Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Choir and The Culture

Just like anywhere in the world, we suppose, there is an adult session for stake conference on Saturday evening.  This posed a little bit of a problem for those of us who work in the temple.  We arrived at the temple about 7:30 a.m. and knew to bring our peanut butter sandwiches for lunch.  We also brought fresh fruit.   We usually serve until about 6:20 p.m. We wondered if we would have time to eat before the 7 p.m. meeting began.  We decided to go to the Italian restaurant across the street to give it a try.  This was a "first" for the Days as well as us.  It is called Tarentella and Sister Jordan said the missionaries love it because it is an "all you can eat" place.  We paid 120 pesos each [$9.09] and ate as much pizza and pasta with sauce and dessert as we wanted.  They have a salad bar but we never know if the lettuce has been disinfected and if hands are clean that prepare the food.  The food was good.

We are part of the El Jardin ward and the Madero Stake. We have been looking forward to stake conference just because there was to be a stake choir singing.  We wanted to hear an actual choir before deciding that most people here just can’t carry much of a tune!  Those in the temple and our ward make up for their lack of musical pitch by their enthusiasm and their volume. Granted, we have been spoiled by the magnificent choir we have in the Farmington 11th ward.  Anyway, let’s step back and I will give you a little lesson about “culture.”  It is hard to get an idea of what “culture” means until you are personally immersed in it.   Years ago, we read a book called The Public Man that explained how the Catholic Church has influenced the Latin American countries.  A few of the points we remember from this book are (1) it is not what you know but who you know that matters.  Generally speaking, the author believes that while at school or in business, the connections people make with people are as important or more important than the knowledge.  How has the Catholic Church influenced people in this?  Well, they aren’t taught to pray personally to God in the Latin culture because He might tell them “no” because they don’t see Him as their own personal Heavenly Father and He might not know them very well.  So they pray to Mary because if she approaches God for them—well, He won’t say “no” to Mary—right?!  Point (2) is that how things appear are more important than what they contain.  The Catholic Churches are gorgeous with gold and beautiful statues and reeking with wealth.  So the author feels that people are influenced that to “look good” is what is important.  Soooooooooooo back to the choir that sang at the adult session of our stake conference and our main session today.  Last night the ladies had white blouses and black skirts and a corsage or something on their blouses and the men had on their white shirts and black suits.  Today, all of the women were in matching red dresses with a white feather pinned to their shoulder and the men had matching red ties with their white shirts and dark suits.  They looked fabulous and therefore, through the eyes of the locals, they were a great choir!   No one seemed to care or notice that the piano needed tuned; they weren’t keeping together while they sang; once they did hit a high note, they slid down the other side of it; some tried to sing louder than the rest; they often sang flat, etc.  <sigh>  But they looked good and loved what they did and the entire congregation was well pleased.  So that is what counts.

We just tried to attach a voice recording of the choir but this Blog wouldn't accept that kind of file.  I sent the short recording to Jim who has the calling of his ward's choir director.  He listened and said "The better the choir sounds, the slower church membership is growing and vice versa.  Sounds like the missionaries are doing a good job!"

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