I almost didn't go to church again this weekend. The Episcopal church meets at the same time and Maude wanted to go. I told her we could alternate Sundays (since we only have one vehicle) and that she could take the first one. When it actually came time to wake up, she was too sleepy and told me to go ahead.
I didn't know what to expect, but this being the Northeast, I figured the Mormon ward house would be small and possibly located in a converted IHOP restaurant. Boy, was I wrong. I pulled up to a brand-new building, fresh out of the church-approved architectural oven. Is it just me, or are the Church buildings getting better-looking? I think this is a positive development for missionary work; it's hard to get people excited about worshipping God in what looks like an old bank branch.
The chapel itself was actually pretty small. Who has ever heard of a chapel with only six rows of pews? I guess this is a mini-ward house, kind of like the newer mini-temples. They had the overflow open so that it was about the size of a regular chapel, only with half of the seats being located in the cultural hall.
I came in about two minutes before the meeting started and landed a primo spot in the back row, just like old times. In my old ward in Virginia, I never exchanged more than two words with anyone during the eight or nine times I went, probably because there were 200-250 people there every week. This week, however, as soon as I had sat down, the guy next to me had introduced himself, his wife and his kids. I was right; it's going to be a lot harder keeping a low profile in small ward. He had gotten my name and half my life story out of me just during the prelude music. I tried going with the whole "I'm just visiting" shtick, but that never works. I wasn't planning on revealing too much about myself, but he came right out and asked me, "So, is your wife a member?" There's really no way around that question. I was only hesitant to answer because I saw two sets of typical over-eager Elders sitting in the chapel. I think they can smell part-member families, just like dogs can smell fear.
Finally, the meeting started and during it I met the guy sitting on the other side of me. He seemed like a kindred spirit, and possibly a new convert. He didn't take the sacrament either, which I find helps ease some of the stigma. As I prepared to bolt at the end of the meeting (to avoid having to meet the Bishop), this guy says, "See you next week." I don't think he was planning on sticking around for Sunday School either.
I am glad that everyone I've met so far has been so nice; I think I could enjoy my time here. However, I am a little apprehensive about the Elders getting ideas about Maude. She hasn't shown any interest in attending, but if she ever does come, I don't think she'd respond well to the missionaries. It was easy to have boundaries in a large ward; I have a feeling it will take a lot more energy now to defend them.