I wanted to share some thoughts that I had about the Meet the Mormons movie. I loved it and enjoyed every minute that I spent watching it (surprise, right?). I wanted to share my answer to a question I’ve seen circulate among both members of the church and those who are antagonistic towards the church: Why ask members to watch this movie, when it was designed to be an introduction to people unfamiliar with us Mormons?
First, a little context before I give my answer. Between the end of my mission and when I got married I had some great opportunities to travel. I made it to London, China, and Hong Kong. Being fresh home from my mission and still in that mission “high” I always sought opportunities to participate in worship with Mormons wherever I was. After spending two years worshiping with Mormons in the Philippines, I got to see the amazing diversity of members in the Hyde Park London Ward (seriously, it was amazing). I got to join with ex-pats from Europe, the US, and South America who had church services under the watchful eye of communist China. I helped organize and run a temporary church group that was authorized to administer the sacrament weekly in central China. We occasionally had members who were passing through the city look us up and participate. In Hong Kong, I went to a branch meeting block in the middle of a Thursday. Since Filipina maids had no control over their one day off a week, the local church members allowed them to organize branches based on the day they could attend. So any given day of the week, you could go to the church and participate in a Filipino sacrament service.
Throughout my mission, and then getting to experience the Church in this variety of circumstances was very testimony strengthening. It is amazing to see the beauty and benefit that can come into a person’s life through the gospel and to see it happen in so many circumstances. The thing is, we don’t often get to see these amazing things happen as often when our opportunities prohibit us from seeing what’s happening to members outside of our own wards and stakes.
And that to me is part of the reason why Elder Holland asked us to sacrifice our time and means to see this movie. It evoked the same feelings I felt when worshiping in all these different places and circumstances, something I haven’t felt in almost 15 years. It presents the bigger view of the church, a view that only general authorities or wealthier members that travel get to see. It presents it in a way that is beyond what could be portrayed through a conference talk or an Ensign article, or even a YouTube video.
I think we in everyday Mormondom need to see what’s going on outside what we see in our everyday lives as members. Something that inspires us to look past the sometimes petty disagreements that happen within wards and see that we really are part of something bigger.