We have an interesting new topic today — how to manage Sundays when you’re on a family vacation.  Do you take God with you on vacation, and if so, to what extent?

But before that, we have two last letters on the topic of being bored in church.  Let’s see what the readers have to say:

Yesterday I went to church after having missed four weeks in a row due to work requirements. What a spiritual feast that was! Our opening hymn was “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good,” and the first speaker spoke on that subject. I was reminded of a friend I met about a year ago whose faith increases mine and whose testimony (the spirit is so strong in this man that he actually glows) has made me want to increase my own personal righteousness. The other speakers both also gave excellent talks on service using examples that were very inspiring.

Have I heard talks on service before in sacrament meeting?  Of course, but each speaker gives his or her own twist on the subject. It is not the same old-same old. It is ever new.

Our lesson in Sunday School was on Matthew 25:  The parables of the 10 virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats. Have we heard those parables before?  Of course, but each time from a different teacher, and each one may bring new insights to what we have heard before.

The lesson in Relief Society was on “Obedience.”  Sometimes we wish we didn’t have to hear that one, but one class member brought a great insight into the subject, as we discussed why we obey. She said that as children, we obey when our parents tell us what to do because we don’t know there is any other choice. As we get older, we start to obey because it is expected of us, then eventually we obey Heavenly Father’s commandments because we love Him. True obedience is not blind, but thoughtful, loving obedience.

Attending church each week is a part of obedience, too.  It is also essential to partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants.

I am an older single sister and often I sit by myself in church, although I do greet and chat with others. But the spirit is always there. Of course, that might be because I live in the best ward in the church.

Sharee

Salt Lake City

I like what you wrote about the stages of obedience, Sharee.  In all the lessons I’ve heard on obedience, this was something I hadn’t heard before.

But that was your whole point. No matter how often we’ve heard something, there’s always a fresh perspective that can teach us something new.  Thanks for sharing yours.

I agree with the first letter of last week’s thread:  “Disillusioned, you are starving!”  It was my first thought also, two weeks ago.  To recast that thought, it is easy to become dehydrated without really realizing it, and you need to put fluids back into the system.  That’s how he struck me.

The sisters I teach, if they read this, will recognize my characterization of “enduring to the end” — I teach a Relief Society Institute class in my stake.  I am not CES, but we use the same materials from the BYU religion studies for teacher and students.  We have just finished three semesters of the New Testament (The Book of Mormon before that) and one of the Pearl of Great Price, and we had a lesson about the principle of enduring to the end this spring.  I asked who had seen the popular poster of the cat hanging on for dear life to the chin up bar, captioned “hang in there, baby.”  Everyone had.  I said if that’s the situation you are in, for Pete’s sake, don’t let go!  Sometimes it’s like that in our lives, but it is not meant to stay like that or be only like that.

In a Relief Society general broadcast, Patricia Holland said we don’t only want to be with our Father in Heaven again; we want to be like Him.  (She asked, “How can we become like him unless we spend time with Him?”) We are commanded to stay faithful so that we will continue to become, so that we can be with Him.  (Sorry, I can’t find a link.)

We usually think of our progress in this life as a line, going from a beginning point on the left to an ending point at the right.  We hope that ending point is also upward of the starting level, and we acknowledge that it will zigzag.  But I encouraged the sisters to consider another perspective.  Take a center point as our beginning, say baptism.  Add experiences with the Holy Ghost and enlarge that circle outwards to depict increased understanding.  Keep serving, learning, persevering, and those concentric circles grow ever larger, our strength ever greater.  Think of “enduring to the end” as enlarging to the end.  This is much more exciting, much more hopeful when you are grappling with hard times.  Remember, joy is the plan.

Joy is not the absence of sorrow or pain, but the presence of God.

One of the sisters approached me after class one week last year and told me that she often feels overwhelmed with all that we are told we should do, that she thinks she will never get it all.  She said, you make connections for us that we never put together before, and you always leave us with something concrete and hopeful.  I appreciated that so much, and was humbled by it.

Several years ago, I was called to teach Spiritual Living in Relief Society and, pondering what that should mean, the Spirit said to me that the most important thing in this was to teach the sisters to understand who they are.  I have long since been released from that specific calling, but I carry that counsel with me through any service I am called to.  Offer, hold, the vision of who we truly are as sons and daughters of God.  When you can do that, anything else fades into the background.  I just try to offer something that might nourish someone else; so many of the life-changing moments in my experience have come from those offerings to me from others.

I want to share with you a small piece that I wrote. Just a quiet thought.

Identity

Who am I?

I am your child,

Though human failings

Sometimes define me

Or mortal troubles

Try to claim me.

The quiet miracle

Of revelation

Continues to unfold

Myself to me.

Service given

Blesses me;

Temple experience

Deepens me.

Real prayer

Anchors lifelines,

Unfolds awareness

Of deeper truths.

Following

Calls me to lead.

Mortal life prepares me,

If I use it so,

For life above.

Marian Stoddard in Washington

Marian, your illustration of the cat hanging on reminded me of a quote from Winston Churchill:  “If you find yourself going through hell, keep going.”  Life is sometimes a contest of endurance, but as long as we remember who we are and that our struggles have a purpose, we can endure anything.  Even when we don’t think we can.

Now here’s today’s question:

I was wondering if you could ask the advice of the Circle of Sisters for me on what is becoming an annual dilemma.

My husband and I usually holiday in a city where there is lots to do. We are not the relaxing in the countryside or beach sort of people.


We have a wonderful time visiting museums and galleries and seeing shows and other live entertainment. The difficulty we have is how to manage the Sabbath day. My husband is less active although totally supportive (he recently vacuumed the whole of our building when it was our turn on the cleaning rotation).  We arrange our food so we don’t have to shop, but what do others do to fill the whole day?  At home we spend time with family.  Church takes up around 4 to 41/2 hours, so we rest and then he watches TV while I prepare next week’s lessons.and take time to study.

In Britain, meeting houses are rarely in the city centres, so we don’t even manage sacrament meeting when we are traveling although we have attended worship services in some beautiful cathedrals.

This year we will spend two weeks in Edinburgh again and I know we will struggle, so any ideas would be welcome.

Carol

Carol, I suspect this is one of those topics where everyone who reads it will have a different answer.  This is truly one of those areas where there is no single right answer.  In fact, in our own family we have completely different solutions depending on if we’re in a timeshare or on a cruise ship.  This is a nebulous situation!

Okay, people, the forum is yours.  What do you do when you’re traveling and Sunday rolls around?  Any suggestions that can help Carol and her family will be welcome.  Please, PLEASE send your suggestions to [email protected] instead of using the form here.  I am always getting horror stories from people who try to use the form and then lose their letters, so PLEASE send a separate email to the Meridian Magazine address.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Until next time — Kathy

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”

Elbert Hubbard