hey mom and dad,
hey mom and dad,
So much to our surprise, Tommy was transferred back to Adelaide after only 6 weeks in Darwin. That trip is a little shorter than a flight from Calgary to Houston. He was on the move most of the day so we got a brief email in the middle of the night. Should hear more this week.
hey mom and dad, so the big news is I was transferred! I am back down in Adelaide but I am now a zone leader with my new companion elder heindel. we are the zone leaders for marion and are in charge of the biggest zone in the mission. other big news is that elder ivory stepped up to district leader after I left. he is the man I don’t have much time to email so I will fill you in on more next week love you
hey mom and dad,
Brent – So for Father’s day we had a rootbeer bar. Lots of brands and taste cups. I liked the grizzly brand out of Canmore. Mom likes Crim City rootbeer. We think it is because there is a cartoon picture of a guy with tattoos on the front.
Krista – I was proud of my 8 different kinds of rootbeer… not even Barqs or Mug! I had to go to like 4 different stores to find it all.! Some of it was really gross.
Tommy – hey taysteed, so guess what up here in darwin nobody cares about trump (yes that is possible) but the trade off is that everybody here is a bogan (aussie word for hillbilly) – hey well taysteed how was grad?
Krista – I am asking … how do you define an Australian Hillbilly?
Tommy – they drink a ton of beer and all think that they live in the outback even though they live in the city. literally the australian version of a redneck
Krista – This is fro Grandpa Steed… Do you spend any time climbing termite mounds? Grandpa is now giving me info on termite mounds!
Tommy – there arent termite mounds in darwin only in the bush
Taylor – was good. We went as a group of people in my grade. I went with Sophie Carter as my date, and it was good. The day after a lot of the people came down to waterton and were able to hang out for a couple of days, the guys stayed in the big cabin and the girls stayed out at the Remington cabin.
hey mom and dad this has been a good week. we have had zone conference with the parkers this week and it was great being able to see other missionaries other than the darwin zone. we have had a tough week investigator wise. our investigator eric has dropped off the face of the earth. hes hasnt replied to our texts for the past while so hopefully he will get back to us. this week the katherine elders also came up and stayed with us. so got to spend a lot of time with them. we also found a new investigator antoine (from france). he is pretty keen so we’ll see how it goes. other than that a pretty normal week. we also took president to a mall we have been trying to get into and he is super excited for it.
Krista – That is cool about the zone conference. Do you get along with the Katherine elders? They stayed in your flat? What do you mean about taking president to a mall? Does that mean you proselyte in the mall?
Tommy – we have a mall in our area that everybody goes to in all of darwin and we are trying to get a pop up stand and missionaries in it. and yeah i love the katherie elders
Krista – That’s cool . Will the mall allow a pop up stand? They have them in Adelaide right ? Did you end up getting your package from the Parkers? I was wondering if it got to Adelaide in time
Tommy – we didnt get the package so im guessing it hasnt got here yet
Brent = Sounds like a little bit of opposition. Makes for some opportunities. The mall idea sounds cool. So what we’re you up to yesterday for the Queens birthday?
Krista – Oh well… it was for Canada Day so maybe there will be a chance that it will get to Adelaide and get mailed up to you. What did you learn at zone conference !
Tommy – we had our zone conference all day and its weird australians take it so seriously. and guess what northern territory day is on july 1st so we most likely will be in the flat early that day
Krista – What happens on Northern Territory day? It will be cool to see how differently they celebrate. Are you allowed to be part of the festivities
Brent – Take a moment to sing O Canada on July 1
Tommy – its the only time and place in australia where they can light fireworks so people spend thousands of dollars buying them. and a lot of people will be drunk apparently last year somebody almost hit a missionary with a roman candle.
Brent – Don’t be a target. Hopefully you see some cool fireworks.
Krista – Wow…. I suppose they really have to worry about fire from sparks… so much for having a holiday as a missionary! How long did Parkers stay? What did they teach?
