protecting our children

Dear friends

This morning I read the headline that Brady was dead and my mind went back to many years ago.

In 1994 I was serving as a full time missionary for the Lord, assigned to the England Manchester Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of my first areas was at the edge of the Pennines, a town named Oldham.

As we met people on the streets, a question was often raised concerning the nature of God and:

Why did He let that happen to those children?

I didn’t understand at first and then someone mentioned the names – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.  I understood; I explained to my American companion.  This is where it happened, this was the town, our view to the hills was a view to the moors, Saddleworth Moor.  Five children, tortured and killed in the 1960s, buried on the moors.  I was not born but the murders were notorious and 30 years later, even with the guilty ones in jail the community still felt the pain and anger; no remorse was ever shown.

I have not come close to feeling what those parents and the community felt.  But there will be some people who sadly have.

Summer is approaching and growing up it seemed this was the time when children tragically featured in the news – Sara Payne, Milly Dowler, the Soham girls, Jamie Bulger.  This has made me cautious as a parent; I think it’s made many parents cautious and changed the way children play outside the home.  

Today the world has predators, games, social media and wrong influences in the form of images, music, films that can reach right into our homes, through modern technologies.  We can not let down our guard or let anyone else raise our children.  Our children are still vulnerable; they are our treasure – they need teaching, they need our protection.  Its difficult but not impossible.  As parents, I believe, that we must trust God, stay close to Him and His counsel, and everything will be alright.  

The world is incessantly pulled by a flood of enticing and seductive voices.  Overcoming the world is trusting in the one voice that warns, comforts, enlightens, and brings peace “not as the world giveth.” 

Elder Neil L Anderson, April 2017

Primary role

Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19 verse 14

Dear friends

In recent weeks I have been called to serve in the Primary organisation of our church ward (local unit).  The Primary organisation is for the children, up to 12 years.  

It’s been about 10 years since I last served there – I recall because Son1 had not long been baptised (at age 8) when I was released. Daur1 and Daur2 were also there, but Daur2 was 3 years old so doesn’t remember.

You can imagine how excited Son2 has been since finding out that his Mum will be with him each Sunday:)!!  And I’ve been excited too.  I’ve already had a week in nursery (with children aged 18 months to 3 years) – I’d forgotten how delightfully stubborn a 2 year old can be! And this month I’ll be doing sharing time, with all the 3 to 11 year olds, about 12 of them so not too many.

Of course, I will miss the youth Sunday School class… not sure if the feeling is mutual 🙂 … and Daur1 did remind me they are little children!!  We had our first presidency meeting – I’m a counsellor -the secretary is the same, and filled us in on recent issues. With a couple of families moving out before summer we will lose several children in a short space of time. But things change quickly so we’re not relying on a small number of children to ease anything.  

This will take me out of my comfort zone, that’s always a good thing for me as it stops me becoming complacent. And I feel it’s so important to be able to share the gospel with children; the gospel of Jesus Christ is beautifully simple, and simply beautiful (not my phrase… I think one of the modern day apostles) and so to be able to explain eternal concepts in a manner that a child can understand is important.  That’s the way the Saviour taught us 🙂

Mummy spam…

I love my Motorola!!

Dear friends

It’s been a while – we’re all fine. There’s bits of news – like I started piano lessons!! again, after… 30+ years = 🙂 my dear husband is paying rather than my dear mother – but I’m going to quickly ask:

How often can I message my children?

I mean, I’m embracing the technology! Making sure they are safe! And on time for lessons at college! I, me myself, I don’t see a problem with that!!  After all, I carried my children in my tummy for 9 months each and nurtured them, I think they can at least text back when I check up on them. Right?  I don’t bother anymore with Son1, I only receive monosyllabic responses so I only message when picking him up from work (he works part time in a fast food restaurant) or when he’s picking up Son2 from school (an occasional reminder!). Daur1 always politely replies, letting me know where she is on her journey.

But this evening as I chauffeured Son1 & Daur1 (18 and 17 years old respectively), I suddenly heard Daur1 say:

At least you don’t get the Mummy spam!

And proceeded to list off how often I text her (we have unlimited so…) – did you get bus OK? Did you catch the 8h train? Have you been to your chemistry 1-1/ workshop? Are you nearly home? 

