Tag Archive for: service

Christmas Memories

This Christmas season has brought many opportunities to spend time together making memories.
Over the last few months, there have been a number of missionaries who have brought the piano in the mission home to life by playing some wonderful musical numbers.
In our family, over the last couple of days each of us have shared our piano skills.
Yesterday, patiently, lovingly, carefully, Cristi spent an hour or so, practicing some simple Christmas melodies on the piano.
Very slowly and with a little more attention, her confidence grew.
It was the first time she’d sat in front of a piano for many years.
I watched, I listened, I encouraged and occasionally annoyed her too! Dads are good at that sometimes! But for me, I enjoyed the music and simplicity of the tunes. It’ll be an abiding memory that will stick with me for many years to come.
Through it all was family time, with loved ones both near and far.
Catching up, telling stories, playing games, enjoying a delicious meal, video calls and reminiscing on Christmas’s past. It’s just about spending time together, talking, laughing, sharing, serving, loving, and making memories.
There were far fewer gifts this year, but what I learned is that creating good memories are real blessings.
The spirit of service was very real in our home yesterday.
May we give as the Saviour gave.
I learned too that families don’t really want or need anything from you, but your love, your time, and your memories.
Think on your own life.
What abiding memories do you have of Christmas past and present?

Light the World

“Big bobbles at the bottom and small ones at the top” said Cristi, as she outlined her strategy for the Christmas tree.
That was part of our conversation as we enjoyed some catch up time with Kyle & Cristi at home in Scotland last night on our weekly video call.
Many years of observation, listening and practice with mum had taught her well. Both Monic and Cristi have been busy the last few days, with a regular tradition of decorating the Christmas tree.
Already Christmas decorations seem to be everywhere. It is of course a huge part of celebrating the season.
Yesterday, Monic put lights on the tree and was busy creating a number of beautiful candle decorations around our home. Sitting in the living room this morning, there is a beautiful menagerie of her creative talents on show and under construction on the dinner table. How grateful I am for her thoughtfulness and desire to light our life with these wondrous symbols, reminding us of our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught: “Many of our memorable and enduring Christmas traditions include different kinds of lights—lights on trees, lights in and on our homes, candles on our tables. May the beautiful lights of every holiday season remind us of Him who is the source of all light.”
Indeed, light is one of the most beautiful symbols of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. In fact one of His many names and titles is “Light of the World.” He taught, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Christmas candles and lights can remind us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. They can also remind us to be lights to others and to help others come unto Christ. The celebrations of Christmas can help us to remember Him.
I am especially looking forward to having our family time this Christmas season with our children, as each of them are shining lights to me.
I hope that as we start to count down the days to Christmas, each of us will remember the light that Jesus Christ brings into your life and choose to lighten someone else’s life through a kind act of loving service.

Mission Service

Recently, I have been asked this a few times; “What do you do as Mission Leaders?”

My response was “Many things!”

One of our key responsibilities that Monic and I share is for the well-being of our missionaries.

Let me explain further….

Mission life is segmented into a 6-week transfer cycle.

Each cycle starts and ends with arrivals & departures of missionaries.

In between our days are regularly filled with preparation, planning, training sessions, conferences, leadership meetings, travel, medical issues, phone calls, zoom sessions and much more, not forgetting of course, our precious regular catch-up time with family time too, via Zoom!

Professionally, as a coach and counsellor, one of my favourite things to do in life has always been 1-1 coaching sessions. During the 6-week cycle, every missionary in the mission (currently 51) has personal 1-1 time with each mission leaders. In mission lingo, they are called interviews, but essentially, having sat through thousands of coaching sessions, that is exactly what they are.

The last few days have been filled with these sessions.

Each interview (mini coaching session) begins and ends with prayer.

In between, we slow down, talk, laugh, cry, catch up, share, consider, counsel, challenge, soften, teach, learn and ultimately, we listen.


In fact, we listen a lot.

Then we listen a little more.

Some time ago, I shared a thought about the word “listen”.

The word has six letters. Rearrange them and the word “silent” is formed. In Dutch the six letters become even shorter, with only four “stil”

Frequently, I find as I listen, oftentimes a missionary will suddenly go quiet. Years ago, I used to feel a little awkward when the first quiet spell sets in, but now I understand that these are the moments of real inspiration, when they are thinking.

I don’t know what they are thinking, only that they are thinking!

Experience has taught me that it is in these very quiet active times, when the least seems to be happening, that the most is actually happening.

In those quiet moments one missionary recently shared this verse of scripture, found in Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” Regularly, we hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to guide each of us in our missionary work. It is beautiful, reassuring and fills our hearts with love and pure knowledge.

