28 December 2021

Cindy Jean: Fifty Shades of Betrayal

 Cindy Jean: Fifty Shades of Betrayal: On my way home from work today, I saw a poster for LuvLand, an adult store. It read, "Fifty Shades of Grey: Let the fantasy become a re...

This is a draft from March 2015, it did not get beyond being a draft, but maybe it will have some value???

Reflecting on 2021

I wrote this, but did not publish it. A letter that I had written for someone, reflecting on the year 2021.

Good morning, my friend

I hope that you have had a fantastic 12 months of 2021 and that you have been very successful. 

I have been thinking this morning of someone that I fear has a long-term view that is not as long term as it should be - not much beyond the long-term view of a teenager that is 'Friday night'... That is why our investment was in our children's education and character development rather than in their clothes or 'things'. I hope that you are having fulfilment in climbing the ladder of success, but, more importantly, that your ladder of success is leaning against the correct wall 😉🤔

Blessings on you as you continue to navigate these challenging waters of health concerns, political concerns, security concerns, economic concerns, philosophical concerns, personal and any other concerns. The Lord is at the helm. He has not been caught off guard in this global COVID pandemic or anything else. He is leading us individually through His Holy Spirit and collectively through His living prophet. Blessings on you as you press forward in your individual wilderness towards your individual promised land, appreciating the miracles of an escape from slavery in Egypt, a Red Sea being parted, water coming from a rock, wonders at the mount called Sinai, quail for dinner on occasions, healing from serpents by beholding a brazen serpent raised by Moses, and even daily bread called manna! I hope that the daily very real discomforts and inconveniences are not taking away your enjoyment of God's very real miracles in your wilderness ☺️🤔

Blessings on you, 

Your friend and brother, Les Powrie

10 December 2021

Come Follow Me (Articles of Faith, Official Declarations) WE BELIEVE (6 Dec - 12 Dec)

I shared the following on YouTube after viewing Steve and Chelsea Scott sharing from Canada 'We Believe' in their post Come Follow Me (Articles of Faith, Official Declarations) WE BELIEVE (Dec 6 - Dec 12)

I really appreciate the effort that you put into sharing your testimony and insights with so many people. I learn a lot from you. I feel that it is important to share that I have learned lots of things from the Spirit that no man had taught me - and it is especially comforting when some of those things are then declared by someone in General Conference, sometimes decades later!

One of my most powerful learning experiences was when I was wondering why I was upsetting the apple carts of really good people when I taught them as a missionary that there were important things that they had not yet received. I received an answer through my own personal revelation through D&C 1:30 that it was absolutely appropriate for me to be teaching those good people because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which He is well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually, for He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. This experience spanned a few days that went from real anguish to real peace. Now, nearly 50 years later the Spirit has taught me that there are many really faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, Jehovah, God, Allah, who earnestly strive to share the words of, and to do the works of, the God of Abraham and that, as Jesus said in both Mark 9 and Luke 9, those that are not against Him are for Him, and that they will not lose their reward for giving you or me a cup of water in the name of the God of Abraham. I really appreciate this expanding testimony that continues to grow as the decades pass - the more that I ponder and prayerfully seek personal revelation.

I appreciate your comment that reminded me that the priesthood was not always held by every worthy male in God's ancient covenant people. I have grown up in South Africa among many faithful African people who have been so blessed by the declaration of 1978.

I love the insight that I received that the person who stood on the banks of the Red Sea saying that Moses was deluded and that water is really dangerous and millions of people could not go across the waters! Well, he was not wrong, was he? But the Lord does wonderful things despite what might be 'right' or 'wrong' in our experience. Following the prophet when he says to obey the law and be vaccinated is a leap of faith for some and I grieve that some 'stone the prophet' when he says to follow various guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID.

I really appreciate how gracious and merciful the Lord has been to the children of men from the creation of Adam down to this day and age. I love how we always study all of the Old Testament and New Testament as well as modern scripture so that we can be familiar with how merciful He has been, blowing on the faintest of embers of repentance to create a roaring flame that leads to forgiveness. He is indeed merciful.

I have also seen really wonderful growing experiences as I have sat with members and others sharing the 13 Articles of Faith and asking them to sincerely and honestly declare their own personal 1st, 2nd on to 13th article of their faith. I remember one less active sister who started then to pay tithing and continues to do so, preparing for her next steps on the covenant path, including preparing to go to the Temple.

One of the most important things that I have come to realise, among several that I have shared in my blog http://personaltouchworks.blogspot.co.za/, is that God is merciful to the individual that seeks to be His disciple, worshiping how, where or what they may, helping to prepare the way for His Kingdom to come and His Will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Our responsibility is to share the restored gospel - the true and living church - and to help those on both sides of the veil to receive the ordinances that will enable them to be welcomed by a loving embrace as they go back into the presence of God, the Eternal Father.

08 December 2021

Disciples of the God of Abraham - individually

One of many special insights that I have gained recently is a love for people who are doing good, and a respect for the good works done by many such people in the world. They are helping to slow down the onslaughts of Satan and his minions. I was impressed to see that the Pope was moved as he listened to Andrea Bocelli singing 'The Lord's Prayer' and realising that the Pope has a love for and devotion to the Lord. Mother Theresa has often been cited as a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  I know Jews, Christians, Muslims and others who have love for and devotion to the God of Abraham. I know some who may show their devotion better than I do.

There are many people of other faiths who serve the God of Abraham and who really try to serve with a great love for the God of Abraham. I was impressed to be reminded of the statements of Jesus in Mark 9 and Luke 9 when the disciples told Him that they reproved someone who was casting out devils in Jesus’ name. Jesus said ‘Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me’ and ‘he that is not against us is for us’. He said that such will not lose his reward for any good thing that he does such as giving the apostles a cup of water to drink in the name of Jesus. 

I came to realise that, the Lord spoke of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth with which He is well pleased, 'speaking unto the church collectively and not individually'. In like manner, individuals in other religions that Joseph said he was told ‘I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”’ can be righteous, speaking of them individually and not collectively. 

Your and my task is now to do all that we can to help these wonderful disciples of the God of Abraham to receive a witness of the only true and living Church and receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation, and to do what we can to help those who have passed on beyond the veil to receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation that they did not receive while they were alive. If we omit to do these things, we will be the negligent ones. 

06 December 2021

Will I get any? Will that basket even get as far as me?

I shared some thoughts with our ward yesterday that I feel are worth sharing here. We had sung the hymn Reverently and Meekly Now that always gives me pause to ponder as it is written as Jesus Christ speaking in the first person to you and to me.

I then shared some thoughts about the sacrament - I had a piece of bread about the size of a grape. You get small and large grapes, but this was sort of a medium sized grape. And the water was also a small quantity. These were really welcome as we were fasting, and the sacrament has particularly special meaning to me while fasting.

My mind turned to the experiences when Jesus Christ provided bread and wine for some people. In what we refer to as the Last Supper He probably broke bread into about 13 pieces and shared this bread and wine for Himself and His twelve apostles. That bread and wine might have been larger portions than a grape.

Then He broke bread and gave it to 5000 people, sharing but five loaves and two fishes, and the multitude did all eat and were filled. I wondered how long it took Him to break the bread and what size portions He broke. In His visit to the Nephites He administered bread and wine to apparently 2500 people as He introduced them to the sacrament. He first gave to the 12 disciples. After they had eaten and were filled from bread that He had broken, they were then instructed to serve the bread to the multitude who, in turn, had eaten and were filled. He then gave them wine and they did all drink and were filled. Them all being filled sounds as though the pieces of bread may have been larger than a medium sized grape. 

I have often wondered what someone sitting at the edge of the crowd might have been thinking as the basket was passed around. Whether the basket was large with people reaching deep into them, or small with bread visible above the brim, might some have wondered - 'Will the basket have anything in it when it reaches me? Will it even reach me?'

It is remarkable that when He served, there was enough and to spare, with twelve baskets of fragments being gathered up after the multitude had departed following the feeding of the 5000. How often do we look at things and worry that we will not get anything, or that we will lose out, or that we cannot have enough for ourselves, let alone sharing with others? It takes quite a paradigm shift to get ourselves thinking in harmony with the way the Saviour taught, as in John  17:21-22, that we strive to become one with Father and Son. This goes even a leap further as we are each promised in D&C 84:33-38 'all that the Father has' as we enter into the new and oath and covenant of the priesthood. I was impressed when my brother pointed out that the Father does not only have everything that is in the Earth and all of His creation, but He also has the power to create all of those things. That is a mighty promise!

I think that many people focus on the concept that they can buy anything in this world with money rather than simply working to have sufficient for their needs, and then continuing to work 'by the sweat of thy face' to share of their surplus with others. I hope that I shall always be able to unselfishly share of my surplus with others and be confident that there is enough and to spare.

16 November 2021

Miracles - By Matthew Cowley, apparently in 1953



By Matthew Cowley, apparently in 1953

This is a talk that I very frequently shared with those that we were teaching while I served as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during 1973 and 1974. It was good to listen to it again as I worked on the transcription. I hope that you will enjoy pondering on what Elder Cowley said way back then, apparently in 1953, the year before I was born. I found that the audio and text are already available, so I shall simply refer you to that source.

Listen to and read the talk.

Profile of a Prophet - By Hugh B Brown


Profile of a Prophet 

By Hugh B Brown, apparently 1955

This is a talk that I very frequently shared with those that we were teaching while I served as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during 1973 and 1974. It was good to listen to it again as I worked on the transcription. I hope that you will enjoy pondering on what Elder Brown said way back then, apparently in 1955, the year after I was born. After doing the transcription I found that the audio and text are already available, so I shall simply refer you to that source, although I leave my transcription below.

Listen to and read the talk.


Teacher, author, theologian and an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm happy to introduce to your Elder Hugh B Brown. 

Elder Brown:

I should like to dispense with all formality, if I may, and say to faculty members and student body alike, 'my brothers and sisters'. 

I adopt that form of salutation for several reasons among them being the fact that all, or practically all who are here are members of the church which is sponsoring and maintaining this school. And secondly, I say brothers and sisters, because in my more mature years, I am coming to realize I think, a little better than I did, the eternal fact of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. I say brothers and sisters too, because I do not intend to undertake a sermon, a lecture, certainly not an oration, but I would like for just a few minutes to bear my testimony to you people. 

I'd like to take the witness stand in defense of the proposition that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth in our day, and that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. 

I say I would like to take the witness stand. I'd like to be able, if I could, for just a minute to give some reasons for the hope I have, and for my allegiance to the church. Perhaps I can bring it to you most quickly by referring to an incident that happened in London, England in 1939. In September, just before the outbreak of the war, I had come to know rather intimately very prominent English gentleman. A member of the House of Commons, a member of the cabinet, formerly one of the justices on the Supreme Court, and the author of many of the books, which we in Canada studied while we were preparing for law. And in my conversations with this man on various vexations of the soul, as he called them, we talked frequently of religion. That before the outbreak of the war, and he called me on the phone and asked if I would come to his office and discuss with him, finally, some phrases of the gospel, because he says 'I've been intrigued by what you're told me. I think there's going to be a war is you have to return to America and we may not meet again. The latter statement proved to the prophetic. 

I went to his office, and he said this, in effect. 'I'm not only intrigued, but troubled by some things you've told me, and I wonder if you would be so good as to prepare for me a brief on Mormonism?' 

I may say to you students that a brief is something that men like President Wilkinson prepare when they're going into a court with the intention of presenting their case and giving their reasons for their position on any given question. 

He said, 'Will you prepare a brief on Mormonism, and come and let me be the judge, and you discuss Mormonism before me as you would discuss a legal problem?' He said 'First, I'd like to say to you that you have said to me a time or two that you believe the Joseph Smith was a prophet. You have said to me that you think that Jesus of Nazareth and God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith.' Now he said to me, 'That's fantastic.' He said 'The thing I'm troubled about is the fact that, as a barrister and solicitor from Canada, a man trained in logic and evidence could give me himself over to such palpably absurd ideas.' Now this man, brothers and sisters, this great judge, one of the, one of most intellectual men I ever met, I think he had the most incisive mind. He's mind, his mind seemed to me to be almost like a field fact. And when he said, 'What you tell me about Joseph Smith is fantastic', I was bold enough to suggest to him that we, perhaps, should prepare to go forward right then with our discussion. 

I said 'I'd like to present my brief right now.' He had intimated that I'd probably take three days, at least, to prepare for it, because he said 'I'm going to get the three hours in which present it. When I told him I was ready at the moment, I suggested to him that we have what in Canadian and English law, and to some extent in this country, is called an 'examination for discovery'.

Examination of discovery' is, briefly, getting together all the opposing sides, the attorneys, and the plaintiff, and the defendant, and seeing if they can find some area of agreement, and this save the time of the court later on. I said 'Perhaps we can have an examination for discovery here to see whether there is some area of agreement and from there, we can start to discuss my fantastic ideas. He agreed to that quite readily, and I said 'Of course, I am proceeding on the assumption that you are a Christian?' 


'I assume you believe the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, to be the word of God?' 

'I do.' 

'You mean what's written in the book?'


'You say that my statements that God spoke to a man in this age is fantastic, and absurd?' 

'To me it is.' 

'Do you believe that God ever did speak to anyone?' 

'Well, certainly. All through the Bible we have evidence of that?' 

'Did he speak to Adam?'


'Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and on through the Prophets?' 

'I believe he spoke to every one of them.'

'You believe that that time of contact between God and man, ceased at the meridian of time, or when Jesus appeared?' 

'No,' he said 'it reached its climax, its apex on that occasion.'

'Do you believe that God spoke to Jesus?' 


'Was He the son of God?' 

'He was.' 

'Do you believe, sir, that', and I'm going to have to shorten this considerably, because I said it took me three hours to tell it to him and I must tell it to you in less than 30 minutes, 'Do you believe, sir, that after Jesus was resurrected, and after he ascended into heaven, and I assume you think you He did ascend to heaven?'

'I do.' 

'Do you believe that a certain lawyer, sometimes referred to as a tentmaker, by the name of Paul of Tarsus, on his way to Damascus contacted that very individual, namely Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified, and had ascended into heaven, do you believe that Saul saw a light and heard a voice?'

'I do.'

'Whose voice was it?'

'It was the voice of Jesus Christ, for He so introduced himself.'

He said 'I think I'll have to admit that, except that it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.'

'Then, milord', and that's the way we speak to justices in the British Empire, 'Milord, I am submitting to you, in all seriousness, that it is, has been standard procedure, throughout all recorded time, for God to talk to men.'

'Why did it stop?' 

'I can't say.' 

'You think that God hasn't spoken since then?'

'I'm sure He hasn't.' 

'There must be a reason, can you give me a reason?' 

'I do not know.'

'May I suggest a reason, or several? Perhaps God does not speak to men anymore because he can't. He's lost the power.'

He said 'Of course, that would be blasphemous.' 

'Well, then, if you don't accept that, perhaps he doesn't speak to men anymore because he doesn't love us anymore. He's gone off and left us to find our own way in the dark.' 

But he said 'God loves all men, of all ages, and is no respecter of persons.' 

'Well, then, if he could speak, if he loves us, then the only other possible answer, as I see it, is that we don't need Him. We made such rapid strides, we're so well educated, we have such great science, we don't need God anymore.' 

And then he said, and his eyes were moist when he said it 'Mr Brown, there never was an age in the history of the world, there never was a people, or a time when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now.' And then he said to me 'Can you tell me why he doesn't?'

My answer was, 'Milord, He does. He has spoken, He is now speaking, and all we need is the faith to hear Him.' 

And then we proceeded, to, rather quickly, and I must not refer to very much of what we proceeded to do, but we proceeded to prepare what I have been pleased to call a 'Profile of a Prophet'. Now, I wonder if you students would like to fill in various things that I'm now going to mention, and add to them as you will, and then see whether Joseph Smith measures up. Stand him up against that profile, and see where he comes in. 

We agreed, between us, in pursuit of our examination for discovery of ground on which we both stand. 

First, we agreed that any man who claimed to be a prophet of God, also claimed to have been spoken to by God. 

We agreed that any man so claiming would be a dignified man: no table jumping; no whispering from the dead; no clairvoyance, but a dignified, clear statement of truth. 

We agreed that any man claiming to be a prophet of God, would declare his message without any fear, courageously, and without making any weak concessions to public opinion. 

We agreed that, if he were speaking for God, he could not make concessions, and we agreed that ordinarily what he taught was not in harmony with the generally accepted teachings of the day. 

We agreed that such a man would speak in the name of the Lord and say 'Thus saith the Lord' as Moses, Jeremiah and others. 

We agreed that such a man would predict future events, and predict them in the name of God, and that they would come the pass, as Isaiah and Ezekiel. 

We agreed that he would have, not only an important message for his time, but ordinarily a message for all future time, such as Noah and Malachi and others.

We agreed that his courage in deporting his people would be such that would enable him, not only to endure persecution, but to give him his life, if need be, for the cause he had espoused, such as Daniel, Hosea, Joel, David and others. 

We agreed that such a man would denounce wickedness fearlessly, that he would generally be rejected by the people of his time, but that as time went on, he'd grow in stature, and that they who put him to death would find, if they could live on, that their descendants would build monuments to his honor. 

We agreed that he would do many superhuman things, things that no man could do without God's help. 

We agreed that as he grows in stature, the consequence of his work would be among the most convincing evidences of his calling. 'By their fruits, ye shall know them. 

We agreed that his teachings would be in strict conformity with scripture. 

We agreed that his words and his writing what become scripture. 

Now I've gone quickly and left out a lot that you can fill in, but I asked you, in all seriousness, to stand the prophet Joseph Smith up against that profile of prophets, and see whether he measures up, and as a student of the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith for more than fifty years, I say to young men and women, there is no claim that any prophet has made in connection with his prophetic calling that Joseph Smith cannot qualify under. Think it through. 

I said to this friend of mine, 'I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and God, because he talks like a prophet, he taught like a Prophet, he lived and died like a prophet. I believe he was a prophet of God because He gave to this world some of the greatest of all revelation. I believe that he was a prophet of God because he predicted many things in the future which have come to pass since the prediction, things which only God could bring to pass.' 

I said to him, and I say to you, 'I believe that Joseph Smith was `a prophet of God because John, on the island Patmos, beloved disciple of Jesus, declared that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.' And I submit to you, as I submitted to him, that if any man who ever lived had a testimony of Jesus, and gave his life for that testimony, and was effective in spreading the testimony and bringing convincing evidences of the truth of the statement that Jesus is the Christ, of all the men that have lived, I challenge any man that to show one who was given us more real evidences of the divine calling of Jesus Christ than did the prophet Joseph Smith. 

I believe the prophet Joseph Smith was a prophet because he did do many superhuman things. One of them was translating the Book of Mormon. Some people will not agree on that, but I submit to you, and I shall refer, I think to [?]. I submit to you that the Prophet Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Mormon did a superhuman task. 

I invite you to go out and write a Book of Mormon. I ask you to write one chapter of a Book of Mormon. I ask you to write, if you can, any kind of a story of the ancient inhabitants of America, and I ask you to write it without any source material, and I ask you to include in your statements with respect to the ancient inhabitants of America, some of the things that the Prophet Joseph included in the Book of Mormon. I ask you to write, for instance, 54 chapters dealing with war, 21 historical chapters, 55 on visions and prophecies, and remember, when you begin to write on visions and prophecies, you must have your record agree meticulously with the scriptures. You will write 71 chapters on doctrine and exhortation, and here, too you must check every statement with the scriptures, or you will be proven to be a fraud. You must write 21 chapters on the ministry of Christ and everything you claim He said and did, and every testimony you write in your book about Him must agree absolutely with the New Testament. I ask you, would like to undertake such a task? I would suggest to you, too, what you're up against in connection with this book, you're going to go write other chapters, you're going to have to introduce here figures of speech, similes, metaphors, narration, exposition, description, oratory, epic, lyric, logic and parable. Undertake that, will you? 

