Tag Archive for: service

Senior Missionaries

Yesterday we had the most wonderful time with our senior missionaries.
We walked, talked, visited a windmill, had a quiz on Scotland and the Netherlands and enjoyed a wonderful meal together.
It was a fun P-day.

Mission Field

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.
Whenever we meet and talk with our senior missionaries, we are filled with love and respect for their humility and desire to serve.
Our seniors are not expected to work at the same pace or follow the schedule of the younger missionaries.
All of our seniors 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 seniors are finding new purpose and fulfilment in their lives, and they are some of the very happiest people I know.

Gospel Service

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.”
More recently, President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged seniors to “get on their knees and ask Heavenly Father if the time is right for them to serve a mission.”
On Sunday, June 9, from 18:00 to 19:30 CEST, the Europe Central Area Presidency will hold a special Area-wide online devotional for all members married or single aged 50 and over.
At the devotional members will learn about various mission opportunities, length of service flexibility, significant financial assistance available to all senior missionaries, and how to apply for missionary service.
Don’t miss it!
Is it time to sell your camper van?

Worn Out

After our missionary interviews in Apeldoorn on Thursday, we headed to our hotel room.
It was late afternoon, and I took my shoes off to settle down for a wee nap.
I was pretty tired that afternoon.
Whilst napping, Monic took this photo.
She captured my socks – perfectly!
Little did I know they were in such a threadbare way! ☹
Just like my socks, I admit, I’m starting to feel a little worn out.
My socks reminded me of my shoes from the last few weeks of my mission in the 1980’s.
Whilst serving in Cambridge, England in May of 1985, I remember cutting up cardboard from cereal boxes and putting it in my shoes.
Both shoes had a big, huge hole in them!
Let me the state the obvious, whilst serving a mission, things get 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒏 𝒐𝒖𝒕!
Especially, socks and shoes!

Definition

Worn out; “showing signs of wear, drained of energy, extremely tired; completely exhausted.”
I love this quote from Spencer W. Kimball, “My life is like my shoes – to be worn out in service.”
During His ministry on the earth, Jesus Christ spent His time serving and helping others.
True disciples of Christ do likewise.
Every missionary knows about the importance and value of rendering service and lifting others.
Alma 37:34 states: “Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.”
When I’m tired, I slow down, sit still, listen and pray.
Yet, growing old on a mission (or in life) is never easy.
There is so much more to endurance than just surviving to the end!
How we finish a mission, just like a marathon really matters.
Endurance is an important principle found within the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Enduring to the end, can be one of life’s most difficult challenges, but it can also be one of life’s greatest triumphs.
Enduring signifies “patient continuance in well doing” – Romans 2:7.
I know that it is the joy of being with the missionaries and many others that refreshes me. I also know that never being weary of good works, ultimately brings rest to anyone who may feel a little worn out.
How do you endure when you are feeling a little worn out?

Groundhog Day

Every six weeks, Monic and I return to Schiphol Airport.
In the beginning of our mission, the pattern was arrivals on a Tuesday and departures on a Thursday.
Now, departures and arrivals all happen on the same day, a Friday.
We’re often there in between, for many other reasons too.
Regardless, we have a deep familiarity with Schiphol and our 42 day, six-week cycle.
Over these last 2 ½ years of consistent practice, we have learned many lessons.
Do you remember the 1993 movie Groundhog Day?
In the movie Bill Murray’s plays a cynical weatherman, who for some reason gets stuck in a repetitive time loop.
Repeating the same cycle over and over again (that was our 23rd last week) reminds me of the story line of the movie.
In the movie, through consistent practice, Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors, learns how to be remarkably resourceful by turning a challenging day into a great day.

Changes

During the course of the movie, he 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔.
The lesson?
The more you focus on others by serving, being grateful and appreciative, the happier you will be.
In real life, through consistent practice, each missionary learns how to be remarkably resourceful by turning many challenging days into many great days.
Each missionary 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔.
Likewise, their final day, is also a challenging one.
Transformed, these young men and women depart for home having become some of our dearest friends.
We all struggle to say farewell.
Departures are emotion filled, with tears of sadness and hugs aplenty.
In between their arrival and departure, we’ve experienced so much together – we’ve all 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐝.
Moments later, the arrivals are also emotion filled, but this time the tears are filled with joy, wonder, excitement, and hugs aplenty.
The journey ahead will transform them too.
Every time is the same, but different.
What am I learning over and over again?
We create our own reality, by living to learn and learning to live.
Over and over again, we have the choice to make today, and every day, either sad or happy, dull or inspiring, meaningless or fulfilling.
What will you choose today to make it great?

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.

Motherhood

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.

Beauty

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.

Ministering

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?

Twos

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.

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?

Priesthood Keys

Yesterday, I travelled to Frankfurt in Germany, to meet with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy and our own Area Presidency.
Priesthood Leaders from all-over Europe gathered together for instruction and an opportunity to counsel with one another.
The meeting lasted for 4 hours.
There were no prepared talks.
It was a simple gathering.
The counsel, discussion and instruction flowed by the power of the holy ghost.
A few key themes emerged.
One of which was 𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐊𝐞𝐲𝐬.

