Brolly to the ready

The Dutch love to talk about the weather.
I believe it to be one of their most beloved national pastimes. 😊
…At least that’s what it seems like to me!
And these last few weeks, one thing has dominated lots of conversations.
𝑹𝒂𝒊𝒏!
“April showers” is a well-used phrase that is engrained in our culture – there have been many of late.
It seems to have rained and rained and rained constantly this month.
As a Scot, I am all too familiar with it too!
Recently, my umbrella has been particularly useful.
The fact is, Dutch weather is indeed mild, damp, and windy.
It is comparable to my homeland.
Similarly, in life we have all experienced showers, or seasons of gloominess and sadness.
Sometimes I grumble a little about the rain. You probably do too.
What could be “right about rain?”
Yet, I love the hopeful phrase “right as rain” implying that everything is satisfactory.
Then, I remember that rain is essential for new growth.
April showers help much more than just May flowers.
Spring is a time of renewal and regeneration as things long thought dead, once again spring into a newness of life.
In a like manner, spring is also a time of reenergizing ourselves.
Rain brings 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆.
In Ezekiel 34:26 we read; “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing, and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing…”
Just like this scripture, we are reminded that even the most unpleasant of things, in this case the heavy rains of April, can bring forth great showers, even an abundance of blessings.
Because of Him, I know that the same God that gives us rain also gives us sunshine.
There are always intermittent rays of sunshine to brighten our days, they’re called missionaries! 😊
Watch carefully, the weather always changes.
Maybe it is time to change your outlook.
There is sunshine ahead!

Consecrated

I gave one of our missionaries a blessing this week and as we talked about consecrated oil, this story came back to mind.
… Some years ago, I was passing through airport security.
Like many times before, I put all my loose items in the security tray.
Picking up my keys, the security officer pointed to one item.
Uncustomarily, he asked “What’s this for?”
“Its an oil vial” I responded.
He looked puzzled.
Explaining further “It’s a religious item. It contains consecrated olive oil for blessings…”
He looked at me rather quizzically, placed them back in the tray and signalled me to move on.
With a large queue of people behind me, I regret that I didn’t take more time to explain.

Religious

What does it mean to 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 something?
“To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes.”
Why olive oil?
Olive oil is used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in blessing the sick and anointing in the temple.
The consecrated olive oil is then stored in a vial and used when required.

Parables

New Testament parables use oil as a symbol of healing, light, sacredness, purity and the Holy Ghost. (Luke 10:34)
In the New Testament, oil was used to anoint the sick (Mark 6:13; James 5:14). Just as I had done earlier this week.
In a similar manner, all of our missionaries make sacrifices of their time, as they consecrate their service by quietly going about doing good, just like our Saviour, Jesus Christ – see Acts 10:38.
It takes a great desire, dedication, endurance, and obedience to be a missionary.
Jesus Christ demonstrated that a consecrated life, is a life of service.
As they leave their fears behind, we have seen many of our missionaries in Belgium and the Netherlands make great sacrifices to become truly consecrated servants of the Lord.
For us, it is a real joy to be with such consecrated missionaries.
As they consecrate their efforts, the Lord always makes up the rest.
How can you consecrate your efforts to God?