I ask those of you who are under 20 to undertake it. I ask you to remember that the man that translated the Book of Mormon, was a young man, and he hadn't had the opportunity of schooling that you have had, and yet he dictated that book in just a little over two months, and made few, if any, corrections. 

And for over 100 years, some of the best students and scholars in the world have been trying to prove that the Book of Mormon was not the word of God and they've taken the Bible to try to prove it, and not one of them has been able to prove that anything he wrote, was not in strict harmony with the Scriptures, with the Bible, with the Word of God. The Book of Mormon not only declared in entirety, that its purpose is to bring the knowledge right to the people, but the whole of the subject matter has that as its central theme. And there is no chapter in all literature, sacred or profane, which I say to you as a lawyer, has greater evidential value than the chapters in third Nephi where multitudes of people said 'We saw him. We felt of His hands and His side. We know He is the Christ'. 

I said to my friend 'Milord, I cannot understand you saying to me that my claims are fantastic. Nor can I understand why Christians who claim to believe in Christ, would persecute and put to death a man whose whole purpose was to prove the truths of the things they themselves were declaring, namely that Jesus was the Christ. I can understand them persecuting Joseph Smith and the rest of us if he had said 'I am Christ', or if he had said 'There is no Christ', or if he had said someone else is Christ. Then Christians believing in Christ might be justified, to some extent, at least, in persecuting, or disputing with him at least, but what he said was 'He whom ye ignorantly serve declare I unto you', paraphrasing what Paul said in Athens 'He whom you ignorantly worship declare I unto you'. Joseph came to Christians and said to them 'You've been in claiming to believe in Jesus Christ. I say to you that I saw Him, and I talked with Him. He is the Son of God.' 

When Joseph came out of that wood, at least four fundamentals truths came out with him. And he announced them tot he world. First, that the Father and the Son are separate and distinct individuals. Secondly, that the canon of scripture is not complete. Third, that man was created in the image of God. Fourth, that revelation, or the channel between the Earth and the heavens is open, and it continues. 

I'd like to say to you students there's nothing as far as I am concerned in all our claims finer and more challenging to students in any field of activity than the one which says. 'We not only believe what God has revealed has does reveal but we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.' That is a challenge to research! It is a challenge to check on what we believe. It is a challenge to bring your beliefs, your thoughts, your education, your lives up to date. 

May I just say to you, and perhaps come of you are wondering, what was the reaction of this judge when we finished. He sat and listened intently, he asked some very pointed and searching questions, and at the end of the period, he said 'Mr Brown, I wonder if your people appreciate the importance of your message. Do you?' He said 'If what you have told me is true, it is the greatest message that has come to this Earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ. This was a judge speaking, a great statesman, an intelligent man. He threw out the challenge 'Do you appreciate the import of what you say?' He said 'I wish it was true. I hope it may be true. God knows it ought to be true. I would to God', he said, and He wept as he said it, 'that some man could appear on the earth, and authoritatively say 'Thus saith the Lord.'

As I intimated, we did not meet again. But I bring you just in the briefest form, two or three reasons why I believe that Joseph Smith, was a prophet of God. But, undergirding and overarching all the rest, I say to you from the very center of my heart. 'I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And all of these evidences and many other that could be cited, may have the effect of giving me, in a sense an intellectual conviction, but by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, one may come to know, and by those whisperings, I say, I do know, and I thank God for that knowledge and pray for His blessing upon all of you in the name of Jesus. Christ. Amen.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

10 July 2021

When the prophet speaks, the dabate is over

I am a scientist. I have heard several people say the very same thing recently. They have said it in order to convince you and me that we can believe what they are saying about very serious things, the most notable at present being COVID-19 and our approach to it as people, governments, families and communities.

You know, I never thought about the fact that I am a scientist until I heard a colleague say to someone on the phone 'Ek is 'n wetenskaplike by Kirstenbosch'. That was in 1985. Both he and I were working on our Master of Science degrees. That meant that each of us had a Bachelor of science degree - that we were scientists. That was not the destination of our journey, but we were on the journey. I still am on the journey. I am now retired after working in scientific research at Kirstenbosch for more than a third of a century. 

I am a scientist. I love being able to say that, but, as such, one of the most important things that I know is how much I do not know about the great and grand scope of science!  There is so very much to know in science, medicine, chemistry, physics, ecology, genetics, biochemistry, botany, zoology, microbiology, evolution, statistics, data analysis, simulations, engineering, astronomy, geography, population studies, and so many other disciplines in science, that I do not pretend to be an expert in very much. But this admission does not negate my statement that I am a scientist.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I hope that you can also say this of yourself. I have come to know Him through many small and great experiences and observations over my years of studying His words and His ways. Far more important than how much I know is how much my being a disciple of Jesus Christ has changed me on the inside, my desires, my motives, my devotion, my testimony, and so much more. Far more important than knowing about or believing in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, I have come to know God. And so can you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I know that He is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that He has a living prophet in 2021. I cannot emphasise adequately how happy I am to know that the Lord made sure that Russell M Nelson was called in 1984, and was the senior apostle when Thomas S Monson passed away, just months before we would be blessed to be guided by this world renowned heart surgeon. It is not by accident that this 94 year old had not died due to old age, some accident, not even a snow skiing accident! He was and is the Lord's anointed at this time in the history of the world. I thank thee, O god, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.

I recently wrote an article in my blog about the many kinds of voices that sound around us. I am amazed at how many voices there are telling us so many confusing and conflicting things about racism, politics, theology, crime, corruption, secret combinations, signs of the times, economics, COVID, vaccines, lockdown, and so many disciplines. How can you and I ever hope to navigate these troubled and troubling waters in this world of strong debate? How can the street sweeper, the domestic servant, the goat herd, the carpenter, the architect, the medical doctor, the lawyer, the politician, the scientist, know what is truth? How can we possibly know everything that we need in order to successfully reach our eternal destination that Heavenly Father wants us to reach? 

Being familiar with the Word of God to all of His children as contained in the holy scriptures is really important. Being familiar with His word to us individually in our patriarchal blessings is important. But as important as it might be knowing about Him and having information about Him, it is far better to know Him, His grace and mercy, and to strive to become like Him. 

