Hey folks. Another week in the service of the Lord accomplished. This for sure has not been the easiest week, but I keep moving forward in hopes of a brighter future.
After having a stellar week the week before, this past week has just nose-dived and crashed into the ground. We had two sick days in the apartment and lots of what we call "ratez-vous" here (a play on words from rendez-vous--the word for appointment--meaning fall-throughs). Nothing terirbly discouraging, but certainly disappointing.
I, personally, am in complete health and was throughout the week. This left me lots of time to study and meditate. With a few conference talks, a few scriptures and the life situations around me at this time, my thoughts were most led to "what matters most."
I got thinking about this phrase and how I've seen it here on my mission. In fact, I would say that it is the very essence of Elder Lynn G Robbins' October 2015 General Conference talk. For the first many times that I read this talk, I saw it as a "Don't love man, love God" kind of talk. Then, coupled with Elder Oaks' talk from the same conference, I realized that it was much more of a "Love God, then love man" talk. I realized that, in trying to repent of loving man more than God, I had more of a "Love God, not man" attitude. Now, I wasn't going around hating on people or trying to make their lives miserable, but I was reminded of Elder Oaks' talk once again, in quoting a member whose husband was once not a member. I paraphrase, "I thought I had given my fair share of patience, but i don't know if i was being very kind about it." I feel the same way.
Realizing this brought the two great commandments into proper alignment for me. I am now working still on loving god more than man, but I am working now on also being kind and loving towards man as I love my God before them. I was then brought to the chapter of the George Albert Smith manual (chapter 21 I believe) entitled, "The Power of Kindness", but I will expound on that another time
I then got thinking on life here in Benin and how these two principles apply. I saw that, as Elder Dube had boldly noted, those who keep the commandments prosper in the land. That isn't to say that those who don't keep the commandments don't prosper, but if we do, He has promised that we will have everything that we need and most likely will have enough to give. Those who, amongst the poverty and uncleanliness of Togo and Benin, find the most happiness are those who truly understand the first two commandments. Those who put God first in every decision and those who have the most peace in their life. Society in these two countries can make it hard to find happiness--especially when everything of the greener side of western civilization is all that's shown on TV. However, those who put away the world and come unto Christ have the same level of happiness (if not more!) as those who come unto Christ all over the world! These brave people leave behind the traditions of their fathers. Many come from families where Voodoo is practiced religiously. Many come from families where marriage is simply mocked. Many come from families who have given up on trying to earn a living because other sources had ceased to make them whole (see Hymn number 129, "Where Can I Turn for Peace").
I have been greatly blessed and strengthened to see these people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. I have found that in my experiences with these people that no matter where we come from, we can all arrive at the same point. No matter what our circumstances, we can attain the highest of goals, the most noble of quests, all in focusing on what matters most: our relationship with our Heavenly Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
May we all take the time to strengthen these two relationships daily and intentionally is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.