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 🙂

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Christmas eve … lessons learned

Dear friends
A quick update.  We tried… but after a few trips to town and back, some wet tears, and some loud words, Daur1 stated:

I hate this!  I don’t like Christmas time!!

And at that point I realised that my own weakness,  laziness, fear and probably some pride, meaning I fail to adequately prepare was affecting those closest to me, in a very negative way.  So, I, we, are going to come up with a simple Christmas plan – month by month – so that by Son2’s birthday at end of November,  we are ready to enjoy the season.  I’m feeling optimistic that now the children are older, we can do this, all together, and it won’t be so painful!

Spirits were revived this evening as Mum, me!, climbed into the loft to bring down the tree and decorations.  And I did remember to take out the meat this morning to defrost for tomorrow!!  I hope you have a lovely, peaceful, Christmas Day!! #ASaviorIsBorn #HeIsTheGift #ShareTheGift

a musical assignment

Dear friends

When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I really wanted to play the piano.  I was already learning the tenor horn at school but I absolutely became desperate to learn piano.  I received a small electronic organ for Christmas but I must have continued to pester my Mother, or my Mum decided that a child playing piano was a great thing, because on my 10th birthday I received piano lessons which my Mother continued to pay for for the next several years… I think until I moved away to university.  Sadly, we could never afford more than my two octave keyboard, and I was never that diligent in practising…
The first opportunity I had to live with a piano came several years later when I served as a missionary.  I was in Lancaster, Lancashire, and our house had a piano, and of course, a church song books.  The hymns were tricky but the children’s song book… So over the following couple of months, I spent time on our free day playing piano and became fairly competent at a few pieces. 
After my mission, I had a flat mate with an old piano who left it when moving out to make room for my dear husband.  We kept the piano for the first flat move but with children and subsequent moves it got left in a large unfurnished two bed with a moisture problem!
Several years and two more children later, we decided to put together some Christmas gift vouchers the children had received and buy a Yamaha keyboard – 5 octaves.  I recall Son1 was not too keen on a family keyboard taking the place of more wooden train tracks.  He still remembers that!
So here we are, Daur2 is learning piano, Son2 will hopefully start piano lessons at school this term, and I often have a nagging feeling that I’m not using my musical talent…
Flash forward to last Sunday and after church meetings the choir director is in the hall getting support and I hear her call out – I need someone to play piano.  In a moment of generosity I admit I can, enough to play the melody, in fact all four parts but not at the same time (I’ve never truly mastered playing more than one key with each hand!).  Then, out of nowhere, my dear mother states – oh yes, Vanessa can play, did piano lessons for years! And I’m thinking – please don’t big it up too much.  Sister Choir Director thrusts some sheet music into my hands and asks:

Can you play this?
With some practice!

I respond. And that’s it! I don’t even recognise the hymn – but it’s not like it’s in C major so that’s a plus, I think.  On telling my dear children on the way to the car, Daur1 asks, and when are you going to find time to practice that!?  Mmm… a good point me thinks!! This post has taken the best part of 3 days to write.

It’s nearly the middle of the weeks, four full days till next Sunday, and I’ve yet to touch the keyboard but I have done some air piano :). Maybe Sister Choir Director is planning on the hymn being sung a capella and only needs the melody played to learn the hymn… doesn’t everyone dream of doing a piano recital… I’ll update you on what happens…

the begging person

Dear friends

Yesterday was parents’ evening at our eldest daughter’s school. During a break between appointments, we walked down to the local shop for a drink – I had come straight from a work meeting and our daughter had stayed on from school. As we approached there was an older man sat on the pavement outside the shop asking for spare change. I literally had none since I was heading for the ATM machine in the wall, where a younger man sat, also asking for change.  I gave nothing to either man and we headed into the shop.

As we went round, selecting cookies and drinks, my daughter began talking of homeless people needing to help themselves and how they’ll probably spend it on cigarettes or alcohol.  I said little in response because in my mind I kept seeing the old man. As we came out the shop, heading back to the school, I gave a coin to the old man.

