04 December 2019

The bough was hanging heavy after the rains

When I exercise in the morning I can see the house number opposite us relative to the wooden window frame on our side of the road. I was amazed to note that the bough was clearly a lot heavier than normal following the heavy rains that we had on 25 October 2019. I measured 1 mm on the morning of 24 Oct, 3 mm at 07:00 on the morning of 25 Oct, 50 mm on 26 Oct, then 24 mm on 28 Oct and 2 mm on 29 Oct.

The view on 26 October after the heavy rains on 25 October. The leaves above the number 31 obscuring the gutter, in line with the top of the window.
On 22 November, the leaves above the level of the gutter. It is interesting that the leaves on the right do not look much higher than a month earlier - that branch seems to have been obviously affected.

A comparative shot 19 Jun 2020 during the normal rainy season

26 October, the day following the heavy rains.
26 November - after a month of losing weight.

22 November 2019, four weeks later

30 November 2019, five weeks later, not much different to 22 November, a week earlier.
A comparative shot 19 Jun 2020

20 November 2019

Beggars - what do we do?

Yesterday I was faced by yet another beggar who, I think, was displeased because I did not give him something. Gertjie was his name.

As I continued to work through the day, I pondered. Does someone like Gertjie ever go to a clinic for medical or dental help? My taxes contribute to the health system. Does he ever use the services of police, water, sanitation, roads, parks, or any public amenities? Does he ever use night shelter or food kitchen? I give monthly donations in the form of taxes or donations to some of these. What is he doing to ensure that he will be in a position to contribute to these facilities to provide for the next generation?

Years ago we regularly gave food or money to beggars who came to our door. We came to realise that they were apparently spreading the word that beggars would get something at our home and so we had a steady stream of beggars. We were not helping them in the Lord's way, but were simply maintaining them in the beggar state. We decided that, in a personal time of need with illness in the home and shortage of money, that we had to turn them away and suddenly the stream of beggars stopped coming to our door. We still have the occasional beggar, but we rarely give them something unless they are prepared to work for it, but do sometimes give something small when prompted to do so, with the instruction to not come back to us, but to go to the soup kitchen where they can be assisted to get themselves out of the gutter rather than simply remaining in the gutter.

My thinking yesterday reminds me that we should be encouraging people more purposefully that, as is stated in two clauses right next to each other in the Founding Provisions of the constitution of South Africa:
    3. (1) There is a common South African citizenship.
        (2) All citizens are—
              (a) equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship; and
              (b) equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.
        (3) National legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.
    We need to encourage people to meet their responsibilities - meeting the rights, respect, needs of others - instead of simply asking for others to meet their rights or needs. This is tough, but love is tough.

    We need every person in the nation to be contributing to the extent that he or she is able, using their own unique strengths, talents, abilities to build a better South Africa for all. We need builders and not wreckers; producers rather than consumers; givers rather than takers.

    I firmly believe in the principles given in the talk by Spencer W. Kimball - Welfare Principles: the Gospel in Action. May I contribute what I can, and work towards helping others to contribute to the extent that each is able.

    04 November 2019

    Some home improvements after 21 years!

    We finally took the leap in 2016 and started to do some renovating that really had been needed for two decades, and some that were not quite so urgent, but worth doing anyway. Here is a record of some things that we did between 2001 and 2018.

    2014: Gutters, fascias, painting
    The cage around our afdak (lean-to) at the side of the house.

    Since 2014, trees have been removed in 2016 and a boundary wall built in the front of the house in 2017.

    We had installed a carport in 2001. We also remodeled the kitchen and en-suite bathroom.

    The carport was built in 2001 and for a long time had a basketball board and hoop attached. The beams were clad in 2014.

    In 2007 we had a break-in. Prior to this we had a dog, a Jack Russell cross, that was presumably a deterrent to anyone breaking in, and then he died. From that time we had at least three break-ins. On the first occasion in 2007. Richard, at age 14, came home from school and found that someone had been rummaging in drawers. He came in through the front door and found the house in a mess. He then found that the side gate was open and there were things lying on the front lawn, presumably from the person running away, so he would have frightened the person who, fortunately, did not attack Richard, but simply ran away. Cell phones, jewellery and other things were stolen. He kept his cool and called his Dad who advised him to call the police. It is apparent that the thief was in the house and fled when Richard got home, and Richard was protected during the ordeal. He handled this all very well.

