I am not really sure I should be posting this. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Please excuse my grammar errors.
I don’t really know what to do. It is the sort of situation I’ve never really thought about. But let me start from the beginning. Lightning moved here years ago, following his sister and parents. Lightning has never been diagnosed, mainly due to parents who have issues that are similar to his, but his sister believes him to have some form of high functioning autism. I am not sure that matches his symptoms, but I have no medical expertise in this area. Lightning spent years in the singles ward here, variously leering at girls until they became uncomfortable, or telling girls they were fat, or bearing his testimony of how he had to beat someone up for on his mission to teach them humility. Eventually, Lightning’s brother-in-law got a job far away and moved, taking sister and eventually parents away. Lightning chose to stay, being over thirty, and moved into our ward, having reached “the age”. Having known Lightning’s sister, I tried to keep an eye on Lightning. I helped him do his taxes, occasionally took him food, and let him do laundry at my home. Lightning meanwhile got a permit to carry a gun and became a security guard, and perpetually asked me if he could write my sister-in-law, “since she’d lost weight”. Lightning was a little odd, making inappropriate comments in Sunday School about teaching other missionaries humility on his mission to the slums of salt lake city, where he taught the gangs. (He did actually serve a mission to SLC. I don’t know about the rest.) Occasionally he would tell me things like God gave him super strength, and this would worry me, but not as much as his owning a gun did. Also a worry to me is Lightning’s engagement to a girl in the Philippines, whom he has flown over to see once. (Using the money from his tax return I helped him to get, and being unable to pay his bills for months afterward)
Recently, Lightning’s best buddy Mater moved in with him. They’ve been friends since they were three. Mater has schizoaffective disorder, and is living on his $600 a month disability. Mater refuses medical help and believes the medicines he’d been receiving for his disability were making life more difficult for him. Mater has self diagnosed that the only medicine he needs is a good cigarette and a long walk. Like Lightning, Mater’s greatest desire is to be married and have children, stating he would quit the church and get a prostitute if he did not believe that were an option. Mater is missing most of his teeth, but refuses to see the dentist. After Mater’s move in, Lightning’s erratic behavior has gotten more troubled, and after working it out with the powers that be, I’ve gotten them a home teacher by volunteering for the position. But back to erratic, Lightning has breezed through 5 or so jobs in the last year, and requires financial assistance nearly every other month from the church. He has reportedly told people, including his roommate Mater, that he is the prophet or a “secret apostle”, though he denies it to me. Also, we had to move him into subsidized housing after the previous complex he lived in had an apartment fire, which Lightning told the complex workers was arson, because the Spirit told him so. (I am not saying that Lightning had anything to do with the fire) And recently our Bishop received a letter from the first presidency asking him to address a letter from Lightning where he had written the prophet complaining that our ward had been in the wrong for not allowing Lightning to cure a woman of cancer when she had gone into a seizure at a recent church meeting. Due to many of these factors, my wife and I are increasingly uncomfortable with Lightning and Mater being around our Children.
And yet, there is no one else. These guys don’t have family supporting them, and whatever money family sends, they have no ability to manage. So now I take them to the laundromat ocassionally, and out to eat, rather than to my home. I buy them bus passes, and try to talk them through baby steps of progress.
Last week at dinner, while Mater complained of having no money for any food, and Lightning asked if they could donate the canned goods ( green beans, corn, soup, etc.) I had given them to the church, because they were not vegetarian, I began to despair. Perhaps it was their hatred for the kind old man who lives in the apartment complex with them, who has “stabbed them in the back to their face” because he does not ask them for rides to church, but comes with another member, perhaps it was Mater’s leaving his free meal half-eaten and storming out of the resteraunt because I pleaded with him to be kinder to the old man. Perhaps it was that, while looking at their expenses, I saw their $80 gym membership, the $100 cell phones, their $50 wireless Internet, all of which some salesperson will get a commission on, but these guys will switch providers in a few months due to inability to pay. Perhaps it was the killings in Arizona, but I’d lost hope.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the power of the resurrection, but it is a nonstarter for me to think of these men my age (33) in terms of death being the longed for release. Where is the atonement for them now? Who is there to be their Balm of Gilead today? It’s not me; I don’t know what to do. So I bought a pound of brisket for Lightning to take home and sit here, two weeks later, wondering what to do.
Mater calls me every other day. Lightning tells him to call most of the time.
In the last week, the mother of Mater has written the Bishop, and I have written Lightning’s Family. The only glimmer of hope I have is that maybe if we convince Lightning to move near his sister and Mater stays here, the two, separately, will improve and be able to be reasoned with. I am not sure how this can be done, as it requires Lightning and Mater’s consent.
The counsel I am getting is that I need to protect myself and my family, and not get too involved. This is probably wise counsel, but it leaves these two with no one watching out for them. I don’t really know what to do. How do we, as a church, minister to people like Lightning and Mater?