Tommy – they stayed for the weekend and they taught about working with members
Krista – Did they bring the assistants with them? Did you do anything special as a zone? I am sitting right now watching Benny Marcus and Lance practicing rugby – Was it your idea about the mall stand? That is really smart
Tommy – yes they brought the assistants with them. and no nothing special. yeah elder ivory and i thought abut getting missionaries in the mall
Krista – Smart Smart!!!! It sounds like you and Elder Ivory are a good team. What is coming up for Pday today?
Brent – You must be smarter than the average bear / elder. How much time do you spend at the University?
Tommy – twice a week
Krista – Are there any cool outdoor things you can do or is it too hot?
Tommy – there is but its pretty far away so we have to coordinate with the farrers to drive us
Krista – So what epic training did awesome district leader Elder Dickson work on this week – Oh that must take a little planning. Any more spot inspections? I tell you this neither Drew or Ben would pass right now!
Tommy – i didnt have to give one due to zone conference – no none yet – we played basketball with some kids who are coming to sport night now
Krista – So what is the plan for next weeks training? Any more frog encounters or dinner appointments
Brent – Tell me about sport night. We used to do Saturday morning sports an D invite local youth. Some baptisms came out of it.
Tommy – we do it tuesday night and have heaps of non members come. – not sure yet for the training still gotta pray about it –
Krista – Sounds like you have lots of good ideas. I guess all of that South Calgary basketball is paying off! Is it always basketball?
Tommy – always basketball
Brent – I think the Sports is a good idea. Let’s you meet kids in a more natural setting. Never know where it can lead. Just don’t foul too many kids 🙂 – Only 2 days of classes left. I think I will make it. Did Link Crew training after school today. Drew was keeping the tradition of loud and proud up.
Tommy – thats sweet it feels so weird to not be at school anymore
Krista – I’ll be glad to hear it. I’m glad you are doing great work on your mission. School will come again soon enough
Brent – I think it is okay to miss final exams. Plenty of time for that later.
Tommy – haha it will – yeah im ok with that
Krista – Yep…. dad and I are definitely ready to be missing school for a bit! I’m sure Benny and Drew are feeling the same. Need a new cooking idea…. what is your latest favorite?
Tommy – we have been doing chicken alfredo
Brent – I’m getting a bit Rugby addicted. Recording games on TV and watching.
Tommy – they had an nrl game up here on tuesday. it was the queensland cowboys vs the parramatta eels
Krista- Hmmm sounds like a good idea I don’t make pasta very much. I’m sure with all of your biking you must be able to eat pretty much anything. And I’m sure you’re in great shape – What great names! Not sure. You would have a team over here named the eels
Brent – Go Eels? Not sure I am a rugby league fan. Drew and I weren’t impressed. Maybe we are snobs and should give it another try.
Tommy – its an easier game but they aussies love it i gotta go i love you bye!
Krista – Love you… don’t get discouraged. You have great ideas and the Lord will bless you. We have faith in you
Brent – You Are my favorite missionary in the whole world!
Hey mom and dad so this week has been a crazy one. We had a pretty normal week. Lots of finding, especially on the uni campus. It’s really weird proselyting in a polo shirt. Other than that it has been crazy. Elder Hartman and I and the Farrers went down to Katherine for trade offs with Elder Atkinson and Hammond. They have a branch of about 5 people and teach all aboriginal. Other than that it has been really normal. We are teaching two people, Eric from china and John who is half cast aboriginal.
Brent – Sounds like you are having more of an aboriginal experience in Darwin. That is cool. Mom found pictures of your visit to Katherine and the baptism on Facebook. She is creeping you. Do you have any pictures to send? I want a picture of you in the Polo Shirt!
Krista – It is great to hear from you. Did everything work out with the Khakis? I’m glad you have some people to teach. I just got home from a fireside about mission prep for the priests and laurels. Our sister missionaries and the bishop spoke. They all did a great job talking about the practical things for mission prep and the spiritual and emotional challenges. They also spoke about how different a mission actually is to what they thought it would be but how it is hard but very rewarding. What would you say is different about mission like than you imagined?
