I love the west.
I love, love, love the west.
The climate and landscape makes it clear to me from the outset that this is God's country, but those are not the only blessings here.
In general (and speaking outside the city and away from any vehicles), I love the people here. I adore the people here. I've lived in a variety of places amongst many types of people and they are not the same everywhere. They're not. Oh, no no no. You can find examples of any type of person, anywhere of course. The nicest people or the meanest the people. Interesting people and dull people. Kind intelligent thoughtful people and people who didn't vote for Romney. You can even find a few good drivers in cities, sometimes (they're really hard to spot).
But nowhere, nowhere have I ever seen concentrations of the people you find here.
Let me just say it, Mormons rock. Because, though not all wonderful and kind people here are Mormon, it is the Mormon influence that has made the difference here. And I truly love it. It's wonderful. It's not just a matter of people being nice or even following some cultural norms; it is the way they live from their hearts, pouring out God's love honestly. You can't fake that.
Some people find Mormon culture oppressive; and academically I can see the point, but these people are idiots (see previous post).
Here is a concrete example. This could happen anywhere, with anyone; of course it could...but this really is a common thing here; it's astounding.
My neighbors across the street found out about my current trials through a common friend. Of his own volition and without my mentioning this particular issue to anyone, he came over and informed me that not only would he be checking out the leak in our sprinkler system (said leak having been obvious last fall when my lawn spouted a geyser) but that he would be ensuring that my yard would be taken care of for the duration of the summer.
And this was after last week when other neighbors on the next street over had come over with their entire family to do my yard and even weed...
(As a side note, I hate asking for help from anyone or even accepting it, but at times I do try to bite my tongue and accept some things graciously, because I also wish that more people would ask things of me. If I have intentions of being a good neighbor, then I had better be able to accept when others wish to be good neighbors to me. And if a pregnant woman was alone with three kids across the street, damn right I'd want to do something for her. So I can't deny others the same. I *was* so excited the other week when a different neighbor came over to borrow a half cup of milk...people just don't do that kind of thing in most places anymore...)
I have a different perspective than most. I was raised Mormon; I did not rebel against my upbringing, but God led me down paths I found surprising and different. For years I have wondered how I fit into certain things. While I do not find labels necessary, I do still find them productive at times, and so I have settled on deciding that I am basically half-Mormon (until and unless God leads me elsewhere). It took years to become comfortable with the understanding that God has been giving me. I am so deeply grateful for every bit of it.
Not everyone in a society or culture is alike; you find all types everywhere. But it is undeniable that there is something very special here. I can see and accept it now even more than I ever could before and so I am grateful for all of my past experiences and for finally being led back here.