Suggestions for expatriate Mormons

I don’t know of any Americans planning to move into my ward soon. If there were any, I wish they would understand a few things from the outset. (If you’re contemplating a foreign assignment in an industrial nation, some of this might apply to your situation as well.)

Learn the language. You’ll have to hold a calling whether you know the language or not, but you can be much more effective if you do know it. It’s surprising how much you can accomplish with just a smile and personal warmth, but you can accomplish even more with a smile and personal warmth and a minimal working vocabulary. If you require translation in every meeting you attend for the next five years, you will be a burden on the ward, and some people will eventually resent it. The support group members of your ward provide you, and their knowledge of local conditions, are invaluable. You will end up in their debt in more ways than you can count.

You know all those things you used to say about Utah Mormons? That’s more or less how the rest of the world sometimes feels about American Mormons. Don’t reinforce stereotypes.

The two gentlemen at each other’s throats every week in priesthood meeting are probably cousins. Be everyone’s friend.

As an American, you’ve been able to enjoy all the blessings of church membership for your entire life up to now. You’ve had access to functioning ward organizations and church programs, Mormon role models in every field, and easy access to Mormon historical sites that people in your new ward can only dream of. Now it’s time to give something back. I’ll be very irritated if you decide to take a vacation from church for the duration of your stay. Not only will you be failing to do your part, but the rest of the ward will have to invest their limited time and energy in getting you to come to church.

Perhaps you will be able to attend an English-language ward. It may come as a surprise, but even international wards are part of a regional organization known as a “stake.” Although they may not speak English, people from other wards in your “stake” will regularly invite your children and teenagers to participate in age-appropriate activities, and they may even be a bit irked if no one from your American ward attends, or if all the Americans keep to themselves the whole time.

Not all the hymns in our green hymnbook have identical counterparts in the American green hymnbook. Please don’t ever complain about this.

You know how missionaries are forbidden from engaging in political discussions? It’s a pretty good idea for you, too. Put up a mental wall between church and state. The way things work in Wichita is great for Wichita, but you are not in Kansas anymore. Different does not mean evil.

Church doctrine is the same around the world, but practices can slip a bit. If you’re tempted to point out that women shouldn’t be called as Sunday School presidents, or that the solemn procession bearing the instruments of the sacrament from the chapel is unnecessary, or that holding a Christmas social after church on Sunday would not have been approved in your previous stake, you might want to reconsider. Wait for something important before you make a fuss. (One of the more difficult things to do in a foreign language is to disagree. You can’t raise a fuss if you don’t know the language.)

Did I mention that you really need to learn the language?

71 comments for “Suggestions for expatriate Mormons

  1. Alan Jackson
    August 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Most of these suggestions could equally apply to those of us in the US and our own wards. Being more pleasant and agreeable and less contentious is something we should all work on.

    I enjoyed these suggestions.

  2. Adam Greenwood
    August 14, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    You know how missionaries are forbidden from engaging in political discussions? It’s a pretty good idea for you, too. Put up a mental wall between church and state. The way things work in Wichita is great for Wichita, but you are not in Kansas anymore. Different does not mean evil.

    Boy, is that a two-way street.

  3. JAT
    August 14, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Jonathan Green,
    Excellent post.
    Amen. Amen. Amen. I’m glad someone is saying it.

    Although I’ve since returned home from living in Europe (for work) I’d like to chime in:

    *Have you ever walked past a group of people speaking a foreign language and noticed them laughing or joking? It makes everyone feel horribly self conscious. And, how do you feel when you hear people speak intentionally in another language around you in serious whispered tones, looking over their shoulders at you? Doesn’t that make you feel nervous? Foreign cliques make everyone uncomfortable, even though 99.999% of the time it is just our egocentric selves supposing erroneously that the discussion is ALL about us, when it really ISN’T. Nonetheless, be aware of the phenomenon. Don’t contribute to it and make others feel uncomfortable at church.

    *Never say anything in English you wouldn’t say in the language.