It did sound ridiculous and Son1 said – I’ll block you if you do that with me!!

So I clearly need to restrain myself!! Even Daur1 can distinguish if Son2 has used my phone to message her because:

Mum uses punctuation!

So there you have it.  Despite having phones which do everything, so quickly and easily, and let’s face it, they’re like the communication devices in Star Trek! (I’ve recently discovered you can video call through WhatsApp!!) – despite this there seems to be some unwritten protocol about how often is too often! … And I was thinking about getting an App to track where they are… in case of emergency!! 

listening…

Dear friends

I’m here at Son2 piano lesson. His teacher feels he has great finger technique, and he’s definitely more natural than I ever was as a child. But… 

Son2 is 9 years old. And trying to get a nine year old son to practice is tough, unless he’s in the mood, which most of the time he isn’t.  

Son2 struggles with reading the notes or at least remembering them and currently has the attitude that as long as he can play the piece, reading the music is secondary.  Last night I gave him some notes quizzes to encourage him, but it began and ended with tears, Son2’s.   Son1, who was doing Chemistry revision, said did I really need to put Son2 through this?  I took Son1 out of violin lessons when he reached the age of no practice (around 9 years), and my dear husband feels that was a mistake, so I’ve made it quite clear that Son2 will continue unless Son2 declares to his teacher, grandma and father that he wants to give up.  Is that too tough?  

As I recall, at nine years old, one, generally, has little experience but you feel like you can do everything and anything given the chance – be a pilot, be a train driver, be a famous dancer/ singer/ actor.  But you don’t know what it takes to get there, i.e. the self discipline to practice, the humility to learn. 

So I’m listening to the scales, listening to the notes, listening to the teacher, listening to Son2 struggling and achieving!  It may be difficult right now but one day you will appreciate the self discipline that you will develop 🙂

it’s the day after yesterday…

Dear friends

So yesterday was the long awaited diagnostic day surgery – hysteroscopy and laparoscopy and polypectomy and… 

attractive and comfortable flight socks, pyjamas and boot slippers

It was an early start – I, unintentionally, woke at 0329h! I lay in bed listening to Mormon Channel Talk trying to go back to sleep – sounds bad but owing to Daur1 breaking my headphones and I can’t receive FM radio without them the BBC World Service was not an option and the talk helps me stay sleepy!!  I, intentionally, got up at 0605h, forgot to fill urine sample, eeekk – drank loads of water before 0630h, showered again with the anti-microbacterial soap – paying special attention to nose, underarms and groin – prepared five packed lunches, scraped the car (frosty) and my dear husband and I set off. Admission time 0745h – toilet trip, urine sample! – strip off to underwear, don designer gown (nurse C tells me as I say it feels a bit breezy on the back!), and wait.

First the consultant who will be doing the procedure.  Young Dr D (does everyone look young to me!?) accompanied by a fourth year student F (are you even my son’s age!!).  Dr D explains they feel it can be resolved by a hormone system being inserted – which will last for 5 years and by then you’ll be 52 so should be into the menopause – and that’s what they plan to do, taking biopsy samples of the womb lining, remove the polyp, take cervix sample, remove any endometriosis found, take sample.  Some discussion about possibly removing the right ovary if it’s stuck to the pelvis. I explain our travel plans for next week, Dr D doesn’t think it would be a problem, it’s not a long haul flight. Student F returns to ask if he can feel me while I’m unconscious.  Mmmmm… no!!  I know students have to gain experience but I’m in no mood for additional feeling! 
Bloods taken again (I’d already been to my surgery earlier in the week but apparently they labeled the sample wrong so it wasn’t acceptable).  So that ruled out left arm which still has bruising. Nurse C tried right arm – no luck and doesn’t want to make me a human pin cushion so calls a doctor, he tries twice in wrists! Seriously, make sure this is their last option – so painful!  Right wrist unsuccessful.  Left wrist he use a syringe to draw blood out!!  Not pleasant.  I’m convinced it’s because I’ve not eaten since the night before and it’s my body’s natural way of protecting itself – I’m not able to give blood either, after a few minutes my veins seem to shrink up.  I tried several times when I was younger and the last time they told me not to bother volunteering again!! 

