The Great Move, part deux finally took place over the weekend and I am now located in Columbus, Ohio. I have a room all to myself in my surrogate grandmother's house. I can drive around and not get lost thanks to the placement of various stores, coffee shops, and golf courses. But more importantly, as of yesterday morning, I have a social network in the making.
As has been explained, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The congregational bodies of the church are set up on a geographic basis. The individual units where people meet weekly for their Sunday worship are known as wards or branches. Wards are given geopgraphic barriers and all those members of the church within those barriers attend that ward. For example, if I were living in San Francisco, I would attend the ward or branch* there in the city rather than crossing the bay to attend a ward in Oakland.
This system of wards and branches is established worldwide and has been a matter of comfort to me on many occassions. I know that where ever I go, there will always be a ward waiting for me. The faces may be different, but there will always be three meetings (sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and Relief Society/Elders' Quorum/Primary), the truths of the gospel will always be the same, and I will instantly have a home.
Two years ago I found myself in a similar situation where I was moving to a highly unfamiliar place on my own. In Brussels, Belgium I initially knew no one outside of my travelling party of interns. That changed my first Sunday, a few sparse days after my international debut. I walked into the church building located on the north end of the city and was bombarded with hugs, handshakes, smiling faces, and a whole new family waiting for me. These people became travel partners, fellow musicians, and, in a few cases, lifelong friends. Most of us were expats, but through our mutual faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, we found a familiar home in one another.
The same thing happened to me yesterday morning as I drove through Ohio State's campus to the institute building for my Sunday worship. Just like so many times before, not a face in the crowd was familiar, but it didn't matter. Handshakes and introductions were made in rapid procession. I sat in between new friends and made jokes about the customary Sunday school lesson on temple marriage*. By the end of the three-hour block I had spiritually fed as well as befriended and introduced into a whole new social sphere.
After the past few days I feel reinvigorated about this move and what lays before me. There are still a great many unknowns to tackle, but I have a sure foundation here that will never let me down. I am so grateful for my membership in a worldwide church where faith and love are universal and never regional.