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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Schilaty

Coming to Hearken

The story of Rhoda presents a clash of beliefs. She knew through personal experience that Peter was at the door. On the other hand, the disciples knew that it couldn’t be Peter because, based on the information they had, he was still locked in prison. They initially thought Rhoda was crazy; then they came up with alternative explanations to what she was saying (“It’s just his angel”). But it wasn’t until they experienced it for themselves that they knew what Rhoda knew all along.  The whole story might have been different if all of them “came to hearken,” as Rhoda did, the first time Peter knocked on the door. But she had been the only one who went out to listen and attend to the person knocking at the door. I’d just like to share one quick example from my own life of me “knowing” something that I didn’t actually know. Growing up I firmly believed that people were poor because they were lazy. If you work hard and apply yourself you won’t be poor, I thought. Prosperity resulted from thrift, labor, and righteousness. If you were poor, it was your fault. I served my mission in Mexico and interacted with many poor people (Is it more polite to say impoverished people?). However, I failed to realize the systemic causes of poverty in that country. I continued to believe that if people just worked hard they could pull themselves up by their bootstraps and prosper. I mentioned these thoughts to my Mexican companions and was often reprimanded and told that I was an arrogant American. I didn’t listen. Even though I knew poor people, I didn’t understand them or their situations. My companions were right. I was arrogant. A year after my mission I did an internship with LDS Employment Resources Services in Bolivia. Part of my work included teaching workshops to church members who were applying for Perpetual Education Fund loans. These low interest loans would allow them to get vocational training. For the first time, I spent hours talking with people about their dreams for the future and the barriers to those dreams. I learned that at the time the minimum wage in Bolivia was about $50 USD a month, but tuition cost around $40 USD a month. It was nearly impossible for most people to afford tuition without a loan, and loans were not as easy to obtain in Bolivia as they are in the US. It finally sunk in that there were systemic causes to poverty. Some people were basically trapped. 

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