Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Name your Topic

Two university students are staying with us this semester: Phillipp from Lutherstradt Vittenburg, Eastern German; Harald from Graz, Austria. I have my Collins World Atlas out, finding where these exact places are on the map. I have gone to Google to see some pictures of their home towns.

When he first came, Harald spent one month climbing in British Columbia before school started. Phillipp and Harald have already been camping in Waterton. What was the best thing about Waterton, I asked. They said it was the moon coming over the horizon at night and the mountain breeze while sitting around a campfire.

They are interested in Canada, in what makes us Canadian, and they are specifically interested in us – they want to know how many children we have, their names, where they live and how we live without them. Three of us had lunch together yesterday – a salad and some new brown bread, hot out of the oven. Both men have already learned the only essential talent all roomers must know here. How to cut bread when it is hot. Here was our lunch discussion:

Arta: You set the topic for the conversation today, Philipp. What subject would you like to talk about?

Phillipp: I want to know more about the Mormons.

Arta: I am at an impasse, at a loss as to how to begin. This is not the topic I thought you would pick.  I thought we would be talking about Canada.  Well, you will hear two different stories from us. Kelvin will tell you the story of the beginnings of the church. This can take five minutes, ten minutes, ½ hour, 4 hours – you must tell me which version you want him to start on. I suggest starting small, and you can advance to the longer versions. My story will be about the church today. I have already begun telling you that story. Before you went to Waterton, I described how the Hutterities, the Mormons and the Kainai people have lived in the same community for 100 years without mixing much with each other. My story(ies) will be episodic and told over the 8 months you are here. The last roomer who left here said from what he had seen in the five years he lived with us, he would join the Mormon church. He said that the trouble with joining is that he doesn’t believe in God, the one essential belief the Mormons have.  He doesn't think the Mormons would have him. He said he had never seen such a fine religious community and he could see it would be a good place to be.

I told him he was right. He couldn’t join. Not golden.

Phillipp: I guess we can start with the five minute version from Kelvin.

Arta: I will set the timer.

(I set the timer and tell Philipp that we can both continue eating while Kelvin talks. Kelvin begns a story whose beginnings are in 1805 when Joseph Smith was born. Philip doesn’t eat. He just listens. When the buzzer rings Kelvin is at the point of Moroni coming to see Joseph Smith. I give Kelvin 5 more minutes. Philipp is interested.)

Thomas, Rebecca, Ryan and Catie
... helping out on the National Day of Service ...

If I had begun to tell the story, I might have taken Philipp to the website Catherine sent to me ... the one that describes what the Mormons were doing during Canada’s National Day of Service. I told Philipp yesterday and I tell him again today, Mormons can organize for giving service and helping in disasters in amazing ways.


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