The Real Elder Price
The Real Elder Price, Part 8: Hello and Goodbye
Editor's Note: This is the last in a series of essays that examines the real world of Mormon missionaries and the real Elder Price. Read the author's Introduction.
|The Acorda family embracing Lowell|
The Book of Mormon Musical ends with a reprise of the "Hello" song, but now it's the African converts practicing their door approaches. In the show's final twist, they hold up their books. The audience gets a surprise when the actors reveal the title—not The Book of Mormon, but The Book of Arnold. Yes, Elder Arnold Cunningham's "metaphorical" tales have apparently been compiled by the missionaries, who have defied their despotic mission president and remained in Uganda as renegades.
The actors take their bows, and the audience applauds.
Elder Brandon Price, the "real" Elder Price in this series, knows what it's like to take a bow after a show, since he is a theater major, but also what it's like to be a Mormon missionary. These are his reflections:
I think that it took me a while to realize that I was trying so hard to act like a missionary that I wasn't able to BE the Elder Price that I could be. I think it takes all young missionaries a little while to realize the power of their calling and that it is happening for real. You grow up looking forward to it all your life, then it comes and it's TOTALLY different than anything you ever imagined. It's almost unreal, and it takes a little while to stop acting like a missionary and instead start being a missionary. Acting like a missionary isn't a bad thing; I think it's a necessary step in self-discovery. But, there is a magical point in a mission where things become so much more rewarding as the missionary gets a greater understanding of the eternal nature of the work.
As an actor, I really enjoy making up a character and putting on a show, but never has a character influenced and changed my life for the better than the role of a missionary did. I don't think any role could, because they are simply the creations of man's imagination. However, just as the Plan of Salvation has been created by the perfect mercy of our Heavenly Father, each righteous role we 'play' here on earth has the power to expand our knowledge and to help us understand more about our divine nature.
Elder Brandon Price returned to Utah from his mission in September 2010.
|Elder Price comes home|
In their final emails from Africa, the DRC-Kinshasa missionaries wrote about the whole of their experience. Both Elder Lee and Elder Wigginton mentioned that the work would go on after they left; they had planted seeds that others would harvest.
Margaret Blair Young is the president of the Association for Mormon Letters and has published eight books—six novels and two short story collections. Three of the novels were co-authored with Darius Gray and give the history (documented) of Black Latter-day Saints. She and Gray made the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, which is currently under contract with the Documentary Channel and showing nationally. She has written six encyclopedia articles and other scholarly papers on Blacks in the western United States, and particularly Black Mormons. She teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.