Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Church oddities

The idea that life is more of an adventure in a foreign country also holds true for church. Church is more of an adventure in a foreign country. For example:

1. (This happened a few months before we moved here.) Twice a year, all the Mormons in a given area ("stake") meet together for a conference. In the US and other places where there are purpose-built Mormon church buildings, that's where this conference takes place. Here in the UAE (and in Russia), we rent out a hotel ballroom for the occasion. A couple of years ago, hundreds of Mormons showed up at the Marriott in Dubai for stake conference and it turned out that the hotel provided a free buffet brunch as part of the ballroom rental package. By all accounts, it was the best stake conference EVER. However, this has never happened again since it was actually a mistake - the church paid for that buffet brunch because someone didn't look over the rental quote very closely. Too bad, really.

2. At the most recent stake conference, held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai, some attentive hotel staff member took the time to arrange the complimentary water bottles in a shape that spelled out JESUS.

3. These are words that I have heard spoken over the pulpit in my ward: pornography, menstruation, period, breast exam, masturbation, prostitute, LBM (="loose bowel movement"), vomit/vomiting/vomited, "kick his a**," "I went to wake him up and he was covered in blood," "trying to get pregnant," "my mom has a better job than my dad," and ghost. And those are just the ones I can remember. Fast and testimony meeting is a wonderful thing.

4. Since we meet for church in a rented villa, the facilities aren't always the greatest. Sometimes the bathrooms don't work, or the AC is broken, or the power is out.

5. One of the benefits of being in an overseas ward is that we have something called the "summer church schedule." AKA, church is only two hours long for July and August (they cut out Sunday School). Let me tell you, it is niiiiiice. However, it is really hard to switch back to the whole three hours in September.

16 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

Ok, water bottles arranged to spell "JESUS"?!?!?! That has just made my WEEK.

I have always loved attending church overseas. There's something about being in a different environment that makes the barriers break down easier and people are just a little less artificial and a little more real. And a little more focused on the basics, which I always enjoy.

Crys said...

Lbm....love it!!!! I need actual recordings of these :-). Actually our testimonies are about the same. Last month some guy got up and was talking about how after 30 years he'd been contacted by his illigitament daughter who he'd never met....in ok. I love two hour church. Down with Sunday school!!!!'

Anonymous said...

In Beirut the block is 2 hours long all year. Every session is reduced by a bit so there is still a Sunday school. Everything is just somewhat shorter. --Matthew

Kathy Haynie said...

Fascinating. When I went to church in Costa Rica, there were these tiny little sugar ants that climbed the walls (inside the "chapel" - it was really the living room of a rented house). Very entertaining during sacrament meeting. Why the shorter summer schedule? Is it too hot? Or do all the Sunday School teachers go on vacation?

Lisa Lou said...

We had two hour church in one of the branches/districts in Germany. It was great.

Scotty P said...

I vote that all Mormon church should be two hours long.

Alli E. said...

so funny!

elliespen said...

Gotta love testimony meeting. (I'm assuming that particular instance of "ghost" was not immediately preceded by "holy." Because otherwise I've heard that over the pulpit a lot.)

When we were in Santiago, Chile, they were trying an experiment with two-hour church because a lot of people had trouble getting work off for a three-hour block. They'd rotate every other week between having Sunday School or Priesthood/Relief Society, and I really liked it. It was while Elder Holland was down there and I gather it had been his brainchild, at least in part.

dave said...

I agree with Scotty.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Love that employee who so thoughtfully spelled out Jesus with the water bottles. Bonus thoughtful being in an Arab country. Give that man a B of M!

Your crazy testimony meetings would shock most other wards. But one time we had a ward member bring up that her Dad molested her and she described how she once stood over her sleeping parents' bed w/ a knife in her hand debating whether to kill them or not. Yikes. Does that qualify as a testimony? Nohow, nowhere. She was nuts.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

PS: I can relate to what Kathy said about the ants. In our Meridian Idaho ward the building was old. Mice had taken up residence and would occasionally dart across the stand during sac. mtg. Or under the pews across members' feet.

Nemesis said...

Oh man, let's get that 2-hour church thing going everywhere. I felt the Spirit when you talked about it so it must be right!

Bridget said...

Yes, I should have clarified that the person speaking meant that they saw an actual ghost. It was...interesting.

Bridget said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bridget said...

Yes, you guys, 2-hour church is AWESOME. The reason they do it here is because a lot of people leave during the summer so we don't have enough manpower to run all the programs. Last year I remember that 2-hour church lingered well into September. This year, they were strict about starting up the 3-hour block right away. :(

Jessie said...

Our church in the Caribbean was very informal. We only did two blocks (like you said, lack of manpower) and Sacrament meeting was rarely more than 45 minutes long (that's what happens when the same five people rotate talks). I promise it's possible (I might even argue EASIER) to feel the Spirit when church is shorter! Add my vote.

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