A Fine Fit


Ever wondered what it takes to really fit in? Here are some suggestions from LDS youth in Wales.

It isn’t always easy to feel you fit in. Some people, particularly teenagers, struggle a lot to develop a sense of identity. But in and around Cardiff, Wales, LDS youth have learned a lot about belonging. Here are some of their feelings and experiences.

Saving Wales

It’s rush hour in Cardiff, Wales, yet many of the drivers who pass are smiling and waving.

It could have something to do with the fact that Joanne Roberts, Kristy Thomas, and Bethan Davies are standing in front of a castle, having their photos taken while hundreds of vehicles rush by. But it’s more likely the fact that they’re also holding high a green and white flag, emblazoned with a red dragon—the flag of Wales.

The Welsh love their flag—and make a point of their nationality.

“Saying the Welsh are English is like saying Americans are Canadian,” Kristy explains. “We belong to the United Kingdom, but we don’t lose our identity in it.”

“I’m a very patriotic person,” Bethan says. “Knowing who we are, the history of our country, having our own language, our own flag—those are things worth saving. They give us a sense of belonging.”

“The Articles of Faith and Doctrine and Covenants tell us we should be loyal to our country,” Joanne says. “We’re glad this is where we’re from.”

Finding a Place

Hilary Ashford knows how hard it is for a teenager in Wales to find a job. It took her a long while.

“I was walking in Cardiff one day thinking, ‘I need some money.’” She even said a little prayer. “Then I saw this craft shop, and I just went in and asked them if they had a Saturday job where I could help out.” They took her name and phone number, but never called. “Six weeks later I went back and asked again.” Again, no call. So Hilary went back a third time. “And they said, ‘We’ve been thinking about you. Come Saturday and you can start.’”

Patience and perseverance paid off. That’s part of belonging—creating a place for yourself, helping others get used to having you around. It’s a lesson that would continue.

“They had hot drinks—every few minutes, it seems. There’s a good stock of coffee and tea downstairs,” Hilary explains. “It was only natural that they noticed I was drinking chocolate instead. I got to explain why I couldn’t drink tea and coffee because it’s against my religion. And they were fine about it. I found I can have my standards and fit in just fine.”

A Short Long Distance

Jared Barry travels a lot to and from Church youth activities. “I have to cover 12 miles each way on a Wednesday night, on public transport. I leave the house at half five to be here by half six,” he says. “It’s quite odd sometimes, especially if you’ve had a long day at school or work and then have to catch one bus home, then catch another bus back out quick.

“People outside the Church can’t understand what you’re on about, but the distance isn’t far when you think of what you gain: feeling the Spirit, seeing my brothers and sisters in the gospel, meeting new friends. If you want to feel you belong somewhere, this is the place to feel it.”

Jared comes from a large family—his parents only have three children, but they are physically large. The oldest brother, James, gave up a rugby career to serve a full-time mission in London (see “Between Seasons,” New Era, Nov. 1992, p. 30). Jared, like his older brother, has the size to be a natural on the pitch (playing field).

But he’ll soon be facing the same decision about serving a mission, and he knows the mission is the right choice. “It’s where I belong,” he states, matter-of-factly. “And I’ll go where the prophet calls me to go.” For Jared, any distance seems short when it leads to serving the Lord.

Part of a Family

Alex Winters spends a lot of time with—believe it or not—his younger brother Gareth. And it’s more than just putting up with each other.

“We have a grand time,” Alex says. “We’re not just brothers; we’re friends.”

You may find them playing a game together, talking about schoolwork, going places with their parents or sisters.

It’s a sense of belonging that has built a great confidence in Alex. “I know my family loves me,” he says, “and with the gospel, that means it’s a relationship that can last forever.”

True Belonging

Others share similar feelings. Stuart Nunn talks about getting his patriarchal blessing. “The Spirit was so great, it was incredible. I knew the Lord knew me and was telling me about myself. I knew that if I’ll stay worthy I belong in his kingdom.”

Emma Roberts and Victoria Hoskins talk about seminary and how it gives them something in common with LDS youth everywhere. “You know that all the seminary students all over the world are studying the same things you are,” Emma says.

Kristy Thomas tells of the strength she finds in the scriptures. “They teach me how important Heavenly Father thinks I am to him,” she says.

And Richard Griffiths says that sometimes you just have to take a stand, even if it hurts. “A lot of my friends drink alcohol fairly heavily and smoke. It could be tough to follow the Word of Wisdom, so I won’t go with them because I know they’ll be getting drunk. It’s hard to keep friends because they make fun of you because you don’t drink. But I know I can always come to the Church and find good friends here.”

Stand by your standards. Give your best effort. Study and live by gospel principles. Willingly sacrifice time. Share your talents and energy. Don’t give in just to be part of the group.

That may sound like the opposite of what some teens do to fit in. But LDS youth in and around Cardiff know that to fit in eternally, you begin by belonging to the kingdom of God here and now.

Rydw i’sniarad Cymraeg

That’s how you say, “I speak Welsh,” in Welsh. Youth in Cardiff and in Merthyr Tydfil, another city with a lot of LDS youth, compiled this list of phrases you might hear them say. Bethan Davies offers this pronunciation guide: “F you pronounce as v, ff you pronounce as f. There’s no k, j, or v. And you just spit when you say everything. That’s pretty Welsh, really.”

Bore da.

Good morning.

P’nawn da.

Good afternoon.

… ydy f’enwi.

My name is …

Rydw i’n byw yn Cymru.

I live in Wales.

Mae Cyfnod Newydd yn cyclchgrawn ardderchog.

The New Era is an excellent magazine.

Gglwys Iesu Crist Saint y Duddiau Diweddol

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Rydw i eisiau priodi yn y Deml.

I want to marry in the temple.

Rydw i’n plentyn o Dduw.

I am a child of God.

Rydw i’n darllen Llyrf y Mormon bob dydd.

I read in the Book of Mormon every day.

Wenglish

English with a Welsh accent

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllsantysiliogogogoch—St. Mary’s Church, in a dell of white hazel trees, near the rapid whirlpool, by the red cave of the Church of St. Tysilio. (This is the longest place-name in Wales.)

[photos] Photography by Richard M. Romney

[photos] Symbols of the country—like coal miners’ lamps, the national flag, and Cardiff Castle behind them—tell only part of the reason why Joanne Roberts, Kristy Thomas, and Bethan Davies are proud to be Welsh.

[photo] Hilary Ashford (above), Jared Barry (top right), and Gareth and Alex Winters (bottom) know that fitting in means making a place for yourself, with the help of family and friends.

[photo] In Merthyr Tydfil, Jeni Jones and Leanne Ingram revise (study) for a Welsh literature exam. Many LDS youth in Wales speak both English and Welsh.

[photo] David Tamlyn (top) would agree with Richard Griffiths (right) that an important part of fitting in is letting your standards be known. Of course food is an important part of any culture. You’ve heard of Welsh rarebit? That’s it above, cheese and eggs on toast.

[photo] For Stuart Nunn (top right), Victoria Hoskins (top left), and Emma Roberts, being LDS means knowing how to find the right direction in life.