As we were travelling with President and Sister Clark today, we were asked to take some time during meetings with all of the missionaries later this week to share some thoughts with them as we approach the end of our time in Liberia. As you can imagine, many things could be said to encourage and counsel those that are continuing to serve here. The words that the prophet Jacob shared as he concluded his record have come to mind: “O be wise, what can I say more?” Translating that into today’s language, our bishop put it this way many years ago as he was speaking to the youth: “Don’t do dumb things!” Those two phrases summarize succinctly what a lifetime of experience taught these good leaders.
While certain courses of action should be obvious, people sometimes are not wise enough to follow the counsel and learn from the experience of others. For example, it is well known that malaria is very prevalent in Liberia. It would seem to be wise, prudent, obvious to take measures to avoid contracting it, especially if you are provided with the means to do so (using mosquito nets, taking anti-malarial medicine, going indoors when it is dark, etc). Yet there are some that chose to not use what has been provided and as a result, end up with malaria. Similarly at home, there are areas that are designated as “out of bounds” for skiing, hiking, swimming, etc but many ignore these warnings and end up needing rescue, putting themselves and others at risk as a result.
One of the things that we were counselled before we came to Liberia was to not step in and be the expert telling people how things need to be done. We have tried to follow that counsel each day and time after time have seen the wisdom in it. We have enjoyed sitting back and watching as people approached things differently than we would in North America, but at the end of the day, had the outcome that was needed.
The Saviour said “Come, follow me”. That is an invitation and a commandment. He has tread the path that we must walk. He knows where the dangers are, He knows what our weaknesses are, He knows what each of us need to learn to become more like Him. How are we doing with this invitation? If you are anything like us, some days you do well and others not so much. How grateful we are that when we have made a mistake, developed a poor habit, went off on our own path, that we can still accept the invitation to “Come, follow me”, and He will show us what we need to do to make things right and get ourselves back on track. It would be wise to follow the counsel, example and footsteps of Him that marked the path for us…