Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Morming Blahs

I dunno, guys.  I used to look forward to going to Church.  I loved my calling.  I enjoyed the people.  I enjoyed the Spirit in the meetings.  It really was the highlight of my week.

Until we moved to Twin Falls, ID.

There is none of that now.  We attend Sacrament Meeting to take the sacrament.  Period.  There is nothing else there for us.  The noise from over 125 primary toddlers is so overwhelming that we can't hear the speaker, and we sit on the 3rd row.  Sunday School is horrendous.  Poorly prepared lessons and reading off of the dreaded little slips of paper.  Pure Pablum.  Our home teacher actually told us that he and his wife considered moving out of the ward because it was so bad.  He told us that he has to sit in the back of the chapel during Sunday School and do his own gospel study on his iPad in order to get anything out of the time.  Priesthood Meeting even more so, as the lessons are simply read straight out of the manual.  It's a joke.  I go because I don't want my kids to get the wrong impression.  But we all breathe a sigh of relief when we finally go home. My wife and I hate it.  My kids hate it.  None of us can stand it.  I can honestly say that I've never once felt the Spirit since I've moved here.  It's just "going through the motions."

The people here are closed, cold and cliquish.  There is a "Core Group" that has been called to all of the leadership callings in the ward, which never seems to change.... it just gets shuffled around from one "Core Group Member" to another. 

While new move-ins are given callings within 1-2 weeks of moving in, it took 3-4 months for us to receive callings... which weren't even really callings.  While others in the Core Group have 2-3 callings each... we were given about 1/2 of a calling each, and the Bishop explained that he just didn't "have any more callings to assign."   There is no fellowshipping.  There is no socialization. 

Teachers are chronically unprepared and clueless.  All the young men have their Eagle by 12, so that leaves my 16 year old out in the cold.  No activities for him, and no chance of him ever advancing here.  He's lost interest, and he can't stand the other boys in the ward because of their hypocrisy... a common complaint in Utah/Idaho.   It's really shaken his faith.  My 14 year old daughter is just beginning to make friends... but it's been a rocky road for her, too. 

What's worse?  After talking to several people, we discovered that we're not alone.  There are a surprising number of members in the ward who feel exactly like we do.  Disaffected.  Isolated.  "Frozen out."  But no one in the ward really wants to hear it.

It's becoming more and more difficult for me to be positive anymore.  It seems like all of our "Rah! Rah!" has been sucked out of our souls.  You know something's wrong when you love General Conference, you love the gospel, you love the scriptures, but can't STAND to go to church.  It's very uncomfortable.

Should we take yet another "Mental Health Sunday"?  Go on a spontaneous road trip?  Explore somewhere we've never been before?  Stay home and watch sessions of the last Conference again?  I don't like feeling this way.  I wish it were different.  I feel like I'm losing what has been the most important thing in my life, after my family. 

What do you do when you love the gospel, but hate your ward?

Monday, October 7, 2013


I arrived here in Albany, NY a couple of days ago to photograph a brand-new Residence Inn hotel for Marriott.  When I got my rental car, I decided to do some exploring (since the hotel wasn't ready), and look around, since I'd never been to Albany before.

Bad idea.

After having just moved to Twin Falls, ID from Virginia less than a year ago, I've been enjoying the fact that my wife is so happy with her new job, as well as the lack of humidity and the beautiful sunsets.  My teenagers, however, have been long-suffering, but unhappy.  Mostly because music was such a huge part of their life in VA, and was something they both took pride in, especially my very talented 15 year old son, who plays the French Horn.

As I drove the tree-lined streets of Albany, admiring the brilliant colors of fall and the stately old homes, a flood of memories of growing up in Michigan and rural Pennsylvania washed over me, and I immediately felt a cocktail of nostalgia and homesickness envelope me, bringing me to tears.  This feeling was exacerbated, of course, by passing the local high school, and watching the marching band practice out on the field... which was crushing, knowing the my kids' new high school doesn't even HAVE a marching band.

Now... I have to confess that I ran out of my anti-depressant a couple of days ago, and so I'm "cold-turkey" unmedicated, which doesn't help... but it made me wonder, if just for a few minutes, if we really made the right decision to move out west, especially considering the housing nightmare we encountered once there.

We miss the rain.  We miss the history.  We miss the colors of fall.  We miss the music.  We miss the fireflies.  We miss the thunderstorms.  We miss having all of our favorite restaurants right there where we live.  We miss everything, I would venture, but the humidity.

My family likes the East... loves the East... but to me it's deeper... even though I spent my later teen years in Utah, my childhood and early teen years were spent back here... and it dawned on me as I drove the streets of Albany... that this... the East... was "home" to me.  And I realized just how homesick *I* really am.

Does this change anything?  Not really.  We still live in Twin Falls, and probably will for some time.  But every so often I suppose it's helpful to remember... and cherish.