    In 2009 we installed security gates and caged ourselves in. We installed a new stronger gate for the front door, and the afdak at the side of the house was extended and caged in. A trellis gate
    was installed for the bedroom sliding door. The gate at the other side of the house was moved from the back to the front of the garage.
    The security gate for the bedroom sliding door.

    In 2012 we had another break-in where one burglar bar was bashed in to gain entry. Two laptops were stolen together with other smaller things. We then engaged the services of ADT, the security company, with a burglar alarm.

    During 2013 and 14 we did further work - the house was painted inside, the lounge ceiling had been knotty pine strips and we installed a ceiling beneath this, painted white. The main bathroom was remodeled. New gutters were installed.

    Some of the work that was done inside the house during 2013-2014

    The house after painting and before the gutters and cladding were done.

    Work in the main bathroom

    Laminated flooring and painting in the passages and lounge.

    During 2016 we had a number of large trees removed, most particularly those that would impact the house such as the tall palm tree that could cause serious damage if it should blow over, and tree roots that would affect the walls or foundations.
    The palm tree that was cut down. The house can also be seen as it was before the renovations in 2013-2014.

    During 2017 Sally was threatened by someone who broke into the house. Fortunately Richard was home studying for exams and attacked the attacker who fled after snatching Sally's cell phone. We were in the process of building a boundary wall in the front of the house. The wall was completed soon after the break-in.

    The motor for the rolling driveway gate was stolen in 2018. Great skill was used - if only the person who stole it would use that skill to build society rather than only thinking of self.

    During 2018 we installed four rainwater tanks to harvest as much as 10 000 litres of rainwater. These have all overflowed several times since then. We have used the rainwater for the washing machine and two toilets for most of the time. We also use rainwater in the garden and for washing the cars. We collect from 186.4 square metres of our 334.5 square metres (55.7%) and 229.1 square metres of the van Dorps' 403.1 square metres (56.8%). It should be easy to add our carport to the collection to increase our harvesting to include the carport, thus harvesting 69.5% of our roof area.

    Although it appears as though our house has been targeted - it seems to be the only house in our close neighbourhood that has been broken into, or at least had as many break-ins - we have been blessed. In about 1984 we made a decision that, since we had to choose between using part of our monthly budget for paying Fast Offering or paying short-term insurance for the contents of the house, I was impressed that we had a wonderful promise from the Lord. In Malachi 3:10-12 we are promised that if we bring our tithes and offerings into His storehouse that there might be meat in His house, that He would pour out a blessing that we would not have room enough to receive it, and He would rebuke the devourer for our sakes, and bless the harvest of our fields. The challenge in Isaiah 31 that I studied in Institute to place our trust in God rather than in the arm of flesh helped us to decide to place our trust in the protecting hand of Heavenly Father. We committed to Him that if we did not lose more than we would through the excess that we would have to pay to an insurance company in case of a claim, we would not be losing out, and we would pay more than the amount that we would have needed to pay in monthly premiums to an insurance company into Fast Offering. We always continued to pay our full tithes as well as other offerings. I believe that the Lord has not failed to bless us in accordance with our personal promise and faith. We have had losses, but would have had losses even if we had the best insurance. So, we paid our monthly contribution to Zion rather than to Babylon and trusted God to prevent losses, whereas an insurance company would at best reduce the inconvenience in the event of a loss. We did what we could to improve security and then trusted that the Lord would assist us with reducing the incidence of losses or problems that we might otherwise have.

    03 November 2019

    Matters relating to gas problems and low iron with my digestive tract

    I have had low iron for many years. That was a major reason for gastro-and colon-scopes that I have had. But I am also concerned about a gas or reflux problem where I seem to generate a great deal of gas in my stomach that I need to release or else it seems to cause my thoracic and abdominal muscles to ache a lot.

    I do not know if the low iron and gas are related, so I shall start describing the gas and then the low iron.

    I had scopes in October 2019 to look for a possible explanation for the low iron, but also with consideration for the gas/reflux problem. It does not seem to be typical acid reflux although I do occasionally have reflux where I taste bile or some food pushes up into my oesophagus or on rare occasions up into my mouth.

