Posts Tagged teaching

An example of how to treat refugees from the Book of Mormon

As my health permits, I am one of the teachers for a class of 10 year olds each Sunday. We tend to have only 3-4 students, all boys, almost all with some sort of disability that makes it difficult for them to sit and learn. I can sympathize with them, as my own uniqueness makes it difficult to either sit still or pay attention to things around me. Anyway, last weeks lesson was on the people in the Book of Mormon called the “Anti-Nephi-Lehis”. It’s a mouthful of a name, but the people wanted a name that reflected their commitment to the gospel and their forefathers who came out of Jerusalem several hundred years earlier.

The Anti-Nephi-Lehis were Lamanites who had converted to Christ and wanted to disavow themselves of all of the violence and sin that had previously been a part of their culture. They went so far as to bury their weapons of war. When the Lamanites came to kill them, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis simply bowed down and let themselves be slaughtered. (In this instance, the attackers stopped the slaughter and were also converted, more joining the Anti-Nephi-Lehis than were killed.) To stop further potential massacres, the Nephites offered the land of Jershon, well within the borders of the Nephite lands, and vowed to protect these people with their armies.

This got me to wondering. Would this be a possible way to help at least a portion of the many refugees we have created in the world? Could we find a place somewhere in our vast country to put these people and let them build a community of their own? If they would be willing to be subject to the State and National laws, why could we not give them a place where they could govern and build themselves up? I’m not saying they would need to convert to some form of Christianity, as it should be the Spirit that guides them, not compulsion by support. I am also not saying there wouldn’t be many, many logistical and political issues that would need to be dealt with, as there will be many.

What I’m asking is, what would it take to give up a small portion of our vast lands and resources to help some hundred thousand people escape from a war torn land, a place where they face starvation, death, and many other privations through no fault of their own? I know it goes against the very American idea that the people should just buckle down and fix the place where they are, but that is nearly impossible when your children are starving and there are no safe places to work, much less start a business, if there were any money to do so.

What do you think? Can we take this example of charity in the Book of Mormon and apply it to our own times?

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A lesson on caring for single sisters

This past Sunday, in the meeting we have of those ordained as an Elder, we had a special topic and teacher for our lesson. The lesson was on how we can better serve as Home Teachers to the single sisters in our ward, taught by one of these single sisters. Home Teaching is a program where the Elders and High Priests of the ward are put into pairs and assigned to met with each family, in their homes, once a month, to share a spiritual message and to try and help the family wherever we can. Usually, Elders aren’t assigned single sisters (by policy, probably because single sisters are perceived to have more need), but since we have 60 in our ward, we’ve all at least one family that consists of a single sister (sometimes with children), rather than a married couple (also sometimes with children).

Our ward may be a bit high on the number of single sisters, but I don’t think it’s all that high. There was a recent New York Times piece on women in the Church, A Growing Role for Mormon Women, that had an interesting infographic, showing the ratios of single men to women of different age groups in the Church. What particularly surprised me was that, while there were more men than women in the under 30 group, each group older than that has progressively more single women than men. Over 60, the ratio of single men to women is up to five women for every man. Some would say that the ratio of 12 men to 10 women under 30 is an indicator that young women are “leaving in droves” over perceived inequality, and that this ratio will continue. I think with the increased numbers of women serving as missionaries the ration will continue to skew younger, it becoming more noticeable earlier that the women who remain in the Church will outnumber the men, even below 30.

I’m kind of conflicted about the numbers of single women in the Church, especially those I see around me. I know they are strong women, many of whom are dealing with impossible circumstances of trying to raise and provide for a family on their own. They do not technically “need” someone else to share the load, but it certainly would make life easier if that were the case. I do not want to ever infer that these women are less than, incomplete people, or anything of the sort, but I do know that beneath it all there is a vulnerability, a need for the Priesthood power only available to men, that they feel in their homes and lives. I don’t think ordination would solve this (even if it may relieve it for some), but some things can only be helped when you can see yourself moving toward that next step of becoming like our Heavenly Parents, in a committed, equally yoked, sealed marriage.

That brings me back to the lesson. The lesson, as I said, was on how we can better serve the single sisters in our ward and was taught by one of these single sisters. She’d done a great amount of work, polling and talking to the single women in our Ward so she could communicate with us the special needs that were there. She’d asked the sisters what the top needs were for Home Teachers. The answers were not terribly surprising, as they tend to apply to all of the families we teach: 1. Show Up, 2. Make an Appointment, 3. Be Consistent.

There were a few comments from the men on how we were needed, especially to help with what I’d refer to as “moving big stuff” (y’know, manly man work) that I wanted to push back against, but I felt that I both couldn’t and shouldn’t. I was there to learn from someone who is one of the women in this group, not to lessen her time to teach by pushing back on this minor misconception. Thankfully, she put in some points that helped put these ideas down. She has her own home, in which she’s done her own yard work, tiled her own kitchen, done her own upkeep. There were also times when she needed an extra hand, like in removing a stump from her yard. She was glad of her Home Teacher who not only got together the people to get the stump out, but went the extra mile of filling in the hole and getting sod to grass the new bald spot. It wasn’t an absolute need, but she was very, very grateful for this service.

She also talked very passionately about the need of having the Priesthood available in times of need. She talked about how we need to build the relationships with those we are assigned to watch over so we’ll be one of the first people they think of when they need help, whatever that help may be. No one is going to call for help someone they barely see once a quarter, not even when something as seemingly simple as a blessing or just a shoulder is needed. These women keenly feel the lack of Priesthood power in their homes, and yet they are still strong in their faith and in the Church.

