Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hi from Zimbabwe

Hi, I forgot to tell you that Jim was asked to talk in church this past week in Masvingo. Apparently the Branch President had emailed us and ask him but we never got the email so he had to stay up late on Saturday night preparing.

We just chuckled because we thought perhaps they would have talks about Christmas but his assignment was "morality and modesty". I am attaching a copy of his talk as he did a good job and the Branch Pres. was quite happy with it. Elder Bullock asked after if that is what he had wanted and he said that it was (and even more). The Branch Pres. said when he has a hard topic he will always assign someone from outside the Branch since it is easier that way and Dad did a good job of it.

The x-branch president nodded his head in agreement a couple of times during the talk so it was obviously something that needed to be addressed. Women here are not especially modest and think nothing of pulling out a breast and nursing anywhere the need arises. They did
laugh when dad said that he was often afraid that certain body parts were going to fall out from their clothes. (and that is very true!)

Anyway - if you are interested there is a copy of his talk below.

I guess I am feeling the Christmas spirit as two different ladies came to the offices today asking for help and I was generous to them - gave them some clothes for themselves and their baby. They looked like they needed help. My only worry now is that they will go back and tell their neighborhood and we will have another rush of people begging at the gate. We have mostly put a stop to that as it is hard to tell if they are genuinely in need or not. O well. I was feeling in a generous mood today. There was a lady in the garden too that has two small children and they looked needy. I gave her a couple of toys for them and some clothes. She was really grateful. It is fun to give and help them but it can create a 'nightmare' too. I also made up a small box of toys and clothes etc. for Seka and his two children for Christmas.

We are fine and making preparations for Christmas day with the elders. It will be a nice break for us.

Oh yes -- we got one more grinding mill project approved at the Danangwe school (the one that has no desks or chairs or anything). We had to be a bit persuasive to get them to take it to the area presidency and get it approved on this year's budget but the money is there and better on this year's budget than on 2010 when our budget has been slashed somewhat. Thanks to Elder and Sister Godfrey for pushing it through for us.

Merry Christmas and love to all, Elder & Sister Bullock

Jim's talk:

In the Book of Mormon, Jacob chapter 2, Jacob explains that he has been commanded to teach the people something that is difficult to do, but because of the assignment he had received from the Lord, he had a responsibility to teach what he was told to teach. My assignment did not come from an angel, like Jacob, it came from President Munaki, but it is still difficult for me, and it is important.

David, the King of Judah started out as a very righteous man. Because of his righteousness, he was favoured of the Lord and he was protected as he fought and killed Goliath, but things started to go wrong for David as he was disobedient to God’s commandments. One night he couldn’t sleep, so he got out of bed and went out on the roof. As he was getting some fresh air, he noticed Bathsheba washing herself; he stood there and watched her, then he started to think about her, then he started to ask questions about her, then he sent servants to go invite her to come to his place and he broke the Law of Chastity with her; Bathsheba became pregnant. Once that happened, David called for her husband to come in from the battlefield, hoping he could hide his sin by having Uriah and Bathsheba come together. When that didn’t work, he sent Uriah back to the war and had him placed in the fiercest part of the fighting, and then he had all of the army pull away from Uriah, leaving him to fight by himself, and he was killed.

Now, let’s consider Joseph, who was sold by his brothers into slavery. The Lord was also with Joseph, as he served in Potiphar’s house, so much so, that Potiphar made Joseph overseer of all that he possessed. Potiphar did not know what he owned, he just knew he could leave it with Joseph and he would prosper. Potiphar’s wife liked Joseph...too much. She wanted him to lie with her. Finally, she grabbed Joseph by the cloak and tried to have him lie with her. Genesis 39:12 says he left the garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. David looked on Bathsheba to lust after her and committed adultery and murder; Joseph fled and got him out. What if David turned away and went back into his palace?

