***This is a story a good friend of mine wrote a while back. Thought I’d put it up here for others to read.***
The Tale of Two Sister-Missionaries
Sister Sally Smith and her cousin, Jennifer Ballard, went out on their missions on the very same day. Sister Smith went to England, Sister Ballard to Taiwan. Coming home from their missions, coincidentally, they arrived at the Salt Lake Airport at the same time, within 15 minutes of each other. Sister Smith’s family was there to congratulate her for a job well done. Honorably released. Fifteen minutes later, Sister Ballard’s family was there also, cheering her return and excited for honorable release.
Sister Smith and Sister Ballard had been called from the same Ward, interviewed by the same Bishop and Stake President. In fact, they even went to the Temple together to “take out” their Endowments. But then again, these two sisters had always done things together, going to Primary and Sunday School and Relief Society together. Family reunions, they planned together. And now, here they were coming home together.
Next step? Sally and Jennifer headed off to BYU, both majoring in accounting, both having their Associates Degree from Ricks College. Two more years and each graduated from “the Y” with their Bachelor Degree’s in Accounting. Sally went to work for the Utah State Tax Commission. Jennifer went to work for a local accounting firm in Salt Lake City.
In the course of their employment, Sally met and fell in love with LaMar Christensen, a good Church member who was active and held a current Temple Recommend. LaMar was Sally’s “boss” and headed one of the teams in Collections Department of the Utah State Tax Commission. Sharp, and efficient, well-spoken, LaMar had a bright future before him.
But not so with Jennifer. There were no prospects for marriage before her. She was quite active in “the Singles program”, but no man seem to take any interest in her. Of the two sisters, Sally was the better dressed, the better looking and more able to engage men in conversation. Jennifer was kinda shy, a little backward, dressed more homespun but she was deeply invested in the Restored Gospel. Sally also had a testimony, but was more invested in the “social scene” the Church offers.
Three years from the time she completed her mission, Sally married LaMar in the Salt Lake Temple. Sealed for Time and all Eternity. Sally was excited. Family. Active in the Church. Sending her sons and daughters on missions. Grandchildren. Some day, the Celestial Kingdom
From time to time, Sally and Jennifer visited together. Sally subtly made sharp jabs at Jennifer because Jennifer remained in her spinster state and seem to have no prospects of marriage.
Sally and LaMar were happy in their Temple Marriage, living and struggling financially in their small apartment in downtown Salt Lake City. They discussed starting a family, but LaMar announced that they needed to put off having children until “they were financially secure”. One year turned into two years, then three years and four years. Sally was growing impatient. Soon enough, the couple was able to purchase a home, pay off their two BMW’s which they had purchased to commute “to work” And still LaMar insisted that they needed to get a “nest egg to fall back on, in case things went badly for them financially.” Sally was getting desperate. Approaching her 29th year and still no children. On one Friday, late in May, she had come early from work. She really needed to talk to LaMar. She needed to pour out her feelings on her strong and ardent desire to start a family.
LaMar came home looking sullen and serious. The confrontation. Sally blurted out, “LaMar, it is time for us to have a family!!!!” LaMar looked down at the floor, shuffled his feet slightly, looked up with tears in his eyes, “That will never be, Sally. We will NEVER have children together!”. Sally felt a cold shiver go down her spine and lodge like a kick in her gut. There was more to his declaration than just the words. His body language was communicating something so very, very awful. “I have fallen in love with another woman….” LaMar muttered.
Divorce!! A divorce was coming and she could FEEL it, like steel knives carving up her heart, knocking the breath and life out of her. She just stared straight ahead, through LaMar as if he were not there. Words that were from a distant galaxy came out of her, as if another woman not her was speaking. “Very well,” she said with a hollow ring, “Who moves out? You or me?” Then she caught herself. If he moves out, he moves out into her arms. There is still a chance I might save this marriage—IF.. IF, he has not broken his Covenants with her. “Did you break your Covenants with her? Did you break the Law of Chastity?”
His sullen reply, “No, I have not gone that far. But I want to live with her, not you. I love her. I don’t love you any more.”
Again, the hollow question, “Can our marriage be ‘saved’?
The sullen reply, “No. I don’t want to ‘save’ our marriage.”
Sally wheeled around weakly, and headed for the bedroom. Invading the closet, she took out three suitcases and began to load them up with her clothes and other personal effects. In happier times, these same suitcases had been employed to make the week-end “get-away” for a few days of fun and games in not-too-distant places. But as she thought on these “get-aways”, she reflected that in the past nearly two years, they had not gone any where as a couple. Their only excursions had been to far away places to attend Professional Seminars and those usually alone.
Sally moved out to live with Jennifer for a time, not knowing Jennifer’s “secret”. The divorce came. Sally found her own apartment and moved there. LaMar went on to marry his “new sweetheart”, the very woman who worked as his Personal Assistant and Secretary in his newly acquired position as “head” or “chief” of the Utah State Tax Commission Collections Department. As LaMar had not broken his Temple Covenants, there was no “Church action” against his membership. LaMar and Kristen were married in the Salt Lake Temple, after LaMar had successfully petitioned and received a “Temple Divorce” from the First Presidency’s office. He personally knew one of the members of the First Presidency who was able to “arrange things for him”.
Now, Sally was back into the Single’s Program of the Church, searching for her Eternal Companion who would open the way for her to have children—a full life in the Church as she had taught on her mission and had always envisioned as a young MIA Maid.
Turning the page, we go to Jennifer’s family history and progress. For five years, Jennifer was active and diligent in her Church callings, attending every Single’s Activity that was sponsored by her Stake. She even took time off of work to make sure she was at every Single’s Activity. But each week, each activity she’d see the same old guys there, too frighten to marry, too timid that another woman would “take them to the cleaners”. Most of the men were either divorced or so nerdy that they would never make a suitable Patriarch in any family setting.
As Jennifer was pursuing an active role in her Ward, she one day had occasion to meet Owen Jessop, a kindly older man, who seem to have a gentleness and a civility and charity about him that she found infectious. He was having her do his taxes for himself, several businesses he owned as well as three single, Head-of-Household women with children which she found curious. Upon further inquiry, she found this man was a polygamist. Poor women!! She thought to herself, until she actually met two of his “wives”. They were not poor at all. In fact, they seem quite happy, free and rejoicing in their children and in their family. They all three spoke quite highly of Owen and what a great father and husband he was to the family. But it was obvious they were not rich as to things of the world.
Jennifer wanted to know more. She called up Owen and asked him kindly if she could learn more about WHY and HOW they were able to live the Law of Plural Marriage, as these three sisters called what they were doing. Owen kindly received the 28-year old Jennifer and began to explain to her how the early Saints had made provision to continue the Law of Plural Marriage with Priesthood Authority. He challenged her to pray and ask God if what he shared with her was true, just as she had done on her mission with her investigators.
Jennifer went home, prayed about what Owen had taught her and the Lord spoke to her clearly in a personal revelation that what Owen had shared with her was in fact the Truth. Jennifer burst into tears, full of the Holy Ghost, as women often do, when they are touched by the Spirit of God. Not only was she given such a testimony of Keys and Priesthood outside of the Church to effect these ordinances, but she was told that she should marry into Owen’s family and there become a wife to him and a sister-wife to his three other wives.
Jennifer returned to Owen’s home, knocked on his door and stood there humbly. Owen knew right away that she had received her answer and that she would be joining his family, the Lord having directed her to do that.
When Sally had come to Jennifer’s little apartment, as the refugee she was, Jennifer was but a week away from marrying Owen. Jennifer dare not tell Sally. Sally was already upset with her impending divorce. No use burdening her with this bit of disconcerting news.
Jennifer married Owen at the beginning of June and Jennifer found out for herself what a magnificent and kindly man she had married. He was wise in all his decisions and dealings with his wives and children. He was totally dedicated to the Fullness of the Gospel, and his family and loved the Church with all his heart, having served a Spanish speaking mission in his youth for the Church.
Within a year, Jennifer became pregnant with her first child, a little boy, whom she named Joseph. Nine more children came over the years to Jennifer and Owen, to add to the other children of the other three wives which were 24 in number at that time. The family struggled financially, with so many mouths to feed, so many bodies to house and clothe, but the family moved on and always had sufficient for their needs.
In her 34th year of life, more than five years after marrying Owen, Jennifer received a telephone call from Sally. As she listened to Sally lament her singleness and her ardent desire to have children, she was suddenly struck by the thought of inviting Sally to join her family as a Fifth Wife. She would make a wonderful addition, so thought Jennifer.
So, Jennifer invited Sally over to her home to meet Owen and her four children and show her the joys of family life, especially life in the Principle. Sally showed up to Jennifer’s home, out in the boonies of Utah County and they met for the first time since Sally was a refugee and then divorced.
Sally was a little confused. Jennifer had never told her she was married, nor invited her to a Temple Sealings, as she had done when LaMar and she were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
“You are married? You have children? Why didn’t you ever tell me, Jennifer?” inquired Sally.
“Its because my husband is a polygamist and I am his fourth wife. We were married by Priesthood Authority in a place where you could not come—an Endowment House.”
Sally shuddered and had that “weird feeling” come over her, as if she had been struck by lightening. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No”, she replied, “This is where the Lord has led me—to a very righteous and kindly man who is the Father of my children. I am very happy living this way.”
Sally nearly wanted to jump up from the couch where she was sitting. “This is nuts, Jennifer. You don’t own a decent car. The cars which I saw as I pulled into your driveway are all junkers. Your house is in need of repairs and is not very comfortable at all, with all these kids running around. I can guess that you don’t have much money if any at all and certainly NO retirement nest egg to ensure your future. And I’ll bet you’ve even been cut off from the Church and from all your Temple Blessings. Didn’t you learn ANYTHING on your mission?”
