Adventures in Attending Foreign Church

    Not+the+same+building+%28I+left+my+phone+at+the+hotel%29%2C+but+looks+similar.+Just+imagine+a+metal+gate%21

    Not the same building (I left my phone at the hotel), but looks similar. Just imagine a metal gate!

    I have many stories about my various crazy adventures, but this one takes the cake. Previously, I have written about my experiences in Italy, but my religious escapades were not mentioned. Today, I have an exciting story for you: the time I was mistaken for another religion and then missed church.

    This story takes place in Verona, Italy in June of 2019. The nearest church of our religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/LDS) was about a mile away, and started early in the morning. Our family woke up around 7 a.m. Italy time and got dressed in our Sunday best. It seemed like a typical Sunday morning for us; all of this was routine. However, the reactions we got in the hotel lobby during breakfast made me realize something was off.

    Every time a member of my family approached the buffet, the people around us would say “Excuse me” in Italian and then frantically scatter. We kept receiving odd looks and everyone around us was pointing and whispering. I didn’t know enough Italian to translate what they were saying, so I turned to my dad, who speaks fluently.

    He told us that they thought we were of this religion, and in Italy, they have quite the reputation. Our clothing was what confused them, as their members also wear their Sunday best, and many Italians don’t even know our religion (LDS) exists.

    As we left the lobby, everyone there seemed to sigh in relief. They were genuinely afraid of us, but I didn’t speak the language well enough to tell them who we really were. After a long walk, we finally reached our church.

    But what I wasn’t expecting is that there was a church of the religion we were mistaken for right next door to the LDS Building. Thinking we were one of their own, the members happily greeted us and waved us into the building. What they weren’t expecting was our reaction.

    We smiled and waved and said hello, but we walked right past their building and towards ours. Their demeanor changed instantly. They began to glare at us as angry parents ushered their children away and the people began to whisper amongst themselves. A few even shared some unpleasant hand gestures as we hurried away.

    However, the gate to our church was closed and locked. We could see some missionary bikes nearby, as well as a doorbell and a com. system on the gate. So logically, we rang the doorbell. No one answered. Then we tried the com. Still, no one answered. Eventually, another member approached us.

    He was a friendly middle-aged man who spoke some English, so we talked with him to see if he knew what was going on. He ended up being just as confused as we were, and decided to call the bishop to see what was up.

    After a brief conversation with him in Italian, he told us the bad news: It was stake conference, and the building was almost three hours away from Verona. We thanked him for his help and told him it was nice to meet him, and then we walked back to the hotel to take a nap.

    Long story short- if you attend church in a foreign country, make sure you know the language enough to tell people who you are!