Poverty and Optimism

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In this month?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Ensign, Elder Aleksandr N. Manzhos, an Area Authority Seventy, wrote of a young mother in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. She had very low factory wages that were paid to her infrequently, and she lived in the factory?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s dormitory. It was very difficult to provide for herself and for her one-year-old child.

Not long after her baptism, she was preparing food for herself and her child when a young woman who lived in the same building said: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI know things are difficult for you. Like me, you are a single mother, earning low wages, with no place of your own to live. There is little hope of a good future for yourself and your child. Like me, you have a gray, dull life. Like me, you fear for your child and the uncertainty of tomorrow. But why are you always smiling and your eyes always shining? Why does joy light up your face??¢‚Ǩ¬ù

The questions made this sister stop and think about the changes that had occurred since her baptism. As she gained faith in Jesus Christ, the fear that had corroded her life had disappeared. The path back to the Father that opened before her had permitted her to have hope, which had led her to baptism and developed within her a certainty of a tranquil and happy future for her small family. By receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, she had received a firm testimony. The false values of the world gradually gave way to the higher values of the gospel, and these higher values became a firm foundation for both thought and deed. She realized that it was precisely these changes that had given her a new outlook on the world. Long-awaited joy and peace had come into her life.

Reading this cause me to reflect on my own life and the hardships I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve faced. It also raises the question: if converts in poverty-stricken and economically fallen areas are able to gain so much faith and optimism despite their hard times, why can those of us already in the faith in relatively richer areas not have the same optimism when we are stricken with poverty? Why does unemployment or serious illness get us down so easily?

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