We have a quick question today from a dad whose son is considering the military.  If all you members of the armed services and vets and their spouses or children could write in, he could use your help.

But before we get to today’s topic, here are two more letters on the conflict of rich wards versus poor ones.  Let’s see what our readers had to say:

Our family had the unique opportunity of moving from a blue collar ward (including farmers) in the Midwest, where we were one of the highest earners, to a large, very active ward outside Las Vegas where we zoomed suddenly to the other end of the spectrum — lower earners.  The first Sunday at the new ward we took a look at the parking lot and the sparkling array of new automobiles and wondered whether they’d even let their kids play with ours!  (Brand new cars did not figure into our budget, and so we rolled into town in our somewhat beat-up 15-year-old one). 

On top of this, the area was filled with gated communities (the home we chose being in one that was not gated), and these factors gave me an immediate sense of not belonging and being out of our element.  This living-behind-gates business especially gave me a sense that people intended separation from others. 

I was totally wrong.  Little did we know that we had moved into Zion where people’s hearts and minds were knit together in love.  A decade later we are still amazed at the how much we’ve learned from these folks about how to be more Christ-like. 

Another point:  It’s often been said that the rich look down upon the poor.  We have learned that the opposite is, in fact, true.  The poor often “look down upon the rich.”  

Once in Relief Society a young married woman who had just moved into our ward bore her testimony.  She explained how she had been telling her father (who lived elsewhere) about her new ward and how, at first, she was intimidated by all the wealthy and accomplished folks who were in it.  She told us that her father said to her, “Looks like you’ve landed in a place where you can learn a lot about how people use their education and talents to make a difference in the world.”   Upon hearing this I thought, “What a wise man.  He could have easily made a snide remark about their wealth and education, but he chose to teach truth to his daughter instead.”

It is the adversary who seeks to divide us, one from another.  It is the adversary who puts in our hearts the feeling of being “less than.”  It is the adversary who seeks for us to miserable, like unto himself. 

The Saints in every ward have the opportunity to create Zion, and many choose to do so!   

Nevada Mom   

Thanks for a great letter, Nevada.  I have never, ever wanted to live in Nevada — until I read your letter.  What a terrific ward!

In the 20 years we’ve lived in our home, we’ve had boundary changes that included two different stakes and five wards.  One of those wards was the “poor” one of the stake. When we were first put into the ward I was appalled to hear the “we” versus “they” attitude.  There were actually some women who would not go into the other part of our ward boundaries because they thought they were unsafe.  Granted, there were streets that were unsafe, but those weren’t the ones being discussed.  

Whenever a comment like that was made, a sweet older man would pipe up, “That’s my neighborhood you’re talking about.”  

Our ward dwindled steadily over the years and the joke was that ours was a ward people moved from rather than into. An interesting thing happened through those years: we bonded.  We learned to love those converts or reactivated members who came from 12-step programs and living on the streets.  We looked beyond their tattoos and into their hearts.  They loved the gospel and their fellow man and always wanted to do more.  

As a Relief Society president during Christmas, I had to limit them when the giving tree came out. These loving sisters could barely provide for themselves, but they were the first to step up and provide from their meager circumstances.  

Our last boundary change was the demise of this wonderful ward.  We all cried and cried.  I’ve often felt that everyone needs an opportunity to live in such a ward.  It changes our hearts and if we let it, makes us more Christlike.  I will be eternally grateful for the friends I made — friends I never would have sought out on my own.  That ward will always have a special spot in my heart.

Lari Smith

Thanks for reminding us, Lari, that all the money in the world won’t bring us closer to the Celestial Kingdom.  It’s what’s inside us that matters.

Okay, readers, now we turn to today’s question.  It’s a thorny subject for a concerned father who wants to know his son is making the right decision about his future:

Our younger son has decided to enlist in the Army Reserves as a means of getting some training and obtaining the financing available to veterans for his future education.  We think he understands the possibility that he may be called to active duty and accepts that possibility.

He is currently not as active as we would desire in his church activities, and we are trying to help him understand the church network that is available to him when he enlists.

We would appreciate hearing from others who have been through this experience.

Bob Taylor

Okay, readers, the forum is yours.  We need some advice from anyone with experience in the military, telling a father what he can expect as far as spiritual support for his son.  Please send your letters to [email protected], and be sure to put something in the subject line that lets me know your letter isn’t spam.  Write today!  I’m sure there are numerous church members who are in this situation, and who could benefit from your counsel.

Until next week — Kathy

“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community

finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.”

Rudolf Steiner