The Best Ships are Friendships

These last three years we have formed so many of the most incredible new and enduring, fun filled, love inspired, collective friendships of our life’s.
I consider these friendships to be among the sweetest and most valuable of my entire life.
I love these words from Music and the Spoken Word from March 2019…
“There are wooden ships, there are sailing ships, there are ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”
How else can we possibly expect to make it across life’s rough seas?
Friendships make the voyage not only possible but also enjoyable.
Among life’s richest blessings is friendship.
And while the waves and winds may separate good friends for a time—even years—when they reunite, the time and distance fade almost instantly.
Perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to that of two dear friends who lost contact with each other.
Many years and many miles later, one of them remembered and missed their bond of friendship, so he decided to take the initiative to find his friend.
After decades apart, the friends reconnected, and the joyous reunion melted the years away. Their hearts filled with happiness and fond memories as they laughed together and shared tender feelings. It was as if they had never parted—as if they still lived in the same town and shared the same experiences.
Most of us can remember friends who have touched our lives for good over the years. Some of those friends may now be gone, but the memory of their love, example, and goodness can still lift and inspire us. The love and trust, the listening and caring, the shared time and experiences never really leave us, because they have made us who we are.
Although we may sometimes appear to be independently strong, no one crosses life’s waters alone. We need to have—and need to be—true friends. A meditation by the poet John Donne inspired these lyrics that capture an enduring truth:
No man is an island;
No man stands alone.
Each man’s joy is joy to me;
Each man’s grief is my own.
We need one another,
So I will defend
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.”
Perhaps the lesson for all of us is to consider again the importance of each of our friendships and nurture them with tender love and care, having some fun along the way.”
We need deep, satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.
How do you build and maintain your friendships?

Appetites

How is your appetite?
Appetite – “a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food, or a strong desire or liking for something.”
If you have worked up an appetite, you usually have a desire to eat something!
This week, I had a feeling I hadn’t had in a while…
I lost my appetite for sweet foods!
Over 1 or 2 days, I overindulged a little too much.
I’d capitulated, and there had been a weakening of my will!
Then, something just really snapped in my brain.
I felt it!
This week I have been much more disciplined.
Like Aliyah, we may all lose our appetite at times too…

Your character…

Your reaction to your appetites can give you a good measure of your character.
Can you govern your appetites, or are you in bondage to something and forced to yield?
Jesus Christ referred to this duality as the spirit and the flesh.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
Simply stated, as we walk in the Spirit, we can and will overcome the temptations of the flesh.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. See Galatians 5:22-23
Is there a gnawing emptiness in the pit of your stomach for the fruits of the spirit?
One way we can walk in the Spirit is to tune into the General Conference Sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this weekend.
Millions of people all around the world will be tuning in to hear from leaders of the church.
May I whet your appetite a little to tune in?
I know that General conference can help you find peace, hope, and joy through Jesus Christ.
You can learn how to strengthen your family by following Jesus Christ’s teachings, you’ll also gain a greater insight into temples and covenants.
In addition, you’ll discover how you can receive personal guidance and inspiration from God.
Simply click on the link below to follow along.
How would you describe your appetite to walk in the spirit?

New Arrivals

Last Friday, we welcomed 10 new missionaries to the Belgium Netherlands Mission.
Being with them was a real joy! 😍
Picture for a moment that you put your heart out in front of you, so that you can take a long look and carefully consider what is inside.
That is what each these young people will do for the next 18 or 24 months, exploring and sharing the feelings of their hearts.
They’ll consider…
– their hopes
– their dreams
– their feelings
– their faith
– their fears
– their desires
– their attitudes
– their opportunities
– their purpose in life
– their futures.
Along the way they will speak with thousands of people and help each of them to come to know Jesus Christ, better than they know Him now.
Look out for each one of them and ask them why they came to Belgium and the Netherlands – they’d love to speak with you!

Because of Him

Yesterday, I sat atop the stairwell.
Flooding my mind, were thoughts of days gone by.
Missionaries, family and dear friends, had all climbed these stairs.
Cradling our memory book, one by one, their names and faces flashed through my mind.

Gratitude

I was overwhelmed by feelings of love and gratitude.
Tears came easily…
It was a beautiful moment, I’ll cherish forever.
All of those missionaries in our book are home now.
“Will I meet them again?” I thought.
Rising to my feet, a swift and calming feeling came…
The answer was an emphatic and absolute “𝐲𝐞𝐬!”
I look forward to sweet reunions in the years ahead.

