My Dear Grandkids:
I want to have a very honest and direct talk with you and I ask that you please listen carefully to your Grandpa T.
You know that Grandma and I love being missionaries here in Uganda, and enjoy getting to know the people and the culture. But one thing that really breaks my heart is to see the extreme struggles the people go through because of flaws in their culture. Let me explain.
Lying is a huge problem here. People will lie to your face in a very convincing way if they feel they can benefit. They make up the most heartbreaking stories to get your sympathy, hoping you will give them money or pay for their school or medical costs. It’s very hard for us missionaries not to help since it is against the rules and often ends up hindering their self-reliance.
Stealing is so rampant here that you have to live inside a kind of jail with bars on your doors and windows, and a full time guard inside a tall walled fence with razor wire on top. If someone can get to your stuff, they will take it. Just today Grandma saw of a woman at church who had left her scriptures on a chair for a minute with here tithing inside the cover, only to return and find the money gone – this is at church, mind you.
Then there is the huge problem of immorality. By the time a child reaches puberty, about age 11 to 12, most have experienced sex by abuse or by choice. Men can go to a nearby bar and pay a young woman 1,000 or 2,000 shillings (30-60¢) for sexual relations. In many cases, the girl then uses the money to buy food for her family. Therefore, by the time boys and girls are young adults, there is hardly one to be found who has kept themselves virtuous. In the past week, I have talked with four different men who are active, worthy members of the Church, who cannot find a girl to date that they would consider marrying. This reminded me of a scripture I really like.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Prov 31:10, 29
On top of the consequences of an immoral life, the continual spread of HIV including AIDS is still at epidemic levels here. I don’t know if the majority of adults have the HIV virus, but certainly a large percentage of the population does. That alone should deter anyone being promiscuous.
If you could come here for just a few weeks, you could see how lying, stealing and immorality have crippled Africa. Only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ can this country be healed, and even then it may take a generation before the healing takes full effect.
I know from experience that sometimes you might get tired of constantly hearing lectures about righteous living. But let me assure you that all these things can provide a shield to protect you and bless you in your life. The blessing of worthy marriage in the temple, being trustworthy and honorable in all your dealings cannot be over-stated.
I earnestly pray that you will each commit to live the Gospel all your life. If you do, God will bless you beyond measure even though life has many challenges. If not, I caution you may suffer the consequences of breaking your promises to God. Please be good boys and girls. It really is that simple. I promise you will never regret it.
All my love and prayers for each of you,