Tommy – I thought when i came on the mission all we would be doing was teaching and finding would be easy
Brent – It is easy to go finding, harder to catch a quality investigator. What are some of the big differences you are noticing in Darwin vs Adelaide?
Krista – I’m sure everyone learns that lesson. I think you are working really hard. I have learned that throwing a big party is not a good idea before the missionary leaves and that I am so grateful for everyone that helps my child in his mission and from home. I have also learned that it is hard to type an email to a missionary while Jake is busy trying to get you to repeat everything he says:)!!!! That picture of you and Elder Ivory makes me smile. I remember the pictures you sent of him in the MTC and it seems like he always had that great smile there too. Do you need to buy any more pants this week?
Tommy – darwin is harder to find a quality invetsigator because they are very laid back up here but super easy to find. adelaide is the opposite no i have plenty of pants and yeah he loves the work
Krista – Well, we will pray that your investigators stick to it. Tell me a little bit about them. What a blessing it is to have a companion who loves the work. And what a neat opportunity to go to Katherine. I saw the Farrer’s picture of a river you were checking out for a baptism. Do you not have to worry about crocs?
Tommy – the uni is cool because nobody recognizes us as missionaries so they just talk to us as friends. yeah so thats in katherine and there are heaps of crocs there so we were checking if the water is good for a baptism next week
Brent – So Drew willingly volunteered to sing in a youth ensemble for the next Moroni Quest fireside. I got the email asking if he wanted to join. Was sure he would say no but he said yes to weekly practices until the end of June. Who is that kid. Guess I don’t know my son that well.
Tommy – eric is from hong kong and is awesome but he is going back to china for a month. and john is half cast and really committed but work takes him out to the mines – he said yes because there will be girls there im betting 10$ on that
Krista – That’s interesting. Are there a lot of mines near Darwin? Is it kind of like working on the oil rigs here in Alberta? Is the University year opposite to ours here? They must have their big break around November/ December????
Brent – Good guess but you are down $10. It is an all boy ensemble. But he may actually not know that. He just left so we shall see.
Tommy – yeah they have a lot of gold mines out bush. and eah its like living in calgary and doing a week on a week off at the oil rigs. they do 10 weeks straight here and then 2-3 off and repeat all year
Krista – How was MLC training this week? What did you learn? What do you want to apply or imporve?
Tommy – we focussed on member work. it has been a slow process in this mission but is coming along
Krista – I think what a blessing that would be. I’m sure there would be lots of inactive members to work with like anywhere in the church. It seems so much more personal as I think about family members and friends who have left the church and how happy I would be if they would speak to the missionaries.
Tommy – yeah its something the mission is really focussing on
Krista – I love that! I think you also told me that you are talking to investigators about their family history. i still remember how we both commented on that part of your patriarchal blessing… who knew! Now that you have been in your district a couple of weeks, tell me some strengths of some of your missionaries.
Tommy – yeah who knew about family history eh?
Brent – Tell me how you use Family History with investigators
Tommy – we usually share a family history pass along cards with them and share familysearch.org
Brent – Nice! I think your epic story is checking out a river for baptisms to see if there are crocs. Awesome. All I worried about was drunks.
Tommy – haha probably as dangerous as the croc
Krista – As you know I have a real testimony of family history and how it can soften people’s hearts. I was listening to president Eyring’s talk from General Conference and it was all about that. Still want to know more about your district than their names. Tell me their best qualities!
elder arnaud is from tahiti and he is always keen to do the work
elder mattie is from mission bc and he is a really good singer
sister angoy is from philipines and is the happiest person i know
sister purvis is from utah and extremely talented finder
Brent – Add in Tommy D and Elder Ivoreee and you have a powerhouse district!
