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Are you hungry?

“That’s it then, sadly we won’t be going…”
Monic and I had been so looking forward to our trip to Rome this week for our six-monthly Mission Leaders Seminar, but sadly on Sunday evening, I came down with a terrible stomach flu. It’s not been very pleasant. 🙁
We hummed and hawed about it for 24 hours, delaying flights and changing schedules, but eventually, we sadly came to the conclusion on Tuesday morning that we wouldn’t be travelling and cancelled our travel plans.
We’ll be joining everyone else in Rome via a zoom link later today.
However, it meant that I’ve been in bed for the last couple of days, feeling sorry for myself.
I’ve lost a few kilos in such a short time – that’s an indication of how rotten a bug it was.
At the same time, my tummy has been making lots of weird and whacky noises.
I’ve hardly eaten a thing but drank lots of water instead.
For the first time in a while, I felt hungry.
On the plus side I’ve done lots of reading and reflection.
Unable to feed my physical body, I focussed on feeding my spirit and nourishing my soul.
Doctrine & Covenants 88:15 reads; “And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.”
Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit.
Daily, as I watch the unfolding turbulent global complexities, forced to pause, ponder, and reflect longer than normal, I concluded that there is a great hunger in the world, namely, it is starved of spiritual nourishment.
I asked myself “What would Jesus do?”
A question came to mind.
Are you feeding your spirit and nourishing your soul – or are you hungry?
Job 32:8 “But there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
For instance, we may all experience physical hunger, but perhaps you have starved yourself of spiritual food for far too long?
It is a labour that takes more than an afternoon or a day or two in bed.
Why is it sometimes difficult to focus on spiritual things?
The Saviour said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” – John 6:35
Not only do our physical bodies need essential nourishment, but our spirits do too.
I know it is not only important to study secular things and educate our minds, but it is also essential to nourish ourselves spiritually.
In what ways do you experience conflict between your physical and spiritual nature?

Why not religion?

Why not Religion?
As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks taught: “[Religion] remains the most powerful community builder the world has known. … Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age. The idea that society can do without it flies in the face of history.”
Nearly 2 years ago, we received an unexpected call from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Subsequently, we were asked to preside over one of the 411 missions of the church.
In time we were assigned to the Belgium Netherlands Mission, serving here June 2021 – July 2024.
Our life’s have changed.
It is a voluntary assignment.
So – why did we accept the call?
It was a moment that really mattered – it was a day of determination.
Simply stated, Jesus Christ is the reason.
It’s also because of a strong conviction of the truth of this work and I choose to let my faith show.
That said, the subject of religion can be touchy, especially where we live now!
Religious views are a deeply personal and even sacred thing.

Religion should be three things:

Firstly, it should provide answers to basic questions that the sincerest human beings ultimately come around to, namely what is our purpose in life…?
• Where did we come from?
• Why are we here?
• Where are we going after this life is over.
True religion should offer answers to our minds that our hearts can respond to.
Secondly, it should provide a way for us to live and find happiness not only here on earth but also in the life to come.
Thirdly, it must provide a way to provide a confirming witness that the religion is true, which in turn motivates and encourages you to live that way.
Like millions of others, I’ve found that through the Book of Mormon.
As Neal A. Maxwell once said, “Do not dare to read the Book of Mormon seriously, or you may suddenly realize that it is inlaid with incredibly important insights from a millennium of sacred history.”
Answering those three things and choosing to live my religion, motivates me every day.
If you are serious – it will answer all your questions too.
How can faith & religion help you in your life?

The Enos Challenge

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲?
“Studying – the act of texting, eating and watching Netflix with an open textbook nearby” – that’s one definition at least!
Growing older, I’ve discovered that I love to study, i.e., “devoting time and attention to gain knowledge” – perhaps that is a more traditional definition!
In Doctrine & Covenants 88:118, the Lords describes how to learn the gospel “…yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
Reading and studying are both part of the learning process.
So – is there a difference between the two?
Another definition I found suggests that – Studying means to concentrate and devote time in completing or researching any task; while reading means to understand and grasp the meaning of any content without devoting much time to it.
In simple terms, “you’re only going to get out of this what you put into it.” – Boyd K. Packer.
Whilst listening to a podcast in our pre-mission training, we were encouraged to take the Enos challenge.
The invitation was to study the one chapter of Enos in the Book of Mormon for 30 days.
My immediate thought was “How can I study Enos for 30 days, there are only 27 verses!”
However, I accepted the challenge and learned many wonderful lessons, as I slowed down and studied those verses, one by one.
The book of Enos is like a pure journal entry and is a very personal chapter of scripture.
There was indeed much to learn.

