Moving Across The Pond – The Ward

We moved from the US to England six weeks ago for my work. It has been an interesting experience as we have adjusted to the differences in culture between the two countries. I will admit one of my trepidations was in having to go to Church here. I was unsure what to expect. However, I will say that we have felt more welcome in this ward that in our previous ward in the US when we moved in. The wards are about the same size from an active member perspective, but the UK ward has a mix of Brits, Yankees, and other nationalities. It is a lot of fun to get to know the different folks. The other pleasant surprise has been the classes. I have previously avoided going to HP Group in the US given it is usually a bunch of old farts pontificating about their version of the Church that existed in the 1950s or Sunday School lessons that ask the silly questions from the manuals. Both HP Group and SS have been wonderful – I actually feel like I am learning things. So all in all, a huge positive on the move from a Church perspective! I forgot how wonderful it is to be in a classroom where you are learning as opposed to counting the minutes until you can exit.

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Heavenly Father Answers Prayers

As you might remember from previous posts (I expect all readers to keep up with my soap opera like life), my eldest child is scheduled to return from her church mission in less than a month. While she was gone, we moved to another state and bought the smallest house I have ever lived in. The house has an unfinished basement that we are racing to finish so she and her brother have a place to sleep. Currently her younger brother is sleeping on the living room couch and living out of plastic tubs. For a teenage boy, not a huge trauma. For a 23 year-old woman, not a living situation that will fly.

When we bought the house, we thought it would be a quick basement rehab. Like all good money pits, it has turned into a major project and our six week timeline has become six months and counting. We are sweating bullets and money like crazy over this.

We received a letter from her mission president giving us her return date and emails from the church travel department giving us airport details. It is official, she is home in a matter of weeks.

Two days ago I got an email from our daughter telling us her state side mission is being extended for another month (without asking us) because she is the only foreign speaking sister missionary currently serving in her area and she needs to stay until the next sister comes from the MTC. I got an email from the church travel department giving us new airport information for the following month, so I guess this is official.

My husband is breathing a sigh of relief about the basement. I am curious how often this kind of thing happens. Is it a common occurrence, or is it the miracle it feels like it is?

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Trunk-or-Treat Me

Not de rigueur, for a Mormon ward, but increasingly ubiquitous is the ward Trunk-or-Treat. Every American ward I has been in for the last decade have hosted one, and I know lots of other wards do as well. Whether it is strictly a parking-lot based event, or an entire Halloween festival started in the cultural hall, we Mormons seem to have grabbed on to this questionable American holiday with vigor. From best-decorated-trunk to haunted house in the Primary room to jack-o-lantern carving competitions, All Hallows Eve has made an oddly warm impression on us. Read more »

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Bet me……

Well, I posted “how do you find a bookie?” on facebook because I was thinking I’m a baseball expert and my sister pointed out it might be illegal. After discussing odds, etc, with a friend, I decided it wasn’t worth it to bet on the World Series because I have so little to bet. I’ve never been a gambler; the second I lose a quarter in a slot machine, my feelings get hurt and I quit. It’s nice that there’s a vice out there that I don’t have.

I started watching baseball in 1984, when I was pregnant and having to stay down (long irrelevant story). Baseball is a real game, unlike football where all people have to do is beat each other up. Football is a mob scene to me and I cannot follow a game. Baseball is a game of wits; almost a soap opera—a drama. The pitcher and the batter are in worlds of their own, seemingly oblivious to the millions watching. You get to know individuals instead of hulks. Basketball, it’s okay, but it also moves very fast and it’s hard to focus on technique or strategy. Read more »

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Elders and Sisters

As I read a post last week complaining about sister missionaries having to bike in skirts (and proposing that they be allowed to wear pants instead), I got this strange feeling I have every so often in the bloggernaccle: a provocation to defend the status quo.  This is not a position I am in regularly in my real life.  Or my Church life.  I quite like change, especially change that makes sense.  And I am one of those poor beleaguered sister missionaries who both had to wear skirts or dresses (and nylons!) every day and had to use a bicycle as my only mode of transportation.

I hate wearing skirts and dresses (and nylons!).  I hated biking much of the time.  The combination of the two was a giant pain in my tookus and a cramp in my style. Read more »

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Abortion is safe, legal and very common

Often is discussing abortion we hear the refrain that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.  As most of you would expect I find myself to be mostly pro life.  The same position as the church.  In other words opposition to abortion in 97% of cases with the exception being rape, incest, and health.

Lets look at these three things based on the data and see how they relate to each other. I am using the Guttmacher research and the CDC  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6001a1.htm?s_cid=ss6001a1_was the basis for this post. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

Abortion is mostly physically safe. The data suggests that first trimester abortions are very safe. The longer the pregnancy the less safe they apparently get. But even later term abortions are for the most part safe.  Once abortions moved from back alleys into hospitals the total number of abortions skyrocketed.  The total number of deaths relating to abortion in the latest year available (2006) according to the CDC was 9.

