We, the Meynders family, we live in Arkansas. In a little, I'd say tiny town, in the kinda middle of know where. The closest family we have is my aunt and uncle in Chicago, and my grandma in Iowa (both 10 hr drives). The rest are "out west" as people say here. Some times I genuinely get so sad we are so far away from them, it almost hurts. But thats part of growing up I guess, getting jobs all around the place far away from each other, right?
What am I getting at? Well, I have a family, away from family. My church congregation. In the Mormon church (yeah, I'm one of those, are you?!) congregations are divided up geographically, they are called "wards" which tend to have about 150-500 people in them, and then a "branch" is smaller than that. We are part of a branch.
There are not a whole lot of us, just a couple handful of families from all walks of life, some are VP's at Walmart, some are farmers, some are single mom's barely making it. We are a colorful group, and we love each other. And we need each other. We are there for each other in the middle of the night when someone's cow went out into the pasture and and ate toxic grass, and needed immediate surgery, in the field, one of us came immediately to help. When a fellow sister is battling depression, we are there to hold her, help her, watch her kids so she can have some time. No matter what, I know I have people who love and care for me. I have never been part of a group, besides my family, like this before. It is an amazing experience.
Tonight was our branch's christmas party. There aren't that many of us so it was at a member's home. We ate yummy treats, (tried to!) played musical chimes, shared our favorite christmas memories (I was brought to tears, many, many times). Talked about traditions, and then our branch president (the man who presides and gives guidance for us) brought it all back and gave a tender message about Christ. We then all knelt down together and had a "family" prayer. It was such a loving and simple night, just like I would have with my family if we were all together.
And thats that I guess, I just love my sweet branch family.