Monday, April 27, 2009

Expectations

I posted this on the other blog I write for, but I thought I would post it here too.

We went to church for the first time in our new ward today...it also happened to be the first time I willingly went in almost 2 years (long story...see my other posts). We decided we wanted to get active again and the 1500 mile move provided us an excellent opportunity to start fresh. We didn't get a chance to 'ward shop' because we had a VERY limited time to find a place to live, so what we get is what we get.

Our experience there today was a little less than we had hoped for/expected and naturally we talked it over on the 25 minute drive home. We discussed all sides of the issue and could not decide on where we stood, so I thought I would see what you all thought. (Because I have some pretty insightful friends our there)

When there is a new member to a ward (no matter if they are a recently baptized convert, a family who just moved in, a newlywed couple moving from the student ward to the family ward, etc) what expectations are ok and where is the line drawn? I know it would be too much to expect a host of angels to meet us at the door or for valet parking or for a seven-course meal to be served after the block. But with all joking aside...what can one expect? Both as the new person and as the ward?

12 comments:

Rob and Kristen said...

honestly, in the ward we are in now it took at least 3 months before anyone knew my name. I remember when my parents went to church after I had had the baby and they said "We're Kristen's parents, she just had her baby. : And they just said "Who?" So, give them some time.

Adam and Marie said...

I'm glad you got to Chicago safely and I'm glad you're already starting to love it! Can you get us tickets to see Oprah?! :) Anyway, I wanted to comment about your church situation and expectations. It is easy to hold high expectations when you first walk into a ward having left a really great ward like Newport. You really should give it more than a few visits before you judge how you're being received. The more you go, the more people will take notice and realize that you're a part of the ward community. When you go only once, you're basically leaving the impression of a one time visitor. I think your new ward will get involved with you guys in one way or another- either to fellow ship/reactivate you or to get your help fellow shipping others (missionary work). It's really up to you how you they will be involved. Also, remember it's a ward "family". Just like you're real family, you get what you get and you can't be too choosy. Just trust that you're where you're at for a reason and seek to find it with what you've been given and where you've been put.

You guys are doing great! Keep up the great new perspective you have on starting fresh. :)

Happy Herrons said...

Well did someone say hi to you? Were they semi-friendly? I have been in a LOT of new wards and it does take some MONTHS to figure out who you are. My suggestions? (because I love you) 1: pay tithing - even if you have to mail it to the bishop - then he gets more interested in you 2: bear your testimony the first Fast Sunday - then people know you are NEW and INTERESTED in the ward. It is HARD -but it is WORTH IT! This ward needs you!!

Ryann said...

I have very low expectations for the first few months. Many people are not naturally outgoing and so it may take a while until you start to get to know the people. I try really hard at first to attend every activity-whether it be RS or ward. The more exposure you give yourself the better the chances that you get noticed and become more ingratiated. More than anything it is a waiting game. YOu can't make a decision after one Sunday!

Abby said...

I agree that you can't judge a ward (either kind) by one Sunday alone. The only thing I would expect from my first Sunday is the person in charge of Sunday School, R.S., and Priesthood to ask if there are any new people in the ward and if there are, for you to introduce yourselves. Some people may smile at you after that. And that's about it. I am not an outgoing person and a lot of people assume I'm unfriendly because of it. I don't introduce myself to new people, old people, any people if I can avoid it. There are a couple of couples in the ward who have been here for half a year and I still have no clue what their names are. New people scare me.

You're probably upset that someone didn't accost you and introduce themselves to you, but did you introduce yourselves to them? No one knows you've recently reactivated yourselves. No one knows you're taking a huge leap of faith by going back to church. No one thinks about how lonely you are in a new city. Although, I guarantee if you said that in a testimony you'd have a load of instant friends before you left the building. Give them some time.

Lori said...

I agree with what everyone is saying, Holly. No one knows unless you put yourself out there. Go up to the RS Presidency, talk with them, give them your email address, tell them you want to get involved! There is NO WAY you can judge a ward in one Sunday and I agree with Abby, you can't hold it against someone for not saying hi, who knows what their day was like?

