I had another church in mind for today, but when I went to take a picture of it, I couldn't find it. Oh well. This one will do:This church is very large--I couldn't get the whole thing in one shot. What I like about it are the beautiful wrought iron hinges on the doors. Many of the large churches in Harlem have very beautiful wrought iron details such as this, because they were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when such decoration was popular and there were very skilled craftsmen. Some parts of the lower Bronx have incredible iron-work on the buildings, many of which were built in the prosperity of the late Victorian period.
I also love the ramp on the steps of this church, reiterating the message of "Welcome" over the door. In my church, if someone gets up to speak at the podium and they happen to say "Good Morning," the entire congregation will say "Good Morning" back. Then, after the meeting, visitors are encouraged to stand and introduce themselves and all of us say "Welcome!" to them. It is a very friendly, happy group of people.
Today I taught Relief Society, which is basically the third part of church, after Sunday School. It is just the women, which were a small group today because so many are away visiting family for the holidays. The lesson was on prayer, based on a talk by Elder Bednar. It was an easy lesson to teach, because the talk was so excellent, and because the women of my ward are so faithful. They all have such wonderful faith and devotion to the gospel, which I think might stem from the hardships that many of them face in their lives. I felt humbled to be standing there talking about the benefits of prayer when I know that at least one woman there had recently lost a sister and a grandmother and has a very sick daughter. But even she raised her hand and spoke of the power of prayer in her life, saying that she is very tired but never stops praying to God for comfort, peace, and to thank him for all of her blessings.
I've been thinking a lot about the New Year and of the resolutions I made last year, which I failed to accomplish. This year I have a great desire to try harder, to be better, mostly to strengthen my faith by finally waking up and doing all the things I know I should be doing but which I do not do. I know I cannot become perfect overnight, or even in a year, but I am thankful for the opportunity to try, to get a bit closer to becoming the person that I want to be, and who the Lord wants me to be. Prayer will be an integral part of my strategy, so it was good for me to reflect on it the past couple of days as I prepared my lesson.
A few days ago a girl asked me why I keep a blog. It seemed strange to her that I would want to write about personal things in a way that other people could see. Some things ought to be kept personal and private, but I also think that when I write things on my blog knowing that they are then available for others to see and read, then I have a greater reason to stand by the things I write. My New Years goals are more important now because you have read them. While I know you will not be disgusted with me if I fail at them, nevertheless I have a greater impetus to succeed at my goals because I am not the only one who knows of their existence. Hopefully that makes sense.