My personal experience is that He does speak to me as I prayerfully and humbly study His word. I am confident that He is not likely to come and deliver some personal message to me about the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel to Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist or Joseph Smith if I neglect to read about their testimonies in the scriptures that are available to me. The same applies to any question that I may have if I neglect to study what He 'has already revealed', before expecting that 'He will yet reveal many great and important things' to me that I have neglected to read about in what He has already revealed to prophets and apostles in the past. 

I have thought a lot about the statement that I heard years ago. In 1978, Elaine Cannon said "When the prophet speaks, sisters, the debate is over." (Elaine Cannon, “If We Want to Go Up, We Have to Get On,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 108). 

I know that Heavenly Father loves me enough, and He loves that goatherd on the hills of Transkei, Israel or Chile, or the carpenter in Nazareth, Canada or Australia that He will not expect each of us to figure out which of the conflicting voices to follow when He has called and anointed a living prophet to lead us in 2021. Let us examine the fruits of the prophet of our day and follow his example and give our devoted effort to knowing the truths that He has revealed rather than spending countless hours studying the many conflicting voices that contradict what His prophet says and does. The prophet has spoken, so I have full faith that the debate is over.

We are all equal in the sight of God. Yes, you and I are unique, we are individuals, we are not all the same. There may be one or two things in which our needs are different to the 'average population' in a statistical trial. But I would be very surprised if I am the exception in a lot of things that make my path to Heavenly blessings the 'exception to the rule'. I may need to use a different herb to you to heal myself, or I may need a different food that does not have an allergen, but if I follow the Lord's standards then I am confident that I can safely cross the Red Sea that He has parted despite the voices that say, truthfully, that it is not safe to walk across the bottom of the Red Sea as this deluded man thinks just because he managed to survive being in a basket in the Nile. Many might also have said that Moses was irrational when saying that they simply needed to look upon a brazen serpent if bitten by the deadly serpents in the wilderness in order to be healed. What about those who were sure that the manna in the wilderness had not been tested by sufficient double blind trials and been proven safe for human consumption? 

Following the prophet does not necessarily mean that what the politician, doctor, scientist or lawyer is saying is wrong, false, or misleading. It is simply saying that it is less important to our eternal destiny the following the Lord's prophet.  

The Lord has said through His anointed prophet that social distancing, masks, sanitizing, avoiding gatherings are good for us now, and I follow the example of the prophet. I shared with my family after viewing yet another person speaking against the way that their government is handling the COVID pandemic.

I find it interesting that an apparently prominent 'scientist', medical doctor and attorney, says that COVID is just a flu. She remarks that there is much less flu being reported since COVID hit.

I am a scientist. One of the greatest things that I know as a scientist is how little I know!

I look at the flu and consider how much less flu I have had since retiring more than two years ago. Less exposure, less flu. So - does less flu because COVID is here mean that COVID is just flu? Are the flu and COVID mutually exclusive? Or - has the lockdown reduced the transmission of flu because of social distancing, masks, isolation, sanitizing and avoiding gatherings? I suggest that the reduction of flu might give an indication of how much more COVID there might have been without the lockdown. If flu is half with lockdown, then it might follow that COVID might have been about double without the lockdown.

Just some random ramblings from this old bloke 😉

I am grateful for the restored Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days, for the restored priesthood, for the restored prophetic leadership in these days, and for the restored fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a scientist and I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. I do not know everything, but I know enough about God, and I have come to know God. I pray that each of you will hear Him and know Him, and know that He lives and loves you enough to lead you through His anointed prophet in 2021.

31 May 2021

Thy will be done on Earth - as it is in heaven

Every time that we had assembly at school, I think it was once each week, we would all recite together -

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

I have often reflected on that, and I frequently review the words of the prayer that Jesus of Nazareth taught to His disciples, saying to them 'After this manner therefore pray ye:'

I frequently go through that prayer, phrase by phrase, as I reflect on its relevance and meaning in my life, and I sometimes use that as the skeleton for my prayer, hallowing His name by reflecting on all of the things for which I am thankful. I then ask for those things that I need, like daily bread, forgiveness, compassion, deliverance from evil, harm, danger, ill health, and unpleasant things that are so prevalent about me. I then acknowledge His kingdom, power and glory, and His invitation for me to be part of that work, kingdom, power and glory. I reflect on the Saviour addressing His father, and reminding us that His Father is our Father, making us of the household of God, heirs, joint heirs with Christ, inviting us to be one with Him as He is one with His Father.

Regarding that phrase 'Thy will be done on Earth as it is is Heaven', I often ask that I can be part of Him bringing about His will, being and doing things in harmony with His will. The last thing that I want is to be acting in opposition to His will. I may not be the ideal instrument in the hands of the creator, the artist, the master, but I hope that I can help Him to produce some things of worth and beauty.

'Thy will be done on Earth' - Is there any part of Earth that is exempted? Any country, continent or island? Is there any group of people exempted? Is there any single person that is exempted? I think that this is the most all-inclusive concept.

I marvel at the thought of how absolutely wonderful this world would be if every single person simply lived the Ten Commandments written by the Lord on stone and given to Moses. How much more glorious would the world be if everyone followed the higher law shared in the Sermon on the Mount in the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew in the New Testament, during which He gave this Lord's Prayer as we now call it?

I hope that each and every one of us will pray with real intent that the will of God will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, and then go forth and live according to His will so that His will can be done, at least in our little parts of Earth, as it is in Heaven.

Promise for someone desiring to resign their membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I frequently hear from people who no longer wish to have their names on the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often incorrectly referred to as the 'Mormon Church'. This is often because they have chosen to associate themselves with some other Christian church. They can resign their membership by writing and signing a request to this effect to their bishop. 

I invite anyone considering resigning their membership, and any reader - you - to consider two challenges. I promise you a wonderful experience whether or not you remain a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There is a period of 30 days that is allowed for reconsidering your request to resign your membership. I promise that, if it is important to you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, then you will be a better disciple of Jesus Christ if you will accept my challenge during these 30 days, whether you choose to remain a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - or not.

Resigning your membership means that you will be without all of your ordinances of baptism, priesthood, and temple, as they will all be revoked and all membership privileges will be removed. When you realise that you wish to have these restored, it will probably not be a very easy way back to have these blessings restored - although it is absolutely possible. If it is not important to you, well, then nothing really matters anyway. 

During the next 30 days that you have to reconsider your resignation from the Church, I invite you to do two things. Whatever you do that I challenge you will result in your being a better disciple of Jesus Christ if that is truly the desire of your heart. It will draw you closer to the Messiah.

My first challenge is that, as you want to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, then during this period, read about 7 pages each day from the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and prayerfully seek to hear and follow Jesus Christ. Remember how merciful He has been unto the children of men, even from the days of Adam until now, and ponder it in your heart, and pray to know what He would have you do. Less than about 7 pages per day will not get you to finish the four Gospels in 30 days, but it will bless your life as His disciple. Completing the whole exercise will be a life changing experience for you. 

My second challenge is that you then prayerfully review each of the 13 Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and write down what you believe as your own 13 articles of faith. Prayerfully ask yourself if you really cannot agree with the 13 Articles of the church. If not, well then, resigning your membership will be advisable. But please do not take these challenges lightly. I repeat that I promise you a wonderful experience whether or not you remain a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if you will take these two challenges to heart.

In all of this, I invite you to reflect on why it was that you chose to commit to the covenants that you made when you were interviewed before your baptism. You would have been asked:

  • If you believed that God is our Heavenly Father, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Saviour and Redeemer of the world?
  • If you believed that the Church has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, that the then current Church President is a prophet of God and what this meant to you?
  • You would have been asked about your understanding of repentance and if you felt that you had repented of your past sins?
  • You would have been asked if you understood the standards of the Church and if you were willing to obey them, including obeying the law of chastity, the law of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, keeping the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to others?
  • You would have been asked if you were willing to take upon you the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life and if you were ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?

You would have made those commitments yourself - you were not an infant whose parents were making the choice for you. Think back and remember what you felt and why you made those commitments and why you have forgotten those promises and are not keeping them anymore. Ask the Lord if you need to make any changes in your life. I promise that He will answer your prayers if you ask - this was what reassured Joseph Smith that he could believe the promise to ask of God if he lacked wisdom. We all lack wisdom and need to ask of God. I trust that you will do so. I promise that He will give liberally and not upbraid if you ask in faith, nothing wavering.

14 May 2021

I was interested to read in my journal from 1979

I was interested to read in my journal from 18 November 1979 - and I found the following.

'Just recently Gerald Wiffen challenged us in his Sunday School class to pray to find out if Joseph Smith was a prophet. Well, on several occasions I have done this in the last few years, but never feel a burning in my bosom. This time, though, last week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, I began the day on my knees praying aloud and pleading for a witness.
'What concerns me is that I do not want to be looking for a sign, and am not sure if this is not what I am indeed seeking. Well, after over an hour of thus pleading and feeling empty, for I have heard it said that once, having received a witness about something, we receive no more witness - we must live on that experience. So, I begged for a re-witness, re-confirmation, but felt nothing.
'After this long time of pleading, I said that if I received no answer, did I quit living the Gospel? and I simply could not do this. I explained that I know of no better way, this gospel makes sense to me, and I just cannot deny that I believe it to be true. I explained this, and then I began to feel the warmth in me. Then the re-assurance came. So, I have committed to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and if this is wrong, which I cannot conceive it to be, I must ask for God to intercede in my life as He did for Saul of Tarsus and for Alma the Younger, because to the best of my ability, and with my most noble and righteous intent, I will work to build this, what I believe to be the kingdom of God on Earth. I have committed to promote this work.
'If the gospel is not true, I can only accept it to mean that, either God does not live, or else He does not have a church on the Earth. I cannot accept either of these options, because I believe that I have had a spiritual witness, and while I do not have a perfect knowledge, but only a faith, I can only trust that this faith is well founded.'
I had visited Gerald and Marie a few times in Panorama Ward in Cape Town. I had not remembered Gerald teaching me, but there you are! I hope that his testimony burns at least as strongly as mine did back in 1979 when I wrote thi, and evidently his testimony burned strongly then.

06 May 2021

My Home, My Environment and Myself

I wrote this in 1971. I cannot recall why I wrote this. It is on letter paper and not A4 sheets as used at school. I wonder if it might have been written for an application to go abroad with a student exchange programme, potentially to Germany or France.

I live in a happy and religious home where love abounds a great deal of the time, and yet I, and my family are human, we have the family scraps and arguments, but we trying to prevent these all of the time. We have had serious scraps, but being of partly Irish blood we are hardheaded quick-tempered, but, after considering the position, we generally come out improved after our quarrels.

Our home is humble, but it is a home. It holds many worldly conveniences and luxuries, but there are always areas where we are lacking finance or assets so that we are reminded not to be extravagant.

We have no servant as such, a garden boy comes in and helps out, but we are used to working around the home to keep it tidy and make it look like a lived-in Home and yet to be pleasing to the eyes of guests.

In the home are things which provide opportunities to improve our talents, my sister plays the piano well and I attempt to do this with little success. I can play well enough to enjoy it and yet badly enough to be annoyed that I did not persist in lessons.

A thing which has always been about my home and family is the attitude towards other people, they always refer to us as snobs or proud or some such title, but when they come to visit us and join in the fun which we have at home or in the activities that we have as families, they see that we are different, certainly, but we are likeable people with our own problems and that we are yet happy and hospitable. We have many true friends who love to visit us, and not only out of courtesy. Our high standards of morality restrict us from doing certain things, but our human qualities allow us to have joy and happiness, and fun in life.

I have always had at my disposal good literature and films and I love to dance and sing and to choose well the films that I see. My parents do not dictate to me which films I should or should not see, but if I decide on anything outrageous or out of my reason, I am corrected and yet not restricted, I still make up my own mind and usually, mostly choose the right.

I have had the opportunity to mix with many people, people of an entirely different background to my own, and this I have done especially during two periods totalling three weeks when I went around proselyting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as I went and stayed, in both cases with an American companion, studying with him, praying and living with him, I grew to love him. I met also many people, people who slammed doors in our faces, people who cursed and swore at us, people who listened to us either sincerely or insincerely, I saw that it was possible, and I did love them all in spite of what they might have done to us. I found that I could mix well with these people, understand them and love them.

I have always led a religious life and yet have attended and almost non-religious school, have associated with people who swear and curse and profane and who constantly think evil thoughts, and my influence has worn off on them, and yet I have managed to prevent myself from using the evil words and thoughts much to the joy of my parents

I am grateful for the discipline and strict environment which I enjoy and I like to know that I am “in the world, but not of it”.

I have always cherished my high standards and the high standards in my acquaintances. I loved the three weeks of missionary work when high standards were almost the order of the day. Yet I can humbly say ‘thank you’ to every-one who has helped me to keep my standards.