Tommy – we got to go love you talk to you next week
hey mom and dad!
so this has been a cool week mostly because of wildlife. we see heaps of animals around here. for example last night after our dinner appointment we came outside and there were like 10 tree frogs on our bikes so we were playing with them for a bit. it is really hot up here with humidity. 33 is nice but not when your biking in a shirt and tie. so mom do you remember how i told you some missionarries are on the charles darwin university campus? well thats us. the farrrers buy us polo shirts and khakis that we wear onto campus. we also wear khakis while proselyting up here because the humidity would destroy our pants. i have yet to see any crocs (elder ivory says they arent that common). its cool to be back with elder ivory because i get to see how much he has grown. And another cool thing is one of the elders in my district is from mission bc. (elder mattie) – oh and its not a small branch. its bigger than most wards in adelaide. (150 members) – so the mission buys me khakis
Krista – Mission BC… that is cool. Is he your age? you were probably babies together in the same Stake
Tommy – and yeah we are getting along well. ad our ditrict is great – yeah he’s 19
Krista – Ok… tell me about Elder Ivory and your flat. How are the Farrers? They seem great. She posted something about a flat inspection where 5/6 flats passed and the last flat was maybe … well not so clean Tell me, i have a sneaking suspicion that was maybe you 🙂 Do your old mom a favor and win that cleaning crocodile one time while you are in Darwin! Well that surprises me about the branch size. That is good, you will have lots of members to meet. I will have to check your account for you to buy Khakis. I don’t know how much money is in there right now. Maybe get a statement and I will put more money in tomorrow. Or if you need to shop today I can run over and put in money when we are done chatting. How is Elder Ivory? Are you getting along? How is your district? Do you have any investigators? Have you been to the University yet?
Tommy – oh ye of little faith…… we passed. our flat is really small and we get lizards in it all the time. the farrers are awesome. sister farrer is sister parker’s sister – not many investigators but yeah we go to the uni twice a week
Krista – Oh… that makes me so happy. I was making your brother’s clean today because I was worried I hadn’t taught my boys anything about cleaning! You are the BEST! What a kid! Benny would be so thrilled about the tree frogs. You will have to send him a picture. That is cool about the lizards… are they annoying or still kind of fun? When you go to the Uni do you teach in a room or do you contact around the buildings? I asked the Wilson’s about how we get packages to you now and it seems like we still send them to Adelaide and then either the Parker’s bring them or they mail them on. So we will see. I’m really hoping you will get to celebrate Canada Day. Tell me about your area. Is it like a suburb? Are there more aboriginal Australians in Darwin?
Tommy – you still send the packages to adelaide and they mail them to us. yeah so they are nice becuase they eat all the bugs so we let them in our flat. and we just walk around the buildings talking to people and then teach lessons at tables or in the student lounge
Krista – Do you know any of the other missionaries in Darwin? I can imagine that once you are in Darwin you don’t just stay for one transfer. What are your plans for the rest of your PDay? Are there interesting things you want to see?
Tommy – not really they are all new to me. we are probably gonna go to the mall today
Krista – How many Elders and Sisters do you have in your district? Who are they? Do you train every week?
Tommy – I train every week and we have two sets of elders and one set of sisters
Krista – That sounds great. You said you had a dinner appointment. How is the branch? I know you have only been one week but did you meet anyone interesting?
Tommy – not really but we meet a lot of american marines around darwin. (american naval base)
Krista – I’m surprised, I would have never have guessed there was a base there. So Drew has his semi final rugby game tomorrow. As long as they beat Wisewood they will go to provincials. This year provincials are in Edmonton. If they are going I think Dad and I are going to try and take a day off work and go to see them play . It will feel weird to go to Edmonton and have to stay in a hotel instead of Grandma and Grandpa Dickson’s. Dad is at ASLC, the weather is nice and he is taking 20 kids so he should have a lot of fun. He was picking up licorice to throw at kids on the bus… memories! We have Joseph and Porter here right now. There is an epic lego game going on in the basement. I don’t even want to think about how much thee will be to clean when they are done. Grace Matthews spoke in church today. She is getting ready to go on a mission in the fall. She is a neat kid. Oh… what about the tag?
Tommy – she is going on a mission?! thats awesome! yeah and darwin has heaps of historical ww2 stuff. it was bombed by the japanese in the war.
Krista – Yes! I was surprised. There was no note just the tag. Do you get new ones? Is it a tradition to send tags home? The tag is sitting on our mantle right beside the picture of you that is on your mission plaque at the church
Tommy – no i just ordered two new badges from the office so i figured i would send it home
Krista – There are some interesting things about dressing for an Australia Adelaide mission. Sister Parker posted some pictures of a trip out bush where everyone is wearing bush boots because that red dirt gets everywhere. Who knew!
Tommy – yeah you get some big differences from nt to sa
Brent – Hey buddy, sitting in the opening ceremonies of ASLC. They had a million dignitaries. Very painful. How are you!!!!
Krista – I was glad to get it. the same day I also got a thank you letter from Sister Sennett. i had sent a card when Elder Sennet died and it was really thoughtful of her to send a reply. It was an Australia day in the mail! What did you end up doing with your paintings? Are you hauling them with you?
Tommy – they are in the vault in adelaide. and far out dignitaries suck
Brent – Just read your first letter. Proselytize on Darwin campus sounds really cool. Have you seen any kangaroos? I’m still hoping for the kangaroo punch.
Tommy – yeah we see wallibies sometimes but since we are in the suburbs not so much
Krista – Oh who knew there was a mission vault? I am learning so much. Drew is doing some makeup Seminary assignments right now… sound familiar? He is not too happy with me.
Tommy – haha sad life
Brent – Probably not as cool punching a wallabee. This opening ceremony is a little long. Mama Mcgreggs says hi.
Krista – I am forcing him to finish them in case he ever wants to go to the States for University. Not likely but we’re covering our bases. It’s graduation season here. Centennial’s grad was this weekend and I saw things from Dallin’s grad on Facebook. I guess no matter how much we fight it you all grow up!
Tommy – tell mama magreggs i say hi too wallabies are small but there are heaps
Brent – I had a cool discussion with a bunch of advisors. They were asking about you. Got to explain about missions, how you get called etc. It was good. I’m being a member missionary.
Tommy – yeah eventually i guess – which advisers?
Krista – I’m not sure punching wildlife is a great plan. I have been watching Australian Border Patrol shows ( yes mocking inserted here) and let’s just say those Australian officlas don’t mess around! I will be excited to see pictures of your new place and Darwin. What a change! Is your area as big as your Adelaide areas. Do you have to bike far?
Tommy – dad can you send any more photos of our aslc and any more training ideas. they are helping so much, really engaging
Laura McGregor – Hey Tommy…mama McGregs here. Missing you here at ASLC. Hope you are having a great time. Use lots of sunscreen!
Brent- Wisewood, two Airdrie schools, small schools near Lloudminster, Drumheller.
Tommy – thank you! and yeah its just as big but we cover what is called lee point so its super far
Brent – I will find some stuff for next week. Why do u want ASLC pics? I can send activities.
Tommy – awesome well tell them i say hi – idk i just want some pictures of us hosting it – companions always ask about it but it never really works just to just explain – hey om and dad i gotta go ill talk to you next week. love yous
Brent – I will send pics and ideas. No problem. It brings back great memories of you at ASLC last year. You made an impact on some of these advisors!
Fun fact: Getting transferred from Adelaide to Darwin is the same distance as Calgary to Houston. Yes Tommy flew.
Hey Mom and Dad so sorry about the late email. So transfers happened and I got shipped to Darwin! I’m the Palmerston district leader in Darwin and my new companion is…… Elder Ivory!(They were together in the MTC) We are in an area called Malak. So Elder Miague is still in Evandale and his new companion is Elder Hobby. Other than that it has been a pretty normal week. It’s really freaking hot here though. 90% humidity and 30 degrees (there’s the weather report for grandpas). We are doing great and it should be a really good transfer.
so I don’t think I will need a winter jacket
Hey Mom and Dad, so this week has been a good one. We got 5 new investigators this week! More than all of marion zone. So I talked to Sister Parker and she said I should be able to facetime home on Monday here so Sunday night there. So another cool experience is that I met Brother Steed this week in my ward! Turns out he is from Salt Lake and that he has been in Adelaide for 7 years. #metmycousin. That is crazy that the guys are killing it this year. Far out I’m excited for back to back provincial titles.
