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Slow Down.

Did you miss anything?
Every day, I try to learn a new Dutch verb and place it in a sentence using the different tenses.
Today’s verb was “haasten” – to hurry.
For a short moment, as I practiced the tenses out loud, I laughed a little.
One of my key messages over the last few months, including yesterday, is the complete opposite – to 𝐒𝐋𝐎𝐖 𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍!
We often move too fast.
One route into our home here in the Netherlands, brings us along a road with several speed bumps.
For the optimum experience, I have learned that is it best to reduce my speed, slow down and steady my course.
It is a simple, but critical lesson to learn.
We all know the uncomfortable consequences of a high-speed journey over a speed bump!
I have concluded that speeding up isn’t the answer.
And so, it is with life.
Choosing to slow down, over obstacles and challenges in life is the answer.
In addition, for a much deeper examination of a course of study or to give consideration to a particular challenge, spend a little more time exploring by slowing down.
It will in the long run allow you to speed up elsewhere.
It takes effort.
Sometimes great effort, to catch ourselves and slow down.
My experience… slowing down helps to prevent you from missing anything!
How will you slow down today?

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

Learning takes practice.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤?
Growing up in Scotland in the 1970’s was a fun place to be.
I was oblivious to many of the challenges of the era, but I do recall one occasion at Primary school when I was around 9 years old, that I’ve never forgotten.
An announcement was made in class that a recorder group would be starting in school and that anyone interested to learn how to play should come along to the next practice.
I had grown up listening to my dad playing regularly on his chromatic mouth organ and like him I wanted to do something musical – he always seemed to be having so much fun!
The day came and along I went.
I was given a small descant recorder and duly started practicing in the weeks that followed.
Through lots of lessons, my playing began to improve, and I learned to read music too.

Lessons Learned

I began to understand that
  • Growth and development take time.
  • Learning takes practice.
As time passed by, one day I recall being picked upon and bullied by several boys.
“You’re just a big namby pamby, a big sissy” they’d say to me, along with a few other belittling terms.
Why?
I was the only boy, playing the recorder amongst a group of around 15 girls.
Despite the regular taunts, insulting and smart-alecky remarks, I continued playing the recorder throughout my school years and developed a resilient spirit to the comments.
Playing simple melodies, always brought joy to my youthful heart. And it still does!
In later years, in a little tender mercy, I discovered that like me, Monic too played the recorder.
Sometimes in life we have to persevere when opposition comes our way.
Oftentimes, its listening to the feelings of our heart, that can overcome the challenge of the day.
What challenge might you face today?
What does your heart think?

Do you accept mistakes?

𝐃𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬?
We all make mistakes, its part of being human – they are a natural part of life.
There are however a lot of negative connotations around making mistakes, which can lead to each of us avoiding things that may stretch us.
Yet, getting it wrong is often the best way to learn.
Albert Einstein once said, ““Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
In fact, giving ourselves permission to fail takes courage!
That may even feel scary too, because it may make us a little vulnerable.
Learning from mistakes can be challenging.
Yet, mistakes are actually very valuable, as long as you learn from them, grow from them, and improve yourself.
Indeed, mistakes are an opportunity to do better next time, and we should make the best out of every mistake we make.
Top Tips
– It is important to acknowledge your mistake and own it.
– Take a deep breath, admit the error, and make your apologies.
– Identify where you went wrong.
– Find the lessons so you can improve next time.
– Apply those lessons so you don’t repeat the mistake.
– Consider sharing what you have learned with others
– Get ready for new mistakes!!
In summary – learning from mistakes is about understanding what you did wrong and making sure that you do not do it again.
What did you learn from your last mistake?

Lessons from Juggling….

“Can anyone juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave them three balls each and asked them to show us how.

Admittedly, they were a little rusty, but after a few attempts, the basics returned.

“Who would like to learn how to juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave those who could juggle the assignment to teach those who came forward how to juggle.

The challenge – they had only two minutes to show them how.

After their time was up, the novice jugglers showed us their rudimentary skills.

The result – it wasn’t very pretty, with balls flying everywhere – but it was great fun!

After a few attempts, one even managed to complete a cycle of three balls through the air.

The Lessons –

  • Learning takes practice.
  • Growth and Development takes time.

As we grow older and develop in life, we have to learn how to juggle many responsibilities. Frequently, it can take lots of practice to get things right.

That day, I gave a new set of juggling balls to the willing learners.

Pleasingly a week later, one by one they told me of their significant improvement in their juggling skills.  Each of them had taken time to learn the techniques of throwing and catching a ball. They had practiced with 2 balls and then ultimately juggled with 3.  With lots of continuous practice, 4 balls won’t be a problem either.

Learning something new?  Don’t get too disheartened and throw in the towel too soon!