We went to our new ward for the first time this Sunday in GA. We had a great experience. Why? Because we tried hard. I hate introducing myself, but that's all Van and I did the minute we walked in the door. WE found the EQ Pres, the RS Pres, the Bishop and introduced ourselves. I asked to fill out the "new member questionarre" and get set up with emails and phone numbers. And you know what? I did. I now have a network. No one has contacted me, but I came home and emailed THEM and thanked THEM for a great Sunday and told them we were excited to move and asked them to please be in contact because we wanted to get involved with the ward. I think it takes a lot of effort on our part, too.

I know it's hard since this is a huge step to go back to church, but don't give up because people didn't act the way you wanted them to. Give it time and put yourself out there a bit.

Big hugs.

Timothy said...

Great question!

Why is it that some people say that their Ward is the greatest and others in the same Ward have an oposite oppinion? I think most of it has to do with what we bring to the Ward instead of expecting others to bring for us or even meet us half way. Once we decide to get involved, contribute, and make it a better experience others will join in and all will benefit.

The problem with having expectations is that someone is bound to be disappointed or offended. Rather than have expectations of what others should do, we should take the responsibility for ourselves.

onedayatatime said...

My dad always told me to give things a year before making judgement, good or bad. Jonathan and I have found that to be very good words of wisdom. We absolutely love our Ward here but it took us a year to really get to that point -- and that has happened to me with jobs, new locations, etc. In Newport, they already knew of you and that you were coming ... and so they were anticipating your arrival. In a perfect Ward, people would look for those who were new, etc. and give them the biggest welcome, but what often comes across as uncaring is usually just their focus of trying to take care of their family needs and fulfill their duties -- and so they put on their blinders and just focus on getting from point A to point B without much thought inbetween. That doesn't mean they are uncaring. That is why callings are such a blessing, because in addition to having the opportunity to serve, you make good friends through that common goal. I agree with your other comments, give it some time.

onedayatatime said...

If I could comment just one more time, you should not allow other people and what they do or do not do to determine if you go to church or not. That is a decision you and Nathan should make, regardless of the actions of others.

JAG said...

You know, every ward is different, and every situation is different. I agree with the suggestions to try to meet with and get to know the EQ president, the RS president, and bishop. I would also try to look for people you may bond with or could quickly become friends with. Are there young couples in the ward? Are there other service people?

I would suggest showing up a few minutes early (ok, like 15-20 min). That way you are more likely to be noticed, and there is a little more time to get to know people before the meeting. Even if you are sitting by yourselves, it's more likely someone will come up and say hello instead of the rush of people arriving just before the meeting or between classes.

I'm currently in Brazil, and the 19th was my first chance to go to church. I speak Spanish, but not really speak nor understand Portuguese. I was to church early and quietly sitting by myself. Someone came up and said hi and started asking me questions. I told her I didn't understand what she was saying. She then introduced me to someone from USU that is in Sao Paulo for a 6 month internship. After chatting with him for a couple min, he introduced me to some other members. Yesterday, when I went to church, I felt more comfortable because I knew someone I could be with. Even though I didn't understand the services very much, I was still able to be blessed.

I don't know your ward situation, but I would say give it time. It really does take a little time to get into the ward and have it start to feel like family.

Hey, if you need a little break, hop a plane from O'Hare to Rochester for a weekend. We would love to see you... :)

Grant

Sheila said...

I would echo what everyone has said about giving it time and making the efforts on your part first. If you are going to church for ANY other reason than to partake of the sacrament and renew your covenants, and be close to the Lord, then what's the point anyway? Yes, attending church is important for friends, acceptance and fun activities, but when it comes down to it...there is one reason for attending and one reason only, and that is to strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Make that relationship an immediate priority and the other friendships will come in time and as people get to know you...I can't think of any reason why people won't want to be friends with you and Nathan, you guys are fun, deeply caring and talented. We love you.

Aimee said...

Holly,

I feel for you because I have been there. We have moved five times in five years of marriage. After living in the same ward my whole life until my marriage, I really struggled going someplace new. The part of me that is like my dad just wants to hide out as long as possible and not draw attention to myself. The part that is like my mother longs for acceptance and friendship. A crazy mix?...I know! I haven't read your old blog yet, but I have to commend you for choosing to start anew. I love seeing courage in my friends; it encourages me to be gutsy too. Brent has been inactive on and off during the past few years. His battle with depression makes it difficult for him in ways I have yet to understand (but I am trying). I have found it challenging to go alone and even more so since we had children. I would be dishonest if I said my attendance record is immaculate. Take courage in the fact that Nate is with you. Together you can make it something wonderful.