Sister Bullock and I spend a lot of our time out in the rural areas doing humanitarian work. We work with some of the ministers and pastors out there. We have found that there are a lot of children being raised by their grandparents, because they are double orphans. There are many children who are single orphans, living with only one of their parents. The main reason for this is that one of their parents, or both, has died from HIV/AIDS. Not only have the parents passed away, but far too many of their children have also been infected, or they have died, from HIV/AIDS. This disease is not something you get because someone sneezed and left germs in the air. Usually, this disease is the result of the husband, the wife, or both, breaking the Law of Chastity with someone they are not married to and then returning to their spouse and passing it on. I understand that many may have been infected with the disease before they joined the Church, but many more were infected after joining the Church.

The physical consequences of breaking the Law of Chastity are not always as drastic as contracting AIDS, but the spiritual consequences are. In Alma 39, Alma teaches is son Corianton, who guilty of sexual sin, just how serious it is. In verse 5 we read:

Alma 39: 5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.

Being morally clean is not only avoiding committing adultery.

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 we learn: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.

Adultery is committing sexual sin with someone who is married to someone else. What does like unto it mean? Like unto it is committing sexual sin when both partners are not married; we call it fornication. Like unto it is thinking about committing sexual sin with someone; like unto it is making physical contact with someone, of the opposite sex, in an inappropriate way; like unto it watching movies or shows on television, listening to music and reading books that promote sexual sin as if it was something normal, and acceptable; like unto it is using language or telling jokes that are not appropriate.

Young sisters, you need to read 2 Samuel 13. Amnon loved his brother’s sister Tamar. He made up a story to get her to come into his place with him when they could be alone. He wanted her to fix him something to eat, and as she was doing that, he forced her. She tried to say no, this is wrong. They were of the same family and the same religion. If that young man you are seeing is not a member of the Church, how much different will his values be. He may say he loves you and giving him what he wants proves your love for him, but look what happened to Tamar after Amnon got what he wanted.

15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
16 And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.
17 Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.

He chased her away. Young men, it is not love, but lust, that pushes us to acts of sexual impurity before we are married. Young women, once we have submitted, the supposed love turns to dislike and hate. If they will do that before marriage, what will they do, and with whom will they do it, after marriage?

Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 counsels us to let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.

President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave us some good counsel when he said that the mind can only have one thought going on at a time. When we have inappropriate thoughts, we can replace those thoughts by memorizing a favourite hymn and letting that go though our mind until the bad thoughts are gone.

Sometimes, as we go from place to place, not only in Zimbabwe, in Canada also, I almost have to hold my hands in front of my eyes, as I walk down the street, for fear that certain body parts are going to fall out right in front of me because they are so exposed. Other times, the clothes that people wear are so tight fitting that the clothes leave nothing to the imagination. It is difficult to have virtuous thoughts when the way we dress detracts from modesty. We can be beautifully dressed and still dress modestly. Your children watch how you dress and they will do as you do. If you stretch the limits of modesty, so will they. However, if you demonstrate how beautifully you can modestly dress, they will follow in your footsteps. Sister Bullock suggested that if you will dress yourselves, and your children, as if you were wearing the garment of the temple, you, and they, will not have to change the way you dress when you go to the temple.

Ephesians 2:19-20
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God,
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Sisters, if President Monson was sitting up here, I wonder how many would nurse your babies in front of him. That may be an accepted cultural tradition of the past, but when we join The Church of Jesus Christ, we leave some of the incorrect traditions, of our past life, behind and adopt higher traditions of modesty. The chapel is not the place to feed your babies, nor is being where the public can observe you. A small blanket can be used to cover yourself so that modesty can be preserved.

In Mosiah 4:29-30 And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

In the last days of the Nephite nation, Mormon mourns about how the people had lost their sense of moral values and civility.

Moroni 9:11-14
11 O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization—
12 (And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people)
13 But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination—
14 How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?

Moroni counsels us that the Book of Mormon is to help us to be wiser than they were.

Physical intimacy between a husband and wife is a beautiful and sacred part of God’s plan for His children. It is an expression of love within a marriage and allows husband and wife to participate in the creation of life. God has commanded that this sacred power be expressed only between a man and a woman who are married. The law of chastity applies to both men and women. It includes strict abstinence from sexual relations before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage.