Monday, February 3, 2014

In the Right Place!!

I don’t think I could have chosen a kinder, more loving neighborhood or church congregation!!

Our Amazing Neighborhood

When we first moved to Michigan, I was impressed that the UPS driver actually took the time to talk to me when he dropped off our packages.  Most of the UPS drivers I had seen were in too much of a hurry.  The “UPS Driver Test” has since been in my mind.  I know that an area is friendly if the UPS driver is friendly. J

Not many UPS drivers had been passing my “test” for quite some time.  …until last week.  We are currently under a lot of stress trying to get to our mail- which has 2 of our paychecks!  Some of our mail is held up in another city, and some of our mail is stuck in our mailbox.  Checks arrived to all the other employees a week ago!  It’s been very frustrating as we are still recovering from previous financial crisis.  We need those checks!!

I paid for a new mailbox key, but the post office hasn’t changed it yet!!  I went to check the box one day to see if I could get to my mail yet.  It still hadn’t been done.  I walked away quite discouraged because we needed our money.  Right then a UPS driver drove by.  I looked up at him.  He saw my distressed face, stopped his truck, got out of his truck, and asked if there was anything he could do to help me.  Wow!!  He passed the test with flying colors.

God knows how my silly mind works, so HE works with it. J  In my silly mind, I felt God speaking peace to me… by way of the UPS driver of all the people.

Our neighborhood is made up of mostly elderly people.  Because it seemed like they all loved their peace and quiet, I worried what they would think about our 6 kids moving to their street. 

While I was working outside on Saturday, two sweet neighbor ladies crossed the street to introduce themselves.  They spent time telling me about each person down the street.  In fact, several of the other neighbors happened to walk by and warmly greeted our family along the way.

One of the ladies who came to meet me had to leave, but the other lady lingered for quite some time just chatting with me.  She told me how much she loved children.

This neighbor also told me they had just returned from a 5-day stay at the hospital because her husband had heart problems.  I felt badly that I hadn’t even noticed the ambulance at her house a few days prior!!   

She said that one particular night last week she was stressed about her husband’s health.  As she drove home, she saw through our window that our family was standing around the piano singing… she said that because she saw the love in our family, she immediately felt that everything would be ok in her life too.

Wow!!  There are a lot of big windows in our house, but I didn’t know what could be seen from the street.  I’m so grateful to have heard that God was working in both of our lives because of that family time around the piano.  (We had been preparing to do a family musical number for a baptism of one of our neighbors from our old ward in Kissimmee.  That wonderful baptism was Friday night. J)

What a wonderful experience for me to know that we were being fully accepted even though we didn’t fit the mold of many of the others in the neighborhood.  Feeling loved and accepted, makes one feel safe.  It feels good to feel safe. 

Our Amazing Church

January 26th was our first Sunday in our new congregation, but a lot of members weren’t there because it was a special conference.  Yesterday was our first Sunday to go to classes.  My prayer is that everyone can feel the way I did yesterday!!  I know not every congregation is like this, but maybe we can learn to be like them one person at a time.  I want to be like them!!

Highlights from church:

*After Sacrament meeting, several sisters went out of their way to greet me at my pew. 

(It was a wonderful feeling to not even have “that moment” to feel awkward after the meeting.  You know- that moment when you look around and everything seems foreign?  I already felt connected.)

*After the sisters left; and before I could even stand up, a member of the bishopric came down from the stand to greet each one of my children by name.  He had spent time during the week memorizing all my children’s names.   It is no easy task to memorize all the names of our kids- there are a lot of J’s in the mix!! 

(We felt so special to know that we were important enough that he would think about our family during the week and prepare to see us on Sunday.)

*Both the secretary of the primary organization and the secretary of the women’s organization made sure they received all of our contact information.

(I loved seeing these sisters performing their callings so dutifully and cheerfully.)

*On my way to the primary, a brother from Ghana stopped me in the hallway.  We spoke for a moment and realized we had friends in common from his country.  He works at a university and teaches communications.  Both Abe and I graduated from BYU and worked in communications.  Excited about our experience, he gave me his card hoping to involve us at the university. 

(His courage and eagerness to reach out touched my heart greatly.)

*After I dropped my children off to their primary classes, a sister whom I hadn’t yet met handed me her address and phone number as an invite to her house for her son’s missionary farewell party. 

(She knows we don’t know her son, but she wanted us to feel completely welcomed and accepted by giving us a personal invitation.)

*Then I walked past a classroom where a husband and wife were in a discussion.  The wife noticed me, put her conversation on hold, and invited my family to a theater coop over the summer. 

(We LOVE theater, and we had been missing our involvement in theater since leaving Michigan.  How kind of her to find a way to let me know sooner than later that I was immediately included in their community.  We look forward to those summer theatrical activities.)

*I went into the restroom; and I saw a beautiful elderly lady who was just about to leave.  I introduced myself.  She could have just introduced herself in return and promptly left.  She didn’t… she took about 5 minutes asking about my family and sharing details about her own family.  Then she offered to wait until I was done using the restroom to walk me to my next class. 

(Wow!  Not only did she tell me where my next class would be, but she offered to be my personal escort… so I could enter the room of new faces with a friend by my side.)

*After my second class, I stood up to leave, and another woman slipped her arm into my arm and said, “Come with me.  I’ll show you where the next class is.  Would you like to sit with me?” 

(I love human contact, so I was overjoyed that she had the courage to actually slip her arm in mine as we walked to my final class!  I felt like we were old buddies walking into class together… and I could tell that her loving gesture was completely sincere.)

*During Relief Society, which is the class for only women, I was given a warm welcome.   They didn’t just say the trite, “We’d like to welcome the visitors… What’s your name?  .…ok great to have  you here.”  

No… they wanted to really know more about our family.  I stood and gave them a quick rundown of our family situation.  I explained that my husband’s work is the cause for his long absence.   At that point I was feeling so good about myself that by mistake I said, “Soon you’ll meet my husband… He’s wonderful too!!  I quickly caught myself and apologized for my huge assumption that they thought I was wonderful. J 

They laughed as I corrected it, but the truth is…. After receiving so much love, I felt wonderful- which is why my terminology slipped out the way it did. 

I have a feeling I am not the only person this congregation welcomed this way.   I have a feeling these people’s goodness comes from a deep love within their hearts.  They have let go of their possible fears of approaching new people and have placed a greater value on making others feel included into their ward family.

*At the end of the Relief Society meeting, a sister stood behind me and bore her testimony.  In her testimony she shared about how great my children were.  I turned around in shock that she was talking about my children.  After she finished speaking, she sat down and quietly told me we were meant to come to their ward.  The sister by my side (who had slipped her arm in mine) said she knew we were supposed to be there too- she could feel it.

(What a blessing to me to receive the confirmation that we had come to the right place.  I love the way the Lord blesses us with these sweet moments of reassurance after we have applied our faith…. it sure does help me want to be more of who God intended me to be, so that I can fulfill any purposes HE has in store for me to perform. )

As I have heard many say before… I don’t want to leave any song unsung.