6/19/18

Father's Day Talk

This past Sunday, Father's Day, I was invited by our bishop to speak in our Sacrament Meeting.  Below is the text of my talk.


First of all, I'd like to thank the bishop and bishopric for the invitation to speak on this special day for fathers.
For those who know me, know that I like to tell jokes, and today is no different.  Here's a joke especially for fathers.  If that's not specific enough, it's a sports joke. And if that is still not specific enough, it's a football joke. Yes it's definitely and especially for fathers.  
It's a two-part joke.  The first part is not original, meaning that you may have heard or read it before, maybe on the Internet.  The second part is original and so I'm applying for a copyright.
There was an American guy and his British girlfriend. He invited her to spend some time with him here in America. While she was here the boyfriend took her to a football (American) game. After the game, the following conversation ensued.
Girlfriend (in her British accent): You Americans are very weird sports fanatics 
Boyfriend: How?
Girlfriend: Well, you seem to center everything on money, and it was kind of stupid to play for a mere coin.
Boyfriend: What do you mean?
Girlfriend: Well, at the beginning of the game, the two teams flipped a coin and then awarded it to the other team
Boyfriend: Aaaand?
Girlfriend: And all throughout the game the fans kept screaming: "Get the quarter back! Get the quarter back!"[Laughter]
And so the American boyfriend, not wanting to be outsmarted by his girlfriend, let alone a British, had an immediate comeback
Boyfriend: Well, for your information, it was not a quarter, it was a dollar - a silver dollar
Girlfriend: No, it was a quarter
Boyfriend: It was a dollar
Girlfriend: Well, can you prove that it was a dollar?
Boyfriend (condescendingly): Yes Madam. You see, there was the first quarter, then the second quarter, the third quarter and the fourth quarter - four quarters, that's a dollar!...  Duh!
[Laughter] 
 E mua'i faamalie atu i le tatou uarota, o le a faa-British (Peretania) la'u lauga.  Leai, e le ose fia nanu, poo se tau su'e lanu ae o le manumanu.... ina ne'i togi i le pa ae le tau i le ‘ave le savali, ona o le to'atele o le tatou uarota e le malamalama i le gagana Samoa.  Ae o le faa-Samoa ia a le failauga, ia e sa'o ai le ‘agaga (upu)  masani - E le ma'i a le fa'a-Samoa a si kama, ae seki a.