Anyway,a young Dr A female anaesthetist entered during this painful process.  (Female important because Daur1 wants to be one).  Dr A goes through everything and I explained that my only other experience of general anaesthetic left me vomiting until night. That noted I mentioned my dear daughter and Dr A was very encouraging, she can make it, hardest part is getting into medical school. 

I’m measured for and fitted with flight socks -to help prevent clotting – I need to wear them for two days. I’m third in line and I hear patient 1 and 2 go in – both laparoscopic hysterectomy – I can’t help hearing, the curtains aren’t acoustic buffers!  I should’ve taken a book but I read some scriptures and a LDS conference talk on my phone. Daur1 messages me and suggests an eBook – even if I knew how to download one, I’m sure I don’t have enough phone memory!  I asked the nurse for the literature about the Miruna IUS (intra uterine system) of which I will be a recipient.

Around 1155h, wrapped in my dressing gown, in my new boot slippers, now naked under the blue designer gown, I’m walked down to the pre-op theatre room. By 12h two cannulas are in the back of my left hand and another nurse, while sticking on little paddles to my chest and back to set up the heart monitor, begins asking me about work.  Ooooh, long study, my son studied architecture and went to Japan on an exchange as a student, he practices in London as part of his training, when you’re young London is great, my daughter recently moved out of London.  Are you distracting me?  Dr A does another check of the consent paperwork and that I am me.  I can hear the beep machine – is that what my heart is doing?…  my left arm starts feeling cold, or is it warm?…  the beeps are going faster… 

It’s 1505h.  That must be a big clock, I think, I can see it with no glasses on.  And is that my heart beat beeping away… And…. no pain in my pelvis but… tummy pains…. and, oh, I am so cold, I need blankets, I need to sleep….  I’m wheeled back to the ward.

It’s about 1630h when I wake properly.  Dr D comes over and explains it all went well.  Ovaries were very mobile; small area of endometriosis on left ovary, nothing on right; biopsies taken; IUS fitted; abnormal cells to cervix weren’t very much but biopsy taken; some bleeding when polyp removed; no polyp to womb but adenomyosis confirmed so protestogen hormone should help with that.  Biopsy results will take a few weeks.  Dr D was happy with procedure and will sign fit note for 7 days, that is, I should be fit for work in 7 days.

Then came the awkward process of moving.  Once I was awake they gave me a jug of water.  My throat was, and still is, hoarse and they offered toast or biscuits. I opted for biscuits – on the advice of a friend who suggested you could soften them in a warm drink – but I could only face water.  I was very dizzy, but they wheeled me to toilet and back.  Then I dressed, my dear husband arrived and they let him bring the car round to the front, wheel chair to the door and my hospital day was done.

Back home I had omelette, with cheese and mushrooms, and toast, half a slice.  I was not tempted by the chicken and rice that everyone else was eating – I think my dear husband was disappointed by my choice.  I was not feeling very mobile and was still very dizzy.  I’m grateful for balustrading and walls!! 

So today is the day after.  I feel a lot better – there are four incisions and I recall the nurse saying two of them have stitches which will need removing in a few days.  This morning, Daur1 popped her head round the door and said in a serious tone:

I don’t think we were prepared for this!

😦 I don’t think they were prepared for their mother being out of action for a bit. I heard my dear husband preparing five packed lunches this morning with a warning – nobody should waste this food!!  

So, I was very anxious about it all; I won’t feel completely comfortable until the biopsy results are back and hopefully clear.  I still don’t understand the right ovary situation, maybe it was lodged somewhere but no lesions holding it in place.  But it is a relief to no longer have that pain and to feel I’ll be able to get back exercising.  I’m not sure what affect the hormone will have – but it seems to be very low dose, in the right place, so we’ll see. Dr D suggested I’ll need to give it 3 to 6 months.  

I’m sure I’m going to feel better everyday – I’m feeling better already 🙂  I needed to write this quickly before I forget the sentiment. Thanks for reading and hopefully my experience can help someone else – sharing is caring! 🙂  

perilous times

Dear friends

Family is who you die for

That’s the strap line of a billboard advertising an adult rated game showing several people holding guns. I was going to post a picture but that advertises the game!  So here’s a family stock photo!  

