Improving!

“Wees niet bang om fouten te maken, iedereen die een nieuwe taal leert, maakt fouten!”

In other words, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, anyone who learns a new language makes mistakes!

After a few months in the Netherlands, words to that affect frequently run through my mind.

That said however, I had a funny experience at Schiphol Airport last week, whilst picking up the new arriving missionaries.

Whilst Monic and I, along with Elder Ornelas were waiting for the final missionary to arrive at Gate 2, I was approached by a complete stranger, looking for directions to the other arrival gates 3 & 4.

Having just come from gate 3, I gave him the directions in my best Dutch, pointing at the same time…

“Ga rechtdoor, dan rechtsaf, 100 meter rechtdoor en dan is het aan u rechterhand”

He thanked me and then headed off in that direction.

I turned back to Monic and Elder Ornelas, and it struck me that this was very similar to that moment when Elder Calhoun in the movie “The Best Two Years” directed a complete stranger at the railway station.  For those of you who have seen the movie, you will recall that precise moment.  If you haven’t see the movie – then watch it, it has to be one of the best movies about life in the mission field.

We laughed together as we talked about the movie and Elder Calhoun!

In that moment, I realised without thinking that my Dutch is improving!!

What is improving for you right now, that you may not have noticed?

Curiosity

Out for a walk in the Scheveningse Bosjes yesterday, “that’s an unusual looking dog” we said to each other.
It looked a little bit like a labradoodle.
Curiously we asked the lady walking her dog’s “what kind of dog is that one?”
“He’s a curly haired retriever” she said.
We’d never heard or seen that breed before.
Many curious questions followed, and the conversation flowed easily.
Curiosity was driving our questioning.
Curiosity – “A strong desire to know or learn something.”
Curiosity is a genuine spirit of open enquiry, mixed with a keen desire to learn, all of which is centred upon a willingness to discover new things.
Prior to serving here in the Netherlands as missionaries, genuine curiosity, was an essential part of my coaching practice.
Frequently we learn by simply being curious like a child.
Yesterday, curiosity was driving our questions to the lady about her dog. Subsequently, I researched a little more about the breed.
In a similar manner, many people often ask us questions about our church service here in the Netherlands.
• Why are you here?
• What do you actually do?
• How long do you serve?
• What is the Book of Mormon?
• Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
• What does your church believe about life after death?
• Why do you build Temples?
All these are great questions driven by curiosity.
So – what are you curious about?
If you’d like to find some answers to these questions or more, simply pm me. I’ll be happy to answer any genuinely curious question about our faith and service in Belgium and the Netherlands. 😊
PS – post mission life, this may be the type of dog we’ll be looking for!! 😉

Customs

Do you have any customs or habits in your country that communicate information in an unusual way?
A few weeks ago, whilst up in Leeuwarden, we discovered one about the Netherlands and had absolutely no idea what it was!
It was 12 noon on the first Monday of November, and we heard a very loud wailing siren which went off for a minute or two.
We thought it was some kind of huge factory siren, informing the workforce it was the lunch hour!
As it continued, it became a little disconcerting.
However, we needn’t have concerned ourselves too much.
A little bit of further research informed us that it was actually the Dutch emergency siren test.
It certainly caught our attention the first time we heard it.
Now we understand that it is a regular monthly test that lasts for approximately 90 seconds. All 3,800 emergency sirens throughout the Netherlands are set off simultaneously.
I also received a text message this month, which I am guessing is also some kind of test.
The monthly emergency siren test is a normal part of daily Dutch life.
It reminded me of the one o’clock gun, back home at Edinburgh Castle, which is now great for tourists.
In the late 1800’s it was an important part of aligning ships chronometers in the Firth of Forth.
Each of these customs form an important part of the structure and foundation of our societies. In some ways they provide constancy, stability, familiarity and a semblance of order and predictability to our existence and our community.
We communicate in lots of different ways.
What unusual customs do you have where you live?

What lies within us….

I love quotes! They are insightful, oftentimes intriguing and on many occasions inspiring! I found one such quote a few weeks ago now and posted it on my personal Facebook page. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

The words have rung in my ears for weeks now. I’ve searched to identify who the quote was attributed to and have found some evidence that it was possibly originated by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

An extended version appeared in the 1990’s attributed to Henry David Thoreau, who states “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”

No matter who it is attributed to, it is a powerful, insightful and thought provoking statement about the power that lies within each of us, to rise above the various storms of life and succeed in whatever we choose to do with our time upon the earth.

A Pearl

As I reflected upon the quote, I was reminded of the story of a pearl. A pearl develops from an irritant that gets inside the shell of an oyster, such as a grain of sand. The oyster then produces a special substance, that surrounds the foreign matter and over several years it forms a beautiful pearl. Every oyster produces a different form of pearl and similarly I believe that every irritation within each of us, can produce different results in our own lives – all of which have the capacity, over time to become beautiful pearls. We simply have to recognise those irritants, act upon them, desire to change and watch as they emerge as powerful strengths.

