Monday, January 11, 2010

An Egyptian Lesson

Cső! (Slang for hey, but it literally means pipe! Haha)

Last week was pretty good. Two weeks ago we asked an English class student if we could meet with her whole family and last week we did! But I guess we didn’t clearly explain to her that we wanted to talk about the gospel with her family because when we showed up we found out that they had planned an outing for us to go visit an old Catholic church. We couldn’t say no—that would have been unbelievably rude and would have ruined any chance of teaching them later on—so we went along. It was a lot of fun. The coolest part, by far, was this ancient pump organ in the chapel. Elder Smith asked if he could play it and they let him. So he played “Choose the Right” on this magnificent old organ in this stately old cathedral! I was hoping that he would play a restoration hymn—that would have given us an easy way to talk about the gospel—but he didn’t think of it. It was a fun experience, but next time we’re going to make sure that our hosts understand why we want to meet with them and that we didn’t come just to hang out.

We had splits with the zone leaders on Wednesday—that was fun too. I spent the day with Elder Liljenquist, who is from Burley, Idaho. He knows Brady Anderson and all my Burley family. The best part of the day was that he forgot to give his house keys to his companion until long after they’d left. They had to drive all the way back and spend the night with us. It’s always nice having another companionship around.

Oh! We also met an Egyptian this week! He married a Hungarian and they are visiting Hungary for a little while. He was really cool. He’s a Muslim and was pretty curious about our religion and so we had a pleasant conversation with him. He was way nice, definitely a lot nicer than the vast majority of Christians that I’ve met here, which is really interesting. He told us a lot about Islam. (FYI: Islam is the religion and Muslim is the person who believes in Islam, like Christianity and Christian.) It was a lot different learning about Islam from a Muslim than learning about Islam in an American high school where there is some prejudice against Muslims and Islam. This man basically explained that most Muslims are good people and that their religion inspires them to become better, kinder people just as Christianity does. He admitted that there are Muslim extremists who disregard the original teachings of Islam and substitute their own ideas in order to justify their hatred of others. But extremists are not unique to Islam, of course. There are quite a few Christian extremists who disregard Christ’s teachings of love and instead adopt their own made-up religion that allows them to be hateful and prejudiced. Racism and hate and prejudice are denounced by both religions, but that doesn’t stop people who say they belong to the religion from refusing to follow the very teachings they profess to believe in. Interesting. This Muslim man, Ahmed, tried so hard to explain his beliefs clearly and to help us understand that the majority of Muslims are good people. I was glad to be able to let him know that we understood his point because Christ has taught us to love others and that we follow that teaching.

This experience reminded me of how Latter-day Saints are wrongly perceived by so many people, at least in America, because of polygamist groups who claim to be but are not in fact affiliated with us. Those who don’t like us make us lies and rumors that others are willing to believe. Other people hear about polygamists in the news and assume that we are the same without bothering to find out the truth. They are satisfied with denying Christ’s commandments of love and understanding to maintain their prejudice. In his conversation with us, Ahmed was trying hard to lessen the prejudice against his people.

Whoa! That was a big tangent! Haha. Basically, I learned again the fact that there is a big difference between saying that you believe something and behaving according to your beliefs. In the book of John, chapter 14, Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” That is one of the greatest challenges in life, but just because it is difficult doesn’t mean that we can’t strive hard to do it. Let us live by what we believe and know and enjoy the blessings that Christ promised! Breaking the commandments—there are many more than ten since we believe in what Christ taught in the New Testament—leads to a much more difficult and unhappy life!

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! I know that it is not easy to follow Jesus, but life is so much more rewarding and we are so much happier than when we don’t follow Him!

Well that tangent wore me out! Haha. So I’m going to go now. I love you all!

~Anderson elder