I am still with you…

It seems like a long time since I last posted here, but I want to assure you that I am still with you. I’ve just been a little overloaded the last couple of weeks, and needed to prioritise my activities. Unfortunately MMM has had to suffer a bit of neglect as a result.

I do have some really good posts on the boiler that I hope to get out here soon, but with two FINAL (yes that’s right, final) assignments due over the next 4 weeks, and a trip to Tahiti (yes, I did say Tahiti) coming up in three weeks, I am trying to get everything done so I won’t have to worry about churning out academic words or ideas while I am enjoying the sun, sand, blue sky and warmth of Tahiti and the Society Islands.

I am also anticipating a job interview coming up this Monday. It will be my first job interview for 25 years, so I am feeling a little nervous about it all. Had to dust off my resume’ yesterday and get it updated, and now trying to locate anyone who would be willing to provide me with a half-way decent reference.

Ok, so enough of my blabbering, but be assured that this space will be buzzing again with ideas and stories very soon.

Just to make you a little jealous here is a picture of where I will be in about two weeks…

Bora Bora

Bora Bora (Photo credit: Benoit Mahe)

But I will share with you even better photos on my return. I may even find something relevant to write about.

Now back to my assignments…

A Word of Warning

This message is for all missionary mums, dads, family and friends...in fact it is well worth everyone taking note. So please pass it around.

Betty Pearson, from the LDS Missionary Moms Email Group, just circulated an email amongst the mums. It was a warning on the dangers of concealing certain items in packages to our missionaries.

While it may seem extreme to some, it is well worth remembering that there are often items that many countries do not permit within their borders. Indeed, if some items are sent (which to us might appear quite innocent) they could result in legal action against, or worse jail for, the missionary.

For example, did you know it is illegal to post photos to anyone in Italy? Crazy, huh? But try it and they will most likely be confiscated by customs officials before they reach your missionaries mailbox.

I have copied below the information that Betty passed on to us. So please take heed, and be very careful about what you send. I have included information below that will help you determine if something is ok to send.

Email to all LDS Missionary Moms (Dated 7th June, 2012):

Never, ever, hide anything in packages! No more hiding stuff in PopTart packages, or other clever “disguises” to get important, or even “treat-ish” stuff past…customs officials. Why? Because Customs in many countries– with more all the time–have high-tech equipment to scan your packages without ever opening them. Just like carry-on luggage at the airports, they can see everything in the package. Yes, Superman vision. Used to prevent terrorism.

This is a warning to ALL of you!

Here is what happened last week:

A concerned missionary mom mailed a package to her missionary son, and because she wasn’t certain the non-prescription allergy meds, which her son really needed, would clear customs, she hid it in a stuffed animal. The package was scanned by Customs. The police were alerted, and they wanted to arrest the missionary and put him in jail to be charged. There was an interrogation, and the missionary was finally cleared.

Pay strict attention to the words of the Mission President who contacted us:

“This IS ‘smuggling’ and is extremely serious. Penalties include, deportation and in most cases jail time. The American government can’t do anything for 21 days to help if you are jailed. I don’t think any of us relish the thought of our children being jailed with hardened criminals. Customs will not just throw away the item, they will prosecute your child. It’s like yelling bomb in an airport. No one takes that as a joke. If you are extremely lucky (which is rare) you will be fined. It will take people away from their mission to deal with the problem. It will cost a large sum of money to travel to the customs office at the airport which may be out of the mission boundaries. Interrogation of the missionary will last all day, no one will be allowed to be with them. All of the fines and costs will be the responsibility of the perpetrator. The Area authorities will be involved due to the serious nature of the matter. Some will worry about possible national press coverage. It will cause great embarrassment to the family and the church. There are many ramifications from this seemingly harmless act. “Oh be wise, what can I say more.”

Heed this warning, pass it along to relatives and others who might be mailing packages–even in the U.S.

Do NOT try to mail illegal items. Please go to USPS.com and find the country where you want to ship a package, and their list of items they will not allow in their country.

Pay attention when the postal clerk asks you if the package contains anything flammable, etc. You wouldn’t want to end up in jail for mailing illegal items.