The Process of Studying…

The process of studying the scriptures has three important parts:
1 – Understanding the background and setting of the scriptures.
2 – Identifying the principles and doctrines being taught.
3 – Applying those truths to our own lives.
I learned that studying is better when you take your time, by looking out for key words, you’ll discover that truths about Jesus Christ are everywhere.
Recently I invited all of the missionaries to complete the Enos challenge.
I love this piece of street art graffiti in Friesland.
It was a timely serendipitous find by Tess Flake upon her completion of the challenge!
Have you ever taken time to study the scriptures?
Enos may be a good place to start!

Cramming!

𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲?
Cramming – “to study intensively over a short period of time just before an examination.”
For many I know, these last few weeks has been cramming season.
The date of the exam is looming.
It can become a state of panic for many.
Its all about stuffing a lot of information into our short-term memory for that up-and-coming exam.
However, during cramming season, we try really hard to quickly absorb some lessons which should have been learned a long, long time ago.
Admittedly there are on many occasions’ success, followed by an abiding forgetfulness of those things just crammed in!
As to the process of cramming, not only do we see it in schools and universities – we see it in life too.
Like students, many people neglect, postpone, and procrastinate things that we should be doing every day.
Just like school or university, there always comes of course a time of examination for all of us in our life.
Life brings frequent trials, tests, and choices.
Don’t procrastinate the important matters of life, remember 𝐧𝐨𝐰 is the time to prepare!
Don’t end up in a state of panic….
It is essential to be diligent in doing what should be done now – while it is called today.
What should you be doing every day?

Learning – Lighting the way ahead.

I love to learn.
The older I become, the more I enjoy the words of thoughtful writers both ancient and modern.
The more we learn, the more we are in a position to learn.
Gordon B. Hinckley stated “The learning process is endless. We must read, we must observe, we must assimilate, and we must ponder that to which we expose our minds. I believe in the evolution of the mind, the heart and the soul of humanity. I believe in improvement. I believe in growth. There is nothing quite as invigorating as being able to evaluate and then solve a difficult problem, to grapple with something that seems almost unsolvable and then find a resolution.”
I am so grateful to friends, colleagues and associates who motivate and inspire us to reach higher and do better.
As a teenager, I recall cycling in the early morning delivering newspapers and at night too, with the dynamo on my front wheel, lighting the way ahead. The faster I went the brighter the light, the slower I went, the light became dimmer.
So, it is with our minds.
Through ongoing personal development, we can keep the light of our personality and character shining ever brighter by reading good literature, then through our study, apply and action the learning into our lives.
How does learning, light the way ahead for you?

Why study?

“Studying – the act of texting, eating and watching Netflix with an open textbook nearby” – that’s one definition at least!

Why study? Do I really need to?

An oft heard question targeted at a parent, from a challenging teenager perhaps?

Growing older, I’ve discovered that I love to study, i.e. “devoting time and attention to gain knowledge” – perhaps that is a more traditional definition!  In fact, my penchant for both good books, research and news commentary have developed over the years into something akin to an addiction!  Duolingo, online resources, daily reading and personal tuition have certainly all been extremely important for me right now, as I refresh my Dutch language skills.

So what are the fruits of study? What does it give us in our life – if anything? Why bother?

In my mind, there are many rewards. For example, I’d expect that that there will be an upside in all of following areas of our life, including….

Education, Knowledge, Understanding, Awareness, Influence, Perspective, Appreciation, Decision Making, Opportunities, Achievements and many, many more!

One key aspect of study, is discovery. New insights, new information, new inspiration, new strokes of ideas! Frequently referred to as “aha” moments. They can be magical, exciting and motivational.

My top tip – 𝐑𝐒𝐕𝐏 – 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝, 𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲, 𝐕𝐢𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐞, 𝐏𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫

Why not study? And yes – you really need to! Go on, pick up a new book today!

Teaching

How do you learn?

Experience has taught me that the best way to 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 something is actually to 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐭.

It is really a simple principle.

Several times recently whilst grappling with learning on virtual platform technologies, I was reminded about the very moment you feel that you’re responsible to teach something. In that moment, I know that I learn it so much better. At least I know I do ……do you?

Why is that?

I recognise I delve into things a little deeper, I pay more attention. I work much harder to understand. I’ve noticed too that I ask better questions to gain clarification. I study and explore more. In essence its because I feel much more responsible, not only for my own learning, but I recognise too that I need to convey that learning with power, conviction and understanding to others.

So – do you really want to learn something? Then go on, give it a go – 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐭!