Of course, I know God loves everyone -- I just think he has a special place in his heart and his plan right now for these African people who have waited so long for gospel blessings. I just finished a book this week called "Safe Journey: An African Adventure," by Glenn L. Pace, who was an LDS Area President here 1998-2001. It was given to me before I left -- and I'm so grateful that I had the chance to learn more about the explosive growth of the Mormon church in West Africa. I highly recommend it to any LDS members who are interested (I'll share my copy when I get back to the States -- let me know if you want to borrow it). This book bore a strong witness that God wants to bless his children here in Africa and people here are very ready to receive His blessings. I had another experience with the faith and testimony of church members here today with our Victoria Island ward's fast and testimony meeting. For those reading this who are not familiar with Mormonism -- this is a worship service usually held on the first Sunday of the month, where members come fasting (the money that would be used for the meals that are sacrificed is donated in an offering that will go to help members in need of assistance) and during the service the time is opened up to members of the congregation to, in turn, bear testimony to each other extemporaneously. Though often in testimony meetings there is a lull between speakers, here that was not the case. Speakers were encouraged to keep their remarks to under 2 minutes and the one who went slightly longer got a poke on the leg from the bishop! It was beautiful to see the bright countenances, hear the strong testimonies and feel the joy of members here as they bore witness to what they believed. It is a real privilege to be among such people of faith.
Last Sunday after church I was asked to be the ward organist -- no surprise, since I knew they didn't have any members here who were able to play the hymns. They really do quite well singing the hymns acapella -- but I know they will appreciate having accompaniment. I got to church early to play some prelude music, but the power had gone out. The room was quite stifling without the ceiling fans going. But soon someone got the generator going so the fans started up, but we still couldn't get the keyboard going. We started the meeting singing hymns without accompaniment, but someone sat by the keyboard for the first part of the meeting and kept unhooking and checking cords and he was able to get it on and working, so I was able to play the closing hymn on the keyboard. Hopefully that won't be a weekly problem.
In Relief Society, our women's meeting, we had a very good lesson and discussion on fasting. The teacher asked the class why we fast -- and there were many good answers -- we do it to gain inspiration into our own lives, to ask the Lord for answers to our problems, to plead for help with family members who may need blessings. I don't know if I can state it as beautifully as one young woman who answered: "When we fast, by giving up such a basic need as food, we acknowledge before God that we are dependent on him. We let Him know that we rely on Him for everything in this world, we acknowledge His hand in all our blessings, and we look to Him with faith to meet all our needs." What a beautiful understanding of this principle!
On a totally different subject: the Super Bowl IS on live here on ESPN -- starting at about 1 AM. We were invited over for dinner last night to the home of another Brass employee and his wife who live in our building. We were talking about the game and "the wife" said that the sad thing about the game here is that they usually don't show the commercials, which are her favorite part. I have to agree that I usually watch them more attentively than the game. I'll probably stay up for the beginning of the game, but I doubt I'll last very long. I finally feel like I'm getting over my jet lag -- I don't want to regress back into US time!