Let me wish all you fathers a "Happy Father's Day!"
And I mean that in the broad and inclusive sense and context of the term "fathers" - which include single fathers, step fathers, foster fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, and so on.
But I am also considerate, as Bishop advised when he invited me to speak, of those families without fathers - due to one reason or another - or as the apostle James calls "the fatherless and widows" (James 1:27).  To such, if I may offer as consolation, reassure you that in the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ, there are those priesthood holders who, by the very nature of their callings and ministry, serve as father figures for you and your families.  For example, the bishop, who is the "father of the ward" and ministers (formerly hometeachers).  As these servants serve, minister and visit  you and your families, you, in turn, become the essence and demonstration of what the apostle James calls  "pure religion and [purity] before God." (James 1:27).
In fact, moreover, according to the apostle Paul, although we all have earthly fathers,  we also all have, in common, and literally, the father of our spirits, who is God, our Heavenly Father and to whom - according to the apostle - we should rather be in subjection (Hebrews 12:9). 
In a 2016 General Conference talk, titled "Fathers", Elder D. Todd Christofferson said that "Our Heavenly Father is the perfect [and] divine expression of fatherhood."
 In the same talk, Elder Christofferson said:
"... fatherhood is much more than a social construct or product of evolution.  The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven, and in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam."
Today, we fathers are being honored and celebrated. And because of that focus and attention from our families, loved ones and others, we tend to become passive recipients of their many expressions of gratitude, love, praise, Facebook posts and tributes, and of course a big to'ana'i (or feast) given in our honor.
I do, however, feel that in addition to being feted and honored, today is one of the best times we, as fathers, perform a self evaluation of our divine role and responsibility. At the very least, we need a quiet meaningful inventory of some of the things we need to improve on so we can be better husbands and fathers.
Let me suggest three things that I would consider in my own inventory.  They are found in three of my favorite words, namely GROWTH, BALANCE and CHANGE.  All these words are central to explaining, examining and understanding the gospel in our lives, and therefore useful in our efforts in becoming better fathers.
And all three are also complementary to other usual and - by now - familiar counsels for fathers by our leaders in the past but reminded to us by Elder Christofferson, as follows:
- a father represents the ideal of the man who puts his family first
- by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness
- fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.
- loving the mother of his children - and showing that love - are two of the best things a father can do for his children.
These and many others.
But for my assignment and purpose today, again, let me suggest:
First, GROWTH:
Growth is a virtue, often synonymous and used in the familiar gospel concept of "Progression", as in "mortal progression", "spiritual progression" and of course  "eternal progression".
One of the main emphases of the gospel, is personal growth - especially spiritual growth. We need to grow out of our natural and fallen nature. President Hinckley reminded us that the gospel is to "make bad men good, and good men better." It wouldn't be much different if we re-phrase that and replacing "man" with "fathers" - the gospel is to make bad fathers good and good fathers better.  In other words, as we live the gospel, growth becomes the natural outcome and result.  In the words of King Benjamin we need to "... [put] off the natural man and [become] a saint." (Mosiah 3:19)
In the need for growth, Elder Christofferson said that "... fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve."   Put simply, we need to grow.
To be effective and competent fathers, we need to seek and do those things that bring us the most positive growth.  Things that would grow and increase our wisdom, knowledge, character, experience, testimony and faith.  We need to be like the Savior who grew and increased in wisdom and stature and, therefore, in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).  At this time of Jesus' life, Elder Christofferson reminds us that even the Savior had a foster father in Joseph, and therefore even Christ, as our exemplar, had to grow from grace upon grace.  Likewise, we too, learn and grow from line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little (Isaiah 28:10).
Let us use growth as the criteria and measure of success in the pursuits and challenges of our daily lives as fathers. In such quest, of becoming a better husband and  father, it would be helpful if we ask the question:"Does a particular undertaking contribute to my personal growth as a husband and father?"  Using a simple plant as an example, we add water, nutrients and sunlight for it to grow.  We don't use hot water or other things that will kill the plant. Similarly, we should determine and seek after those things that would contribute and help in our own growth as fathers, and not those things that undermine our role, or even destroy us.
Second, BALANCE:
As we strive for meaningful growth as fathers, let us also try to find BALANCE in our lives and in our divine calling. The role and responsibility of being a father can be overwhelming, demanding and stressful at times. Work and family often overlap.  And finding balance can help us become effective, inspired and satisfied fathers.  Finding balance can mean using wisdom and order as King Benjamin said:
"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent,... that all things must be done in order."
(Mosiah 4:27)
 Finding balance also means that, as fathers, we should acquire at least basic and working knowledge and skills in other useful fields, disciplines and talents.  With today's age of information at our fingertips (literally), Youtube and other online tutorials can help in this regard.  These can be quite rewarding as we often find ourselves helping our children during some project or in their school work and other assignments. We do not need to become Renaissance men, but the principle of balance in our lives, is worthy of consideration and emulation. Socrates once offered a caveat against the "unexamined life", which is one that's not worth living.  Though it seems dramatic in tone, the essence of the maxim is in line with our Heavenly Father's plan for our mortal existence - that we are here to live, learn, experience, grow and progress.
Another application of balance in our lives is avoiding extremes.  In this context, moderation is recommended.
A father who spends all, if not most of his time, resources, energy in going to extremes to make sure that his sons will be the best football players and athletes, and ultimately making sports as his top priority and obsession, is a father who needs balance.
On the other end of the pendulum is a father who insists and sometimes forces his children to live the lives of spiritual hermits, at the expense of social, educational, recreational and other activities, is in danger of creating gospel hobbies and extremes.  Such a father desperately needs balance.
On extremity, Elder Quentin Cook reminds us that "Almost any virtue taken to excess can become a vice," and such extreme approaches can cause us to become guilty of  "looking beyond the mark" (Jacob 4:14).