Learning to be still

To listen and to be silent (still) are inseparably connected.

These short interview sessions are by design an opportunity to learn, to listen and grow.

What I have learned most in my life has come in many ways, but the largest part has come from listening to those with much greater experience than me. Generally, it tends to be those who have lived longer and learned many important things that I needed to know – one of which is learning how to be quiet, to be still and to listen.

Now however, we are being taught frequently by those much younger than ourselves. Daily we find, tender mercies from the Lord, as He has prepared these young people (18 to 26 years of age) to preach the gospel to the world. Indeed, it is a mighty miracle.

We are off to do some more mini-coaching sessions.

Please choose to slow down, be quiet, learn to listen, listen to learn, then you too will hear the whisperings of the spirit of the Lord.


Love one another

As we looked across the street I saw our neighbour’s door wide open, “that’s strange” I said to Monic. Even stranger, keys were still in the lock and her car was gone.
Worriedly, we crossed the road, rang her bell, but alas no answer. We alerted her next door neighbour and after some discussion we all decided to go in and look around. We checked everywhere and thankfully, all was in order.
Next, we locked up her home, keeping the set of keys. A call was made to her mobile phone, but there was no answer, so a voicemail message was left. Another few hours passed. Later that day we found out that our neighbour had been completely distracted by a pressing matter and had simply left for work and forgot to close and lock her front door.
Thankfully, all was well.
When asked by a Lawyer which of the commandments was the greatest, our Saviour Jesus Christ answered by summarising all of the commandments as follows… “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Matthew 22: 37-39
I’d like to share three short experiences from this week, all of which happened whilst walking home. Each reminded me about how important it is to “love thy neighbour”.


A few neighbours a little distance from our home were having a terrible argument on the street. It was just awful. There were raised voices, several expletives used by each other, name calling and accusations made. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to witness, before it all calmed down.


Monic and I witnessed an old lady stumble and then fall across the road. Along with 1 or 2 others we quickly ran to assist, providing some tender care until she had caught her breath and could stand once more.


Our own dear neighbour, who is approaching her 90th birthday, who we have grown to love and respect so much over the last 15 years, is becoming quite frail and poorly. She is the most wonderful christian lady and has been an incredible neighbour. Lately it has been quite difficult for her. Her family have rallied around and we too visit frequently to help as best we can. Arriving home the other day, I discovered that she had fallen on the garden path, whilst carrying her washing basket. In a tender moment, I reached down, cradled her in my arms and after a little while helped her back to her feet, clasping her fragile hands in my own.
How difficult is it to follow the Saviour’s admonition to simply 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫? Opportunities to serve and minister are all around us, if we will but open our eyes and see.
Through our own conduct, with warm hearts, tender acts of gentleness and kindness, lets take time to uplift all of those who whose hands may be hanging down and wearying. We too can follow the example of Jesus Christ and honour the two great commandments, by simply loving one another.


Joe Biden spoke last week on #unity. We all know that in society today, you don’t have to look very far to find disunity, disharmony and distrust.

Consider this story, shared by Barbara Lewis…

“A young boy visited his uncle, a lumberjack. At the lumber camp, the boy saw a huge tree standing alone on the top of a hill. He enthusiastically pointed the tree out to his uncle, saying, “Look at that big tree! It will make a lot of good lumber, won’t it?” His uncle looked down at the boy and shook his head. “No, son, that tree will not make a lot of good lumber. It might make a lot of lumber but not a lot of good lumber. When a tree grows off by itself, too many branches grow on it. Those branches produce knots when the tree is cut into lumber. The best lumber comes from trees that grow together in groves. The trees also grow taller and straighter when they grow together.”

Similarly, so it is with all of us.

We are better individuals, more useful timber, when we grow together, unified, rather than alone. Unity begins with you! With a common goal it is the glue that holds us all together.

We build unity when we serve others, showing that we genuinely care. Unity is a critical ingredient for harmony and success.

Let’s build unity and live without disputes among us.

Travelling the Road of Life

What a challenging year.
As I slow down for Christmas and reflect upon the last 12 months, I am reminded of one of my favourite old fables. Time and again it reminds me of what really matters most of all. Despite the challenges of 2020, I hope it will give you some clues to your own purpose in life.

