Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Job Description

After a year, I think it is time that I should add a post to the wonderful blog my missionary companion has been keeping up. 

I have actually started to get some extra time this last couple of weeks due to two senior service missionary couples that are helping me maintain flats. They take care of just under half of the flats, 26 flats. One couple handles the Penrith and Hebersham Stakes. The other handles the Gosford and part of the Newcastle Stakes. They are so helpful.

What do I do. Simple stated I do what you would do if you moved out of your house, put in 2 or 4 young adults, 18 to 22 years old, and then you maintain your house. Oh, and they also get to use your new car and bikes. Then multiple that by 60. That describes my job. One great thing though, is the young people treat you with great respect and love. Just like you are their grand parents. 

The job isn’t hard, but there is a lot of it. There is to much for one person to get done. I go to bed without the work being done, and get up being behind. With that said I am enjoying it. It has taken a while and some mental adjustment to get to that point, but I am there. I will miss it when I go home.

Next post I will share some details. The next post will be how I have become a cock roach expert! 😤.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Two Missions Conference with General Authority = AMAZING!

What a special day this was.  As I have mentioned the Australia Sydney North and South are combining July 1 2018.  Today we had a special Conference with several General Authorities, Elder and Sister Whitney Clayton, Elder and Sister Ian Ardern of the Area Presidency, President and Sister Checketts North Mission and President and Sister Leota South Mission.  Let me first tell you a little bit about the music.

When we were directed what our hymn would be they announced Elder Tseng serving ASNM from  Taiwan would conduct the music.  I had met Elder Tseng when we first arrived to the mission, he had been out about 6 months.  He was shy and very quiet.  Confidence was not visible and he didn't
Kookabura sitting on a fence post. BIG
interact much.  How things have changed in 1 year.  Elder Tseng walked confidently up to the stand.  He took out a bright orange pen and held it in his right hand, his left hand was raised ready to bring the congregation in on cue.  The music begun, and on beat Elder Tseng began leading the music, with just the right amount of enthusiasm for the music, a little emphasis on the down beat, occasionally lifting his left hand to indicate more volume or enthusiasm.   Of course having close to 400 missionaries singing is powerful on it's own, but with Elder Tseng leading he added extra strength to the voices.  Everyone was singing their hearts out.  You can guess what happened during the song?  Yes and on cue my tears began to well did others I might add.  It was, words can't describe, powerful.  We all felt the spirit.

We then heard from all of our guest speakers.  I will share a few of  the highlights.

Sister Ardern shared a story about her brother who lives in London.  He has been less active for many years.  He lives in the center of London and would invest in Real Estate when opportunities arose.  One day a unit 2 floors up from his became available.  It was the day of the open house, he went to check out the apartment.  No one was greeting clients, the door was open so he went in.  As he went from room to room he saw impressions of furniture in the carpet that had been removed with the passing of the last tenant.  He found himself wondering who had lived there in the past?  How many people had occupied this apartment?  He observed shadows left from hanging pictures or mirrors on the walls.  The rooms were all empty, no one was there viewing this property.  All of a sudden a door blew shut.  It was strange because no windows were open, no wind was blowing through the flat, but one of the bedroom doors had blown shut.  As he went to the bedroom and opened the door he looked on the backside of the door and found an old, yellowing piece of paper taped to the back of the door.  It was torn in places but it still hung to the door.  How long had that piece of paper been on that door.  Sister Ardern's brother started reading what was on the back of the door on the old piece of paper.  It said:

 "I am called of God.  My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him.  To stand in His Place, to say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me:  My purpose is to evermore effectively invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restore gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

This quote made a strong impression on Sister Arden's brother.  He took down the piece of paper and now has it hanging on his door in his apartment.

Elder Ardern said Heavenly Father knew your weaknesses before you were called, more importantly he knew your strengths. You are part of this great work.  The Restoration continues, it is not finished yet.  Elder Ardern announced  the new Mission President for the newly combined Australia Sydney Mission, it is Scott Ruina from Provo Utah. (Does anyone recognize this name?)  There is a big job awaiting the new President.

Elder Clayton had so many important messages.  These are just a few.  Because our missionaries are so excited to see each other when the rare occasion of getting together in one of these massive Conferences, their enthusiasm and excitement is at full volume level.  Twice before the meeting started the Chapel and Cultural Hall missionaries were asked to turn the volume down.  The first thing Elder Clayton said was; "Reverence invites Revelation".

