Sunday, April 20, 2008

Overwhelmed

Plantboy said today that we have 125 or so really active members out of a roll of around 400 in our ward. This puts the activity rate somewhere in the 30% range.

I was often in wards (or branches) like this as a missionary, but as much as I got to know and really love the people I served, I always was keenly aware of the transient nature of my situation. Even the very hardest wards only had to be endured for six months, tops. Then it was off to somewhere else!

Not the case now.

I'm trying hard to count my blessings. I'm trying hard to find friends that I relate to who don't seem to be one step away from going off the deep end. I'm trying hard to find family time in the evenings. Let me give you a run down of the week I'm currently in so you have an idea:

Last Friday: Scrapbook night at the church. I actually planned this one, but the women who came want to get it committed to a monthly thing on the calendar. I did't get a ton done, being more of an instructor than anything else. And yes, if enjoying scrapbooking makes you think of me as some kind of stereotyped, "typical" Mormon woman, you can just go blog somewhere else.
Yesterday: Fed the missionaries. Love doing this, but it was the fourth time in the last six weeks. Though we only feed them every other day (15-16 days each month) in our ward, we still cannot get their calendar filled up. This problem is getting worse all the time.

Today: Plantboy was at church from 7-3 today. He is the ex.sec., but he has also just been called as the Varsity Scoutmaster. They have no one in mind as a replacement for his current calling. The combination of the two make him busier than any man in the ward except the Bishop. Great! He is hometeaching tonight. I only sat in 40 minutes of church today because of the baby.
Monday: Visiting teaching three of the five sisters on my list. I hope to get hold of my companion who spends about 20 days a month in another city helping a grown daughter with a husband and four children, and she has a deeply troubled adult son for whom she is the full-time care giver. The other two sisters avoid any effort we make to schedule with them though they are both fairly active in the church. The awkward part is that I have to report my VT to one of these sisters. It would be faster to visit them because to compensate I make several phone calls for appointments that never happen and usually bake something for each of them every month. FHE has to be put off until later in the week (if it happens at all) because I tutor on Mondays.

Tuesday: Hubby at the bishop's office after work. Sometimes he goes in as early as 6:30 and comes home as late as 10:00. I was supposed to have an Enrichment meeting that night as well, which I have thankfully convinced our counselor to handle over the phone.

Wednesday: Plantboy and I tag team all day on Wednesdays. Papers-Plantboy goes to work and comes home early-STM tutors-Plantboy goes to YM. I'm in bed about the time he gets home.

Thursday: I'm hosting book group this month. We are reading a very non-offensive book, but it is so tame that I have NO IDEA what we'll talk about for an hour. If anybody has any really gripping insights into Anne of Green Gables, please let me know. . . .

Okay, I'm done griping. Most weeks aren't this bad. And my testimony is strong. I was able to sit through most of Sunday School today and I felt such an overpowering love for the Book of Mormon that I wanted to weep the whole time. The gospel is so amazing and I love the life it has given me beyond my ability to express, but I would just like a week or two of time off from the cultural Church.

And a friend. I'd really like a good friend to just come hang out over here while we commiserated together about the difficulties of serving in this corner of the vineyard, and maybe shed a few tears over never-ending responsibilities and blessings, and the high cost of things and the worldly difficulty of choosing between things we want and things we need. Any takers?

16 comments:

FoxyJ said...

Man--sounds tough! My ward here is incredibly large, but at least we have a lot of fairly active people too. I've been in wards like that though and it's pretty crazy. My mom spent years serving as ward organist/primary pianist/Relief Society president (or YW president) all while attending church with five kids and an inactive husband. Oh and she went to night school. And honestly she's a little burnt out right now. Take time for yourself as much as you can--kudos for doing stuff on the phone. Also see if you can find email addresses for people you can communicate with. I love having email for things like visiting teaching because it saves all the silly little phone calls and I can do it late at night when I actually remember to get in touch with people.

Anyways, hang in there :) If UO hadn't rejected me we'd be there hanging out, but unfortunately we're moving on to somewhere else...

Chad said...

I too am in a ward with about 35% active members. I seriously don't get it. I could never be RS Pres. I am not very understanding. I want to say "Yeah, you made a dumb choice by ____________ (not going to church, breaking covenants, doing something stupid). It's like you dumped a pile of manure in your living room and now you are complaining that it stinks! Duh!"Not very Christ like, I know. Good thing our next RS lesson is on Elder Wirthlin's talk from this last Conference titled "Concern For The One." I don't mean to sound harsh, but we work so hard in our ward (I am also Enrichment Leader and my husband is YM Pres) and we get a lot of flack. Complaining, criticism, being the subject of gossip, and even legal action. Does this baffle anyone else!?!? I guess it goes back to the old theory that there are givers and takers in this world. It is fact that the takers will never be happy.

It sounds like you are pulling a lot of weight. Maybe more than your fair share. I can't remember which Conference talk it was, but it was stated that Bishops and leaders need to be mindful of the amount of time they ask from their members. Every minute they spend serving at church is time away from their family.

OK, I have already said more than I should. I really am not a mean and hateful person, well usually not. I pray everyday for more love and patience and less pride. The Gospel is for everyone, including people who make mistakes like me.

PS I am also a closet scrapbooker. I just can't bring myself to admit it to family and friends.

Caitlin said...

Aw pickles! That was me, Caitlin, not my husband Chad. I forgot he was logged in.

kanaboke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KarateMommy said...

