Tag Archive for: service

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?


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.


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.


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.

Are you big-hearted?

The heart is a tender place.
Often, we may describe a person by their heart.
We use phrases like “big-hearted” or “kind-hearted” or “goodhearted” or sometimes even having a “heart of gold.”
They are kind, generous, gracious, thoughtful, compassionate and are often the first to extend a helping hand when it is needed, without any expectations attached.
They really care.
They are in touch with how their hearts feel and let others know.
They also lift others and always see the good in them.
Yes – that’s those with a big heart.
Do you know any such souls?
There are a few of these people in my life right now, and I treasure every one of them.
All week long, our missionaries have been speaking with lots of people about love.
And they’ve given out lots of big hearts!
It has been Valentine’s week after all!
I know that hearts are softened by love.
Love has a way of spreading.
It can make your day sparkle.
And if you’re happy, you can illuminate someone else’s day.
Missionaries love to serve others with all of their hearts.
They’ve been illuminating people’s life’s all week long.
At the drop of a hat, they’re off serving, to lend a hand to someone in need.
I hope when you meet the missionaries, you will not fear them, but are willing to listen and learn from them.
After all, each one of them has a big heart and they just love to share what’s in it.
𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒃𝒊𝒈 𝒊𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕?


𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞…
For eighteen months or two years, thousands of 18 – 26 young men and women leave their homes voluntarily and at their own expense, to serve a mission in far off lands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Later today, we will receive another five, who will serve in Belgium and the Netherlands for a season, namely: Kiera Wadsworth, Grace Warner, Brigitta Broadbent, Pedro Jalo and Ian Schwab.
Each of them will serve thousands of miles from home.
It is viewed as an exciting adventure, with an instant network of friends to help them adjust to their home away from home.
It is in their homes that they will have learned the values by which will guide their lives.
I know too that homes are places where life’s greatest lessons are learned and taught.
Yet now, they will be learning, living and working in a completely different cultural environment from their experience of home life so far.
Overcoming the language barrier can also make it difficult at times.
It is the daunting reality of missionary life.

Yet – they are 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝.

Each of them arrives with their luggage, containing only a few physical possessions.
They are however, armed with a deep-rooted desire, faith, and hope as they individually embark upon their period of missionary service.
Theirs is a mission of love and service.
Empathising, both Monic and I are constantly trying to put ourselves back in their shoes.
It’s 30+ years since we both served respectively, far from home.
As Mission leaders and mentors, we have many roles, including to provide a bit of a pick-me-up when things are challenging.
Frequently, we help missionaries to see the big picture and how they’re making progress.
For missionaries, knowing that someone cares about their personal well-being and believes in them can help them deal with the umpteenth “rainy” day on their mission.
And then, before they know it, like a few in the picture below, their time is over.
Its transfer day today.
It means much change throughout the mission to accommodate those arriving and departing.
With a heart filled with love, we bid farewell to our dear friends who are returning home in the next few days Julia Hyer, Nefi Regalado, Harrison Wright and Rafe Baldwin.
Mission accomplished, as they return home with honour.
What has been your experience living thousands of miles away from home?

The extra mile

Recently I was asked, “𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞?”
A scripture from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:41 came readily to mind… “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
Back in the times of Jesus, a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish male to carry their hefty packs, armour or weapons for one mile (it was the law after all).
I am certain that back then the paths would be sweltering, dirty, difficult to travel and many (if not all) of the Jews must have detested carrying the items.
But then Jesus taught them to “go with him twain.” …meaning to carry the soldier’s packs for two miles.
What does that mean for us today?
In this verse of scripture, Jesus was teaching us one way that we can love and serve others.
We don’t carry Roman packs anymore, but the principle applies to every area of our lives today.
When we go the first mile, we are only really doing what is expected of us.
But when we go the second mile, we are giving freely of our time and service to others.

Here is a little personal story.

Shortly after arriving in the Netherlands, one experience taught me a lot about going the extra mile.
Due to corona, the number of missionaries we had serving was at approximately 20% of our complement.
All of the missionaries were swamped with things to do.
I recall a missionary called me one day and asked “President, you know that we are very busy. Can we get up one hour earlier every day, so we can get everything done?”
My heart melted.
I must admit to shedding a tear or two.
I replied, “Of course but remember to be careful and take time to rest.”
The first mile is often required of us, in many things that we do.
The second mile however, is only made possible by being obedient to the first mile.
You cannot go the second mile without influencing others.
It only takes one second miler to impact others lives.
I shall ever be indebted to Daniel Andrade for the lesson he taught me that day. Thank you.
James E. Faust said “Some of the most rewarding times of our lives are those ‘extra miles’ hours given in the service when the body say it wants to relax but our better self emerges and says, ‘Here am I, send me.’”
How can you apply this principle and go the second mile today?