Sunday, May 24, 2015

Seth Survives The Snoring - Stake Young Men's Camp

Adam kind of goes camping:

It was the Stake Young Men's Camp last weekend. It was only a short camp - starting at 7PM on the Friday night and going through til lunchtime on Saturday. The camp was held out on a member's property on the NSW side of the border out past Hall.

Seth and I took Kai Koskinen up there with us, and after a stop at Subway for dinner, and spending a while trying to find the correct property in the dark, we eventually arrived on time. There were probably about 60 or so in attendance - fathers and sons heading out to camp together.

The first responsibility was to set up your tent on arrival. Kai went off with his own small tent, whilst Seth and I cheated. We'd removed most of the back car seats prior to coming, and set up the back of the car into our tent. We had two mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags and a thick quilt.

It was a clear night, with the Milky Way shining brightly above us in the country sky. I tried grabbing a few photos. You can see the Southern Cross clearly on the left hand side of the first photo here.

After setting up our tents, we headed over to a large camp fire that had been set up for everybody to socialise.

We then had a Fathers vs Sons hour long game of Capture the Flag, utilising glowsticks to mark the flags and boundaries. I got captured  about 10-15 minutes into the game, and spent time in the "jail" with some of the other Dad's chatting. Neither team was having any success getting any of the flags, despite the sons having  a numerical advantage over the Dads. Eventually the Dads, wanting the game to finish, and to get back to the campfire, moved their flags unguarded to within a metre of the boundary between the two sides.

After the Sons managed to somehow win the game, we retired back to the campfire to consume Milo, smores  and to socilaise.

Some of the boys found the rope/swing next to the nearby dam, and took turns swinging out over the water from the dam bank. One of the boys discovered that his grip wasn't as strong as his enthusiasm and he ended up in the damn. He stood by the fire, his clothes steaming from the heat of the fire as he waited for people to grab soem spare clothes for him.

Seth and I got to sleep about 11:30PM. We were kept warm in our setup in the car and slept through til after 8AM, and even then it was only our bladders that forced us to get up.

Next it was breakfast - with a more than satisfactory offering of bacon, eggs and sausages. Gee camping can be tough sometimes.

A number of the boys then spent time playing around the dam, utilising the rope swing, and a variety of canoes. Not everybody remained dry during these festivities.

The major activity for the morning though was Laser Tag. A portable laser tag venue had been set up using the cars, blow up crates, gas cylinders and the surrounding bush as part of the venue. Teams were broken up into Northside vs Southside of Canberra, and then into age groups (younger boys, teens/young men, then older guys). Most players got decked out in camouflage face point, vests, bandanas and other warrior-like accessories.

The morning was finished off with some short talks as we tried to work our way through 40 pizzas that had been brought in for lunch. It was a fun "camp"

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mother's Day Rooburgers at the Comms Hub

Adam becomes a comms hub:

After Church on Mother's Day, the Sister missionaries came back to our house so that they could Skype their Mums. Sisters Perceval and Seve had both transferred out last transfers and we now have Sister Finau from Melbourne training Sister Sudweeks from Seattle in the USA. Sister Finau was one of the missionaries in Woden who Sister Ilalio spent time with after the car accident. She had already been to our house for dinner when they were in the three way, so she was excited to be in our Ward and to see us again.

I got Skype set up for the sisters - it took a little bit of mucking around but we eventually got Skype working on two different machines. Earlier in the day, the father of Jewel's friend Taran had rung Elissa to invite Jewel to be a part of a conference call to India to speak with Taran. In addition to that both Elissa and I called our Mums. The upshot of all this was that at one point we had people speaking to Seattle in the USA, India, Perth, Albany and Melbourne. We're a veritable communications hub.

With Sister Sudweeks only having been in Australia for a couple of weeks we'd promised to do kangaroo burgers for dinner - continuing on the rooburger tradition.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Talk - Blessings of Gospel Study

Talk given by Adam East in Tuggeranong Ward Sacrament Meeting on Sunday 17th May 2015:

Blessings of Studying The Gospel

Brothers and Sisters,

When President Larkin was Stake President he shared with the High Council a story from a fellow Stake President here in Australia. This particular Stake President along with several others in the surrounding Stakes were going to be fortunate enough to have a training session with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and members of the Area Presidency.

This was going to be a great opportunity for him to receive counsel and guidance from the brethren as well as the opportunity to ask questions and seek assistance. As they sat together and counseled during the training meeting, the Stake President asked the brethren in regards to guidance on a particular issue that he was dealing with. The Area President responded, ‘President, why don’t we turn to the Church Handbook of Instructions and see what it has to say on the subject”. The Are President referred those present to a particular section which provided an answer and guidance to the Stake President’s question.

The Stake President felt a bit sheepish that he hadn’t realized that the answer and guidance to which he had sought was already contained in the Handbook which he already had. As the meeting continued on, there arose another opportunity for the Stake President to ask another question. He again spoke, explaining his issue, with a query about how best to handle it. Again, the Area President responded ‘Brethren, why don’t we turn to the handbook, section so and so to see if we can help this good Stake President out”. Again, the Handbook contained guidance and advice on the very situation that the Stake President had asked about.
In recounting the story to President Larkin, the Stake President advised him that he didn’t end up asking any more questions during the training meeting, but he did come out of the meeting with a strong resolve to study the gospel materials that he already had at his disposal.

Brothers and Sisters – are we sometimes a bit like this Stake President. A desire to do what’s right, even a willingness to seek help in recognition that we don’t have all the answers, but maybe also, a realization that we’ve overlooked what the Lord has already set before us to help us in our day to day life? May I propose to you that the answer to every important question in this life can be found from studying the gospel.
Many member s of the ward know that when I teach or talk at Church, I do so with a specific  goal. My goal in this talk is to help increase our desires to study the gospel, by understanding the blessing we receive from gospel study.

I’m going to probably embarrass Brother Scott, but I want to tell you about a spiritual thought that he shared in the Stake High Council meeting several years ago when both he and I were on the High Council. Greg opened up his scriptures, and then asked us to turn to 1 Peter 3:18-20, which reads:

 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

He asked us what we learnt from reading this scripture. We spent several minutes discussing this with different thoughts and opinions from the brethren about doctrinal points and other things we personally understood from this scripture. He then repeated the process with us for several other scriptures. Whilst we all had something to say about them, we probably didn’t share any profound insights in reference to these scriptures.

Once we had  all shared our thoughts on these scriptures, Brother Scott then revealed to us that each of the scriptures we had read were scriptures that were the catalysts for revelations received by various modern day prophets. The scripture quoted previously from first Peter was being read by President Joseph F Smith in 1918.

President Smith stated that “ I opened the Bible and read the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of Peter, and as I read I was greatly impressed, more than I had ever been before. As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened…” D&C 138: 6, 11. In response, the vision of the Saviour’s work in the Spirit world, which we now have as section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants was received.

Consider the similar experience recorded by Joseph Smith that lead to the First Vision, as recorded in Joseph Smith History:

11 …, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know …

The whole world was forever changed by a young man’s choice to read from the scriptures in answer to a problem he had. That was not a coincidence. It is how life works.  Studying the Gospel is the catalyst for spiritual change and knowledge. In science, a catalyst is something that causes a chemical reaction to occur faster and use less energy. The catalyst usually isn’t consumed in the chemical reaction either.  In this sense, Gospel study can be a catalyst to us. It causes spiritual learning to occur faster.

The point I took out of Brother Scott’s spiritual thought to us was that these men had had received greater knowledge and understanding from God. Truth was revealed to them. Similarly, for us, the scriptures act as a catalyst for us to received spiritual knowledge and answers to the questions and problems we have in life.
If we think on the revelations these Prophets had received, consider the fact that this was unlikely to have been the first time these brethren had read these particular scriptures. They had likely read those very verses many times before. But something had happened in their lives and they were now prepared to gain greater knowledge, based on the scriptures they had read.

Remember, the Lord tells us that he gives unto us, line upon line, precept upon precept. That is why we are commanded to continually study the gospel and scriptures.  They are there to help us, to guide us and to assist us in our journey through life. As we experience things in our lives we are prepared to gain new knowledge. Sometimes the experience we require that enable us to learn  a particular point are to gain a preliminary understanding to serve as a foundation for greater knowledge, sometimes we need to be humbled to learn more, sometimes we need to have experienced opposition to understand the blessing we have received. Whatever the case may be, there is always the opportunity to gain more knowledge and understanding every time we study the gospel, no matter how many times we may have read or heard something before. If we study the Gospel, we will receive knowledge and we will blessed.
In fact, there are great blessings promised to those who study the gospel.

Elder Jay Jensen in the Oct 1992 General Conference spoke about how as he studied the gospel he tried to write down the promises that come from studying the scriptures. He broke these promises down into two types – those promises we would receive in this life, and those promises that we would receive in the next life. He said that.

The surprising discovery was that most promises that come to us for reading and studying the scriptures pertain to mortality. Three categories of promises to consider [that we will receive in this life] are promises of power, promises of increase, and “other promises.”  

I’d like to explore the first two in more detail.

Promises of Power

Consider the following five promises of power:

1. Power to overcome evil—Nephi taught: “Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, … the fiery darts of the adversary [could not] overpower them unto blindness.” (1 Ne. 15:24; see also Ps. 17:4; Ps. 119:98–101, 104; Hel. 3:29–30.) Do you want power to help overcome addiction.  Studying the Gospel will help you.

2. Power to live righteously—Alma “did … preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty.” (Alma 4:19.) The Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Hel. 15:7–8.) It reminds us and tells us what we should be doing.

3. Power to teach convincingly—Alma and the sons of Mosiah “had searched the scriptures diligently … and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17:2–3; see also 2 Tim. 3:16.) To Hyrum Smith the Lord said: “First seek to obtain my word … ; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” (D&C 11:21; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 4:19; Alma 31:5; D&C 84:85.) Do you want to be a better teacher, president, home teacher, or serve better in whatever calling you have, Study the gospel.

4. Power to call down the powers of heaven—Jacob said that “we search the prophets … and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.” (Jacob 4:6; Hel. 10:4–5.) Brethren, studying the Gospel is an important part of the magnifying the Priesthood you hold.

5. Power to change the heart and disposition—Samuel taught the Nephites that the Lamanites were “led to believe the holy scriptures, … which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them.” (Hel. 15:7; see also 1 Ne. 15:20.) Do you want to not get angry so easily, or to control your thoughts or words. Or to be more loving and compassionate to those around us. The power to change our heart and disposition comes from studying the Gospel.

Promises of Increase

Consider now the following promises of increase:

1. Increase in hope and joy—The Apostle Paul taught that “we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4; see also 1 Ne. 11:25; Jacob 2:8; Jacob 4:6; Alma 44:5; D&C 19:23.) The Natural Man focuses on the negatives of the world. The Gospel put these into perspective, letting us also see the good, recognizing our blessings, having hope and joy.

2. Increase in spirituality—“The preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just.” (Alma 31:5; see also 2 Ne. 4:15–16; Moro. 6:4.) We will gain an Eternal perspective if we study the gospel.

3. Increase in knowledge and understanding—Nephi taught that “the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3.) To Joseph Smith the Lord said: “The holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction.” (D&C 33:16; see also Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:98–101; 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 12:10; Alma 17:2–3; D&C 18:34–36.) We are only saved to the degree that we gain a knowledge and understanding of the Gospel, and then put them into action.

4. Increase in the power of discernment—“The word of God … is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil.” (Hel. 3:29.) “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37; see also Heb. 4:12.) This is an important one in our day. Have you read the stories of people like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon. These men came to the members of the Church and tried to draw them away with various doctrines. The Book of Mormon teaches how the ancient Church dealt with these false teachers.  We see in modern times that just as was prophesied and as the patterns we saw in the Nephite times, there are wolves-in-sheeps clothing in the Church. Members who have been drawn away by twisted misunderstanding of doctrines and worldly attitudes who are trying to draw away other church members to their teachings. It was evidenced by groups who sought to publicly vote against sustaining the Prophet at last General Conference. Why do you think the Book of Mormon recorded the incidents of these ancient false teachers  for us in our day? Because, we see them now, and will see them in the future, and people are being drawn away after their false teachings.  Elissa and I have talked how it is so surprising that those who are Church members who follow these people cannot see that they are little more than modern day Nehors and Korihors. Studying the Gospel helps us to easily discern the repeated tactics of Satan in trying to draw us away from Gospel truths, and to have a spirit of discernment.

5. Increase in testimony—From the Doctrine and Covenants: “You can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.” (D&C 18:36; see also Ps. 19:7.) If you want a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Thomas S Monson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints, then the way to do this is by studying the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and not from the philosophies of man.

You’ll notice that my talk speaks of studying the Gospel and studying the scriptures, It doesn’t mention just reading the scriptures. There is a difference. Preach my Gospel explains to missionaries how to study the Gospel effectively.

[Proper] study prepares you for service, offers solace, resolves problems, and gives you the strength to endure to the end. Successful gospel study requires desire and action. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old” (1 Nephi 10:19). Like Enos, [if we] hunger to know the words of eternal life and [if we] allow these words to “[sink] deep into [your] heart” (Enos 1:3), the Holy Ghost will open [our] minds and hearts to greater light and understanding.
Learning the gospel is also a process of receiving revelation (see Jacob 4:8). To Oliver Cowdery the Lord said: “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right” (D&C 9:7–8). As you study, pay careful attention to ideas that come to your mind and feelings that come to your heart, particularly regarding the [questions that you want to gain knowledge about].

