Summertime seems to be moving time. I live in a ward where several families move out, as others move in trying to catch the school year at its beginning. Sometimes it’s newlyweds who move in. We also have seniors who find themselves in our ward as they transition to assisted living, and others who move out to live with their children. I want to share several ideas that can help anyone adjusting to a brand-new community and ward.
First, for those of us already entrenched, let’s reach out with invitations to come over and get acquainted. Share your favorite pizza spot, grocery store, repairman, dentist, car mechanic, and so on. Remember Welcome Wagon, which used to arrive with all kinds of maps, coupons, and a calendar of events? We could do a version of that for newcomers. If there are kids who want to enroll in sports, share that info as well.
Our ward has a weekly luncheon group of senior sisters called “The Forget-me-Nots.” What a great way for seasoned members to feel friendship.
For families with teens, offer rides to Young Women and Young Men, if both parents are tied up on that evening. Let the new people know the local temple schedule. A list of ward leaders would be helpful as well. Easing into a new ward takes time, but a calling and a feeling of being needed can keep hesitant new members from feeling overlooked.
Now, for those moving in, make the effort to connect. If neighbors don’t reach out, you reach out. Throw a housewarming for yourself and get to know those who live close by. This can be a matter of safety, as well. You’ll need people who can feed pets, etc. if you’re away, and people you can call in an emergency.
Introduce yourself at church. I know it’s hard for introverts, but it removes fear of the unknown, a huge source of stress. Sign up for online connections such as NextDoor, Facebook Marketplace, and others in your area.
Plant things. Even if you just have an apartment balcony, plant something you can tend. It makes us feel needed, and gives us more purpose. Play the music you love. Think about what always makes you happy and do it.
Drive your area and get to know the layout. Do you need a new driver’s license? A new bank? Where can you register to vote? Is there a dog park? Which streets should you avoid during rush hour? What’s your new town known for? Be open to new experiences and see this as an adventure rather than something to dread.
Join a group. It could be the parent/student group, a charity or hobby club, a local sports team or workout group, whatever interests you. This is a great way to make friends. I know a woman whose husband was in the air force and who moved dozens of times. Each time she’d look up a quilting guild and become part of it.
Establish a routine. We feel more comfortable with the familiar, so maintain your same schedule (including getting plenty of sleep). By taking care of our health the transition will be much smoother.
Hang pictures. This one effort will make your new place seem like home and is absolutely worth doing as soon as you can.
Cook comfort food. This, too, will make it seem like home. Stock the fridge and pantry so you’ll feel you can whip up a meal whenever you need one.
Video chat with friends and family so they can see your new place, too. You might even Facetime with them while you’re riding the local famous carousel, standing before waterfalls, or hiking the best local trail.
Accept that this might not be a piece of cake. An elderly friend of mine left her “forever home” to be nearer her daughter and cried for the first month. Her new place was much smaller and she missed her old friends. Then she focused on the positives: This place was closer to their grandkids, less expensive, had less area to clean, and had a beautiful view. She wrote to me:
“On the way home on the train, I was reflecting on the day. I had a strong, comforting feeling from the Lord telling me that THIS is what’s important in our lives at this time. It is to be with our family, build strong memories, especially with the little ones, and hopefully be a good example for the Lord. THAT’S THE REASON YOU HAVE MADE THIS MOVE. We have a comfortable place to live, even if it is not what we desire, with comforts of heat, AC, etc. These are just earthly things! Now we are working on eternal things at the end of our lives. Does that make sense? We feel that the Lord loves us and besides testing us, he is truly blessing us. It’s not easy when your age is getting to you. Oh well, we will do our best and always look to our Savior.”
And that brings me to the most important thing of all: Allow the Lord to succor you and help you feel peace and joy. Pray, get a Priesthood blessing, and include the Savior in this move. Dedicate your new home to Him. Rely on Him to comfort you and calm your fears. Be of service to others, instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Moving is one of the most disruptive events we can experience. But it can also be filled with grand surprises and even greater happiness than we imagined. So much of it is determined by our attitude and our own efforts. Good luck in your new area, and may it become your very favorite.Hilton teaches Seminary. She is also an award-winning playwright, and the author of many best-selling Latter-day Saint books. Those, her humor blog, and YouTube Mom videos can be found on her website.