The King’s Highway

“Once a king had a great highway built for the members of his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to hold a contest. He invited as many as desired to participate. Their challenge was to see who could travel the highway best.
On the day of the contest, the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing, fine hairdos or great food. Some young men came in their sports togas and ran along the highway. People travelled the highway all day, but each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king that there was a large pile of rocks and debris on the road at one spot, and this had hindered their travel.
The Finishing Line
At the end of the day, a lone traveller crossed the finish line and wearily walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty – but he addressed the king with great respect, and handed him a bag of gold. He explained, “I stopped along the way to clear away a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This bag of gold was under it, and I would like you to help me return it to its rightful owner.” The King replied, “You are the rightful owner.” The traveller replied, “Oh no, this is not mine. I’ve never known so much money.” “Oh yes,” said the king, “you’ve earned this gold, for you have won my contest. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow”… Author Unknown.
As you have served others this year, what have you discovered?
It is my sincere hope that as we serve and help others along their paths in life at home, in our families, in our communities, in government and business organisations we will be ever mindful of the greatest servant of all, whose birth we celebrate this Christmas Season.
It has been wonderful working with many familiar folks this year, making so many new friends along the way too. In addition, working with new clients and organisations as well in 2020 has been incredible. To each and everyone, may I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

Loud voices

As the flames rage, smoke billows and the embers burn, 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 loud voices argue on……good morning world.

Global Pandemic, economic carnage, climate change, terrorism, disease – need I go on!

The world is in commotion.

Welcome to Planet Earth – 2020

What can I do? What can we do?

Sure, I can make certain that I follow social distancing, recycle my waste and follow the laws of the land.

And yet, this morning, like every morning, somehow I look to the future with hope for a better world, a brighter future.

There are better days ahead. We will get through this challenge. And the next , and the next and the next.

You see, I can choose to make a difference every single day.

An act of kindness.

An act of service.

An act of compassion.

There is always someone to reach out to.

Just open your eyes and look.

It is up to you and me, to make a difference, every single day, one by one.

What will you choose to do today?

What part will you play today?

What “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” will you play today?

Every day – I make commitments to myself, my family members, my friends, my work clients and to voluntary opportunities that I love to serve in.

For example, yesterday I had a key “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” to play as the facilitator in a global virtual workshop, with 129 participants. I turned up at 6.00am (GMT), ready to guide each participant through the experience. Shortly afterwards my heart leapt when I received this lovely comment – “I must say today’s session was one of the best ever with such a spontaneous audience and so many volunteers! Thank you as always for making it so engaging and delivering it with such high energy!”

I loved playing my “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” in the whole experience.

Yesterday, I was also thrilled to play my 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a coach, a friend, a servant and a leader.

Wherever you are, whatever you choose to do with your life, may I invite you to consider this phrase quoted so frequently by David O. McKay – “What e’er thou art, act well thy 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭”.

Acting your part well simply means that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you choose to do it to the best of your ability and to be as useful as you possibly can.

How will you choose to play your “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” today?

Small things

“Let’s see how far you can reach” said the optician. As it turned out, not very far! “Okay, let’s see if I can help” he continued.

I knew my eyesight had deteriorated and it had been well over 2 years since my last test. Lockdown had delayed my test even further, plus I was now spending so much more time behind a laptop screen every day, I was sure that wasn’t helping.

So the optician went to work by trying lots of different lenses, tweaking them a little here and there. It seemed complex to me, but it was obviously simple for him. Every now and again he’d asked me to read the chart again, and little by little, my sight improved, until finally he said “that’s you now with 20/20 vision.”

What a difference, as I was able to read down to the smallest of the letters on the chart.

My vision changed.

By small and simple things, great things happen.

The world has been turned upside down.

Just like the optician helped restore my 20/20 vision, what small and simple things can you do to help someone in need, at home, at work or in your community?

Slow Ahead

Are your summer holiday plans in ruin? Our hopes of a Norwegian Fjord cruise planned for July with a dear friend faded, as the global pandemic impacted holidaymakers the world over.

And what now? In the current global turmoil, holidays almost seem so trivial.

Waking up this morning to the disturbing news of further rioting in the USA over the death of George Floyd, put into context any thoughts of holidays.  Watching the protests and Trump’s response was tragic. Slow ahead or even half astern may be more appropriate terms to use as chaos unfolds in the land of dreams.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said in 1962, “We are simply seeking to bring into full realization the American dream – a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality, of opportunity, of privilege of property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men no longer argue that the color of a mans skin determines the content of his character, the dream of a land where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.”

Currently, there are many leaders sat in the Captain’s chair. Their greatest challenge is to navigate their organisations and governments through stormy waters, into a safe harbour – slow ahead. Working together, building mutual respect, understanding and leading by serving one another is key.

Consider this question – how can I best serve others?