If you are sending a package internationally, below is the USPS website listing of all countries. Click on the country and you will see prohibitions, restrictions, and sizes and weight limits. 

UPS Website:
United States Postal Service – Individual Country Listing

Here is a listing of U.S. prohibitions and restrictions:
UPS Postal Service within the US – Can You Ship It?

Not sure if what you’re sending is hazardous or prohibited and you are sending from the US? Just call 1-800-ASK-USPS. For others, call your local Post Office and they should be able to advise you.

Many household items can’t go in the mail. Hazardous materials come in a wide variety of forms and can be chemical, biological, radioactive, or a combination. Find out what is restricted and what is prohibited.

If you have any questions then contact me and I will endeavor to answer them.

Please pass this along to anyone you might know who currently has a missionary serving. 

In memory of my life…a vision of the future

Not long ago I went on an overnight sailing trip with several of the Young Women in my ward. We moored overnight in a small cove within one of the many beautiful islands surrounding Auckland Harbour.

In the morning we decided to explore the tiny island that had been our shelter for the night. As we climbed to the highest point we noticed a single row of white headstones. Their etched inscriptions facing toward their destinination, but not quite making it. Each of them told a story of tragic circumstance, of lives cut short, and reminded us of our brief mortal presence here on earth.

As we gathered around to enjoy the view I asked each of the girls to tell me about the vision they had for their future. Tho’ there were many of them who had not yet formulated a full vision of where they wanted to be in the next 10 years, it was a reminder to me of how important it is for each of us to understand the plan that the Lord has for us.

Elder O. Vincent Haleck, in the 2012 Sunday afternoon session of General Conference suggested that, “If we are to prosper rather than perish, we must gain a vision of ourselves as the Savior sees us”.

I remember contemplating this very thing over 30 years ago when a tiny seed of an idea was formulating in my mind. I was 20 yrs. old, had just arrived back in Australia after spending almost a year in the UK with my parents, and wondered where my life was to take me from  that point. I had the world at my feet as a 20 yr. old, but I just couldn’t get a grip on what I needed to do.

I had never contemplated the idea that I could, or would, serve a mission. Indeed, as a child the idea never entered my mind, and certainly as a teenager it was the last thing I would have addressed. But at 20, it began as a tiny seed of enquiry.

This was the first time I considered the scripture that Elder Haleck read out recently in conference, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 21:18). It was also the first time in my life I considered my future with the realisation that I could actually really mess things up if I didn’t have some kind of vision of what the Lord wanted me to do with it.

My journey of enquiry took me to many places that year. In my mind and heart I considered  many options, and in the end I turned to my patriarchal blessing for some answers. I began to create a vision in my mind as to what my purpose was, and what the Lord would have me do.

Tho’ I couldn’t predict my future, there were certain truths that I couldn’t deny.

  1. This life is so short, and we don’t have time to indulge ourselves in selfish pursuits.
  2. The choices we make now will have a lasting effect, not only on us, but upon the lives of others.
  3. The Lord knows us even better than we know ourselves.
  4. To act on vision we must apply faith.

This journey of self discovery took me to places that allowed me to glimpse the possibilities. It was that year that I truly understood the wisdom of Solomon, “Where there is no vision the people perish”. I discovered that I could obtain a vision of my future, and that vision would allow me to prosper.

But, even more importantly, that vision allowed me to prepare for the day when I could fulfill things I thought I could never do. Through missionary service I was able to sew the seed of faith and vision in the lives of many individuals and families. Through my life as a mother, I am far better prepared to sew the seeds of faith and vision in the lives of my children.

Unlike those tiny headstones that were perched on the top of that island – in sight of the city of their destination, but cut short by tragedy – I prepared myself for the journey of life. In choosing to serve a mission I know that I was fulfilling a purpose that the Lord had set out for me. From that point on it didn’t matter how long or short my life would be on this earth, my path was set and it would lead me in the direction that the Lord wanted me to take.

I know that I will arrive at my destination no matter what this mortal existence involves, as long as I maintain that vision and exercise faith.