While I was volunteering in Thailand, I had the really unique opportunity of getting to attend a small meeting with Elder Holland as the main speaker. Elder Holland!
While you're living in another country, don't think that you won't have opportunities to continue growing your faith. If you're a member of the LDS church - know that it is a worldwide religion! There are ways to be involved in your church in every single country that ILP sends volunteers (even China!).
Not an ILP volunteer yet? You can submit your application here!
There's so many different opportunities to do things like attend Sunday services, institute, activities, FHE, see the temple, etc. You might have to get creative depending on where you live, but if you put forth the effort you can make it happen.
And...maybe you can hear a prophet speak?
Let me be clear - this is really unique. It's not going to happen that a prophet or a leader of the church will be speaking during every semester in every country.
But it's pretty cool if you get the chance.
How do I find out if someone's speaking near me?
This is sort of tricky because they don't just list events online...at least that I can find. I mean you hear about major things like LDS Conference (listening to this with other LDS volunteers in your group is a huge boost while you're living abroad!)...but they don't really just list when a prophet is speaking in Kiev, Ukraine on the lds.org website.
Talk to the missionaries at the ward that you attend. If anything is going on in the area, they're going to announce it during a Sacrament meeting for everyone in the ward to know. Chances are you might not speak the same language that they're speaking at church, so the missionaries can let you know what's going on!
That's how I found out the Elder Holland was coming to Bangkok, Thailand. He was coming to speak to the missionaries and was holding a second meeting where the locals were also invited. The missionaries told us about it and everyone in the ward tried to tell us about it in their best English, those cute sweet members.
You may have to travel to attend a meeting like this.
When a prophet or other LDS leader comes to visit a country, they're often going to speak in the biggest city so that it's most convenient for everyone. We were volunteering in a city that was about a 4 hour drive away from Bangkok (where he was speaking), so a few of the volunteers in my group decided to make a special trip to go over the weekend!
It was absolutely worth the drive and cost to get there and the meeting was something I'll never forget. There wasn't that many people there and we had arrived early so we actually got to sit on the 3rd row, so close to the pulpit. Elder Holland spoke about 30 minutes longer than planned but no one seemed to care (or even notice). I won't really go into everything he talked about - he was there to support the members after the Bangkok temple building had been announced - but yeah...it was a really unique memory and I feel absolutely blessed that I was able to go.
It just so happened that my mom was there visiting me during my semester abroad at the same time so she got to attend the meeting with us. How cool is that??
Keep your ears peeled while you're living abroad and look for opportunities. When they come, jump on them! It's those really unexpected experiences that are usually the ones you'll remember most.
You are not required to be LDS to volunteer abroad with International Language Programs (or even religious). Many who come on the ILP program are though, so if you're looking for LDS volunteer opportunities, this is a great way for you to serve with other members! Learn more about our program and how to volunteer by clicking that button below.