    *Almost all basic language courses and texts are the same, no matter which language one is studying. Most English textbooks overseas are pretty much all the same too. Try reading some of them, it will help you communicate with the natives until you start speaking their language better. If you are communicating with a low or medium English proficiency person sincerely use English 101 phrases like “Hello, my name is . . .” “good morning”, “How are you?” w/o speaking down to them. I’ve found that speaking at a lower level really helps people who are nervous with their English skills. It gives them a lot of confidence and everyone walks away happy.

    *Don’t go around as a walking dictionary, constantly defining American slang, traditions, or food. Must it always be about you?

    *Often, church teachers will try to include English speakers by having them read scripture versus in English, while everyone else reads silently along in their own language. If your ward does this in an effort to reach out to you, be prayerful about it and when you read, prayerfully concentrate on the meaning of the scripture, not just spitting the words out. Speak clearly and appropriately and you’d be surprised at how the gift of tongues is also very much associated with feelings and efforts. If you are in a place with a fairly phonetic alphabet and language, you can start reading non-English scriptures after a short while, then refer to your English combos yourself.

    *If you are a rich business person, consider hiring out some translation work for yourself to help the ward, or asking your tutor for additional help to communicate with the ward.

    *Missionaries are often better translators than the natives b/c they shift in and out more often (so you’re not overworking the ward members), they have to translate all day anyway, and they usually envy the job as it gives them more practice.

  4. Frank McIntyre
    August 14, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    “The way things work in Wichita is great for Wichita”

    Jonathan, I am going to call you out on this. I don’t think you have ever actually attended Church in Wichita.

    By the way, what is the weekly attendance in your ward/branch?

  5. Norbert
    August 14, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    This is good advice, especially about pointing out regional differences in practice. I agree about learning the language, but at the same time it is my belief that anyone anywhere should be allowed to pray in the language of their choice.

    It’s late, but may I add a few more?

    Only start sentences with ‘Back in the States we…’ when specifically and directly asked what you did back in the states, and maybe not even then.

    Don’t constantly make reference to how that culture has impacted the culture of the American church or American culture, as if that was the standard by which cultures or ‘branches’ of the international church should be judged.

    Perhaps especially for men: call it football, and if you don’t like it, learn to, pretend to or keep your yap shut.

  6. Adam Greenwood
    August 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    call it football, and if you don’t like it, learn to, pretend to or keep your yap shut.

    That’s asking too much. We’re expatriates, not supermen.

  7. Mathew
    August 14, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Also, if you are an expatriate Mormon:

    1) resist being pedantic and lecturing others;

    2) avoid feelings of superiority if possible;

    3) leave all soap boxes in America.

  8. Mathew
    August 14, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Wait–if my suggestions in #7 are followed then this post, yea, the entire bloggernacle, would not exist–at least not overseas.

  9. Jonathan Green
    August 14, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Adam, that’s a good point about two way streets. Can you expand a bit?

    Frank, it is true: I have never been to Wichita. Russell claims that the city has many positive qualities, but I cannot personally confirm that everything about Wichita is not actually a violation of all that is good and true in the world. Also, 100 +/- 10 or so, to answer your last question.

    Norbert, Mathew, JAT, those are excellent suggestions, especially about language issues. There’s nothing that attracts insecurity and resentment as quickly as language differences. And Alan, it certainly is true a lot of this applies to places in the US as well.

  10. Naismith
    August 14, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Another thing I found helpful when we lived in Brasil was bringing along a small photo album. The first page was a map of the US with our state highlighted, the second was a map of our state with our town highlighted. Then we included everyday pictures of our house, street, car, church, kids’ schools, etc. One photo showed my husband riding a bicycle to work.

    This turned out to be very important because until they got to know us, I never heard anyone use the word “americano” without the adjective “rico.” From television and movies, they thought all Americans were rich. It was an eye-opener for them to realize that we had lived modestly in the states (even ate beans and rice!) and did our laundry by hand when we lived in Brasil.