Third, CHANGE:
And so during our quiet meaningful inventories on this Father's Day, if you're like me, you will definitely find things you/we need to improve on or change - maybe minor, maybe major.  One of the key objectives and functions of the gospel is changing lives - for the better.  And we all can be witnesses of that.
Motivational speakers often say, if you're not getting the results you want, change what you're doing.  If we have a hard time living up to the kind of fathers we want to be, maybe consider changing what we're doing.  With the guidance and help of the Spirit, we can know what and how to effect needed and important change in our lives.
And by the way, change in the gospel context is often expressed and implemented in the process of repentance.  According to King Benjamin, real, sincere and mighty change starts in our hearts, where the disposition to do good continually is wrought (Mosiah 5:2).  Our behavior and character should then be continually shaped and molded by the good word of God.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said:
"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve [and change] behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. …"
The one interesting and true thing about being a father is we don't go to school to learn how to be a good one.  There are no scholastic honors or degrees on fatherhood as a discipline or field of study. There may be, today, some professional training in parenthood, but our most effective and important training as parents and as fathers is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, through application of its truths, eternal principles and doctrines.
After the Savior miraculously fed the five thousand, in the evening, he instructed his disciples to board a boat and sail across to the other side of the sea (of Galilee) where he will meet them later.  During the night, a strong wind blew and the ship was tossed with waves. The disciples prayed and were afraid for much of the night. "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea." (Matthew 14:25).  The fourth watch is often used as a metaphor for faith in Jesus Christ.
Figuratively speaking, fathers, we are quarterbacks on our teams (or families), and we are winners, not quitters, meaning that we play all four quarters - we need to be there during the fourth watch, or fourth quarter, when victory is declared, and when all our "Hail Mary's" are answered, and have overcome the adversary's attempts and calls to "Get the quarterback!"  As quarterbacks too, let our audibles* today be "Growth!....Balance! ....Change!"
We need to strive and continue to be good, loving, patient, worthy and faithful fathers. Elder Christofferson said: 
"I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on."
And to that I add the Savior's words to his storm-tossed disciples: "Be of good cheer,...be not afraid," (Matthew 14:27) is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
--------------------------------------------
* In American football, it's a change in the offensive play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage

6/7/18

The Salt Lake Temple

In the past few days, Dearie and I had been hosting her cousin and nephew from New Zealand who came to the reunion (Purcell Reunion).  As typical of us Utahns when we have visitors from outside Utah and/or America, we would always include a Temple Square tour/visit as part of their itinerary.  Temple Square according to Forbes, is the 16th most visited site in the United States with about 5 million visitors a year.  The Salt Lake Temple (or the "mountain of the Lord's House" according to the prophet Isaiah), is an iconic building of the LDS Church, with a remarkable history.

And so as we took our Kiwi guests for a tour there, and while they were documenting their visit through their own pictures, videos, etc., I spent some time taking some of my own creative shots of the temple with my iPhone.

A couple of things that added to the beauty and majesty of the temple on this day - as hopefully reflected in the pictures - were the weather and season (being late Spring with its flowers and blossoms in and around the site).  The sun was also bright and imposing adding to the glow and divine appearance of the edifice.

Here are some of the pictures.





























