Anyway. Today we took an LDS church tour! Yay!! In keeping with the whole "tourist" aspect, I was fully intending to bring our camera and take pictures. I even remembered that the last time I charged the battery was back in December, so I made sure to charge the battery! And of course I forgot to put the battery back in the camera before packing the camera to take to the tour. At least I remembered to pack the camera. But now I have to unpack it to put the battery in it, so that really didn't help anything.
We left about ten minutes before our appointment so we could get to the church on time. We weren't sure which side of the building the elders would meet us on, so we did a little bit of wandering, but it turned out they weren't there yet, so we waited. A few minutes later, they arrived with a friend of ours who used to be our home teacher. We'll call him Fritz, because he went on his mission to Germany, and we always ended up talking about his mission.
After the missionaries checked the building to make sure there wasn't anybody there to interrupt, we came back outside to start the tour, because technically they were supposed to get there first and greet us as we arrived. The tours are obviously targeted at people who aren't already LDS (because LDS people are already pretty familiar with the building and what we do inside it), but the missionaries like to take members of the church through as kind of a rehearsal. So it was our job to pretend we weren't LDS, and Fritz was our Mormon friend who invited us on a tour. After all this was explained, we hit rewind and started the tour from the beginning.
Fritz led us up to the missionaries, who introduced themselves and shook our hands. If I hadn't foolishly left the camera's battery at home, I would be posting a picture of the church building here, maybe with the missionaries standing in front of it. We went inside, and they asked us how it felt inside the building compared with outside, to see if we noticed the peacefulness. Then they showed us a painting on the wall of Jesus Christ, and said that that was the first thing they wanted to show us, because Jesus Christ is the center of everything we believe in, and is the most important. Then we got a chance to ask questions about Him, and the missionaries answered, with the help of our Mormon friend Fritz.
Next we went into the chapel, where they told us they encourage entire families to come worship, and I was like, "Even the little babies? Seems like it would be really noisy." And they answered, "We think it's important for the whole family to worship together."
They took us to the sacrament table in the front, where the sacrament is prepared every Sunday. I would have taken a picture of the trays for the bread and water, but we all know why that didn't happen. The missionaries explained that the sacrament is there to remind us every week of what Jesus did for us, and I was like, "Well what did he do?" They explained that He took all of our sins upon him, and I was like, "So?" and they explained that it's like I'm in debt, and Jesus pays for the debt, so now I'm in debt to Him instead, and I was like, "Why is that better?" That's when Fritz mentioned a scripture in Matthew that says something about taking on the yoke of Christ, which is much easier to carry than the one I had before.
After we left the chapel, we saw a picture of Jesus giving his authority to the Twelve Apostles, so they could perform all the ordinances the early Christians would need after He was gone. That was where I was being a dork and commented about how the Jews all looked alike. They didn't even look exactly alike in the picture, just kind of similar.
We started walking again, and the missionaries asked if we had any family members that didn't live in the area. We were like, "Yeah," and they were like, "Now do you think they don't love you, or that they're any less of your family, because they don't live close to you?" and I was like, "I guess not." And they said that Heavenly Father feels the same way, so He loves all of His children, even if they don't live in Jerusalem, and that's why Jesus went to visit people in the Americas after His resurrection. And the timing worked out just perfectly, because as he said that, we came to a painting of that very event.
The only question we could think of was, "Why just the Americas? Why not anywhere else?" and they said something noncommittal about how He went other places, too. We didn't think about it when they were asking for critique afterward, but there is a scripture in the Book of Mormon where He says he was going to visit other people when he was done in the Americas, too.
Finally, we ended up in the Relief Society room, which also happens to be where the baptismal font is, so that's where we talked about baptism. They first showed us a painting of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Christ, and explained Jesus set the example by showing us that we all need to be baptized with the right authority. We were like hey, what if I was already baptized? And they pointed out a scripture where Paul asks a group of people if they received the Holy Ghost after baptized, and they were like, "We haven't even heard of the Holy Ghost!" and he was like, "Then why'd you even get baptized, if you didn't get the Holy Ghost? Let's do this right," so he re-baptized them and confirmed them all members of the Christian church, and gave them the gift of the Holy Ghost, because a baptism isn't finished until the baptized person gets the Holy Ghost.
Then I threw them for a loop by asking this: if you can baptize people after they're dead, why don't I wait until then to get baptized, and in the meantime live life the way I want to? They pointed out a scripture that says that if you're going to reject it now, you'll probably reject it then, too, and Fritz pointed out another one that says not to procrastinate the day of your repentance. And then they forgot to ask Fritz how he felt about his baptism, because they were so distracted by that question.
After that they were supposed to share a message about the Restoration (I imagine that's where they talk about Joseph Smith), but they had another appointment they needed to get to, so we had the critique session instead. Overall they did very well, and while they did seem a little thrown by some of the questions we gave them, if we persisted, they eventually got to a satisfactory answer.
Finally, they asked us if we knew anybody whom we could invite on a church tour, but all the local people we know are people we know from church, so we couldn't help them out there. We asked them what other areas offered church tours, but so far it's just our area and one up in Tacoma, Washington. So if you're interested and in central California or the Tacoma, Washington area, it shouldn't be too hard to arrange for a tour!
Today I'm thankful for getting a lovely tour of the church building near our apartment, having an Oreo sitting at my feet, getting another check in the mail today (now we only have two missing checks!), that difficult thing we had to deal with being less difficult than we thought it would be, and having the camera battery all charged and ready to go. Maybe I'll go put that in the camera right now...