Monday, June 15, 2009

Not the Ideal Simulation

Last week we had a family function in Las Vegas. The town, itself, is not my ideal place to live, play, or be. However, I do have memories of going to Vegas on occasion as a child and driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip, marveling at the big buildings and lights and all the hustle and bustle. So, being the brilliant mother that I am (sarcasm there, you'll see), I suggested to Sai that we go down earlier in the day to take our boys to see the Exclaibur hotel, the NY NY, and other "great sights" on the strip. All I can say is - BIG MISTAKE!
We parked at the Excalibur and walked through - the casino. Not much to see except some same sex love and enough smoke to cook a pig. My boys had their noses covered as we hurried through the building, hoping the polution outside would not be as bad as it was inside. There were a couple of statues of knights - the highlight, but not much else. We walked out on the strip and saw the Statue of Liberty and then got trapped in blocks of construction. Half the strip was demolished and there were construction barricades/tunnels that we had to walk through. This is where it gets ugly. We passed many soliciters who were trying to pass out cards, that looked like baseball cards. We just passed by them, but when we got into the tunnels, the ground was littered with these cards and they were...inappropriate and immoral (don't want to link my blog with any specific words, so I hope you get the point). I wanted to die. There we were, stuck in a bleak tunnel, nothing to look at, but the ground, littered in these pictures. Shocked, I told my boys, "Look up! Can you see the clouds?" I tried to keep their eyes toward the sky as we walked and walked through this seemingly endless hell. Once out, we were still bombarded with the soliciters as well as huge passing trucks touting billboards with topless girls in undies. We determined that Sai would run back and get the van and come rescue us, so that we wouldn't have to go back through "hell."
I was devastated - only a mother can relate - here I pray and worry daily about what my children will be faced with and exposed to in their lives, and then I bring them face to face with evil. I wished for a magic wand. I regretted being so stupid and clueless. Then I realized, I had to teach. I noticed Sikeli seeing one of the disgraceful passing trucks and I made eye contact with him and said, "Remember what I've said about modesty? The Lord wants us to respect our bodies. Satan wants us to show them off and have others look at them. That's not okay." I apologized to them for bringing them into the Lion's Den. I told them I hadn't realized it was so filthy. I asked Sikeli if he felt the same spirit there as he does when we go to the temple grounds - he shook his head, no. Then I related our experience to Lehi's dream, saying, "Remember the 'mists of darkness?' Where people get off the path and are led away to sin? This is what that means. People are here thinking this is fun and entertaining, and it's not. It's fake. It's the temptations of Satan." We had some discussions and I felt some sense of peace and hope.
We found a secluded, grassy spot to play and wait for dad.
Relieved for the refuge, I fought back tears. Tears for my stupidity, and tears for the realization that this is the world today. That no matter what I do, my children will walk in a world of filth - one that is far different from the world I knew as a child. One where blatant sin traps have replaced subtle temptations. I'm raising leaders - priesthood leaders - missionaries - husbands - fathers. I realized that this is no small endeavor. EVERY DAY COUNTS! Every interaction either builds and solidifies their strength, character and testimony, or challenges it. As Julie Beck said, "Mothers Who Know Are Teachers." We must be. Because they WILL be taught - the only question is, "If not by us, then by who?" The answer: The World.
This experience follows the recent theme in my life - the need for simulations and educational experiences - and added to my conviction to make every day a spiritual, principle-based, learning experience.
May God be with all of us as mothers.


JLPierce Ohana said...

Sorry about the horrible experience, but you definitely put the right light on it for your kids. I've only really been to Circus, Circus and that isn't the best environment even though they are supposedly more kid-friendly.

Marcee said...

The world is a scary place, one where I don't want my children to grow... but like you said, we are their teachers. We are their examples... we are "IT" to them. Us as parents... it's a BIG job and one that I feel privilegded to have. I thank my Heavenly Father daily for the chance I have to raise his sons and daughters and hope He will be pleased!

Amber said...

Las Vegas is truly one of the most wicked places on earth. We recently went and saw the Lion King, which I would've loved to take my kids to. However, I like you refrain from ever taking them there unless I have to. Rick has his Nevada Law License, and we both have talked about how hard it is for him to go down there to work. The billboards, taxi's, everything its really hard to keep your thoughts pure. I hate it when he has to go down there. You are such a good mom, and classic Angel to turn something like that into a teaching moment.

I'm Natalie. said...

Oh my gosh Angel. I swear that story is straight out of my journal. When we left your house back in FEB we drove to Vegas and stayed the night. In the morning I wanted to take the boys driving down the strip and then we decided to get out (horrific mistake) and go see the pirate ship at Treasure Island and grab some lunch at the mall food court.

The absolute low point was when we were waiting to cross the street and one of those awful vans plastered with pictures that were absolutely disgusting came and was stopped at the light RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. The best description for the images requires a word that starts with a "p" has an "orno" in the middle and ends with a "graphic." I immediately grabbed my boys, smashed their faces into my body and told them to keep their eyes shut tight while mine filled with tears.

The world really is terrifying.

I'm so proud of you for helping Sikeli identify the difference in the way he felt there as apposed to the temple. That was inspired. You're such a great mom.

Sherry said...

Kudos for turning a bad situation into a teaching moment!