Have traveled about 170,000,000 miles - more than a quarter of the way around the Sun.
Officially, this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Most people have seen Mormon missionaries going in pairs to teach their religion to people.
meeting was special in that it respected the return of one of these
missionaries after his two years in
Many members of his family were there, giving talks, or singing in the choir, or leading a prayer.
The meeting started with a song and then an opening prayer. Singing was from a hymn book - most looking down - but some having many of the words memorized and so looking up at the music director. It was interesting to note that the director, who was quite talented, wanted to speed up the songs as soon as the intro by the organist was finished. Because most were looking down into their books, it took a measure or two to catch up to her. If words were projected, so that all could be looking up and watching the director and focused far instead of near, the speeding up would have gone very smoothly, or any other dynamics the director wished to incorporate. Mormons are among the best singers in the world, but this handicap makes it difficult to sing well as a congregation.
Then there was a section labeled "business." It included some announcements of callings to individuals along with visible and open acceptance of the calls by hand-raise. If anyone is opposed, they are also invited to raise their hands, but this apparently happens rarely.
A member had recently given birth to identical twin girls, and they were given blessings and their names officially made a part of the church record. Among Mormons, baptism is not done until one reaches eight years old, but this blessing happens shortly after birth. The twins were so cute - and I could hear ooh's and ah's from the congregation. The blessing was given by a large circle of men with one of them speaking. They held each baby in the center - bouncing - kind of rocking like a cradle. It was really very sweet. The mother brought first one baby - and then the other up to the front. Her pride was not well hidden - nor was Dad's.
Then they had their "Sacrament." Among Mormons, sacrament always refers to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or the Eucharist. Seldom is the word heard referring to marriage or other sacraments. They begin with another hymn. Then they have young men at the front - who give a blessing on the bread - and then several others pass it to all. Only members are expected to partake. Christian or not, non-members do not partake unless by accident - not knowing the rule. Then another young man blesses the water (used instead of wine or grape juice,) - and it is passed to all. Each person partakes as it comes to him or her - not waiting for all to receive first. The blessings are word-for-word, and they are read from a card. If an error is made in the reading, the young man is asked to do it again, as many times as it takes to get it right.
Then there were two short talks by very young people - a girl, and a boy. It's no wonder these Mormons become leaders - with speech development beginning so early in front of the entire congregation!
It's notable that among the 15 churches I've visited so far, this congregation was the most filled with youth - babies, young ones and teens filled many of the seats.
Then there was a number sung by the choir - in Spanish, as that was the language of this particular missionary's work. That was quite nice, though even the choir is stuck to a hymnal - often not looking up - and smiles are difficult because of near focus.
Then began the talks by family members of the returning missionary. Mom (the missionary's mom) spoke, then Dad, then the missionary himself.
missionary talked of his experiences in
Then he said an interesting and different thing. He said, "We need to be obedient, so we can be with our families forever."
He said, "My mission was not the easiest two years of my life, but it was the best two years for my life."
I have no reason to doubt him.
Referring to God he said, "He loves us so much that He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ."
That's the meat of his talk; I was quite impressed with the boy. (I'm 62 - he seemed a boy to me - I heard he's 21 now. I guess that means he can go out and drink - I don't think he wants to. (What a tremendous advantage he has - the love at home - the experience. The attitude of helpfulness to others. The communicative skills. He is likely to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.)
Then there was another song, and a closing prayer, and everyone seemed ready to go to another meeting!
Of course, I attended this meeting because I know this boy. This, of course, is the church I grew up in. All through these reports, I am critical of this, the church I grew up in, so for this visit, there will be no controversy. (Except for the singing from a book held only two feet from the eyes. Those churches I've seen using projected words have a great advantage over us.)
My plan is to return to this church after my Trip Around The Sun. I told them I'm on a sabbatical, a responsible time away for a year.
This was visit 15 of 52 in The Trip Around The Sun. It was enjoyable. It was home.