    I have learned that I need to release a lot of gas through belching, or else my muscles ache, and I interpret that to be gas entering my blood and muscles. I will have really strong burps several times during the day, usually about five or ten in short succession, and five to ten or more times per day. I have tried Gaviscon, but that does not seem to help very much. Gaviscon, Rennie and Eno Fruit Salt do not sort out the problem although they might relieve it a bit. My physician prescribed Choleste, but that seemed to aggravate the problem because it suppressed the burping apparently resulting in more gas entering the blood and muscles. I have recently tried Gasgon that I saw in the pharmacy, but I am not sure that it really helps - I do taste the fish oil that repeats on me, but it might aggravate the muscle pain because of suppressing the gas release.

    Shortly after I started the Gasgon, the gastro-enterologist who undertook the scopes prescribed Progast, so I switched to that on 18 October. I am not sure that the Progast is really sorting out the problem, but it is possibly too early to comment. It  might be aggravating it, again because of suppressing the burping and keeping the gas in the stomach.

    I have been recording my food intake since 29 July 2019 to see if I can see trends or causes, but to date I cannot really draw conclusions. There have been no days with no burping. I typically eat simple food with plenty of fruit. There are not really many foods in my diet that are normally associated with flatulence. My symptoms do not seem to match the typical symptoms indicated for these two medicines:
    • Abdominal pain and cramps - Occasional
    • Heartburn and acid reflux - I do not often have heartburn. I do not often have acid reflux, as mentioned above. Gasgon seems to possibly aggravate this as I taste the fish oil repeating on me, but I would not say that it is chronic.
    • Bloating and flatulence - sometimes windy, less often smelly winds. Sometimes feel bloated
    • Chronic constipation - Occasional
    • Nausea and vomiting - Occasional
    • Irritable bowel syndrome - 
    Gastrointestinal disorders indicated specifically for Gasgon:
    • Dyspepsia - I have some of the symptoms, but most specifically belching and gas.
    • Mouth ulcers - Occasional
    • Gastric discomfort or pain - Occasional
    I do not consume alcohol, tea or coffee, cola drinks, nor do I smoke. I occasionally have rooibos, and sometimes the one with senna. I generally sleep well. I do not often have carbonated drinks. I sometimes have poor bowel movements, but this problem normally settles, possibly because I eat a lot of fruit and fibre. I exercise regularly, usually eat three meals daily and do not often nibble between meals. I generally do not eat fried foods, beans or legumes (most often peanut butter), processed foods, sugar free sweeteners. I do use milk (usually low fat), yoghurt, cheese. I generally use canola margarine and rarely butter or animal fats.

    Diarrhea is rare, normally associated with an illness. I am not aware of any food intolerance. I do eat a fair amount of wheat products, but am not aware of problems associated with that, for example I am not aware of a lessening of symptoms when I do not have wheat for a few meals. I remember at school having gas bubbling through my intestines, but I rarely experience this now.

    I decided to try going without my Lansaloc (specifically for acid reflux) and Simvastatin (for cholesterol) medication during April 2018 but decided that the Lansaloc certainly does seem to help with the acid reflux. Upon hearing of someone who had his gall bladder removed and then had much less back pain, I felt it worth seeing if the acid reflux type problems and pains from gas in the muscles might be associated with gall bladder, but other than a benign cyst on my left kidney, the gall bladder and other abdominal organs appear to be fine.

    I was doing some work on the lawn in the past two days that involved my squatting on my haunches and exerting effort pushing grass sods and I found that it was unpleasant as there were several occasions that food was being pushed back up from my stomach.

    I think that my mother may have had, and at least one sibling may have a similar condition relating to the gas/reflux that I have. The thought occurred to me recently that, as I bake bread, I use yeast that produces carbon dioxide in the process of fermentation. Could there be some yeast or fermentation occurring in my gut, producing the gas? Is there something that can or ought to be done to get rid of it, or do I simply accept it and live with it?

    Now, regarding the low iron: I started to donate blood in 1972, initially not very regularly, but in later years I was a reagents donor and donated every 8, 10, 12 or more weeks, but usually about five times each year. I donated more than 150 times and stopped donating last year (2018) because of the low iron, more specifically low ferritin as my haemoglobin was usually sufficient that I could donate blood. I reached 75 donations in 1994, 125 in 2005, 153 in 2018. My ferritin levels improved after stopping donating, but are still lower than they should be. I had many tests and scopes in 2009 for checking the cause of the low iron. I had another gastroscopy and colonoscopy in 2013 that confirmed that there is no obvious cause of the iron deficiency.

