“How do you know so many people already?”
I have been asked this question many times since moving a few weeks ago. My neighbors are astounded at the amount of friendly traffic that comes through our door. We had visitors bringing in meals every other night because of the move and because we’d just had a baby. I had already established a carpool buddy for school and host regular play dates for my kids. We quickly found local reliable babysitters and have settled into a congregation to attend every Sunday. My new neighbors, who are extraordinarily friendly themselves, have been astounded at how fast we have acclimated to our new environment.
What’s the secret to my moving success? I’m Mormon.
Prior to moving from our old home we contacted our new congregation to let them know we were coming. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are organized into assigned congregations based on geographical locations, called wards. We found out the name and phone number of our new local leaders and let them know when our first week at our new ward would be. We were quickly welcomed by friendly emails and offers to help us move into our new home.
Once we attended our new congregation, my children were integrated into their respective primary classes and my husband and I met adults from the ward in our Sunday School and other classes — I was introduced to members of the Relief Society [the Mormon Church’s organization for women] and my husband met other men in Elder’s Quorum (his priesthood quorum class).
I was invited to book clubs, swim parties, and park day for my kids. I made a point to attend all of the ward events and optional mother events so that my kids could make friends quickly before school started. My new ward members also introduced me to their friends in the community at school and at our swim club that are not of our faith. It was nice going to back-to-school night and seeing some familiar faces.
The second week we attended church, our bishopric [ward leaders] came over to visit us at our home. Our bishop asked us to speak in church next month as a family. I have also been given a Visiting Teaching route and I will be visiting a woman who was baptized just weeks ago into our Church. I was also asked to be be a substitute teacher in our Sunday Relief Society class. There are both opportunities to serve and be served in any ward family.
Recently, I received a voice mail from another Mormon woman. “Hi Brenda, this is Sister ______. I just finished baking some bread and was wondering if I could swing by some warm rolls to your family for dinner.” I called her back and within minutes this lovely bit of homemade hospitality was at my door.
Warm bread, homemade jam, fresh tomatoes from her garden and a hand sewn blanket for my newborn. Unbelievable! I had never met this woman before, but her generosity gave me pause and made me consider better how I can reach out to welcome new members of my community, regardless of religious affiliation.
I am thankful for my church for giving me an automatic support system. While not every experience will perfectly match this one, and sometimes Mormons are less than perfect, I do take great comfort in knowing that wherever I go in the world there will always be a congregation waiting for me, ready to help and be helped.