This week was packed with Muslim stuffage! Ramadan has been going on
for about 20 days, and some of our good Islamic friends who observe it
have been telling us all about it. For those who can't use a search
engine, Ramadan is basically when Muslims fast for 40 days. They do it
about every nine months, since it follows a lunar calendar. This time
of year must be one of the hardest to fast from sunrise to sunset!
We have an Egyptian family that we do service for 1 - 2 times a week
that invited us over to break their fast with them. We first helped
one of their family members, Amy, for 3 hours in her yard. She always
puts us to work! This time we did a lot of weeding and digging, weed
whacking and mowing. It's actually pretty fun to see it all come
together - Elder Johnson and I call it "our yard," because we've done
so much work on it. While we're out their working, Amy always asks us
what plant would look best, or where we could move a rock, or
whatever. We always tell her, and she's kind enough to try out our
ideas, but then she moves it back to where she wants it.
Although Amy isn't really interested in taking the discussions, she
always asks us questions about what we believe while we're working -
we've basically taught her lessons 1 - 3! She's always shocked when
she hears things that are similar between our religions. We told her
about when Jesus fasted for 40 days before he began his ministry, and
she loved that. Her heart is certainly softened from all of the
service we've done for her.
After service, she invited us into her home (which is ginormous) the
next night for a Ramadan feast! There was fried chicken stuff,
Egyptian macaroni, beets and peas, salad, and lots of other dishes. I
can't remember what they're called, but they have fancy Arabic names.
I had to at least try everything that was there!
Amy lives with her 90 - something year-old mother, and her three
siblings. The children all take care of their mom, since she can't
care for herself. Amy said she never attended college, but she did a
marvelous job of raising four successful children who all achieved a
higher education. Amy is a pharmacist, her brother, Moody, is a
lawyer, her younger sister is a scientist (biologist, I think), and
her youngest sister is an... Astronaut. Jk, I don't remember :). But
it's something awesome. They are all incredibly hospitable, and
they're are more Christlike than most Christians!
Before we started to eat, they gave us a cup of dried fruits soaked in
water. I think they were dates, I'm not certain. They drink it before
every meal to raise their blood sugar. It was pretty tasty! After I
finished my first plate, they insisted that I eat more - and more, and
more... It was nuts! I had like three plates filled with food! I can't
tell you how many times they asked if I wanted more food, and I can't
count on my fingers and toes how many times they said, "this is your
home!" It was a fantastic night.
Oh! And the best part was when they whipped out the desert! I was
already stuffed to the brim, but I told myself that I could fit more.
I don't remember what it was called, but it was dried noodles with
honey or something. It was actually really tasty! I asked for a little
piece, but they scooped a helping as big as a horse. I don't know how
I did it, but I ate it all. All I can say is, The Lord hath been my
I love experiencing all the different cultures here - it's awesome to
learn about other people's religion and background!
We also taught Alfred this week! Alfred is from Sierra Leone, and he
is brothers with a recent convert, Osman. Osman comes to church
regularly, and Alfred will tag along when he's in town. Right now
they're in a difficult living situation, and they're both searching
for jobs. They had two interviews each this week, so hopefully
something comes from that.
Alfred was a pastor in Africa, so he's very familiar with the Bible -
especially the New Testament. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and
he loved it! He paid attention and asked great questions. He accepted
and understood everything that was taught. The only things that really
keep him from baptism are the trinity, and priesthood authority. But
once we get past those obstacles, it should be smooth sailing.
Learning about, and teaching, the Plan of Salvation and teaching it
has been one of the greatest eye-openers for me. We have all fallen
short of God's glory, and the Savior has redeemed us. If we are
obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will receive "all that the
Father hath." Without the Savior, living the principles of the gospel
(faith, repentance), would have meant nothing - it wouldn't have
mattered how well we lived our lives because there wouldn't have been
anything worth living for. But, because the Only Begotten of the
Father performed the atonement, there's a bright future and hope for
us all. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which
according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively
hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an
inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:3-4
This veil of tears is challenging at times. But, if we remain
"steadfast and immovable," our rewards in Heaven will overcompensate
the injustices dealt, seemingly incessantly, by mortality. I believe
in that with all the conviction of my soul! I've felt the Savior's
atoning sacrifice work through me, giving me perseverance when it gets
hard to endure, and blessing me with resilience when the world strives
to tell me I'm not good enough. There's too much evidence for that not
to be true. The GOSPEL is true, and we are living the great plan of
Thank you for all that you've done to support me and my family!
Elder Tanner Hansen