I had an experience on Thursday that prepared me for today and the rest of my mission: Don and I met with the community leaders and the contractors for Boundry #1 and Hilltop. We hiked down a very long steep mountain to 5 different areas looking at water pouring out of the mountain naturally. These communities would like for us to help them capture the water in spring boxes. At one point, I was standing maybe 12 feet higher than the men. I was standing under a big palm tree that had sand and gravel heaped up around it and a single rock ring around the sand/gravel. I was in the shade and there was a slight breeze. There were 14 men standing below in a small clearing with a stream going between them. There were 9 men on one side of the stream and 5 on the other and there was a young girl (about 13) washing clothes in the stream about 8 feet from the men. They were standing among palm trees, many variety of bushes and flowers. It looked to me that I was peering into the Garden of Eden it was so beautiful. Don was the only white man. They were counseling together on how to capture the water most efficiently. There voices were just a murmur to my ears but I could tell by the tone of their voices that they were throwing ideas back and forth and everyone was engaged, respectful of each other's opinions, listened to each other and thinking through the issue. I said to myself, "If I were Heavenly Father looking down on this scene, I would be saying, 'yes, my sons, figure it out. I have the answers to your questions and I can tell you how to do it, but you need to learn for yourselves'". And then there was this sense of not belonging to the group but only peering into a scene. I was watching earthly men studying the situation. It was really an odd feeling and yet so spiritual.
Now how does that fit into today and the rest of my mission. In Sunday School today
the teacher asked What does God do if we are disobedient? The very first answer from
a sister in the front row was "he forgets us". The teacher said, "yes" and wrote "he
forgets us" on the board. Then there were a couple of other answers and he wrote
them on the board. I could not let that stand. Heavenly Father does not forget us. I
raised my hand and when called upon said, "God Never, Ever forgets us. We are his
children and he will never forget us. However, if we are slow to remember Him, He will
be slow to remember us. If we are going through a trial and call upon God to help us He
may not answer us right away if we have been slow to remember Him." The teacher
crossed out the word forget and wrote above it slow to remember.
Then in Relief Society (OH MY GOODNESS). The counselor in the R.S. Started by
welcoming a certain sister who had not been in church for over a year because she was
annoyed because she missed two Sundays in a row and no one called or came to visit
her to find out why she had not been in church. So, Sister Mariama, the counselor, and
two other Sisters went last week to visit her and learned why she was not in church.
When they learned why, they apologized and told her they need her in Relief Society.
So today she was there. That would have been fine if the Counselor would have left it
at that and moved on. But, she said the same thing 2 more times and that gave enough
time for Sisters to remember when they were not visited and they all piped up.
Unfortunately, they were all speaking at the same time and no one was listening to
anyone. This went on for 40 minutes. I had such a headache from all the noise and 4
sisters got up and left.
Geneba was sitting next to me and was translating parts she
could understand from the different sisters. One Sister was talking about no one
coming to visit her when someone in her family was ill. A witch shot her family member
and their leg swelled up very big. Geneba explained to me that the witches have two
kinds of cartridges. One will go in you and it will not come out and you die. The other
one will go inside you and if you go to the witchdoctor he can pull out of you the barbs.
She said when they shoot you, you don't even know you have been shot until your leg
swells. There is a mixture of confusion between the Gospel of Jesus Christ (their new
teaching) and witchcraft (where they are coming from). The transition is not complete.
I just wanted to stand up and tell them that Jesus Christ had 12 disciples to help him
teach the gospel. He couldn't do it all himself. He needed help. The Relief Society
President cannot do everything all by herself either, that is why she has visiting
teachers. And then explain the program. What they really need is a visiting teaching
conference where these Sisters are taught what visiting teaching is.
The Branch was
reorganized today with a new branch presidency. Hopefully, he will choose his own R.S.
President and get this branch back on track. The last Branch President died about 3
months ago, the Elders Quorum President moved to Liberia, and Sister Doe is the R.S.
President and has not worked in her calling since Brother Doe had his accident in April.
The Branch has really been hurt. I hope next Sunday they will have a new R.S.
President. Then I will discuss with her about having a V.T. Conference.
How does this
help me. I have to look at these people as God does. His children. They are learning
and they have to have the opportunity to work out their own understanding of the
Gospel. They have to study it out. I have to study it out. I am far advanced from them
in my understanding of the Gospel but I Have so much more to learn. There is so much
to the Gospel. A lifetime on earth will not be enough time. Thank goodness we have
eternity. The last 5 minutes of R.S. They discussed the Christmas dinner. It will be
potluck (which was a new idea to many and they could not understand how they were
going to get contributions). Geneba explained to me that the R.S. Presidency will
choose a color and then everyone will come in costume. I asked what kind of costume.
I was thinking Halloween. She looked at me like I had 3 heads and said, "African
costumes". Oh, This should be interesting.
During the business portion of Sacrament Meeting a new Branch Presidency was
formed. District President Sesay gave a talk afterward. He talked about having a new
Branch Presidency and said there will be many callings extended during this next week.
He said, "when you are extended a calling and you know you will not magnify that
calling then don't accept it. Because if you do, you will hinder the Lord's work". Don
and I looked at each other. We never heard that one before.
An after thought: During R.S. When the sisters were all talking at the same time many
times money was mentioned. I asked Geneba what that was all about. She said that
the sisters are all required to chip in money, whatever they can afford, so those going
out to visit people, they can take money to that person. The person being visited
expects to receive money. So, guess why no one goes out to visit anyone. These
people are dirt poor and cannot feed their families more than a handful of rice once a
day and they are expected to visit an inactive person and give them money. Who thinks
up these rules?