|Unofficial Spanish Branch Clock|
Rochester, NY—Since returning from his mission to La Paz, Bolivia, Elder James Maywood’s only lasting experiences of acceptance and compassion have come at the South Rochester Spanish branch.
“Of course I loved coming home,” said Maywood, “but it seems like I had hardly unpacked before my dad started getting on me about getting a job and mom started to talk about grandkids.” As the third of four children, Maywood is the only to serve a mission, and, according to his mother, her “only chance of holding a sweet, precious little grandbaby any time soon.”
Pressure from home has not been Maywood’s only stressor. As he puts it, “when I tried to go to a Young Single Adult activity, everyone just seemed so judgmental and so into music and movies that I don’t have a clue about, that, you know, I just felt out-of-place and like I can’t compete!” Maywood noted that so many young women seemed unimpressed if not disappointed in him.
These experiences stand in the starkest contrast with the acceptance and compassion he has felt in the Spanish branch. “So the Branch President asked me to speak in church,” explained Maywood, “and after the talk everyone wanted to talk with me and told me how much they liked what I said.” Maywood added that “of course several older sisters gave me the warmest hugs, and one even said that I reminded her of the elders who had baptized her.”
It wasn’t just by way of his talk in church that Maywood has felt an outpouring of love from branch members. Maywood elaborated that “when I stopped by for a home teaching visit I just felt like a member of the family, but a family that isn’t harassing me all of the time.” Maywood also said that he thoroughly enjoys joking with ward members about differences in Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary in members from different places. As he puts it, “joking with Brother Morales about how Cubans sound like they have a potato in their mouths or how Chileans must be allergic to the letter ‘s’ is actually really fun for all of us.” Maywood added that “they love to tease me about my Bolivian accent and words, and how I sound like a ‘Bolivian gringo’.”
Maywood believes that branch members offer so much seemingly unqualified love and acceptance in part because he took time to serve Spanish-speaking saints and to learn their language and customs. Maywood also noted that, “oh, and I think that we all feel a certain bond of affection and acceptance when we all arrive about 15 minutes late for everything!”