“The hardest choice she ever had to make was between true religion and true love.”
Rose Gluck thought she had everything in life. Just out of high school, she spent her days working as a pioneer minister of her Jehovah’s Witness faith, going door-to-door teaching others about the Bible and the happifying future God had planned. She thought she knew what it meant to be happy, but things would change when Wyatt True shows up.
Drawn to the dashing young brother, Rose experiences feelings that she never knew existed. Meanwhile, despite his vow of singleness, Wyatt can’t but help to fall for the beautiful young sister. But the Presiding Overseer of the congregation has his own plans for Rose. Will Rose find eternal happiness?
Rose smiled as she walked up to the Kingdom Hall for the meeting because it was her first night wearing her new white dress after getting it back from the dry cleaner. She cringed to think of her first run-in with Wyatt at the District Convention that left her drenched with cola. Wyatt was so busy apologizing and thrusting his jacket toward her that Rose doubted he even had a chance to really notice how she looked in the dress. She was eager to see if he would say anything about it.
As Rose approached the Kingdom Hall’s front doors she noticed Clinton Green just inside waiting to help her to their seats — as if she needed it. Her eyes shifted over to the building’s side maintenance entrance. Could she sneak in without him seeing her?
“Hello Rose,” called out Clinton.
Rose sighed and continued to the front door. So much for sneaking in.
“Is that a new dress?” Clinton asked, eyeing her suspiciously as he grabbed her book bag.
“It is one of the dresses that Viola made me for the convention.” Rose had forgotten that Clinton hadn’t yet seen it. “Do you like it?”
Clinton cocked his head to the side as he stared her up and down. “I don’t think so; your legs are showing too much,” he said. “Can you pull it down any?”
“It’s not that kind of dress,” said Rose.
“Maybe you could hang that one up after tonight. You seem to have grown out of it already.”
Rose gritted her teeth worried what she might say. Viola had put so much work into the dress, it seemed insulting to mothball it after only wearing it a couple of times. Besides, she really looked good in it. However, she couldn’t protest; it was required to show respect to Clinton. As her husband he would be able to dictate matters that he felt important. Rose just never thought it would be this challenging.
“I called your house last night to talk to you about the wedding,” said Clinton. “Your grandmother said that you were at Brother True’s apartment with the Whitmores.”
“Yes,” said Rose. “I am going to be helping him with a part on an upcoming service meeting.”
“The thing is, I drove by the Whitmore’s house and they were all home, so I’m kind of confused. I wouldn’t think that you would go to True’s all by yourself with us being engaged and all.”
“I didn’t exactly go to his place, we stayed outside,” said Rose.
Clinton sniffed. “So why don’t you tell me about this mysterious part.”
Rose explained to Clinton hoping that he would be persuaded to appreciate Wyatt True more. The instructions in the Our Kingdom Ministry bulletin called for an elder to interview three young people about the challenges of serving Jehovah in school. They had that same part every summer just before the new school year, but this time Wyatt conspired to liven things up. Instead of a straight interview as outlined, Wyatt decided to reconfigure the part as a game show sketch. He would play the role of the show host with Rose and the Whitmore children as the contestants. Wyatt would ask them questions about how to handle themselves in school with such things as not saluting the flag, not celebrating holidays, not getting involved in extracurricular activities, and resisting peer pressure. At the end, Wyatt would announce that they were all winners of everlasting life in paradise on earth.
“Doesn’t it sound like fun Clinton?” asked Rose. Her voice was more pleading then she meant it to be.
“It’s kind of strange,” said Clinton scowling. “It’s kind of like making a mockery of the meetings or something.”
“I really hadn’t thought about it like that,” said Rose. “I think that Brother True is simply wanting to interject some excitement.”
“I just don’t know how appropriate it is; the meetings are serious for a reason.” Clinton shook his head. “Next thing you know Wyatt will want us marching around the Kingdom Hall and rolling around on the floor like Pentecostals.”
Rose didn’t think that is what Wyatt wanted at all, but she dare not contradict her fiancé.
“Rose, I don’t think I want you being a part of it. As my fiancée, what you do reflects on me and I don’t want you to do what will give me a bad reputation and hurt my chances of being appointed an elder.”
As the son of the presiding overseer, Rose thought there wasn’t too much that Clinton could do to hurt his chances of becoming elder. He had already made ministerial servant despite being slightly below the national average on his monthly field service reports.
