Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
As I prepare for yet another move, this time to Pennsylvania, Iím remembering when I first moved here to New Jersey. The very first day I felt welcome and at home. It was the little things that happened over the first month or so that made me feel I did indeed have a new ward family, and that make it so devastating to leave now.
Not everyone can invite someone for dinner or help the new family unload the moving van, but we can all do small acts of kindness that help another ease the loneliness of being new. These are only a few of the kindnesses I recall from my first weeks here. Youíll see how easy it is to make a lasting impact, and I hope it motivates you to try some of these ideas in your own ward on a newcomer, or even a long-time member you donít know well. Not only do I remember these kindnesses, but I remember who did each one, even three years later.
1. When we sat down in Sacrament Meeting, someone immediately walked over and introduced herself. The person who sat in front of us hadnít heard us slip in, but she immediately turned around and introduced herself as well, and then others followed.
2. When I sat alone in Relief Society, a sister came over and said there were a number of sisters on the other side of the room who wanted to meet me, and asked if I would like to join them.
3. After church, someone who reads this column emailed me to ask if I was the new person in the ward. An unexpected connection by someone willing to take a chance and an extra step started a friendship, made me feel like someone already knew me, and caused me to wonder if Iíd written anything in the past I was sorry for now, since Iíd never had anyone I knew read my column.
4. A sister invited me to help her with her part of a ward activity. I never feel like Iím a part of things until someone puts me to work, so I started to feel immediately at home. In addition, the preparation time helped me to get to know her and lead to a lasting friendship.
5. One of the hard parts of moving to a new ward is being lonely, and not being able to go to anyone and ask for a hug. You donít know who the huggers are and no one knows if you are. I still remember the day someone took the chance and gave me my first hug in this ward. She asked if I was a hugger instead of just wondering if I was. The answer, of course, was yes.
6. Someone invited me to make a list of places I wanted to find and she would take me on a tour. I found the essentials, such as grocery stores, libraries, and bookstores, but I also found a friend, another essential.
7. Someone invited me to go do something for no particular reason.
8. Someone called for no particular reason.
9. Someone took some time to tell me the stories of people she thought Iíd like to know. She didnít tell me gossip. She gave me an explanation of what made each person wonderful and special so when I met each of these people, I was prepared to like them. Many of those people went on to become friends