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Discombobulated. What a great word and the only one that comes close to describing me after four weeks as an ex‐pat in the United Kingdom. At least at church I hoped to regain a sense of normalcy; to relax with the predictable, to rest in the familiar. What a shock to find no emotional easy-chair there: I was odd-man out: totally different and just a little disenfranchised.

That same feeling did not seem so important on the streets. Three‐dimensional me did not expect to be included in a world that felt like a guidebook. At church though, people were more than postcards, and I wanted them to be enough like me to become Home-Away-From-Home. I shake my head now for not realizing then, that these members were more away-from-home than I was! Without a clue, we had landed in the most ethnically diverse, the most international ward, in all of London.

I remained oblivious and ill at ease too many Sundays, consumed by in the view out my own window, unaware of the many eyes tracking me with longing. Gratefully, there came a magic moment when we finally cross‐pollinated: a single event that shattered my window and forced me to absorb the light from someone else’s.

As soon as I walked into the chapel that morning, I felt drawn to the woman on the other side of the room. She watched me with a shy smile: perfect teeth and wide eyes glistening against a chocolate face. After three‐hours in the same meetings, she inched her way to me, ready to make contact. Her beauty at close range took my breath away.

“I love your hair,” she said.

What? It took a second to process her Nigerian spin on English. My hair? My hair is a mass of coarse curls, once brown, now streaked with unruly silver. I dislike it very much most days.

“I love your eyes and face and make‐up,” she continued passionately.

Blue eyes, white face, Bare Minerals.

“I love the way you talk ‐ and I love,” (much emphasis on ‘love’), “the way you dress.”

Without taking my eyes off hers, I mentally compared a tailored blue blazer and black skirt with her flowing, flamboyant, florescent…

Oh my! She thinks I’m exotic!

Sound of breaking glass.

A week later I was called as the Relief Society President of two hundred women from twenty different nations; a village with too many doors and windows to look like ‘Mormonville’ to me, but nevertheless, built on the foundation of apostles and prophets; one faith and one baptism. (Ephesians 4). My sole journal entry for 11 July, 2010 reads: “God help me. God help me.”

And he has. He has shown me that you cannot pack a box with scrapbooks, funeral potatoes, Snicker‐Doodle Primary props, stamp it “Mormon Women” and ship it overseas. He has taught me about the real Zion: a phenomenon that will not be defined or contained that way. It is organic: it breaths and grows and if necessary, shatters silly notions in order to expand.

I am still a bit discombobulated here in London, but that’s okay; humility makes the best glass cleaner. Just imagine how much of it I need to catch the light from two hundred very different windows.


Mona will share more of the “windows” from her ward in future installments. She and her husband, Dale, moved to England by corporate assignment last summer and it hasn’t turned out at all the way she (or anyone else) expected. She writes about their marriage and experiences in Europe at: Mona’s Musings With A Hint of Romance, a PhD Program’s 2010 Top Mormon Blog Award winner: She is also the author/creator of With Mine Own Hand: the Musical Account of Nephi, a musical drama bringing to life the writings of the prophet Nephi. The show has been recognized by the Music and Cultural Arts Division of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a 2010 Deseret Dramatic Award, and is available to stakes and regions for production:

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