We missed Tommy’s email that came a day later so that is all for now.
Hey Mom and Dad so this week has been pretty good. We were able to get a new investigator named Gideon this week. Gideon is from Kenya and he has had a rough life. He told us stories of watching people starve to death so needless to say he has a tough time believing in God. This week we were also able to go on trade offs with the zone leaders. Elder Leutele (from new zealand) and I got to stay in evandale and smash it here. Other than that it has been really normal. Our converts are doing great and paul is slowly progressing.
- read d&c 50 or d&c 112 is what I do to lift myself when I’m feeling down.
- adobo is my favorite new food I’ve tried.
10. Investigators would say this about me i talk really fast and tell stories
Brent – Hey buddy, I’m cheating in the Moroni’s quest fireside and am emailing you. How cool to meet someone like Gideon. I loved teaching Africans in Sweden. Amazing people. The convert baptism went great. We were in the RS room at Parkland. It was packed. All the YM were standing. At least 10 non members from Centennial came. A good day
Krista – Oh… that is no surprise that you talk really fast and it makes sense that you are a storyteller coming from your family. I am glad to hear about the two sections of D&C . I will make that my scripture study for this week. So Paul and Gideon and remind me again the name of your Chinese investigator… and what is adobo?
Tommy – his name is martin and adobo is a filipino food that elder miague taught me how to cook. super simple but really good. and yeah the africans are always really receptive – that is sweet i dont even remember convert baptisms in sundance
Brent – Neither do we! It is pretty great.
Krista – Ok… so just saying Philipino food is not that descriptive… any more info? Tell me what you did on splits and a little about your Zone leaders
Tommy – its like meat and filipino soy sauce (very different) on rice – same as usual finding
Ben – Ben- hey Tommy on our program it says your returning auust 2017
Tommy – one more year
Krista – Hmmm… I will have to look it up and try to find how to make it. Sounds interesting. Where do you go to find in your area? – I think Benny meant 2018 the part he likes is that there is no G in August …Auust. We look for it every week… it’s kind of a tradition now
Ben- doh somehow I forgot the year
Tommy – we do a lot of door knocking in a place called campbelltown – haha all good benny
Krista – What is your favorite way to contact people? What are you the best at and what are you trying to improve at?
Tommy – i am not the best at going slow with my contacts, the easiest way to talk to people is on the street because they cant run away
Ben- hey did mom tell you I’m playing Rugby now it is really fun I bit too hard on my mouth guard now it gets stuck in
Tommy – good you want it to get stuck because then it wont fall out – what position are you playing?
Krista – Oh that cracks me up… what a surprise that you are not into details and going slow… sound familiar Benny??? I also laughed at “they can’t run away”… they also probably can’t send their dogs after you 🙂
Ben- no like have to pop it out from the back. Don’t know my position yey
Krista – Tell me about some of the personalities of the missionaries you work with senior or junior… Who is the most serious? Who likes a good joke? Who is a good cook? Who is a fierce teacher?
Tommy – exactly – everyone in the district are jokers. i have to be the serious one which is no fun
Ben – in my first practice I scored a try
Tommy – elder garbutt and miague are good cooks – thats sweet!
Krista – That is a hard thing when you have to be a leader… you told me about the adobo… what does Elder Garbutt like to cook? What has become your go to meal for you to cook?
Tommy – i cook a lot of mexican and assorted
Krista – What is coming up for you for PDay… any new training on the horizon?
Ben- thanks, on Friday I went to comiccon. Me and my friend played classic brawl
Tommy – classic brawl how was it?
Krista – What about the senior missionaries? Who is like a mom or dad? Who is a great teacher? Who is a details person?
Tommy – i have been training a lot for meetings speaking of, dad do you have any good leadership trainings that can be applied to the gospel?
Ben- really fun you can be mew two in it witch is awsome
Tommy – and sister smith is like leder miague and i’s mom
Brent – I will have to send you something next week.
