They usually don’t tract mostly white neighborhoods, but today they have picked a well-off street near Colorado Boulevard. Almost no one is home, so mostly, they are just walking around, knocking, and moving on. The young man feels highly responsible to get Elder Davis teaching since he is still so young in the mission.
About forty-five minutes in, they come to a white house with a picket fence and a nice car in the driveway. They knock the door, and a trim, athletic, blonde woman opens it. She is wearing workout pants and an athletic bra; her face is lined deeply and looks like it has been scrubbed hard.
“Hey,” she says. “What’s going on?”
“We’re ministers of Jesus Christ in the neighborhood to share a message. Would you like to hear that message?”
She shrugs. “Sure. Come on in.”
You’re not supposed to go into single women’s houses; you’re supposed to bring another person, but the young man figures that someone else probably lives here–boyfriend, roommate, whatever. And he really wants Elder Davis teaching. She sits on a plush couch and motions to two easy chairs. They sit.
“So you live here by yourself?” the young man says.
“Yep,” she says. “My own place. I have girlfriends who come and go, but it’s mine.”
“Wow, nice place,” he says. This is Pasadena, CA. The place has to be worth at least $750,000.
“Yeah,” she says. “I like it. I’m not home that much, but today is my one day off. So you got lucky.”
“Oh cool,” says Elder Davis. “What do you do?”
“I dance,” she says. “I work at The Gentlemen’s Club in LA.”
Davis starts to reply, swallows, and looks over at the young man. He just shrugs and says, “Well, like I said, we share a message about Jesus Christ. We all come from a loving Heavenly Father. He is kind, merciful, just, and wise. Because He loves us, He has a plan for us to enable us to return to live with Him. That plan is called the Plan of Salvation and centers on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What are some of your feelings about God?”
“I love God,” she says. “I’ve always felt close to God since I was a little girl. I pray and stuff. I haven’t been to church in a long time, but I have happy memories of it. I know He loves me.”
“That’s great,” says the young man and turns to Elder Davis. Elder Davis opens his discussion book and teaches the second principle, this one on Jesus Christ. The young man teaches on prophets, and then Elder Davis gets Joseph Smith and his experience praying about religion. Elder Davis shares the experience of Joseph in the Sacred Grove, and when he finishes, he pauses and lets the silence fill the room. Finally, he says, “How did you feel as I shared that?”
“I felt awesome,” she says. “Just really warm and happy.”
“Those are feelings of the Spirit,” says Elder Davis, “testifying that what I am telling you is true.”
The young man teaches her about the Book of Mormon, gives her a copy, and invites her to read it and pray about it. She readily accepts.
At the end of the lesson, the young man goes off script. “Tanya, our job is to prepare people to repent of their sins and be baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Are you interested in pursuing that?”
She nods. “Yeah. I am. I liked everything I heard and I will read your book.”
The young man breaks out his flipcharts. He flips to the Word of Wisdom page, which says, “Abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs.”
“When you make the covenant of baptism, you promise to give up these things.” He flips to the page on the law of chastity, which says, “Abstain from all sexual relations outside of marriage.”
“You also promise to live the law of chastity. It means you’re going to have to change your job and your lifestyle a lot. Are you willing to do that?”
She takes a deep breath. “Look, it should probably tell me something that I have to get either drunk or high or both to get on stage. I probably shouldn’t keep doing that. So yeah, I’m willing.”
The young man nods and says, “Okay, when can we return?”
“Next week same time?” she says. “It’s my only day off, and I can’t just quit tomorrow. I gotta work up to it.”
“Sure,” says the young man.
When they are outside, Elder Davis says, “So that was interesting. Think she’ll be there next week?”
The young man shrugs. “No idea. People surprise me all the time. Never thought we’d go that far even or that she would be that sincere.”
The next week when they stop by, a drunken man answers the door. She is in the background.
“Hey, we came for an appointment with Tanya,” says the young man.
“Maybe another time, Bible boys!” the guy says, tipping a Bud Light at them.
“Be nice to them!” she calls. She comes to the door and steps around him. “Hey, it’s not a great time right now, but try again next week, ok?”
They try again the next week, and there’s no answer. They try two other times and never see her again.