Sunday, November 27, 2016


As some of my wonderful friends from Reno might be aware, I periodically do a rewrite of one of the radio talks I gave when we lived in Reno, Nevada.

I was searching out one of those talks to do a rewrite for this week’s Thought for a Sabbath Day. When I started reading this radio talk I was struck with the realization that it had been more than 25 years since I first wrote and read these thoughts for the radio show Reflections for a Sabbath Day produced by Carl Chamberlain.

Before I find myself launching into reminiscing about what has taken place during those 25 years, which have disappeared in the twinkling of an eye, let me share my rewrite of that long ago radio talk.

As Kathleen and I went through the ever building excitement of preparing to serve our mission in Colombia as President of the Bogota Colombia mission, we were also trying to put our bodies into some kind of physical shape.

As part of our reconstruction project we could be found most mornings doing our 3.3 mile walk along the beautiful paths in the Coughlin Ranch housing development on the western slopes of Reno. These walks provided us with ample time to share the various experiences we were having during this exciting time of our lives. Frequently the theme of our conversations centered on the reactions we were receiving as we shared with family, friends and neighbors the news about our call to serve in the country of Colombia.

All too frequently, there was a negative tone to those reactions. A sampling would include such comments as fears about drug dealers, terrible living conditions, concern about our children and grandchildren, our home we had been remodeling, what was going to happen to my career as a teacher in the Church Education System along with what seemed like hundreds of other considerations which they wondered if we had taken into account when we accepted the call to live in Colombia for the next three years. (Book of Mormon - Alma 26: 24)

In almost equal numbers we received an outpouring of comments bordering on euphoria. What a wonderful opportunity, what a blessing this will be for all your family, you and Kathleen will be such a great strength to the people of Colombia.

If Kathleen and I hadn't been living witnesses of the variety of reactions to our mission call, we might have thought that the wide diversity of these comments must have been reactions to a wide variety of different experiences.

As I reflect back on our exchanges during those morning walks, I have reaffirmed in my mind the belief that most perceptions we have are unique to the eye which is beholding.

This strange characteristic which causes each of us to have different understandings and beliefs about what we are witnessing or experiencing stimulates my thoughts into wondering why we behold or go through the same events, but our reactions and remembrances are often so radically different.

I am sure that even after 25 years of my personal observation of this phenomenon of diversified reaction to the same stimuli and pondering about it, I suspect I have not come closer to identifying the cause than what I expressed in that long ago radio talk.

I haven't checked, but I am sure it has nothing to do with such physical attributes as size or color. No, it seems that our reaction to the stimulus of light or sound seems to be a result of implanted social interpreters which have been embedded on brain cells by previous reactions to similar stimuli.

We seem to have built up reactionary responses which move along our personal internal continuum labeled on one end ‘self-interest’ and on the other extreme ‘my neighbor’s interest.’

During the temporal period when Heavenly Father’s children have had the privilege of abiding on this planet, the Lord has attempted to teach us the way of life which leads to happiness. As one of the main tenets of this path He definitely advocated that we put every effort of our beings into trying to move toward having our neighbor’s interests of paramount importance, while putting an equal amount of dedication into striving to eliminate self-interest from our lives.

The Savior was also adamant about the tenet that we should eradicate the barriers which might limit our definition of who our neighbor might be. Neighbors were not to be defined by geography. He said to his disciples, ‘Go ye unto all the world.’ Neighbors were not to be determined by pigmentation, genealogy, gender or any other artificial social category. ‘Teach ye every kindred, tongue and people,’ was His admonition.

There is little doubt that one of the real tests of discipleship is how well we are able to break down the man made walls between ourselves and our non-restricted category of neighbors. Then, once having gotten a foundation of the wonderful feeling of universal love for all of Heavenly Father’s children deeply inculcated into our beings, we have been admonished to go forth as far as our resources will allow us and do all we can to help, edify and strengthen our neighbors.

As always, with His perfect example, the Savior broke the bands of death for every person who would be born into and eventually pass from mortality. He paid the Atoning Price for sin for all who would repent. Our ultimate challenge is to see His good works and then try to emulate them in our own lives.

With this moment of reflection the rewriting of this radio talk has brought me, I am also made acutely aware that in life we have many moments which separate our lives before, from our lives after. Our lives before marriage and children were markedly different from our life after. Our lives definitely changed with the signing of our first contract with the Church Education System. Kathleen and I have agreed that our lives BCM were extraordinarily different than our lives ACM. (Before Colombian Mission – After Colombian Mission)
Such changes brought about by dramatic life style shifts can be reflected upon, but the total measurement of their affect upon us might have to be left to those who have a more universal understanding and knowledge.

However, in reflecting upon our call to serve among our wonderful Colombian neighbors, Kathleen and I will eternally be grateful that we were able to lay aside most of the self-interest parts of our lives and concentrate on the interests of our beloved Colombian brothers and sisters for three years. It was indeed a rare and blessed experience. (Book of Mormon - Alma 26: 31)

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