A few months after we got married, Norma and I went to live in Asunción, Paraguay. As young people full of energy and dreams, we moved forward starting from precarious conditions. We started living in a small room, until we got the resources to rent a small house for us and our first child. That little house had a large space in the back and a garden in front. We felt like we owned the world.
We began to embellish the place by planting trees and making a family garden. We planted mango trees in the front of the house, we painted the sidewalk curb white, as well as the walls that surrounded it, we painted the trunks of the trees to avoid pests and we put stones around them also painted white. There was no money to hire a painter to paint the house, so we both painted the house and took care of it even though it was not ours. The house was always clean, and well organized. It was a refuge. A place of peace where our children spent the first years of their lives.
After we started painting the house and embellishing it, the neighbors began to do the same; soon, the whole block had sidewalk curb painted white and the houses painted. The block had been transformed.
The film “The Violinist on the roof” tells the story of Anatevka, an imaginary village in Ukraine in which Jews and Orthodox live in harmony. In that small town lives Tevye, the milkman, with his wife Golde and his daughters. Because society and traditions are changing, Tevye gathers his daughters and explains why they have traditions and tells them:
'It seems crazy, right? But here, in our town of Anatevka, each of us is like a violinist on the roof who tries to play a serious and simple melody, without breaking his head. It's not easy, right? Maybe you ask us why we went up there, if it is so dangerous...; well, if we go up it is because Anatevka is our home... And how do we maintain balance? I can say it with one word: Tradition! Tradition is what has allowed us to keep our balance for many, many years ... Without all these traditions, our life would be like a violinist on the roof.
Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything, to eat, to dress, to sleep... And you must be wondering how these traditions began?
Oh, I can answer it easily ... I have no idea!
But they are traditions and thanks to our traditions everyone here knows what they are and what God expects of them”.
As members of the church we are different from the rest of the world because of our knowledge of what God expects of us.
That knowledge should inspire us to press forward.
The husband must provide for the home, he must be a worker since in Sion “there is no place for the idler”. D & C 42:42
We see that sometimes, according to the culture of the world, women work and men rest or benefit from their work; that the man commands and the woman obeys and serves him. That is not the culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
'And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious and to labor with their hands.' 2 Nephi 5:17
The document “The Family, A Proclamation to the World” is like a refreshing breeze on a summer afternoon. Husband and wife work together to build a family for God.
Elder Tom L. Perry said:
“The practice of having traditions to keep us close to the great heritage which is ours to enjoy should be something every family should try to keep alive. If we will build righteous traditions in our families, the light of the gospel can grow ever brighter in the lives of our children from generation to generation. We can look forward to that glorious day when we will all be united together as eternal family units to reap the everlasting joy promised by our Eternal Father for His righteous children. Our family activities and traditions can be a beacon to the rest of the world as an example of how we should live to merit His choice blessings and live in peace and harmony until the day that He returns to rule and reign over us.” (L. Tom Perry, April 1990 GC)
Traditions, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, help us focus on what is of value and to discard other traditions that are foreign to the principles of the gospel.
Some of these traditions are:
- Kneeling daily to do family prayer
- Studying the scriptures together.
- Keeping the Sabbath, behaving correctly and having appropriate activities for the Lord's Day.
- Attending sacrament meetings and partaking of the sacraments
- Having family home evenings.
- Fasting monthly and paying our tithes and offerings to the Lord.
- Attending the temple and family history.
Other traditions that will also help us stay away from the world and to strengthen our family and enrich our lives are:
- Having a family garden
- Keeping my house neat and clean, which has no nothing to do with purchasing power, but with work habits.
- Receiving blessings from the father and his patriarchal blessing.
- Missionary preparation.
- Participating in Seminar and Institutes courses
- Seeking excellence through the improvement of education
In establishing these traditions each family must include a family council, composed of all its members to teach the children basic responsibilities in family organization since they can thusly learn how to make decisions and act accordingly.
Marriages without children or those who live alone are not exempt from this task. The individual is a “family” and these traditions will help them stay focused on what is important and essential.
We must work for that to which we aspire. President Joseph F. Smith, who learned to do the work of an adult from an early age and passed on his work ethic to his children.
He would tell them: 'People tend to die in bed; and the same thing happens with aspirations”. With that principle in mind, he and his wife tried to get the children up early in the morning and do their part to keep the house clean and tidy.
President Smith also helped with household chores. When he and his wife Louie were newlyweds, he worked in the construction of his first house and learned to do most of the domestic repairs. He would also help to cook, and to harvest ripe fruits and preserve them in jars.
May our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ be adorned by the practice of these traditions that are part of his gospel which will embellish our lives and provide the light that will illuminate our path to Him and thus not only at the end of the journey, but even in as we walk along our path we can express:
“And it came to pass that we live after the manner of happiness.” 2 Nephi 5:27