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Glorious!

Glorious!
Friday was a long day of missionary interviews in Rotterdam.
Arriving back at the house late afternoon, the mission home was filled with missionaries busy transforming the living room into a film studio for a Christmas video.
Observing from a distance, my first tuneful thought was, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
It wasn’t long before a beautiful Christmas Carol was sounding melodically through the mission home, filling it with love, peace and joy.
“𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒍𝒅 𝑨𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒍𝒔 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈, Glory to the new-born King…” they sang.
Many beautiful truths and countless Christmas traditions are even more powerful because they have been set to music.
We sing songs of praise, worship, and gladness as we recount the events of the glorious birth of Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Remember these inspiring Christmas carols…

“𝑱𝒐𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅, the Lord will come, and earth receive her King!”
“𝑶 𝑳𝒊𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒕𝒐𝒘𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝑩𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒍𝒆𝒉𝒆𝒎, How still we see thee lie”
“𝑶𝒉 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒚𝒆 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒇𝒖𝒍, Joyful and triumphant!”
“𝑨𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒍𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒐𝒏 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉, sweetly singing o’er the plains”
“𝑺𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝑵𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕! 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒚 𝑵𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕! All is calm, all is bright”
“𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒓, no crib for his bed”
“𝑭𝒂𝒓, 𝑭𝒂𝒓 𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒐𝒏 𝑱𝒖𝒅𝒆𝒂’𝒔 𝑷𝒍𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒔, Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains”
The Lord has said that the songs of the righteous are prayers unto Him and they should be answered with blessings upon the heads of those who sing them. (D&C 25:12)
The missionaries singing, brought greater peace and harmony into our home.
There was even more…
As their sweet voices, elegant music and sacred words passed through our ears, they penetrated deeply into our hearts, drawing each of us closer to God.
It was beautiful.
What is it that brings such love and joy into our lives?
It is the Spirit of Christmas.
Drop the last syllable and that becomes the Spirit of Christ.
His spirit had just entered our hearts once more.
One of the greatest glories of Christmas is the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came to earth to help us get His glory into our lives.
Enjoy singing many carols this Christmas Season – they are truly 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬!
What is your favourite Christmas Carol?

J-O-Y.

Do you feel 𝐣𝐨𝐲 in your life?
Are you searching for it?
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” – Russell M Nelson.
What are you focused on?
If you are not present in your life today, you will miss the joy as it happens.
I love this picture of Annalisa Reed, Sophia Reynolds, Hailey Hunt and Melanie Coates. It’s a cold January afternoon earlier this year, yet they’re on the beach, literally jumping for 𝐣𝐨𝐲.
In that moment they were alive, alert, present, vibrant, vigorous, and enjoying the reality of life together.
Nine months later, each of them has completed their missionary service and have returned home.
Yet 𝐣𝐨𝐲 connects them to each other.
It will for a lifetime and beyond, I know that for sure.
Joy is an attitude that defies circumstances.
It penetrates deeply into our hearts and is long-lasting.
It helps each of us make peace with who we are.
I recently heard this quote about joy.
“Happiness is an inch deep and a mile wide. Joy is a mile deep and a mile wide.”
What is the connection that these young missionaries and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have in common, that helps them to find real joy?

It’s found in those three simple letters 𝐉-𝐎-𝐘. Joy.

𝐉 = Jesus Christ
“When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives” – Russell M Nelson.
Choose to Look Upward.
𝐎 = Others
When we love God and Jesus Christ with all of our hearts, we naturally want to share our love by losing ourselves in the service of others. It is there that we will find joy and purpose in our own lives. Our service is motivated by the pure love of Christ.
Choose to Look Outward.
𝐘 = Yourself
Along time ago I learned that I am a child of God. “If we really understood that we are literal sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, I don’t think we would ever question our value.” – Bonnie Oscarson
Choose to look Inward.
Lasting joy is found in focusing on our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and living the gospel as demonstrated and taught by Him.
The path to joy starts with faith in God and Jesus Christ.
You too can learn how following Jesus Christ’s example can help you to find lasting joy, by requesting a visit with our missionaries.
Message me to learn more.

Do you care?

Do you question your motives?
The crux of my personal philosophy in life, the nucleus of my personal motivation, is centred upon a core belief that “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” a phrase attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and crafted so purposely by him.
In thousands of coaching conversations, I have learned a little.
As you….
𝐋𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝
𝐀𝐬𝐤 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬
𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞
𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞.
Showing interest in others is about being yourself,
being genuine
and sincere in your interest in another person.
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐃𝐨 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐌𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞?

Words Matter

Do you listen to your heart?

