Thursday, March 3, 2011

Take the Gospel to the World

I do have lots of fun, thoughtful post ideas in my head.  It's just hard to write about them when I wake up and learn every teacher in the city of Providence, Rhode Island has been fired. Why do we continue to treat our minority children and the teachers who educate them like they don't matter?  Oh, cause to the rich-capitalist they don't matter.  Unless of course you look at the importance of keeping them poor, so that there is less competition on the top and more opportunity to make a profit off their poverty.

I say it again: God, Bless America. 

But today I'll move across the globe to a better place.  Come with me to Singapore and Pakistan. 
I sure wish I had a better picture of these two darlings.  I'm sure I do somewhere, it's just not scanned onto my computer.  Neither Priyanthi (center, Sri Lankan) nor Safia (left, Pakistani) were ever "technically" my companions but I always felt so close to them while I served in Singapore.  I always lived with one of them.  And Safia and I actually did spend 10:00 - 4:00 together every M-F while our companions worked in the mission office.

We had so many crazy and wonderful moments together.  There was the severe hoarder whose dying (and I think at one point dead) mother lived with her.

The game of "which country is that white person from."  She was impressed that I could not only tell they weren't American just by looking at their attire, but when I could quickly say something like "Texas" after just one word.  It was a pretty glorious moment when three college aged boys shouted "CTR! LDS people rock!"  from across a very busy metro plaza.  They had Texas written all over them.

There was the professional singer.  Yup we taught a semi-famous Singaporean.  She even booked a tour to Disney World, and then avoided making appointments when she got back from the good ol USofA.

A drug recover, who introduced us to Singapore's "shady" side.  Which turns out to be cleaner and nicer than most corners of any US city.  The government does not allow homelessness, so even though she couldn't hold down a job she still had a decent flat.

We met with less actives as well.  A mother from Georgia (the state) and her cute little ones.  She had agreed to spend the first years of her marriage attending her husbands Lutheran Church, in hopes he'd return the favor one day.  That didn't really work out for her.  Even when they moved to Singapore and there wasn't a Lutheran Church to be found, he preferred going to Catholic Mass.

Our favorite family to teach was Theresa and Joseph.  We met them one day when Safia didn't want to interrupt our hours of contacting to return to the office.  She really hated the interruption picking up our companions brought to our day (which mostly consisted of riding the MRT for hours and hours handing out pass along cards).  I think I got off the train where we were suppose to, only to turn around and see she had decided to stay on.  She flashed me a huge smile and wave, while I just stood on the platform and laughed.  I must have jumped back on right before the doors closed (or crossed the platform and waited for her to return, I can't remember which).  She had been on her way out the door when she decided to stop and talk to the couple getting on.  We taught Joseph and Theresa every week for the next two months.  She felt it was true, I think he knew it was true.  But alcoholism is a dark and dreary world.   Sigh.  A year later as I spoke with a sister recently returned from Singapore I was told Theresa called up the Elders from her ward boundaries and asked if Sister Safia and Sister Bassett could come back and make her happy again.  Broke my heart.

But my favorite moments with Safia were much simpler than any of this.  They were the moments when we sat in some busy shopping center food court eating lunch together.  She'd tell me all about her life in Pakistan.  She was born a member of the Church.  Her family joined in the very early years, thanks to an American couple her mother worked for.  As a maid in their home, her mother made as much money as well educated Doctors.  Safia did not grow up the stereotyped poor Pakistani Christian, and she knew she had this couple and the Gospel they brought her family to thank.  She was the youngest in a large family, all of which were members of the Church, and had married other members of the Church.  Her father was deceased and she missed him, while admiring the many ways her brothers stood up and filled in his gap.  I always thought it was pretty amazing that a girl my same age spent her whole life attending the same Church meetings I did . . . in Pakistan!  I would have never guessed.  I loved the humility and gratitude she showed as she spoke of the American couple who helped her family find this true source of happiness.  She reverenced them the same way I do my pioneer ancestors, and rightfully so.

Now come with me to, Oshkosh Wisconsin.  Where I meet (who I think is) that very couple.  Our first Sunday in our new Ward the Stake President and his Father-in-law were both quick to discuss the Church in Pakistan with me.  They were not, as most people are, shocked to learn the Church was there.  In fact, they knew how rapidly it grows in that Christian oppressed, Muslim dominated world.

Two Sundays ago this wonderful family had us over for dinner.  As the table conversation progressed I began to realize this very couple, these dear 80-something darlings, were the very people Sister Safia always spoke of with such admiration.  I could hardly believe the twist of fate.

What a wonderful world we live in.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a beautiful thing.  I am so thankful to the hundreds of families like the Kempers, who take that light with them to countries all over the world where wonderful souls like Sister Safia can be blessed for eternity by their goodness.  I really love the work I'm a part of.   


The Briggs Clan said...

lis (lol), that really is so cool. I love when the links in the chain come together in our small world.

Scott and Claudia said...

That is an awesome story! Can't believe I had to read it on the blog. You should have called and told me right after the dinner! Thanks for the spiritual uplift! I'm in dire need...

Jodi said...

I love your mission posts. So inspiring!

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