Easter

Today is 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐒𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐲.
This morning, I’m mindful of other sweet reunions that I hope and long for…
My father, nana, gran, and many other family and friends who have already passed away.
Over the years, I have attended and spoken at many funerals.
Frequently, I witness tears of sadness over and over again.
Sometimes, I am asked about the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Scriptures

The scriptures clearly guide us to what the future holds.
Job asked the supreme question “If a man die, shall he live again?” – Job 14:14.
The answer is an emphatic and absolute “𝐲𝐞𝐬!”
Our Saviour Jesus Christ’s atonement and resurrection, enable us all to live again.
𝐁𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐇𝐢𝐦, each of us will overcome the ultimate obstacle of death.
𝐇𝐞 claimed the victory over death.
“But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” – Mosiah 16:7-8.
In times ahead, as we each pass through the veil of death, I look forward to many sweet reunions, as we continue our journey towards the glorious day of our resurrection.
Come to church this Easter.
Speak with a missionary about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His plan of Happiness.

Leadership Tools

As a facilitator and a learning protagonist, I have lost count of the number of leadership models shared in workshops.
There are my favourites such as situational leadership, servant leadership, values-based leadership, action centred leadership, adaptive leadership and a whole list of styles and 4-box grids that I have used and am very familiar with.
While most of us can recognise good leadership when we experience or observe it, oftentimes it is hard for us to determine the best model to use in a difficult situation.
Blending leadership models as needed is a popular fix.
But then it struck me.
As I reflected upon the many leadership experiences I’ve had in life, a clear analogy came to mind.

The Garden Shed

As a child, I recall one day that I wanted to go out on my bicycle for a ride.
Forlornly, there were several issues with my bicycle, including a wobbly seat, a flat tyre, a loose wheel, poor brakes, and handlebars that were more than just a little squint.
I’d not been out for a ride in a while and sadly my bicycle had fallen into disrepair.
I called my dad down to the shed in the garden.
He came and looked at the bicycle commenting upon the amount of work it needed to get it back into shape.

The Box of Tools

I recall that he set to work immediately and pulled out a big box of tools.
One small spanner was used to tighten the wobbly seat.
Another set of tools were used to remove the wheel, repair the puncture and blow up the tyre again and tighten it into position.
Dad then got out a set of pliers to fix the brakes.
Finally, another wrench was used to straighten the handlebars.
All in all, using a variety of tools, after a short time, the bicycle was fixed and off I went on my ride with a gleeful smile.
“Dads are great” I thought!

Leadership Lessons

So, it is with leadership.
Oftentimes, whilst managing and leading others we are faced with a vast array of different problems, challenges and issues.
Yet, just like the multitude of tools in my dad’s box, so we too have a broad range of different leadership models to help us resolve/fix/repair/manage/lead even the most mind-boggling obstacles at times.
Tools equip us with solutions.
What new shiny model do you have in your leadership toolbox, or maybe that old well-worn rusty model, over there in the corner is the best solution perhaps?
What tools do you have in your toolbox?

Palm Sunday

In the Christian calendar, today is the start of Holy Week.
My thoughts are already turning more towards Jesus Christ, especially today as we mark His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The Old Testament tells us that Jews would rejoice greatly, to shout at the Messiah’s coming.
And they did.
The crowd cried “Hosanna,” the Greek expression for “save us now.”
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” See Zechariah 9:9.
In adoration, the people laid down palm branches before Christ’s path. See Matthew 21:1-11

An important week

Elder Ronald A. Rasband shared recently about the importance of Palm Sunday, and that it was the beginning of “the most important week in human history.”
“What began with the heralding of Jesus as the promised Messiah in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem closed with His Crucifixion and Resurrection,” he said.

Remembering

Three years ago, President Russell M. Nelson said. “I invite you to make this coming week truly holy by remembering — not just the palms that were waved to honour the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem — but by remembering the 𝒑𝒂𝒍𝒎𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝑯𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔.”
He quoted the Saviour’s promise in Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the 𝒑𝒂𝒍𝒎𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒎𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔.” — a promise, President Nelson said, that Jesus Christ “will never forget you.”
Upon His hands, are engraven our sins, our pains and all our afflictions, and if we come unto Him, I know, that each of us will feel of his redeeming love and heal us.