It seems to me that the advertisers have replaced the kill for die and therefore make the whole game seem more… honourable.  Literally glorifying violence! 😦 

It’s an(other) example of how we, and our children, are being bombarded with slightly false messaging.  After all, most people love their families enough that if it were asked of them, they would risk their own lives. But this false messaging seems symptomatic of the last days, these perilous times that Paul described (2 Timothy 3 vv1-5), particularly having a form of godliness.  

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come….

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,…

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:

I did listen to this wonderful talk from one of the female LDS church leaders, which speaks of these perilous times and how we, as women, need to rise up in strength.  I encourage you to listen and be uplifted 🙂

 Bonnie L. Oscarson – September 2016

small things…

Dear friends

Sometimes the smallest of things can make the biggest difference in our lives.  This last week has been full of that for me and our family.

Before that, after one of the big winter storms in the last few years, we noticed a leak on our bedroom ceiling, right in the corner above the bay window.  It really didn’t disrupt our daily lives and it was several months before we got a roofer out.  However the following winter, another big storm, same leaking, another small damp patch appears closer in, remote from the first leak.  After several attempts with the insurance company, they finally agreed to mend and repair, but not replace the valley flashing gutter (above bay window). 

Then several weeks back a roofer came out – did something from a ladder and despite rain we’ve had no further leaks. Yeah! – you may think.  So then the company turn to our bedroom interior.  The artex ceiling is tested for asbestos. It’s a positive result so they arrange for a specialist contractor to remove the ceiling.  This was scheduled for Monday morning.

Before that, a couple of weeks back, a friend spotted a piano being offered for free.  Dear husband and Daur2 looked it over – needs tuning and a couple of hammers fixing but would be good for practice – and we paid a man with a van to help bring it to our house.  It’s been left in the dining room, having come in through the garden, until we clear the front room (another one of those ongoing tasks!)

So, last Monday morning I wake early to start my usual routine of preparing packed lunches for the family – six of us.  As I start with mini baguettes in the oven I see a mouse come out and head back behind the fridge/freezer.  I shriek fairly quietly and gingerly continue, my feet shuffling on the kitchen floor – my theory was to make enough noise so it didn’t come out again.  That didn’t work and so when I saw it again I let out a mighty shriek.  Son1 was the first to reach me and as I stammer there’s a mouse behind the fridge, he says I thought you were being attacked by someone! And promptly turns and heads back to bed.  Daur1 reaches me and stays with me while we finish the lunches but then time has gone and she’s in danger of missing her train.  She begs me to drop her at the station.  

However, before that, over the weekend, my car had been very rumbly.  I knew my dear husband had put oil in (I had moaned to him the Sunday evening since the oil was in his car, rather than in the porch so I couldn’t add some earlier), so despite the strange burning rubber smell, I thought maybe I could make it to the station and back.  

As we sat in the car – me in my pyjamas and fleece – I mentioned maybe I should give you bus fare to get the fast bus to the station and not risk it.  But Daur1 gave her pleading eyes, I gave in and we headed out.  We reached station safely and Daur1 skipped to platforms!  I headed out the station and immediately the clutch pedal stuck – I was crossing the carriageway so was waiting.  I managed to kick it up, back in gear when I saw the traffic clear then as it stuck again at my gear change, I pulled the car over onto the pavement, so as not to block traffic, and stopped.  With the hazard lights on, I call the RAC (car recovery) – we’ll try and get someone out to you in the hour.  An hour! It’s 0730h, I’m in my pyjamas and fleece.  I call my dear husband but no answer… he’s clearly having to pick things up where I left things off… 

Two hours later, somewhat chilled on my part, my dear husband and I arrive back home, children all at school & college and I think, great, I’ll quickly shower, dress and get bus to work.  Don’t forget the asbestos guys are here, they arrived at 8h, when you were out; they’ve started taping things up.  Eeeeekk…. I head to our room to find our wardrobes fully taped up and plastic sheeting across the bedroom door.  All that was missing were the guys in white suits – I knew that was coming, they were in their van on break.  So, all I could do was work from home; take calls, write emails, give a truncated version of the morning’s events explaining my absence – clutch, pyjamas and asbestos.  I did feel quite ridiculous and humbled – if I had listened to the small voice and not taken our daughter to the station, the day would have been largely uneventful, except the mouse and the asbestos removal team.

