Our children loaded their Sunday clothes and grocery sacks full of dress shoes into our van. We were in our final preparations for our family vacation, and we wanted to make sure we brought our religion along.
Our family trips have taken us many places, including Hawaii and Europe. As we began to formulate our vacation plans as a young family, we realized that to skip our meetings while on vacation might teach our children that we keep the Sabbath day holy only when it is convenient. We also did not want to miss out on the spirit gained through attending church.
We have found that finding the meetinghouse during vacation times has been a relatively easy task. Often the wards are listed in a local telephone directory. An early morning telephone call on a Sunday can usually find a clerk or someone in the building who can tell you the meeting schedule.
Even in places where the Church is relatively new, finding the building and meeting schedule is only a little more difficult. A well-planned itinerary and a check with our bishop is usually enough to help us find meetinghouse addresses ahead of time.
In spite of the seeming inconveniences of packing extra clothes and finding a chapel, we have discovered that attending church away from home can be a rich experience. Our self-confidence has increased with our ability to meet new people and to express love for our brothers and sisters in the gospel. No matter where we have gone, we have felt welcome, even in places where the members did not speak our language. Often they have provided interpreters for us.
We also enjoy seeing the gospel operate in different cultural settings. After a meeting in Hawaii, a young girl who was leaving to attend school on the mainland was called to the front of the chapel. True to Hawaiian tradition, the ward members sang “Aloha Oe” while piling leis around her neck and kissing her cheek. It was a beautiful expression of love, one we would have missed had we not attended church that day.
Attending new wards is a good time to explore new ideas concerning a Church calling. Many times I have sought out the person in the ward we are visiting who holds the same position that I have. We discuss common problems and ways we try to solve them. Sometimes I get new insights into my calling and ways I can magnify it.
Along with attending church, we try to keep our Sabbath days away from home holy. Visiting Church historical sites and visitors’ centers has helped us improve our knowledge of the gospel and Church history. If there are no Church landmarks in the area, we sometimes visit cathedrals and other religious landmarks. We use the time to explore ideas and to learn more about other religions and peoples.
Writing letters or postcards home is another appropriate Sunday activity, as is reading a good book or writing in a journal.
Although your vacation package may not include a trip to a storybook castle or an island paradise, it can include the gospel. We have found that packing our religion and living it while on a vacation is as vital as living it at home. Ardean T. Loertscher, Salt Lake City, Utah