How do you explain Sep 11 to young kids?

Promos for shows from different networks marking the 10 year anniversary of the Sep-11 attacks have started appearing on TV recently. This has led to my kids, who are under ten, asking questions.

What happened on Sep 11? Well, a bunch of bad guys hijacked some planes and crashed them into some buildings in America to try and kill as many people as they could.

This was ten years ago? Where were you? Yep, it was 10 years ago, a bit before you were born. Me and mum were getting ready to go to bed while it was actually happening. See, while it was early morning in the Eastern US, it was close to bedtime here. I remember seeing a news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen about a plane crash, but we shut the TV off to get an early night. This was when me and mum both worked at the same place. We didn’t see any of it until we woke up the next day. The clock radio went off at the appointed time, and they were talking about a plane crash. “Must have been the news from last night”, we thought. “Let’s turn on the news after breakfast before we go to work”. When we turned on the TV, it seemed every channel was carrying the same story. Two planes had crashed into the tallest buildings in New York called the World Trade Centre, and another into the Pentagon. And the World Trade Centre buildings had actually fallen down! Later we learned there was a fourth plane crash too.

Why did they try and kill those people? (OK, here we go…) You’ll soon start hearing a lot of people talking about this, and about related events that have happened in the 10 years following Sep 11. The short truth of the matter is that there are two reasons.

  1. They wanted American soldiers out of their Holy Lands, particularly military bases near Mecca and Medina which are Holy Cities.
  2. They wanted the American government to stop giving military support to Israel.
But why didn’t they just ask? I’m sure they did ask, and a number of times.They decided they only way that the Americans would listen was to do something like this; very spectacular and large.

When you say “they”, you mean Muslims?
 Well, yes. The guys who organised it and the guys who did it were all from a religion called Islam. People who follow Islam are called Muslims.

So, do Muslims try and kill people all the time?
No, not at all. Most of the world’s billion or so Muslims are regular people like you and me trying to live the best life they can. But some decided to do something really evil and kill a bunch of people. They aren’t the Muslim leaders, and they don’t represent the rest of the Muslims.

Why did they choose those buildings?
 The name of the guy who organised the attacks was Osama bin Laden. Osama had tried to destroy the World Trade Centre before, by getting a guy to drive a truck loaded with explosives into the basement underneath one of the buildings. The hope was that the bomb would go off, and push one tower into the other and bring them both down. That didn’t work, but he really wanted to bring those buildings down because they were a symbol of American economic power. Two towers took two planes.  A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon, which is a military base and symbol of American military power. Remember the fourth plane I mentioned? It was likely that this was supposed to crash into the White House which is where the President lives, and is a symbol of American politics and America itself. The fourth plane didn’t make it because the passengers fought back against the bad guys and the plane crashed into an empty field. They saved a lot of lives.

Then what happened?
Well over the last ten years America has started wars with Afghanistan and Iraq as well as a bunch of other countries. Don’t ask me to explain all that right now. Maybe another time. I spent a few months in America the next year, just before you were born and because they used planes to crash into buildings and kill people it meant more security and longer lines waiting to get onto flights. My dad took a flight on Sep 11 2002 and was the only passenger on the plane! In May, they guy who organised the attacks was tracked down and killed in a town in Pakistan.

So it’s all over, right? They can stop the wars?
Oh, I wish you were world leaders.

How have you explained Sep 11 to your young families? Leave a comment!

An afternoon spent with family

We had our yearly mums-side-of-the-family get together, this year at Perth Lawnbowling club in Perth near the Hyatt. Good to see cousins, aunts, uncles and other hangers on. Would have liked there to be more mingling, but it was still good and fun. Mum ran a family quiz with questions drawn from the annual “Paddick’s Progress” family album she’s edited for the last couple years. She gets as many family members as she possibly can to submit stories about themselves, their own immediate family or memories of other family members. There was also the traditional piñata, which wasn’t quite as strong as last year’s effort by Ashton and succumbed pretty quickly. There was also lots of darts, pools, snooker, billiards and some lawn bowling.

Later that evening we had a spoken word and song fireside about easter at Mandurah, where Ashton and Jett joined the Primary kids in a song. Quite nice.

Also, Fremantle somehow share top spot on the ladder. This is indeed uncharted and strange territory for the Dockers.

My experience as a member of the Bishopric

I served as a member of the Canning Ward Bishopric for a week in 2009. Well, actually, I was called and released all inside six weeks. The first week, all I did was sit on the stand and look pretty. The second week was General Conference. The third week I was working. The fourth week we had a family vacation. The fifth week is the only time I actually did anything useful. I conducted the meeting, I gave a talk, I did a few interviews. Then on the sixth week I was released. In between was the usual PEC, Ward Council, YM/YW meeting attendances but I’m not counting those.

Why was I released? Let me explain. We sold our house at the end of September and that weekend made plans and organised finances to move and buy a block outside Mandurah in a place called South Yunderup. We signed the papers to buy a block and everything.

As we were leaving the estate, who should call but our Stake President. It started out as a “Hi, how you doing” to which I replied, “All my plans are coming together. We just sold our house and bought another block and we plan on moving down here while we build”.

