Tag Archive for: love

Arm in Arm

Early on Friday, we said farewell to our departing missionaries at Schiphol airport.

An hour later, we welcomed 11 new missionaries to the Netherlands.

It was an emotional rollercoaster of a day.

Elder Ranse Cottam drove us back home.

For those who know Ranse, or have met him for even a moment, will know that he is filled with and serves with the “pure love of Christ”.

Pure Love

Love indeed, is the true sign of every true disciple of Jesus Christ.

His parents and little sister were coming to collect him, mid-afternoon.

What unfolded during their visit was beautiful.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” – Matthew 5:8

It was a sweet reunion.

After 2 years, a family together again, in pure love.

It was heavenly, as if “angels above us are silent notes taking” (Hymn 237 – Choose the Right)

The feeling of pure love permeated the room, filling our hearts and souls.

I beheld joy.

For a moment, Heaven’s doors were unlocked.

I beheld wonder.

In the stillness, God’s presence surrounded us.

I beheld pure love.


I witnessed the love of a mother for her son, and a son for his mother.

They sat, snuggled next to one another.

Time stood still.

With one another, they linked arms, held hands – tightly, yet gently, wrapped tenderly, in each other’s love.

Honouring sacred covenants, I observed the selfless love of a devoted mother and son.


It was beautiful.

In that moment, I was changed, by the pure love of Christ.

Tears came easily for all of us.

Motherhood is a divine role.

Motherhood is about loving and nurturing others.

Symbolically, Ranse was held by two mothers, arm in arm, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, surrounded with pure love.

I will treasure this hallowed sweet memory – forever.

I hope and pray that our hearts may be filled with charity, the pure love of Christ.


After breaking my collar bone last Wednesday, it’s been an unusual few days for me.
Things have changed, dramatically.
I am unable to do even the simplest of things for myself.
I’ve felt a little wobbly at times and encountered a few stumbling blocks along the way.
Discomfort and pain are frequent visitors.
Some challenges include taking a shower, getting dressed/undressed, getting up off the couch, and even tying my shoelaces.
Things have been a little frustrating, as I’ve been forced to slow down.
Even typing this short message, takes a lot longer, one key stroke at a time, using only my right hand.
Monic and a few others have come to my rescue.
At times, I have literally had to lean on them.
They have been on hand to minister to me.
To minister means to love and care for others and to do the kinds of things the Saviour would do if He were living among us today.
Ministering is a way to help others feel Heavenly Father’s love and meet their spiritual and temporal needs.
These last few days, I feel blessed as others have supported and helped me with this new challenge.
I have felt their love.
Jean B. Bingham said, “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbours. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others—as well as on ourselves.”
I am a witness that Christlike ministering takes place in the small, sincere acts, others do every day.
I am so grateful for all those who minister.
I love and appreciate each of you.
Look around at your family and friends, how can you minister to them as the Saviour would?

The Gift of Weeping

There are many spiritual gifts.
Gift: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
Weeping is a gift that a few of us have been given.
It is precious.
In missionary interviews, tears are a frequent visitor.
Tissues are always on hand.
Life has taught me that weeping arises from the heart, signifying an open and softened heart.
Tears enable us to get in touch with our deepest feelings.
They are an outward manifestation of our innermost emotions.
They come from deep within.
They can’t be forced.
Some people cry so often, they are known for their tears.
Sometimes others see tears as an embarrassment and weeping as a sign of weakness.

In scripture

Yet, through faith, some of the most loving and compassionate words in scripture are these:
“Jesus wept” – John 11:35
“…. Behold, how he loved him!” – John 11:36
I understand why God weeps.
Tears are a gift of grace from God.
In interviews, tears remind us of mission life on a deeper, more authentic, and soulful level.
Very often they are a sign of empathy, compassion, and vulnerability.
They are tender, sensitive, and can help others move from burdens to blessings.

Our Hearts

My heart has often beat in empathy with other hearts, gently weeping in unison.
Thank you for the privilege to sit with you and listen.
Being easily moved to tears, crying for, or with others, is indeed a beautiful gift.
Watch what happens the next time someone weeps in your presence.
Be with and pay respectful attention to them.
Hand them a tissue.
Weeping can cleanse our souls.
There is strength and a sacredness in tears.
Their fruit is always, ultimately… joy.
How can you help wipe away others tears?

