24 August 2014

Desire To Do Right

There was great excitement in the village one day. A handsome, rich young trader was coming to ask a father if he could marry his daughter.

The daughter was generally thought of as having a face like a stone that would break a looking glass, and she looked like she had missed too many meals. 

The father had said that he would be happy to be given a cow that gave sour milk because he would be happy to get his daughter off his hands.

The daughter did not want to come to the ceremony in which the husband to be would ask for her hand because she was sure that the villagers would laugh at her.

At the ceremony the women of the village talked among themselves boasting of how many cows their husbands had paid for them, and that this young girl was not worth more than two cows, and that the young man would drive a hard bargain and if asked for two cows would offer one, if asked for one would settle for the horns and tail. The father was advised by his counsellor to ask for three cows, and when proposing this the villagers laughed.

The young man, who you will likely guess is Johnny Lingo, silences the villagers and boldly states that three cows is a high price, but not enough for Mahana. He would offer eight cows. Everyone was stunned! The whispers immediately spread through the village that Johnny Lingo had offered eight cows for Mahana.

The following morning Mahana is sure that Johnny Lingo would not come with the eight cows. She was being mocked and feeling worthless. Johnny Lingo does come with the cows and graciously leads his bride to be from her father’s house, treating her like a woman who was worth eight cows.

Some months later, after Johnny Lingo and Mahana have been away at the honeymoon place, Mahana’s father is very displeased when he visits their home because he accuses Johnny Lingo of cheating him because Mahana is worth ten cows! And indeed, she has blossomed and is a delightful sight!

What made the difference?

Young men, the Father of the daughter that you will ask to marry you simply asks for three cows for his daughter. Those cows are love, honour and cherish, and to be given for as long as you both shall live. Do you bargain for less than that? A fashionable offering that I see today is not even one cow – in the ‘guise’ of ‘love’ all too many young men offer lust and seem to think that they are being generous, and all too many young women do not believe that they are worth more than that and leave the Father’s home with the lustful young man rather than waiting for one who will offer the three cows.

Do you come and offer eight cows to the Father? Do you offer to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and to seek after that which is virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy? Do you also throw in belief and hope to make it ten cows that you feel your bride to be is worth? If you are offering such then you would be insisting on taking your wife to the honeymoon place called the Temple of the most High, there to show the great love, honour and cherishing that will make your bride blossom as a Daughter of her Heavenly Father.

In my home we were constantly reminded that we were Princes and Princesses in Israel. Now, in case you think that is outlandish, think of the Lord’s Prayer that you have almost certainly quoted ‘Our Father who art in heaven...thy kingdom come...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.’ Matt 6:9-13, 3 Ne 13:9-13. Think of Rom 8:16-17 in which we are declared to be joint-heirs with Christ.

May I remind you all that royalty may mistakenly think that they are there to be served, but Jesus Christ taught a much higher principle when he said in Mark 10:44 that he who would be chiefest shall be the servant of all. I was really impressed in the coronation of King Charles on 6 May 2023 that he said 'In his name and after his example I come not to be served but to serve.'

In Alma 32:27 we read the challenge to awake and arouse our faculties, even to an experiment upon Almas’ words. And I invite you to awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and 'exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words'. Give way to experiment upon the words that you are a son or a daughter of God, and that as such your heritage is worth all of the ‘cows’ of the thirteenth Article of Faith and you will find a growing desire to live worthy of being an ‘eight cow’ wife or husband. You will come to know in your heart that the worth of your soul, and that of your wife or husband, is great in the sight of God D&C 18:10.

You will become assured that you have the agency given you to choose liberty and eternal life or to choose captivity and death 2 Ne 2:27 or to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life 2 Ne 10:23.

Joseph Fielding Smith taught that if we love the Father and Jesus Christ then we will keep their commandments and if we want salvation in its fullest then we need to have a marriage in the Temple for time and for all eternity.

