Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 2013

Here are some photos of what has been going on here.  Well, some of the things.  We went to the beach, but no photos.  Don't want to stir up jealousies.  Actually, going to the beach is about the only fun thing to do around here.
Construction to meet hurricane standards. All reinforced block and concrete.

Roti Queen.  Roti is Indian food from Guyana.  Lots of Curry

A Main Road in Tortola

Elder Delcompare, from Guatemala, making a kite

Kisha making a kite.  Kites are big for Easter

Sailing the Drake Strait.  From our balcony.

Helping Kisha with her kite.  I don't know what I am doing.

Our walking path.  Four days per week, two miles, steep hills.

Young men making kites

Walking the exercise trail, really a main road.

Aloe plants everywhere.  

Dry season on Tortola

Pondering life at a local sandwich shop

Three delightful Dawson boys.  Folks are from South Africa.

Smores cookies.  We have to limit these to one or two per month.

Chickens everywhere.  This one was at the sandwich shop

Fayth Glasgow, now 17 months old

Pres and Sister Smartt, new mission pres in July

The walking trail

Fayth and her dad, Andrew Glasgow.

Freedom is ...

Freedom is ...

A few days ago I asked my family to finish this sentence.  Freedom is ...

Here are the few responses I received.  I learned from this that many of my family members don’t like to play games like this.  I also gained some perspective on how people feel about the concept of freedom.  So here is what I received and some thoughts on freedom.

Freedom Is...

-the opportunity to exercise agency, even the ability to make choices.
-a lot of responsibility.
-to do what I want to.
-worth fighting for.
-the right to do whatever you want.
-the absence of anything that would bind me.
-forgiving and forgiveness.
-the fuel government consumes as it grows.
-not free
-the first word that came to mind was knowledge, although I would reverse it and say knowledge is freedom. 
-being responsible for your own choices
-peace in the pursuit of your own happiness.
-a gift from God that we can lose if we are not careful.
-lost to the degree that society abandons individual God-given rights and replaces them with collective man-made rights.
-being able to do what you want, when you want.  
-the Constitution of the United States. (that's probably cheating, but I couldn't come up with a single sentence to encompass everything! )
-impossible to define in one sentence.
-the opportunity to choose whom we will serve.
-the result of acting on the knowledge of good or evil.

Most responses fall into three categories.  

  1. Freedom is the opportunity or ability or whatever to do something. 
  2. Freedom is something we have or want to have or whatever.
  3. Freedom is the absence of something, as in freedom from persecution, etc.

Personally I find that interesting. The one who chose to participate by not participating makes a good point.  Freedom is hard to define in one sentence, or one paragraph, or one lifetime.  However, it is so fundamental to our existence that I feel the urge to try to at least get my head around it.  So here are my thoughts.  I encourage you to write your own thoughts.

Freedom is the modern catchword

Freedom is what we most often hear of as the reason and blessing of the existence of the USA.  Freedom.  As opposed to bondage.  Freedom to do what we want to do.  That is described as the American dream.  Freedom gives us the right to work and grow and accumulate stuff.  The more stuff, physical or mental, that we accumulate, the freer we are.  Somehow that distorted view of the American dream has taken root.

America was established upon principles of God-given responsibility. We believe that we have God-given rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But happiness can only be obtained upon principles of righteousness.  The pursuit of happiness is the right, not the obtaining of happiness.  Joseph Smith said happiness will be realized when we follow the path that leads to it, and that path is obedience to the laws God has revealed. Any other result is not happiness but only a material counterfeit. Sometimes the difference is not readily apparent and can only be determined by the resulting product.  Happiness produces fruits that are everlasting and sustained.  Material gratification and accumulation are as ice under the sun, or as  civilizations uder the effects of entropy.  They do not last.

John McCain and Jeremiah Denton and Larry Chesley and Nick Rowe and many others who endured the torture of being prisoners in Vietnam were physically held captive.  They could not do more than eat their rice (when it was available) and think.  Nick Rowe wrote his memoirs in Five Years to Freedom.  As a cadet in ROTC at BYU I heard him speak of his captivity and of his escape, and hearing him describe his experience was a great liberating experience for me.  Although his body was severely restricted in what he could do or even attempt to do, his mind was never captive.  Even in prison, he was free.  I believe the same is true for each of those men who endured those years of captivity.  

To be free from something--to me that is what freedom is. So what are we free from? What gives us that freedom from whatever it is that would bind us?  How is it maintained?

I think the opportunity to be free is a gift from God, but the actual freedom is never a gift.  It is valuable, and therefore expensive, not free.  Someone always pays a high price for freedom, either for himself or for someone else.  Freedom is the opposite of what Satan wants for us, for he desires that all men might be miserable like unto himself.  His bondage is the result of his choices.  He chose to be miserable when he chose to rebel against the Plan of Love and Happiness that was presented by our Heavenly Father.  Think of that!  Satan is in bondage precisely because of the right he had to make his own choices.  He wants us to be as he is.  

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, desires that we be free and happy like unto himself.  His freedom is the result of his choices, too.  He chose to be obedient.  He said we shall know the truth (by the power of the Holy Ghost) and the truth shall make us free.  The result of the choice to be obedient will be freedom and happiness, just as the result of the choice to be disobedient will be misery and bondage, just as Lehi said in 2 Nephi 2:27.  It really is that simple.