Elder Clayton went on to relate the following story.  True story told by a Branch President in Belfast Ireland.  This Branch President was a convert.  When he was attending University in Ireland as a young student he decided he need to have religion in his life.  Therefore he needed to read the Bible, but he didn't own a Bible and no one he knew had a copy of the Bible.

One cold rainy day looking out his window he saw 2 Elders standing at a bus stop.  He knew they were missionaries for some unknown church.  He knew they would have a copy of the Bible that he could buy from them.  He hurried down and stood at the bus stop hoping that one of them would start talking to him.  In just a few minutes the bus the 2 Elders were waiting for came flying by and it did NOT stop because it was full of passengers.  The 3 of them continued to stand in silence at the bus stop, no one speaking to each other.  A 2nd bus came buy a little slower but it did NOT stop.  The Elders stared in disbelief.   This same situation played out 2 more times.  Finally when the 4th bus did NOT stop one of the Elders said out loud, "Now that is so strange!"  Elder Clayton said this was the best missionary opener he had ever heard.  Well, it was enough to open up dialogue between the 3 of them.  When asked if he could buy a Bible from them, he was told they would give him a free Book of Mormon.  The point to missionaries is "OPEN YOUR MOUTHS"  Speak to people do not be timid or shy, talk to everyone.

Sister Clayton referred to the mission experience as the sweetest of times.  We all are making great memories.  There are miracles in this work and WE are some of those miracles.

One of the General Authorities pointed out how obedient and willing President & Sister Leota are.  They were asked to lunch by a General Authority on February 19, on February 22 they were on their way to Australia Sydney South Mission to become the temporary Mission President until the new President arrives 1 July.  Only a 3 day notice.

Here is the rest of the story about Elder Tseng.  After the meeting I ran into Elder Tseng and complimented him on his great gift as a conductor.  I asked what his musical background was.  He said he didn't have any?????  I asked how he knew how to lead such a large congregation and do it with such confidence and enthusiasm?  He said "I watch General Conference".

I am telling you this young man has a natural gift for music and conducting.  But if watching General Conference can do this for someone  watching how to lead music, imagine what General Conference can do for your Spirit?!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tall grass, sunrise, clouds and beach 2-18
March 2018  Tall Grass at Beach 

G'day from Australia Sydney North Mission.......

We are moving closer to when Sydney North and South become 1 mission.  It will take place July 1 2018.  This won't be the first time Sydney has only had one mission.  It has split and combined a couple of times that I am aware of.  In July President and Sister Checketts will be departing and the new President will take over.  We are still waiting to hear who will be replacing President Bingham.  President Bingham from the South mission was to take over both missions but had a serious biking accident and was medevac home to the States last week.  We are praying for his recovery from his injuries.  He will be closer to family and loved ones for this long healing  process.  

We are slowly making some changes to the process of combining.  Our mission is taking our 7 Zones down to 4-5 Zones and the South mission will be doing the same.  We have a new senior couple moving up from South mission to replace Elder and Sister Cox the first of May.  Their last name is Adams from SLC.  We have not met them yet but look forward to working with them.

Elder Ellison is always busy with the Flats and getting broken or damaged items fixed.  It has been very interesting hearing from Elders and Sisters how holes in the walls happen.  For example,  Sister jumping up between two narrow walls trying to do the splits.  Diving for bunk bed and crashing into the wall putting shoulder and arm through wall.  Or big Polynesian boys wrestling and putting large holes in the wall.  Thank goodness he has 2 Senior Church Service Missionaries that are working with him to expedite the repairs.  And as usual there are always a number of cars that have been in fender benders or more that need taken to the "Smash" shop, that's Australian for auto repair shop.  Elder Ellison left at 6 a.m. today to go trade cars with some Sisters and take their car into the shop.  6 a.m. may sound early but if you know Elder Ellison you know he is up at that time anyway.  Another bonus with moving that early is you beat a lot of the heavy traffic that surrounds us 18 hours a day.  I can literally feel the traffic starting up while laying in bed about 4 a.m.  The vibration gives a slow heave to our property.  I dread hearing it every morning.