    Say, do any expats live in Taichung, Taiwan? We’ll be there in November over a Sunday, and I’m having a hard time finding a start time or phone number for the English branch.

  11. August 14, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    The rest of the world doesn’t seem to need these reminders. We have so many international members in our ward for a few weeks or a few months, and I don’t recall any of them trespassing on these commonsense rules. Well, once in a great while, somebody will apologize for nervousness by saying that they aren’t used to speaking before such a large class or ward, but in that case it’s endearing.

    We have a new sister from Spain who this past Sunday recited what was obviously a carefully rehearsed short speech about who she was and where she and her husband lived, and who seemed relieved to get through it all in English. You could tell by the rush of breath when she finished that all of us had been holding our breath in that way we do when we’re trying to help someone get through something difficult, followed by all the smiles and approving clucks and other accepting noises that groups of LDS women make when we’re figuratively embracing someone. That effort on her part brought her right into our ranks. I wonder if I would be prepared to make the same self-introduction if I were to go abroad?

  12. Adam Greenwood
    August 14, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Adam, that’s a good point about two way streets. Can you expand a bit?

    Neither expatriate American Mormons nor Mormons from other places should use each other as an occasion to vent spleen about each other’s countries.

  13. Frank McIntyre
    August 14, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    JG: Cowtown and Joyland. Not to be missed.

  14. Mathew
    August 14, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    “The rest of the world doesn’t seem to need these reminders.”

    Seriously? That’s been your experience? Come to my ward. We provide simultaneous translation of the meeting b/c a large portion of the congregation speaks only Spanish even after living for years in the states. Lots of people fail to acquire basic proficiency in the dominant language of the place they live–whether it’s German, English or Xhosa–for lots of different reasons. It has not been my experience that non-Americans are immune from social gaffes, easily blend with the dominant culture or necessarily learn the language of their host country.

  15. Chris Laurence
    August 14, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Don’t try to give them your standard of living, or assume that they are unhappy with their way of living. Whereever you are, their culture has probably survived much longer than your own, on much less money.

  16. mmiles
    August 14, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    “followed by all the smiles and approving clucks and other accepting noises that groups of LDS women make when we’re figuratively embracing someone.”

    Ardis, that was very poetic.

  17. August 14, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Excellent suggestions. I wonder, however, if these suggestions would be different if someone were going to Bangalore instead of Germany. Of course, some of them are just common sense and apply to anywhere one goes, even in the States, but not all international assignments are equal.

  18. August 14, 2007 at 6:49 pm


    One of my good friends spent some time in Germany two years ago.

    He says he never intended to discuss politics at all. He fully intended to “keep his yap shut.”

    Unfortunately, the German people had other ideas and were actually rather ruthless in demanding that he give his opinion on such topics as “why on earth do you eat white bread? It’s so stupid!” to “how can Americans support that horrible man George Bush?” They were blunt, they were opinionated, and they were insistent.

    They also apparently, didn’t take it too well when you tried to avoid the subject. Maybe they felt it was dishonest or something… I don’t know.

    The avoid politics advice only works if the natives are willing to play ball.

  19. August 14, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Yeah, Mathew, that’s been my experience. Although we sometimes hunt up someone with a particular language skill for a short-term need, our ward doesn’t have any call to do simultaneous translations of our services into Spanish (either European or Central American), Dutch, German, French, Czech, Tagalog, or any of the African languages that are or have been represented in our ward in the last few years. We do regularly get a few words from a former Eastern-bloc member who thinks we may not appreciate western democracy as well as we should, and we’ve endured the occasional testimony to the holiness of Bush and the American military, but politics doesn’t intrude into our meetings any more often than language problems do.

    The difference may be due to sheer numbers of a particular linguistic group. Your ward more nearly corresponds to the English-language ward ghettos Jonathan speaks of, while mine parallels the isolated American expat in a local ward model.

