Stories: Business Tracting
Displaying 1 - 1 of 1 -- Add Story
By T. Robert Torkildson
I hear you asking, so if muu baan tracting was a pain in the keyster what did you do all the livelong day?
Well sir, we did street meetings, service projects, taught English, tracted out university dormitories and even invaded soldiers barracks to leave pamphlets, we traveled all over kingdom come on buses and song taews and tuk tuks and walked and biked and sometimes in the afternoons after lunch we sat to study our Thai but fell asleep instead and didnt wake up until it was getting dark. During the monsoon season we waited under shop awnings as the heavens wept while Chinese shopkeepers eyed us derisively and refused to speak to us if we didnt buy something from them. Does that answer your nosy question?
The Apes (A.P., Assistant to the President) tried to come up with new ways for us to meet people, give discussions, and get baptisms. If I rekemember correctly, our Mission back in the 70s was one of the lowest in baptisms in the entire Church. I wouldnt for the world want anyone to think that Mormonism is numbers-driven, but it is true that we felt the interest, if not the wrath, of Salt Lake over our dismal performance as dunkers. One General Authority after another blew through town with sure-fire remedies Talk only to fathers! Pray more! Fast more often! Love your companion more! Get the father to church! Stop baptizing those beautiful young Thai women! Stop looking at those beautiful young Thai women! Stop thinking about those beautiful young Thai women!
We felt, sometimes, like a ping pong ball with a dent in it; so easily fixed but of so little account. Seems like everyone should jump at the chance to become a Mormon. Look what its done for Utah! But the actual hours we spent sitting down and using the approved Discussions to teach were few and far between. One of the Apes, Elder Konuiczy, finally came up with an idea born of desperation, after yet another General Authority had inveighed against our apparent lack of faith and good works.
Elder Konuiczy was a barrel-chested, gap-toothed, short-sighted pixie who had just missed the ceiling on missionaries; he was nearing 30, an elderly wreck, when he arrived in Thailand. His misspent youth in the military had inured him to the unreasonable demands of distant superiors so he decided if drastic action was called for, then by golly drastic action would take place. He invented something he called Business Tracting. Im not sure to this day he had any real idea what Business Tracting was, if it was anything at all besides hot air, but it sure sounded serious.
So Elder, what did you do today?
Oh, I went Business Tracting.
We had a Mission Conference wherein Elder Konuiczy explained what Business Tracting is: You find a busy block in downtown Bangkok, you barge into every single office in every building, and you demand to see the boss right away without telling the secretary what you want to see the boss about, and then you sit down with the boss and tell him all about Family Home Evening.
Welp, after an Elder had been through weeks of diarrhea when he first got to Thailand, struggled with a language in which the word khaw could have a dozen different meanings depending on the tone you gave it, been blackened repeatedly by diesel-spewing buses, gone through a bout of dengue fever, got diarrhea again, had his tape recorder stolen by khamoys, been transferred to Pitsunolok, broke a tooth on a rock in the fluffy cooked rice the maid had prepared, been consumed with crotch rot until his skin turned to cotton candy, been chased by geese and then gotten a Dear John letter, welp that Elder was a desperado ready for any villainy or insane derring-do. So we were all ready to try Elder Konuiczys Business Tracting, and darn the consequences!
I was teamed with Elder Langley, a California surfer dude who somehow had neglected to break the Word of Wisdom and hadnt gotten around to investigating the Law of Chastity, so found himself in white shirt and necktie one sweaty afternoon with yours truly staring up at an office building. A case-hardened veteran, I volunteered to take the first office.
Whatever, man replied Elder Langley, looking around for a comfortable couch to fall asleep on.
Our first target was called Happy Result Import. We barged in like gangbusters. I demanded to see the boss immediately. The cute little secretary decided not to argue with the crazy foreigner, so scrambled away to bring back an elderly Chinese gentleman in a three-piece black pinstripe business suit.
What can I do for you gentlemen? he asked in impeccable English.
Taken aback, I had to mentally switch gears for English and stumbled badly.
Um, we want to bring important messages, that is we have messages so important that, ah, you know, we can discuss em in your office if its convenient.
Ah! he beamed. Mormons! I studied in Utah back in 1955. A very pleasant experience. May I offer you some tea? Oh, of course not! A soft drink?
Elder Langley found a cozy corner and dropped off while I exchanged chit-chat with Mr. Tiew, who couldnt believe I was not from Utah myself but from Minnesota. I mentioned Family Home Evening. He was already doing it with his family. Thought it a splendid idea. Next I mentioned the Word of Wisdom. Very sound health idea, he agreed. He drank green tea from time to time but otherwise lived its rules religiously. In fact, he was a vegetarian, found it just the thing for the torrid tropical climate of Thailand. Perhaps I should consider the same kind of diet during my stay in the country; he found that it prevented him from getting diarrhea and kept his weight down quite well. He patted my stomach kindly, as Orientals are wont to do when they find a paunch its good luck. When I finally asked him why he was not a Mormon himself after seeing the golden example in Utah, he replied, as I knew he would, as every Elder and Sister who ever tracted or taught in Thailand knew he would
Every religion teaches men to be good.
I left a pamphlet with him, woke up Elder Langley, and we canvassed the rest of the offices in the building before heading back to Soi Asoke for a spaghetti dinner, courtesy of the Air Force wives in the Bangkok Branch. The few bosses we were able to flush out seemed unimpressed with Family Home Evening, or with their obligation to be an example for their families. All they could think about was that they were working themselves to death so their children could go to a good school overseas. Their interest would revive briefly when they asked if we could use our influence to get their kids into BYU no drinking or smoking there, you know but when we coldly said we had no influence there they would relapse into a smiling coma, heedless of anything we said.
Elder Konuiczy tabulated the results that evening. There were an incredible 27 callbacks! All fathers. All solid, respectable business leaders who would make sturdy Bishops and Stake Presidents. The Golden Age had arrived in Thailand at last. But the baptismal rate never crept above a trickle, Salt Lake kept sending out General Authorities, and I got diarrhea again.
List All | Add Story