Monday, October 31, 2016

Spring in the Garden State


You may have noticed that we have changed the background picture to our blog, which now shows the LDS temple in Melbourne.  The temple is the House of the Lord and symbolizes members' commitments to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and to living the gospel.

We usually attend the Melbourne temple once a week to do ordinance work for our family.  However, twice a year the temple closes for maintenance, so we haven't been able to attend for the last two weeks.  We've missed the spiritual boost we receive while being there.

For example, before it closed we were able to seal Janette's father to his parents, meaning that they will be in an eternal family (if they so choose).  We still remember when we were sealed together as husband and wife in the Cardston, Alberta temple.  John was a relatively new member (1 year).  We had been married civilly a year earlier.  We pulled up to the Cardston temple in our moving van, as we were heading out to Edmonton, Alberta for a new job.  This was a great start to our life in a new province.

We are so grateful that we have an eternal marriage.  We feel we have been blessed spiritually.  But from a practical perspective, it changes how you work out differences, when you know you are in a very long term relationship!  It is hard to picture what Heaven would be like if we were not together with our children and parents.  That is why church members put so much emphasis on family history (genealogy) and on temple work, which ties families together in the eternities.

Spirit of the Game

We recently watched a movie that was playing in Melbourne, called "Spirit of the Game".  It is about a group of young Mormon missionaries in Melbourne in the mid-1950s.  This was just prior to the 1956 Olympic Games, which was held in Melbourne.  Basketball was new in the Olympics (only the fourth time it had been included) and a very new sport in Australia.  Australia's team was struggling to develop the skills necessary to compete with teams from other countries.  Their coach noticed some Mormon missionaries playing basketball and asked them to help coach his team and also practice with them, (many of the missionaries had been on college teams in the US prior to their mission and were very skilled).

As other national teams arrived in Melbourne prior to the Olympic games, they wanted to practice but were not allowed to play any other team competing in the Olympics.  So, the "Mormon Yankees", as they were called, were very busy playing Russia, France, the UK and other national teams.  Even the US team, which eventually won the gold medal that year, heard of the Mormon Yankees and came out to watch some of their games (and no doubt, to evaluate their opponents).

Through the efforts of the Mormon Yankees, the Australian people really warmed up to the game of basketball and also to the young missionaries.  Many misunderstandings of the church and stereotypes of the missionaries were corrected.

We enjoyed the movie because it accurately portrayed the hard work and dedication of the missionaries, and how challenging it was for them to play in a sportsmanlike manner despite less than ideal behaviour displayed by some of the national teams.

It made us grateful to be missionaries in the Melbourne area and to share this connection with the Australian people.  We love being here and serving the Lord and the Australian people.

Self Reliance Activities

We recently went to an "English Study Group" in one of the Melbourne wards, with about a dozen regular attendees.  This was an informative session for us, as we may be involved in teaching ESL soon, but it was also a lot of fun.  The class was facilitated by a retired ESL teacher, who knew how to involve the class members in different reading, writing and speaking activities to help them improve their English skills.  We were collecting information for our monthly self-reliance newsletter, so it was interesting to hear the class members' comments about how their lives were being impacted by what they were learning.  They found it made a difference at work and in social connections.  Some also found an increased understanding of spiritual principles underpinning self-reliance, such as faith in Christ, as it helped them in their reading and study of the scriptures (in English).

One of the self-reliance classes that is popular here is "My Job Search".  This course has 6 lessons that focus on:

  • How do I find the right job opportunities?
  • How do I present myself with convincing power?
  • How do I access the hidden job market?
  • How do I stand out as the clear choice?
  • How do I accelerate my job search?

We have observed the powerful impact discussing these topics and applying the principles has on people who are looking for work.  They develop needed skills and become more confident about themselves.  They learn to network effectively.  And as they "accelerate" their job search, they have success in finding and successfully competing for jobs that are satisfying and allow them to support themselves and their family.  The comments of class members has been heartwarming.  One person told us:

"Right after we finished the training, two days later, I contacted some companies. The second agency I contacted was called Man Power. They told me there was a vacancy open for warehousing. They told me to come in for induction, so I did. I was able to pass and I got the job! I used the 'Me in 30 seconds' and everything else that was taught. The 'Me in 30 seconds' really, really helped. The 15-10-2 really helped, too!"

The 15-10-2 approach is to identify 15 new resources and 10 contacts, and have 2 face-to-face meetings, every day. This may sound daunting at first, but the accelerated job search discussion teaches a person how to apply it consistently every day. After a few days, a person's efforts are multiplied enormously, as a whole network of resources and people starts working for them.

For anyone interested in following up further, click on this link: My Job Search.

Photos and Other Activities

We always like to end up with a few photos from our "other activities" around Melbourne.  It's not "all work and no play"; we do have some time to walk in Melbourne's wonderful parks and visit areas near the city.

Here is a fine example of why this bird is called a rainbow lorikeet:

A treat for us to see a black swan and its cygnets - now you know where the term "ugly duckling" came from:

We are enjoying some time at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens:

Victoria is often called the garden state - at this time of the year, it lives up to its name (we were out for an evening walk):

There are over 100 kinds of wattle bushes in Australia (and fortunately, we are not allergic to any of them).

Looking for platypus from a suspension bridge over the flooding Yarrow River...

We were downtown for "Derby Day" (this past Saturday) - but we didn't watch any horse races!  The downtown is gorgeous, with the Yarrow River, the interesting architecture, and the many bridges.  Not visible here are all the sculls on the river - a popular pastime.

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