  20. August 14, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    TT, almost all of these suggestions unquestionably apply anywhere in the world, from Germany to Bangalore. I’d add a few though if you’re an expat in a country with no formal church organization.

    1. Learn about the local church sitaution BEFORE you move. This will involve some work on your part because there are few people to ask about going to church in say, Urumqi, China. Even if all the websites say there aren’t members or meeting in a given country, it’s likely that there are. I will never forget how disappointed we were to learn that a member had been living in our city for several months, but because he assumed there were no other members there, he didn’t ever ask. The Area Office has this information.

    2. Be especially sensitive to local members, if any, and the current laws and church regulations regarding your interactions with those members. You may not care if you’re kicked out of the country, but the locals might not like going to prison. And if the Area restricts your activities even further than local law demands, do what the Area says.

    3. If there are local members whom you can have church meetings with, make every effort to do so. If you can’t meet with any other members for church, still make it a point to uplift each other in any way possible. Don’t focus on the expat members. We all need each other’s support. And if you are quite literally the only members, expat or local, in the country, focus on your family and teaching the gospel in very quiet ways.

    4. If anything, learning the language is even more important when there are only a few members in the country and no missionaries.

  21. tj
    August 14, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    or when people from out west tell us how the True Church works in utah.
    as my wife says “just because we talk different dosent mean we are stupid”

  22. queuno
    August 14, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Call it football, and if you don’t like it, learn to, pretend to or keep your yap shut.

    Unless of course, you happen to be in Ireland, or (sometimes) Australia. Soccer/USA = Soccer/Ireland.

  23. Jon in Austin
    August 15, 2007 at 12:32 am

    Not all the hymns in our green hymnbook have identical counterparts in the American green hymnbook. Please don’t ever complain about this.

    Very true. In addition some brasileiros still resent the fact that their national anthem was removed from the latest Portuguese hymnal (due to copyright restrictions I believe).

  24. Non-Winter Meat Eater
    August 15, 2007 at 12:44 am

    A couple years ago I had a conversation with a German young man who was vacationing in San Diego. After only a few minutes of conversation he proceeded to give me an unsolicited lecture about the Germans’ moral superiority because “Germans learned in World War II that war is not the answer.”

    My response: “That’s interesting, because in WWII we learned exactly the opposite lesson. We learned that sometimes military force is the only way to rid the Earth of a dangerous dictator.”

    His response: “Good point.”

    In my experience, Ugly Americans aren’t the only ones who need help with some common-sense social graces when they’re visiting foreign countries.

  25. August 15, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Re Naismith #10:

    Looks like a 1:30 pm start for the Taichung English services …

    WuQuan 2nd Branch (English Service)
    #498-30 WuQuan Rd., North District, Taichung
    Tel: 04-2526-0852
    Tel: 04-2223-6362

    I don’t know if this Chinese address for the chapel will display correctly on your machine, but here it is:


    If you have any difficulty, email me at jason at echols dot info and I’ll give you a mobile number you’re welcome to call while you’re in Taiwan in case of any problems finding what you’re looking for.

  26. Peter LLC
    August 15, 2007 at 2:04 am

    All I can say is that Vienna can thank its international ward to a nice fellow who preferred not to learn the local language and worship in his mother tongue.

  27. Jonathan Green
    August 15, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Oh man, Adam, I could tell stories, but I’m afraid it would involve venting spleen. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told that America has no culinary culture, I’d be…well, about fifteen cents richer than I am now. But still.

    Thanks for all the suggestions about experience outside the industrialized world. I try to confine my comments to things I can pretend to know the first thing about without blushing, so I’m relying on those with experience to supply the appropriate suggestions.

    Seth R., here’s International Political Understanding 201 (“When Silence is not Enough”): Fake agreement. Pretend to belong to the fraction of Americans that agrees with the majority of the host country population. If you can’t overtly agree, expressions of sympathy and understanding will often be misinterpreted as such by those who would are looking more for agreement than for an exchange of differing opinion.

