Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas is Coming (The Land is getting Hot!)

Light the World

It is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We invite you to join us an activity called "Light the World".  It consists of performing acts of kindness and showing love to others on each day in December.

You can find further information at this web site: Light the World

High Summer

We are now into the season known as "High Summer" (see our post of 2017.09.09; article on "The Six Seasons of Melbourne).  This is described as "Warm to hot; native grasslands grow tall and set seed; birds feeding their young".  All this is indeed happening, as John can attest from various bouts of "hay fever".  The temperatures are generally around 30 degrees during the day, although it has been as high as 36 degrees (at our place in Heidelberg Heights).  It will only get warmer from here through to the middle of March.  Welcome to Christmas in Australia!!

After our "Self-Reliance Corner", we will share some photos of the wonderful plants and animals that we have seen around Melbourne and in Tasmania over the past month.

Self-Reliance Corner

The Doctrine of Education

One of the main areas of focus in self-reliance is that of education.  From the time of the Restoration of the gospel in latter days, the church and its leaders have emphasized the importance of gaining an education and having a strong knowledge of both temporal and spiritual matters.  Education opens the door to better job opportunities and produces a people who are rounded, compassionate and resourceful.

The doctrine of education is explained in the following scriptures:

D&C 88:78-79, 118-119 "Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

"Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms...

"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God...".

D&C 90:15 "And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people".

D&C 131:6 "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance".

It is clear from these scriptures that the Lord wants his sons and daughters to develop in both temporal and spiritual knowledge, and that the two are inseparably connected.  Learning occurs as we combine our own efforts with a faith in Christ, who can strengthen us and open our minds to receive knowledge.

Henry Eyring (1901-1981) American Scientist
Church members are not shy about tackling difficult questions and examining their beliefs.  Henry Eyring (1901-1981), an American theoretical chemist and member of the LDS church said of the above scripture from D&C 88: "Here is the spirit of true religion, an honest seeking after knowledge of all things of heaven and earth".  We particularly like another of his quotes: "Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men."

Gordon B. Hinckley, a prophet and former president of the church, gave the following advice to the youth of the church:

"It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. The Lord has said very plainly that His people are to gain knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith. Education is the key which will unlock the door of opportunity for you. It is worth sacrificing for. It is worth working at, and if you educate your mind and your hands, you will be able to make a great contribution to the society of which you are a part, and you will be able to reflect honourably on the Church of which you are a member. My dear young brothers and sisters, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can possibly afford, and you fathers and mothers, encourage your sons and daughters to gain an education which will bless their lives."

Henry Eyring had a good companion quote to Pres. Hinckley's advice: "I would like to suggest to the youth who may feel inclined to disparage religion as he pursues other studies, that he might bring enrichment to his life by cultivating faith and an interest in things of the spirit as he follows his other pursuits.  Such faith will never detract from his abilities in other fields, but it will broaden his thinking and give added depth to his character".

(Further thoughts by Henry Eyring on integrating the truths of science and religion can be found in the book shown at left.)

Brigham Young, an early prophet of the church, once asked the question: "When shall we ever cease to learn?".  His answer: "Never, never!"

We recommend to you several of the church's self-reliance resources that deal directly with education, which can be accessed by clicking on the following links:

Success in School Begins in the Home (a course for parents and grandparents who are concerned with the education of their youth).

Education for Better Work (a course for adults who seek to improve their education).

In addition, the following is a short video in which a church member shares the strong culture of education in his family - taught to him by his parents and in turn passed on to his children.  This is a family culture that we would all be wise to cultivate.

Flora and Fauna

Flowers / Plants

The scenery for plant life is spectacular, wether walking in our neighbourhood and admiring local gardens, or walking in nearby parks.  Here is a sampling.  This is no guarantee that we know what any of the flowers are called, but we have used a wonderful app (available on the iPhone) called "PlantSnap" to check the identification.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)
Everyone probably knows this as a potted plant back home in Canada.  Here in Melbourne, the Bird of Paradise grows in profusion in local gardens.  We love this "hedge" along one of our neighbour's fences.

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)
This photo was taken in Hobart, on the south coast of Tasmania.  We believe, even though it looked like it was growing "natively", that it is an introduced species.  Nevertheless, it seems to love the location and the amount of sun.

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)
This is another ornamental that will be familiar to Canadians.  We found a spectacular specimen growing in a village green in the small town of Poatina, in Tasmania.  This is a great spot to stop, rest, enjoy some great food while travelling south from Deloraine to Hobart, on the route past Great Lake in the centre part of the island.

Purple Carpet (Drosanthemum floribundum)

This gorgeous carpet was growing on a boulevard along someone's yard near a park in which we frequently walk.  We couldn't resist stopping and taking a photo, even though the owner probably thought we were crazy.

As a wrap on the flora, we have to include the lovely Jacaranda tree (again, not native to Australia but found in profusion throughout Melbourne).

Full view of Jacaranda (mimosifolia)

Close up of Jacaranda (mimosifolia)


While we are normally focused on birds, we do see and take photos of some mammals, which we would like to share below.

The first one is of an Echidna.  They are not that common (at least in the places we haunt) and we are always excited to see them.  We saw the following little fellow on the side of the highway when we were travelling in Tasmania.  Janette was worried it was young, inexperienced and about to get run over.  So we backed up and tried to encourage it to go back down the bank.  It was not budging.  It had found a nest of ants just under the pavement and was stubbornly going to stay until it had eaten its fill (hmmm...sounds like a few kids that we know :>)

Echidna (digging for Ants)

If you look closely at the following photo, you can see the ants swarming on the Echidna's head.  Look carefully at the bottom right of his head, right on his snout.

Ants Swarming Echidna's Head
We saw this small "kangaroo", about the size of a rabbit, hopping through a forest near Hobart, Tasmania.  It is called a Tasmanian Pademelon.  You get some sense of size from the fern frond in the foreground (did you like that alliteration?).

Tasmanian Pademelon


Last, but not least, some interesting new (to us; except for the eagle) bird species that we've seen recently, all on our trip to Tasmania in early November.

Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Australian Shelduck (Male)

Australian Shelduck (Female)

Horsefield's Bronze-Cuckoo

Green Rosella

 (Not so) Common Greenfinch