Sunday, November 11, 2007

The 92nd good thing about Lagos: Other people here are looking for good things

I turned to a copy of the LDS Church News this afternoon (Oct. 20 edition) for some Sunday reading and was delighted to discover a letter that had been sent in by Elder Claude Rawlins -- he and his wife recently left Lagos at the end of their 18 month mission here. I have a picture of them in a prior post. This was for the "Living by the Scriptures" feature where readers quote a scripture and talk about how they were influenced by it in their lives. He was writing about Matthew 6:34: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I'd like to reproduce Elder Rawlins comments here -- I hope he won't mind!

"Asleep in our Lagos, Nigeria flat, I awoke in the early hours with the words of the Savior implanted perfectly in my mind: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I recognized that I had read them before and assumed they were part of the Sermon of the Mount, but I had no recollection of ever focusing on their meaning. To recoin a phrase: out of the blue, the message was delivered and I knew I had to pursue its meaning.

When mission presidents and senior couples like us first arrive at the Lagos Airport they are immediately crammed into an overloaded environment that is not at all like home. Traffic is scary, electricity is sporadic, water is occasional, sewers are open, shopping is ... let's say it takes some getting used to. Lagos is a city of around 20 million people with an unemployment rate exceeding 80%. It is so very different from anything most North Americans have ever experienced. Frustration is inevitable and anger is close to automatic. A common response is to begin a cynical cataloging of everything that is wrong which, of course, runs counter to why we were sent here in the first place.

I have been led to understand that there is plenty of evil in the world. My calling is not to add to it, by bringing attention to all of the problems in this country. My purpose is to "seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33) and simply go about doing the good the mission president has assigned us to do.

While there is sufficient evil for each day, there is never enough good being done. Focus on the good."

This is a wise practice wherever we may be, but especially important for those living in Lagos. Focus on the good.

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