  28. Kyle R
    August 15, 2007 at 4:29 am

    The English are just as bad. Can’t be bothered to learn European languages because, well, because English has conquered the world “innit”. When we go on holiday to Europe we bypass the culture, eat the same rubbish food we’d eat here in England, head straight for the nightclubs, insult the locals, get drunk and throw up in meditteranean streets. Then we come back here and complain about the Europeans.

  29. Rick
    August 15, 2007 at 6:09 am

    In my (albeit limited) experience, self-deprecating humor can go a long way as well. Also, it seems to really help to mention the things you like about the country. Of course there are things you don’t like, but the natives probably don’t like those things either. People like to be reminded of the nice things in their country.

    I think you are right to emphasize the importance of the language though … if you speak the language well enough, you can get away with quite a lot.

  30. August 15, 2007 at 9:02 am

    The Ensign just accepted my article on living as a church member overseas. Original text here:

    I\’d also add that one should resist the temptation to be the \”expert\” Mormon in the ward – members where the Church is fairly new tend to view Americans that way.

  31. Adam Greenwood
    August 15, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Seth R., here’s International Political Understanding 201 (”When Silence is not Enough”): Fake agreement. Pretend to belong to the fraction of Americans that agrees with the majority of the host country population. If you can’t overtly agree, expressions of sympathy and understanding will often be misinterpreted as such by those who would are looking more for agreement than for an exchange of differing opinion.

    I don’t actually think that gospel brotherhood requires faking political agreement, though certainly expressions of sympathy and understanding that conceal disagreement are often in order. I got pretty good at that in my mission.

  32. queuno
    August 15, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Here’s the course of action when you visit other countries and people ask you where you’re from (in the “where do you live?” sense), and you reply, “Texas”.

    (Count to 2).

    (Listen to the rants as to how evil George Bush is.)


  33. CW
    August 15, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Learning the language is very important, but it’s just as important to understand the cultural differences. When we first moved to Norway, I thought the church members either hated Americans or hated me, because they ignored me — even the bishop turned his head away when we passed in the hallway. I later learned that that was just the Norwegian way of giving people space. What I perceived as unfriendliness was just a cultural reserve, though with some of the older members it was also a reluctance to be put on the spot with their limited English skills and my nonexistent Norwegian facility. When I had been there for a while and learned the language (though to a limited extent), they warmed up and accepted me and would at least smile at my greeting. Now we live in Nigeria and the people speak English (though with an accent that’s often difficult to understand), there is a huge cultural gulf between my life and the hardships most of the ward members face each day. They do tend to regard the Americans as church experts — rightly or wrongly, and they want to honor us. Last week at our Lagos Stake conference they had a row in the front reserved for “visitors.” We reassured them that we were not visiting, we were members of the stake and we would take the available seats near the back of the hall (though we arrived 40 minutes before the meeting started). They insisted that we take the seats in the “white” “honored guest” section up near the front. They want to do things right (the way things are done in Utah, in their minds). I haven’t noticed any big things that should be addressed (though I have heard of things happening in other places in Africa — like unbaptized men or women passing the sacrament…), so I usually just reassure them that they are doing just fine when they look to me for guidance or approval. Americans can learn a lot from Nigerians in the way they bear their testimonies and the way they sing the hymns.

  34. August 15, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Much of this advice would also be valuable for departing missionaries.

  35. August 15, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    JG (27),
    And, fwiw, anyone telling you America has no culinary culture (or that it’s hamburgers) has never been to America. Have them look at the menu at Home restaurant,, an expressly “American” restaurant. (I actually avoided it the first time I walked by, having the same thought about American cuisine, and went to a horrible Mexican place in Greenwich Village instead. New York has great food, but it can’t do Mexican.)

    And, fwiw, New York and the D.C. Metro Area do French way better than, well, Belgium, at any rate.