I just finished a very smooth running of our MLC that takes place every 6 weeks.  Like most things in life the longer you/I do the job, the more comfortable we get with the process.  Each time, I see things that I can tweak and make the next MLC run even smoother.  By the time I head home I should have the ordering, purchasing, organizing and dispersing of materials and home goods down to a well tuned process.  I am really enjoying this hectic schedule, now that I know what I am doing.

The picture above I took on our trip to Port MacQuarie last month on our 6 a.m. walk along the beach.  It was very beautiful.  Of course the picture only shows a glimmer of the beauty of the area.

Port MacQuarie coastal drive February 2018


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Combining North & South Mission

Early morning sunrise, so beautiful
It occurred to me that I had not made an entry for January.  So, I thought I better get February's done before the month was gone.  When I opened the blog, I found I had made an entry but forgot to Publish it.  Shoot.

The big news this month is the announcement that the Australia Sydney North and Sydney South mission will be combining in July.  President and Sister Checketts will have finished their 3 year assignment.  President and Sister Bingham from the South mission will have 1 year into their assignment.  The Bingham's will be moving up to the Mission home and taking over responsibility for the newly combined mission.  What a job that will be.  We will have 300+ missionaries.

President Checketts has been really good at keeping the Junior and Senior missionaries informed as to what will take place.  We will be intaking fewer missionaries.  The eventual goal will be to  bring the numbers down at first to 270.  Then over the next year or so down to 180.  Elder Ellison and I will only be involved with the transition for 6-8 weeks.  We are anxious to see how our current assignments will blend with the other Senior couples from the South mission.

Elder Ellison and I attended our northern Zones, "Zone Conference".  About 2 hours from Sydney.  I
love this opportunity to be taught by President and Sister Checketts.  They always have something to help young missionaries do a better job at their calling.  I always feel I learn so much from these Conferences.  President and Sister Checketts are Great teachers.  I love learning from them.

After Zone Conference on Friday Elder Ellison and I drove 3 more hours north to Port Macquarie.  It is along the coast at the northern end of NSW (New South Wales).  It is a BEAUTIFUL Beach community.  We had a comfortable hotel room.  Saturday we drove the coastal beach route that took several hours.  We stopped at a Rain Forrest museum and had a delicious breakfast.  We stopped at several beautiful beaches and a light house.  We drove through small, open spaces with  horses, cows, goats and small populations.  A nice change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.  I especially like these types of vacations.  They are relaxing and enjoyable to see different scenery.  I know my husband likes to be active and doing physical activities, but he is kind enough to do the things that I like to do that aren't so physical.  It gives us opportunities to talk about life, plans for the future, hypothetical ideas, share our love of the gospel and just renew our relationship.  It is very rejuvenating.   

Sunday we drove back to Sydney making a couple of detours to see some sights of interest.  We enjoyed this time away from the fast pace, non stop work at our office assignment.  So much so Monty suggested we take time once every 2 months to get away and see some more sights
before our mission ends in August.  Sounds like a great idea to me.  We will see if it happens.  So much to do with our assignments at the mission office.

Finally, I am happy to report that we have now had a working A/C for 3 weeks.  I am sleeping better and life is good!  

Big Eucalyptus trees, big blue skies walking to work
(I wrote this a month ago and forgot to enter it to the Blog.  Oooops.  A little late)

Well, summer is finally here.  How do I know this?  Because our A/C has been broken for the past 2 months.  Isn't that when air conditioning breaks, summer time?  Actually it wasn't working when we got here.  The Church Service Center  had repair people come out and service it in March with unseasonably warm temps. About April it went into fall and winter weather mode.  We didn't realize the A/C still wasn't working until it hit 108 degrees and no A/C early December.

Fortunately Elder Ellison observed that the Self Reliance building was getting all new ducting and A/C.  He noticed a portable unit sitting on the side that was going to be trashed.  He asked if we could use it until our A/C was fixed.  Elder Ellison is such a good engineer.  He was able to put it between our 2 sliding glass doors so the hose could drain outside the Flat.  He got some of that old wavy material people use to put around their pool fencing, drill the correct size hole for the tubing to fit through and get this broken unit working.  It was nice that he got that plastic material wedged between the sliders.  We were able to keep some of the heat out and most of the bugs stayed out as well.  This portable unit cooled about a 3 foot circle in our living room.  Over time I learned to pull our heavy drapes over our single pained windows, that are floor to ceiling windows, plus close all doors into bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.  This helped keep the little A/C we got out of the portable unit into critical rooms.  After 3 bids, vacation time off  for installers which is about 4 weeks long here in AU., we finally got the whole unit replaced.  Our Flat is now nice and cool and I can sleep once again.