You all take it from there.  

Stay tuned. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

St Kitts Visitor

Gaye and Br Benjamin
We had a visitor from St Kitts.  Brother J Benjamin came to do an audit of the branch records.  He stayed with us.  What a delightful guy!  Saturday night he was to arrive at 2150, which is quite late at night.  We drove out to the airport and waited and waited for him to come through the doors where the customs and immigrations people are located.  I got out of the car and sat on a bench for 10-15 minutes, then back in the car, then on the bench.  After about 45 minutes it looked like everyone had come through.  We had our uniforms on so he would be able to recognize us.  I did not even know who I should be looking for.  I sat on the bench for 5 minutes, then felt an urge to go to the doors and stand there for a while.  Just then a lady emerged from inside the doors calling “Patterson, Patterson”.  That is me.  She beckoned me to follow her into the bowels of the customs building.

As I entered I saw a tall very dark man in a white shirt and tie with a big smile on his face.  When someone comes to Tortola for the first time they need to have an address where they will be staying or they will not be allowed to enter.  He had been given our address as East End, Maya Cove, but that was not enough to satisfy the officials.  I use Parakeeta Bay, Denise Stoutt Apartment #3 as the address and it works very well.  I will have to pass that on to the mission office for any future visitors.  In any case, he said that he and the immigration officials had been trying to get in touch with us for the past 30 minutes.  We had left the mission phone at the apartment and didn’t notice the absence until we got to the airport.  Never again.  Jason invited the customs officer to come to church.  He might.  

Br Benjamin was born and raised on St Kitts.  He had contact with the Church when he was quite young when missionaries left a Book of Mormon with his family.  None of them wanted it so he ended up with it.  Some time after he and his wife got together they decided they needed a church they could both go to.  He was Catholic, she was Baptist.  They visited many churches and didn’t find what they wanted, so they decided to pray for guidance.  Twenty minutes later the missionaries knocked on their door.  They learned that the missionaries had been contacting on their street and had doors slammed in their faces all day so they went home discouraged.  But they were prompted to return to the street and knock on a few more doors.  Lives have been forever changed as a result.  They were baptized about 9 years ago and have had their marriage sealed in the Santo Domingo temple.  The family now has four daughters and two loving parents who are raising them in the power and admonition of the Gospel.  

Jason’s first calling was as second counsellor in the branch presidency.  He has been the BP twice and served in many other leadership roles in the church.  He doesn’t care where he serves, he just serves with all his might.  Jason was the BP when Steve and Hailie Haymore were on St Kitts attending vet school.  Steve grew up in our ward in Twin Falls and was one of Spencer’s boyhood friends.  Small world.
There are times when I meet a person who seems to be a kindred spirit.  Br Benjamin is one of those kindred spirits.  He is about 6 feet tall and very slender, in spite of having a prodigious appetite and capacity to consume food.  His dark skin is the color of black walnut, and just as beautiful.  Since we have met Jason, our lives will never be the same.  I am finding that to be true more and more frequently.  I have thought that in the next life the righteous will all be blessed with fair skin and straight brown or blond hair, the typical Aryan appearance.  Now I have no idea how racial characteristics will fit in.  Jesus was Jewish ethnically, not Caucasian.  Oh well, just one more question to put on the shelf for answers later.

Flash:  Jason can't fly out until Monday morning because his plane has mechanical problems.  Good.  We get to spend more time with him.

The weather has been amazing lately. We actually had rain one day last week with clouds sitting on the ridge behind the church.  For the last three days there has been very little wind, just the usual gentle breeze from the east.  The waves on the beaches on the south shore (that is the side we live on) have been very small and lazy.  We drove over to the north side (that is the Atlantic side) to show Brother Benjamin the island and the waves were crashing with a mighty roar.  The temperatures during the daytime are in the low 80 degree range.  At night they are a very comfortable cooler mid-70’s.  Oh yea, I forgot.  That is where they have been since we got here.  Still very little precipitation, so the vegetation is all quite brown and dormant.  It will all change one of these days.


Bougainvilla blossom drifts

 Gaye and I are getting used to the idea of being moved to another island, although Elder Tower has said we will not be moved in April.  I think that policy is President Alvarado’s, not church-wide.  Sometimes the idea of moving is quite enticing, for it will give us a chance to be part of the culture on another island.  But sometimes it is also saddening, for it means that we will be taken away from some people who have become very dear to our hearts.  We are starting to make some contacts with some of the people on the island who have wandered away and need a little help getting back into the fold.  Perhaps it is a bit arrogant to think that only we will be able to work with them.  I can see that I need to be more trusting in how the Lord runs things.  Often I find myself saying that I trust the Lord and I believe he is doing a great job, except for this and that.  What kind of trust is that!  If he is in control, then things will come about the way he wants it and the way that is best for us because he is control, so how things are is the way he wants them to be.  If he is not in control, then there is really not much hope.  I would rather not go there.  I choose to believe and to act like God is in control.  If I am wrong, I will be happier than if I am wrong the other way.  Either way, believing in God is happier than not believing.

Stay tuned.