    I frequently took iron Ferrimed tablets or capsules over the years, but not consistently. In 2017 I had an infusion of Venofer, and received 9 x 5 ml intravenous infusions over a period of five months. The physician prescribed Sideral Forte 15 which I started taking 16 September with a break for a few days before my previous scheduled scopes, but commenced them when the scopes were postponed, then stopped them a week before the scopes. To date I have had about 40 capsules, one per day since 16 Sep.

    There were about three occasions when the blood transfusion service found that my haemoglobin was too low to donate. There were also a few cases where my wife Sally who is a family doctor, or the physician, advised that I not donate blood for a few months in order for my iron levels to increase.

    There would probably be a record at Western Cape Blood Transfusion Service of those times that I could not donate. I might have more information in my various journals, but it will be quite a search to find it.

    I hope that this gives some information that might help someone with similar symptoms of the gas problem or the iron deficiency problem.

    25 October 2019

    Having a university degree vs. becoming a graduate

    I was struck by something mentioned by John Bytheway in a talk where he mentioned builders and wreckers. I searched for this on the Internet and found this...
    Wreckers or BuildersI watched them tearing a building down,
    A gang of men in a busy town.
    With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell,
    They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
    I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
    As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
    He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
    Just common labor is all I need.
    I can easily wreck in a day or two
    What builders have taken a year to do.”
    And I tho’t to myself as I went my way,
    Which of these two roles have I tried to play?
    Am I a builder who works with care,
    Measuring life by the rule and square?
    Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
    Patiently doing the best I can?
    Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
    Content with the labor of tearing down?
    — Carmelo Benvenga
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    I think this sums up my feelings about the unrest at our universities in South Africa, and in other unrest in the year 2016 - and before - and after. People can so easily wreck the good that others have worked hard to build.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    In my experience among university graduates, there are many who have university degrees, but it sometimes seems as though they have not become as educated as the university degree indicates they should be.

    I was also impressed by the be-do-have continuum mentioned by Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad's CASHFLOW Quadrant - I am concerned that the focus I often see is on having, not becoming.

    Do a Google search for 'Cash flow quadrant', you can find the PDF of the book, and search for be-do-have, then you will find it in Chapter 8 'How do I get rich?', subheading 'It is easy to do what rich people do'. He explains the difference between having wealth, doing things the wealthy do, and being wealthy. I like that. If we do not change our thinking - changing ourselves inside - we will not easily achieve the goals that we wish to achieve. We might have something, but it will not be easily retained of we do not think right.
    Just like the proverb about having a fish, or being able to catch fish for self, family and others. 
    You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.
    Providing in the Lord's Way, a book from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints focuses on helping the Saints to become educated, not just have a degree.
    The online dictionary in a Google search 'define degree' gives:
    the amount, level, or extent to which something happens or is present.
    "a degree of caution is probably wise"
    synonyms: level, stage, point, rung, standard, grade, gradation, mark; More
    a unit of measurement of angles, one ninetieth of a right angle or the angle subtended by one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the circumference of a circle.
    "set at an angle of 45 degrees""
    Similarly, 'define graduate'
    graduatenounˈɡradʒʊət,-djʊət/1.a person who has successfully completed a course of study or training, especially a person who has been awarded an undergraduate or first academic degree.synonyms: degree holder, person with a degree; Moreverbˈɡradʒʊeɪt,-djʊeɪt/1.successfully complete an academic degree, course of training, or (North American) high school."he graduated from Glasgow University in 1990"synonyms: qualify, pass one's exams, pass, be certified, be licensed; More2.arrange in a series or according to a scale."a graduated tax"synonyms: arrange in a series, arrange in order, order, group, classify, class, categorize, rank, grade, range"a proposal to graduate income tax"
    Our country - our world - needs people who are genuinely what their certificates indicate they have achieved, rather than simply having a certificate that says they have a degree.

    Similarly, let us put our focus, our efforts, our energies into becoming and helping others to become builders in our families, communities, workplaces, nation and everywhere, not just having titles or labels, and certainly not being wreckers!

    White heart on red background signs on lamp posts in Cape town

    I have tried to find a link to the road signs in several places in Cape Town, but have not yet been able to find the meaning.

    They occur on the road from Kirstenbosch to Cape Town at about

    33°58'28.6"S 18°26'51.3"E

    and on the road from Table View to Cape Town near Rietvlei at about

    33°50'21.3"S 18°29'09.8"E

    There are a lot of hits to searches for road signs with hearts, but nothing that seems to relate to this particular road sign.

    It does not seem to relate to http://secretloveproject.co.za/.

    The best match that I can find is The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/

    Why is it that these signs are popping all over the place and I cannot find what they signify or symbolise?

    06 October 2019

    Lessons learned from driving some Cape mountains and passes

    Sally and I recently travelled to the Garden Route for a short while in order for us to enjoy some of the wonders that are available there. In the process of traveling about 3100km from Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay and Cape St. Francis and then back to Cape Town, we traveled on about 60 mountain passes (detailed below if you want to read them all), and saw many impressive mountain ranges.
    21 August: Original Du Toits Kloof Pass, [Goreeshoogte, Malherbeshoogte], Remhoogte Pass, Bakoondshoogte Pass, Leeuriviershoogte Pass to get onto the N2 at Swellendam to reach Vleesbaai and then Riversdale.
    23: Goukou Pass (N2), Soetmelksrivier Pass (N2), Gouritz River Pass (N2), [we did not go on the Mossel Bay Pass this trip although we have often travelled on it], Southern Cross Pass (N2), Hoogte Pass (N2), Maalgate River Pass (N2) to get to George Airport.
    24: Gwaing River Pass (N2), Kaaimans River Pass (N2), Heights Road, Silver River Pass (7 Passes Road), Kaaimansgat Pass (7 Passes Road), Swartrivier Pass (7 Passes Road) back to George Airport.
    25: Victoria Bay Pass, Gwaing River Pass (N2) again, Groot Brak Hoogte (R102)
    26: Outeniqua Pass, Beveraas Kloof Pass, Perdeskoen Draai Pass to get to Oudtshoorn.
    27: Brakpoort Pass, Attakwaskloofpas, Robinson Pass, Brandwaghoogte, Groot Brak Hoogte to go Oudtshoorn to Mossel Bay and George and Montagu Pass (gravel), Paardepoort (P1646 (gravel)) back to Oudtshoorn.
    28: Schoemanspoort Pass, Swartberg Pass (gravel), Witkranspoort (R407) to reach Prince Albert.
    29: Kredouw Pass, Meiringspoort, Rooikranspoort (R341) Uniondale Heights, Uniondale Poort, Prince Alfred Pass (gravel) to Knysna.
    30: Brenton Pass in Knysna vicinity.
    31: Keyters Nek, Phantom Pass (7 Passes Road) in Knysna vicinity.
    1 September: Plettenberg Bay (missed Plettenberg Bay pass), Sedgefield Mountain Road.
    2: Keurboomsrivier Hoogte, Stormsriver Pass to Jeffreys Bay.
    3: Cape St. Francis.
    4: Stormsriver Pass, Grootrivier Pass (R102), Keurboomsrivier Hoogte (N2), Keytersnek Pass (N2), Goukamma Pass (N2), Swartvleihoogte (N2), Kaaimans River Pass (N2), Gwaing River Pass (N2) , Maalgate River Pass (N2), Hoogte Pass (N2), Southern Cross Pass (N2), to Mossel Bay
    5: Gouritz River Pass (N2), Soetmelksrivier Pass (N2), Goukou Pass (N2), Houw Hoek Pass (N2), Coles Pass (N2), Sir Lowry’s Pass (N2) to home

    What might be of interest to you as parents, teachers, or friends is the slow process of making mountains... To take the Swartberg Mountains as an example, they are sandstone made up chiefly of sand-sized particles with some smaller cementing particles that sedimented below water some thousands of years ago, then after time, and chemical interacting processes doing their work, this extensive series of rocks of hundreds of kilometers long and tens of kilometers wide, and about 8 km thick was lifted from the floor of a rift valley to being above the surrounding landscape and massive portions of the rock were folded (hence the name Cape Fold Mountains) forming an impressive barrier to travellers wanting to get from one valley to another. 

    A panoramic view at the high point of the Swartbergpas.

    Just as the rocks were formed by individual grains of sand or other sediment, then took some time to settle, then experiencing serious upheaval, so our life experiences are established one small experience, one converting incident, one trial, one insight, one peaceful moment, one difficulty, one challenge, one any individual process at a time. Eventually we stand firm so that others might be impressed to sing as my mind did 'Firm as the mountains around us' as we drove through these stalwart and brave mountains to reach the Karoo town of Prince Albert.

