Sunday, July 22, 2007

The 58th good thing about Lagos: Insightful gospel teaching

It was a pleasure to return to church again today to the Victoria Island ward. Getting there was a challenge, as there was rain overnight. The dirt road that leads to the church off the main road gets very rutted with deep puddles after rain. It's hard to judge how deep the puddles are and cars and the okadas (motorcycle taxis) zig-zag down the street trying to stay as close to the edges of the puddles as possible. We managed to not sink too low in any puddles or get stuck. I was very grateful to have a car to negotiate the hazardous street. So many of the church members come down this street in okadas and must get splattered and muddy. Others walk the kilometer up the road up to the main street where they can catch a bus, and have to slog through the mud and the debris lining the road. I hope it won't be long before the ward can qualify for a new building that will be closer to public transportation.

I had heard that one of my young piano students had been doing a great job accompanying the hymns while I was gone (using the Hymns Made Easy book). When I arrived he was at the sacrament table and said I should play the keyboard. The keyboard power cord was broken, so it was running off batteries, which had a poor connection and went out several times. When we started the closing hymn, I couldn't get the keyboard power to work, so the chorister started the congregation singing acapella. Shortly into the first verse, the keyboard started holding power so I decided to just start playing, expecting the group to adjust to the key from the keyboard. But they were settled into the key that they had started singing in and so it was quite an amusing musical clash as I was playing in one key and they were singing in another. They continued it through both verses of the hymn. That takes talent! My piano students had been practicing and were pleased to see the new hymnbook with simplified accompaniments that I brought back for them. I think Patrick at least is very ready to step up to this new level.

We had a wonderful lesson today in Relief Society (our women's organization). Our teacher was the former Relief Society President, who had recently been released when her husband was called to be our new bishop. (After the class I asked to take her picture with her object lesson props.) They are a wonderful young couple who will be great leaders in the church in Nigeria. Her lesson was based on Elder Bednar's talk from the last General Conference -- the wonderful talk that had the "pickle parable." While I was in Houston, we had a Relief Society lesson based on this talk where the teacher brought cucumbers and jars of vinegar and displayed the object lesson that Elder Bednar used comparing the process of pickling cucumbers to the process of being born again. But our Nigerian sister adapted this lesson on being born again to an object lesson that was familiar to her Nigerian class. She started by placing some objects on the table that were familiar to everyone except the two Americans in the class. These are palm fruit and a bottle of palm oil. (Though petroleum products have taken over as Nigeria's major economic resource, palm oil used to be its primary export and resource.) Our teacher asked a member of the class to relate the process required in getting the palm oil out of the palm fruit. She talked about cleaning the seed and scraping the surface and then putting the fruit in water on the fire and after heating it for a certain amount of time, you would take out the seed and put it in a mortar and pound it and then boil it some more and siphon off the oil. Our teacher discussed the steps of this process of producing palm oil and used scriptures to compare them to the process in our lives when we are born again. Our spirits need to be prepared and cleansed. Then we go through the refining process compared to the boiling and pounding and filtering of the palm fruit. Then she showed her bottle of palm oil and talked about putting the oil in a clean container and sealing it so it would stay pure and clean. Throughout the lesson the class members contributed some wonderful insights to this process. They talked about how mothers teach their daughters this process of producing palm oil comparing how we teach our families through precept and example how we can live our lives to draw closer to the Lord. They talked about how when the fruit is not used within a short time, it loses its value. And when the boiling is not done thoroughly and correctly, there is a "poison" in the fruit that can be very harmful. The process must be done completely to make a usable oil. It's only through the process of producing the oil that the fruit becomes valuable and when the oil is ready, it can be added to a soup and its influence will be expand to a much larger extent than the small amount of oil used in the soup. The teacher concluded by saying that we all know (well, it was news to me) that palm oil is a great source of vitamin A (the wikipedia article said that it is the betacarotene in palm oil that gives it the orange color), which helps us with our eyesight and vision. She said we need this sight and vision in our lives as we strive through this goal of becoming born again. It was inspiring to see this masterful teaching experience as Sister I. adapted this lesson to something relevant and understandable to her Nigerian sisters.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

What a great analogy! That was very interesting to learn more about palm fruit and oil. Thanks for telling the story mom!