Monday, June 5, 2017

Autumn in Australia is NOT like autumn in Canada!!

Self-Reliance is a Principle of Salvation

For our family home evening this week, we spent some time discussing what is now the first lesson in the My Foundation manual: "Self-Reliance is a Principle of Salvation".  The lesson shows how the spiritual and physical aspects of our lives are closely entwined, and how our progress in physical matters relies heavily on the faith and trust we place in God and Jesus Christ.

One important concept is given in John 10:10 - "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly".  And what does it mean, to have an abundant life?  Everyone will understand that term differently.  To us, it means that we all can enjoy God's blessings in both spiritual and physical (sometimes called temporal) matters, if we are faithful.  Effort on our part and help from God are both key ingredients.

As this lesson tells us: "Being self-reliant does not mean that we can do or obtain anything we set our mind to.  Rather, it is believing that through the grace, or enabling power, of Jesus Christ and our own effort, we are able to obtain all the spiritual and temporal necessities of life we require for ourselves and our families.  Self-reliance is evidence of our trust or faith in God's power to move mountains in our lives and to give us strength to triumph over trials and afflictions". 

There are three doctrines of self-reliance that will help us to understand the relationship between God's grace, or enabling power, and our efforts:

1.  Self-reliance is a commandment - "The Church and its members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent" (Teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball, 2006).  Knowing that becoming self-reliant, that is, becoming more like God, is a commandment helps us to realize its importance and properly set priorities in our life.

2.  God can and will provide a way for His righteous children to become self-reliant. "And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine" (D&C 104:15).  This scripture tells us that all things are in God's control and that he desires to help us.  All it requires is for us to ask, in faith, and obey his commandments.

3.  The temporal and spiritual are one to God. "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual" (D&C 29:34).  It is essential to grasp this concept, that everything we do in our life has a spiritual component.  Even our everyday labours can be a consecration on our part to God, if it is done with self-reliance (and in particular, supporting ourselves and our family, and helping others) in mind.

If you would like to read more about these concepts, or see a related video, please click on the following link:

My Foundation - Chapter 1.  You will be able to download a PDF of the My Foundation manual (look in Chapter 1) and also click on a link to the video "He Polished My Toe".

Out and About / Birds


A few weeks ago, we went on a one-day excursion with some other senior missionaries, to some locations west of Melbourne.  The first was Werribee, where we visited the estate of a sheep baron (see photos below).  At its peak, the estate was over 600,000 acres in size and held about 900,000 sheep.  As you will see by the size of the estate house, that must have been a lucrative business!
Werribee Park Mansion - built around 1876
(not bad for two sheep farmers from Scotland)

Beautiful trees and botanical gardens on the estate 

Pathway close to a pond with rock garden 

Grotto with shell designs, copied after aboriginal art 

 Floor of the same grotto, with shell designs
Pacific Black Ducks on Pond near Grotto

                               Pied Cormorant Watching for Dinner


Our next stop was Geelong, a moderate sized-city with a gorgeous shore front, famous for its wooden figures (life sized; carved from wooden bollards).  There are over 100 of these figures scattered along the waterfront, colourfully painted.  Sister Sobkowicz's favourite was the group of musicians.

                                         Geelong Bollard Musical Ensemble

We also saw two old friends (birds) with an unusual characteristic.  The first is a silver gull, but look carefully to see what is missing...

                                        Silver gull; anyone want a drink?

This fish tale is hard to swallow!

As we were leaving Geelong, right by our parked car, we saw a tree in full bloom, full of New Holland Honey Eaters.  They migrate into this area in the fall, when the gum trees are blooming.

New Holland Honey Eater

Flowering Gum Tree.  Can you find the Honey Eater?

Banyule Swamp

The last photo is of a Musk Lorikeet, taken in one of our favourite birding parks near where we live.  This lorikeet is less common than it's noisier cousin, the Rainbow Lorikeet, but beautifully coloured.  It is feeding in a flowering gum tree, which is one of the primary food sources for many birds at this time of the year (and yes, it is flowering at the end of autumn, with winter just around the corner).  Many of the local plants flower in the spring and again in the fall, not being able to handle the summer heat.

Musk Lorikeet

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