His hand to the Plough

Around 1 year ago, whilst preparing for Zone Conferences, an image came to mind that I’d seen many years ago.
My good friends Gary & Jo Griffiths had used it when they presided over the Scotland Ireland Mission.
I scoured the internet to try and find a copy of the image and reached out to Gary too. But alas, I was unsuccessful.
A few days later, one of our missionaries Atticus Snow, mentioned to me about a blank canvas he had, and asked if he could paint anything for me. A serendipitous moment, if ever there was one.
I then shared with him the image I had in mind.
Time passed by
And for a while I forgot about the image and the painting.
More time passed.
Earlier this year, I asked if he’d made any progress with his “drawing”. He’d been busy and had only made a little bit of progress.
Even more time passed and the time for him to return home was approaching.
Again, I asked about his “drawing”.
He told me progress was being made.
A few days ago, I asked “Did you finish the horses?”
He replied, “No it’s not finished.”
I was a little disappointed.
Returning home after a busy morning on Thursday, Monic said that there was something in the office for me.


And there it was. He’d surprise me!
The most exquisite painting of the image I had described 12 months previously.
I must admit that I shed a tear or two.
Later that day, at our departures meeting we asked everyone gathered to share their own impressions of the painting, and what it meant to them in regard to missionary work.
Many poignant thoughts were shared, things of our souls, touching all of our hearts.
Consider, Luke 9:62.
Atticus told us about the research he did for the painting and a few finer particulars.
If you look closely, those details will emerge.
It is a labour of love.
One meaning, I see symbolically, is two strong missionaries, straining to fulfil their purpose, as the Lord directs them in their work, guiding the blade true and straight, with His eyes future focussed, fixed upon the furrow to be cut.
Let you heart ponder for a while.
What do you see?

No Regrets

Reflecting this morning, I recalled a phrase I’ve used many times over, in coaching interviews for departing missionaries these last few weeks.
I interview them when they still have a few weeks to serve. In our time together, I share the phrase “𝒏𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒈𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔” and we discuss together what it means for them.
It got me thinking more broadly about “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” (Bronnie Ware 2012)
As a Palliative care nurse, Bronnie’s life was transformed by tending to the needs of those who were dying. In her book she writes about the most common regrets that the people she had cared for had expressed to her.

Top Regrets

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as shared by Ware:
𝟏. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈’𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐞.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.
𝟐. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐧’𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
𝟑. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈’𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
𝟒. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.”
𝟓. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐫.
“Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
What would your biggest 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭 be if this was your last day of life?
What will you set out to change today?

Nuts and Bolts

The phrase “nuts and bolts” means all the basic components, the fundamentals, no matter how big or small, that are part of the essentials to complete a task or activity.
In essence – nuts and bolts hold everything together.
The phrase has been running through my head for a while.
The nuts and bolts of missionary work are the basic components, the fundamentals, the essentials to complete our tasks.
A couple of weeks ago, at Zone Conferences (when upwards of 50 – 60 missionaries come together once a transfer for instruction) I spoke specifically on four of the fundamental principles of missionary work – the core nuts and bolts, if you will.
Each missionary was issued with a bolt and 4 nuts, to make the analogy feel real.
The bolt – represented themselves.
Each nut represented a core principle.

Core Principles

1 – 𝑷𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉 𝑴𝒚 𝑮𝒐𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒍 – 𝑺𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝑬𝒅𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏. Since its publication, like many of the missionaries I have enjoyed my daily study in Preach My Gospel. President Russell M. Nelson said ““Our charge is much more than just inviting people to join the Church. We want each one to become a fully truly converted disciple of Jesus Christ and to follow Him, now and forever”.
2 – 𝑼𝒔𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒄𝒓𝒊𝒑𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔, 𝒆𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒐𝒇 𝑴𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒐𝒏. Marcus B. Nash said “The mandate for each missionary to search the scriptures is clear and unequivocal, for searching the scriptures brings to them the power of God. It does the same for anyone regardless of their age and experience.”
3 – 𝑭𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒐𝒘 𝑳𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑷𝒓𝒐𝒑𝒉𝒆𝒕𝒔. It’s important that we follow the right voice in a world full of wrong voices. That right voice is God’s voice, and He speaks to us through His living prophets and apostles.
4 – 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑮𝒊𝒇𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒚 𝑮𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒕. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the privilege – given to people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, been baptized, and been confirmed as members of the Church. He will guide, teach and comfort us.


