Growing up in Utah, I was always able to walk to church. In fact there were several churches within walking distance of our house. My cousins moved out of the state when I was about twelve. I was amazed when they told me that they lived an hour away from their ward building. Since the ward was so spread out, they planned all the activities (Young Men’s, Young Women’s, Cub Scouts, Achievement Days, and Enrichment) all on the same day. This helped families be able to make it to the activities. It can take some extra planning to prepare for church when you have to drive so far away.
1) Prepare activities that your children can do in the car. If they are entertained on the trip to church it will be easier for them to sit still and pay attention during Sacrament meeting. You can buy some CD’s of church or LDS music to play in your car on the way there. You can also go to www.lds.org and print off activities from old issues of “The Friend” for you children to work on.
2) You should arrive fifteen minutes early. This will give your children a chance to stretch their legs and get some of their wiggles out. If you meet during a time that is close to lunch, you may want to bring snacks for your family to eat once you get to the building, but before the meeting starts. You may also want to pack snacks for after the meeting. This can make the drive home more enjoyable.
3) You can use the drive to church to help prepare yourself and your family for the church service. You can use the time to focus on the blessings that the Lord has blessed you with and give thanks for them. One way that you can do this is having each member take a turn and list things that they are grateful for. You could call this the grateful game.
4) Don’t let yourself become discouraged by the long drive. Attending church each week gives you a chance to renew your baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament. It will also give you fellowship within the church, which may be harder to feel if your ward is spread out.
When I moved away from Utah, I knew that I would not be living as close to a chapel as I was used to doing. I have been fortunate in living within fifteen minutes of our ward building wherever we have lived. However we will likely be moving to an area where the nearest chapel is at least thirty minutes away. I plan on using the suggestions I have listed in order to make the transition easier on my family. What are some things you have done to help when you live far away from your ward building?