Mormons at the little pink house
Once when I was living in the little pink house with Louie I was busy working at cleaning up and getting things ready for supper. Notah was napping. As I walked past the door I looked out across the field to see two men walking through the sagebrush up toward the house. It was late winter maybe. I can’t remember the time exactly; but it was cold enough that I was wearing my not-quite-floor-length blue and white reptile scale print skirt that I’d patched at the hem. Yes it does get that cold in the desert. I’d also made a long slip by taking an already awkwardly long slip and gathering ten inches of old sheet material around the bottom to make a full warm flounce. Believe it. )
At any rate it was cold and strange to have someone walking across the field instead of using the road. I closed the door and the curtains on that side of the house. In the Navajo way, this means I’m not ready to receive company and that the approaching guests should either wait until I come out or go away.
I stood watching quietly through a tiny gap in the curtains, waiting for the men to go their way. From where I had seen them, they appeared to be Navajo and the only Navajo who wander around in the field where there are no paths are drunks and sheepherders. These guys weren’t herding sheep. They were both wearing white shirts and seemed to have a shoulder bag or satchel across their chest. I was still a little leery but they looked harmless.
They walked straight up to the door and knocked!! White people might do that but not Navajo!! I was so surprised that I opened the door.
My surprise at their knocking was nothing compared to that of the young men standing on my step. The front one, now that they were closer, was Navajo. The second was from another tribe-maybe Zuni. The Navajo man was leading because they were in a Navajo community. I suppose when they moved south into the Zuni area, the Zuni man would have been talking. Now they were expecting a Navajo to open that door.
The young man was so stunned to meet a white woman at the door that he forgot what he was going to say. Or maybe he had to switch languages too quickly. At any rate he stuttered a bit, in fact I could say he actually babbled, before he managed to say hello in English. I chuckled at him and said, “Hey, yeah! I’m a surprise, aren’t I! To meet an Anglo when you’re expecting a Navajo.” He was still so shocked that he actually admitted the fact.
They were Mormons doing their required mission journey (in line with Christ sending the disciples out “two by two”) or whatever they are called and handing out tracts. The Mormon University in Salt Lake offered a lot of scholarships to Navajo youth in an effort to convert them. I don’t know how well they succeeded, but at least the college students gave them cooperation for a few years until they finished their studies. That is why these nice looking, nicely dressed young men were at my door. I told them I wasn’t interested and talked them a bit about being saved, but of course they didn’t need to hear that!
They asked about the other people in the community. I told them that Mom lived in the little blue house across the way and I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t even answer the door. Mom was very traditional in her manners. Strange people didn’t need to be walking up to her house, bringing ch’iindi! She wasn’t about to open her door. I didn’t tell them that. The Navajo guy should already know it and if he didn’t follow traditional manners that was his problem not mine.
I told them I knew that Dorothy wasn’t home because I had seen her go out early in the morning. If anyone was home it would only be some of the kids who should be in school. So for sure they would hide.
I wonder how many people in the community talked to them that day.
At supper time I told Louie about the incident. He wasn’t very pleased with the guys, but they had gone on their way without any problem. Later he talked with Mom about it. She had seen them coming clear down by the road. LOL Her door was closed before they every got to our house.