05 September 2005

Loving the Members Wherever You Go

Origianlly posted at Conversation

Jim F. has a lovely post at Times and Seasons about his first time in his new ward in London. It brings back some memories, but it also is relevant now.

We attended the Irbid Branch in Jordan for a couple of weeks while we were in the Middle East. At that time, the Irbid Branch was tiny. There were a few Iraqi Kurds, a few Jordanians, a Japanese man, an older couple, and one American married to a Jordanian Muslim. She spoke almost no Arabic but still came to church just to be meeting with the members.

The branch president was one of the Kurds. His family had always been Christian and he had served many years in the Iraqi Army. They had escaped to Jordan when they met some LDS missionaries and were baptized. Their goal was to be sealed, but for political reasons, they had great difficulty getting to any country with a temple.

The Japanese man was delightful to talk to. I have never again had the experience of communicating in Arabic with someone from Japan. He played the portable keyboard- with flair- for the branch.

Relief Society was particularly nice. I've never been a fan of Love at Home, but singing it in Arabic with the sisters there brought new meaning to the song. We translated for the American woman. I have never felt so welcome by the members till we moved here.

Of course we've met many wonderful people who weren't members of the Church. It isn't required that we share the same faith. But sharing that faith can bring an instant bond. And it is not the case that that branch was perfect. There were some very sad things that happened later because of intolerance among the members.

But I will always remember those people in Irbid. We are meeting new people like them here. They have their trials too. But despite our differences, and despite not being able to meet together for church meetings, we love the members here in Bishkek. There is something good about being here in Central Asia.

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