“Well I don’t want to mess up Brother True’s part, I was supposed to be his high school student,” said Rose, hoping Clinton would understand.
“Why don’t he use Sarah Clarkson?”
“Well she is just a year older than Sophia Whitmore and he already has a middle-schooler.”
“Rose please don’t contradict me.” Clinton scowled. “You aren’t in high school anyway so what difference does it make?”
Rose thought it made a world of difference; the challenges of eighth grade were nothing like high school where there was continual pressure to pursue worldly pursuits like getting involved with team sports or going to college. Rose clamped her mouth shut and nodded meekly.
“Well that’s that,” said Clinton sitting her books down on his chair. “You’ll have to tell Wyatt you won’t do it.”
Rose sat down and looked straight ahead. Normally she would socialize before the meeting, but she didn’t feel up to it. She had longed to get out of her grandmother’s protective oversight, but with Clinton, she felt like she was jumping from one prison to another. Off to the side she noticed Wyatt talking to Sister Whitmore. How would she tell him that she couldn’t help him out?
After the meeting, Rose determined to try to avoid Wyatt. It was a futile effort, because, one, their Kingdom Hall was tiny, and two, even if she managed it, there would be no way she could also avoid him during field service in the coming week.
“How are you?” asked Wyatt approaching her from behind.
“I’m fine,” said Rose and bit her lip in apprehension.
“That’s good,” said Wyatt. “I have some things to take care of, but I had some great ideas for the part that I want to go over with you soon.”
If there was ever a time to speak to him, it was then, but Rose hesitated. “Okay,” she said.
As Wyatt walked off Rose felt the weight of the situation bearing down upon her. She should of just taken care of the situation instead of letting it drag on. She would have to tell him at the very next opportunity.
The next opportunity came on Saturday morning when the entire congregation met for field service. Rose looked forward to yard sale witnessing with Wyatt and thought that in a more casual setting it would be easier to breach the subject.
However, when it came time to make the car groups Clinton told the conductor that he and Rose were to work together with his parents. Rose looked over at Clinton in surprise. They had made no such plans, unless it was by virtue of their engagement.
“It is like a regular family field service group,” Clinton said with pleasure as the four walked to the Greens’s van.
As Rose stepped up into the van, she turned to see her grandmother, Viola, and Wyatt loading up in their station wagon. Getting married meant moving on, but she already missed her old life. The only thing to be thankful was that it bought her time from having to tell Wyatt she couldn’t help him.
“All aboard,” said Brother Green in the front seat of the van.
Rose took a seat and pulled the door shut. It was a bright sunny day outside, but the inside of the van was dark and gloomy with shades on the windows.
“Father, what do you want to do this morning?” Jasper’s wife, Betsy asked him meekly.
“We are going to work door-to-door territory,” Jasper said matter-of-factly.
“Sounds good,” said Rose forcing a smile. She didn’t like door-to-door, but walking outside would be better than being stuck in the back of the Greens’s crypt-like van.
Upon arriving at their assigned territory, Jasper Green instructed that he would work with Rose and Clinton would work with Sister Green.
“But I wanted to work with Rose,” pleaded Clinton.
Jasper turned around and furrowed his heavy, grasshopper like eyebrows.
“I don’t care who I work with,” offered Rose nervously. It wasn’t true. She hated to work with Jasper who had a habit of getting into arguments at the doors and overstaying his welcome. He was very old school when it came to field service and still wore steel toe shoes to stick his foot in the door so that it wouldn’t be shut until he was ready to leave. Rose could totally understand why someone would want to chase him down the sidewalk.
After a tense moment, Jasper relented. “Clinton you and Rose can work together, but this is field service, not date night and we’ll have to work house over house so I can keep you two in my line of sight.”
Rose didn’t know what Jasper assumed that her and Clinton would do if they got out of sight — jump behind a bush and engage in heavy petting? Getting physical with Clinton was the last thing she ever wanted to do.
As they were walking to their first house, Rose asked Clinton if he had ever heard of the baseball method of working door-to-door. Rose described it to him. In response Clinton looked at her with a face like she was talking about slaughtering squirrels or something.
“Why would we want to work the doors like that?”
“Because it is fun,” said Rose.