“Oh, well that changes things, then.” I knew at this point that he probably had some calling for me. In fact, in the few weeks leading up to this we’d had discussions on me being something of a “tech dogsbody”, who would assist in setting up computers, organising video conferences with cameras and projectors and such. He excused himself from the call. Not abruptly, just rather quickly.

President called back later that evening and said he wanted to meet me at the Temple the next night, on Wednesday night. OK, fair enough, it’s been a few months since I attended so I should probably go. He also wanted Suzanne there. Curiouser and curiouser, and something I alluded to in a previous post.

So we met in one of the Temple rooms and that’s where he sprung it on me that he was releasing me as Clerk and wanted to extend the calling as Second Counselor in the Bishopric. I looked at him and said, “You know we have sold and are moving, right?”. He knew this, and had discussed it with my Bishop but they felt that they needed to extend the call anyhow. I said I wasn’t going to accept anything without talking with Bishop, who also happened to be in the Temple that night. So President left, and Bishop came in.

“Are you out of your mind?” I asked. He said that as soon as he had called me to serve as Clerk he knew he wanted me as a Counselor. He’d been grooming me this whole time. “Geez,” I thought. “I should have been paying more attention in all those meetings.” WTF could I possibly offer as a Counselor? I was a good Clerk. In fact, I was an awesome Clerk, if I don’t say so myself. I had no idea on being a Counselor.

He convinced me that this was what the Lord wanted, and that even though I had plans on relocating I should still accept the calling, which I did. He even offered to buy me a suit, but the goatee and moutee had to go. I tell ya, that almost broke the deal right there. Nobody in 20 years had seen me without facial hair, even my wife. Last time I tried to shave I had annoying skin irritations until it grew back. But, still, I agreed and it was settled. I spoke again briefly to Stake President, who said that I’d benefit greatly from the calling no matter how long or how short it was. It was all sorted. In 4 days I was going to be in the Bishopric.

On Saturday night I had a ritual shaving of my beloved facial hair with the whole family involved. I somehow managed to cut my ears doing this, and as the photos we took attest I do look more handsome with facial hair. The more the better, too.

So I was called and sustained that Sunday, clean shaven and dressed to the nines. Some people honestly didn’t recognise me and wondered who the new guy was and why he was all of a sudden sitting on the stand.

Over the next week or so Suzanne and I talked and planned how we might find ways to avoid having to move out of the area. We found that the buyer of our house was willing to rent it back to us for a while. If the rent was reasonable we might manage it. It would be difficult because we’d also have the liability of the block we just bought. The buyer wanted about 40% more in rent that what we were paying in mortgage, so we’d have to go without a lot of stuff and make some sacrifices but this is what serving is all about.

So we agreed that we could make it work for a few more months, at least until the end of the year. But a couple weeks later the buyer reneged on the offer. We were unable to find any rentals in the same area we could afford. At the same time, a rental turned up around the corner from the block we had bought in South Yunderup at an unbelievably affordable price so even though it meant that we needed to move and that I would no longer be able to serve in the Bishopric, we took it. The advantages were that we could afford it, and that the kids would be settled for their new school in the new year.

It wasn’t easy breaking it to Bishop, that I would be moving and my term of service would be cut short. He was pretty disappointed, I think. I can understand that. He didn’t speak much to me while I remained at Canning and we haven’t spoken since.  I don’t think he’d hold a grudge; he’s above all that but I still am not sure that he’s all that happy with me. I might have expected a call to see how we were doing in our new Ward, but nothing.

So ended my days as service in the Bishopric. Maybe later I’ll get to serve again and come closer to meeting my potential, whatever that is. In releasing me, Stake President said that it had been the shortest Bishopric service he’d heard of, but there was a reason for it and he hoped I figured out the reason and that it was rewarding. Objectively, I see that everything had been driving me to where I am now: we sold our house when we did for a good price, we secured the block we wanted at the same time, we picked up the rental when we needed it. In addition, we have been fortunate enough to enroll the kids in the Baptist College being built near us for 2011. Why then was I called into the Bishopric? Surely the Lord had a hand in all the fortunate series of events we had been praying for and had up to this point been fulfilled. This whole calling thing seemed a bit of a curve ball. I’m sure there was a reason for it, but I still have not figured it out.

I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks, but decided to git ‘er done because of Stake Conference today. The Bishop of Canning Ward under whom I served for 6 weeks was sustained as 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency. He is a great man, and someone I admire and respect a lot. I don’t admire and respect many people, so you can be sure that this is a great compliment from me. He did a lot of good work for a lot of good people in our ward when the general membership was experiencing some very difficult times. This isn’t something I’ll elaborate on, suffice to say that anyone in our Ward will know what I’m talking about and how well Bishop served the people. Besides all that, he brought out the best in people by holding them to oaths and covenants they previously made, where in a lot of cases people were just cruising in their callings. I wish him all the best, and I know that he will have a great influence for good in our Stake.

Worlds without number

And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying:

For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

To All My Left-wing Friends and Relations

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Australia great.

Not to imply that Australia is necessarily greater than any other country.

Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

Christmas Nativity Nativity Franz Rhoden nativity

To all the rest of you: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.