Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 46

Lessons learned from the Laws of Nature, Part 1

Animal Kingdom

I (Pam) enjoy being around all the benign animals here in Uganda.  We see cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and of course cats and lots of dogs along every road or in any compound.  Some may be a little skittish when approached, but none appear mean;  there has been no reason to fear them.   

Part of my routine when jogging is to take leftovers to one of the mother dogs down the road from us.  She has two pups that are now about 6 months old, but in this harsh environment with little food, the mothers nurse for quite a long time.  As I jogged by their home a few days ago, I called for the mother and her puppies.  To my surprise, they came running, ALONG WITH four other large dogs.  “Sheesh,” I thought, “better not put food out today!”.   As they were about to reach me, a vicious fight broke out between two of them and quickly spread to the others.  In a blink of the eye, their sweet-looking countenances had changed to narrow-beady eyed, blood-thirsty avengers while they were fighting ferociously with each other. It was too dangerous to try to break them up; yelling or throwing rocks didn’t phase them.  I was frightened at their gashes and amount of blood I was seeing and could tell that this was by no means friendly fighting.  A golden retriever appeared to be going for the kill, pinning one of the dogs on his back with a literal stranglehold on his throat, the retriever sinking his teeth deep into the dog’s throat over and over again.  It was a terrifying scene.  I had never witnessed anything like this  before.  Seeing a brick nearby, I hurled it with all my might into the retriever’s side; it startled him enough to break the death grip, and the bottom dog somewhere disappeared.  The fighting amongst all four of them completely stopped as quickly as it had started.  My greatest apprehension was what the retriever might then do, but it was all over; the dogs were now acting as normal as before the fight – although covered in blood and limping around.

The warnings we have received many times about the “wild” animals – not getting too close, became very poignant.  Animal behavior is never really predictable.  They don’t have the ability to reason like we do and truly can be volatile.  I was reminded of the Elder Boyd K. Packer’s experience with crocodiles years ago when he visited Africa.  Following is a utube link to his classic speech, worth pondering again:

The laws of nature highlight the precarious behaviors of lower species in the animal kingdom – creatures lacking the power to reason -  but sometimes we act as if we are one of them!  We seem to forget that we have God-given powers far superior to any animal.  Frequently  we react or lash out to little things as if they are threatening our very existence, forgetting who we really  are and what potential we really have.  King Benjamin spoke of this as being the “natural” man and teaches us how we can overcome this  tendency by developing our divine nature:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.  (Mosiah 3:19)

A significant part of our mission is to help those we work with (including ourselves) recognize  the difference between the natural man and our divine nature achieved through the Savior’s great redeeming Atonement.  
A senior couples conference week before Christmas at Murchison Falls Natl Park...Paraa Lodge.
Three nights of good food and fellowship.  A couple of land safaris and one up the River Nile to the falls.

A closer look at Murchison Falls than the last shot we sent you.  We did a hike from our original stopping place to the top of the falls...about a mile.
 Getting closer and on top of the falls.

 On top and looking down into the falls.  A lot of noise, a rainbow, mist and beauty.
 Speaking of beauty...check out the 'poetry in motion" on the left right.  I"m not one that smiles after a 1 mile hike, am I bishop?

 Never get tirred watching these beautiful animals in the wild.
Water buffalo


Elder David E. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy explained how a loss of love can happen in our homes: “In much of today’s popular culture, the virtues of forgiveness and kindness are belittled, while ridicule, anger, and harsh criticism are encouraged. If we are not careful, we can fall prey to these habits within our own homes and families and soon find ourselves criticizing our spouse, our children, our extended family members. Let us not hurt the ones we love the most by selfish criticism! In our families, small arguments and petty criticisms, if allowed to go unchecked, can poison relationships and escalate into estrangements, even abuse and divorce. Instead, … we must ‘make full haste’ to reduce arguments, eliminate ridicule, do away with criticism, and remove resentment and anger. We cannot afford to let such dangerous passions ruminate—not even one day” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 10; or Ensign, May 2003, 11–12).

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy explained that we are able to choose whether to react with anger or not:
“A cunning part of his [Satan’s] strategy is to dissociate anger from agency, making us believe that we are victims of an emotion that we cannot control. We hear, ‘I lost my temper.’ Losing one’s temper is an interesting choice of words that has become a widely used idiom. To ‘lose something’ implies ‘not meaning to,’ ‘accidental,’ ‘involuntary,’ ‘not responsible’—careless perhaps but ‘not responsible.’
“‘He made me mad.’ This is another phrase we hear, also implying lack of control or agency. This is a myth that must be debunked. No one makes us mad. Others don’t make us angry. There is no force involved. Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!
To those who say, ‘But I can’t help myself,’ author William Wilbanks responds, ‘Nonsense.’
“‘Aggression, … suppressing the anger, talking about it, screaming and yelling,’ are all learned strategies in dealing with anger. ‘We choose the one that has proved effective for us in the past. Ever notice how seldom we lose control when frustrated by our boss, but how often we do when annoyed by friends or family?’ (‘The New Obscenity,’ Reader’s Digest, Dec. 1988, 24; italics added)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 105; or Ensign, May 1998, 80).

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