17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My NYC tribute: Church Memories

On this other blog (that discusses things that are usually 90% way over my head) a blogger once wrote about what he called "the sweetness of mormon life". I was touched by his different stories and by other simple snapshots written about everyday mormon life. Not that I think "mormoness" is necessarily "sweeter" than other religions. Rather, I think at times it can be more frustrating, guilt-inducing and frenzied (especially each sunday I have to care for my 14 month old who refuses to sit or stay quiet for more than 5 minutes at a time). Reading these stories reminds there is another, often missed perspective from which to view my Sundays. I need to spend more time recognizing the simple sweetness around me at church instead of mourning the loss of hearing any explicit spiritual message from the speakers.

So, my NYC tribute for the month of October is a record of my most memorable moments from our ward in Queens. I realize the list might not seem to be comprised of the "sweet" moments this other blogger was talking about. I blame my writing skills. Sorry. This list is mostly for me--to help my heart and mind remember the sweetness of my old ward.

For everyone else, I hope it inspires you to recognize the everyday sweetness of the life that surrounds you--mormon or not.

My Most Memorable (Sweet) Moments: (in no particular order)

  • Watching Jen's DH conduct sacrament meeting with newborn son, Asher, strapped to his chest in a Baby Bjorn.

  • Seeing the ward Primary children led like they were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (by ours truly, Kage).

  • Picking the first green beans out of the YW garden--planted and cared for by girls who had never gardened before.

  • Hearing new convert, Yoshi, bear his sincere testimony for the first time which largely included a story of his resident cockroach.

  • Maria. Her presence in our ward cannot be reduced to just one or two moments.

  • Listening to 4 young women give 4 amazing talks about the YW values in the same sacrament meeting (in our ward, this could be considered a MIRACLE.)

  • Having our "bigger boned" Bishop show up at the ward Halloween party as Spiderman (tights and all!)

  • Having John Heder of Napolean Dynamite fame show up at our Halloween party 2 years later. He might never realize the joy he brought to some star-struck young girls in the ward and to a YW President who had told these girls they would receive blessings if they fulfilled their promise to be at the party playing games with the primary kids. (thanks Happy Nanny!)

  • Seeing ward members bid each other up at the YW dessert auction, much to the surprised delight of the the Young Women. They just couldn't believe Jen's DH would pay $90 for a cake they made.

  • Kage singing "O Holy Night" in Sacrament Meeting. Breathtaking.

  • Hearing our token Greek member, Tony, give a passionate ten minute sacrament meeting talk about how great the lamb kebabs would be at the next ward party (which would be held at his house). Opa!


  • Oh the Tonyisms....how aobut the first half of his talk/testimony being about his new porsche and big screen tv!

    I had one yesterday...not as cool as the other ones, but nevertheless....I was conducting the last hymn of the meeting and my baby was wondering around in the choir stands. She was generally fine, but I was distracted by her. After the 3rd verse I cut everyone off. Someone started to blurt out another verse, and I said: "Oh is there more?" And she said: BIG FINISH...and I said: "My bad" and then began the fourth verse. It's hard to keep track when it's the same chorus each time.. I turned a little red.

    Ok...in my MD ward...this was my fave moment: I goosed a man that was not my husband, in front of a row of missionaries who all saw it. That was B-A-D!!! Oh, and btw, I THOUGHt he was my husband, but he was the resident crazy of the ward...I guess they have similar looking backsides.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/30/2006 03:55:00 PM  

  • Gotta love Tony! He bore his testimony TWICE (he was one of the first and the very last) in ONE fast and testimony meeting - our very first Sunday in the Astoria Branch.
    Also, Kage coming in to lead the music for us during nursery and flipping up her skirt during the exciting parts of the song to reveal her lime green tights. The kids LOVED it.
    Lastly, riding the N train to church and hearing the same brothers sing and play their guitar. They were so talented. I loved seeing them (not sure how we always ended up on the same train as them...)
    From my Manhattan ward:
    Seeing Solomon come to church every single Sunday bringing at least one of his many siblings with him. He made sure they were in their best clothes and clean (this sounds like a story out of a Primary lesson book as I am typing) but he worked so hard to get his little brothers and sisters to church.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 10/30/2006 04:29:00 PM  

  • Ha-ha! I had a great seat for that last moment from Tony. In fact, I remember frantically scribbling a note that read "the clock is ticking!" As in, "be quiet and start your talk already!"

    And Tony, without even skipping a beat, sees the note and says, "Yes, the clock is indeed ticking and we have to figure out the details of this party!"

    Eventually, Bishop Howell cut him off. I laughed about it then, and I can laugh about it more now because, well, only in Astoria Ward...
    posted by Anonymous jen's dh at 10/30/2006 08:54:00 PM  

  • Well, being baptized in the Astoria Ward (then Branch) was, to me, one of the sweetest moments ever. I can't imagine a better place in the world to learn about the gospel, and a more wonderful group of people to help me thru that first year and a half. I'll never forget it!

    I also loved when I got my YW calling there. I still remember those girls, and tell stories about them A LOT to my new YW out here in LA. Those Astoria YW were inspiring to me.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 10/30/2006 09:08:00 PM  

  • Oh --- and visiting teaching with Kage. I think about that a lot b/c I have not since had such an easy companionship. Probably because she is super organized.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 10/30/2006 09:13:00 PM  

  • My DH spent HOW MUCH on that cake? WHERE was I?

    Some of my fav memories:

    1. Listening to Beth's first lesson...VERY soon after she was baptised...at a RS Enrichment. Converts always amaze me, but Beth's testimony and strength in the gospel were particularly inspiring.