Tommy – ok sweet im running out of ideas for trainings
Krista – What!!! I don’t understand, I think you were typing too fast.. explain about Sister Smith and Elder Miague
Tommy – sister smith is like a mom to elder miague and i. she makes sure we are fed
Ben- one thing I got was a pin with cat Head in a cupcake cup with a unicorn horn
Brent – Taylor says hi. The boys and I gotta go. Have a great week.
Krista – What about using the story of Jake in Cameron Lake… He kept swimming deeper and deeper, having a great time and he had no idea that there was a big drop off and that the water was so cold he could be in danger. Finally a man in a kayak pushed him to the shore… could use the analogy of sometimes we don’t know the dangers of what we are doing or what is around the corner… have to listen to people on shore(spirit) and get help from the Lord and others to avoid danger… reminds me of President Packer’s crocodile story.
I have always been interested in animals and birds and when I was a little boy and the other children wanted to play cowboy, I wanted to go on safari to Africa and would pretend I was hunting the wild animals.
When I learned to read, I found books about birds and animals and came to know much about them. By the time I was in my teens I could identify most of the African animals. I could tell a klipspringer from an impala, or a gemsbok from wildebeest.
I always wanted to go to Africa and see the animals, and finally that opportunity came. Sister Packer and I were assigned to tour the South Africa Mission with President and Sister Howard Badger. We had a very strenuous schedule and had dedicated eight chapels in seven days, scattered across that broad continent.
President Badger was vague about the schedule for September 10th. (That happens to be my birthday.) We were in Rhodesia, planning, I thought, to return to Johannesburg, South Africa. But he had other plans, and we landed at Victoria Falls.
“There is a game reserve some distance from here,” he explained, “and I have rented a car, and tomorrow, your birthday, we are going to spend seeing the African animals.”
Now I might explain that the game reserves in Africa are unusual. The people are put in cages, and the animals are left to run free. That is, there are compounds where the park visitors check in at night and are locked behind high fences until after daylight they are allowed to drive about, but no one is allowed out of his car.
We arrived in the park in the late afternoon. By some mistake, there were not enough cabins for all the visitors, and they were all taken when we arrived. The head ranger indicated that they had a cabin in an isolated area about eight miles from the compound and we could spend the night there.
Because of a delay in getting our evening meal, it was long after dark when we left the compound. We found the turnoff and had gone up the narrow road just a short distance when the engine stalled. We found a flashlight and I stepped out to check under the hood, thinking that there must be a loose connection or something. As the light flashed on the dusty road, the first thing I saw was lion tracks!
Back in the car, we determined to content ourselves with spending the night there! Fortunately, however, an hour or two later we were rescued by the driver of a gas truck who had left the compound late because of a problem. We awakened the head ranger and in due time we were settled in our cabin. In the morning they brought us back to the compound.
We had no automobile, and without telephones there was no way to get a replacement until late in the day. We faced the disappointment of sitting around the compound all day. Our one day in the park was ruined and, for me, the dream of a lifetime was gone.
I talked with a young ranger, and he was surprised that I knew many of the African birds. Then he volunteered to rescue us.
“We are building a new lookout over a water hole about twenty miles from the compound,” he said. “It is not quite finished, but it is safe. I will take you out there with a lunch, and when your car comes late this afternoon we will bring it out to you. You may see as many animals, or even more, than if you were driving around.”
On the way to the lookout he volunteered to show us some lions. He turned off through the brush and before long located a group of seventeen lions all sprawled out asleep and drove right up among them.
We stopped at a water hole to watch the animals come to drink. It was very dry that season and there was not much water, really just muddy spots. When the elephants stepped into the soft mud the water would seep into the depression and the animals would drink from the elephant tracks.
The antelope, particularly, were very nervous. They would approach the mud hole, only to turn and run away in great fright. I could see there were no lions about and asked the guide why they didn’t drink. His answer, and this is the lesson, was “Crocodiles.”
I knew he must be joking and asked him seriously, “What is the problem?” The answer again: “Crocodiles.”
“Nonsense,” I said. “There are no crocodiles out there. Anyone can see that.”
