Due to the increased amount of inquiries regarding my frequent references to church, allow me to dispel some confusion. I shall not expound upon doctrine because lightning would probably strike me…twice…but rather all the delightful cultural idiosyncrasies that come with membership in the fastest-growing church in the world.

LDS: The correct name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Within church circles, many members refer to themselves as LDS and not Mormon, the latter of which is a nickname. And to those souls who frequently come upon my blog after googling “Are Mormons crazy,” the answer is NO. Present company excluded, of course.

Ward: This is our congregation, not to be confused with a psychiatric ward. Most of the time.

Callings: Usually every member of the church is given a calling, which is one of the key components in making the ward function with a non-paid clergy. Callings are temporary and are extended from the Bishop (the ward leader). They can range from working with the children, youth, adults or the real kicker that everyone wants: Ward Activities Leader. Or maybe not. Trust me on this one….

Singles Ward: When folks turn 18, they have the option of attending a Singles Ward until they are 31, otherwise known as a “Meat Market.” It is here that faithful young members bat their eyelashes and bear testimony of what a perfect mate they’ll become. It is such a pervading sub-culture there was even a movie made about this veritable marriage mill from which many people benefit.

Except for Jamie and I. He was dishonorably discharged when he became “of age.” He mercifully married me merely five days before I got the boot. Yes, we are model members.

Mormon Standard Time (MST): The estimated arrival time of at least 1/2 hour after an event is scheduled to begin.

Seminary: From the time kids are 14-18, they are encouraged to attend Seminary classes. Every morning during the school year, they drag themselves out of bed before the crack of dawn to learn the scriptures at their local church building.

Unless you’re me. I lasted one whole week. I was later punished for my slothfulness when I was called as a seminary teacher whilst pregnant with Hadley. Sadly, I was never sick enough to miss even one day and would always puke my guts out after I taught. The Lord has a funny sense of humor…

FHE: Family Home Evening. Every Monday, an LDS family congregates for a special night of games, lessons, bonding, chaos and the occasional black eye. And food. Lots and lots of food.

In the marriage mill Singles Ward, folks are divided into various FHE groups and these “brothers” and “sisters” meet together every Monday. This is how my brother Pat met his wife. Rest assured, there are an inordinate amount of incestuous relationships in these “families.”

Missionaries: Chances are you’ve seen the “Elders” (guys) hitting the streets in their white shirts and ties. And “sisters” have allegedly been seen riding their purple-people-eater bikes with dorky helmets and skirts that get caught in the chain every few blocks (I’m still recovering from the humiliation).

As many of you know, I served a mission in Switzerland and Jamie in Toronto. Elders leave when they’re 19 and serve for two years; sisters when they’re 21 years old and they serve for 18 months.

Prior to entering “the mission field,” they have a brief stay at the MTC (missionary training center) where they learn their assigned language and gospel doctrine. Oh, and ponder the mysteries of life, such as what exactly they put in that cafeteria food to cause a heady gaseous substance and incessant flatulence that permeates their small classroom.

LDS missions are voluntary and assignments are received from the church leadership. The reason for the latter is two-fold:

1) Inspiration.

2)Who in their right mind would choose to serve in a place such as South Dakota?…

In my next edition of LDS-Paloooooza–

Visiting Teaching: the glories of forced friendship

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