Follow His Teachings

Through repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you too can feel the joy of forgiveness of His redeeming love, always and forever, just like Gracie Reid and Mallory Grunander.
“After all that Jesus Christ did for you, I invite you to do something this week to follow His teachings,” President Nelson continued.
“You might make your prayers more earnest. You could forgive someone or help a friend in need. You can start today on a new spiritual quest.”
“Let us remember during this Easter season that the restored gospel of our Lord has the power to fill any emptiness and heal any wound” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
Why not invite the missionaries over this week, and consider why the Easter message is so important for you?

Bricks

Remember the story of the three little pigs…
These three little pigs, representing us, went off to seek their fortunes in the world.
Like us, they had different aspirations and different outlooks on life.
The first little pig built a house of straw.
And the second built a house of sticks.
The third, built a house of bricks.
It wasn’t long, before their natural enemy the wolf came along.

Huffs and Puffs

With some huffs and puffs, shortly thereafter the wolf blew down the houses of straw and sticks and ate up the little pigs who lived there.
The little pig who’d built his house of bricks however, had a much different experience.
He was saved by a stronger set of guiding principles.

Patterns

This story is patterned after a similar one told by Jesus Christ, between a foolish man who built his house upon the sand and the wise man who build his house upon the rock.
As long as good weather holds, the houses built on sand may be just as good as those built on the rock.
But the huffs and puffs of weather patterns come along frequently.
Jesus dedicated his life to encourage all of us to build our lives on strong, solid, enduring, permanent foundations that would weather the harshest, most perilous and turbulent of storms.
His building code was and is a divine one, designed to strengthen and protect us from the most difficult whirlwinds and perils of life.

The Bricks

When challenges in life come, and they will, it is through the guiding principles (the bricks) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that safety is found.
“A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions.” – Boyd K. Packer.
Some strong principles (bricks) that are helpful…
– There is great power, and safety found in the word of God, through daily scripture study.
– Daily supplication in prayer morning and night and learning to listen for answers.
– Listen to and follow living Prophets for guidance, they keep us safe.
– Follow the Doctrine of Christ – see 2 Nephi chapter 31.
When the rains and storms come, the best place to build is with good bricks on a solid foundation and have your roof in place.
If you need help with a few bricks for your foundation and roof, then speak with a missionary today.

Differences

I love this picture of Isaac Greene and Gilbert Staepels. (Twins!😉)
Side by side.
Elbow to shoulder.
Toe to toe.
The tall and the short of it is, physically, they may be different in stature, hairstyle and shoe size, speak a different language and grew up in distant parts of the world, but spiritually, they have much in common.
In our mission conference last week, a diverse group of missionaries from around the globe gathered in Breda. From far flung northern Canada, to New Zealand’s South Island and everything in between.

United

Together, they share the same set of beliefs, a common gospel vocabulary, and a joint effort to care for, respect and love one another.
Regardless of outward appearances, or ethnicities, every Church member is united in the knowledge that we are all a child of God.
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

Diverse

Being unified in Christ doesn’t mean we all must be the same, we embrace our differences.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “the diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.”
By July this year, 72,000 + missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will serve in 450 missions worldwide.
Church publications are now printed in 188 languages.
Over 31,000 congregations meet each Sunday in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and throughout the Pacific.

Global

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19
Our faith is becoming increasingly diverse, mirroring a wide range of cultures and experiences.
Singing one hymn in several languages together, is a unifying experience.
The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is for all people, everywhere around the world.
Our missionaries share an inclusive message of God’s love for all of His children, of a restored New Testament Christianity, of continuous revelation, and of additional scripture testifying of Jesus Christ, through the Book of Mormon.
Speak with Isaac today, he is currently serving in Den Haag – you can’t miss him! 😊