International Series: Open Thread

“…And the Lord called His people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”  Moses 7:18

As our current International Series comes to a close, we have had our hearts, minds and eyes opened to the wide spectrum of experience from our sisters and brothers across the world.  Like many of you, I read with great curiosity to learn of their struggles and successes, and how they find joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of nearly every post, I found myself asking, “How can I better relate to this person’s experience? What can I do? How could I help?”

Several of our guest posters and commenters touched on the following themes: the way American members and missionaries behave in foreign countries, perspectives of relative privilege, language barriers, proximity from other members, church buildings and temples, relating to the cultural history of the community as it colors their experiences with the church, emotional, physical and linguistic isolation, American/Utah Mormon superiority complex, labeling/judging others in general, missionary efforts, humanitarian efforts and variety vs. uniformity.

We now open this thread to you to share any thoughts or ideas you have, or to suggest tangible solutions to issues raised. You might also respond to this question: “How can we build a worldwide Zion and what can I do?”

“… Dear Lord, prepare my heart to stand with thee on Zion’s mount, and nevermore to part.” Hymns 41


  1. I’ll go first, and it seems a little paltry given the depth some of our other commenters and bloggers contribute. But the thing that keeps coming to me as a way I can help build Zion in my own heart and maybe someday reflect into my surroundings has to do with the ways I mentally and vocally label members of the church. I seem to have a laundry list of “fill-in-the-blank-type of Mormon,” each name coming with its own attributes that I judge to be either positive or negative. I realize that by labeling others, I am also simultaneously judging myself as “better” or “worse” off than they are. My big take-away from the series is to improve my language and vocabulary so I can do more to see the worldwide membership of the church as my sisters and brothers and my joint-heirs with Christ to the Kingdom of God. My contributions must start in my own heart before they can be of any use anywhere else!

  2. I think the first step is to recognize how much we’re seeing things through our own lens, as well as the fact that (as American Mormons) we’re generally coming from a position of privilege and power as compared to international members. So I think being willing to take a back seat and really LISTEN and LEARN is the first step to building a better global community. We need to reject the idea that we are the ones with things to teach and give, and realize that we’re also (and perhaps more often than not) the ones with things to learn and change.

    We need to do better at incorporating our international sisters into our communities, too. I worry that sometimes Mormon feminism isn’t as safe of a place as it could be for our global sisters, just because of some of the language we use when we talk about “we” and “us” from a white, American perspective. Being mindful of our language can be a huge thing.

  3. I’d love to see a new way to donate as Relief Society sisters to women anywhere who need help. I think something like a RS fast offering fund could be a good idea, especially for women who don’t have much money but physically are able to skip a meal here and there, or who don’t have the time or resources to get out and serve themselves. Even it’s just a few dollars a month that one person can contribute, it can go a long way if a lot of women are doing it.

  4. It was a great series. Thank you to those who organized it and those that wrote posts. I enjoyed it.

    Even though many posts were written by westerners/Americans who live abroad, I still enjoyed it because it emphasized to me that people experience the gospel, the church or any life events in different ways. Nothing is universal in the way we experience life and the world. So, I cannot be too opinionated on anything if I want to allow room of others to participate in a conversation.

    I think that building Zion is a very complex spiritual and physical process. I do think that the first step towards it is (for me at least) to familiarize myself with the diversity of people and experiences in the world and truly know that I do not know anything. It is important to extend a friendship hand/hug to everyone. I think that this is where it all starts.

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