Missionaries teaching the ideal family.
Throughout my mission I found myself reflecting on the kinds of people who were typically more open and receptive to the Church. I, like most missionaries, contacted and taught a fairly wide range of people personally, consulted other missionaries (both in and out of my mission) about their experiences, and heard of past conversions from a wide range of sources such as Church publications, older members, and people with relatives who were Mormon. I thought a lot about these people and their stories. I wanted to understand how the Spirit works in peoples' lives.
It was clear that the vast majority of people joining the Church were either poor, uneducated, immigrants, refugees, mentally unstable, lonely middle-aged women, unconfident young men, or people seeking a stronger political connection to the United States. Most were probably a combination of two or more (but hopefully not too many were middle-aged women/young men). Why? Why did the Gospel of Jesus Christ appeal almost exclusively to these disenfranchised types of people? Why wasn't the power of the Spirit and the beauty of the message able to reach people who were in more stable situations or who maybe even held some respectable level of influence in their community?
I kept reminding myself that the Book of Mormon says rather explicitly that the rich, who are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, pretty much just plain suck, and that the poor are more open to God because they're humble. (To be honest, the main reasons we missionaries wanted to convert rich people was usually so they could help the Church out tithing-wise and take us on awesome trips when we came back after the mission to visit.)
Lehi having a hard time converting wealthy men.
Could Heavenly Father help us find and convert some healthy, financially stable, maybe even prominent individuals (if they're humble!) who would help build the Kingdom and send the Work forward? We sure hoped so.
Wrong neighborhood, elders! Go find people with $$$!
The folks at the top really hoped so, too. My mission president insisted, under direction of the area authorities, that we missionaries spend more time seeking out native, adult males who could help build up the body of Priesthood holders in the country. We called it "Priesthood contacting" and it took precedence over speaking to anyone who was female, foreign, unemployed, or single. Our goal was now quality, not quantity. So basically the only people in our teaching pool that we could hang on to were the uneducated men. Our days out proselytizing involved us annoying the hell out of grown men on their way to work, at lunch, on their way home, and while they were out trying to enjoy some family time.
No, no more single mothers! We have too many already!
The thing is IT FELT WRONG. All of it felt wrong. It felt wrong that we were bringing such unstable people into the Church when deep down we knew how many problems they had. The last thing those people needed was the Church with all its nonsensical rules and dogma to complicate their lives further. It also felt wrong that we were required to suddenly limit our contact with many people because they weren't family men with the right ethnicity. I had always thought that all were alike unto God. Maybe they are. Maybe it's just that not all are alike unto the Mormon Church.