Armen is looking at the young man with a sly smile. He is in his mid fifties, and he has passed his baptismal interview.
“I’m going to tell you a secret about Armenians.”
They are sitting in Armen’s den in Glendale, CA, where more Armenians live than any other place except their homeland.
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Almost all of us are atheists, but if you ever say that to an Armenian, he will swing at you.”
“All this stuff about being the first Christians, that is history and true and we are very proud. But no one actually believes.”
“Why is that?”
“We have been massacred and slaughtered so many times by the Turks and others that no one believes a loving God would allow that to happen to us. So there must be none. But the Apostolic Church is the lifeblood of our people. It is where we have shared information and told our stories and kept our identities through all the bloodshed. So when you approach an Armenian, he will not be willing to give up his church and he is not interested in learning about God because he does not believe in God. That is why your Armenian church of Latter-day Saints is so small.”
“I see. So what about you?”
“Ah, me. Well, I am interested in things and I believe your Mormon book is true.”
A few minutes later, they are together back in the front room. Armen’s son Haik, in his mid twenties and wearing sunglasses inside and after dark, is standing with Elder Judd. Elders Huyck and Elmore are talking to Armen’s wife, Gadar. They bid good evening, and the young man heads with Elder Judd to the car.
“You get anywhere with Haik?” the young man says as he starts the car.
“Nah. He knows the God, he knows the Jesus, he is first Christian, he knows everything.”
“I tried telling him about the Book of Mormon. But he said he knew that too and he knows everything. I tried with Joseph Smith too. But he knows everything. So then, I was like, ‘How about nuclear fusion? Do you know that?’”
Elder Judd is laughing now. “Even better is what he said.”
“‘My mother. She know that.’”