Saturday, January 27, 2018

Home - The Next Adventure

We were driving to the Melbourne Airport last Friday, to pick up a new senior couple who will be replacing us in the mission.  We happened to pass by a billboard with an apropos by-line: "Home - The Next Adventure".  It certainly will be an adventure: returning to Canada, but coming to a new home, a new ward, and in some ways, a new life.  However, we have always welcomed change in our lives and we look forward to whatever new experiences await us.

Our feelings are bittersweet.  Of course, we have missed our children, grandchildren and friends.  We look forward with great anticipation to seeing them again.  We have also grown close to many new friends in Melbourne and it is with sadness that we leave them.  Australia is a beautiful country, full of natural wonders and friendly people.  It is delightfully multi-cultural.  Perhaps we like it so much because it feels so much like Canada.

Self-Reliance Corner - Why Help the Poor?

We are self-reliance missionaries. When we talk to people, a natural question (which we hear often), is "What is self-reliance"? There are a number of good definitions, some of which we have discussed previously in our blog.

For the purpose of this entry, we would like to use one by our manager, Elder Leota. It is the following:

"Self-reliance is the humble rich helping the humble poor"

This is a deceptively simple definition which contains a deep well of doctrine. We could start to explore that well by asking ourselves: "Why should the rich help the poor?".  Let us tackle that question.

In Mark 10, we learn that a rich young man came to Jesus and asked the question: "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?", (note the wording of his question!). Jesus' answer was simple: "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me". We know that the rich young man "...went away grieved: for he had great possessions".

Jesus later commented that "...a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven", meaning that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into heaven because he loves his possessions more than anything else.

Areas in Which we can be "Rich" or "Poor"
This scripture isn't just about the rich young man; it is also about the poor and the obligation of the rich to help them. Jesus repeatedly taught of the need to help those who are poor.  And he didn't just mean poor in worldly goods, but also poor in knowledge (temporal or spiritual), poor in social skills, poor in physical or emotional health, poor in employment, poor in spiritual blessings, poor in hope or in faith, etc.  He also taught that helping the poor was a necessary condition for us to "have treasure in heaven", that is, to have eternal life!

In the D&C 104:15-18 we learn:

15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

These verses provide insight into how the needs of the poor should be met - that is, men are "agents unto themselves", they can act independently, look about them, see the needs of others, and apply themselves to relieving those needs using whatever resources are available to them. The "poor are exalted" in that they find relief; the "rich are made low" in that they humble themselves in providing service to their fellow man and thereby do God's work.

We have learned on our mission that there are many in our society who are poor.  In fact, we are all poor in some areas, just as we are all rich in some areas:
  • We have only to think about those things in our lives for which we are grateful to know how we are rich.  Do we enjoy good health?  Do we have a clear, active mind?  Have we been blessed with a good education or a good job?  Are we emotionally healthy?  Then those are areas in which we are rich.
  • Likewise, we have only to think about those areas in which we are unhappy or struggling to know how we are poor.  Do we lack the basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter)?  Did we miss out on opportunities to gain an education?  Do we feel discouraged or lack hope in the future?  Then those are areas in which we are poor.

Why should the rich help the poor?  Because we are all rich in some areas and poor in others, and it makes sense for us to help each other, to uplift each other, to become better people together.  Not only does it make sense, but helping one another is the only way to truly progress in our lives and be happy.

Marion G. Romney said it this way: "We are all self-reliant (i.e., "rich") in some areas and dependent (i.e., "poor") in others. Therefore, each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience", ("The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance", October 1982).

Trip to Albury

About a week ago, we drove for about 4 hours to Albury, NSW - just north of the Murray River and thus outside the state of Victoria.  Some friends, another senior missionary couple, are serving there.  It is a beautiful town of about 90,000 people (Albury and Wodonga combined, Wodonga being on the south side of the Murray River).

We had a chance to walk along the Murray River, through Padman/Mates Park, to the West Albury Wetlands, which is rich in vegetation and water fowl.  Here are a couple of shots of the river and the wetlands.

View Along the Murray River, Albury, NSW

West Albury Wetlands

We can't write about our time in Australia without at least one good photo of a dam.  In this case, it is the Hume Dam, built on the Murray River near Albury, from 1919 to 1936 (with upgrades in 1961 and from 1994 to 2003).  The dam's purpose includes flood mitigation, hydro-power, irrigation, water supply and conservation.

The Hume Dam, on the Murray River near Albury


Blue-Tongued Lizard

We have been watching a female blue-tongued lizard, who likes to sun herself on a rocky outcrop near where we walk in Warringal Park.  She is very pregnant; in fact, we were hoping she would have her babies before we left for home, but that is not to be.  Here is one photo of her taken when she was feeling very lazy and allowed us to creep up within a few meters of her.

Very Pregnant Blue-Tongued Lizard


We promised some great bird photos at the end of our last post, but you will have to go to our next post, written 6 months after our mission, to see our final fanfare to the wonderful birds of Australia.

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