Fate totally ripped me off this week and that is so uncool.
I finally get to church for the first time since I’ve been here, the buildings pretty far from where I live so my host mom was nice enough to drive me. She even came in so she could make sure she wasn’t leaving me in the hands of psychos, which you know, Mormons sometimes are. A conversation about me ensued. I, of course, was not included due to my tendency to understand English a bit better than German, and following that she left me. And then this reduced age thing that’s become a big part of my life hit hard, and I felt like a kindergartener being left in school for the first time and all I wanted to do was grab onto her and say stay, but I didn’t. Because while I may feel like a kindergartener, I certainly don’t look like one (Go ahead and interject your short joke here, but you know what I mean). It would be a much more pathetic action coming from a 16 year old than a 5 year old.
So I stayed and in about the next 2 minutes all my fears and nerves were washed away. All I can say is that the church is still true in Switzerland. Sacrament meeting was great, I felt awesome, and with the bishop’s wife letting me know what we were talking about every few minutes I felt included and at home.
Sunday school, however, was a different story and this is where fate comes in. At the end of Sacrament meeting the bishop’s wife asked two girls to take me to class, but we weren’t really introduced. They left the room without even a backward glance at me, so I hurried to follow behind. Those poor girls just had no idea how to deal with me and I wasn’t sure what I should do to make them feel at ease. This wasn’t the Mormon welcome I was expecting and I was a little thrown off. They wouldn’t look at me, acknowledge me, nothing. But I don’t blame them one bit, because I wouldn’t know what to do either and besides what was I thinking for relying on them to make me fit in. That would fall under the category of my responsibility. Let’s just say I learned my lesson and have a new game plan for church.
But at the time, I was relying on them; I had expected to come in and for everything to go smoothly. But they weren’t reaching out and neither was I. More people filed into the class room in the next few minutes and none of them spoke to me either. At this point I had sat down and prepared to hear a lesson without understanding a thing, when once again someone came to my rescue.
A boy, a cute boy at that, leaned over from where he was sitting, looked at me, acknowledged me, and spoke to me. “So you only speak English”, he asked.
“Yes”, I replied, “but I’m learning German”. He then went on to ask what I was doing in Switzerland, how I ended up as an exchange student, how long I’d been a member of the church and I answered, so happy to have someone to talk to that I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. He came over to sit next to me so he could be my translator and he just radiated kindness and a love for the church.
The lesson began and throughout the whole class he switched between just talking and whispering in my ear about eternal marriages, and if that’s not a sign I don’t know what is. He would interject opinions of his own, he recognized quotes that the teacher said and could name their orator, and I was impressed to say the least. I was already imagining how great my year was going to be seeing him every Sunday when fate struck the heavy blow.
We were talking after class was over and he told me that he’s just visiting this week, just visiting, JUST VISITING! The only kid who was nice enough to talk to me is just visiting! You can imagine my chagrin. He told me that he lived in Switzerland for nine years, and then his family moved to Hungary, England, and now Vietnam. They come back to visit this ward once a year for the youth camps. I’m pretty sure my heart shattered.
But despite the fact that fate totally bullied me, I’m just thankful I could be on the receiving end of such kindness. It’s people like him who are windows for the Savior’s love to shine through and I hope I can follow his example. Because even though it’s up to us to be outgoing and to make friends it’s still nice when people reach out to you, even if it’s awkward or weird, I can’t even explain how thankful I was for that guy. Don’t let fear keep you from reaching out; I learned that this week and I’m going to apply it this year, for sure.
Also, If you want to know more about Mormons or our beliefs you can go to Lds.org and look under the about the church option.