Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

LDS Talent Show: Hmong Youth Dancing

 
During a talent show our ward held, some of the youth from the local Hmong branch (the Fox Cities Hmong Branch) performed some dances in their traditional Hmong attire. Very enjoyable! Having many Hmong members in Appleton adds a lot to the flavor and diversity of the Church here. Some of my best church-related experiences have been with the Hmong people. (Also some painful ones as well.)

More photographs of local Hmong people (including many LDS friends) are available on my photoalbum of the Hmong people in Wisconsin at Sanity Defense.

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of having separate non-English speaking branches for immigrant groups in the US? They are often aimed at the adults, I should note, since the kids usually speak English well.  Posted by Picasa

6 comments:

Walker said...

Having been a Hmong missionary myself in San Diego, I know that most of our membership would have been inactive had they not been in their own branch. True, this is not "celestial" membership. But some activity is better than none.

Addditionally, due to the low numbers of Hmong people and the unstructured nature of the Hmong missionary program, any interpretation capacities would have been (and often were) inferior.

True, such activity is not of a "celestial" nature. But social Church activity is better than no activity.

Barbara said...

Sabaydee! (or something like that)

Our ward has for some time been the place for the Asians in Sacramento. We are a regular family ward, plus pretty much all the Laotians, Mien, and I think Hmong, in the area. I don't know exactly how we got so lucky, except for awhile we had a Bishop's counselor who is fluent in at least one of those languages. The Asian language missionaries operate out of our ward. At one time there was talk of creating a separate ward for them, but we set up a howl of protest. We like having an multicultural ward.

When I first moved into this ward, some 30 plus years ago, it was pretty white. One or two Hispanic heritage families and a sister who was married to an inactive fellow of Japanese descent. That's all I remember. I used to think, "If this is a world-wide church, where is everybody?" Now we have people whose family orgins are Tonga, Brazil, Africa, Eastern Europe, I don't know what all. Some of them many generation American, some of them new.

It is true that with our Asian brothers and sisters we do have language limitations, but it doesn't seem to matter. Missionaries translate into headsets for the Asians. Sometimes prayers are in English, sometimes another language. Talks that are not given in English are translated at the pulpit. Once in a great while the shy Asian sisters will try to teach us a few words in Relief Society. A hard thing is that they are too polite to correct us when we fumble.

At ward meals, I learned that we all have different ideas of what is "spicy".

I think that the mixed ward helps the Asians and other new Americans to become more comfortable and assimulate into American culture and enriches us all. Although preserving heritage is important, learning to get along in their new home is, too. We try to do both.

I like a crayon box with an assortment of colors, not just one or two, don't you?

Curtis said...

I used to live in Milwaukee where a Hmong branch was broken up some years ago. I home taught one of the resultant inactive families and he told me that nearly all of the members of the branch had gone inactive to the best of his knowledge. As Walker stated, this is not celestial activity. However, I have to think that having the branch was better than not having any hmong people going to church at all.

Bookslinger said...

Re: pros and cons of having separate non-English speaking branches for immigrant groups in the US?

Let people choose. There seem to be more Spanish-speaking members in our local Spanish branch than are in the other wards in town.

I also tend to think it is a one-generation thing. The children in the Spanish-speaking branch will likely participate in regular English-speaking wards when they grow up.

And as long as there is new immigration, or new missionary work among that ethnic group, the existing ethnic branch seems the best way to teach and fellowship the newer immigrants/converts.

So as long as there are new immigrants, there will be 1.5 generations (adults plus minor children) in the ethnic branch.

The bottom line is serving the needs of the members.

Walker said...

Hear, hear on personal choice!

First of all, thank you Barbara. You most certainly care about the immigrants in your ward as you do for the sisters of your own nationality.

However, with all due respect, I would most courteously disagree as to assimilating the wards, esp. in cases where the makeup of the membership is in the elderly range. From a member's perspective, no matter how talented a missionary is at interpreting (I've done it myself, so I know) it is not the same as being taught by a man who crossed the Mekong River at the same time you did. When a Hmong person sees a man (totally) give up his shamanism for the gospel, that is a very powerful thing to a Hmong person, whether they like it or not. And since almost no American has ever (or will ever) experience what they experienced, I am in favor of maintaining the independent wards at least until the second generation comes along, for they are the key to eventual assimilation. I would be in favor of combining youth activities between standard wards and immigrant wards so that the youth are accustomed to associating with the ward.

Anonymous said...

To all those who say, "this is not celestial" membership. That's rather condenscending. We cannot be saved in ignore thou fool. If they cannot understand what is going on and thus cannot learn, how can they be saved, except there be a Hmong branch which can help.