A few weeks ago, our third stretch of self-churching came to an end. We've been holding every Sunday service alone since last June, when the final family in our group left Tashkent for their next post. We had already spent eight months of 2020 self-churching because of covid and a State-department evacuation, so this most recent time wasn't too much trouble. There are some times when having seven children really comes in handy, and when you have to hold church on your own, it's nice to have enough people to sing, play the piano, pass the sacrament, lead the music, bear their testimonies, help out with Primary, and participate in Primary.
I confess that we had gotten pretty comfortable with waking up on Sundays whenever we felt like it, followed by a leisurely breakfast and and equally leisurely preparation for church - which started whenever everyone was ready, whatever time that was. We still held church according to the usual pattern, including all the important parts and with everyone dressed up in their church clothes, but there was a little more casualness to the entire affair than usually occurs when other people are there on Sunday.
If Brandon went long in his lesson, there wasn't anyone to be bothered by it. If Elizabeth got a little restive during our sometimes quite involved discussions, it was okay for her to play on the floor with some toys because she wasn't bothering anyone but us. If our frustration with restive children sometimes turned into impromptu lectures, nobody was there to witness it but the guilty parties.
But it really is better to have church with someone other than the same people we've been seeing all week long, so we were all happy when a long-anticipated new family finally made it to Tashkent. It's been nice to have some other voices to add to ours and other faces to see on Sunday and other views to hear during lessons, even if it means we have to set alarms on Sunday mornings again.
The children are happy to have new friends to play with, especially Kathleen, Sophia, and Eleanor who are enjoying having girls in church after only previously having boys at church. Brandon and I are enjoying having other adults to share teaching duties with, and we're also enjoying getting to know new friends. Our only complaint so far is that they couldn't have arrived earlier to we could enjoy their company longer.
Our next post will be a first in our Foreign Service career - a country where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is officially recognized and allows missionary work. Our church congregation will include local members, something that we've never actually experienced at church before. That will bring its own challenges - not the least of which will be having to use our questionable Russian skills - and new experiences. And as far as we know right now, we'll be the only American family there for a year.
So for now, we're enjoying our comfortable little church congregation that is easily run without too much trouble. Almost everyone has a friend, we all can understand each other, and we can pretty much run it however we like. Sometimes it's nice to be in places like this.