I thought he was having some fun at the expense of his foreign game expert, and finally I asked him to tell us the truth. Now I remind you that I was not uninformed. I had read many books. Besides, anyone would know that you can’t hide a crocodile in an elephant track.
He could tell I did not believe him and determined, I suppose, to teach me a lesson. We drove to another location where the car was on an embankment above the muddy hole where we could look down. “There,” he said. “See for yourself.”
I couldn’t see anything except the mud, a little water, and the nervous animals in the distance. Then all at once I saw it!—a large crocodile, settled in the mud, waiting for some unsuspecting animal to get thirsty enough to come for a drink.
Suddenly I became a believer! When he could see I was willing to listen, he continued with the lesson. “There are crocodiles all over the park,” he said, “not just in the rivers. We don’t have any water without a crocodile somewhere near it, and you’d better count on it.”
The guide was kinder to me than I deserved. My “know-it-all” challenge to his first statement, “crocodiles,” might have brought an invitation, “Well, go out and see for yourself!”
I could see for myself that there were no crocodiles. I was so sure of myself I think I might have walked out just to see what was there. Such an arrogant approach could have been fatal! But he was patient enough to teach me.
My young friends, I hope you’ll be wiser in talking to your guides than I was on that occasion. That smart-aleck idea that I knew everything really wasn’t worthy of me, nor is it worthy of you. I’m not very proud of it, and I think I’d be ashamed to tell you about it except that telling you may help you.
Those ahead of you in life have probed about the water holes a bit and raise a voice of warning about crocodiles. Not just the big, gray lizards that can bite you to pieces, but spiritual crocodiles, infinitely more dangerous, and more deceptive and less visible, even, than those well-camouflaged reptiles of Africa.
These spiritual crocodiles can kill or mutilate your souls. They can destroy your peace of mind and the peace of mind of those who love you. Those are the ones to be warned against, and there is hardly a watering place in all of mortality now that is not infested with them.
On another trip to Africa I discussed this experience with a game ranger in another park. He assured me that you can indeed hide a crocodile in an elephant track—one big enough to bite a man in two.
He then showed me a place where a tragedy had occurred. A young man from England was working in the hotel for the season. In spite of constant and repeated warnings, he went through the compound fence to check something across a shallow splash of water that didn’t cover his tennis shoes.
“He wasn’t two steps in,” the ranger said, “before a crocodile had him, and we could do nothing to save him.”
It seems almost to be against our natures, particularly when we are young, to accept much guidance from others. But, young people, there are times when, regardless of how much we think we know or how much we think we want to do something, that our very existence depends on paying attention to the guides.
Now, it is a gruesome thing to think about that young man who was eaten by the crocodile. But that is not, by any means, the worst thing that could happen. There are moral and spiritual things far worse even than the thought of being chewed to pieces by a monstrous lizard.
Fortunately there are guides enough in life to prevent these things from happening if we are willing to take counsel now and again.
Some of us are appointed now, as you will be soon, to be guides and rangers. Now we don’t use those titles very much. We go under the titles of parents—father and mother—bishop, leader, adviser. Our assignment is to see that you get through mortality without being injured by these spiritual crocodiles.
I’m glad Sister Smith is so awesome. Their flat is close to where you live right?
Tommy – around the corner
Krista – That was lucky! Jake is rocking out to the Lion King. I swear I could sing all of those songs in my sleep!!!!!!! Sang with the priests for the first time last week. They did well. Coy sang with them but also showed them a funny email Sister Woodruff sent to him giving him a lifetime exemption from Ward Choir. I suggested Drew go this week… Let’s just say he was hoping for an exemption too
Tommy – haha that is funny
Krista – Yep…there was all sorts of stuff like” it would be detrimental to the testimonies of his family and the ward”. Not sure it is that bad but the priests enjoyed it. May tomorrow finally feels like we can hope for Spring. Have you found that you have adjusted ti the weather enough now that the 19c fall weather feels cold in Adelaide? Are you glad for no more hot weather? I shouldn’t say that because then maybe you will get transferred to somewhere like Darwin where it is always hot
Tommy – gotta go love ypu