It was autumn time. 2007. I was living in Payson, Arizona serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had switched my first name for the title of Sister. I was was Sister Dick for 18 months of my life. I would gladly and without hesitation give up my first name again for the same reason.
#6 was living with some of his relatives at the time. He was somewhere in his mid-thirties, had developed very few life skills and was so endearingly sweet and humble. I just wanted to hug him all the time. I knew immediately when I met 6 that he was gay. We visited the family he was staying with every week. He always sat in on the lessons. 6 was always so very quiet. He enjoyed our visits. He enjoyed the lessons. Sometimes, in his shy way, he would ask a question or two.
One evening when my companion and I were leaving he covertly slipped me a note. The kind of note that you would pass in the hallway between classes with your friends during high school. Lined notebook paper, folded in half and then in half again. I do not remember if I waited to read the note until we got back to the apartment or if I read it when we got in the truck. All I remember is that it was dark outside and what was written in the note devastated me.
I still have the note today. I treasure it. Maybe that is weird but I do. The note showed me that 6 viewed me as someone he could trust. That he recognized the authority I had as a representative of Jesus Christ. 6’s handwriting was elementary. The note was written in pencil. It read,
Dear Sister Dick, I am gay. Does God hate me? Am I going to hell? My dad hates me. He disowned me. Is he going to hell because of how he treats me? 6
I read 6’s note and reread 6’s note. I cried myself to sleep that night. The next day I called him to set up a time my companion and I could come by and talk to him. My companion had no idea how to move forward, how to respond to 6.