Today, I taught a lesson in Relief Society on Being a Good Citizen.

What with the elections coming up, I thought it would be a timely lesson, and I was hoping – really hoping – that I’d have more than one local sister in Relief Society.

See, the locals at church still operate on local time, which means that if a meeting starts at 9:30, they might show up fifteen minutes late, an hour late, or even later than that, if at all. Everything here is very flexible. In Relief Society, unfortunately, I’m used to not having very many local women showing up on time. I’m lucky to have three show up by the end of the class. This is not good.

Today, however, I had three show up on time. You’re kidding me! That, on top of myself and the missionaries and other foreigners, and while small, it’s not as small as it has been.

I begin teaching, and it becomes clear very quickly that, while the Sri Lankan women usually are very quite and reserved and don’t participate much in lessons, are very willing to get vocal about things like politics, government, and elections. It took us only a few minutes before we had a very lively discussion happening.

One of the questions I had was whether or not the people in rural areas had decent access to political and governmental information. I wonder partly because only somewhere around two thirds of the country has electricity, so there goes television and radio for them. But no, I’m told that nowadays, even rural people have easy access to such information. Newspapers are everywhere, one sister tells me.

In the last election, television stations were not able to broadcast their own opinions, or be unbiased. They were either run by or owned by political leaders, so completely biased. Now, very different. News people can say what they want.

I asked also if it was safe to write letters to politicians. In Canada, it definitely is. No biggie. No one’s gonna come to my house and kill me if I write a nasty letter to the Prime Minister and tell him how much I hate him and want to see him dead. But here, so many people are so passionate about their opinions.

Yeah. Canadians are apathetic, lazy, and excessively docile about things political. That’s why British Columbia has Premier after Premier embroiled in scandals of every kind. That’s why Alberta’s Premier is a wife-beating alcoholic who was arrested in Germany for soliciting a prostitute in the 1980s. That’s why Canada is now going through a major scandal with a half dozen of Jean Chretien’s top advisors linked to misappropriating a quarter of a billion dollars. Cuz we don’t care who we let into office.

But here? People care. Oh yeah, they care.

So back to the letter question. The answer I got was that yes, it’s safe to send letters to politicians, expressing your views and whatnot – as long as you don’t state your religion. Have to leave that out. Especially if the politician you’re writing to is of a different religion than you.

Of course there’s the standard don’t attend political rallies, demonstrations, that sort of thing – they get violent too quickly. Temperance is not a common characteristsic here.

All in all, it was a good lesson. I’m not one of those to stand at the front of the room and spout my opinions. My opinions don’t matter. I’m not gonna lecture on someone else’s opinions either. That’s just too boring for words. Nah, I prefer discussions. Learn from each other. We all have something to contribute, we all have ways we can learn from each other, and we all have ways that we can instruct each other.

Later, I got a phone call from Karen Merrill. She and her husband are the new CES – Church Education System – missionaries here, and part of their function is training – training the leaders. Improve how things function here. Karen is also the new District Relief Society President, and her and I have been having discussions about the needs of the women here, and we get along great. It helps that we have the same goals and see the same possibilities for Sri Lanka. And her husband, Dallas, is pretty terrific, too.

She called to tell me that, when she, her husband, and Pres. Sunil, the District President, went to Kandy today, she ended up teaching a beginner Family History class. This is how you get started. And they did it. Now, President Sunil wants to do the same thing in Negumbo next Sunday.

Pres. Sunil also realized that I, as the District Family History Consultant, should be there to give such a class, or at least support the person who’s teaching the class, or something of the kind.

Well, as it turns out, I could not have gone today to Kandy anyway – my Second Counsellor was sustained only last week, so this is her first week in the calling in Relief Society, and that would just be cruel and unusual punishment to abandon her on her first day. Plus she’s really really shy and quiet. Nah, that wouldn’t be fair at all.

But next week? Well, I’ll have Sister Bennion help her if she needs it. Sister Bennion is incredibly reliable and dependable and all those other really good things. As long as she’s at church next week, she’ll do it.

And I also found out that Pres. Sunil is going to see that all of the branches have a Branch Family History Consultant called immediately if not sooner, so now I’ll have people to train.

Gotta prepare for that, too.

Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at

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