Abortions are legal in the US. There are however some more restrictive laws in various states. Most of these laws involve waiting periods, parental notification, ultrasounds etc. I do think they serve to reduce abortion rates based on the CDC data but if you want an abortion in a more restrictive state you can get one.  Some states have very few restrictions on abortion.  These states NY and CA in particular account for an outsized percentage of US abortions.  NYC in particular has very very high abortion rates according to the CDC.  I would almost say that there is a culture in NYC based on the data that encourages abortions

Abortions are simply not rare.  Guttmacher states that 3-10 women by the end of their child bearing years will have an abortion.  Other studies suggest somewhere north of 40%.  I am not sure exactly where it lies but the numbers are really high.  MP’s and missionaries working in the US esp in areas with less restrictive abortion laws will tell you if asked that a majority of female converts need additional interviews due to a history of abortion in their background prior to baptism. 

I personally believe that a societal framework of safe and legal abortion leads logically and tragically to abortion being common.  This is how its played out in the US since 1973.   I really don’t want to argue about the politics of abortion on this thread.  People simply talk past each other.  Instead lets look at the data and discuss.  I know this is impossible :)

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Reflections and conclusions about the scriptures

I don’t know where I got my first Bible. I’ve written in childish script the names of my siblings–their births and the deaths of the three who died when we were little. I just packed it around wherever I landed and still have it.

When my first husband died, I had that paperback Book of Mormon with the blue cover and my old Bible. I read them both, along with the cheap copy of the D&C & POGP. Maybe I read them twice in those first couple of years. (I read straight through Jesus the Christ and a few other books as well in my newfound zeal for the gospel.)
Read more »

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A Mormon life

My late father-in-law, Avard “Andy” Anderson, was far from perfect, as all his children — including my sweet wife Sandra — can tell you. It was in the closing year of his life, dying of cancer, that my wife came to terms with his imperfections and that he earnest sought forgiveness for the same.

Now, nearly 20 years after his death, my wife put together this video, capturing all that she loved and loves about her dad. To go with that are my own words from his funeral, where — by request of my wife’s family — I gave Andy’s eulogy. I felt to post it here (with the video) because there are still — maybe more than ever — those in the Church who are overly concerned about “status” and “accomplishments” within the Kingdom. I stand by everything I said back then:

Read more »

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Words of Wisdom

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending a Mennonite wedding. ( For those who the distinction is important, this was a wedding within a conservative Mennonite community.)
Over 700 people attended the event. I was the only English – or non-Mennonite person in attendance. I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Instead of describing the details of the five hour program, fascinating as it was, I want to discuss one facet of the Mennonite wedding ritual.

Over a two hour period, we sat in church pews and listened to church minister after minister (all male) while they waxed on about the value of marriage, the importance of family and love of God. Near the end, in quick succession, about 10 more ministers stood and gave the couple and the congregation their advice on marriage.

It ranged from the typical references about the Golden Rule, to some new ideas for me, like we should rejoice when our spouse rebukes us because that gives a chance to practice humility. If you have humility, you can put aside your human desire to defend yourself in an argument and that will make you the better person for not wanting to protect yourself. (I kinda chuckled at that – the idea that I should be proud of myself if I can achieve humility and let the other guy think they are better than me. Isn’t that a form of false pride?)

After hearing lots of treaties on what love and marriage is about, I flashed back to my temple wedding day. The main advice I remember getting at the altar from our sealer was about forgiveness. He told us (looking only at me) a story about a woman who had a temple marriage and how her husband had an affair. She had a choice to make and she chose to forgive him. They stayed married and it all worked out.

I missed any nuances of his words, any higher meaning about how sometimes your beloved will stab your heart so hard you can’t possibly breathe. I was stuck in panic mode, thinking, “What Are You Trying To Tell Me About My New Husband That I Don’t Know????”

It took a few weeks of constant reassurance from my husband that he had never cheated on me and had no intention of doing so in the future before I was able to relax a bit.

That brings me to my big question of the day: What advice good or bad, have you heard at a Mormon Wedding?

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2 Questions Inspired by the Church Site at Sharon, Vermont

This past weekend I took the combination of a three-day weekend and Stake Conference as a sign that I should take a little trip. Since I have not previously been, we headed to Maine to visit a friend, but stopped a few places between here and there. One stop was the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont. While I wonder why we have created this kind of a shrine for someone we do not worship, it was a perfectly lovely place and prompts my first question Read more »

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Friends of Scouting this Year

Yesterday a good neighbor came to the door to collect our Friends of Scouting donation. I told him that we appreciated his efforts on behalf of the scouts, but that this year I would be donating directly to the troop. He responded, “But the money from Friends of Scouting goes to our troop.”

I explained that we don’t see a penny of it directly and he seemed to believe me. As the Scoutmaster, I have a pretty good idea of where our money comes from.