Ohhhh, and the mouse.  In the 12 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen any mice – ants, mosquitoes and slugs but no mice (apart from a small family discovered in the lawn mower box in the garage one spring a long time ago).  So we were a little concerned – are there more?  Son1 admitted to seeing a ball of fluff scurry behind the piano late one night after it’s arrival but failed to mention it to anyone.  Dear husband bought fast action mouse killer traps – one went by the fridge and one in the kitchen.  We put a more traditional trap behind the piano, with peanut butter on cheese for bait!  We had no idea where mouse was.  We were on lockdown – all doors to be closed behind us on entering or exiting a room.  A few days later there was still no sign of mouse.  By now the family began teasing that maybe I imagined the whole thing!  But today, I entered the kitchen and there it was, lying, dead, between the washing machine and a cupboard.  All observed it – except Son1 who was out – before dear husband and Daur1 disposed of it.  Daur2 (& Daur1) seemed rather sad about the whole affair commenting it’s so small… It’s in heaven now… And similar as if I was being completely irrational about wanting to get rid of it!

Ohhhh and the leak. Once the ceiling came down, we spied up into the loft and the underside of the rafters and the water damage was apparent.  And above the valley rafter, in the flashing we could spy a pinpoint of daylight in the lead valley flashing gutter.  The insurance company weren’t interested – it looked to me as if a slate had punctured the lead.  So we’ll have to get some flexible roof sealant and apply from within the loft to make sure we don’t get a random drip onto the new ceiling, which is now in place.  

And the moral of this tale… deal immediately with a problem and listen to the small voice… or squeak…. or leak!

piano, mouse killer, my sock
Part stripped ceiling
Rafters in our loft, above the ceiling
The pinpoint of light!!

chauffeur service update

Dear friends

It’s chauffeur night. Actually, it’s been a chauffeur day and right now is my break = 🙂 I read an article recently about how we feel most at rest when we are alone – I concur!

View from our longest road trip, Normandy, France

I am like many parents I’m sure where personal chauffeur for our children is part of the job description.   And let’s face it, we wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Our eldest daughter, Daur1, has recently labeled this time as older siblings road trip.  For me, it’s when I get to hear what’s really happening at college – X loves college because she can get high everyday!…  I know what weed smells like now!… I’m disappointed with Z, he tried ecstasy! Class A drug!.. The sniffer dogs were in college today.

I’m sure it’s not a complete den of iniquity but I’m glad the children are comfortable with opening up with at least one of their parents.  I tried not to get too concerned about the interest and exposure to illegal drugs! 

So, my chauffeur duties today have been: drop dear husband at train station before 7h; drop Daur2 close to school before 8h20 (so I can get myself to work for 9h meeting); pick up dear husband from station; wait and pick up Daur1 from station; take Son1, Daur1 & Daur2 to Stake Youth Seminary & Activity – older siblings road trip plus one (i.e. Daur2); and then drive back home. 

So, I’m looking forward to the drive home and hearing the news from stake youth. I am grateful that they enjoy being with their peers at church and I know I will look on these days, evenings, fondly… one day… maybe sooner rather than later since Son1 turns 18 years in the coming days 🙂

camping & the genders

Dear friends

On Monday we dropped off our three eldest children at the church youth camps for the week.  (It’s quiet at home!)

The difference in the camps for the young women (YW) and the young men (YM)! Wow!!  This shouldn’t surprise me but it is enlightening to compare!  

First stop at a little before 10h was YW camp, to the north of home.  A beautiful green, well kept field, with new shower facilities, much to the relief of Daur1 who had already warned her sister, Daur2, “don’t shower barefoot!!”. Everyone worked together to erect large 6-8 man tents which the girls will be sharing in their age groups. A large marquee was also erected as a food tent, and each girl had been asked to bring not only secret sister gifts to share but also a camp seat/ chair (so they don’t have to sit on the ground).  As we hugged farewell Daur2 noted there’s music for the devotionals – a portable organ.

