We are at the MTC and had President Monson as the speaker in Sacrament meeting this morning. He spoke for an hour, and really taught us some great principles as we prepare to go out into the mission field. There were ten of the apostles and both the counselors in the first Presidency there also. Several people came running up to us wanting to talk – including Elder and Sister Hilbig (ex member of the Area Presidency), and some mission president couples, one who has a less active son living in Sydney. One of the missionaries in our mission had written to us before we left home, saying that his father was a seventy. It turned out that he is a General Authority member of the Temple Department Executive committee. His parents are from Korea and we had a delightful time at dinner talking about their last assignment in the Area Presidency in Japan, and their son in the Sydney mission. They invited Sister Linda Burton, the Relief Society General President, and Bishop Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop to sit with us. It was a wonderful hour with all these charming people. What I am finding so incredible is that these people will come and sit with us and act really interested in what we are doing, and in our family. The great thing? They are not acting – they are genuine. The more I get to know the leaders of the church, the more I discover that they are not aloof and stand-offish, but rather they are really Christ-like and warmly interested in we folk that are the rank and file of the church. Their very nature teaches so many lessons on how to develop Christ-like attributes.
Almost six months to the day since we received our call, here we are in the MTC to receive our training as mission president. It is an exciting place to be. I can now understand why the young missionaries enjoy it so much. Back in my day in the mission there was nothing quite so luxurious as the MTC. The spirit we felt today was wonderful. The people are all happy to be there, and the missionary department staff are all so helpful. As we stepped out of the car a young man came up to us and addressed us by name. Then a group of young people came and took our bags, ushered us into the foyer, offered bottles of water, and gave us out first lot of paper work. We were there – such a great feeling after all those months of waiting. The next few days will be packed with much to do and learn before we are sent back to Sydney to begin our service. Thanks to all for your support.
When the Saints first entered the Salt Lake Valley about all they saw apart from the all encompassing desert was this tiny creek – City Creek. Subsequent development and man made progress saw this little creek disappear in a concrete drain under streets and buildings. Finally it has emerged, phoenix-like, once more exposed to the world to show its beauty, never more to be hidden. In this photo, we see City Creek flowing through rocks and flanked by trees and mossy plants. In the mid-ground of the picture we see the Church Administration building – where the General Authorities have their offices. In the background rises the multi-storey Church Office Building. It struck me as quite the panorama of progress in the church. Rather than cover up the creek with a street or a building it is now exposed and gives living water to a thirsty world. It is from the quorums of the priesthood brethren that we receive the guidance and revelation that we need to progress in our life, and it is though the tireless efforts of all who work in the church that it moves forward. That effort is symbolized in the office building as it soars out of sight in the photo. We have a lot to be grateful for when we consider our wonderful heritage.
We were standing outside the Salt lake Temple this morning, and the early morning sun made it look extremely bright and glowing. The reflection in the pool does not show in this picture, but it was stunning. I thought back over my memories of this magnificent temple – one of the first to be built in this dispensation. I remembered the day I received my endowment in the Salt Lake Temple. It was a day or two before I went into the mission home to commence my time as a missionary. It was while we were in the old mission home that we, as missionaries, were taken on a ‘tour’ of the temple, and we were shown many areas that are not normally accessible. As missionaries we were addressed by one of the General Authorities while we were up in the 5th floor assembly room. Several years later Judy and I were sealed in the Salt Lake temple. We received our training for the temple presidency in the Salt Lake Temple. It has long been a sacred place most dear to us. Today was no exception. We were reminded of the sacred covenants we have made within those walls, and the desire was once again renewed to continue to be worthy of the great blessings promised to the faithful in the House of the Lord.
The new temple being constructed in Brigham City, Utah, is nearing completion. It certainly is a beautiful temple. It sits directly across the road from the old historic tabernacle. That building is an architectural masterpiece. We took a tour, and they showed a film. Apparently when the original block of land was chosen for the tabernacle, the prophet Brigham Young came and felt uneasy about the spot, and picked out a plot of land that was two blocks away. The tabernacle was constructed. I am not sure if Brigham Young knew that many years later a temple would be built on the land opposite, or whether the Lord was prompting him to build it in another place. Either way, it strengthens my resolve to know that provision was made for a new temple to be constructed directly opposite the old tabernacle.
