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First time at church


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#1 Hyena

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:28 PM

I'm not sure this belongs here, so I trust an admin will move it to the appropriate section, as this is not a question per se, but more of... update? So as many of you know I had up to this point, other than this site, been studying with online missionaries. The first two I had got missions in other countries so I was handed off to two others who have been wonderful in teaching me about the restoration and the apostasy and agency. Finally, it was decided that I was ready for baptism and a tentative date of March 9th has been set. At that point they decided I was ready to meet local missionaries. So I agreed to meet some local missionaries at their church because as you know I'm pretty shy and the thought of strange people traipsing through my home sets my hair on end lol. SO I went and met them, and we discussed what the others had taught me, and talked about ourselves a bit. During this discussion it was discovered that I actually live in a different stake? Or ward? So they agreed to get in touch with the missionaries from MY "area" (even though it really wasn't far away from where I live at all) and we went our separate ways. They said I'd be an answer to a prayer though because I was pretty much well informed and ready. So the same day my "new" set of missionaries (I'm starting to feel like a curiosity, being passed around so much lol) called me and invited me to church on Sunday. I guess I had the spirit, because I felt compelled to take a leap of faith and I agreed. Sunday morning came and I discovered that the church was literally like three blocks from my house.. I could have walked there! I was so shocked! I had absolutely no idea there was a church so close to me! I've lived here nearly 10 years and never knew it! I arrived early, as I always do, a bit nervous because I didnt know who I was meeting and the missionaries had not arrived. Immediately people were greeting the heck out of me. It was almost overwhelming, I almost left.. not because they were unpleasant, but because everyone it seemed was falling all over themselves to shake my hand and say hi and greet me and ask about me and it was a bit much. LOL I remember thinking, "nobody can be this nice, they must be suspicious about why this strange black guy is loitering around the door." The missionaries arrived a little bit before service and sorta gave me a rundown on what could be expected and actually sat with me during the service, which I have to say I liked a lot. There was perhaps a bit too much singing for my taste, I mean, I'm sure some people enjoy that sort of thing, but even in my old church I've never been a big fan of hymnals.. I've always found them sort of boring and counter-productive... I want to learn about God and his teachings and how to improve my life and be happy. Singing i can do in the shower on my own time! :) Anyway, I found the church service far more interesting than the ones I attended in the past.. Instead of a sermon, different people got up and talked about stuff about their lives and pasts and it was captivating to hear how the gospel changed their lives. These weren't preachy sermons from priests while everyone sat quietly. In fact, it was a little busy in there... it was like they were holding church in a daycare there were so many kids! No offense, but Mormon women must enjoy labor immensely, because I don't think I saw a single mother in there with less than 4 children, who all played and chittered around the whole time, and nobody seemed to bat an eye. In fact, at one point, I was somewhat distracted from the testimonials or whatever they are called by the members giving their personal speeches by an intense game of Peekaboo I was having with a toddler in front of me with a lion's mane of thick red curls. For a moment I forgot where I was until this kid got a case of the major giggles which drew a little attention our way and snapped me back into reality. :) After that, I was ushered to some sort of other room where they gave a lesson about something to do with Agency and choices and everyone of course spent a great deal of time trying to explain the concept to me in their own words, even though I hadn't uttered a single word or question to encourage such a thing. It wasn't a negative thing though, I found it all amusing that they would be so concerned with my ability to understand even though I wasn't a member. After that, I met the bishop and the stake president and some other men, and we all went to some other sort of meeting where we all sat around and discussed more lessons and personal anecdotes. Here I was asked to give a more robust introduction of myself, and aside from one guy that was a bit too eager make my acquaintance (I think he took the time to explain or ask if I understood every time anyone said anything about anything at all), I felt warmly received. If anything, I'm almost reluctant to be baptized and join the church if only because at some point I won't be the "new guy" anymore and I'd just become a plain old nobody... just some regular member who comes to church and pays his tithes and who has ceased to be of any major interest. They spoke a lot about the power of conversion and how converts seem to have stronger faith than those already in the church for some reasons I didn't quite understand but chalked up to their greater experience. Afterwards, I was once again assaulted by every man in the room instantly wanting to be my new best friend forever and beyond. I have this sneaking suspicion (or rather a horrific terror) that when I get baptized, half of these people are going to be in attendance... which makes me tremble. I don't know if I want a bunch of people staring at me going through such a thing.. and in soaking clothes in a tub being dunked in water.. it's hugely embarrassing and my body is disgusting so I'm hoping March 9th will be an incredibly busy day in the world and they'll all forget or be indisposed or maybe we can have the baptism early in the day when everyone else is at work. Or perhaps I'll just refrain from being baptized indefinitely for the next few years until I'm very comfortable with everyone and they lose enough interest that most of them won't bother coming. Either way, that was my first experience with the LDS church. I got to see what a sacrament was, although I didn't take any because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to since I'm technically not a member, and I thought it might be rude or a violation of some sort of rule to do so. I'm meeting with my missionaries again tomorrow.. this time I believe it'll be at my house, which I'm understandably nervous about. My family is deadset against this and I'm not certain bringing them here would be wise. I'm considering asking to meet at the church to sort of avoid a hostile environment for them. I think though that I'd like this ward. I did hear about something called singles wards, which bothers me because I really don't want to have to move, but maybe I can just convince the bishop to let me stay in his ward. And thus ends my first ever LDS Church visit. :)