I love this old parable told by J. Thomas Fyans: “There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweller who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl.

The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweller, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweller to negotiate a purchase. The jeweller soon realised that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price”

Lesson Learned

And so it is with each of us. Lets not be deceived by the beauty that lies around us, but take a long, long, hard look at what lies within us. We all need to slow down, pause in our busy lives and take much more time to reflect upon those things that really do matter most. Self reflection and its reward of self awareness are critical elements of personal development and leadership in homes, in our communities and in our business organisations.

My invitation is to stop today! Now even! Even if its just for 5 minutes. Reflect upon those things that matter most and bring what is within you, out into the world…. today! Write them down too! You may well be truly surprised and inspired by the pearls you have been blessed with. *Henry B. Eyring stated “Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn’t use your time better”.

What’s in a name?

Missionary coaching interviews – our favourite time as mission leaders!
It has been a busy week, filled with lots of interviews in Rotterdam.
Another missionary coaching interview session was drawing to a close.
After being reassigned from the Missouri Independence Mission, this was the first time the young sister missionary and I had met together.
Like the many other coaching interviews that day, we’d shared lots of insights together, but as usual, time had passed by too quickly for us.
It was time to close out the session, and I thanked the young sister missionary for her hard work, and wished her every success in the weeks ahead, until we met again.
We got down on our knees to close our session in prayer.
I started the prayer, sharing a few thoughts and expressing gratitude to Sister Jorgensen for her efforts in the mission since her arrival here, only a few short weeks ago. I mentioned her name again…
….And then it happened!
“𝑰𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝑺𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝑱𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆𝒏 𝒐𝒓 𝒏𝒐𝒕?” I thought….
In that moment, I couldn’t remember – I certainly wasn’t sure!!!
Thinking further to myself – “I am sure it is…..but what if it isn’t?”
….“Perhaps I should check…?”
I stopped speaking.
I moved around a little, uncomfortable at my realisation, and opened my eyes, to check her nametag.
At that moment, realising that something wasn’t quite right, she too, opened her eyes.
Looking at each other, smiling, it was in fact 𝑺𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝑹𝒆𝒚𝒏𝒐𝒍𝒅𝒔!
We laughed.
We laughed again (a little harder).
It was just so funny.
Somehow – we managed to compose ourselves and I finished offering a prayer.
I don’t think either of us will ever forget those memorable seconds in laughter…
It was just so silly and yet so special, I’m sure it’ll connect the two of us together to that moment – forever!
I won’t ever forget Sister Jorgensen (oops) Sister Reynolds name ever again!!!! 😊
Have you ever made a silly mistake?

Measuring Progress

How do you measure your progress?
….It’s just gone 6.50am and I am doing good!
One of my favourite Christmas presents is my water bottle.
It allows me to measure the amount of water I drink, by the hour, throughout the entire day.
No more counting glasses for me…
With this I can see the progress I am making to achieve my daily 2 litre goal.
I love it!!
It is a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Targeted) way of setting a daily goal.
The first step to measure progress is to set a goal…
There is however little point in setting a goal if you will never know whether you were successful or not.
To determine the level of success, you must be able to measure your progress.
When you measure your progress, you see exactly how you are getting along, which in turn can act as a great motivator for you to stick with something.
In my experience, the fact that you are making progress will give you the drive and energy to stick with the goal.
How do you measure your progress with your personal goals?

Overloaded?

Last Sunday, we decided to gourmet with the missionaries for dinner.
Elder Austin had never had dinner in quite this way before, and as Kyle and Cristi were still here, we thought it was a good idea to set it all up. It was New Year after all.
We got everything organised, with two grills on the table, meat, sauces, breads, plates, cutlery, glasses, extension cables etc.
Then we plugged in the grills.
Suddenly, the house was in darkness.
We’d blown a fuse!
A trip to the fuse box, showed that the circuit was broken, and the switch had tripped.
I tried to reset it, but it wouldn’t reset.
The two grills were plugged into one socket. Hmm, “too overloaded” we thought.
We then put the grills into separate sockets and tried to reset the switch.
This time it worked, the lights came back on, and we had a lovely evening of gourmet together.
𝑫𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒃𝒍𝒐𝒘 𝒂 𝒇𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒍𝒐𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒅?
In a similar manner, sometimes, when circumstances in our life demand more of us than we feel we can give, we can feel overloaded.
Just like the fuse box in our homes however, we also have some built in safety factors in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state that help us to ensure that we don’t overload.
Each of us have more built-in strength than we suppose.
Frequently, we must slow down, reappraise, readjust, rewire and consider what really matters most.
In that regard, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, a person’s relationship with God is most sacred and vital. “As we seek Him, as we learn of His son Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Ghost, our lives become more stable and secure.”
I know that it is through coming unto Christ, that will bring you peace, stability, security and He will become the source of an uninterruptible source of constant power in your life.
What switch do you need to flick?