Remember, practice and time are key principles in our learning, growth and development.

Once Upon A Time….

Consider the meaning of “𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒖𝒑𝒐𝒏 𝒂 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆”….
Its a phrase that starts many of our most beloved fairy tales.
Storytellers use these words to alert their readers to the fact that the story wasn’t for real. It was to be enjoyed and learned from, but it actually didn’t happen.
Every moment in time only happens once.
The implication of that fact is frequently forgotten. Time passes all too quickly, leaving only the memory of it. We can never relive a moment. All we have of the past is the memory that becomes our story.
Unlike the fairy tales of our childhood, our story is real.
The secret to making each moment better is to stop spending too much time concerning ourselves about the past, or worrying about the future.
Neither do us any good.
Commit to live in each moment, to look around and be aware of others’ needs so you can help. Pay attention to the beauty all around, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that are part of each moment.
As we approach each moment fully aware that time will happen only once, our stories, too, can be different. As we reach out and serve others, we not only help them gain the “happily ever after” they desire, but we also come closer to making our very own happy ending.
Stop and consider your own once upon a time.

Do, Feel, Learn….

I have listened to hundreds, if not thousands of workshops, talks and conferences throughout my life.

At the end, frequently I’ll ask myself the following….

  1. What did I feel as a result of this experience?
  2. What am I going to do as a result of this lesson?
  3. What did I learn as a result of this teaching?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Through inspired teaching, feelings motivate us into action.

Learning Patience

Almost daily, I pass this traffic light as I set forth on any journey out of Leidschendam.
More often than not (it seems to me) it is red, just like you see above.
Recently, I had an experience, that I’m sure many may be able to relate too.
For those of you who know me well, I have a propensity to be prompt!
Early one morning last week, as we were setting off just a little late for interviews in Rotterdam, we got halfway towards this light and then realised that we’d forgotten something in the house. A quick turnaround, and then we were back on our way.
To get to the motorway, there are four sets of traffic lights that we encounter.
The first one above, is a bit of a bottleneck, as it leads to a narrow bridge where only one vehicle can cross at a time, hence the set of traffic lights at either side. That morning, it was at red. After a few minutes of patiently waiting, we crossed the bridge
100 metres further, is traffic light number 2, at a T-Junction. Again, it was at red. We waited once again for a couple of minutes before it turned green.
Turning right, we travelled another 200 metres and approached traffic light number 3. What a surprise, yep…red again. It was another minute or two before it turned green.
Turning left, I approached the final set of traffic lights at a major intersection with lights galore. My light was of course red – it had to be! By this time, I’m feverishly watching the lights to see when it is going to be our turn to move. 2 minutes felt like forever.
Four red in a row…. ☹
One interesting fact, that morning, we were the first car (in a line of cars) at every light, meaning that on every occasion we approached the traffic lights that morning, they had just turned red!

The lesson! 😊

I think I have finally (I hope) learned that it is not the traffic – it is me!
Over the years I understand that it is not what happens in your day that makes you mad, it’s who you are and how you handle what happens in your day that makes the difference.
Patience means actively waiting and enduring trials well.
Delays help me with one great lesson – 𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞!
The Apostle Paul gave the purpose of patience in his epistle to the Saints in Rome, in Romans 5:3-4 we read; “We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
I believe that being patient is a divine attribute and for many of us it may take many years to develop fully.
We should learn to be patient with ourselves.
In what area of your life do you struggle to be patient?

Disappointment

After coming in contact with someone with Covid this week, we’ve been in isolation for a few days.
Yesterday, despite our great determination, because of a number of growing cases of covid in the mission, we took a difficult decision to postpone (again) a mission conference, planned for the week ahead, with a visiting general authority of the church.
Our hopes were dashed once more…
Disappointment, discouragement and being a little down were not far from our thoughts yesterday, as we knew the impact the decision would have on our missionaries. Dealing with disappointment is not easy and it brings a kind of sadness with it too.

What did we learn?

Yet, setbacks are part of our experience as human beings.
I have learned in life too, that as we deal with disappointments, we need to understand that these temporary blips in our lives are just that — temporary!
The key, however, is to boldly face disappointments and to master and control the emotions that arise.
Maybe it is required of all of us to know that through disappointments in life we may experience that which was taught in Doctrine & Covenants 29:39 “if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet.”
All that said, in one of my favourite scriptures we read in Doctrine and Covenants 61:36, “And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you.”
So – in the midst of our disappointment yesterday, after dealing with and sharing our emotions with one another, we chose to change and cheer ourselves up. We put things into perspective!
It was our day off after all.
We put up the table tennis table and played for a little while. Then we had a game of Sequence, we ate some warming soup, had a chocolate or two, and finally we listened and danced to some cheerful Irish folk music – all of which lifted our spirits.
What do you do to overcome disappointments?