Priesthood holders are not here to “rescue” these women. We’re not supposed to be swooping in to make everything better. These women are not helpless children. When I attended Young Women’s camp as a Priesthood holder, it was not to be over anyone, to be the “manly man” to keep everyone safe, or to be the body to move the heavy stuff; it was to be simply available when a Priesthood blessing is needed. Yes, this could have been done by any Priesthood holder in the area, but it was important to have someone from each Ward, someone familiar to those being served.

That’s the key, really – familiarity. Knowing those we intend to serve is the only way we really can serve. Familiarity helps remove the broad misconceptions we may have about any group. I hope I can do a better job of being there for the families of every size and shape around me, especially for those I’ve been assigned.

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Doing It Right: Teaching the Men to Be Better Fathers

When a month has five Sundays, the fifth is given to each individual Ward to make a lesson for the adults based on the needs of the people in that Ward.  We’ve had lessons from the Bishopric (who is in charge of the lesson) on food storage, families, and other more general topics such as tithing and temple attendance.  Most of the time, this goes fairly well since the Bishop has a unique perspective on the needs of the Ward he has been called to watch over.  Being mortal, there have also been failures.  I’ve heard of one ward where the Bishop spent time instructing the women (and only the women) on the need to be more sexually available to their husbands.  In our ward, we had something I’ve never seen before – a lesson from the Presidents of the Primary, Young Women’s Organization, and Relief Society (all of whom are women, for those who don’t know) to all the men of the Ward on how they can be better fathers.  This covers a broad spectrum of men, from those not yet married to those with grandchildren.  And, though it was the same lesson to all, I suspect that what was learned was different for each one of us, no matter what our circumstance.

First, we heard from the Primary President.  She is the head of the organization within the Ward that teaches the children to age 12.  First, she quoted The Family: A Proclamation to the World“:

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Next, she shared some sobering answers to some questions she posed to the children in her care:

How do you know your father loves you?

  • He plays with me
  • He helps me
  • He shows me
  • I don’t know

What are things you want to do with your dad?

  • Go play
  • Hike
  • Spend time

How do you know your dad loves your mom?

  • He does things for her
  • Hugs & Kisses
  • I don’t know

It’s these last answers, “I don’t know,” that are the most sobering.  While we are doing some things right, if some of our children don’t know we love them or their mothers, we’re doing something wrong.  Next, we had the President of the Young Women’s Organization, who has charge over the young women, aged 12-18, in our ward:

What is the greatest mistake in raising a daughter?

  • Not understanding your significance in your daughter’s life

Your daughter sees how her father treats her, her mother, and other women.  Daughters are not limited to your own family – you have influence as Home Teachers and even as friends of the family.  Daughters who feel fathers care have less problems with stress, eating disorders, depression, etc., and more desire for education, independence, and growth.  They make better decisions about sex and how others should treat them.  Daughters see in their father what to expect in future relationships.  Their experiences with Heavenly Father will be a relation of her experiences with her mortal father.

What can a father do?

  • listen without criticism
  • notice her mood
  • be willing to talk 1 on 1
  • spend quality time
  • be there when needed
  • show his love, even when she is not treating him well
  • says and shows his love
  • praises kindness and other good, intrinsic values
  • shares his testimony and talks about his hopes and concerns

A father should be a guardian of virtue.  Do not back away in those times when she is pushing you away.  She may not always listen or make the right choices, but she will appreciate that you cared enough to try, and especially that you care enough to welcome her back with open arms, no matter how old she gets or how much time has passed.

 

We concluded with a few remarks from the Relief Society President, who is over all the women 18 and over.  (She didn’t get much time):

Knowing her fathers love can help carry her through adulthood, and can be an example of the love of her Heavenly Father for her.  Love her mother.  You have ways to effect [your daughters] life in a way no one else can.

 

This concluded with a group of the Young Women singing “If the Savior Were Beside Me”

 

I thought it was a good lesson, all in all.  Full of things to think about and inviting the spirit to help teach more than what was said.  Thinking about it later, though – what if this were a lesson to the women, by the men, on how they could be better mothers?  Would that have been as well received?  I don’t know.  I do know, however, that this felt right, and I’m glad the female Presidents in our ward had a chance to teach the men in a way we would not have usually gotten.

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Changing the hearts of the people

As I read through various articles and blogs on how various groups are biased or government it trying to take away peoples rights or how the world is going downhill fast, I’m reminded that there is a great need for us all to get back to basics. The first part of that is simple – learn more about your own beliefs, strengthen those beliefs, and (most importantly) live them.

The next part does not appear to be so simple – changing the hearts of the people. It may be frustrating to think that our leaders (political and spiritual) are a reflection of the people they lead, especially when you disagree with what they are doing, but you might have to deal with the fact that what you believe is in the minority. Ranting and raving about how unfair it is or how evil those leaders are will do no good. That’s a fast track to being marginalized and pushed aside (Fox News is an example).

In Christian teachings, we’ve been given a pattern for this (2 Timothy 2:24-26):

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

In LDS scripture, we have additional insights (Doctrine & Covenants 121:41-43):

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

If you want to change the world, work to change those around you. Teach, not tell. Dictating to others what they should believe makes you no better than those leaders you believe are dictating to you what you should believe. If you want to change the world, start by showing more love to those around you, especially those you disagree with. Faults are much more likely to change when they are pointed out by a friend rather than an enemy. If you want to change the world, start with being in the right place, then invite others to join you. Your example is far more compelling than any blog, article, or treatise.

The world cannot beimproved by having morelaws, edicts, press releases, or documentaries. It can only beimproved by changing the hearts of the people.

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