Study is about seeking answers to questions. It is about seeking to know about something, a desire to learn. We can read the scriptures or the words of the Prophets with no desire at all, and it will benefit us very little compared to when we desire to find knowledge and truth for ourselves.

I will also put my Sunday School President hat on. Part of studying the Gospel involves being in our Sunday School classes, both sharing and receiving testimony of the Gospel.

When I was Bishop, President Larkin received instruction from the Brethren about the attendance of Ward Leaders at Sunday School. Many members seem to view Sunday School time as a time to socialize in the foyer or the time to go and perform actions related to their callings that should be done at other times. As a Bishopric we were encouraged to ensure that we were in Sunday School classes, and to encourage others to join us. We were reminded that attending our meetings is one of the things we are asked about during Temple Recommend interviews.

Brothers and Sisters, please be where you should be during Sunday School – in your class. You will feel of the Spirit and be able to draw upon the blessing of Gospel Study .

Learning by the Holy Ghost.

The Spirit is vital to Gospel study. We learn the Gospel by the Holy Ghost.

When I was a missionary, we were privileged to have Elder Dallin H Oaks spend a day with us in a missionary conference. Each of us got to meet him personally and also spend time together as a mission asking him questions. One of the questions related to how we can be more effective in our Gospel study.
He emphasized to us that the words we usually read are in a language that we know and understand. Sometimes we encounter words we don’t understand and we must learn what those words mean. This effect is particularly profound for those who start studying and reading in a new language. He pointed out to us that the scriptures and words of the prophets are given in the language of the Holy Spirit. Whilst the written or spoken words will be in a language that we usually know, the full meaning of them is conveyed by the Spirit to our Spirit, and it is something we must learn to do. Just as somebody who natively speaks English starts learning Japanese, they may read a book in Japanese and understand the basics of what is written, however they may also miss many of the nuances and subtexts that would be evident and understood to a native Japanese speaker. So it is with the scriptures and Prophets. We must learn by the language of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the Spirit is to reveal truth to us.

Preach My Gospel continues: 
Gospel study is most effective when you are taught by the Holy Ghost. Always begin your gospel study by praying for the Holy Ghost to help you learn. He will bring knowledge and conviction that will bless your life and allow you to bless the lives of others. Your faith in Jesus Christ will increase. Your desire to repent and improve will grow.
[Possible points to expand upon if there is extra time:
Revelatory experiences (Elder Bednar)
Helps us to understand God (necessary to worship Him)
Develop Faith
Understand our purpose in life and HF will concerning us (He gives us direction for our salvation)
Recognise signs of the last days (reinforces faith)
Identify false doctrine – not carried about by every whim of man
Help you to be happy.
Liken the scriptures – get them to answer your questions, help with issues, put your name in
Key to study is unlocking new knowledge, we are given line upon line, precept upon precept]

Brothers & Sisters, I would ask you to be introspective. and ask yourself: Do I study the Gospel? Do I seek to have questions answered; to gain knowledge? Am I receiving the blessings of studying the Gospel Am I receiving the blessings of Power? Am I receiving the blessings of increase?

I would invite each of us to call upon the promises of heaven, the blessings promised for studying the Gospel.

Conclude & Bear Testimony.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Adam watches Elissa get stuff:

The Mother's Day routine is fairly standardised now. Breakfast in bed featuring salmon and cheese croissants with a glass of juice. With presents from the kids featuring DVDs from Jayde and Seth, and ticket to Time Out For Women later in the year from Jayde. I had ordered her a Dingo Flour t-shirt from Lost Perth, which unfortunately hadn't arrived in the post, despite being ordered 10 days before Mother's Day.

After Church Jewel presented Elissa with another card with various "gift coupons" for servcie for her to provide. The Young Men handed out leis to all the mums made of chocolate bars. Jayde had a box with chocolate love hearts and cardboard hearts with sayings about Elissa written on them.

Because we were having the Sisters over for a special roo burger dinner on Mother's Day, we held Elissa's Mother's Day dinner the night before, where she got to request Adam's Chilli for dinner.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time To Clean Out The Fridge ...

Adam gags a bit:

The fridge was getting a bit full the other day, with lots of containers. I went looking for some ingredients I needed for cooking and was a bit shocked at the contents of some of the containers. This was probably the prime example.

This is Chicken Stroganoff in advanced stages of ...."growth".