After explaining each principle and the ensuing discussion, each missionary tightly fastened their nuts and bolt together.
As the nuts tightened, thread by thread, symbolically each missionary was strengthening and securing themselves to Jesus Christ, as each core principle was riveted into their mind through their actions.
I know that true joy comes through our daily actions of study, pondering, reflection and prayer, as we fasten ourselves, thread by thread to Jesus Christ.
The world is changing whether you like it or not.  Are you?
How can you fasten yourself to Jesus Christ?


Double of one; 2

It is the natural number following 1 and preceding 3.

Last Sunday morning, I shared some thoughts about “ones”.

All week long, Monic and I have met with many “ones” in our interviews.

I’ve realised however, there is great power in two.

From one-by-one, to two-by-two.

Daily, just as the disciples of old, more than 68,000 missionaries go forth two-by-two into all the world to invite others to Come unto Christ.

Each companionship (two) is the basic organisation of the 408 missions of the Church, speaking 60 languages and serving in 150 countries.

Scriptural Foundation

The scriptures teach; “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1)

“Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God” (D&C 42:6)

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Two are better than one, if they act as one.

This week Camille N Johnson shared; “There are many famous statements out there about the “power of one.” Culturally, societally, we have celebrated the accomplishments of the individual. I testify of the power of two! Bound to the Saviour, through the covenants we have made with God, we stay aligned with Him and “can do all things through Christ [who strengthens us].” (Philippians 4:13)

Two become three in “The Lord, My Companion, and Me”.

The Lord, my companion and me,
Are a great combination, we three:
For where He would lead us, we go willingly,
The Lord, my companion and me,

The Lord, my companion and me,
Have a work that is endless, you see.
For the good, honest souls must be gathered, we’re told
By the Lord, my companion and Me.

The Lord, my companion and me,
Must pull as a team, constantly,
If we would have power, we will remember each hour
It’s the Lord first, then my companion, then me.
(Lula Anderson)

Why not reach out today, to one of our twos throughout Belgium, the Netherlands or around the world.

𝐋𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐣𝐨?

Years ago, in one of my many coaching conversations, I worked with a senior leader in an organisation who highly valued his professionalism. (To protect his identity, I’ll call him Max).
Max had a great track record with the organisation.
In my first meeting with Max, I noticed something.
In fact, I observed a lot.
His whole body told me that he was lost and really didn’t want to be there.
He’d lost his purpose; his meaning and the organisation had become a frustration for him.
Max had lost his 𝒎𝒐𝒋𝒐.
Mojo; meaning – influence, confidence or personal charisma.
His spirit had shrunk and was sagging.
His body was downtrodden and browbeaten.
His eyes looked jaded and dulled.
His sparkle had long since disappeared.
He was lost.
I felt sad.


As his coach, I worked with Max for several months.
Initially, our coaching conversations were more about others in his team and the organisation.
But then the sessions turned towards Max.
We embarked upon an intensive and deep journey together.
We searched long and hard to find answers.
During those profound listening sessions, Max began to find his purpose and meaning.
In those months, he reconnected with himself.
He slowed down.
With a little help and lots of self-reflection a new door had opened.
His search was over.
He discovered a new purpose, much bigger, yet simpler, that filled his entire being.
He’d tuned into himself.
He found the courage to step into his unique calling.
He found his mojo.
Now from a distance, I watch Max shine.
How have you reclaimed your mojo in life?


Half of two; 1
One is singularly unique and one of a kind.
As individuals, you and I are 𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬.
As mission leaders Monic and I are not simply managing an organisation, directing programmes, planning schedules, or controlling resources.
Rather, our foremost, indeed, the key stewardship responsibility that we have as Mission Leaders, is to minister individually to each and every 𝐎𝐍𝐄 of the missionaries past, present and future.