    It is amazing to see the folds in Table Mountain Sandstone.

    It is fascinating to see the track that is made on the slope of the mountain, with many hairpin bends and supports built to make it possible to travel over the mountains.

    We need to help those that we teach or influence to have these small experiences that will build their testimonies and enable them to cope with the challenges, upheavals, folds, choices, temptations that will work at crumbling them. But, with the support of the Holy Ghost they can stand firm, strong, bold and choose the good when presented with a choice between good and evil. Daily studying and pondering and praying about what they are learning, and upheavals to 'lift them above the waters' is important in becoming that solid rock that will form their testimony.

    Another important lesson is that someone came along and saw those terrible barriers and they charted a course, and established a mountain pass that would enable themselves and thousands of other travelers to pass over the barriers. We, as the seed of Abraham, have a challenge to be those innovators, those engineers that see opportunities and not just challenges. Our challenge as the seed of Abraham, and as the seed of Isaac, is to be a blessing to the nations - bringing temporal blessings as we overcome temporal challenges and pave the way for thousands to follow us over those barriers.

    But there is more - the wonderful biodiversity, the beauty that we saw with thousands of species of flowers, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, fungi, lichens, amphibians and other kinds of organisms as they work together to form a wondrous web of life. I made the following observation in my scripture study notes about a year ago as I pondered verses 13 and 14 in 2 Nephi 30:

    'Plants are able to produce food through the process of photosynthesis. Animals depend on what the plants did, being consumers. In the web of life each producer and consumer will become decomposed and will provide food for some other consumer, but only plants are able to produce something from 'nothing'. With light, carbon dioxide, and water, they produce oxygen and carbohydrates, fats and proteins, all of which we need.

    Naturally, the Lion depends on animals as their food, requiring many more hectares per Lion than the hectares required per secondary consumer buck or prey.

    We are now dependent on death to balance birth so that populations do not increase. If there is no death, aging, decay, then what input would we require in terms of food or sustenance? Would we require oxygen, water, protein, fats, carbohydrate, etc?

    I love the details of the web of life, so wonderfully laid out by our loving creator.'

    May the Lord bless you as you help others to build a strong mountainous testimony, 'Firm as the mountains around us'.

    12 August 2019

    Who's Who of Southern Africa and the World

    My father was featured in Who's Who of Southern Africa 1975 and my sister Judy posted the page on a blog honouring him

    Some time ago when I was given a distinguished title of Deputy Director: Information Technology Advisory Services at South African National Biodiversity Institute, I was invited to be featured in Who's Who of the World. I thought that I did not deserve this honour as much as my father did in southern Africa, but I submitted some information anyway. I came to consider afterwards that maybe it was more a vehicle for mobilising invitations to talk at or attend various conferences ranging from agriculture to medicine to engineering to geology and so on... Also, all sorts of new contacts databases seem to link to Who's Who, resulting in my receiving a lot of uninvited e-mails and so forth. I was always amused at the title Deputy Director because, although reflected a rank in the Public Service, I did not direct anyone! We later changed the title to Biodiversity Information Specialist that made much more sense to me.

    Well, for what it is worth, here is what I submitted and it appeared for about three years.

     POWRIE, LESLIE WARD, research scientist, deputy director; b. Krugersdorp,
     Gauteng, South Africa, Feb. 23, 1 954; s Charles Kenneth Powrie and Beatrice
     Philippa Dryden Dymond; m., Sally-Ann Barnes Swindell, June 27, 1981; children:
     Shelly Lee Herbert, Colleen Lynn Schwartz. Andrew James, Cindy Jean Wentzel.
     Richard Daniel. BSc with honors, U. Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1979; MSc, U.
     Cape Town, South Africa, 1986. Lab. technician Cape Provincial Adminstrn.,
     Bellville, Western Cape, South Africa, 1981-82; tchr. Herzlia Mid. Sch., Cape
     Town, Western Cape, 1983–84; scientist, edn. officer, technician South African
     Nat. Biodiversity Inst., Cape Town, 1985–2000, chief info tech. adviser, 2000–11,
     dep. dir., info. tech. adv. svcs., 2011–. Author: (book) Common Names of Karoo
     Plants: Strelitzia 16. Bishop Ch. of Jesus Christ Latter=day Saints, Cape Town,
     1982–83, 2014– clerical mem., 1983–. Cpl. Engrs., 1972–82, Kroonstad.
     Achievements include patents pending for SkyHose, airborne hose for fighting bush
     fires; first to develop combination of various ecological, species distribution and
     gazetteer databases for facilitating georeferencing of biological specimens and
     species Research, Wood Badge, Boy Scouts of South Africa 1993. Office: South
     African Nat Biodiversity Inst Kirstenbosch Rsch Ctr Pvt Bag X7 Claremont Western
     Cape 7735 South Africa Home: 45 D'Urban St Bothasig Western Cape 7441 South
     Africa Home Phone: 27-21-558-4693.  Office Phone: 27-21-799-8703.; Office Fax:
     27-21-797-6903, Home Fax· 27-8319-83579-3933. Business E-Mail:


    Well, now that I have retired, some of the information like work phone number is no longer valid, but I am still who I am.

    04 June 2019

    Sermons We See (by Bernard A Johnson)

    I found this among old files. I don't know who Bernard A Johnson is, but these are sound words.

    Sermons We See

    I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
    I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
    The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
    Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
    And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
    For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

    I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
    I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
    And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
    But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
    For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
    But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

    When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
    When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
    Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
    To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
    And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
    Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

    One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
    One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
    Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
    For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
    Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
    I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.

    Bernard A Johnson

    29 May 2019

    Some of the things I have learned about serving in the Kingdom of God

    These thoughts are based on a talk given at the Brackenfell Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 19 April 2019 about things that I have learned while serving in the Church, and then about my new calling as stake patriarch. 

    Preparing the talk gave me much about which to think. I have served the Lord for many years, with the first of my formal callings being about 1967 as youth class or quorum leader and secretary. I reckon I was not the greatest example of service in those days. We all need to start somewhere.

    I reflected on the words of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2:9-26, particularly verses 17 to 19, and expressed the wish that we could have leaders in our communities and nations that were even a little bit as humble as this king.
    17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. 
    18 Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another? 
    19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
    Then, I thought of Jesus Christ who said in Matt 20:26-27 that we need to be the servant of all, and in Matt 10:39 that we need to lose our lives for His sake in order to really find our lives. This does not necessarily mean dying for Him, but living for Him - giving up our own will and aspirations for His better will and aspirations - living for Him rather than living for ourselves.

    I read the section Service from For the Strength of Youth.

    As I contemplated the Lord's work and glory declared by Him in Moses 1:39, I contemplated the Ward Council that comprises a team of leaders with many years of experience and insight, and diverse talents, skills, interests, insights, strengths, weaknesses, and a whole bag of individual attributes. This is a wonderful training ground for learning to be like the Saviour as a council works in unity to aim for a shared goal. I shared an instance recalled by sister Lisa Harkness, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, who recently visited our stake, shared in 2015 by president Russell M Nelson.
    Sisters, do you realize the breadth and scope of your influence when you speak those things that come to your heart and mind as directed by the Spirit? A superb stake president told me of a stake council meeting in which they were wrestling with a difficult challenge. At one point, he realized that the stake Primary president had not spoken, so he asked if she had any impressions. “Well, actually I have,” she said and then proceeded to share a thought that changed the entire direction of the meeting. The stake president continued, “As she spoke, the Spirit testified to me that she had given voice to the revelation we had been seeking as a council.”
    Another wonderful example was shared by M Russell Ballard in 1994, involving a response by a Primary president when a bishop in a ward council expressed concern about reverence in sacrament meetings, and humility and unity in that council.

    What a wonderful thing if a ward council can focus on growing individual members rather than running programmes. I recalled a General Conference talk by Elder Loren C. Dunn in which he said to a neighbour who was pointing out errors that he and his brother were making on the farm, “Jim, you don’t understand. You see, I’m raising boys and not cows.”

    I then mentioned the Family Council and our responsibilities where President Russell M Nelson said 'It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.' Another very simple, yet important aspect of serving in the Church is our opportunity to minister to our brothers and sisters.