The kit list for the Young Men was similar, minus gifts, camp seats, and including tents. My dear husband and I picked up Son1 (and Son2, too young for the camps, having ate first lunch prepared by Son1) around lunch time and headed south, into the forest.  Following the instructions we pulled into a discrete car park behind a golf course club house.  A gate in a hedge met us and beyond a grove opened up – the leader greeted us.  As we entered the shady grove, several tents had already been pitched around a central area with rubber mats and a rope with a large knot hanging from a tree.  I made no comment on what this scene could suggest… There were a few ‘seen better days’ huts and Son1 immediately began pitching his 4-man (all for me) tent at one end of the tent round, closest to the fire pit.  I noted plenty of logs that could double up for seats.  Others arrived, tents continued to go up, each team of young men working alone or with who they came.  Help was not requested and when offered it was rejected – we’re almost there. It was such a macho scene!!  Son1 looked embarrassed as I helped with the tent – but I didn’t care, I’m his mother!!  We left as more young men arrived and I really wonder if they will all fit – I think there will be some tent sharing for Son1. I’m concerned that he seems to feel he’ll cope without a sleeping mat… night temperatures have dropped… but that was his choice, he refused to get one.  His sisters took the air beds/ mattresses 🙂

We left Son1 deep in the forest and headed to my mother’s house for lunch – Son2’s second lunch!  

I am absolutely sure they will have fantastic camps. Men and women are different in so many great ways.  We have to learn from and be here for each other.

who we are…

Dear friends

I promised this post a couple of months ago.  Back in April, I was asked to give a talk with 6 days notice and no topic at the Saturday evening session of stake conference.  For those of you not familiar with latter day saints, a stake consists of several units of the church in a geographical area.  It was a sublime experience to be led by the Holy Spirit as to what to prepare to speak on and on the evening, being the penultimate speaker, it was humbling to note that my words summarised all those who had spoken before.  So, here’s the talk.

 

Good evening, Brothers and Sisters.  As I pondered this assignment, I felt impressed to speak on who we are and our relationship with God.

Some years ago, when I was a young girl, I looked in a mirror while getting ready for school, and into my eyes.  I didn’t see a gawky, shy but slightly mischievous 11 year old girl.  As I looked in my eyes, I saw something else, something far deeper, beyond my physical appearance, and I recognised that this part of me would still be alive after my physical body passed away.  I didn’t understand what this overwhelming feeling was; I burst into tears, was inconsolable for some time, and missed school!  Unable to really explain what I had felt, it was years later before I came to understand who I really am.

The knowledge that we are spirit children of God has been with humans since our first parents, Adam and Eve, walked the Earth, and permeates humanity.  That we are literally all spirit sisters and brothers within the human race follows, since we have the same heavenly parentage.  Some time ago, before the earth was formed, though it probably would not seem long ago if we could remember, as the children’s primary song (#4) states: we lived in Heaven:

Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.

Then Heav’nly Father presented a beautiful plan,

All about earth and eternal salvation for man.

 

We knew who we were then; we knew our identity and our relationship to God was clear – we knew that we are His children and we chose to follow, and defend, Father’s plan for us to become like Him.  We chose to honour our relationship with God.  And now we are here, on earth.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom at April 2016 General Conference explained:

“Here on earth, we identify ourselves in many different ways, including our place of birth, our nationality, and our language.  Some even identify themselves by their occupation or their hobby.  These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity —that of being a son or a daughter of God.”

From the scriptures, two individuals who, I feel, did not let their earthly identity supersede their eternal identity, despite the difficult times they lived in, are Mormon and Abraham.

First, the mighty prophet historian and leader commander, Mormon.  He lived at one of the most trying times in history, one which would see the annihilation of his nation (the Nephites) and leave his surviving brethren nation (the Lamanites) in a depraved and lost state.  He knew it, he could clearly see the state of his nation people, that “they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits” (Mormon 2v14) and that they “did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them” (Mormon 5:2).  Mormon leads the Nephite armies from the age of 15 years and he is about 50 years old, when he ‘utterly’ refuses to be a commander and leader “because of their wickedness and abomination” (Mormon 3 v11).  Mormon states “I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard… Therefore I write…” (Mormon 3v16-17) and certainly Mormon wrote – we know that!  It appears to be more than 10 years later when he decides to lead the Nephites again, though it is “without hope,” for he knew “the judgements of the Lord which should come upon them” (Mormon 5 v2).  Mormon’s final words, before Moroni records his father’s death, reach out to all, inviting to believe in Christ and be baptized, with water and with fire, with the Holy Ghost (Mormon 7).  Throughout his life, Mormon did not lose sight of his eternal identity, nor that of his brothers and sisters, including us, for whom he wrote.  He did not forget his relationship with God.  Can you imagine if Mormon only identified himself as a Nephite commander or leader, totally fixed on destroying all Lamanites, rather than as a child of God with a unique task to fulfil?

