In the last two weeks I have started two new adventures in Africa. I have started taking official French lessons which actually cost money and motivate me to study. My teacher is a single young man who used to teach at the MTC and is Ivoirien. We meet twice a week for an hour. I am always tired from work when I get there but always inspired by the time I come home. I like him because he does not make me feel stupid, is always positive, and helps me learn phrases and put together sentences that are actually useful. I can say the blessing on the food in French and have tried family prayer once. When praying in another language, it makes you think about what you really need to say and how to say it. Today I tapped Pres. and Sis. Assard on their shoulders and said "Je suis heureuse de vous voir" [I am happy to see you]. It is the first time I have said that phrase but will add it to my orientation to the people I speak to in the temple when they are there for the first time. It is very hard work learning a different language but I am grateful that all my children and their spouses and my husband have found it rewarding. I am proud of them and am trying to be like them. Don’t you think that I need to live in France for a while?
I have also started teaching an Institute class for ages 18-31 who are single. It is part of my past life [about 20 years ago I did this for several years and loved it]. I have a small class of 8 students but they are a fascinating group and are helping me learn lots about Ghana. This is the first class I have taught that I actually invited Tom to attend. I always said he could not come as a Bishop or Stake President because he would inhibit what people would feel they could say. He is a great asset and makes extremely valuable contributions. Who knows at some point we may actually be able to team teach. For many years I thought this would be impossible because we have very different styles but they may actually compliment each other. We meet on Friday evenings from 6:00 -7:30 and we are having fun. When I add prep time and my work at the temple, it does not leave much time for frivolity but I feel like I am growing.
|Members of the Institute class|
One of the interesting principles we have been discussing is consecration, and what that means for us. To consecrate is, of course, to make something holy by giving it to God. Elder Maxwell taught us many years ago that God owns everything except for our will, and thus the only thing we can truly give to God is just that. This is shown quite clearly in the ordinance of the sacrament. Rather than sacrificing an animal on an altar, we are asked to willingly sacrifice our agency to God. “That they may… witness unto thee… that they are willing…”
Although the law of consecration is difficult to live completely each day, the easier aspect is being obedient to what we know, following the prophet’s counsel, striving to do our best in our relationships and our callings. The physical aspect would include paying tithing, being generous in fast offerings, etc. A more difficult question is what does the Lord expect of us in relation to our worldly wealth?
That is a question that each must decide individually, and for which we will each be held accountable. The Church is clearly one of the most effective organizations at helping people rise above poverty and ignorance, but what of personal responsibility? That answer can only come by personal revelation. There are many heroic individuals whose stories we occasionally read - people who have started orphanages, clinics, schools, etc. to serve as best they can. But most of us are not presently capable of being a Mother Teresa. All we know for sure is that it is not enough to say, “If I were asked to give, I would.” We must seek to understand how best to bless our Father’s children now, wherever we are and with whatever we have.
|Boys in Cape Coast carrying ropes from the fishing nets|