Friday, May 16, 2008

Lessons Learned from the Old Ward

I was reading a post today written by one of my former bishops (you can find his blog here). He and his wife are not very many years older than I am and he is currently serving as a bishop for the second time. He is an amazing man. His wife is an amazing woman. We lived across the courtyard from them in our little apartment in Orem, Utah when my hubby was getting his Masters at BYU. These were the kind of people with whom we felt an immediate connection...it honestly felt like we had known them for...well, like we had known them forever. Every time I hear from them, it is like coming home. I haven't actually seen them since Big Sis was 1 (she's turning 5 in about 10 days) but I still feel very close to them.

We had an unusual experience when we lived in that little apartment in Orem. Our entire ward was made up of families who lived in the apartments. It was one block...one city block. That was the ward. It was an extremely transient ward. Some of us lived there for a few years, some for a few months, some a few weeks and some lived there for several years. The amazing thing about that ward was that it was very, very close knit. I really felt like I knew everyone in the ward all the time. That means if a family only lived there for 2 weeks, I still felt like I knew who they were and that they would probably know me too. It was simply amazing.

Along with having a feeling of knowing everyone, I had amazing spiritual experiences in that ward. Lessons in Relief Society and Gospel Doctrine were amazing. No...there weren't extravagant displays, pictures, flowers, etc., etc...but the lessons were full of the Spirit. I have thought about this for a long time to try to understand why it was like this. I have come to a few conclusions. 1) We were all young (relatively) and inexperienced and had to rely on the handbook, the manuals, and the Spirit for direction. Most of those who were leaders in the ward were experiencing those callings for the first time. We simply had no other option...we didn't know where to look for help besides the handbook, the manuals and the Spirit. 2) We were all poor. This is to say...we were all (more or less) humble. Many of us were in school, some were not, but everyone was struggling. There's just something about being humble and having spiritual experiences (See Alma 32). 3) I think that for the people who lived there at the time...it just felt like we were all there for each other. What I mean is...we had all been led to live there for that time and the reason was to learn from and help, support, etc. each other. We lived in that little apartment when Big Sis was born. During the warm days of spring and summer...you could find me and Big Sis out in the courtyard with several moms and their children. I learned so much from asking those women questions and they helped me to feel like I was still a valuable and important member of society. I could ask them questions about cooking, cleaning, child rearing, etc. and I always just felt support...never judgement.

I have had the chance to be in the Provo/Orem area a few times since we moved away from that blessed apartment and I always, always ask my husband if we can just drive by our old digs. When we are in our old neighborhood, a wave of happy memories washes over me and I long to go sit on the grass in the courtyard to laugh and cry and enjoy all of my former friends. We really were so blessed...so very blessed.

9 comments:

Bryce said...

I love close wards. I had a ward at BYU pretty much like that, except that we were all single. I'm glad I have a relatively close group of friends here in my ward.

Richelle said...

That was me, by the way, not my husband.

Lucy said...

I have had only one ward in my life of which I felt that closeness. All the others have been .. ho hum this is where I have to go.. wards. Includes the one I'm in now. Sometimes I wish we could go to church anywhere we want. It works for other churches but they do no have the programs we do that would make it hard. So...we jus keep pluggin' along. Interesting post. Thanks.

Amber said...

Ahhh, to have had a ward like that - you were blessed! We had that when we first got married but now our ward is the very antithesis of that. Sigh.

Traci said...

The ward we were in when we were first married was like that too. It was truly a joy to go to church. I learned so much from people in that ward! We felt like it was a training ground for us to learn all we could while we were there, and take what we learned with us as we all moved onto other things and new phases of life. Thanks for the post!

Cheryl said...

We had a great ward during our student years at BYU, too...but it was hard to get to know everybody quickly because our ward boundaries were huge (comparitively). It was the best, best experience. We still keep in touch with people from that ward, including our Bishop (because it was a married student ward, he was a transplant from Orem). Love that experience. Loved it.

Jeanette said...

I really liked this post. Sometimes I think it would be nice to live somewhere where all, or a lot of, your neighbors are members of the church and in the same ward. But I like it where I am. Besides, it just gives me more missionary opportunities. If I want my neighbors to be members of the church I guess I need to share the gospel more. :-)
Hey! You won the book Hattie Big Sky from my book contest. Email me at bennetsister (at) gmail (dot) com and give me the info for where to send the book.

An Ordinary Mom said...

This sounds remarkably similar to our BYU Married Student Ward experience, although our ward was 3 city blocks. I love how close knit we were, too.

Joani E. said...

That was beautiful, Leslie! I found a link to this blog of your's when I read one of your wonderful comments on Mark's blog. You captured so many of my own feelings about the special Sharon Park 9th Ward. I still like to drive by too. Our feelings for you are MUTUAL! It's hard to believe it's been maybe three years since I've seen you and yet that connection I've always felt to you hasn't changed. We must have liked to hang out together in the pre-existence because I can't help but hold this special place in my heart for you. Kindred spirits are REAL! By the way, I love this blog of your's! You're amazing!