Be Thou Prepared
"Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them". (Ezekiel 38:7)
This statement, made by God to the enemies of Israel whose armies will gather in the last days, was an ironic one, for no matter how well prepared those armies are, they will not be able to stand against God's forces. However, the lesson contained therein is still a valuable one for those of us who live in the latter days and face various storms of life, be they temporal or spiritual. We are to be a guard for all our company, i.e., our immediate and extended families, wards and communities, to protect them against the coming storms. In part, we are to do that by being prepared in all things. Most importantly, as we are taught in self-reliance classes, we must be prepared spiritually.
How can we be prepared spiritually? One way is by reading the word of God as found in the scriptures. We used to read scriptures daily while at home, both individually and in our family, but we have found since coming on a mission that we have studied and pondered the scriptures more intensely - seeking to understand and apply them in our lives. In the process, we receive spiritual promptings that help us in various situations.
For example, Sister Sobkowicz mentioned one scripture that brought comfort to her in our previous post (Helaman 5:12, 47). She also felt prompted to share, at our nephew's memorial service, a hymn we had been singing with a choir in Australia. Eight family members sang this hymn, including her brother. The words and music of the hymn are beautiful:
Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing
(Words by John Fawcett; Music by Tom Clark; copyright 2014)
Lord dismiss us with thy blessing, fill our hearts with joy and peace.
Let us each thy love possessing triumph in redeeming grace.
Oh, refresh, oh refresh us, travelling through this wilderness (repeat).
Thanks we give and adoration for the gospel's joyful sound,
May the fruits of thy salvation in our hearts and lives abound.
Every faithful, ever faithful to the truth may we be found (repeat).
So that when thy love shall call us, Saviour, from the world away,
Let no fear of death appal us; glad thy summons to obey.
May we ever, may we ever live with thee in endless day (repeat).
While walking in one of our favourite local parks a month or so ago, we met an older gentleman who was pulling weeds from along the trail. We stopped to chat with him and found that he was dedicated to removing invasive species from the park and re-establishing native plants. The park covers a large area and this is a huge job. He has been working at it for over 20 years and has organized other people in the community to help. Their combined efforts have allowed them to clear and maintain a portion of the park area. It is a beautiful place to walk and as a result of their efforts, many native plants thrive and are appreciated by the park users.
We spent some time weeding with him and learned more about the local flora and fauna as a result.
Sister Sobkowicz got a little too close to a Cupboard spider" (fortunately for her, she wasn't very interested in biting anything human). The fellow we were with was quite happy to let a Redback spider crawl on his bare hand - he said they were much more afraid of us than the other way around and were fairly harmless as long as we weren't hurting them. But both the Cupboard and the Redback spiders (which we see in our yard) are venomous - the Redback can cause serious illness and on some rare occasions death; the Cupboard spider has a less serious but still painful bite which can lead to skin lesions.
There was a hollow in a tree near where we were weeding which became a nesting site for a pair of Kookaburras. If we are lucky, perhaps we will see the young Kookaburras later in the spring.
|Pair of Kookaburra's Observed at Grant's Picnic Ground in the Dandenong Mountains|
We came upon a couple of Pied Currawongs along one path who were being remarkably brave. Normally shy and hiding amongst thick tree branches and leaves, they were hopping along the side of the path, eating bugs. Their normal breakfast fare is the eggs and young chicks of other birds, so it was unusual in that they weren't being chased away from the area by other birds.
|Pied Currawong - in Plain View, for Once|
|Pied Currawong - Showing off its Gorgeous Patterns|
We were visiting a well known, large Rhododendron garden near Melbourne and came, by good fortune, across another very shy bird. The Superb Lyrebird, named for its wonderful, lyre-shaped tail (when unfurled, of course) is reclusive and difficult to photograph. Its main claim to fame is an uncanny ability to imitate almost any sound it hears - not only other birds but trains, whistles, chainsaws, etc. It can apparently produce more than 300 distinct sounds. This particular fellow was in a patch of shade at the bottom of a gully, so difficult to photograph clearly.
|Female Australian King-Parrot|
We were looking down from a bridge on the Yarra River and couldn't resist this photo of a mother duck and babies. It takes some time to get used to the ever-murky quality of the water, but it's clay banks for as far as you can see! The ducks don't seem to mind.
|Momma Pacific Black Duck and Babies|
We guess it must just be baby season. Here is a mother black swan with her cygnets.
|Black Swan and Cygnets|
To finish off this month's posting, a few photos of raptors taken when we were out at the Werribee Water Treatment Ponds. The first two are of an unusual sighting of an Eastern Osprey (common in Canada, but uncommon in southern Australia). The last photo is a White-bellied Sea-Eagle - seen from a long way off, taken with maximum telephoto lens (400 mm at the time) and digitally enlarged to the edge of recognition - still an awesome sight!
|Eastern Osprey, perched about 100 m away from us - amazing!|
|Eastern Osprey - Oops - We got a little too close for comfort|
|White-bellied Sea-Eagle - taken from a long distance, but a magnificent bird!|