#2 HiJolly

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:32 AM

Sounds like a pretty good introduction, and I think you're right, some of the gloss will eventually tone down a bit. But I like to hear that the members were open and welcoming for you. Hang in there. HiJolly
"All it takes is for us to get a little bit self-important and narrow-minded. Toss in a little fussiness, a bit of dogma, and a bunch of pride and you've got yourself a bunch of people who wouldn't recognize the truth if it sat on them."
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#3 Vort

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

After a while (several months or so), you stop being the "new guy" and instead become a "brother". People may quit falling all over themselves trying to make you feel welcome; instead, that is replaced by a truer friendship and brotherhood, where people greet you by name, ask about your life, and share their own lives with you. You become part of the family.

As if anyone could knowingly commit sin without being changed both in spirit, body, and mind. Let me say this again, sin changes who we are! --james12
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#4 LiterateParakeet

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

Hyena, thanks for sharing that. You cracked me up. It was really fun to see "us" (meaning church members) through the eyes of someone new to it all. The daycare thing really made me laugh and something else I can't recall. Reading about your experience was a good reminder of a different view of church. I needed to that, so thanks! Congrats on your baptism. Perhaps if you explain your reservations to the missionaries they can help. We do encourage people to attend baptisms to help new people feel welcomed...:D

#5 Maureen

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:04 PM

...There was perhaps a bit too much singing for my taste, I mean, I'm sure some people enjoy that sort of thing, but even in my old church I've never been a big fan of hymnals.. I've always found them sort of boring and counter-productive... I want to learn about God and his teachings and how to improve my life and be happy. Singing i can do in the shower on my own time! :)...


For me, in any church, I think the singing is my favourite. Although there are those hymns/songs that are not familiar. In most pentecostal services that I've ever attended they usually spend the first 30 minutes (or a little less) singing with the songs projected on a screen for those that don't know the words. Those are some of the best songs. Hyena, what do you do when Christmas rolls around and there's all those wonderful Christmas carols to sing? :)

M.
I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who - is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are. - Milton Berle

Sound, balanced teaching is a must. Our default should be to partake. Our default should be to live in joy, not condemnation. Our default should be to love, not to correct, to encourage, not to criticize. (Quote from prisonchaplain)

#6 dahlia

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:17 PM

Are people bringing you food? These Mormons love to bake and if you haven't been the recipient of LDS food largesse, you have missed something.

Hyena - I had a bunch of people at my baptism. I didn't know them then, but I was surprised to see so many. After I got to know them, I learned they were doctors and med & dental students; people who should be home with their kids on their few days off. I was really humbled to learn they had come out to my baptism. Now, as a convert, I try to go to all the convert baptisms to give the same support.

Word of advice - don't get any pictures taken in the white baptism jumpsuit. Not only is it not a good look for anybody, but it will wind up on the internet on some missionary's 'Memories of my Mission' page forever. Make people wait until you've changed and look like a human again before they start taking pictures.

There was perhaps a bit too much singing for my taste, I mean, I'm sure some people enjoy that sort of thing, but even in my old church I've never been a big fan of hymnals.. I've always found them sort of boring and counter-productive..


Yeah, there is a lot of singing, The hymns still sound very Protestant to me. But just wait. After awhile some hymn will come up and you'll pay attention to the words and the next thing, you'll be crying like a baby.

#7 Dravin

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:26 PM

There was perhaps a bit too much singing for my taste, I mean, I'm sure some people enjoy that sort of thing, but even in my old church I've never been a big fan of hymnals.. I've always found them sort of boring and counter-productive... I want to learn about God and his teachings and how to improve my life and be happy. Singing i can do in the shower on my own time!


Singing and learning about God aren't mutually exclusive. In the LDS hymnal you'll find scripture references underlying the principles contained in the hymns, the hymns aren't simply nice sounds but expressions of doctrine, testimony, and faith.

Edited by Dravin, 29 January 2013 - 01:54 PM.

Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

#8 pam

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:32 PM

There was perhaps a bit too much singing for my taste, I mean, I'm sure some people enjoy that sort of thing, but even in my old church I've never been a big fan of hymnals.. I've always found them sort of boring and counter-productive... I want to learn about God and his teachings and how to improve my life and be happy. Singing i can do in the shower on my own time!