Jennifer looked gently and sadly to the floor and then looked up with a serious expression. “Sally, I invited you over because I have compassion for you and joy for myself. I wanted to share that joy with you, to see if you might want to learn WHY and HOW we live this Law of Plural Marriage and perhaps join the family of which I am now a part.”
Sally’s eyes glowed with indignation and rage. “Are you kidding? Lose my Church membership to live like this! Your authority is all pretend. You’ve lost your Temple Blessings and you are living in adultery, deception and apostasy!!!”
With that, Sally wheeled around and headed for the door, Jennifer pleading with her as she left, to at least sit down and listen and learn and pray about it, as she had done. No more words were exchanged. Sally went out to her car, unlocked the door, jumped in and fired the engine up, making rather jerky motions in the car out of the driveway. She was upset and hurt. Jennifer had betrayed her and the Church!!! She vowed to NEVER see Jennifer again, UNLESS she repented and got rid of that adulterous man whom she claimed as her husband. She vowed that she would ONLY see Jennifer at her re-baptism into the Church, a sure sign that she had again regained her senses and her testimony.
After this encounter, life flowed on for both Sisters, year after year, decade after decade. Sally remained “active” in her Ward, faithfully paid her tithing and attended nearly all of the Singles Activities sponsored by her Ward. At 70 years of age, Sally retired from active service with the Utah State Tax Commission, claiming her pension and her Social Security at that time. All this time, she had lived in the same apartment. She worked extensively on family genealogy and doing Temple Work in the Salt Lake Temple. She taught a Gospel Essentials class in her Ward for many years and also a Gospel Doctrine class, giving good information and testimony to her fellow Ward Members.
From time to time, she’d visit her two nephews, sons of her younger brother. But as she grew older, those visits grew more infrequent, as the two boys had a life of their own to pursue and not much in common with their aunt. At 83 years of age, Sally couldn’t go to the Temple or the Genealogy Library any more. She hardly ever attended her Ward. It was just too much of a challenge and she didn’t feel like imposing on the younger crowd to help her get to Church. She was too frail and too old to make the daily or weekly trips. So, she’d stay at home and listen to the General Conferences over and over again, as well her Scripture CD’s. She’d watch the BYU channel on her television.
At 88 years of age, one dark and cold night in the Utah winter, with no one around, the angels came and took Sally home to the Celestial Kingdom, a faithful reward for all of her hard work in the Church and her faithfulness to her Covenants and her faithful activity up to the time she died. Yes, she had been stalwart and had endured to the end and the Lord now blessed her for her faithfulness to the Brethren and to the Church..
Meanwhile, Jennifer continued to have children up and including the time she was 45 years old—TEN children in all, 6 boys and 4 girls. She struggled in her unfinished home and with her cars that would often break down. She seldom had much money. But many times, it seems that almost miraculously, food or what they needed would “appear” to satisfy a pressing need. At 65 years old, her “final” child left her home to go out on her own, married to a fine man. By this time, she had 48 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Frequently, they would drop by to visit her and she would travel to visit them. Each two years, the Owen Jessop family would gather to share genealogies, play together, tell stories, talk of common business ventures and catch up on all the family news. Five wives, fifty-seven children which included the adopted children, 256 grand children and 46 great grand children were in evidence. As Jennifer looked out at this family she had joined so many years ago, she could not help but see a vision of “this must be how the Celestial Kingdom is–FAMILY.” And she felt the indescribable joy of Family all united, loving and working together, overcoming challenges and growing.
But as with Sally, Jennifer’s time to leave this earth life came. Funny enough, she died about a week after Sally died. As she lay on her death bed, struggling for breath, but peaceful nonetheless and knowing her time to depart this earth life had come, her TEN children gathered around her bed, with multiples of her grandchildren and great grandchildren there also. Her oldest son, Joseph with his brother, Hyrum, gave her a blessing of comfort and as a final send-off, thanking her kindly and sincerely for her many years of devoted sacrifice for them and for their family. Tears of great joy and poignant memories were freely shed in that special place of Jennifer’s send off. She knew she was going “home” to meet her husband and two of her sister wives.
But that expectation was all a falsehood, all a deception. As Jennifer breathed her last, she was escorted by the devils to Hell, for her apostasy, deception and wanton rebellion against the Lord’s Anointed Prophet, having taken upon herself to live a law that had long been abolished from the Church’s requirements for Celestial Glory. In fact, Prophets, Seers and Revelators had rightly labeled any such persons who lived polygamy as adulterers, deceivers, and as apostates. And according to the Standard Works, such persons are cast into Hell where they suffer for their sins of rebellion, covenant breaking, and faithlessness. They don’t come out until they have repented and openly and humbly admitted their errors in doctrine and their rebellions against the Lord’s Anointed and for the covenants they have broken. Hopefully, Jennifer will come to that day when she will repent of a life lived full of deceptions and apostasy.
Thus ends the stories of Sally and Jennifer.
Thus ends his story of Sally and Jennifer, complete with the standard Mormon assumptions and judgments about what makes us worthy (or not) to receive some glory (or not) in the afterlife. So, is Sally or Jennifer right? Or are they both wrong? Both right? Which is it?