There is a difference between choosing Mormonism as your culture
and choosing Mormonism to be your religion.
I know the
is the true Church here on earth.
I believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God,
as are those that have held that office since.
I know and have experienced the gift of the Atonement
and know Jesus is my brother and has walked before me.
He knows and loves me.
Ok enough of the regilion-side of this post.
Let's get on to the cultural bit.
I grew up a middle-class, Pakeha girl,
techincally I still am.
A product of a two parent, three sibling family with
a quarter acre section in the suburbs.
My dad was an insurance agent,
my mother a surgical nurse.
I went to a primary school where kids came from middle class homes
but also from poverty stricken homes.
There was my nice white neighbourhood ,
then about a kilometre away was the Once Where Warriors neighbourhoods.
But we all went to the same school and
didn't really notice any difference between us.
We were kids, we accepted each other at face value.
As I got older things changed,
my parents marriage got rocky,
Maori and Pakeha kids retreated to their own race,
I went to tennis lessons and swimming training.
I had a rough Maori boyfriend who I never invited home
because I knew he would be so comfortable
but who had me over to his place.
His dad was involved in the gangs,
just one really but you can't really say "involved in gang"
and "a gang" doesn't sound right.
It was all good.
I went to an all girls State school
and then went on my Big OE.
When I was 24 I was baptised into
the Church and have held strong in my membership since.
I get frustrated and overworked at times.
I also get disappointed and annoyed with other members
as I'm sure they do with me.
But it's a forgiving environment and as a rule one of acceptance.
I am happy with my choice.
Here in New Zealand there are two layers to Church culture.
The first is the generic Mormon culture
where we have a common language,
a jargon if you will.
Like "Mormon Standard Time" which, depending where you are
means 30 minutes, an hour late to EVERYTHING.
When I visited California about a year after I joined the Church
I fitted right in cause I had learned the language.
The Church is the same the world over, as a rule.
We understand each other, we understand the Church,
we have compassion and love for our brothers and sisters in the Gospel.
There is a commonality, an equaliser in our Church culture.
Here in New Zealand, the culture is heavily influenced
by Polynesian cultures.
Mainly Maori but even then it's not Maori Maori culture
it's kind of a hybrid of Christianity and Maori culture
but when it comes to the individual it can be
a varying degree of cultural habits, shall we say.
As a Pakeha joining the Church I became immersed
in the culture of the Church.
To get this straight, Mormons aren't cult members.
You can leave anytime you want and while we don't drink alcohol
we don't make you drink the kool aid either.
When I moved south to the South Island six years ago,
I discovered exactly how immersed I had become.
When I arrived at Lincoln University to start work,
a lovely delegation of Maori staff came to visit me
to invite me to join the Maori student group.
It was a staff/student thing cause there really wasn't that many Maori at Lincoln.
I was a little confused as to why I was being asked.
Then I realised that they thought I was Maori
but I had to tell them that I was just Mormon.
Which to be fair is kind of like being a Maori
only not actually,
but it is at the same time
because Maori and Mormon as so entwined.
So while I grew up a New Zealander with all the baggage that comes with that,
I am more of a Mormon than anything else.
It's who I am.