A bit later the deacons came by to collect fast offerings. I gave out troop and the Young Women each the same amount of money. No word from the clerks as to whether this has caused accounting difficulties.

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The Cult Trap

The trap has been sprung. I don’t know if there was a way to avoid this one, but Mitt Romney is in it, at least today. Oddly, nobody seems to care if Jon Huntsman is in a cult.

Here’s how you set the trap, in case you’re interested. Say you’re Rick Perry. Hypothetically. Someone with some association with you suggests that Mitt Romney belongs to a cult. Then you, being a good guy, says, “No, I don’t think Mormonism is a cult.”

Once someone is denying that a religion is a cult the message to the voters is loud and clear: the religion is probably a cult.

I have no idea how to avoid this trap. It seems to be something of a tar baby. The more you talk about it the worse it gets. But if you don’t address it then what?

By the way, Rick Perry belongs to a cult.

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Church Survey

I read about this survey several days ago: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52682333-78/church-lds-mormon-survey.html.csp

The church has sent a survey out to 1000 people + or – asking questions about their use of/opinion about several blogs and some bloggers, among other things. Blogs listed that I’m aware of are T&S, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and BCC. There are questions about John Dehlin, Joanna Brooks, and Jana Reiss as well as several writers. They’ve included Glenn Beck and Michael Otterson.

I am mildly concerned, given the inclusion of John, Joanna, Jana and FMM. Heartened to see T&S and Michael Otterson, although the paranoia in me says that could just be a cover.

I could joke and say where’s my name? I’m kind of nutso. Where’s MM? We’re a liberal bunch, mostly. I think. I myself (screw you if you don’t like that term, I do) am a crazy mix of liberal and conservative. But I really don’t care about that today. I’ve wondered if there would ever come a point where my friendship and support of John Dehlin’s mission in life would get me into trouble. I’ve only recently learned about Joanna’s public pleas for tolerance for gay Mormons and have Jana’s book “Flunking Sainthood” in my pile of books to read. I’ve scanned it and I know I’m going to love it. Read more »

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Mission Reentry

My kid is coming home from her mission in just one more payment. (Next month.) What do I need to know/expect/watch for to make sure she assimilates smoothly back into the world of sinners?

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Parsing Nephi: First Nephi IV (1 Nephi 15)

This is fifth in a series examining apparent chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscript as they apply to Nephi’s writing — here are the earlier posts:

Book of Mormon quotes here, as for the entire series, is taken from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, ed.).

This is the first (though far from the last) time that Orson Pratt”s chapter division matches that found in the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon (and, as explained in the first post, apparent chapter divisions indicated as Joseph dictated the contents of the Book of Mormon). This is also quite a bit shorter than Nephi’s first three chapters, which suggest that there may be thematic reasons this chapter stands alone…and I think there are.

Read more »

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Cool By Default

As you all know from my whining, we moved this summer. We have been in our new ward for less than six months. Rob and I both have callings that are minor and perfect for us.

When we showed up in the new ward we were alone. Our grown children flew the coop for the summer. It was interesting and still remains interesting how the New Ward Member Introductions are going.
The younger families are ignoring us because we are obviously old fogeys. No surprise there. I did the same thing as a 20ish person.
The interesting part is how it is going with our peers. They want to know if /how many kids we have and what they are doing. It has happened often enough that I can shorten the process to shorthand:
Child graduated high school?
Child attending BYU on any campus?
Child married in a temple?
Child married with children and attending school?
Child on mission?
Child on foreign mission?

We are being sized up as worthy based on what our grown kids are doing! Right now we are in a sweet spot. Everyone made it through high school without major trauma, our son became an Eagle Scout at the very last second, one daughter got married in the temple and is expecting our first grandchild any minute and our oldest daughter is serving a mission in Portland OR.
On paper right now our family looks pretty good. What people don’t understand is that can all shift very quickly. Missions end, sometimes marriages end, and sometimes Eagle Scouts decide not to go on missions. Bad things do happen to good people.
Luckily for us, we are making our introductions based on the sweet spot. I hope it lasts long enough for us to accumulate enough social capital to carry us through.

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General Conference—Motivated? Inspired? Comforted? (and oh what the heck, a birth announcement)


I read in the morning paper this morning how excited saints were to be taught during General Conference. And going along with the discussion about General Priesthood meeting, I thought that I haven’t learned anything new in General Conference in years, barring GA calls. (I’m SO aware that’s not close to being grammatically correct, but I have to leave in 15 minutes–after I fold clothes).

The truth is most of us know that Jesus is the Christ; we’ve heard the story of the crucifixion and sort of understand–if we don’t accept–the atonement. We know the Joseph Smith story, the Plan of Salvation. It’s not news to me that I shouldn’t cheat on my husband; nor is it news to him that he shouldn’t beat me or watch porn. We know we’re supposed to be good parents and good Christians. Read more »

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