I have a heavy responsibility on my shoulders, a good family-name and personal name, although I am highly embarrassed when publicly congratulated on my achievements, I know that I can be thankful for the encouragement given by these compliments for it is heartbreaking and discouraging to see when I fall just a fraction of the way down my eternal ladder of progression. I know also that it is with eyes such as of hawks or eagles that people watch me, hoping that I will fall or slip, but I fight the lazy self of me and constantly keep my head above the turbulent and troubled water of my environment. I have a good reputation for being honest, honorable and of honouring other people's feelings, chastity and attitudes and I pray that I can live up to this reputation.

I have learned both the values and vices of seriousness and a good sense of humour at work and at play and I can happily say that I have both of these qualities. I can be serious when this is necessary and yet I can enjoy jokes and joke along with my pals and yet keep a serious watch on my good behaviour.

I am happy to say that I have been good at my studies at school and have always had an above-average performance. I have a good control of the English language and I have a good vocabulary enabling me to use words to replace any swear words that might feel to creep in, so that I can do this controlling my speech efficiently.

I have been taught to live a Word of Wisdom which encourages me to refrain from the use of tea, coffee, tobacco and liquor and also uses of certain foods to help to keep good health. This law is lived by most Latter-day Saints, all good Saints the world over. The ‘Mormons’ or Latter-day Saints are noted for good health and for refraining from these things.

I am a priest in the church. Strange as this may seem for a young man of seventeen years of age, but at twelve I was found worthy enough as my brothers and many of my friends, to be ordained Deacons. This office has been an aid to me in keeping my standard which I have set for myself. I have to act in such and such a way that would be becoming to of a priest and I seldom for short though I must admit, I am not perfect in this aspect as in few others.

I enjoy many talents which I try to improve, but one thing, a good principle that I lack is automotivation and this prevents me from being a still better student and person. I am naturally a lazy person in those things which are not particularly interesting for me.

I have set many goals in life, the one being to study further as a doctor and then to specialise in the field of bone study and manipulation. I want to qualify in this because I feel that I should be of help to people in need and I know that I can, if I push myself, be successful in this field.

I enjoy fairly good health although in the past, two years ago I was seriously taken by a weak chest and constantly fell ill with colds or chest trouble, but this year I have not missed a single day of school and last year a cold made me miss two days, otherwise I feel that I have overcome this. Other than this I have a sound body, strong and resistant to many ills. I have had a few of the serious illnesses namely: measles, chicken pox, and so forth.

I have said a lot about my virtues but little of my shortcomings, so let me pull myself off the shelf for a while to examine myself.

I am constantly moaned at because I moan, but this I do under serious circumstances, but ask my friends and I am sure they will agree that I am reasonable company. I do not impose too much on them at all.

As I have said, I am lazy, or rather, I budget my time rather unwisely. I know that I must really improve myself here and this is a serious problem causing much contention in the home.

I am a procrastinator, when there is work to be done, I am rather slothful in doing it. Yet sometimes I can do better than most people and getting down to a job of work.

I have many faults as do all people, I cannot name them all because to call them to mind would be difficult because they almost seem good as do things of the sort which are small shortcomings.

I think that this is a fairly good description of my life and I think maybe it could have been better, I am not very eloquent, but I trust that it shall suffice.

Leslie W. Powrie, 1971

The photograph, I fear, is 2 years old but is the same as the one on my ID card. I have no more recent portrait photograph. I now wear spectacles.

05 April 2021

Recalling my final year of high school 50 years ago and life since then

My blazer pocket badge that I have in a drawer.
CARPE VIAM means "Seize the road"

This is shared here for my fellow classmates of Florida Park High School who celebrate 50 years since we matriculated in 1971. Anyone else who is interested is welcome to read about it. 

Greetings from the Fairest Cape in the Whole Circumference of the Earth. I am Les Powrie, quiet, fairly good at Maths and Technical drawing, otherwise pretty much under that radar. I am amused that my highest marks were in Maths and Technical drawing – and my lowest ever mark was in Primary School – for a test in Arithmetic. Go figure… A red circle around a low mark…

I married Sally Swindell who was at Krugersdorp High School. She is the daughter of Simon Swindell whom some of you might remember. Well, I moved to Cape Town in 1981 to marry her because she was studying medicine at UCT. We have three daughters and two sons, managed to provide good educations for each of them, at present four are married and we have 8 grandchildren and another two on the way.

I've lived in Cape Town since 1981. I worked at Kirstenbosch for more than a third of a century. Life is wonderful. I hope that it has been wonderful for my fellow Class of 71 mates. Here is a little bit of my life – I understand if you think it is way too long and do not bother reading it all J

I was chairman of the Photographic Club at FPHS for a while - I still enjoy photography... I think the chair (Ken Pettey was that you?) was going overseas for a few months and it was suggested that I stand in for him. I kind of wondered if my being asked to lead the photographic club was the reason that, partway through matric I was appointed as a prefect. I never knew that being a prefect meant that I would have to read a scripture in assembly! Suddenly, I was told that I was on in a few minutes. One of the other prefects (Louise [Bibb] Helps – was that you?) suggested that I use the default 1 Corinthans 13. What a wonderful world we would live in if we all, or even half of the people, lived by what that chapter says!

Some of us in the photographic club were treated to a flip in a small aircraft as a reward
for winning a competition. Here are two views of part of the West Rand in 1971. 
Two of the walkers in the 100 hour walk.
This is a photo of me at the time
Jake the Peg who sang at a fete or something
The rubber stamp for the Photo Club
Roy Jackson - did he matriculate with us?

I value my time and association with you – my fellow Parkies. Some of you I do not remember, and probably some I really did not know… We were a fairly large group. Some of you live in treasured memories of times spent together, things that I learned from you, and your friendship. During the years I have spent time with Ken Pettey (at Onderstepoort) and Peter Laubscher (working for the Leprosy Mission in Cape Town), Louise Helps (now in Provo, Utah, USA?). I bumped into Graham Wilks at Wits. Have I left out anyone? Otherwise, I have not been much of a pal to any of you. Sorry if that is a disappointment to anyone L

I was in the army, Engineers Corps in Kroonstad, and they needed a chef and I volunteered since my Mom had taught me to cook, and I worked in the officers’ mess until the end of my nine months (the very last intake to do nine months!), doing wonderful catering, formal dinners, three course meals, and sommer alles, yep, even peeling potatoes and washing dishes. I remember the comment that the officers and the Sappers (the Private rank in Engineers Corps) get the same rations, but the chefs do very different things with those rations. Well, I got to do chef work in Kroonstad, then during my time in the Reserves at army battle school at Lohathla and on the border at Oshakati. I was glad that my mother had taught me to bake, cook, and all because it helped me to have a very fulfilling time in the Defence Force.