Words matter.

All week long one word has played continually into my thoughts.

I’ve felt as if it has been etched not only upon, but also into my heart and mind.

No matter where I went, or what I did, it would always return.

It’s an unusual word.

Indefatigability…! (Dutch – onvermoeibaarheid)

I wasn’t even too certain what it meant, so I looked up the dictionary definition.

“Tireless determination, incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.”

I reflected upon the definition for a while.

I questioned myself and asked “What does this word mean for me?”

After a while, I began to understand.

Day in, day out, week in, week out, I am surrounded by young missionaries who possess the most remarkable indefatigable spirit.

I am with them, constantly.

Being with them one by one, in group training sessions and large conferences, I am reminded of the desire of their hearts to share their witness and testimony of Jesus Christ.

They all take several knocks – daily.

GRIT

Yet, each of them possesses grit!

True grit!  And I’m not talking about John Wayne!

A toughness, an indefatigable resilient courage, to bounce back, again and again and again.

As defined by Angela Duckworth, grit is “Our passion and perseverance to reach long term goals.”

I am so grateful for my association with each and every one of them.

They have been called from many different countries and cultures all across the world to bring a message of hope and peace to a world that is in constant peril and commotion. (2 Timothy 3:3/D&C 45:26)

Through my personal interactions with each of them, I am a witness to the fact, that they possess an indefatigable zeal and testimony of the message they share.

It is a message of great hope, peace and centred in their love of Jesus Christ.

I know that when the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy, regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in the world or in our lives.

As President Russell M. Nelson has said “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

If you want to find real joy, peace, purpose and meaning in life, then I suggest you listen to your heart.

Reach out to one of these indefatigable young men or young women today. They will help refocus your life.

#HearHim

Somethingism

Do you believe in 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠?
Our beliefs define who we are and what we do.
Belief – “the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true”
Somethingism – “an unspecified belief in some higher force”
I’ve met so many people here who believe in something, but they’re not sure what that something is.
When you believe in something – when you believe it to your very core – your genuine actions speak for you.
Action starts with one critical element: 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒇!
Your actions will speak louder than words when you stand strong in your beliefs.
When you live by what you believe in, you not only make a difference to yourself, but also your family, your friends and your community.

Belief is the result of experience.

Beliefs can bring us together or even tear us apart.
Belief is a way of understanding and discovering ourselves and the world around us, both things seen and also unseen.
We all believe in things we can’t see, because frankly it’s not possible to see everything. For example…
– Do you believe in love?
– Do you believe in mercy?
– Do you believe in kindness?
– Do you believe in hope?
– Do you believe in justice?
All of these things we can’t see, but we know exist.
When it comes to spiritual things, I believe the answers are much the same.
Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Believing is part of life.
When it comes to matters of faith, I have confidence in my experience of reality.
I experience the fruits of my faith, every day.
The deepest things in life are not seen but felt.  They bring joy.
When those deepest things get into our hearts, our very natures are changed.
And so it is with our beliefs.

I believe in something.

That something is a someone.
He is Jesus Christ.
In your pursuit of something, I know that the most important something you can learn, comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I invite you to come to know Him and love Him as I do.
As He said to the ruler of the synagogue in Mark 5:36 “…Be not afraid, only believe.”
Consider this invitation from The Book of Mormon.
…in Alma 32:27 “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words”
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧?

Is it for real?

𝐃𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮?
100 missionaries.
2 days of multi-zone conferences in Antwerp and Utrecht.
Inspiration galore.
Remarkable experiences.
Real joy.
Each afternoon, role play, after role play, after role play, after role play, with 4 different scenarios to consider.
The cheering each other on, the laughter, the glee and camaraderie was a joy to behold.
It had been a while since I’d been so involved, but once I dived in, I loved it!
So why spend so much time in role plays?
– It develops communication and language skills
– It creates opportunities to explore, scrutinize and experiment
– It allows everyone to act and make sense of real-life scenarios.
– It encourages creativity and imagination
– It motivates and engages everyone
– It inspires greater confidence
– It advances listening skills
– It promotes in the moment creative problem solving.
– It builds empathy by experiencing new perspectives
– It provides opportunities for feedback through critical observation from peers.
And above all – many new friendships were formed.
Yes – roleplay is more than just make believe.
Creating a safe space to explore scenarios together was a wonderful experience.
My personal learning takeaway was – through acting out a variety of situations, role-playing teaches that we can be 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞.
Yes, they always smile back at you!
Do you?
#learning

