In fact, when I was getting my papers ready for my mission, I had actually had the cheek of getting myself a new passport. All in the hope that my righteous act of service would be rewarded in the form of a sunny and warm mission field.
Well. It was sunny one time, in the summer of 1998. For about two weeks. I guess I should have been more specific in my prayers... (and been a little more humble.)
So, I went to EFY, which was fantastic. I'd never been to the States before, and when I went, I was able to go to Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Indiana. Until then, my only point of reference of life in the States, was "Saved By the Bell", "Beverly Hills 90210", and "Dynasty". Not that I was naïve enough to think that this was a true reflection of American life. (Surely Screech would never be allowed to grace the school halls in those braces (suspenders)).
But my other frame of reference was the photos in the Ensign of huge wards and stakes, and memories of pictures in The Friend of Primaries full of kids.
And the places I did visit in the States, had … people! Lots of people! The Ensign never lies.
It was unusual to be in a ward building that was full without it being Stake Conference. It was unusual to be in a Relief Society full of women! It was quite surreal!
I have lived all my life in Glasgow, Scotland. My ward is relatively large, compared to others in my stake. We have about 120 people who turn out for sacrament meeting. This is a lot. Most of the other units in the stake average between 40 and 60.
In our ward, we have a lot of people from different cultures and backgrounds. There is a large Chinese community within the ward, and we have Chinese speaking missionaries assigned to our ward, to help further the work within this group of people.
There are also a lot of people from South America, some from Spain, Austria, the States, Canada... It's quite the melting pot of different nationalities. But I still maintain that the hardest accent to decipher at Testimony Meeting is the Scottish accent. Especially Glaswegian. Sometimes I think we need a translator, not only for the Chinese community, but for the rest of the congregation!
I'm not without fault. My thoughts may be spiritual, my sentiments may be sincere, but my accent can be quite the spirit-breaker. (In fact, one time when I was at BYU, doing my EFY thing, I had to fake an American accent so my group could understand me. My fake accent was bad. But they could understand me better. In fact, they thought I was kidding when I said I was from Scotland. I showed them my bad British teeth, and they then knew, of a surety that I was telling the truth. Pfft.)
Our building is the stake centre, so we have quite a large building, set in a beautiful part of the west end of Glasgow. A lot of students come to Glasgow to study. I am always fascinated as to why they come to Scotland. It's cold. It rains nearly all the time. We're an unhealthy race – Saturday nights consist of drink, fatty chips (fries), and heart attacks.
It's not uncommon for you to have more than one calling in the ward. One time, I had to teach Primary AND stir the soup for a Munch and Mingle after Sacrament Meeting. Sheesh. I was spread thin, that day.
Having said that, it's true that a lot of people have more than one calling in the ward. Because of the lack in numbers, mainly. If you miss church, for whatever reason, it's noticed – you're missed. Everyone has to 'put their shoulder to the wheel', or else the wheels come off. This, in a way, is nice. But it also can be hard to worry about organising cover for your calling if you're not there.
I'm in Primary at the moment. It's been a couple of years now. I reckon I was called in to primary because I'm not a fan of kids. What!? I'm being honest! Hahaha... I can just about cope with my own kids. Trying to cope with and teach other people's kids is my lesson to be learned. I am learning... Honest!
Now, if I could hand pick a calling? Chief taster of refreshments for Stake events. It should be a calling. I would whole-heartedly serve in this capacity. And I'd be good at it. And, yes, refreshments WOULD include haggis and Irn Bru. Because that's all we eat. That, and deep fried Mars bars. Yes.... I could do that calling really well.... must tell my Bishop of this personal revelation.
I love that fundamentally, church is the same no matter where we go. Whether it be a Singles' Ward in Anchorage, a huge family ward in Provo, or a small collection of people with accent barriers in Glasgow – we're all striving for the same thing. We're all living the same gospel. We're all worshipping the same way. We all want to be the best we can be, and be blessed for it. At the end of the day, no matter where we are, I think it all comes down to our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son. And that no matter where we are, we can feel close to Him and feel His love for us.
But, should you wish to come to church over here, to broaden your worshipping horizons, you're more than welcome to come visit! I'll take you to a Stake event where the refreshments will be fabulous.
And half munched...
Claire is a stay at home mUm with three kids and one greying husband. Hobbies include looking fabulous, eating cakes and wishing she could cook look Ina Garten, and have her cash flow.
Read more of Claire's ramblings at her blog : www.thetribeofcampbell.blogspot.com