I then served for two years as a missionary in South Africa for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Then I started my studies at Wits in 1975. BSc majoring in botany and zoology, including chemistry, physics, biochemistry, ecology, genetics, biometry, and even a course in English literature since we had to do one arts course towards our degree. It took me four years to do the three year degree – I had to repeat first year Botany and Zoology, both my majors… I then did BSc (Hons) in plant ecophysiology. I enjoyed what I learned, but it was clear to me that I had an engineering brain, practical, and not academic. I relate to a comment made by my older brother who said of himself ‘I am just a worker’. Yep – I have some impact as a scientist, but I found my niche as a worker using my engineering brain to find technological solutions to ecological problems for which my studies equipped me well to understand biodiversity and ecology for which I could find solutions using technology.

I worked for a year at Pratley Perlite Mining Company as an horticultural chemist before moving to Cape Town. I then worked as a laboratory technician at University of Stellenbosch Medical School for more than 18 months, then taught at Herzlia Middle School for two years. Then I joined National Botanical Gardens to study for an MSc in plant chemical taxonomy. Thus started my affiliation with Kirstenbosch (National Botanical Gardens, Botanical Research Institute, National Botanical Institute, finally becoming South African National Biodiversity Institute), including 14 months as botanist and education officer at Lowveld NBG in Nelspruit, then back to Cape Town working in stress ecology, climate change studies, leading IT at NBG in the Cape, vegetation mapping, ecology, and all sorts of exciting things at Kirstenbosch and at all of our 11 gardens around South Africa, now also including the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. I’ve been to all of them except the Mokopane Biodiversity Conservation Centre – yet… I was not a director, manager or leader other than leading Health & Safety – I had no desire to be, but delighted in helping other people to be great leaders – but I did mentor a few interns and colleagues, some of whom now graciously thank me for helping them to develop worthwhile skills and they now work in good roles in provincial and local government departments, SANBI, and elsewhere. I hope that some value has come out of my efforts in ecology and in human capital development. I absolutely loved my work in biodiversity for a staggering more than a third of a century and a third of the existence of Kirstenbosch.

Well, now that I have been put out to pasture to make space for the younger generations, I am enjoying retirement, taking my wife to some of the places around South Africa that I visited as an ecologist. I decided to qualify as a tour guide (COVID has prevented us from doing much in this industry!) and I enjoy sharing the beautiful wonders of the Western Cape with others.

My time at Florida Park High School has been an important foundational part of my life, and that includes the association with my classmates as part of that foundation. I learnt together with some of you in English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Science, Biology, Metalwork (Industrial Arts) and a bit of Accounting. Not all of you did the same elective subjects, but my subjects helped to prepare me for a meaningful and fulfilling career. I thank you for your part in my life. Now, may we help to build the next generations, particularly our children and children’s children to have meaningful lives and make a positive difference in our beautiful country – or wherever we are now, dispersed all around the globe.

07 March 2021

Being an instrument in the Creator's hands to help to soften hearts

I thought that I would share something that I shared with some missionaries.

Dear fellow labourers in the vineyard

As I have thought about what to share with you on your mission in this one of my infrequent letters, my mind turned to a few questions that went through my mind relating to an incident in the life of Jesus Christ. I thought that it could be of value to you as you strive to teach in the Saviour's way.

This relates to the incident in John chapter 8 where a woman is dragged before Jesus of Nazareth. She had been caught in the very act of adultery. Here are the thoughts and questions that I wrote down. I wonder how many minutes there were in this story in John 8. Perhaps you can relate these thoughts to you and the way that you teach and interact with people who have their own sins of which they need to repent before they can progress to make and keep covenants. Remember - you teach non-members, new, and returning members, and active members. I believe that you can help many of them to feel the Spirit and progress in their journey towards, rather than away from, the tree of life as described by Lehi and Nephi.

I reflected on the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8).

· She was evidently guilty of one of the most serious of sins.
· What about the man? Somehow the Saviour does not seem to have pressed this matter, so maybe we should not dwell on it.
· What was her attitude when first brought to Jesus of Nazareth?
· What was her attitude as He first responded by simply stooping down and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not?
· What was her attitude as He said ‘Let he that is without sin cast the first stone”?
· What was her attitude when He again stooped down and wrote in the dust?
· What was her attitude when He asked ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers”?
· What was her attitude after He said “Neither do I condemn thee – go and sin no more”? How had her attitude and feeling changed with each step along the process?

I shall not expand on these points. I hope that your mind reflects on each step in the woman's change of heart and how we might affect the feelings in the hearts of those that we are teaching. I reckon that her heart felt very different at the end of the incident relative to how she felt at the start of the interview. 

Perhaps you can teach in such a way that hearts change. I wonder if her heart was somewhat like stone - hard, defiant, indignant, defensive, betrayed, confrontational, hurt, angry, arrogant, blaming, abandoned, victimised, fighting - or whatever that was no doubt carnal, sensual or devilish - when she was dragged or pushed onto the scene. I imagine that her heart had - just maybe - changed, to become seriously softened, remorseful, desiring to truly repent such that the Lord Jesus Christ would not condemn her - a broken heart and a contrite spirit - and then He encouraged her to change by going and sinning no more.
Then I think of the following examples.
· Driver’s license examiners – looking for reason to fail the candidate or looking for evidence of competence and helping them to qualify? I was examined for heavy duty license – the examiner commented that I was driving a little fast.
· The need to be positive and encourage members to get to the point of full fellowship and Gospel living as soon as possible. Should normally not be more than a year.
· Work with each individual to bring them back with humble hearts to enjoy the fullness of the Gospel.
I know that I was a worried and concerned candidate truck driver when that examiner challenged me. I had been defending the way that I was driving. But I feel that I have been a more careful, purposeful, responsible, considerate truck, bus, car, or motorcycle driver since then, perhaps even a better pedestrian, because of the way that he taught me and then helped me to qualify as a better candidate. His approach was not to fail me for doing something that could be improved. He was helping to qualify me to be better than ever! He had reminded me that a truck is heavier than a car, and therefore needed to be driven with more caution than a car that can be stopped more easily in a time of emergency. He was teaching me things that would make me a more defensive driver at all times, not just when he or some official was looking on.
Blessings on you as you ponder the scriptures in similar kinds of ways - probably far better than these fumbling ponderings of mine.

Thank you for your service to the Lord and to His children as you teach them and invite them to come unto Christ.

I find it interesting that the thing that John recorded as the next thing that Jesus Christ taught was that He is the light of the world. He taught that 'he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life.' May we be a light as He encouraged us to be. It is also interesting that the movie depicting this story shows Jesus teaching about compassion by referring to the law that teaches the lower law: 'an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth'.  

I see a changing, softening heart depicted in these scenes, going from broken to healed.