Working through the snow

Once again the country has been gripped by adverse weather conditions and in some areas that grip has been a strangle-hold. Just yesterday the reports from Scotland included people stranded for hours on end and overnight on the motorways & a-roads of the central belt.
For me the weather has an impact on three fronts, my employment, my calling in the church and family life.

Family life.
The effect on the family is the ability to move around safely for things such as school for the children, purchasing of food etc and heating in the home.
Conditions such as those experienced in the last two weeks highlight the providence of good preparation & planning ahead of time. The motto of a “stich in time saves nine” and the idea of being self-reliant are important pragmatic principles in such times. Having an adequate food storage or larder stocked with food can help alleviate the need to have to journey out when the weather closes in.

The need to heat the home is also important for basic survival and if one can have a back up way of generating heat then all the better. It is almost inevitable that the boiler will break as soon as the temperature drops! Oil filled raditors, calor gas heaters are useful to have around the house to provide back up if necessary.
Now if you were going the whole hog how about a little generator to provide electricity should the mains fail. Unfortunately we haven’t got to that level of preparedness yet but it is possible and I am sure there are those who do have the ability at home.

Employment.
I am fortunate and blessed that I work in an environment that enables me to have a virtual office. Through secure VPNs, the Internet, voice telecoms, mobile networks and video conferencing I can take my office wherever there is connectivity to the internet. With advances in mobile data speeds through 3G mobile networks and enhanced coverage access is more readily available. When the weather closes in though all of this technology allows me to set up my computer and work from home, so long as there is electricity and I have the will power and discipline to do so.

So work can go on and in my case with this recent weather, even increase in productivity as the normal distractions in the office environment such as people approaching one’s desk and endless, all encompassing meetings seem to dwindle. It appears that because one is not physically there then sometimes problems that another came to see you about no longer seem that important and one is left to continue the work that is important to oneself.

Church Life

The final area for me affected by the weather is my responsibilty in the church.
My role neccesitates a number of meetings and interviews and some of these may have to fall by the wayside when travel becomes difficult. I have found though that a lot of this work can also continue by the use of web, telephone & video conferencing. I have even tried my hand at webcasting during this cold spell.

In much the same way as work life can continue then also can the work of the church.  It may require some adaption though as this technological solution does not replace the need and desire to meet often to uplift, edify & instruct one another. There is a warm edifying feeling that comes from meeting face to face and enjoying human interaction. This is an important and vital part of ministering to people that is so necessary when dealing with spiritual and emotion needs of individuals which is a lot of what religious worship caters for.  What the technology allows is for the administering of the church to continue so that the precious time that is available for ministering is not consumed with the necessary administration.

 

“Technology won’t make people interact.

It only gives them a forum to do that.

If you want people to use technology to collaborate,

let them get to know each other first.”

– Maridan Clements

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Perspective……..

Do you ever have those weeks despite them being no fuller in terms of appointments or travel or things to do you get the end of it and take a deep breath and think “ok that one is over” I’ve had a couple of those types of weeks just recently.  My schedule has been no busier than normal, but perhaps the nature of some of those appointments has been a little different.
In this last two weeks I personally have known of five individuals who have left this mortal realm leaving behind family and friends to mourn their loss and celebrate their lives, some very much shorter than others. 

Of those five who have passed away in the last few days, I sadly only had the opportunity to meet personally with two of the three dear gentlemen and brothers in the Church whilst they were ill.  I was struck by how they both dealt with the impending certainty of death with such dignity and peace. I saw how their faith and the faith of their wonderful wifes in a higher power and an eternal perspective provided great comfort and peace to them in their last few days on the earth.
The knowledge that there is something beyond this life and that there is a purpose to being here, brings me great comfort and helps make sense of a great deal of things that would otherwise not make sense, particularly when death comes to one so young, such as a child or a new born baby.  It is a sign of a loving and kind Heavenly Father, God if you will, that he would make sure that such a child is not lost or damned or that the tender feelings of a mother and father mourning can be comforted in the knowledge that they will once again have the opportunity in the eternities to raise that child and be a parent to that child who now is lost to them through death.   (For further reading on this topic please visit www.mormon.org or teachings on bereavement )

