While visiting the Chicago area for work, I decided to look up the nearest LDS ward, and attend Sunday Services with them. The church has a nice web site that lets you find the nearest ward or branch in whatever location you might find yourself in, pretty much anywhere in the world!. I plugged in the address of the hotel I was staying in, and then they tell you the ward that covers that area, and what time their meetings are held. You can also print out a map with directions of how to get there from your location. Cool!
It turns out that I was in the boundaries of the Arlington Heights 2nd ward. They met at 11:00 am, which gave me some time to find the chapel. After a few false starts (this wouldn't be the first time I would miss having my "navigator" -- my wife -- on this trip) I was able to find the chapel.
I really enjoyed the meetings there. In Sacrament meeting, a couple spoke. He had been a police officer for more than 30 years in Des Plaines, Illinois. Des Plaines is an adjoining town to Arlington Heights in the Chicago suburbs. They spoke of their lives before being members of the church. They belonged to a protestant congregation. Their two daughters participated in the youth programs. They were very active in their church.
Eventually one of their daughters began dating an LDS boy. After a while, he invited her to church. She developed an interest in the church, and asked for permission to attend with him. Eventually the relationship with the boy dissipated, but surprisingly their daughter's interest in the church did not. Eventually the mother decided see what this church was all about, so she attended with her daughter. Right away, she felt at home.
They invited the missionaries to come to their home. The daughter was baptized. The mother wanted to be baptized, but chose to wait until her husband was ready to join with her. A couple of years later, he was ready, and the couple was baptized together. Their older daughter went on to attend BYU, eventually married a member of the church. They now have 4 grandsons, two of which have served missions. The other daughter attended BYU for a couple of semesters too. However, she has never joined the church up to this point in time.
The sacrament meeting talks were moving and touching. It's a story I will not soon forget.
The rest of the meetings were interesting too. The Gospel Doctrine teacher was a former member of the Chicago Temple Presidency. He taught a great lesson. The instructor in priesthood meeting was also an institute instructor in the area. There was one fellow that I sat next to in priesthood meeting , who had just moved there from Midvale, Utah. I could tell he was a little homesick. His wife's family was in the Chicago area, and they had moved back to be with them. He was eager to hear the news from the Salt Lake Valley, and wondered how things were here.
An interesting thing they did there, was to gather together on General Conference Sunday. In-between the sessions, they had a pot-luck dinner at the chapel. What a great idea. I wish we did more that kind of thing here in Utah. They handed out fliers (above) along with the programs for church services that day.
I really enjoyed my visit to the Arlington Heights 2nd ward. I felt right at home there. I'm sure that there are thousands of such wards, the world over, in which I would feel at home too. Ain't it great!