Our 2 Elders that recently transferred into the ward are really enjoyable, just like the previous 2 Elders.  Elder A is from Utah, Elder B is from Australia.  They both spoke in Sacrament meeting a month ago.  It is amazing how such young men can bare such powerful and interesting testimony.  They were both so impressive.  I always take great pride in our missionaries when I see them doing or being great representatives of Jesus Christ.  I feel like a proud mother or should I say grandmother.

Last week as I was assisting missionaries going home I had the opportunity to interact with a Sister that I had previously had no contact with in the 10 months I have been here.  I was so disappointed she was going home because she was such an impressive young lady.  Unfortunately we don't get to know each missionary personally, I wish I did.  I sure know each one by name.  Doing the mail every day has helped me know all 160 missionaries names.  It is a good feeling recognizing them by name.  Especially when mail comes for people not in the mission, I know longer go searching for a name that is not in our mission.  I just recognize it is not one of ours.  "Return to Sender"  PLEASE!

Sydney Harbour
Last story.  The day after Christmas is a big holiday here in AU.  It is called "Boxing Day". (Google it for definition if you don't know what it is.  I didn't).  We went with 30 couples from the North and South Mission on a chartered Catamaran.  Along with 1000's of small boats and extreme yachts we got positioned on the harbor to  watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart race.  This is a big event and several hundred thousand people turn out to watch or participate in the 3 day race.  Our skipper manuvered us expertly around large and small boats to get in a good position to watch these beautiful sail boats take off.  Several times I thought we were going to crash into OR be crashed by another boat.  It was an amazing activity.  After 4 hours of small choppy waters I was starting to turn a little green.  Getting back on to the floating dock was another adventure.  The skipper stayed at the throttle moving us back and forward, with 2 of the Senior Elders giving us a hand and a push on to the deck.  It was lucky no one fell in and was crushed between the boat and the dock.  We all made it safely ashore albeit with very wobbly legs.  Sleeping that night was not comfortable as I felt I was still moving up, down and sideways on the boat.  I don't think I would do well in the Navy.

I check the Kaysville/Layton weather every morning when I get up.  It doesn't look like we have received much snow?  I also check weather in Iowa where our daughter and family live.  It is freezing in Iowa.  Literally below 0,  sometimes minus temperatures.  It makes me wonder how did those Pioneers trek across such freezing cold plains?  I am amazed at what Pioneers had to endure just to follow the Prophet and Heavenly Fathers plan for them.  They were and are amazing people.  We need to remember what our ancestors sacrificed for us to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Pioneer gave their all.  They ENDURED to the END.  Hope we can do the same.

Several of the Senior missionaries that welcomed us so warmly when we arrived have or are finishing their missions shortly.  I am sad to see them go.  By the time President and Sister Checketts leave in July we will be 1 of 2 couples left out of the group we joined in with.  Always a change to get use to in the mission field.  So grateful for this amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ.  How it blesses our lives and those of others.  Never take it for granted, Love it and Live it!

Sister Ellison

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas in Australia

Picture courtesy Sister Jenkins ASNM 2017

Who would ever have thought I would miss Snow?  In my mind, cold weather, snow and Christmas go hand in hand.  Even though I grew up in warm, sunny California, and love California in the summer months...I do love Utah and the warm coziness  of family times, warm fires, family outings and gatherings, hot soups and Hallmark Christmas movies in December.  This year is going to be very different.  Today it is 107 degrees.  I felt the hot sun on my arms, top of my head and neck walking home for something cool to eat for lunch.  I walked into our Flat to find it was 85+ degrees inside due to a non functioning air conditioner.  We made the calls to the grounds contractor.  He has put in the request for a repair, but?????  Lot's of people have A/C problems this time of year.  I see some sleepless nights ahead.  No one said it was going to be easy.  Maybe I will bring a pillow and blanket up to the mission office and sleep up here tonight?  Sounds like a good idea.

