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

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Amazing Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas

My wife and I were in Las Vegas recently to pick up our youngest son, Mark, at the National Forensic Tournament where he was competing in debate (second time at nationals) for Appleton East High School, which has an awesome forensics program. While there, we met up with another son, Daniel, currently at BYU, who came down to visit us and introduce us to friends he made while serving in Las Vegas as a missionary. I was so impressed with the people we met. Some were recent converts, some were moving toward baptism, and others were long-time members of the Church. Very positive experience to meet these great people and hear their stories.

While there, we spent a couple days with a wonderful LDS couple that knew my son well. Though we had only just met these people, they treated all of us like family. On the first morning after meeting them, a Saturday, my son's car needed some unexpected work that would make us immobile for most of the day. Amazingly, the family gave us the keys to one of their two cars while the car was being repaired so that we could visit more people instead of being stuck. It was such a strange feeling to be driving all around Las Vegas in the car of someone I had just met a few hours ago. I'm glad that we returned it in good shape. We also had access to their home and their refrigerator while they were away that Saturday.

I really appreciate the bonds of friendship and trust that active participation in the Church builds, especially via missionary service. How tragic when that trust is misplaced (a rare event, fortunately), but how wonderful it is to enjoy the blessings of true fellowship. What I especially like is the ability to show up at a new ward in some new city and to suddenly feel like you're home with a great group of friends and relatives. This must happen in many faiths, cultures, and organizations, but I sure love those Mormon ties.

With its reputation as Sin City, some people don't know Las Vegas has a high concentration of Mormons. In fact, the first non-Native American settlers in the area were Mormons, as I understand. You won't find any Mormon missionaries on the strip (forbidden territory - probably at least partly due to the high concentration of indecent ads there), but Las Vegas is a great place for missionary work and for the Church, with many strong wards and stakes, a temple, and amazing Latter-day Saints. But get your car in shape before showing up - you might not be as lucky as I was.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you can find it, check out "Saints In Babylon" by Kendric Ward. It's an interesting history of the church and the saints in Southern Nevada. The 21 stakes of Zion in the Las Vegas Valley are proof that it doesn't matter where you live, you can have a Zion anywhere if it is in your heart.

RWW said...

I've heard many times of the goodness of the members in Las Vegas, and I've seen it myself to some extent in my limited visits there. In my experience, there seems to be a correlation between the overall wickedness of a city and the quality of its church membership. The most wicked area on my mission (based on many factors, among them the prevalence of open prostitution) also had, in my opinion, the most humble and spiritual members.

I guess the simplest explanation for this phenomenon, if it holds in general, is that there is a more intense refining process going on in more spiritually perilous areas.

Anonymous said...

In 1965 I spent four months of my mission in Las Vegas. At the time it was part of the California Mission. Clark County (Vegas) would have 40 - 60 convert baptisms a month, month in and month out. I had a great time there. This will show just how much the church has grown. In the mid 60's the California Mission took in the southern half of California, Clark County NV and the whole state of Arizonia with about 250 missionaries. What was my mission is now over 15 separate missions!

Richard G

Nate said...

We native Las Vegan Saints thank you for your kind words.
I will always maintain that growing up Mormon in Las Vegas was the greatest possible blessing I could have had at the time.

Michemily said...

I love what I call the "Mormon Connection." I went to Boston and London to visit and moved to Leipzig, Germany without knowing anyway. Each time, I found new Mormon friends and had a wonderful time. Other people I met randomly on these trips were amazed that Mormons we ran into all seem to have a friend in common. Without the church, I could not be here in Germany.

Scott and Jillian said...

we are finding the same hospitality from local members while we are displaced in Dallas during our daughter's hospital stay. I love the love, service and support we have received while here. Amazing examples of Christlike love!!

Rick_M said...

This reminds me of the story our EQ president related this past Sunday. What happened to him was just the opposite of the "Mormon Connection" when he was visiting a ward back east. He went into Sacrament meeting and hardly anyone said "hello". The same thing happened in Priesthood meeting and when they split up for their quorum meetings he was spoken to or anything. At the end of the meetings he was talking to the Bishop of the ward and some other members afterward and evidently, of the 24 people in EQ that day, 16 of them were visitors like him and 4 of them had just been baptized within the last 3-4 weeks and still weren't familiar with the other member's names yet. Everyone was waiting of everybody else to introduce themselves and they were all thinking that this was the most unfriendly ward they had ever encountered. It just goes to show you, perceptions are not always the reality.

Tony said...

Hi there. I have been in the church since last december of 2007 and I have to agree with you about the wonderful sense of family i feel in this wonderful Church.
Also, we have a missionary that is from Vegas, and you can imagine my suprise when I found that there was, as you said, a high concentration of members there. It is good to see that no matter where one is, the gospel light can shine through and give new horizons to people.

mormonsoprano.com said...

Great article, Jeff!

Bookslinger said...

Those people knew your son as a missionary, right?

I bet that's part of their trust in you, they knew the kind of sons you raised, and acorn-doesn't-fall-far-from-the-tree kind of thing.

I too appreciate the family-ness of the church. But I've also learned _not_ to trust people just because they're LDS or even active LDS.

Maybe I'm a bit cynical, but trust has to be earned, or based on something I can observe or measure.

Once burned, twice shy.

jjacatlady said...

I have always maintained that the reason the Saints in Las Vegas are so strong is because we stare sin directly in the face. We are forced to choose whom we will serve. There is no luxury of "straddling the fence" here.

Darion Alexander said...

I finished the mission in 1999 in West Las Vegas and I remember when my Mission President a President Starley, took me from the airport down the Strip.
He was said something like this in a overly excited voice, "Isn't this just fantastic! Look at all those lights and look at all those beautiful buildings! Isn't just gorgeous?" I remember saying something like "Yeah, it sure is. This is my first time in Vegas."
He then replied in a darth vader like I-find-your-lack-of-faith-disturbing tone, "Good. Because if I find out that you have ever re-visited this Strip, I will send you home." Then he smiled and put his hand on my shoulder and said, "besides you won't have time to even think about it with all the work the Lord has prepared for you here."
Yep....those were the good ole days.