  36. Geoff B
    August 15, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    As much as I hate to admit it, Jonathan Green’s #27 is correct. When I lived in Brazil (during the Iraq invasion, btw) I got assaulted on a daily basis by America-haters. I could have spent my life arguing with them, or I could have simply smiled and tried to change the subject and/or agreed with them. I mostly did the latter. Given our current international political environment, it’s probably best not to get into contentious political talks with fellow Saints while in their countries.

    Having said that, there are times for one-on-one talks where you can be more honest. If they really want to know your opinion, and are not just looking for somebody to vent their spleens at, then you can sit down and chat and give your honest take on the issues. But I feel you have to be careful about being contentious.

  37. JAT
    August 15, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    And . . .
    Think about what the implications of having ward members and/or activities at your house/apartment might be. If you’ve upgraded your place to be palatial in comparison to the natives, you might not want to flaunt that. Native ward members often have a lot of curiosity about how you live and what your home habitat is like. My places were never anything to shout about (as compared to the natives’ homes), and (in the cultures I lived in) this helped me to be accepted.

    ALSO . . .
    Seriously consider the economic LONG-TERM ramifications for the church, other members, and the natives when you hire “staff” (ie cooks, laundry people, language tutors, drivers, cleaning people, gardeners, etc. etc. etc.) What will happen when you go home? Is this the pattern for American church members and should it be? It is sad that we rush in without considering how this work is contributing OR detracting from educational goals and other business or work goals which might be more beneficial to the person and to the local community. Can you iron your own dang shirts? In some places, the church (missionaries, mission offices, area offices, LDS Americans, etc.) cumulatively are the largest employers for the ward. In former soviet countries, this has created a post-perestroika crutch. Don’t think this doesn’t have any effect on memberships either– the money ax swings both ways. I’ll be the first person to help those around me with work if I can. However, down the road, I don’t want to cause more harm than good and thinking about these things beforehand is crucial.

  38. Rose Green
    August 16, 2007 at 2:43 am

    For me the political issue goes a little deeper than Bush-hating (or loving, if you’re a pro-Bush person). The issue is the inability to separate political philosophy from the gospel. You might think that medicaid is evil and therefore against the gospel, but someone in Sweden might think that dumping people on their own to pay for medical care constitutes unrighteously grinding the faces of the poor. The righteousness (or not) of certain political actions are often seen through not just a political, but also a religious filter. When you are of one persuasion, living among people of another, it becomes all the more important to separate church and state in your head. Vote with your political head, and focus on the religious principles you hold in common while at church. And don’t automatically assume that if other people see different solutions to a common problem it’s because their choices are less righteous. It’s an attitude I see more often than I’d like when talking to Americans visiting our ward from the States. It comes across as arrogant, especially because the people’s political convictions are often so mentally bound up with their church membership. Which is interesting, since for the most part the church teaches principles, then encourages the members to make their best political decisions on their own.

    The same thing goes for cultural customs, of course, but they aren’t as incendiary as political ideas.

  39. Kyle R
    August 16, 2007 at 3:40 am

    #38 I have friends who work in development in Africa and they say one of the biggest issues viz. America abroad is the conditioning of AIDS funding in Africa on abstinence programmes. A case where government action and religious principles have not been separated. This attitude creates fury in development workers here, and of course does nothing to halt the spread of AIDS. The suffering, death and huge numbers of now parentless orphans resulting from the policy put at odds the ‘ethical’ as opposed to ‘puritanical’ sides of American christianity.

    Mixing religious and political attitudes is most unwise.

    Regarding the LDS church. It is perceived in the UK as being a Republican Monolith. When I told a friend I was interested in Mormonism she went a-googling it and said it seemed ‘strange but okay’ until she learned that Cheney had been invited to speak at BYU commencement, and that protest had been very strongly discourged.

    “So much for political neutrality,” she said.

  40. Jonathan Green
    August 16, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Kyle R, that’s why Harry Reid, Democratic majority leader in the U.S. senate, is the greatest blessing that the church’s international PR departments could hope for.

