated. I want to do right by these women because I know that they are doing the thing that they believe in and I respect that. And I think about our missionaries and how I want them treated even when people are not interested and I hope that they are being nice to them too. There's some sort of missionary karma out there, I'm sure. Politely letting them down seems like the right thing to do. I just don't know how!
The whole thing is so ironic because we used to live about a block from a Kingdom Hall and we saw the JW missionaries ALL the TIME. They knew that our neighborhood had been completely tracted out and the most they were going to get from us was an offer to give them a cool beverage. But now that we're in a different spot they just keep coming back.
What would you guys do? I seriously need some tips. If you served a mission what was the best/most polite way you were turned down? If you run into missionaries from other churches what do you say? If you aren't Mormon (and don't want to be!)and you run into our missionaries how do you turn them down without being rude?