Emotional Rollercoasters

𝐃𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭?
Transfers week and riding the emotional rollercoaster began all over again.
Rollercoasters are thrilling though – aren’t they!?
Missionary arrivals on Tuesday and departures on Thursday mean that emotions are pulled in opposite directions over a very short period of time – again!
During our 3-year period of service, transfers happen 27 times.
This week was our 9th rotation.
Our emotional heartstrings have already been stretched in so many ways.
The thrill and excitement of welcoming our new arrivals.
Followed by the joyful and agonising feelings that accompany those departing for home.
For instance, highs and lows, laughing and crying in rapid succession (or even at the same time) are commonplace in the mission field.
𝑶𝒖𝒓 𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒖𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓.
Rather than let these emotions run my life, I am learning to deal with them in a much healthier way, by considering the bigger picture for each of those coming and going.
I am beginning to understand my emotions more as a barometer to measure my own sense of wellbeing and happiness, by mastering those feelings and listening to my heart.
The most challenging moment for me is the final hug at the airport with those departing missionaries.
Yesterday I did better!
I stopped for a moment and took a big conscious breath. It made a difference, at least until we started walking back to the car, and I had a wee tear (or two even!)
The best thing about the afternoon on departures day, is when I take a break and have a wee nap. It allows me to reconnect with my heart and is a golden opportunity to relax.
9 transfer weeks down, only another 18 to go.
Do you listen to your heart?
#joy

Is love the answer?

𝐈𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫?
Celebrating my 57th birthday this week, I received several lovely cards and gifts from family and friends.
One particular gift came from the missionaries.
A folder of 60 pages, 109 letters, 30 photos and a few sketches too.
As I read through the album on Thursday evening, I must admit to being moved.
The letters and photos simply touched my heart.
I shed a few tears of joy.
Think of the last time you experienced joy.
Real joy – that deep enduring feeling that seems to warm your entire soul.
I felt of their love, one by one.
“God’s love is always there for you, whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” – Thomas S. Monson.
Arriving in the Netherlands nearly a year ago now, in a few meetings Monic and I have frequently sung together (also with the help of missionaries too) “Love One another.” It is always a beautiful experience.
In the book of John, Jesus spoke to His Apostles about love “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you…. By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.” Joseph B. Wirthlin
There are a number of ways you can feel the Saviour’s love.
Its different for everyone – but the missionaries can help you along the way.
“Love is the greatest power and will have the most powerful influence. – Elaine S. Dalton
May we love Him and love one another.

Feet that bring peace!

As our missionaries walked into the mission home for Mission Leadership Council on Friday, one by one, they took off their shoes.
Immediately my mind raced to some scriptures in the Old & New Testament along with the Book of Mormon.
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
Romans 10:15 “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
Mosiah 15:17 “And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!”

Therefore what?

Elder Carlos E. Asay said “No one is more beautiful or more blessed than those who serve God by preaching and exemplifying the truth. It is the most sanctifying and beautifying labour of all…. The feet, the voices, the faces, and the whole being of those preachers who share saving truths will always be precious and beautiful…. In the eyes of those who have learned of Christ and of his power to save, there are few if any blemishes in the missionaries who walked long distances to bring the gospel message.”
Through all of their hard work and efforts, there may have been a few threadbare socks on show, nevertheless I know they will continue to publish peace as they move their feet onwards, forwards and upwards in their daily missionary efforts.
No matter the opposition or the terrain, o’er mountain or plain or sea, missionaries will share their testimonies and joy of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ – always and forever.
And no matter the season, through rain, wind, sun or snow, missionaries will publish glad tidings of peace every day, lifting, teaching, inspiring and bringing people to a knowledge of the truth.
I am so grateful for each and every one of them, for their tireless determination to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and preach His gospel of peace.
Do you want to have His peace in your life too?

Lessons that change us

𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐮𝐬 𝐫𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐮𝐬 – Brad Wilcox
This is a cracking photo of two young missionaries, returning home exhausted, after another long hard day. This was outside our Stowe Road apartment in Shepherd’s Bush, London – in January 1984. I’d been out only a few weeks in the England London Mission.
I had the best trainer ever in Kelley Gray
Times never to be forgotten.
Those were the days!!
Every day those lessons in the mission field challenged me.
More significantly, they changed me.
Now, as Monic and I lead the Belgium Netherlands Mission, frequently I see great power and wisdom in the phrase “𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒖𝒔 𝒓𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒚 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒖𝒔.”
For all who have served or are currently serving, I am absolutely certain each of you will know exactly what I mean.
That said, these lessons don’t only take place in the mission field.
What lessons have challenged and changed you?