Then Abraham and the particular choice he made early in his life, to not identify with his fathers and the people around him – “In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of [his] fathers, [he], Abraham saw that it was needful for [him] to obtain another place of residence… [His] fathers having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshipping of the gods of the heathen” (Abraham 1 v1-5).  They utterly refused to hearken to Abraham, who identifies himself as “a follower of righteousness” (v2) with desires to “receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God” but instead they tried to offer him up, as an offering to strange gods, idols, as they had done with men, women and children before him.  Abraham was saved by an angel, leaves the Chaldees and goes to the land of Canaan.  As we know, in that land, the Lord makes a covenant with Abraham, which Abraham keeps, and through Abraham’s seed “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessing of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abr 2 v11).  Today, we take part in that Abrahamic covenant, become Israel – the covenant people, as we are baptised and receive all the blessings of Heavenly Father through temple covenants.  Can you imagine if Abraham only identified himself as a Chaldean, willing to be sacrificed to the heathen Gods, rather than as a child of God with a unique task to fulfil?

We live in equally troubling and difficult times – the winding up scenes of history – but also the best of times since we have been given the opportunity to be baptised, by water and by fire, with the Holy Ghost.  We individually have the opportunity to make covenants with God, possibly as no other people in the history of the world, with the building of temples across the world.  Truly, we are ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.’ (1 Peter 2 v9).

But do we identify with this, first and foremost, or do we put our relationship with God second, preferring to be identified by our profession, by money or where we live, our nationality, or our race?  And do we identify others by their profession, nationality or race rather than seeing them as a child of God, as we all are?  What would be the difference in our lives if we identify ourselves as daughters and sons of God with his unique work to fulfil?  Remember:  “These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity —that of being a son or a daughter of God.”  Elder Hallstrom

As I thought on this, I realised that God has told us, throughout scripture, what we can do to maintain and improve our relationship with him:

“Turn ye unto me,… and I will turn unto you.” Zechariah 1 v3

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.”  D&C 88 v 63

“Return unto me, and I will return unto you,” Malachi 3 v7

“Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you,” James 4 v8

How do we draw near, turn to Him, return to Him?  It is simple, we repent.  Through Zechariah, the Lord told Israel to “Turn you now from your evil ways,” and through Malachi, Israel was told to bring “all the tithes into the storehouse.” James wrote “cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded;” and early in this dispensation, through Joseph Smith Jnr “sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him.”  And to us now, a couple weeks ago in General Conference, our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, told us:

“When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency…  Although it is imperative that we choose wisely, there are times when we will make foolish choices. The gift of repentance, provided by our Savior, enables us to correct our course settings, that we might return to the path which will lead us to that celestial glory we seek.” 

I have made mistakes and I have felt the Lord’s forgiveness as I have needed to use the gift of repentance to turn back to him.  I am very grateful for our Saviour, our eldest brother, and that because of Him, when I make a mistake or neglect to do something, I can change.  Because of Him, I can improve each day and I have pondered on where I need to improve and I hope I can remain true and faithful to my Father, and choose my relationship with Him.  I know the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, available only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true.  I know for myself that it provides all necessary covenants and knowledge of salvation, so we can honour our relationship with Father, while on earth and return safely to Him.  I know Joseph Smith Jr is a Prophet, that the priesthood of God was restored to earth through His angels – John the Baptist, Peter, James and John.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Thomas S Monson is a true prophet of God.  I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My brothers and sisters, for that is what you truly are, we all have a special relationship with God; He is our Father and He loves us, you, very much.  We need to draw near to Him, keep our covenants, use repentance, feel the blessing of forgiveness, and honour that relationship with Him while here on earth. Then when we pass on, we will see Him clearly again, “face to face: now, we know in part, but then shall we know even as also we are known” (from 1 Corinthians 13 v12).

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.