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There will be a photos and illustrations section coming soon. Both of photos and illustrations from us and others.

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Tuesday
Oct152013

Frailty of Life

Since I was a teenager, I would always work with my mother is searching out our family history. I really enjoyed the time I spent going through records and such. I also spent some time volunteering helping other get started in finding their own ancestors. I even had the opportunity to teach classes on researching family history to various congregations throughout Northern Japan. With recent times, I have been distracted with work, impending wedding and university. As a consequence, my research has laid dormant. But a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my grandfather about family history in the war. He produced a family line that was in a book that he found at a shop which led me to think about starting things again. So I jumped on.

My paternal line hasn't been researched in a while, so I though I'd go down that direction. Within a week, I had found about 12 people on my direct line. It's quite satisfying. But in my research, as always is the case, I find many children who don't live past a couple of years. Many families will have a dozen kids with not many surviving. I'm not a parent, but I would imagine that would be an extremely difficult thing to cope with. Especially if only four of your ten children live to adulthood. Even though these incidences happened over 100 years ago, it doesn't diminish anything. Out Heavenly Father's plan for us extends though all generations of time.

In 1 Corinthians 15, there is a lot said about life now and beyond, but one of my favourite passages is

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Everyone can pass out of this life very easily, but the wonderful news is that everyone through Christ "shall be made alive". Sometimes we wonder why small children are afflicted with disease and die young, why some fathers die with small children still to provide for. It is heartbreaking to see this happen to other and even more so in your own family. Why does it happen? I don't know. Why does God let it happen? I don't know. But I do know that there is a plan. I don't have full view of the plan. And to be honest, sometimes it can be had to take.

I have found solace the the words of this hymn.

 When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

O My Father - Hymns #292
I hope to be able to meet my ancestors one day and put some faces to names. I think it will be a sweet reunion with those that we haven't met but owe so much to. I also hope that all of you can also find some comfort in knowing that even though we may not understand, we can go forth with faith!
Monday
Aug262013

A Change of Blog

There are some exciting things happening here at this blog. We have now brought on two new writers, Lewis and Liv, who are excited to be joining the team. We are also going to be found at a different place. Out new home will be at flippingheck.com.au.

Over the coming weeks and months, this blog will be changing name and design but the content will remain the same. We will al be writing regular segments and feature pieces so there will be a new content available every week.

So stay tuned for the changes! We are all very excited.

Tuesday
Apr162013

While Out Walking

The other day I was walking around the middle of Melbourne and on two opposite corners there were two groups of people. On one corner were a few men of the Islamic faith hand out pamphlets and talking to people. On there other were two people with loud speakers condemning the men on the other side of the street to hell in the name of Jesus. I was quite saddened by what I saw. As a Christian I must say I felt a little embarrassed about how these people were putting down our Muslim brothers.

I see it on the Internet everyday, when I go out in the street, hear it in conversations and see it in the media. I really don't like it when people decide that someone else is doctrinally wrong and they need to bring them down. I don't see a problem with discussion about religion; I quite often talk to those of other faiths about issues of doctrine and by the end I usually feel uplifted by it. But I think that those who follow a faith and discuss their beliefs with those of another aren't really the root of this issue. There are, course like I saw in the street, exceptions to this but I feel that in Australia there is a general fear or dislike towards religion.

I was speaking to a Stake President (leader of a a number of congregations in the LDS Church) over the weekend about a few things. He mentioned that he had met with a member of parliament to discuss some important issues facing the church and they started down an interesting tangent. He mentioned that they spoke about how most people in Australia followed a faith of some description 30 years ago and now those who follow some kind of religious belief is sharply declining and those who actively participate is a smaller fraction of that again. Furthermore they reflected about how much the morality within society has degraded within that time as well.

Now as someone in their twenties, I don't really have much to compare with but I do realise how easy it is to lower standards. I have been a part of that myself, I think everyone has at some stage. But what matter is how we take that and move forward. Do we accept our drop and continue, or do we strive to improve and pick up what we lack? This Stake President mentioned in his address to the larger group that night that in previous generations had to look for and out effort into doing things which degrade morality. You had to sneak around and keep things secret to avoid embarrassment. Now you don't have to hide it, you can simply speak about your activities and sometime your don't even have too leave your house to commit immoral acts. Society is changing but the truth of the matter is, the standards of righteous living set by The Lord don't change.

Two weeks ago, Elder L. Tom Perry said the following:

Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.

...

God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws. As Alma counseled his errant son Corianton, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Elder L. Tom Perry - Obedience to Law Is Liberty, April 2013

His words are strong but ring true. The only way which we can truly be free and partake in real happiness is to be obedient to the law which The Lord has revealed. I know that when we do, you can really feel it. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from following it all of the time but I do my best. It's hard to keep going sometimes and taking the path of least resistance can seem like the easier option but when we strive to keep the commandments we receive assistance from The Lord.

