Ambassadors of the United States

I had a good morning here at the Lilly Valley Hotel.  I talked with my family including Loren and Lyle for quite a while.  I was pleased to find that they are all doing well.  My family is the core of my life and it is hard to be away from them.  However the knowledge that the Lord will care for and bless them in my absence gives me the comfort that allows me to leave them and come here to work.

Evan and I left just after 9:00 so we could make it to church early.  Instead of being early we were late.  After the meeting I asked the Branch President what time church started.  Last time we had arrived at the same time and it didn’t start for 15 minutes at 10:00.  He said that they start gathering at 9:30 and start when everyone is ready.  I guess sometimes that means that church starts at 9:35 and sometimes it starts at 10:00.  Next time we will be there at 9:25 just in case.

We missed the first half of the sacrament, but Daniel had experience with late comers. He passed us by with the water, then when he was finished brought us the bread and then the water.  The O’Crowlys were welcomed to church today by the Branch President asking them to speak.  They did a very good job taking about “inquiring of the Lord and the sacred grove”.  They asked me to teach a youth Sunday school class which consisted of Gutama, Damitu, Tofege, Mesafinet, and Mubarek that all spoke Oromic and Daniel and his friend Yehune that spoke Amharic.  I decided to do a role play of the first vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  I asked each of them to volunteer for a part.  Then I had them come to the front of the class and act out the story as I told it.  Mesafinet and Daniel understood English the best so they translated as we went along.  I think that it went fairly well considering the circumstances.  I’m sure the Spirit was helping with the understanding.

After church, we drove the children and Mambrat back to the VOH. The five children were all fighting to sit in the middle seat.  I climbed in the back and invited Mubarek, the oldest, to join me.  Domitu, the only girl, was relieved because she was being pushed out to the back.  Mambrat came out and asked me to sit in front in my place but I told her that the front was her place. I explained to the boys that it was important to show respect for women.  I told them about how Christ on the cross thought of his mother in spite of the pain and asked his disciple to care for her.

When we pulled into the VOH compound I was surprised to see the children cleaning the porch and the windows.  They had made the building shine, which is really a feat in Ethiopia.  They invited us to stay and eat lunch, but we did not want to impose so we went back to the hotel.

I have thought a lot lately about how the United States has influenced the rest of the world.  Friday I was in a restaurant that had M-TV playing.  I was so offended by the music and videos that I got up and turned it off.  I explained to Abera and Emebet that it was upsetting to me that people equated that type of filth with America. Abera confirmed that due to the movies, Americans are thought of as pistol packing machines of destruction.  I asked him what he thought about Americans after spending two weeks in America.  He said they are totally different than what he had thought.  

Right now my mind is being abused by the rap music that is blaring from loud speakers half a block away. It does not contribute to the spirit of the Sabbath day. By far the two most common billboards that I see are Coke and Pepsi. Not that the product is necessarily bad, (Drinking either of them is better than river water and in some cases really helps with the digestive problems caused by the food here), but the advertisement shows an unrealistic picture. Since when does drinking cola make you beautiful, happy, or any of the other things that they try and portray with their ads?  Like it or not, these are ambassadors of America. 

I see many flour and wheat sacks that have the US flag on them. These are food aid which in the short run stave off starvation, but in the long run undercut the farmers and breed dependence and laziness. I feel very good that we are trying to bring education and sound business principles here that will help them see the value of their country, and more importantly of themselves, so they can shake off these chains of poverty and starvation that really shouldn’t have ever been part of Ethiopia.  I pray that we can continue to have the type of government that will be an example to the nations of the world.  We have an amazing blessing living in such a wonderful society, but I fear that too many people are willing to trade the challenges of prosperity for the assurance of dependence.