As I walked in to sacrament meeting this morning, I was greeted at the chapel doors by a beaming young girl from Primary, who I would guess is maybe 8 or 9 years old. She smiled broadly, handed me a program and shook my hand as I entered the chapel.
Just inside the chapel sitting on the back row was a lovely African woman. I smiled at her and wished her good morning. When I first came to this ward we had many 20 active African or African American members. Over time we lost pretty much all of them, but lately we’ve had a bit of a resurgence. I’d say we have about a half-dozen active black members–all women (some with children).
Before long the chapel was pretty full. We never open the folding doors in back (we don’t have an overflow area; those doors lead directly to the cavernous gym). People nevertheless eventually find places to sit. There aren’t many gaps in the pews; we all sit closely together.
There had been a baptism yesterday, and so a woman and her young son were both confirmed. The confirmation prayers were said in Spanish. During the meeting, I can hear the low level hum of the real time English to Spanish translation. We have a significant latino population within our ward; there is a Spanish language Sunday School class, and we also have a pair of sister missionaries who are specifically Spanish speaking. Our SP served his mission to Mexico, and his counselors are latino. (We used to have a counselor in our stake presidency who was from Ghana.) The first talk was given by a young latina girl I don’t recall ever seeing before. It was her first talk ever, and she was excited for the opportunity. She did a fantastic job, and I made it a point to find her afterward to tell her so.
For the intermediate musical number, there was a violin duet performed by a young Japanese man of priest age and an older anglo woman. We have maybe eight or so Asian families–Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos. Some of these are mixed marriages, but no one gives that circumstance a thought, and it is hard to even remember that there was once a time not so very long ago when a lot of Mormons freaked out about that kind of thing. It is completely a non-issue in our ward.
The final talk today was given by a brother in our ward who is also on the high council. He spoke in English, but he is Mexican and Spanish is his native language. We sometimes have entire talks given in Spanish, sometimes with real time translation over the pulpit, and for shorter talks sometimes without translation.
As I walked out of the chapel, I smiled to myself at the beautiful florilegium that is our ward, a bouquet of colors and cultures and languages and backgrounds, all joined together to worship as a single, united family. We all love each other and are happy to worship together.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ can be a very beautiful thing.