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College VoicesDate Minute - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Freshman, Brigham Young University
When I first told my parents about Date Minute, they didn’t get it and I had to re-explain it to them — twice.
Then, when they did understand what it was, they didn’t believe I was telling the truth. “No way,” my mom said. I could hear the clink of dishes in the background over the phone. “You have to be making that up. Marcello, she’s making it up.”
When I had finally assured them that Date Minute does, in fact, exist, they were incredulous. I can’t really say I blame them.
When Josh and Ali, our ward prayer directors, first told us about Date Minute, I thought it meant you had one minute to walk around the room and find someone to go on a date with that week. As this prospect was pretty terrifying, I didn’t much like the idea of Date Minute, until they explained that it was more like “if someone” — here they gave all the young men pointed looks — “wants to ask someone else on a date, this is a time when they can do it.”
The general idea is that people can come up with creative, fun ways to ask for dates during ward prayer. It’s essentially done the way people asked each other to Homecoming and Prom in high school, but Mormon-style. And the results vary. Some weeks, there are several people who, by channeling the muse within, are able to come up with some really neat date-asking ideas; some weeks, people just stand up in front of everyone and ask for a date; and some weeks, no one has anything planned, much to the displeasure of above-mentioned ward prayer directors.
I look forward to Date Minute with much the same enthusiasm that most people look forward to new episodes of a favorite TV show. Every week, it’s like opening Pandora’s box — you have no idea what’s going to come out of it or which of the ward’s many characters will be featured onstage this time.
Though Date Minute plays right into the (false) stereotype that the mission statement of BYU is to marry off all of its students at early ages, it’s something that a lot of people in the ward have come to enjoy. It’s one of the quirks of being in a BYU singles’ ward (though I have yet to meet anyone from another BYU ward that does it).
Ah, the BYU singles’ ward. I must admit, this was one aspect of BYU life that I was very much looking forward to. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, being in a ward where all the other members are essentially my age, but let me tell you, it’s something else.
Aside from certain idiosyncrasies (like Date Minute), there’s quite a lot more responsibility to be had. Not only do I have a calling, I also have my FHE family, visiting teachers, home teachers, and other girls I visit teach to take care of. When we have ward activities that involve food (and, being organized by Mormons, they usually do), every apartment is responsible for divvying up assignments and preparing dishes for them. Being in a singles’ ward requires much more involvement than being in a Young Women class presidency ever did.
I'm also learning that, yes, children do make a difference in church. Sacrament meeting is absolutely (eerily) silent. No cooing babies or young children escaping to run up and down the pews with their parents chasing after them. I sort of miss watching this kind of stuff every week, to be honest.
But even with more responsibility and without little kids, my ward is a lot of fun. Being in a BYU singles’ ward is just as much a social aspect as it is spiritual. You date the people in your ward, hang out with the people in your ward, and do pretty much everything with other ward members. Because the people on your floor are in your ward, you get to know them well; even the few students who aren’t Mormon are as much a part of the ward as anybody else. They have callings serving on the activities committee, come to Break the Fast and other ward activities, and are essentially treated no differently.
The most jarring change of a singles' ward, however, is going from Young Women to Relief Society. Oh boy, Relief Society. I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I’m in Relief Society now. I don’t know if this is because I love Young Women and told the bishopric here I wanted to be a Young Women leader when they asked what my ideal calling would be, or because when I was ten I called it the “Old Ladies’ Society.” Knowing me, it's probably the latter.
It’s true, Relief Society doesn’t have quite the same ring to it that Young Women does, but I don’t think my ten-year-old self (or my sixteen- or seventeen-year-old self) really got the purpose of the organization then. Women in the Relief Society are there to help others, yes — but more than to help others, it really allows us to learn about ourselves and who we are as we serve the other women in our ward. That’s what I’m beginning to learn now, at least, both as a visiting teacher and a visiting teachee.
But more than anything, the best part of this ward is ward prayer every Sunday (and no, not because of Date Minute). Every week, my ward gathers in the activity room on the first floor of the boys’ dorm. I’m pretty sure each ward does it a little differently, but I can tell you with conviction that no ward does it with quite as much pizzazz as the BYU 55th Ward does.
The room is usually packed, and buzzing with energy. At the beginning, announcements are made by the bishopric or Relief Society or elders quorum presidencies. We of course recognize those whose birthdays are coming up during the following week, singing to them with an off-key gusto quite unlike any I’ve heard before. After that, it’s time for mission calls.
In wake of the Prophet’s announcement this past General Conference, BYU has experienced an explosion of missionary fervor, and in my ward there have been both girls and guys announcing mission calls. Each mission call is received with excitement by the ward; during ward prayer, we gather around the new missionary as he or she reenacts opening and reading the call, cheering once it’s announced which mission they’re being sent to.
Then comes Date Minute. During the above-described parts of ward prayer, there’s always a low buzz of chatter in the room; but when it’s time for Date Minute, people quiet down and watch with bated breath.
The end of Date Minute usually marks the transition from the fun part of ward prayer to the spiritual part. Usually, we sing a hymn, and then, as the mood in the room sobers and grows quiet, we make a list of things to pray for. This can be anything; a friend who’s having a hard time; someone’s father who got laid off of his job; a family who’s just lost a loved one; for people to do well on their midterms; thanks for various blessings received during the week. The list usually gets extremely long by the time we finish it and kneel on the floor together.
I don’t know many of the other students in my ward well, but during this part of ward prayer there is a feeling of connection and fellowship that invariably comes from being around other members of the Church. Having never had a ward prayer before, I can't help but feel something powerful as I watch all the young men and women around me kneel down and bow their heads. One of the ward prayer directors usually says the actual prayer; it only takes a few minutes and then once it's over the chatter swells as people stand up again; but for a few moments, I savor that Spirit that permeates the room.
It's moments like those that make me feel at home again and grateful for the gospel and its continuity. No matter where I go or how much older I get, the church and its members are still and will continue to be the same. This ward isn't my home ward, but I have grown to love it in much the same way and feel lucky to be a part of it — Date Minute, ward prayer, church and all else that goes on here. It's one of the things that makes life at BYU all the more incredible.
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