There are many different changes in life, some that we choose and some that we do not choose. Some changes bring excitement and growth, some bring only pain, and some bring an assortment of experiences and feelings.
I have known for several months that there would be a ward boundary change in our stake, and I felt certain that it would affect my family in a big way. There was never any doubt in my mind that my little neighborhood would be moved to a different ward. I had a little pity party, thinking that my area was the only one being affected. Little did I know that almost every ward in the stake would be affected in some way.
Two sections of Rabbit Creek Ward were moved to different wards: my neighborhood was moved into Huffman Ward while the other section was moved into Brayton Ward. Most of the old Brayton Ward became the new Oceanview Ward. Huffman Ward and O’Malley Wards lost members to the new Brayton Ward. On the other side of the highway, Klatt Ward lost members to the new ward called Oceanview Ward. Sand Lake Ward lost people to Jewel Lake Ward, which was the smallest ward in the stake. The only ward in the stake that was not changed in some way is the Cook Inlet Ward for young single adults, which covers the entire stake.
I am now in a different ward from many of my friends, but I am mourning for one friend in particular. I have known Dyanne for thirty-eight years since she was in the stake Primary presidency and visited my ward when I was in the ward Primary presidency. A couple of years later I was called to be the secretary to the stake Primary president, and Dyanne was a counselor. A couple of years later she was made president and I remained as her secretary. I stayed on as secretary when she was released. Meanwhile, my husband and I built a home in her ward so we started going to church together every week. Some years later Dyanne was called to be our ward Relief Society president, and I was called to be her counselor. We have been through many ward and personal experiences together. Our latest association has been in the visiting teaching program. I was assigned to be her visiting teacher, and we had many long and wonderful visits. I value her knowledge and strength and will miss that close association. Now we will be in different wards once again but will remain friends forever.
Boundary changes are nothing new to me. When I arrived in Anchorage more than forty years ago, there were only five wards in all of Anchorage. I lived in Third Ward, and my friend Dyanne lived in Fifth Ward. Two or three years later, the Sixth Ward was created by dividing Third Ward. My little neighborhood was left in Third Ward until the Seventh and Eighth Wards were created, at which time we were put in the Sixth Ward.
Then I moved into the Fifth Ward. The first division of Fifth Ward was when it was divided to make Tenth Ward. About seven or eight years later Fifth Ward was divided once again to create Thirteenth Ward. About twenty years later the names of the wards were changed from numbers to names, and my ward – now Rabbit Creek Ward – was divided to make the Huffman Ward. Again, my little neighborhood was left in the parent ward but was very close to the new ward. Now my neighborhood has been moved from Rabbit Creek Ward to Huffman Ward.
As I contemplated the upcoming boundary changes, I thought back about all the other changes that have been made and realized that boundary changes do not always affect me the same way. When I am left in the parent ward, I am just fine and accept the change without any problem. Both times that my neighborhood has been moved to another ward have been difficult for me. In both cases I have known people in the ward to which I was transferring so it was not like I would be going to church with a group of strangers. I decided that I just do not like change!
There were some personal things concerning me about this change; they bothered me so much one night that I could not sleep. I finally got out of bed and knelt in prayer. I poured out my heart to the Lord. I told Him of my concerns and my fears. I shed a few tears and was comforted by the Spirit. Even though the change was still difficult for me, I know beyond any doubt that my Heavenly Father heard my prayer and answered it. I know that this change is a good thing for all of us.
After my prayer I understood to a much deeper degree that the kingdom of God cannot grow bigger and stronger without change. For some reason I compared the birth of a new ward to the birth of a baby. The mother’s entire body is affected by the pregnancy and the birth of the baby just as our entire stake was affected by the birth of this new ward. There is much pain and sometimes tears when a baby is born, but the newborn baby is a beautiful creation of our Father in Heaven – just as a new ward is created under His direction.
I was bothered by the fact that our visiting teaching routes were changed before the boundary changes were made. I almost felt like I was being kicked out of the ward. After I discussed my concerns with Heavenly Father, He reminded me of when the Thirteenth Ward was created, and I was called to be the Relief Society president of the Fifth Ward. The division of the ward messed up every single visiting teaching route. Either the route was in the new ward or the teachers were. Not one route was left intact! As the president I felt a heavy burden of responsibility for the sisters in the ward because I knew that no visiting teachers were assigned to watch over them. As soon as I organized the routes and assigned visiting teachers, that burden was lifted from my shoulders. I came to a new appreciation for a wise Relief Society president who reorganized her visiting teaching routes before the ward was divided!
Ward boundary changes are not easy on anyone, particularly the teenagers; however, we can all be comforted in knowing that the changes were made by priesthood leaders who love us and care about us. We can be comforted in knowing that they discussed the situation often with the Lord and sought approval from the Brethren in Salt Lake City. We can rejoice in the opportunities for different people to be called to positions of responsibility and the growth that will come to them. We can rejoice in the growth of the kingdom of God even though the growing pains hurt. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears my pleas and sends words of counsel and comfort to me.