  41. Kyle R
    August 16, 2007 at 7:48 am

    #40 I’m not familiar with Harry Reid, other than his name and position, so not sure what you mean Jonathan.

  42. August 16, 2007 at 8:06 am

    “holding a Christmas social after church on Sunday would not have been approved in your previous stake” but did get an approving article in a Church publication …

  43. Kyle R
    August 16, 2007 at 8:06 am

    #40 ….unless it’s simply his being a Democrat. In which case, yes, a good example.

  44. Jonathan Green
    August 16, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Kyle R, what I meant was that when friends state or imply that the church is a Republican monolith, it’s convenient to be able to point to Harry Reid as the leading Democrat in the Senate, or in the legislative branch of the US government, or in our local galactic supercluster…just pick the one that will sound most impressive.

  45. Kyle R
    August 16, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Galactic supercluster sounds very good.

  46. bbell
    August 16, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I think that good people skills and politeness could sum this whole thread up.

    The sword cuts both ways after all. We have a Dutch family in our area who we see at the local parks all the time. The mom is full of comments about how bad the US is and how Texans are crazy. She is not exactly winning friends by doing this. Same with an LDS Expat that makes similar types of comments.

  47. Adam Greenwood
    August 16, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Maybe we should replace our sidebar motto:
    Quite possibly the most X but X onymous Mormon group blog in the galactic supercluster.

  48. James
    August 16, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Just a few observations about living overseas. From my perspective having served a mission in SE Asia.

    1. If you\’re not the Bishop/Branch President/Stake President/District President don\’t worry about things you see that don\’t line up with your understanding of the Church Handbook of Instructions. No one needs the added stress. If you are, read it again, you might be surprised at where it\’s flexible.

    2. If your ward or branch seems to have \’different\’ customs, relax. Every ward has it\’s quirks. Just consider how many ways there are to organize the deacons et al. to pass the sacrament.

    3. I would avoid political discussions at church like the plague.

    4. Language: good jokes don\’t translate. You need to have at least a basic understanding of the language to really get the most of your experience.

  49. Rike
    August 16, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Well let’s be careful of being too egalitarian on cultural issues and or not saying anything about politics when living abroad.

  50. queuno
    August 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    When I told a friend I was interested in Mormonism she went a-googling it and said it seemed ’strange but okay’ until she learned that Cheney had been invited to speak at BYU commencement, and that protest had been very strongly discourged.

    “So much for political neutrality,” she said.

    Glad to see accuracy of the press is alive and well on your side of the pond, as well…

  51. queuno
    August 16, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    1. If you\’re not the Bishop/Branch President/Stake President/District President don\’t worry about things you see that don\’t line up with your understanding of the Church Handbook of Instructions. No one needs the added stress. If you are, read it again, you might be surprised at where it\’s flexible.

    I generally believe this, but I think there are limits. Certain Church policies should not be allowed to be violated, in the name of “flexibility” or “convenience” (detailing examples I’ve seen and heard of would be a threadjack, so I’ll leave it at this).

  52. Jonathan Green
    August 17, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Queuno, I agree that there are limits. Where would you draw the line? I put it somewhere between “misguided but harmless” and “strange and dangerous.” All deacons have to wear blue shirts and khakis? Whatever. Polygamy will be restored, starting next Saturday at noon, everyone is invited to the reception? That’s when I dial the stake president.

    We’ve reached 50 comments, so feel free to introduce some specific examples.

  53. Kyle R
    August 17, 2007 at 3:27 am

    #50 Queno, as much as I like the breadth of mind on T&S, I’m becoming convinced that there is a very ferocious ‘discouragement of disagreement’ system in place within the church at a large. The fact that a university run by The Church of Jesus Christ could invite a man like Cheney to its commencement beggars belief. (Even though, come to think of it, there is something about his look that’s very Quorom of the Twelvish). That anything but the most timid, harmless protest was clamped down on is all too easy to believe, and I don’t think that’s simply the press on this side of the pond..

