We’ve had some great experiences this week that seem to come together loosely under this title. The missionary couple mentioned last week who are serving in Tamale wrote on their blog about bride price and how it is affecting their young singles' plans for marriage. Bride price, in Ghana, is the money or goods that the groom pays to the bride's family to receive their permission to marry. There are some positive things about this tradition, mostly that the negotiations bring together the two families. There are also a lot of negatives, one being that a young couple often has to wait years to marry while saving up for the bride price. The Church is teaching against the tradition and encouraging members to not require the young people to wait for this to marry, but change takes time.
Here are some thoughts from Elder Renfroe:
“Consider a time and place when a man's productive ability peaks early in his twenties and is based on his physical strength to kill animals or to till the earth. He will carry the burden of supporting the elderly and fathers of girls will exact a high price for the hand of their daughters to allow them to expect a comfortable retirement. Then the modern world descends upon the third world and the new norm tears at the basis of the family upon which the very existence of this world depends.
In today's world a man's (or woman's) productivity will not peak until their mid 50's or even 60's and the early years are spent in poverty getting educated and gaining experience to allow them to exact a high price for their skill. Suddenly we exchange a strong back for a strong head in the ability to provide support without changing the culture of expectations, and the timing of productivity out of sync with demands.
Bride price, the retirement program for the village culture, is strangling the new society. While scrambling to scrape together the price exacted, the biological clock is ticking. For some they will wait so long for their ship to come in, that their pier will fall down.
If this current generation of African members of the church can survive long enough to build their own families, I am confident that they will break the chains of slavery forged from their tribal traditions. But in the mean time, things are really tough.”
Here is a link to a longer discussion on the topic: http://www.africaontheblog.com/bride-price-good-bad/
Yesterday at the temple we had a number of ordinances performed, including sealings of families, from a branch located over an hour from the temple where Elder and Sr. Clark taught the temple preparation classes. This is the new tradition of the members, and it is always a joy to see the smiles as they experience the promise of couples and families being together in eternity.
This afternoon was our opportunity to travel to the MTC again to help the missionaries in training to prepare names of deceased family members for the temple ordinances. They are a bright and eager group! Out of the current group, at least three will be sealed to their deceased parents (yes, they are orphans) in the coming week. Wars, ebola, and other circumstances have taken a toll on African families. We often hear them offer prayers of thanks for their lives and the lives of their families.
Working on Family Tree
Progress on construction of the new MTC, located next door.
In our ward today, Tom was sustained as Sunday School Advisor - not a calling that is found in the Handbook. The new president is a talented, young, returned missionary, eager to serve. Tom will help as a mentor and trainer. We also met two new “friends of the Church". One is a disabled artist who travels about West Africa raising awareness and advancing the cause of services for those who have disability, or as he terms it, “this ability”, emphasizing what they can contribute when their basic needs are met. The other new friend is an expat from Edmonton who is here on a work assignment and hadn’t yet found a church she wanted to attend. She decided to visit the local LDS congregation because she has friends in the Church and knows a lot about it. We were able to welcome her and introduce her to a few others.
This week Sue had her first encounter with tribal tattoos. A woman from northern Sierra Leone had a permanent dot on her forehead and a vertical line between her bottom lip and her chin. She was very serious as she participated in the ordinances but at the end when Sue gave her a hug, she responded with a smile. Another woman asked if we could pray for her mother who is very ill. Sue explained that she could put her mother’s name on the prayer roll and then everyone in the Temple would be praying for her. Another asked if you could put names of people who were deceased on the prayer roll. She said most of her family was dead. Sue explained that the prayer roll was only for the living but that she need not be concerned about her brother and her mother. If they did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in this life, they would have that opportunity where they were now in the spirit world. The Lord includes everyone in His plan of happiness.
This is of our Primary program today. The music conductor is the 5 year old on the far right!
Apologies for the strange formatting today.