    2. When Carrie took it to THE MAN and saved our playgroup.

    3. (Another Tony moment) When Tony brought his new digital camera to church and took pictures of the little kids in our ward during Sacrament Meeting. BTW, my fav quote from above mentioned talk by Tony (re: ward party), "The men can watch my new big-screen TV and sit in my Porshe while the women and the children frolick in the sprinklers outside." I have never been able erase that quote from my memory. Poor Tony...we really do love him!

    4. Watching Kage in action as YW president....working her BUTT off, even though I know how much she disliked the calling.

    5. Carrie's DH's "faux hawk" hairstyle...seen from the stand when he was in the bishopric.

    6. Watching Michelle sitting up at the organ while her eyes frantically scan the audience for her primary teachers (I always said a silent prayer that they would show for her).

    7. Losing Noe after SM. Many sprang into action as I pictured him out a door and wandering the streets of Queens. Kage running into a Sunday School class shouting, "Have any of you seen Noe Guzman?" (We found him playing happily under the organ).

    8. Happy Nanny's rendition of "I am A Child of God" on her guitar. Lots o tears!

    9. A dinner invite from the Stimmlers, literally minutes after we entered the church building for the very first time.

    Can you tell I loved that ward? It wasn't always easy and often frustrating (as those who are still there can attest), but I don't think I'll ever be so passionate about another ward family for the rest of my life.

    There were always so many needs, and never enough time or people to take care of them all. But we (in our twenties) had callings usually reserved for people our parents age.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 10/31/2006 06:22:00 AM  

  • Okay you all. I know you just are DYING to here a missionaries perspective of the Queens Astoria ward. Queens was my first and longest area (6 months!) and it was also my favorite. I remember how much I loved all of you ladies. I remember Sister Ford, and Amy (she always stole my missionary badge) I remember Kage, and how she LOVED Elder Keith (YIKES!) I remember Maria, and the way she treated me as her own. All of you took SUCH good care of me, and I hope some day that your babies will serve in Mesa, Arizona, so I can take care of them. The Queens ward was where I met my sweet Beth, and Anthony, and Georgetta, and so many others. Queens is where I spent my first Christmas away from Home, and walked through 3 feet of snow on Christmas day to visit some of you. Queens is where sister missionaries had to DODGE Tony, because Badge or not, he loved ALL God's female creatures. Queens is where I had some of the most GHETTO experiences, and also some of the most wonderful. Queens is where I saw Noe, Lucy, and other babies enter the world, and now I hear about them growing up. I loved and LOVE the Astoria ward, and love each of you so much!!! Thank you for being such a wonderful part of my world ladies!!! Love, Jen Layton (Sister West)
    posted by Blogger Emery and Jen Layton at 10/31/2006 09:33:00 AM  

  • Let's just clarify, I think was Elder Keith that LOVED me....or maybe he just loved talking about theatre....he actually called me the other day....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/31/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • I agree with Jen - I don't think I'll ever love a ward/branch again as much as I loved Astoria. We had something really unique there.

    I totally remember that Tony testimony. Man, I was cringing in my seat. But then, what would our ward/branch have been without Tony? He's the flava!

    Some of my favorite moments:

    Amy Ford bearing her testimony (severe Down Syndome) - no testimony brought me greater clarity than hers.

    My first Sacrament Primary presentation. I was the Primary president for our ragtag bunch (kind of a ghetto primary with lots of problems) and was convinced that our presentation was going to be a bust. And that Sunday, EVERY single kid showed up in Sunday best clothes and sang their pants off. I was beyond proud - it was a great moment for me.

    The going away party we had at the church for President Sugden and his family. To see all of us gathered around to say goodbye to this great family was a special experience.

    Remember those pictures Tony took of all of us with his new camera? Well, the one he took of DH and me is one of the best we have of us - so good that it is in our firebox! How about that?!

    The meal our sweet Maria brought me after Simon was born. She took such pride in taking care of others and she made us a FEAST. I miss that lady every single day...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 10/31/2006 12:39:00 PM  

  • Thanks for sharing everyone. The sweetest moments you shared of the gospel in action are exactly what I was talking about. You brought to mind more moments that still bring me joy.

    There is something very comforting about knowing Tony will always be there in a ward that is so transitional. I still have the picture he took of our family too.

    As much as I loved the old ward, I am trying to not let it taint my views of my new ward. What I loved about the old ward had a lot to do with it's size and the constant opportunities for interpersonal connections between the members. This becomes harder, but is not impossible in a larger, more stable ward.

    One of my favorite moments from my new ward was when our "older" and very "down-to-earth"
    bishop sent off a new sister missionary who had grown up in the ward, asking her with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, if she would do him the incredible honor of burning HIS tie on hump day since she would not have one of her own to burn. He proceeded to take off his tie right there at the pulpit, handed it to the (also teary) sister and sat for the remainder of sacrament meeting with his top button undone and tieless. It was a beautiful moment for everyone to witness the genuine love of a bishop.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 10/31/2006 02:53:00 PM  

  • Okay Carrie, you got me crying on that one.
    posted by Blogger marian at 10/31/2006 03:43:00 PM  

  • I only cry about stories that involve animals
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/31/2006 07:00:00 PM  

  • Thank you for that link. I have been thinking about LDS literature in the same way. There are so many soul satisfying doctrines that are hard to communicate to a general audience.

    But if he wants a hilarious week by week commentary on ward life..... that I can deliver.
    posted by Anonymous Janelle at 10/31/2006 08:13:00 PM  

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