  54. Kyle R
    August 17, 2007 at 3:34 am

    #47 “Quite possibly the most malingering but meliorist onymous Mormon Group blog in the galactic supercluster.”

  55. Adam Greenwood
    August 17, 2007 at 9:58 am

    #50, so, Kyle R., you think the Church should do more to encourage open debate and discussion by not inviting Cheney?

  56. Kyle R
    August 17, 2007 at 10:38 am

    #55 I think being the church of Jesus Christ and inviting an oil-grabbing warmonger to tea are at odds with each other. On the debate issue, if BYU are going to invite him (for his VP status it seems) then why make meaningful protest so impossible. Why make it so taboo at a university where taboo has special power? The ‘groupthink’ clamping down on the alternate commencement that students tried to organise in the Provo area shocks me.

  57. JAT
    August 17, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    #55, aren’t you confusing that honor with something like a guest lecture symposium (w/ Q&A periods), colloquium or something of THAT sort?

  58. JAT
    August 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Sorry for jumping around in this thread,
    But going back to my post in #38, I’d like to add that if you have extra spare change, invest in microcredit or (preferably) microgrants instead of personal servants.

  59. Jonathan Green
    August 17, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Um, I’m ready for a threadjack, but could it be a different threadjack?

  60. Kyle R
    August 17, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    #58 microcredit is the way to go

    #59 I’ll surrender the hostages if you get me a fully fuelled helicopter loaded with marzipan

  61. Adam Greenwood
    August 17, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I’m shocked, Jonathan Green, that you won’t want an oil-grabbing powermonger like me to jack your thread.

  62. Kyle R
    August 17, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    oil-grabbing warmonger

    we all mong power

  63. meems
    August 18, 2007 at 4:01 am

    This is my first comment from my new home here in Saudi Arabia. How timely a post for me.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that just about every other site in the Bloggernacle, including the archipeligo and LDSelect is BLOCKED. Times and Seasons is the only one I can access. What does it all mean?

  64. Adam Greenwood
    August 18, 2007 at 8:42 am

    We are haram?

  65. August 18, 2007 at 8:45 am

    I’ve noticed the same thing when in China. I suspect Murdoch’s somehow involved, but Rupert doesn’t return my calls these days, so who knows?

  66. Murray
    August 18, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Many wards here in Australia have American families living within the boundaries. They are usually a great blessing to the ward. One American sister who served as Primary President once commented to me that she never would have received such a calling if she stayed in the States. The opportunities to serve outside the US, and Utah in particular, can sometimes be greater. Come prepared to serve!

  67. August 20, 2007 at 2:24 am

    So, I go to and click on and proceed to Register and I’m filling in the required fields, and get to the drop-down menu for selecting my country, when I notice that someone has tacked “Province of China” onto the end of “Taiwan” …

    I’m just curious who got the contract to program the site … Hu Jintao?

  68. August 20, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you, T&S, for allowing me to vent here. I apologize for the threadjack and for being such a crank.

    A little history …

    We went through a similar situation a couple years ago with Google:

    Google Says Taiwan is Now “Taiwan” NOT “Taiwan, Province of China”

    But Google’s course correction only came about after some pretty loud complaining:

    Taiwan NOT a province of China, TSU tells Google

    So, I complain. And hope to see that demeaning “Province of China” removed from Taiwan’s country name at And thank again all who have helped my tiresome, poorly thought-out online campaign by not blocking or deleting my comments on this subject.

  69. meems
    August 21, 2007 at 4:01 am

    Adam, I think T&S is Halal, and the others are Haram. Is that right?

  70. August 22, 2007 at 8:17 am


    I don’t know the ins and outs of Riyadh’s firewall, but you might try accessing the bloggernacle through a site like:

    I’m not in China at the moment, so I can’t test Stupid Censorship’s efficacy in getting around the ‘Great Firewall’, but perhaps it might work in your case.

  71. meems
    August 30, 2007 at 2:00 am

    Ha ha!! is BLOCKED! What a surprise!

Comments are closed.