The Mormons and the Meth dealers

September 1, 2007

This week’s topic reminded me of something that happened on my mission in Northern California. As we know, all good stories begin with, “When I was on my mission….”.

Elder Watson, Brother xxxxxxxx( I don’t know if he reads this), and I began meeting with Don and Christie.

Don and Christie seemed to be the golden contacts that many missionaries hope for. They seemed to enthusiastically accept everything we taught, and even claimed to have felt the spirit as they read the Book of Mormon and as we bore testimonies about the things we were teaching. Even now I cannot explain why our meetings with Don and Christie were so powerful. They seemed to be some of the best people I met from media referrals while I was in Oroville California.

Shortly after our meetings with Don and Christie began, I left the area for Redding California and they left the forefront of my mind.

I ran into Elder Watson about a year later. He asked me if I remembered Don and Christie. I told him that I did. Elder Watson told me that shortly after his transfer from Oroville, a ward missionary called to let him know that Don and Christie had been arrested for dealing methamphetamine from their double wide trailer in Thermalito.

I was really disappointed. But the more I thought about it, some things began to make sense. For one thing, no matter when we came over or left people were hanging out around their house. Rather sketchy looking characters at that.

I have often wondered if once Don and Christie realized who we were, they tried to use us as cover to throw off those who might be suspicious of their activities. I mean who would suspect people meeting with those clean cut Mormons of being the biggest drug dealers in the neighborhood?

But I cannot deny or explain what I felt while teaching Don and Christie. Or maybe it was what was “cooking” on the kitchen stove; and I don’t mean Mac and cheese.

What do you think? Were they really sincere, or were we being taken advantage of? Was I so into what I was doing that I forced myself into thinking I was having spiritual experiences with them? Of all the people that I taught throughout my mission, this experience still puzzles me.



  1. I dunno. I think you WERE having spiritual experiences. Just your experiences were independent of theirs. After all, you were doing what you were called to do, and bearing testimony of what you believed. Just because they may have been lying about how they responded doesn’t impact on your behavior at all.

    And maybe they were feeling something and believing what you were teaching. Some people are really able to compartmentalize their spiritual life from their day jobs.

  2. I had a neighbor family that was pretty seedy. I knew they were inactive members of the church. (Not uncommon where I live in Utah.) I didn’t trust the dad, and he did suspicious things. They got evicted from their house and it was discovered they were cooking meth–with four little boys living in the house. I was sick and angry.

    It wasn’t until many months after they’d moved away that someone in the ward mentioned to me that this family used to seem pretty normal until they had a two year old son fall behind the clothes dryer and die. (This was well before we knew them.)

    I find it more difficult to judge them harshly now.

  3. I had a similar experience on my mission. We gave lots of discussions while people smoked cannibus resin in their self-rolled cigarettes, but at least they were listening, we were practicing, and we were not outside in the freezing Scottish winter.

    We also had been teaching this one guy for a while and to be honest, he wasn’t that interested, but he always let us in and we always had a good discussion. We began to teach his ex-girlfriend (made an ex just after she gave birth to his child) and she clued us in when she said, “Yeah, I’m surprised that you went to go see Rodney that much. He’s the biggest drug dealer in Wester Hales.” We felt like IDIOTS. Yes, we were too trusting.

  4. I think that on the whole, we were far too trusting in general. But in a way we were kind of set up for that sort of thing. Somewhere inside, I think that Don and Christy were looking for something that would change their life. I was disappointed and felt used because at the time I expected the people we taught to be instant Mormons (The kind where you just add water 🙂 ). I realize that though they were wrong for dealing drugs, I was wrong in the assumptions that I made about most people on my mission.

  5. My husband and I served a mission on an Indian reservation a few years ago. It was a nasty place. We were home teachers to an unmarried couple who had four children between them. Their children were beautiful and intelligent. They didn’t show up at church very often but the older girls attended seminary most mornings. They were obviously dirt poor and the mother had mysterious headaches that kept her from coming out of her bedroom sometimes. We helped the oldest girl apply for a full-ride scholarship and were thrilled when she got it!. However, the next time we tried to see them, their townhouse was boarded up and they were gone. The neighbors told us they were kicked out of public housing for being meth dealers. Thinking back, they had no obvious means of support but that didn’t seem unusual on the reservation. We don’t know what happened to them but hope they are all okay. We really hope that the oldest girl was able to go to college but have no way of knowing.

  6. Hello my name is author Jimmy James. I have wrote and published 3 memoir’s about drug use, gangs and were it leads you. I was hoping to reach out to young kids before they make the same mistake I made when I was just a child.

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