I always hope and pray that each of my children will remember what we have taught them, that they are Princes and Princesses in Israel, and that they will live the spirit of the thirteenth Article of Faith in full, being eight or ten cow children of God. I hope that they will be the salt of the earth, letting their lights shine before all men that as their good works are seen, then the Father in Heaven will be glorified by those who witness their good works. I hope that they will sow and nurture the seed of faith, letting it sprout, then nourishing it well to the point that they partake of the fruit ‘which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst’. That they will press forward earnestly, diligently, holding fast to the iron rod.

I have the same prayer for each person who reads this.

Shosholoza Meyl train rides

During July Sally and I travelled on the train to Johannesburg and back. We went for the wedding celebration between our daughter Cindy and Dom Wentzel.

Here is the feedback that we gave to the railway operator on our experience with travelling on ShosholozaMeyl. travelled Tourist Class from Cape Town – Johannesburg and back.

We enjoyed the two trips very much. We found the trips comfortable and relaxing.

We appreciated being in a 4 sleeper compartment going to Johannesburg so that neither of us had to climb onto the top bunk. We were comfortable enough in the two-sleeper coupe for the return trip. It was ironic, however, that we as a senior couple and a US senior couple were in the two coupes of carriage 10 (we in 10C and they in 10D) although a young unmarried couple who had not booked managed to get moved from the sitter section to 10B, ironic because they were not related and of opposite sex. It appears, from what I heard in the wee hours of the morning, that a man embarking in Kimberley was dissatisfied with being put into a compartment with three women.

The food and service were good and friendly. I think better on the trip up than the return trip. The waitress going up was far more flexible and accommodating when I asked for toast to replace bacon for breakfast, whereas on the return trip it was cheese and nothing besides cheese could replace bacon! But she did relent later and brought a second egg to replace the bacon, but did charge for a second slice of toast.

The service is not as good as we remember from the 1970s and 1980s, so hopefully they are working towards getting at least that level of service again. That said, I was impressed that a man who I heard introducing himself to a foreign passenger as the manager, was very much involved with the passengers and staff on the trip back. He interacted with the passengers and gave some information regarding the reasons for being delayed by rail maintenance.

Bedding should be easy enough to have in sufficient quantities. It should be easy enough to predict how much is needed, especially after making one or two mistakes. Rather have more than is needed than insufficient.

The kitchen ran out of milk, fruit juice and other supplies. Again, it should be fairly easy to predict with a little experience, and surely you have enough experience? Perhaps if passengers from the sitter section take bedding and dine in the dining car then that would make prediction more challenging?

It was frustrating that the heater was not working in our compartment. I did not ask if other heaters were working, but with-2 degree weather outside, the heater was missed. I was impressed that on the return trip a young staff member mentioned when I asked if the heater would be working, that it would not because it only worked with the steam locomotives. I was impressed on two counts, because he was probably too young to remember either working heaters or steam locomotives and I thought that maybe his telling me that indicated that he has some personal care and interest in his work, and that perhaps Spoornet is giving some background training to their staff.

The train ran almost 4 hours late without really clear explanation, or any explanation at all, on the trip up, but with better explanation on the return trip. It was explained that there was maintenance being undertaken on the rails tracks.

Something in the undercarriage of sleeper unit 8 on the trip up was making a really loud flapping noise such that it sounded a lot of the time as though we were traveling in a steam or diesel locomotive. I could not make out if it was a compressed air noise our something like a spring or pipe flapping with a resonance. Carriage 10 on the return trip was impressively quiet.

I was surprised that 220V power for cellphones or laptop computers is not available in this day and age. Wi-Fi connection might also be easy enough to supply, and the increased clientele will surely make these more than pay for themselves.

The door of 10C for the return trip was extremely heavy to open and close. I found that some of the fabric from the mat had ripped off and was sticking out from under the door. I suspect that there may be more fabric causing the door to stick. I suggest that compressed air may help to remove some material from the bottom slider, but it would probably be well to remove the door and service the top and bottom runner parts.

It might be an idea to give staff name badges. This will enable passengers to interact better with them by name, as well as enabling communicating compliments and complaints such as I am doing. Some staff were apparently far more enthusiastic and interested in their work than others.

