An article from yesterday’s Mormon Times discusses attending church and otherwise observing the Sabbath while traveling or on vacation. This is an interesting topic to me because I’m pretty bad at observing the Sabbath while traveling, and I feel conflicted about it.
The article tells the stories of people who have been quite diligent in their church-going duties when traveling, and have been the better for it with enriching and interesting experiences. (I won’t recount them, but do check out the article.) The times when I’ve attended church while traveling have been positive for me as well.
A couple years ago I was in Philadelphia on a business trip, and my stay was over a Sunday. I looked up a nearby ward online and managed to not get lost. It seemed like a nice ward, and it was nice to see new faces than those I see each Sunday in my own ward. I remember Relief Society in particular, though. They invited visitors to introduce themselves, and there were about 5 or 6 of us. Aside from me, they were all investigators. Then they welcomed two people who had just been baptized. It was wonderful! I don’t remember the topic of the lesson, but I do remember the Spirit in that room, and I remember feeling uplifted by the events.
To be honest, that’s the only time when traveling alone (and I travel alone frequently) I’ve made it to church. Multiple times I’ve made plans and printed out directions and times, but chickened out at the last minute. I am terribly self-conscious, and visitors stand out and are noticed. The anxiety wins, and I don’t go. I always regret it. Hopping on a plane and flying across the ocean to spend 3 weeks traveling in a foreign country alone? Fun! But then step alone into a church building? The horror! Believe me, I recognize the incongruence and stupidity of it all. I’m working on it!
When traveling with family, I’ve been better. Last year we stopped for a couple days in Yellowstone on our way up to Canada. While we spend the Sabbath not really observing the Sabbath (though I can’t think of a more wonderful way to spend a Sunday than seeing being in such a beautiful place), we did attend an evening sacrament meeting, which ended up being wonderful. It was a testimony meeting, and an investigator got up to share his testimony (though he did not use that term). He spoke for at least 10 minutes, and every minute was worth it. I wish all testimonies could be that amazing.
One area where I feel particular regret is when traveling with friends. My friends tend to not be LDS, so if we’re traveling together, church doesn’t even get mentioned as we make our plans, and I don’t speak up. A couple times I’ve wished I said, “Hey, I want to go to this church on Sunday morning. You’re welcome to come with me, or we can meet up in the afternoon.” Or something like that. How painless. How simple.
I will do better.