I can only comment for myself but I would find it difficult to reconcile such experiences with death without this faith and knowledge.  In fact it can be difficult enough with that knowledge and faith to cope with those close to us who pass away. My heart reaches out to those who must experience the pain of losing a loved one without this insight or surety of faith that death is not the end but mearly a parting for a season until the time comes when body and spirit are reunited and the opportunity to live together again but this time for ever in the eternities is given.

If you are reading this now and are feeling that way I hope that you will accept the invitation to learn more about this teaching of the “great plan of happiness”.  Throughout the world the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have representatives who can come and teach more about this plan, they can reached from the website of the Church, www.mormon.org or you can come along to the nearest Church building using the online building locater

An Island in the sun

11 years ago just before my wife and I married we along with a friend organised a Young Single Adult Camping covention for the Church of Jeus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) on the Isle of Wight.

We entitled it the Island in the Sun convention and true to form it rained.
Today we were back on the Island today for the first time together since we struck the camp in July 1998.
We were talking about the fun we had in organising it and the last minute change in plans due to the weather. It forced us to change the planned raft race to a pool party, the bouncy castle was pulled in the marquee and the largest game of “moose moose” I have ever particpated in. Now I am sure we are looking back on the convention with rose tinted glasses somewhat but we had a good time and I think most who attended did also.
In a way it is probably a good job it did rain as looking back I am not sure we were ready for the raft race. I think a bit of divine protection was being afforded us that day.
What I did find is that in the fabled Internet archive the website for the convention can still be accessed.

http://web.archive.org/web/19990218130651/http://come.to/island.in.the.sun.convention

Ahh the early days of HTML…….

As I said today we were back on the Isle of Wight as a family, the first time we had been able to do so since I was called as Stake President and a decade and four children later it was good to back. I have been over to the island a number of times in the callings I have held for the last few years but to go across with my family was a bit more special. Church services went really well and the Saints of the area were in good spirits. It was good to be there and not be rushed which is often the case when trying to adhere to ferry timetables. Today as we were taking the car we had booked on an evening ferry so we could make a day of it, we took a picnic so we could enjoy the sun. Today was really an island in the sun with a beautiful sunset over the west Wight finishing the evening.

A faith promoting experience on the side of the road…

This afternoon, as I was driving back from Sunday church services in Winchester, I passed as I have done many, many times the roadside memorial of two friends that were killed in a car accident driving between Hursley and Ampfield two years ago.  As I came up on the spot where the memorial now stands, a plaque and messages attached to a tree, a car pulled up and a couple got out with fresh flowers to place there.  I drove past but felt the urge and complusion to turn around and go back and just say hello and pass on my best wishes. 

I am so glad I did, as I reached Ampfield I turned around and went back the couple of miles to the spot where I met with the couple who are the parents of one of the two friends who was killed on that day two years ago.  We chatted together for a few moments and shared a smile and some thoughts together on the importance of family.  I was impressed by the faith they both displayed in those few moments we spent together. 

We spoke about how I as a regular commuter along that stretch of road, remembered when the flowers appeared and how they have continued to be there.  The hope is that the flowers act as a reminder that life is precious and to take care. 

What impressed me the most about this couple as we spoke on the side of the road is how even after such a tragedy in their life, they were able to express thanks and gratitude for their son and their other children to God.   Today their faith strengthened mine, I have not had to endure that trial of losing a loved one in such circumstances and there are many who have.  I don’t know if I could be as strong as that, if I didn’t have the knowledge that I have, of a plan of happiness that God, our Heavenly Father has for us all, that means that the family unit can be eternal, in fact is designed to be so.  This knowledge through the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by his Church on earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has brought me great comfort in my life, which I hope can be a comfort to many others.