Monday
Nov052012

Be Thou an Example of the Believers

I have just started a new job today working at a bank. Today was the "company induction" where you get to learn about the company and meet a bunch of people working in different areas of your division. During lunch I grabbed some Japanese from a local takeaway shop and found a place in the lunchroom and sat with some people who were there for the same induction program as me. We talked about our backgrounds, previous jobs and the like and I mentioned that I spent a couple of years in Japan. Both of them are really interested in Japan so we talked about it for a while. One of the people I was talking with asked me if I had a girlfriend there and did I get around and have fun with the girls? I mentioned that part of my missionary service, I didn't have relationships or date while I was a missionary. This guys then asked if I am abstaining from sex before I am married and I said that I was. In a tone far from mocking, he said that he really respected that. He commended me that I could believe something and stick to it because not many people stick to what they believe in.

This got me thinking during my commute home. I could have stayed away from that question, put it away as too personal or just changed the subject. But I didn't and feel happy that I shared my experiences and put forward some fundamental beliefs about my faith. I remember a quote from Sister Ann Dibb from the most recent conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where she puts forward as a personal slogan:

I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.

Ann M Dibb (I know it. I live it. I love it. October 2012)

It may seem a little cheesy or utopian, but I really like the way she put it. It is a simple way of expressing how I feel about living the restored gospel of Christ. I really do love it. It brings be so much happiness that I am not ashamed to tell people about the standard that I keep, even though it may not be in line with what the world sees as acceptable. I had a very positive experience today, but it is not always easy. There have been many times where people have given me a hard time because of my faith. There have also been times where co-workers and friends not of my faith have stood up for me. 

Part of this mantra also led me to think about the words of Peter the Apostle where he said:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you...

1 Peter 3:15

It can be hard to be prepared for any and every doctrine based question that can come before us, but we can prepare ourselves when people want to know about the hope that is in us. It doesn't matter whether we are Christian, Jewish or Muslim, it would benefit us if we could find ways to share that happiness that is with us. I know that if we do, people can see it. Those with open hearts, like my co-worker, will be able to respect the choices that we make in our lives and will be able to see the good.

I haven't written in a long time and I was thinking about this on the train home this evening and felt like I needed to start wiriting again. I hope to write on a more regular basis in the coming weeks. I do challenge you to find ways to share that hope that you have in you, whether that is actively finding those who will listen or providing a good example and talking to those people who are interested. Take every opportunity to uplift others and in turn, you will also be uplifted.

Monday
Jul302012

Sacrifice Part 2

We see sacrifice in our everyday lives around us. Many people put themselves out to help other people in some way. We have those who are in the armed forces who have sacrificed their own life, there are people who give to the poor when their own finances may be justification for the opposite or someone stepping down to give someone who would not otherwise have the opportunity a chance. It comes in many forms and faces.

Fifteenth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley said the following:

Sacrifice is the very essence of religion; it is the keystone of happy home life, the basis of true friendship, the foundation of peaceful community living, of sound relations among people and nations.

Gordon B. Hinckley (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 565)


If we go through life and look out for no one else except for ourselves, our societies would never get anywhere.

Our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master (Jesus Christ) and our fellowmen.

 

Dallin H. Oaks (Sacrifice, April 2012)

Giving service is a show of who we really are. It shows our character.

When I was in Japan during the East Japan Great Earthquake of 2011, it was hart-warming to see so many people let their true character shine though when it really mattered. I heard stories of many of my friends sacrificing much to save people from tsunami waters of damaged buildings. These people sacrificed their safety to help others. There were also many who sacrificed their lives to help others.

There are many who sacrifice a bit of their time to their whole lives to a cause. But why do people give comforts, safeties, time and even their lives up for certain causes? Everyone has their different reasons. With myself, I enjoy the feeling I get when I can even lend a hand by sacrificing a bit of time. Some people may enjoy the feeling of making a difference in the world, some enjoy the accolades that can come with high-profile service and sacrifice. Whatever the motivations for sacrificing, I feel that the most noble motive to give up something is love. This can be seen the most in the home within a family.

Perhaps the most familiar and most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families. Mothers devote themselves to the bearing and nurturing of their children. Husbands give themselves to supporting their wives and children. The sacrifices involved in the eternally important service to our families are too numerous to mention and too familiar to need mention. (2012 April General Conference, Sacrifice, Sat. Morning Session - Dallin H. Oaks)

Another sacrifice that all of us can feel and partake in is the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for all of us. Elder Oaks referenced a verse of a hymn that was written by Eliza R Snow

His precious blood he freely spilt;
His life he freely gave,
A sinless sacrifice for guilt,
A dying world to save.

Eliza R. Snow "How Great The Wisdom And The Love" Hymn #125

Jesus Christ made the Ultimate Sacrifice for humankind. I don't know how it works, but I feel the effects of it everyday. Christ voluntarily took upon Himself all of the sins and pain of us all. Isaiah penned these famous words found in the Old Testament.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:3-7

Christ didn't just sacrifice for those who believe on Him. He sacrificed for all, regardless of race, belief or sexual preference. We all can be healed thought the power of Jesus Christ. Christ allowed the pains of all mankind to come upon Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, He let the Romans abuse Him, He let them crucify Him but he "opened not his mouth". Many of of the world don't esteem Christ as the Saviour of the world, but He still loves them. As a missionary, I would see hundreds of people a day reject that great sacrifice for them either through indifference or direct opposition. But it is available for all of us. We can take full advantage of the redeeming power that Christ offers us by sacrificing ourselves and following Him.

I'd like to just finish with the word of the ancient prophet, Alma, from the Book of Mormon.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

Alma 7:11-12,14-16