It sounds like your venting and not looking for advice, so I just want to say you're a great person, and I really wish you had an awesome friend there with you to talk with. Wish i could be there for you!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Foxy J--Your mother must be a really incredible person. We have a lot of women in this ward who attend alone also. It keeps our numbers adequate, but there is a leadership glut because of it. As you have said a little bit about your own current life situation, I'm sure knowing what your own mother has dealt with over the years makes it even harder sometimes.

Caitlin--I think I'm not always very understanding either: being too judgmental is probably my greatest fault. Lately I have been trying harder to think before I speak and to try and walk two moons in another person's mocassins without making snap judgments. I think it is safe to say that I'm measuring progress VERY slowly.

This post wasn't to say "Look how much more I'm doing than everyone else!" because truthfully, everyone I know is busy. I guess I just sometimes wonder if all this scramble is really bringing us any closer to the Savior. And isn't that the point?

Desmama said...

I hear you. Just a few weeks ago I told (read: sobbed) to DesDad that I had a testimony but I was just sick of church. I thought he'd be shocked but instead he was like, "Yeah, I feel that way too sometimes." And he wasn't scandalized at all. Things were just getting hairy and stuff. We have a huge ward (about 570 members) and a huge percentage of them are active. But there are still challenges. Always challenges.

Yankee Girl said...

First: I love your new layout. Love the pictures!

Second: I feel for you. This is exactly how I felt while I was going to school in Northern Ireland (where our activity rate was much, much worse). I was lucky enough to have an end date and am now thrilled to be back in a ward where I can go to what interests me a couple of times a month and leave the rest of the cultural trappings aside.

Third: Shed as many tears as you want here. We can't hang out in person but from the comments that have been left I think you can tell lots of us relate.

Caitlin said...

That is so awesome about your friend being a Teichert. We have one of her paintings in the Newport Beach Temple of the Savior in red robes with that beautiful cobalt blue sky that Teichert uses in her paintings. It strikes me every time.

Yes, I dream of a scrapbook room, preferably with a view, every day. All my junk organized in one place instead of crammed in a chest in the family room...bliss. Do you digital scrapbook? I don't, but it sure looks fun and easy. Maybe someday when I can afford a 12x12 printer.

Also- I don't want people to think we are crazy stage parents. We have many friends who work at YGG and so we thought it would be fun to go down and see the set. My son is a total ham, to the point where I get a little embarrassed. I don't know where he gets it. OK, that is a lie. He is a carbon copy of me when I was a kid.


One last thing, I am regretting my comment which was written in emotional haste. I may erase it, mostly because I am nervous that the aforementioned lawsuit may come back to haunt me. I hope you find the strength to carry on in your callings, especially Enrichment. I feel like you have a lot to offer the women in your ward.

Christie said...

I hear you and Desmama. I've felt like I've needed a break from church before. Not from Christ or his gospel, but just from the glut of to-do, to-do, to-do. (Any wonder that Christ spend 40 days in the wilderness?)

Christie said...

I hear you and Desmama. I've felt like I've needed a break from church before. Not from Christ or his gospel, but just from the glut of to-do, to-do, to-do. (Any wonder that Christ spend 40 days in the wilderness?)

amyjane said...

This sounds A LOT like our ward. Our particular difficulty is the lack of male leadership, which has meant one major calling after another (often combined with a secondary calling as well) for my husband. Which, as we all know, amounts to a huge amount of single parenting for the mommy.
Anyway, I'm kind of glad to hear that we all have moments where we're just a little tired of always being one of the "strong" families. I told Sean yesterday that I've totally been looking forward to taking a few weeks vacation from church with new baby! How sad is that!

Kimberly said...

It's sounds hard but it also like you are doing things right. Wish we were in the same ward again! Those were good times...Anything worth doing is going to be tough, right? At least you don't have 16 families to visit/hometeach between the two of you, and you can be grateful that when you go to the door of one of your families, that it doesn't look haunted and that there's not goat blood and obscenities smeared all over the door and you are standing there on the porch with a plate of cookies thinking to yourself if you should really ring that doorbell and ask for Sister so-and-so or get off that porch and run away as fast as you can. (This really did happen to my sister.) Just trying to help you think on the brightside.

Girly Momma said...

Jake's parents branch is small. I would have a very hard time living there because there would be hardly anyone for me to relate too, except for of course, my in laws. That must be hard to have a large ward in numbers, yet little activity. You guys get lots of credit and blessings for your service.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I'm sure that everyone has a story-topper for my week. (Even I do: probably people in my own ward.) What I am saying is that sometimes all of this saying yes to every single thing we are asked to do is actually taking us further away from our goals of getting people closer to Christ. There really isn't time in the day to do every single thing that must be done, so choices have to be made. Unfortunately, these choices are often made at the expense of just laid back, kids crawling all over you and laughter family time. These choices are made that the expense of time to get away from the city and into the woods where you can just ponder and enjoy the quiet. These choices are made at the expense of deep scripture and lesson study. These choices are made at the expense of getting out and meeting our neighbors so that we might serve them too--especially when they might need it even more.

If life is all about duty and responsibility, where is the time left over to develop talents and have joy? I know, I know, the answer is to find joy in your duty. I'm just not there yet; at least not every day.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

Need a vacation? Send me an email and let's visit as least-- calm57@gmail.com . I've got a story topper--my brother and his family in Mexico. Went to church for a year without understanding anything that they were listening to. After they learned spanish, my sis-in-law became seminary teacher, primary president, and yw adviser at the same time. She was very valuable as bilingual. They've been there 9 years now and still hate it but haven't moved back.