Typically, I don’t give anything to people begging on the street though I recognise one must have little other options at that point.  I haven’t, consciously, made any judgement on what they may or may not spend the money on. It is simply a case of my own perception of me and my family. I feel we have sufficient for our needs, but not an excess. Apart from a few days at the temple over the last few years, we’ve never been on holiday together.  All the children have had to wait for new school shoes at some time,  including this year and we’ve all worn clothes from the charity shops.  I do pay my tithes, fast offerings and donate to other humanitarian funds which support people all over the world.  I guess I have justified not giving away more because we don’t have a whole lot in the first place.

After parents’ evening, we walked back past the shop, back past the old man, who was now smoking, who did not ask for money.  He recognised us by asking for no more than a brief smile.

As I’ve thought on this brief experience last night, and pondered why I felt impressed to give when so many times I haven’t, I have been taught, and I hope I am humble enough to learn and make a difference to my actions and motivation in the future.

The Saviour’s observation of the widow giving her ‘mite’ came to mind, Mark 12 verse 44:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

So, I may not have abundance, but I do have more than some and when we truly serve others, maybe it should stretch us.

Also, King Benjamin’s beautiful sermon on how we should serve, including towards others, Mosiah 4 verse 19

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have,…

I do rely upon our Father, I do cry for help and forgiveness and I feel he was teaching me that I can do more, I can be a better rescuer 🙂

back to work

Dear friends, tired! Office was the same as before Christmas but my hair wasn’t 🙂 lots of compliments! Always nice to receive and give complements!

The worse thing, for me, about returning to work is the recognition of things I wanted to do and didn’t – like taking flowers to an elderly lady we know in a nursing home, baking & taking bread to my father, pruning our garden.  I’ve heard a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Hoping I’m not that bad but I want to improve and reach out more.  I did read an encouraging article in the Ensign (latter day saint magazine – see lds.org) about a teacher who was given a potato rather than an apple from a pupil and this reminds her (and now me) that you don’t always have to do grand acts of service, small gestures of love are as important.  I have time to write and drop a few cards 🙂

tithes & offerings

Dear friends, another Sabbath and since it’s the first Sunday in the month that means it was also fasting & testimony meeting; everyone has the opportunity to share their personal testimony or witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the congregation to hear.  We also fast for two meals, usually over 24 hours, and contribute the money saved to those in need.  It’s a wonderful chance to do something for the wider community.

Today our family met with the Bishop (our local leader) to confirm our ‘status’ as tithe payers. As Abraham, the ancient prophet, we too donate 10% of our income to build up the kingdom of God.  I firmly trust the blessing promised in the old testament, Malachi 3 v10, and love how this is a demonstration of our faith in the Lord Jesus.  Especially He has given us all we have; I think this is fair, don’t you?

PS – I’m back to work tomorrow, so expect more architectural and work related thoughts.

cleaning

Dear friends, Saturday and it’s been a long day.  The bank (you know how it is after Christmas!), school shoe shopping (just for one dear son), Costco (ridiculously busy), cars (oil, antifreeze, petrol – my dear husband is so good :)). But I felt that I ought to clean the ladies toilets at church.  I should explain. There is no paid ministry at church and similarly, each member is expected to take care of the building.  The ladies are responsible for the ladies toilets.  Currently there’s no rota but since I’ve not done it for a while I decided to do it while I’m on holiday.

Anyway, it was a whole family outing – all six of us, this evening.  There is something therapeutic about cleaning for others.  (I can’t say I feel the same about cleaning our bathroom!)  I reckon this is because of what King Benjamin stated: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2 v17)  And how would you feel serving God!?

church & rescue

Dear friends, Sabbath today and I always love church! This evening we watched ‘Ephraim’s Rescue’ (film) and once again I am inspired. I want to be a rescuer; I want to be worthy & ready to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to bring relief to others – whether physical or spiritual it’s all the same at the end of the day.  “All things unto (the Lord Jesus) are spiritual,” that’s what He said!  I’m far from perfect but I try, and I want to be better than yesterday 🙂