3/30/18

... and from Paradice to ParaNiZe

So we came home from Hawaii and rested for a week and then got “shipped out” to NZ, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.  There’s something about NZ that draws me to her - ok, IT! (I don’t know who assigned the feminine pronoun to countries.  Yeah, like...hmmm....America is a she: “Stand beside her, and guide her”...lol!) Anyway, it’s not rugby that draws me to NZ.  I’ve broken my love affair with rugby ever since I broke my clavicle - ok collarbone. Many years ago.  And it’s not necessarily the land or the people, or the sheep either, though I must admit that I do like eating lamb!..sweet and sour lamb!  Oooohhh Bingo!  That’s it. That’s “the” something that draws me to NZ. Food!  New Zealand food!  Fish and chips. Meat pies. Ice Cream. Butter. Sausages. Salted Beef (Povi masima). Tomato sauce/ketchup (Wattie’s). L&P (you Americans have to guess this..lol).etc. etc.  By the way, all these (except L&P) are found here in Yankeeland, but NZ does them far out and far bettah. So if you learn that I am - or will be - traveling to NZ, other than for a fa’alavelave, chances are that it’s a pleasure trip. Eating pleasure that is.  Lol!!

We were there during the PolyFest week. So we stopped by to check. And bought food. On this particular day, we went over to the Samoa stage/field.  We ate while listening to some students who were asked some impromptu questions. The questions were mostly based on some of the contemporary issues facing Samoans in general. So here’s my personal assessment. I gave all the students I listened to that day a “C” grade on the regular A-F grading scale.  Grades could have been D’s but the students' introductions and closings using a lot of Samoan alaga’upu (proverbial expressions) - albeit by rote - earned them some good points. They were so articulate in their greetings and closings but when it got to the part where they answered the questions, they were either lost or just utterly uninformed. Answers were mostly laughable. Literally. I understand how the cultural and traditional speech giving is high on the lists of the Samoan language revival initiatives in NZ, but having the students also focus and study the contemporary issues affecting Samoans is perhaps a more important priority. Fai aku ai fo’i.

Overall, however, NZ remains my "NiZe" and favorite vacation spot. On our way back we did stop in another favorite place, Hawaii, again, for a day.

Oh yes, we went to the Sky Tower this time. Some pics from the trip...

The Vacationers ...yes! Fish 'n Chips ...downtown Auckland

... at Mission Bay ... we love this place



...a visit to Auckland is not complete without a stop at
this ice cream place at Pokeno ...yuummm!

...at the PolyFest

... top of the Sky Tower 





... hang in there!







..  at Fale Samoa and also Sei Oriana shop




... a perfect shot of the sunrise from my window seat 


2/28/18

From Paradise to Paradice

That’s “Paradice,” as in “ice” - and snow.😁

In a matter of a few days, okay make that a few hours (flight time), I went from a place of clear sunny blue skies to one where the snow flies. From blue ocean and super warm temperatures to cold and freezing conditions. I went from the land of Lilo and Stitch (aaand Moana) to the land of Elsa and Frozen - befittingly.

Here’s what I mean ...

from paradise ...

to paradice

On the weekend of Presidents’ Day (February 19th), we (Dearie, I, daughter and two granddaughters) hopped out to Oahu, Hawaii for the long weekend.  A snowstorm was in the forecast at home for Sunday and Monday so it was not a bad plan after all. Actually any plan involving a day or two spent in Hawaii is never a bad plan. Unless, of course, there’s a real missile heading there at the time ...lol.  And yes, the false missile alarm was still the topic of conversation among the locals.

Having lived in Hawaii for some years in the past, this time I’m back as a tourist. And from such perspective, the islands feel a lot more exciting, more beautiful and even much more inviting still. It rained heavily on one day, but the sun was back in hot vengeance during the rest of our brief getaway.

We stayed in Waikīkī, then also at the North Shore side (Marriott’s). It’s modern vs. traditional island settings respectively. Stark opposites! Then we spent a whole day at the PCC, my old stomping grounds.  Though much has changed in the physical layout and available commercial offerings, the feel and beauty of the place and the people (students mostly) still remain. There were so many recollections and memories of this amazing and inspiring place which has changed my life in several profound ways.

Anyway, some pics to tell the rest of the story...of Paradise

Waikīkī Sunrise ...view from hotel
...her favorite, the niu

...seki a le giu mamaka ae sali i le 'aisali mo'i .. lol!
the vendor gave me a plastic spoon but I took his machete and
cut for myself an 'aisali...

Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) ...

... a feel of Samoa
chief's house in Samoan village (PCC)

... Samoan village, from across the "lagoon" (PCC)

the umukuka...
where I used to do the coconut husking demonstration years ago (PCC)
..daughter and granddaughters




Maori Marae (PCC)
PCC Night Show - Finale

Waikīkī...



Waikīkī  Beach

... touring Waikīkī




1/30/18

Trump is Full of Crap ... Ooops, I mean (Updated)

CLAP!!  πŸ‘πŸ‘ If you were watching the "Apprentice" president (aka president-in-training) tonight, he craps claps for himself, then invites and encourages others to crap clap along, even gesturing the attendees to stand up and CLAP!  Oh what Crap! blap! The first president in the history of America to do such bidding during the state of the union address.  He tries really hard!  And full of it.πŸ‘  All party propaganda. Some people fall for such gaudy, partisan and pompous speech.  Oh puhleeease, he's a rookie politician for crying "clapping" out loud.  Anyhow, I forgot about Trump supporters being the less educated and fa'avasivasi bunch!  That's a FACT, not fake news πŸ‘πŸ‘. Look it up!  And so I understand how some people fall for everything Trump said tonight πŸ‘πŸ‘.  And therefore you're excused  ... Ignorance is BLISS πŸ‘πŸ‘ .  Here's a link if you want to fact-check the lies, exaggerations and spin πŸ‘πŸΎ

So for those who checked in to view my blog (below), and my take on the SOTU address,  that's  my wrap of tonight's  CRAP CLAP session! (aka state of the union).πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΎ

Pageviews by Countries 

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
EntryPageviews
United States
8738
Australia
344
New Zealand
243
Samoa
132
Russia
118
American Samoa
77
France
39
Germany
36
China
32



And then there was this:


Here’s a very telling picture from the State of the Union address.  The First Lady (Melania) did not stand with others to applaud Trump, and exactly when Trump mentioned FAITH and FAMILY (and God) in his speech:

"In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. The motto is 'In God We Trust.'"

Apparently, Melania was not at all impressed.  I wonder why? Well I think I know! She, like most of us (the smart and brilliant ones, of course), believes more in ACTIONS than empty, idle and hollow words.  And who would know more about Trump than his own wife?  Now that is really low and very pathetic.  In essence, Melania was saying: 
“Donald, your actions are so much louder I cannot hear a word you’re saying; that’s why I’m not standing up!”  

So if you’re a wife who listened and was impressed with that part of the speech, consider for a minute why Trump’s wife was not impressed. Yeah?  Just look at the expression on her face. Yes, Trump is full of .... Clap!

"Believe Me!" ...about Trump ...lol!!

Right back at ya, Donald. πŸ˜‚ Re: "Believe me!" πŸ‘Œ Trump definitely reads my blog πŸ‘€πŸ‘ lol!!! Or I have a really good idea what kind of person he is ...πŸ™„πŸ™„ Not too long ago, I posted the following bullet point describing how Trump may finally do something major and undesirable as his way to unite this divided country called America. 
  • A war with North Korea is now becoming more likely.  How and why?  Well Trump has, generally, been a loser and failure during his first year in office.  There’s a political strategy that when a president/leader faces so many failures and low approval ratings at home (domestic), then he/she would seek to create a conflict abroad in order to unite his/her country.  The leader needs to be careful in trusting such a strategy, because it doesn’t always work in his favor.  For an American president, Vietnam and Iraq (to an extent) are good lessons.  Trump, being a foolhardy president that he is, may just count on a war with North Korea to unite the country, reverse his woes, misfortunes and unfavorable ratings at home. 

And so a few hours before his first state of the union address, tonight, Trump boldly said this:
"I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity,” Trump said. “Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.”
Well, duh, unless one is overly simple-minded, he/she better believe that one of those "major events [that] is not a good thing" is a war with North Korea, hmmm....or a terrorist attack like 9/11.