I’ve learned that there are Mormon missionaries in and around rural Taiwan. These folks are fluent in Mandarin, and their mission is to spread their beliefs to the natives and gain converts to follow the Mormon church. They are specially trained back home, and sent here to preach the faith. I understand that this is part of their religion. Obviously, everyone is entitled to say their piece, and it’s upto the listener to make a judgement call. I personally have no problem if people want to tell me something – what I think may be a totally different story, but I’ll definitely give a listen, as long as it doesn’t get preachy or too pushy. Sometimes, this results in funny situations.
I had just left a restaurant and was walking home when I spotted a guy with a white shirt and tie riding a bicycle heading towards me. At the time, I wasn’t aware that this is the typical garb of the missionaries in town. He was obviously foreign, so I smiled as he approached (rare to see another westerner is these parts, so it’s always chatting time when you do). He slowed as he approached.
“Hey. How’s it going?”, I said.
“Great. I’m Alex (not his real name). How are you?”
“Good. Nice to see another foreigner. Where are you from?”
And so it went. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a while. As it usually does, the conversation veered toward work. He told me that he was a representative of the Mormon church, and working for the ministry here. Ok cool. I wasn’t interested in talking about religion, so I tried to change the topic, but somehow, we ended back to it.
“Are you interested in coming to check out what we are all about?” he said.
“No, not really. Thanks though. I’m pretty busy with work and studying Mandarin at the moment. Although, if you have a free Mandarin class…” I joked.
“Well, we do have English classes.”
“Uh-huh…” I wasn’t sure where he was going with this.
“So why don’t you come and take a look then?”
“Ummm…you want me to come to your English class?” I asked in perfect English.
“Yeah, sure, the students all speak Mandarin. You can practice your Mandarin with them.”
“During the class?” Now I was confused. Did he want me to help out with the English class?
“No, no…after the class.”
“So you are inviting me to be a student at an English class?”
“Yeah, it will be fun.” He was serious.
“Ummm…ok, let me think about it.”
Thoroughly confused, I said goodbye and continued on my way. Did he just invite me to an English class? While we were speaking English the whole time?
Ok, I know that one has to come up with creative ways to recruit people for any cause, but seriously?? Inviting a native English speaker to an English class? Wow! Talk about incentive! I can go learn my A-B-C-D’s. I’ll jump right on it.
Maybe it’s me, but trying to recruit someone like that doesn’t really give a very positive impression of whatever organization you are with. It’s like trying to entice straight men to a club by advertising a 100% sausage-fest evening – no-one’s going to show up.
He was a nice enough guy, but I hope for the sake of the Mormon church, not all their representatives display the same brilliant tactics and impressive intelligence as this specimen. Nevertheless, it was an amusing experience. Maybe it worked, because now I want to run into another recruiter to see what will happen.