“This is field service, it isn’t supposed to be fun. Besides, if the Society wanted us to use a baseball method, they would have told us.” Clinton shook his head. “Where’d you come up with that anyway.”
Rose didn’t commit to answer, not wanting to implicate Wyatt.
“Is this something you learned from Brother True?” demanded Clinton.
“Well yes,” said Rose.
Clinton had no further comment, but his red face and sullen expression spoke volumes.
“I’ll take the first door,” Rose volunteered.
After knocking, a stout woman came to the door. She was rather plain looking in a blue jean jumper, a white turtleneck, and a large silver cross dangling between her ample bosom.
“Yes,” she answered with irritation. Catching sight of Rose and Clinton, she scowled. Rose started to introduce herself, but the lady cut her off. “Who are you people here for?”
“I beg your pardon,” Rose replied.
“Who do you represent?” the woman snapped.
Rose looked back at Clinton, who looked like he had swallowed his own tongue. Rose knew she couldn’t rely on him for support. “We represent Jesus Christ,” Rose answered as Wyatt had the other day when he calmed the irate man.
Rose could feel the woman soften as she absently touched her cross necklace.
“Actually we are Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are from the Kingdom Hall,” blurted Clinton from behind.
Any progress that Rose made was instantly erased as the fire returned to the woman’s eyes. “False prophets!” she cried out slamming the door so loudly that Jasper, Betsy, and the next-door neighbor turned to stare.
“Enjoy Armageddon you lousy goat!” Clinton shook his fist at the door.
As they walked back down the front walk to the sidewalk Clinton interrogated Rose. “So what was that about saying that you represented Jesus? You sounded like someone from Babylon the Great!”
“I was just trying to find some common ground,” Rose explained. “I saw the cross and figured that she loved Jesus. Besides I was reading in the book of Acts how Jesus prophesied that his disciples would be witnesses to him. In a way we are Jesus’ witnesses too.”
“You need to stick with reading The Watchtower,” Clinton chastised her.
At every door thereafter Rose struggled with her presentation, feeling as if Clinton was nitpicking her every word. Rose hoped in her heart that it wasn’t a taste of what she could expect for the rest of her life as his wife.
It was getting close to ten thirty when they finished working the block. Instead of stopping for a coffee break at Donut Donut, Jasper pressed on to the next street. “Look at the fields they are ripe for the harvest!” he said paraphrasing Jesus.
Rose hadn’t placed a single tract all morning and barely got her name out before having the person say, “I have my own religion” or “I am not interested.” She didn’t feel like the fields were ready for the harvest at all.
Jasper drove the van over to the next street over and Rose spotted her grandmother’s station wagon parked outside of a yard sale.
Wyatt noticed the Greens’s van and walked over to it greeting them.
“Hello Brother True,” said Jasper, “Are you working a call here?”
Wyatt turned around to look at Rose’s grandmother and Viola as the two investigated some dresses hanging on a rack. “Oh we were just driving by and the sisters wanted to stop,” Wyatt said.
“Always like a woman to want to stop and shop,” said Jasper. “Brother as car captain, you’ve got to keep them focused and on task.”
Wyatt nodded. “Well we have had a real productive morning so far. Lots of magazine placements.”
Rose knew that those magazines had been placed at similar garage and yard sales, but was happy that Wyatt didn’t elaborate. Jasper wouldn’t understand the value of yard sale witnessing.
After working two more streets, the Greens arrived back at the Kingdom Hall fifteen minutes after noon. Dropping Rose off at the station wagon, Jasper apologized to Rose’s grandmother for keeping her waiting. Clinton helped Rose out of the van telling her how much he had enjoyed their day together and looked forward to many more. Rose’s heart felt dead. She wasn’t sure she could take another day like that day.
As they were driving home Rose’s grandmother asked her, “Did you have a good day in the service?”
“I didn’t place anything,” said Rose, omitting the rest of her feelings.
“Of course it’s not at every door we find a hearing ear,” replied her grandmother, singing a verse from one of their songs.
Rose thought about her day. She wondered what was it about Wyatt that made service so enjoyable and her time with Clinton so bad. Being around Wyatt was like walking in sunshine, while being around Clinton was like fumbling in darkness.
“When we get home I’ll need your help cleaning the house,” said her grandmother. “I’ve invited Brother True over for lunch after the meeting tomorrow.”