It is not really clear in the picture, but if you look carefully you will see two balls stuck up in the roof. Sometimes when you are just doing what you are meant to do, following the rules, serving faithfully, just being a good ball, getting pushed around a bit but generally responding to life’s pressures, you get a rogue hit that scuttles you. You literally get stuck in the roof. We’ve all seen those balls up in the roof of the gym or the squash court, or stuck in the cyclone fence at the local tennis court. It’s no fun for the ball, and it’s no fun for us when we get miss-hit or handled poorly. I figure there are two reactions: We can either stay up in the roof and perish under the heat of the summer sun, or we can respond to the attempts of others to rescue us. A common way of getting those balls down is to try to knock them down with another ball. Sometimes the getting down is painful – especially if we think that we are the victim in the first place, and then more insult is added in an attempt to help us. Let us always be striving to get whatever help we can when life is giving us a bad run.
Our new house is drawing closer to completion. The kitchen installers have been meticulously leveling every cupboard, vanity and item they are installing. In the process they have created much fine sawdust. The fit out is going well, but they are leaving a lot of debris. Tonight after school our five year old grand daughter came to inspect the day’s activity. In the dust on the floor she wrote: “Sorry. You can just walk past. This is Lady and Eva’s house.” Of course it was funny – all the more so because she and her family have just moved into a brand new house also. Sometimes however, we would fain lay claim to blessings that are not rightfully ours. A classic example shows in the writings of Abraham. Promised blessings are usually conditional, and are dependent on other factors such as obedience, faith, prayer, dedication and so forth. Let us not trick ourselves into thinking that we deserve blessings that are not fully earned or deserved.
I’m not too sure that we could rightly assume that this family of wood ducks were praying, but the nine chicks all had their heads down and they reminded me of a family praying together. Remember the old saying? A family that prays together, stays together. These ducks will stay together as a family for quite some time, and will feed, swim, sleep all together. Far too often our families drift apart in the currents of life because we either neglect or half-heartedly follow the direction of the prophets to pray, read the scriptures, and eat together as much as possible.
The entrance to our current home is via a long driveway which leads through the gate to our housing complex. Just before the gate the driveway forks and branches though a beautiful garden to an old mansion – Darroch House – which is used as a funeral home. Yesterday we saw an amzing site as we returned home. A bright yellow parrot with a striking red beak. It was obviously an Australian native – right? Wrong! Google Images correctly identified it as an Indian Ringnecked Parrot. While we have our own 4 varieties of ringnecked parrot here in Australia – including a Port Lincoln form – this yellow friend is apparently more of a fiend. As you can imagine, it is widely kept as a caged bird, a pet – but it seems so many are escaping that the authorities have labelled it a pest with the significant potential to establish populations and compete with our local birds for food and habitat.
The lesson for us is obvious. While we may do/say/think things in private, never intending for anyone to know about what we are harboring, there is always the possibility that word will get out. Children, grandchildren or spouses may innocently say something which is immediately picked up and it can spread like wildfire. Innocent parties can become infected by our indiscretion. the good name of the Church can be tainted by our very actions. Others may be mortally wounded by something we say or do, never intending to cause anyone harm but ourselves. We do need to watch our every thought, word and deed.
We were coming back from an activity at Prospect chapel the other night and we thought we would cut through Cluny Street so we could go past the temple. I was not thinking along those lines and had missed the regular road we would have taken. But there, in the middle of the road was a cat – no – it was a koala. It was ambling along the centre of the road and then it crossed to the footpath. Judy had not brought her camera with her, so I gave her mine. She had never used it before, so by the time she had it figured out, our furry friend had walked up the footpath, past at least one house, through a fence and started to climb a tree. This was the end result.
It hadn’t gone far from the safety of its usual habitat on the linear path, but it had gone far enough to get into trouble. I remember a talk by Sheri Dew discussing not crossing the DMZ while she was visiting Korea one time. I remember as a missionary being warned about the mercenary snipers on the hillside watching, waiting to see if we walked across the border from Peru into Chile. I remember the Brethren and Sisters in General Conference telling us quite plainly to stay away from pornography and other suspect material on the internet and on TV. I can also clearly recall various people describing movies that were OK except for a few words, that were OK if you closed your eyes for the bad bits, or that really did not deserve that R-rating. What is always of interest to me is that very little addiction occurs when no pornography is ever accessed or no drugs are done; no alcoholism ever occurs when there is not even a first taste, and there is very little chance of getting lung cancer if tobacco is avoided.
The message that koala gave me was that we should be where we are meant to be, that we should do what we are meant to do, and we should say what we are meant to say.