Last week we had our Christmas Zone Conference with all 7 Zones, 160 missionaries in one building.  These missionaries LOVE to visit with each other.  It is like long lost friends when they get together.  President and Sister Checketts had a wonderful day of activities planned.  While the President was teaching the missionaries, the seniors were working rapidly getting the tables, settings,  and decorations finished in the cultural hall.  Other senior missionaries were in the kitchen and Primary room prepping salads, watermelon, cooking pulled pork, sweet and sour meatballs and vegetables, and of course the Mission staple, rice and lots of RICE.  What a beehive of action we had going on.

After an hour or so we heard this wonderful, angelic sound coming from the Chapel.  It was all those amazing missionaries singing Christmas Carols.  We quickly finished what we were doing in other parts of the building and went into the Chapel looking for an empty seat here or there.  We joined in for the last 1-2 songs.  Now that is what you call enjoying the true meaning of Christmas.  Then President announced the rest of the day's activities.  We started with a few clippings the President edited from some LDS films.  Spirit of the Game, a great movie about missionaries in Australia 1950.  If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. A simple story but inspiring.  Of course he had to put in some out takes from The Best Two Years.  Many of these missionaries had never seen this movie as they were just young kids when it came out.  I love this movie as well, but this day I loved watching these missionaries laughing hysterically as they watched for the first time and completely related to all the funny out takes.  Oh my, their reactions were priceless.  I was laughing so hard watching them laugh.

Beautiful Christmas decorations made by Senior Sisters

We then went and enjoyed a delicious meal that Sister Checketts planned.  There was an abundance of food.  Next on the agenda were  games.  Races stacking cups.  Getting Oreo cookies into your mouth from your forehead, and one other game?  We then did pictures by the different countries we were from.  (BTW Do you know where missionaries say missionaries from Utah are from??  The Factory! I thought was kind of funny)  The picture of missionaries from the States was 4-5 times bigger than any other country.  Mail was passed out which is always a big high light for missionaries.  Lastly the movie Moana was shown.  Fun movie and day of activities.

It was getting late and the President was anxious to get the Missionaries out the door and on their way home via cars or public transportation.  I was disappointed that the Mission song was not going to be sung.  Then I saw Sister Checketts talking to the President.  Guess what?  We sang the mission song and the President and his wife both recorded it.  I can not tell you how powerful this song is.  And when you add those beautiful Polynesian voices that harmonious so magically....well it brings one to tears!  It reminds me why we are serving and what our purpose is.  It makes all the difficult things that happen day in and day out  i.e. broken AC's worth the struggles.  Oh how I love these missionaries, these faithful Senior missionaries and this work.  This is time well spent.

Sydney Temple decorations 2017

Now for a story that I got permission from the President to relate.  President Checketts continually stresses and encourages each of us to have the spirit with us at all times.  He also sets an amazing example.  When new missionaries arrive to the mission he does not assign them to their areas until he has a chance to visit with them and feel directed by the spirit where to place them and with whom.  President Checketts knew we were getting a young man to the mission who has a heart problem and has a pacemaker.  This would cause any President concern because they never want anything bad to happen to one of their missionaries under their care.  I don't know how worried the President was, but  our mission nurse was quite concerned and doing background research so she would be up to speed on his condition.  President Checketts decided to put Elder Smith who has the heart condition with Elder Jones (names have been changed to protect the parties).  After visiting awhile with Elder Smith, who I can tell you is delightful, charming, and oh so faithful young man, President felt inspired to put him with a 2 month new missionary, Elder Jones.  When President Checketts told Elder Jones what the background was on Elder Smith, Elder Jones was not worried or put off in the least.  As an after thought Elder Jones mentioned to President Checketts that he had been a pre-med student before coming out on his mission and wants to someday be cardio thoracic surgeon.  Now this missionary wasn't going to perform any surgery, but he wasn't going to be afraid to help his new companion in any way he could.  Coincidence?  
I think not.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Say YES!

Our Ward has about 50-70 people on a good Sunday.  But they are amazing people, striving to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Good people that even though many are elderly they still contribute to the ward in whatever way they can.  An example is our ward chorister.  This 94 year old Sister just spent months in the hospital and home recovering from Spinal Meningitis.  But as soon as she could she was back leading us in our Sunday Hymns.   We are so impressed with these valiant members.

