Feb 24, 2015

11/24/14 Emailing Home - a Missionary Tradition

Well another week of work and experiences under my belt. The appointments we have had haven’t been too special or extraordinary. Just moving forward as best we can. Some amis (investigators) are progressing and others aren’t. Some are getting ready for baptism and others are giving us no reason to keep teaching. Overall, it's been a week of work. And I've learned a lot while doing it.
The biggest news we have this week was an Africa Southeast Conference. Basically President Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar, Elder Gay and Sister Stephens delivered messages that were tailored to this area of the world. They recorded the meeting and sent out the discs to all the branches asking us to watch it. It was SO SICK! (cool)
Elder Gay explained that sometimes we need to stop doing things out of tradition if it impedes us from living the Gospel. He gave the example that in Ghana President Uchtdorf went for a visit and noticed that all the churches had basketball courts built on the property. He asked an inter-regional seventy out of surprise, "How many people play basket-ball in Ghana?" The seventy replied, "No one."  President Uchtdorf asked, "Then why are we building basket-ball courts at every church building?"  The seventy answered, "Well that's how we always do it.”  The lesson was in President Uchtdorf's response, "Do we always have to do things out of habit?"
The counsel that was given to members here was to stop participating in habits that destroy our capacity to follow the gospel. Things like excessive partying at funerals and marriages that drive families into debt. Or giving preference to people of the same tribe. And the biggest - stop holding a Dote for your children. And Elder Gay wasn’t the only one to hit on these points.
Sister Stephens talked about helping children learn the gospel. She explained that children need to participate in the family and need to be TAUGHT BY THE PARENTS. Families need to have Family Home Evening each week and scripture study every day.
Elder Bednar explained that we need to make sacrifices. That not paying tithing is unacceptable. And when we do pay it needs to be with a willing heart.
Now President Uchtdorf's talk was the best. He basically talked about the same things are Elder Gay. He told a story of a village whose well-pump broke. The church sent representatives to fix the problem and train villagers so they could later fix problems with the pump. When the engineer arrived he found that villagers were walking down to a little river to get water while they waited. When he went to see the river he said it was full of mud and dirt and infested with bugs. It was in no way clean water. The engineer stopped two boys and asked, "You’re not going to drink this water are you?" They replied, "Of course, our fathers drank this water, and our grand-fathers, and our great-grand-fathers drank this water. If it was good enough for them, it is good enough for us." The engineer explained if they just waited for a while they could have clean water from the well, and that it would even taste better, the pump would be fixed soon - they just needed to wait. They boys returned home with their dirty water saying it was fine and jokingly told the engineer that he should try some.
President Uchtdorf explained that all traditions are not always good. All things become new after baptism in the church - ALL things. He encouraged members to embrace the "Gospel Culture". He also said in clear words that could not be misunderstood by anyone, "We encourage families, fathers and mothers, and additionally will be giving directions to priesthood leaders to encourage others to STOP the DOTE." YEAH!!   It would be so awesome if that practice stopped.
President Uchtdorf also encouraged that fathers to treat their wives and children as people they love and not objects. Finally he closed by explaining that as a young man he often thought of himself as superstar. He was a young jet pilot who finished 1st in his class. But when he went to the temple he was reminded that no one is more important that another in the church. That was a good lesson for me as well. No one is more important than another.
It was an amazing conference and I learned a lot for myself as well. It was like an add-on to general conference which we just watched two weeks ago.
Well those are the big things we learned this week. FYI, next week our p-day is on Tuesday because we’re going to a maritime museum which isn’t open on Monday. This week is Thanksgiving!  What a great tradition that helps us live the Gospel!  So have a happy Thanksgiving and be safe if you participate in black Friday (maybe a tradition that doesn’t really help us live the gospel haha). I’m thankful to have an awesome family like you guys! I love you. Have an amazing week.
So the city is split into two sections, and this is the river that separates it. And because it's the dry season now we get these crazy thunder storms in the evening. Because it's incredibly hot during the day, like 92 degrees and then the cold air at night causes these storms. It's pretty sweet!