Our Quest

Our quest is to help each one of them become a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.
We minister to each of them, just like the oft repeated pattern found in the scriptures, 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝒐𝒏𝒆.
Some years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley counselled, “We must look after the individual. Christ always spoke of individuals. He healed the sick, individually. He spoke in his parables of individuals. This Church is concerned with individuals, notwithstanding our numbers. Whether they be 6 or 10 or 12 or 50 million, we must never lose sight of the fact that the individual is the important thing”.
The pattern continues today, in our one-by-one ministering to each missionary.
One way we do that, is during every transfer period of six weeks, we meet with every missionary throughout the mission, one by one, for 20 – 30 minutes in a coaching interview.
All 100+ of them.
It is a pattern the Saviour himself established.

Scripture Examples

In the scriptures there are many examples where Jesus Christ ministered to ones.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 – 37), The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7), The Parable of the Piece of Silver (Luke 15:8-10), The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24), when Jesus appeared to Thomas (John 20:24-29) and many more.
In the Book of Mormon, the phrase 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝒐𝒏𝒆 is used six times, four of which are used by Jesus Christ in His personal ministry to the Nephites in the 3rd book of Nephi.
Elder David A. Bednar has taught that “He intercedes for each daughter and son. One by one.”
This week, we began our one-by-one pattern of interviews in Apeldoorn.
I have learned that the most important things are done individually.
Following each interview, I took some time to capture a few of our treasured 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝒐𝒏𝒆 moments.
What can you do to better follow the Saviour’s example of ministering 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝒐𝒏𝒆?

Missionary Couples

Many years ago, “President Spencer W. Kimball encouraged those who had reared their families to sell their camper vans, leave their grandchildren behind, and, for a year or two, give their lives to the service of the Saviour Jesus Christ in the mission field.” – Douglas J. Martin.
Last night we had two of our seven missionary couples at the mission home for dinner and to share our stories of service with one another.
It was the perfect combination.
A match made in heaven perhaps!
Tom and Cynthia Black, along with Dave and Shauna White.
Yes, the Blacks and the Whites!
Whenever we meet and talk with missionary couples, we are filled with love and respect for their humility and desire to serve.
Missionary couples are not expected to work at the same pace or follow the schedule of the younger missionaries.
All of our couples who serve in the Belgium Netherlands Mission are rich in Church experience and anxious to serve in a spirit of high adventure and sacrifice.
We simply love them!
Just like us, all of our couples are finding new purpose and fulfilment in their lives, and they are some of the very happiest people I know.

Service opportunities

They all serve in different capacities.
For instance, we have three couples serving in the office to look after all of the day to day needs of the missionaries; Douglas and Marcia Glauser, Gerrit and Norma VandeWal, as well as Jeff and Cathy Wagner. Their responsibilities include; Visa’s, Residency Permits, Housing, Finance, Vehicles, Bicycles, Mail, Technology, etc.
Stephen and Elizabeth Edmunds serve in Communication and Government Relations at the European Parliament.
Paul and Catherine Ehlert who serve in Leeuwarden, are assigned to Member Leader support and service in the community.
Tom and Cynthia Black serve at the National Archives in Den Haag in an exciting digitization project.
Whilst Dave and Shauna White serve the Rising Generation of youth and young single adults throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.

Sitting Around?

L. Tom Perry said “Now, to all you great couples who are hearing my voice today, I want you to listen especially to these words. Life has been hard. I know that. You have worked diligently for the security you now enjoy. You have struggled, reared a family, and saved something to have and to enjoy during this golden period of your life. But just sitting around will not give you what you really desire. Climax these golden years with the soul-satisfying experience of full-time gospel service. I hear you stand and bear your testimonies, acknowledging your love for your companion and for the gospel. If that is really true, you will be like Andrew or Alma — not content until you have shared the fulfilment you have found in the gospel of Jesus Christ in missionary service.”
Are you looking for a new adventure?
Is it time to sell your camper van?