Enjoying the Moment

Recently I was asked, “How can you be really present and enjoy the very moment you are experiencing?”
My mind flashed back to a professional development event I attended in St. Andrews a few years ago, when I was introduced to mindfulness with a single raisin!
In this well-known mindfulness exercise, participants start to experience this feeling of being “present” for themselves by taking ten to fifteen minutes to eat a single raisin.
It requires you to focus your mind on the present moment using all your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

The exercise

Sitting in a circle, and our teacher gave each of us a single raisin.
Taking a moment, I got comfy in my chair…
– I held the raisin in my hand.
– Looking at it, I saw the different colours, light and ridges on the raisin.
– Closing my eyes, I felt the smallness of the raisin, it’s softness and its waxy texture.
– I brought it close to my nose to smell the raisin, concentrating on any scents or aromas I could detect.
– Next, I placed the raisin in my mouth and on my tongue. Without chewing, I noticed the sensation of having it on my tongue.
– Taking a bite of this tiny raisin, I tasted the sensations in my mouth. The smaller pieces of the raisin felt different.
– I listened and heard the sound as I chewed.
– I detected the intention to swallow starting to build and then decided to swallow it.
– Finally, I tracked the sensation of the raisin going into my tummy.
A simple little exercise to help us slow down.
How many moments do we miss with our spouses, our children, our parents, friends and colleagues, because we’re too busy rushing forward with our own always so very important tasks that need to get done?
We get so busy that we forget about seeing or ministering to the one, until we catch ourselves, or someone helps us once again to refocus.
Is it time for you to come back, slow down and refocus?
Taking time to enjoy one little raisin, may just help you and I to refocus on that one thing we need to do today.
What is your “one thing you will do today?”

What does it mean to commune with God?

Arising from my knees early this morning, I asked myself had I simply been “saying a prayer or had I 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒖𝒏𝒆𝒅 with God?”
I paused and reflected upon the question.
I slowed down.
I sunk deeply into my very comfortable chair.
I noticed all of the distractions around me.
The ticking of a clock.
The buzzing of an electric light.
The whistling and howling of the wind.
A car engine roaring into life.
The chirping of an early morning bird.
I noticed my breathing, in an out and the physical sensations of my breath.
I became much more 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕.
I became less concerned with time.
Consciously, I had moved from simply getting my prayer done, into a much deeper immersion and was now ready to “commune with God”
𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐞 – “to communicate intimately”
I returned to my knees.
I yielded myself to Him.
I began, slowly “Dear Heavenly Father…”
I expressed thanks and gratitude for a while.
I listened.
I listened some more.
I asked for guidance and help.
I trusted.
I communed with God.
I listened again.
Time was irrelevant.
I closed “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”
I waited.
I waited some more.
I listened for a while.
I listened, quietly, paying attention, listening……
Answers came.
Are you simply getting your prayers done?
Or are you communing with God?

What will I write about today?

Picking up my new journal for 2022 this morning, “What will I write about today?” I thought….
How will be different because of what we have heard, seen and felt in 2021?
I have written about the importance of daily journaling, on many, many occasions.
Since Christmas Day 1977, journaling has been a huge part of my life. It has been a constant daily habit for 16,000 days +
There are 101 reasons to write a journal – here are my top 10 favourites:

Why Write a Journal?

• It improves memory function and helps you remember things.
• It helps you to set and achieve your goals.
• It strengthens self-discipline
• It helps boost your creativity
• It allows you to self-reflect and enhances your self-awareness
• It helps to improve your writing and discover your own voice
• It keeps your thoughts organised
• It helps me to remember who I really am – a child of God.
• It helps you to become aware of what really matters most
• It is always fun to relive the many entries recorded.
Finally, I loved President Russell M. Nelson’s encouragement yesterday to write down some resolutions for the year ahead. He shared three resolution’s, “Firstly strengthen your spiritual foundation….. Second, resolve to be kind to others….. Third, resolve to be resolute. The Lord loves effort. The Lord loves consistency. The Lord loves steadfastness. While we surely will come up short from time to time, our persistent efforts to hear Him and follow the inspiration He gives us will help us to “wax strong in the Spirit” (Mosiah 18:26).”
Why not record those resolutions in your own new journal today?
Why not resolve to start today?
I promise you, that you will never regret it.
My top tips, always write first thing in the morning, be radically honest with yourself and always write with a good pen!!
Are you keeping a journal?
What benefits do you get from journaling?