SAY  Y E S !
This past weekend we enjoyed Stake Conference.  Saturday evening is met in a small Chapel and we fill up about ¾ of the Chapel and overflow area.  It is always so surprising to me when we walk in and see so many of our young missionaries already there.  This Saturday evening I was particularly impressed with how many of the young missionaries participated in the evening program.  Sister Walker conducted the music.  At the last minute they needed someone to conduct.  Someone suggested Sister Walker.  She did not have experience doing this but she said “Yes”.  Then Sister Walker and Elder Monterio sang a duet.  You could tell Elder Monterio was nervous, as he never looked up or smiled.  But he had an amazing voice.  They both agreed to do this performance when asked a few weeks earlier, they said “Yes”.  Later when Sister Checketts was leading a discussion from the pupit she asked for class participation and our young Missionaries were popping up their hands.  Twice she asked missionaries to read something up on the screen above the pulpit.  When she called on Elder Ashton, he said he forgot his classes but he stood up, button his suit coat and walked to the front where he could see better and read with a strong and powerful voice the paragraph.  He said “Yes” in his actions.  I think some 18 year olds would have hesitated or read in a timid voice.  The missionaries throughout the world are being shaped and moulded into our future church leaders. So amazing to watch and see it happen in our missionaries lives here in Sydney.

            Later that evening I told Sister Checketts how proud of these young people I was and she said she feels that way all the time.  I am surprised at how I feel so close to these young missionaries.  I guess working in the office and daily speaking to a number of these young people causes you to grow fond and even love each of them.  Our wonderful Sister missionaries always rush up to me when they see me and give me great big hugs.  It feels good to feel this love from them, although some of the Polynesians don’t realize how strong they are and how old I am getting (sob) and they about crush every bone in my body.  But I love getting their hugs too much to ever shy away from receiving this sign of love.

            I am preparing to give a talk in our ward at the end of the November.  My assigned topic is Elder Bednar’s conference talk “Quick to Observe”.  I have been doing a lot of observing and praying for guidance on this topic.  Elder Bednar talks about different types of Spiritual Gifts that we may not observe as a gift.  Such as, listening, asking, hearing the still small voice, being able to weep, avoiding conflict and on and on.  So, with my desire to observe at a more heightened level, I noticed something special about Sister Checketts, our Presidents good wife. 
She has a real gift at pronouncing missionary’s names, especially NEW missionary’s names perfectly on her first attempt. This might not sound like anything special to someone not here, so let me give you an example of some of our more challenging names and this is just a few.  There are dozens of names that I still struggle with.  Okay for Polynesian names how would you say Faasootauloa, Leaaemanu Tuimaseve, Taerea, Tahere, Taurere (last 3 names all pronunciated the same).  Asian names Ng (hint keep your lips closed), Tseng (first 2 letters with your lips closed) no it is not Zing, and Saengkabkeo.  A couple of random names from Australia and New Zealand, Riquelme, Ngatuvai and last but not least Venetsanakos.  This is just a handful of names that have me tongue tied whenever I see these missionaries.  Not Sister Checketts, she can pronounce them all… and even put a Polynesian accent, Asian Accent, Greek or Hispanic accent on these names.  I commented to Sister Checketts how well she does with these names and she admitted that she has been blessed with the ability to not struggle with the names of the missionaries and speak their names clearly and recognizably.  What a gift.  I think I will have to use that example in my talk. 

The other day after reading some church history I started thinking about how difficult it must have been for Joseph Smith Jr. to organize, spiritually lead and teach the many new and challenging members coming into the church.  I thought about today and how we often need to do new and challenging things in our personal lives.  Or when church leaders need to organize a new program or reinvent a program.  As I was pondering how difficult life can be, I thought to myself, why can’t Heavenly Father just tell us what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it done?  I mean we get a lot of direction from our leaders why don’t we have answers to all our problems and needs?  That seemed reasonable to me.
The next day when we were having our scripture reading this verse jumped out at me. D&C 58:26 “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward.”  Well then, I had my question answered quite clearly.  Amazing how that works.

            As I have mentioned before, our offices sit across the parking lot of the Sydney Temple.  It is really exciting walking to work these days.  Watching the hustle and bustle of the many electricians, grounds people and workers getting the grounds ready for the Christmas Season.  They have trenched all over the oversized lawn, running new power lines to massive trees to be wired with Christmas lights.  It will be a small version of Temple Square here.  They say we will have 1000’s of visitors during the holidays.  The junior missionaries will give the tours and answer the questions.  The senior missionaries will be support and supervise all the action.  It will be long days and nights during the holidays, but what better way to spend Christ’s birthday?  Wouldn’t you agree?