Priesthood Keys

Elder Bednar taught some important principles.
Take a look at the picture above at the “House of the Lord” in Friedrichsdorf. You’ll recognise a few familiar faces.
How many people in the picture below hold priesthood keys?

Who holds keys?

Priesthood keys are held by Temple presidents, mission presidents, stake presidents, district presidents, bishops, branch presidents, and quorum presidents hold priesthood keys of presidency.
Our Area Seventy Elder Joep Boom does not hold priesthood keys. He acts by “delegated authority.”
Just as a counsellor can act by the authority of the keys of the Stake President, so a Seventy can act by the Authority of the keys of the Apostles when they are sent under their direction.
The temple president does not hold the keys for temple work. He holds the keys for the work in the temple. The stake president holds the keys for temple work in his stake.

Missionary Work

Elder Bednar taught there is a difference between the keys for missionary work and keys for the work of missionaries.
The stake president has the keys to direct missionary work in his stake. The primary work of members in missionary work as directed by the keys of the Stake President is to find and prepare people to be taught by the missionaries.
The mission president has the keys for the work of the missionaries in teaching and preparing investigators to be baptized.
As Mission President, my key question to ward and stake leaders has always been, “what can we as missionaries do to help you fulfil your missionary responsibilities?”
I learned that when priesthood keys are aligned properly, when members and full-time missionaries work together in unity and harmony, then the work is blessed by heaven in a powerful way.
Daily, it is my experience as Mission President, that priesthood keys allow you to think, to see, to say and to feel things that you just normally would not think, see, say or feel. And yes, it is a sacred honour every day, to serve.
In what ways are you blessed by priesthood keys?

The Mission Presidency

“What’s the function of the Mission Presidency?” – I was asked.
Arriving during covid times in June 2021, it was November before counsellors were appointed.
Over those few months, after discussions with several candidates and after taking it to the Lord in prayer, it was abundantly clear that I should have Chris Kleijweg and Jurgen Hoole serve as my Counsellors.
Both Chris and Jurgen have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the church throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.
Two counsellors are always called to assist a mission president with his responsibilities.
We meet regularly, usually weekly, either using technology or in person, to counsel about missionary work, and talk together almost daily.

Counselling

The wise writer of Proverbs tells us that “in … counsellors there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14.)
Counselling together with one another is constant.
When problems arise, when difficult decisions face us, it is wonderful to be able to talk together in confidence and trust.
When the three of us unite in prayer to discuss a concern, we seek the impressions and direction of the Spirit. We counsel together in order to reach a united conclusion, to help us know that the decision is in harmony with the Lord’s will.
We each have specific responsibilities including teaching, finding, social media, office administration, working with local leaders, service missionaries, finance, leadership, youth, young adults, new members, senior couples etc.
Each of us have a sense of responsibility for the whole mission.
We are united.

Service

Over the last 18 months we have developed strong bond of friendship. We are very different, with different family situations and life experience, yet we love being together, especially at Zone Conferences!
We laugh, we cry, we help, we support, we travel, we share, we teach, we interview, we listen, we problem solve, we attend meetings, and we are always on call 24/7, prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice and go and assist missionaries wherever they are.
Interestingly, in the church, we have a lay ministry.
Chris, Jurgen or I never sought out these assignments, we were simply asked by a church leader to serve, giving many hours voluntarily every week. It’s wonderful!
We invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.
In summary, the function of the Presidency is to prepare, counsel, teach, minister, and lead the Belgium Netherlands Mission.

Mothers who Hope

Today throughout much of the world, it’s Mother’s Day.
To each of you dear mothers, we express our sincere gratitude and thanks.
Your precious sons and daughters are safe as they serve here in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Thank you for being marvellous mothers and doing all the things you do.
Thank you for the sacrifices you and your family make every day.
Daily, like you, we hope and pray for the success and happiness of your missionary.
We pledge to guide them, help them, love them, watch over them and treat them as if they were our very own sons and daughters.
We promise you, every single day, we sense as if they really are!
Take a look at our latest mission picture.
This was just before everyone headed off to Keukenhof.
Prior to Keukenhof, we held a morning of service and doing good in the community, which was filled with spiritual insights, magical musical moments, sweet testimonies, and a whole lot of laughter too.

Our Report

Our report is this… your sons and daughters and the mission are thriving!
We have enjoyed the most incredible faith filled last few weeks.
It is a sweet honour and privilege to serve side by side, shoulder to shoulder, with each of your sons and daughters.
We truly work with the greatest young men and women on planet earth.
We know that, and feel that, every single day.
We know too that they love you, so very, very much.
And likewise we know that your love is unconditional, unbreakable, and forever.
The love you have for your son or daughter is like nothing else in the world.

President Nelson

You will recall a recent statement by President Russell M. Nelson… “Our Heavenly Father has reserved many of His most noble spirits—perhaps, I might say, His finest team—for this final phase. Those noble spirits—those finest players, those heroes—are you!”
It is our witness, that each of your sons and daughters are part of “His finest team” here in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Dear Mothers – we pray for the sweetest blessings of heaven, to be poured out upon each of you on this special day.