It might also be worth drawing up a simple feedback slip to be placed in each compartment so that passengers can evaluate the trip and facilities.

We felt that the general care and maintenance were lacking. The walls and facilities are grubby and not in as good working order as they could be. As also mentioned, perhaps in this day and age power sockets and Wi-Fi could be supplied?

You may consider a simple play and/or entertainment area for children.

We wish you great success in providing increasingly good and favourable service. I am recommending train travel to others, so I trust that they will not regret following my recommendation. I love South Africa and am proud of my beloved country. I believe that we can give quality rail experience for passengers, and constantly improve as we learn from past experience.

Kind regards

Leslie W. Powrie

Harvest, the devourer, dangers, and blessings in disguise

I shared an analogy with the youth today. I ended up teaching them with no warning and no preparation, and shared an analogy that has been developing in my mind. The theme is Marriage and Family and I chose to teach about learning and teaching in the home

It is as though we each have a farm, and each of us has the same size farm, with the same potential. It has 168 hectares of good soil, and we are allowed to do with it as we see fit. Each hectare represents an hour in the week. The harvest that we will eventually reap will depend on the amount, kind and quality of seed that we sow, or do not sow. If we sow maize and tend it well, then we have the potential of harvesting an abundant maize harvest. If we do not plant all 168 hectares then we will not reap the maximal harvest. It is also feasible that we can sow the entire area and do all that we possibly can to ensure the harvest, but then at the last moment before a very promising and exciting harvest we can lose everything due to lightning striking and causing all to be burned up, or there could be locusts or hail that destroy the crop, and we might harvest little or nothing. That is not a measure of failure on our part, but the harvest will not be what we hoped. 

The harvest is a result of our effort, but far more significantly and important is the sunlight, fresh air, rainwater and soil nutrients and quality that are provided free by a loving and provident Father. All that we reap is a free gift to us, and nothing is fully guaranteed or deserved. True, we will not have any promise if we do not sow, but even with our most faithful effort we still are dependent on the providence from above. Our input costs remain the same if we plant for the maximum harvest whether we have no harvest or the most capacious harvest. So everything is entirely due to the goodness of God. He invites us to give back 10% of our harvest, thereby showing our gratitude for the harvest. In return, He promises us in Malachi 3:11 that ‘I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.’ We can then hope for the maximum harvest in accordance with our greatest efforts. We cannot hope for more, and can hope that there will not be less. But if we do not bring our tithes into the storehouse, so that there will be meat in His house, then we cannot hope for any such blessing of protection from the devourer or the variableness of nature. We cannot complain if the devourer destroys the fruits of our ground. 

But, by the same token, even if we seem to have mishaps, we cannot always know what protection we may have enjoyed. We may have been spared far greater mishap that would have happened, and the small mishap that we do experience may be simply to try our faith. My son Richard pointed out that sometimes the mishaps might be because Heavenly Father knows our potential and is preparing us for a greater harvest. He cited the example of a field that needs to be burned in order to have a better harvest the following year. After thinking about this, I thought more and realised that it might be for us to learn a lesson, or for someone else to learn a lesson from the way that we handle our loss. We need to be trusting enough to accept the loss and not ask 'why?' but 'how?'. How do we move forward, rather than why did we experience the loss?

I am fully confident that very often we are spared a lot of problems and have blessings in disguise. I say this because of thoughts that have come to me as I have pondered the promise given in my patriarchal blessing that many physical dangers and difficulties shall continue to pass by me, giving unto me blessings in disguise. One such blessing was that I was not bitten by a puff adder that was right next to me. I wonder how many times I have been spared from dangers, but on this one occasion it happened while I was pondering on the promises given in Mark 16:18, Luke 10:19 and Doctrine and Covenants 84:72 and whether I as a young LDS missionary was worthy enough to be given this blessing should I be bitten by a snake on this occasion when I was alone for a very brief time in Kloof Gorge. I wonder how many times I have been blissfully unaware of such protection, and even complained that I do not see the blessings in my life, but that was because they were ‘blessings in disguise’.