Sahar: My life as a Palestinian Mormon
When I joined the Church and returned back home to Palestine I was scared of how I would be welcomed. My family, although not religious, were totally against me joining the Church. In my town those who leave the faith (or the family church) and join another “unknown” church are cast out. For example, no-one in my town even speaks to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, no one in my town knew a thing about the Mormon faith, but to them it was still wrong.
My family tried their best to convince me to leave the Church. My mother would say bad things about the Church and tell me how “stupid” I was to believe in something so wrong and so unreal. When she saw me read my scriptures every day she said she would burn them so I couldn't read them anymore. When I would go to church on Saturday (our branch in Jerusalem met on Saturday) my parents would not speak to me the whole day. Going to church was not easy because Palestinians are hardly ever allowed into Jerusalem. It always involved danger of some sort because sneaking in could have gotten me either shot or arrested. But, I always came out OK. Nothing ever happened to me although I have had some really close calls of being shot at or chased. Sometimes I made it to Jerusalem when all the rest of the Palestinians were not able to. I felt the Lord's hands carry me most of the times.
Gradually, everyone adjusted to me being Mormon. (I can’t say everyone because my mother still has problems with it.) Tea and coffee are offered almost at any house you visit. I had to decline many time and received strange looks, but my friends soon came to understand and started making herbal tea just for me. I can’t say being a Palestinian Mormon is hard: being a Palestinian is hard! But being a Palestinian Mormon is great, I think. I see things so clearly and I am able to find happiness no matter what my situation may be. The only disadvantage is that you see the path to happiness so clearly yet you have to stand and watch the people of your country stumble in a path that is going the opposite direction.