    I included portions of the section 19.1 'Determining Whom to Call' in Handbook 2
    A person must be called of God to serve in the Church (see Articles of Faith 1:5). Leaders seek the guidance of the Spirit in determining whom to call. They consider the worthiness that may be required for the calling. They also consider the member’s personal or family circumstances. Each calling should benefit the people who are served, the member, and the member’s family. 
    Although service in Church callings requires sacrifice, it should not compromise a member’s ability to fulfill family and employment responsibilities (see 17.2.1). Before calling a married person to an assignment that requires a significant time commitment, Church leaders consider the effect of the calling on the marriage and family.
    Then, from section 19.2, a bit about the person who is extending the call
    'conducts a personal interview to determine the member’s faithfulness and willingness to serve. If the member is willing, the leader extends the calling.'
    I recall the story shared by my sister Judy of a call being extended to a young sister in the 1960s wherein an effective exploratory interview preceded the call which, when extended, felt like a sacred call from the Lord - a sacred experience. I have tried to conduct interviews in such a way that the members will have a sacred experience where they feel that it is the Lord extending the call, not just me - a call of inspiration and not a call of desperation.

    I have been greatly blessed in my years serving in the home, community, work, Church, Scouts and other settings that have helped me to develop wonderful skills that have increased my abilities to serve in the other spheres. For example, I have developed skills doing administration in the Church that enabled me to give improved service in my employment and vice-versa.

    My service has helped me to a small degree to learn empathy, compassion, selflessness, a Zion spirit. Hopefully I have become more fitted for Zion through my service than I would otherwise have been.

    I love the words of the hymn Love one another (136 in our Childrens Songbook and 308 in the Hymn Book) Listen and watch
    As I have loved you,
    Love one another.
    This new commandment:
    Love one another.
    By this shall men know
    Ye are my disciples,
    If ye have love
    One to another.
    I know that the Lord is merciful and gracious. His greatest desire is for each of us to soften our hearts and become like Him, learn of Him, come unto Christ to become perfected in Him. I cannot picture our Heavenly Father saying of any one of His children, even the most difficult of characters, 'I am glad to get rid of him!' I am fully confident that His greatest desire is for each of us to be worthy of His saying to us, as He said in the parable of the talents in Matt 25:14-30 'Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.' He said in D&C 38:27, 'be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.'

    I am sure that the greatest success that any team will ever have, such as a hockey team, is for each team member to work as one with the team having a single vision of success, rather than trying to get the ball and score goals without involving others in the team. Somehow, I cannot see a team of individuals competing with each other ever winning a world cup! Anyone who wishes to 'exalt my throne above the stars of God' as in Isaiah 14:12-17 is losing the game for the team - that was Lucifer's plan - let us not make it our plan.

    Now I have a different focus since my recent call as stake patriarch. I am not part of any council - the only counseling that I have is an occasional one-on-one meeting with the stake president. But I have been really impressed by how my thoughts for the recent while have been on the seed of Abraham and the house of Israel - and that is an important part of the work of a stake patriarch as he declares the lineage of the recipient of a patriarchal blessing. My study has brought me to this subject for a while, and I have been particularly struck in so many chapters in scripture by their relevance to the seed of Abraham, Israel, and gathering them in these latter days.

    I had occasion to find out about the learning process that my father had when he was called to serve as a stake patriarch in 1970. I have been able to read patriarchal blessings of many members of my family in preparing for my service. I think that my father's personal experience with patriarchal blessings was possibly limited to being present when he, my mother, one sister and I received our blessings while visiting the London Temple in 1969.

    I remember elder Marion G. Romney telling my father when he ordained him to the office of patriarch in the Melchizedek priesthood, that he was the first patriarch on the African continent since the days of Abraham. That struck me then, and came to mind again when I chatted to Louis Groenewald who had been the first to receive a patriarchal blessing from my father, the first recipient of a patriarchal blessing on the African continent since Abraham, and who is now serving as a stake patriarch in the Pretoria area. I was asking for any advice that he might give that could help me in my new assignment. One thing that he said struck me - he said he realised that this is a calling of trust. The Lord and the quorum of the twelve trust that I can do it. Now I need to trust myself and be humble and in tune with the Spirit to receive the revelation that the member needs who comes seeking the blessing of their Heavenly Father, to learn of their life mission and possibilities as a child of the King of Kings.

    In conclusion, the blessings that I have come to understand that we receive from serving in the Church, are that we come to know the doctrine, whether it be of man or of God, because we are doing the will of the Father and Christ as inspired by the Holy Spirit. This was a promise made by Christ. I love the Lord's declaration in John 15:8 'Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.' My hope and prayer are that I will receive the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to help me to be a useful chisel in the hands of the creator, and adding glory to the Father as I serve and bear fruit. I pray that I will be worthy enough to have pure and blessed water flow from this rusty old tap to bless others as the Lord would do if He were here, serving in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.