Take the time sometime and really read the words of some of those hymns. You would be amazed just how much you can learn in them. Some are taken from scripture, some from church history, some just from personal feelings of the composer. But there is much to learn just from the music. Frankly I love the singing...it breaks up the meeting.

#9 Hyena

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:39 AM

For me, in any church, I think the singing is my favourite. Although there are those hymns/songs that are not familiar. In most pentecostal services that I've ever attended they usually spend the first 30 minutes (or a little less) singing with the songs projected on a screen for those that don't know the words. Those are some of the best songs. Hyena, what do you do when Christmas rolls around and there's all those wonderful Christmas carols to sing? :)

M.


LOL

Okay okay! I'll give the hymns a chance! LOL I guess it's just that I'm not familiar with them so it feels kind of strange to be around dozens of people all guessing their way through a song under their breath... I mean there was like maybe ONE person who was singing like she was auditioning for American Idol, but I couldn't ever figure out the right key so half the time I sounded like a pregnant cat trapped under a hot radiator. As you can imagine, that was definitely embarrassing, but I suppose I can live with it.

I do like Christmas Carols, but I think those are so universal and a part of just about everyone's childhood memories that it's hard to think of them in the same light.


Word of advice - don't get any pictures taken in the white baptism jumpsuit. Not only is it not a good look for anybody, but it will wind up on the internet on some missionary's 'Memories of my Mission' page forever. Make people wait until you've changed and look like a human again before they start taking pictures.


I... would... DIE. They would have to perform whatever services for the dead on me right then and there if I ever saw anything online of that! I think I'll politely request that no photography be done.

#10 beefche

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:47 AM

I can tell you that it doesn't bother me one wit if people are singing a hymn during church and they sound like a cat getting hosed down. I do believe the Spirit is tone deaf because what's important is the feeling behind the words, not the perfect pitch of singing. I would hope, though, those people not volunteer to sing a solo.....
I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures...But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today."
--President Harold B. Lee, December, 1972

#11 DeborahC

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:00 AM

I have to admit I really miss some of the old time hymns of my Methodist childhood. I also have come to love many of the LDS hymns but wonder why most are sung like dirges, against their written tempo. It's interesting to watch and hear a poor organist or pianist try to play at tempo while following a leader who is leading the song WAaaaaaay too slow.

#12 pam

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:05 AM

I can tell you that it doesn't bother me one wit if people are singing a hymn during church and they sound like a cat getting hosed down. I do believe the Spirit is tone deaf because what's important is the feeling behind the words, not the perfect pitch of singing.

I would hope, though, those people not volunteer to sing a solo.....


There was a lady in a ward I was in. She and her family grew up in a Baptist community. All of her siblings sang but she couldn't carry a tune. They all sang in the choir at the baptist church and she always felt left out. She never felt comfortable singing even with the congregation because so much attention was given to her siblings who could sing.

She eventually joined the LDS church. During sacrament meeting she would sing out when a hymn was sung. To someone like me who does sing sometimes it sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard.

She got up and bore her testimony one Sunday. She talked about her growing up years and love of singing knowing she couldn't sing. She talked about how she always felt left out because of it. She said it wasn't until she joined the church that she finally felt that God didn't care if you could carry a tune when joining with the congregation to sing. So while she couldn't carry a tune, she felt the spirit more when she did sing because she felt God knew what was in her heart.

Oh and she did say that her feelings weren't hurt that she wasn't asked to join the ward choir. She knew she couldn't sing but as long as she could join in when singing the hymns...she was okay with it. I began looking at hymns and those singing in a new light that day.

#13 Hyena

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:23 AM

I have to admit I really miss some of the old time hymns of my Methodist childhood. I also have come to love many of the LDS hymns but wonder why most are sung like dirges, against their written tempo. It's interesting to watch and hear a poor organist or pianist try to play at tempo while following a leader who is leading the song WAaaaaaay too slow.


THAT's IT... I couldn't put my finger on what it was... but yeah, that's one of the things that I feel about hymnals. I mean, I'm not that big on my brother's Baptist church BET Gospel music jam sessions either, because they always felt too long and after a while my A.D.D. starts kicking in and I'm wanting to be anywhere else but standing there clapping my hands 20 minutes into some diva's epic solo.
On the other hand, my youth in Catholic church had the same monks of the haberdashery cloaked figures in the night with candles dirge vibe to it that was more apt to put me to sleep than insight any feelings of the spirit.

The LDS Hymnals fell somewhere in the middle. Mostly I think it's just my previous experiences with hymnals that are coloring my view of them, but I'll try to take your advice and look into meanings more and try not to worry about how I sound. I'll just power through best I can and hope that the bishop does not ask me to refrain from singing in future.

#14 Dravin

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:32 AM

There is nothing doctrinal about the slower tempo (relative to that indicated in the hymnbook) that most hymns actually get lead at, it's just a cultural and training issue. People get used to hearing it slow so they lead slow (and ideally that is why the pianist/organist is playing slow).
Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.




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