While my April Fool's Day was a letdown, it did make me think back to one of the pranks that I pulled a long time ago that I still remember. And regret. In fact, I think I should apologize to the butt of the joke and he just happens to be a General Authority now. I have never apologized to a General Authority before, so I am not exactly sure how to proceed. To make the situation even more complicated, I need to ask forgiveness for something that happened thirteen years ago. So, here goes nothing:
"Elder Spencer V. Jones of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy, I am sorry. Please forgive me and my knucklehead companions for making you the target of the worst April Fool's Day prank that I have ever been involved with. It happened on April 1st, 1996 in your mission office. You know who we are. You know what we did. And I'm sorry."
Elder Jones, then President Jones, was an ideal mission president. He presided over the Chile Antofagasta mission from 1994 to 1997 and I was blessed to serve under his inspired leadership. Both he and his wife loved the Lord, loved His work, and loved the missionaries they were called to lead. I could not have asked for a better mission president. The only person who could possibly give Pres. Jones a run for his money would be Steve Wilkos if he were converted and channeled his energy into missionary work instead of berating deadbeat 19-year-old punks. (In my best Steve Wilkos voice, "What? You haven't been baptized? YOU haven't been baptized? You haven't been BAPTIZED? Well, come on, tough guy. Be a man. Be a MAN! Get baptized right here, right now. RIGHT NOW! The font is filled, macho man. Come one, tough guy. GET IN THE FONT! RIGHT NOW!)
Toward the end of my mission I was fortunate enough to serve alongside President Jones in the mission offices for several months and got to know him on a more personal level than most missionaries did. I learned invaluable lessons from Pres. Jones as I heard him pray, watched him teach, witnessed him endure 14-hour days with a smile, and saw him bless the lives of hundreds of missionaries, members, converts, and nonmembers.
But I also saw another side of Pres. Jones. A lighter side. A humorous side. In fact, Pres. Jones is a really funny person. His sense of humor was easy to see in his first General Conference talk entitled "Overcoming the Stench of Sin" in which he talked about being a youth trying to pick up on young women after being sprayed by a skunk. Even in front of an audience of millions, Pres. Jones defaulted to humor to teach an important lesson about sin and its consequences.
Perhaps it was Pres. Jones' sense of humor that led me and my two companions to believe that he would be up for an April Fool's Day prank. My two companions at that time (yes, we were in a trio companionship for a while in the office) were not only two of the best missionaries in the mission, but they were two of my best friends as well. They were both hilarious and the three of us had a great time together. We were kind of like the Three Nephites (focused, dedicated, and wanting to do good) meets the Three Stooges (immature, funny, and really immature.)
For the sake of anonymity, I will call my two companions Elder Mad Dog and Elder Dry Cow. If the three of us were the Cullen brothers from Twilight, I would have been Jasper since I was the skinniest, least manly and I live in the South (though I'm not flying any Confederate flags, Jasper.) Elder Mad Dog would have been Emmett - burly, manly and always wanting to arm wrestle somebody into submission.
Elder Dry Cow would have been Edward, no doubt about it. I think every Chilean woman between the ages of 12 and 109 years old had a massive crush on Elder Dry Cow from 1994-1996. Whenever our teaching pool was getting low, Elder Mad Dog and I would joke that all we needed to do was to send Elder Dry Cow to the local college campus and we would have about 59 new investigators.
And all very much looking forward to a return appointment from Elder Dry Cow and his twinkling blue eyes.
Elders Dry Cow, Mad Dog and I decided it would be funny to play an April Fool's Day joke on President Jones. After all, we knew him pretty well and thought we had a feel for his sense of humor. Instead of studying our scriptures and planning our teaching appointments on April 1st, 1996, we brainstormed all morning on how to play a prank on our trusting, unsuspecting mission president. This is how it played out:
-Elder Mad Dog and I walk into Pres. Jones office, "Hey, President Jones, do you have a minute?"
-Pres. Jones: "Sure, Elders, what's on your mind?"
-Us, pretending to look worried: "Um, we need to talk to you about something pretty serious."
-Pres. Jones looks concerned: "Okay, what's going on?"
-Us: "It's Elder Dry Cow. Last night the two of us (Elder Mad Dog and I) went out to teach a discussion and Elder Dry Cow went out on a split with a young Deacon in the ward. And...well...you know how popular he is with the ladies..."
-Pres. Jones' face falls and his shoulders slump: "Yes, I do. Please go on."
-Us: "Well, when we were walking home from our appointment we passed the house of an attractive young woman we are teaching. We heard what sounded like a party coming from her house and her windows were open. And, well, we saw Elder Dry Cow partying and dancing with her and her friends. His Deacon companion was nowhere to be seen."
-Pres. Jones looks like somebody just repeatedly stabbed him through the heart with a dull butter knife: "And you're sure it was Elder Dry Cow?"
-Us: "Yes. We are positive."
-Pres. Jones looks like his dog just got hit by a car: "Go get Dry Cow. Send him in. Alone."
Elder Mad Dog and I left Pres. Jones' office tyring to stifle our giggles. We grabbed Elder Dry Cow and told him that Pres. Jones was totally falling for our prank and asked him to string Pres. Jones along for as long as he could. The three of us laughed and probably did something dorky like giving each other high fives. Elder Dry Cow put on a somber face and trudged into Pres. Jones office. Elder Mad Dog and I began laughing after the door closed.
After about only a minute the door to Pres. Jones office opened. Elder Mad Dog and I were a little upset with Dry Cow for not turning this into a longer, more elaborate prank. The three missionaries cracked up at the hilarious April Fool's Day prank we had just played, but Pres. Jones only managed to muster an uncomfortable chuckle.
Later, Elder Dry Cow told Elder Mad Dog and me that it looked like Pres. Jones was on the verge of tears when he walked into his office. Elder Dry Cow felt so bad that he immediately told Pres. Jones that it was a joke, but Pres. Jones looked really shaken up about the whole thing. Looking back, I can understand why. There is nothing funny about joking around about somebody's personal worthiness to his or her presiding authority. Maybe we should have just put a whoopie cushion on Pres. Jones' chair or have spoken Spanish with terrible Gringo accents all day.
So, Pres. Jones, I'm sorry.
Just don't be surprised if a who
opie cushion gets sent to church headquarters next year.
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