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There is a scripture that has stuck in my mind of late:

Mosiah 18:8-10

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

In General Conference, one of the dominant themes I heard was this idea of helping and caring for those around us. It seemed to be everywhere. A few weeks later, I went to my home Stake Priesthood meeting. In that meeting, President Rasmussen talked about how he hoped that no one would ever heard to say, “I asked for help, and no one came.” Both messages/themes reminded of this scripture again.

I think the things that really stick out to me are the following passages:

  • are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light
  • mourn with those that mourn
  • comfort those that stand in need of comfort
  • stand as witnesses of God

One of the comments I hear quite often is that people don’t know how to help or that they aren’t sure that they are helping. Each of those passages speaks to how we can better help, support, and love the many who are suffering around us, and I think they serve as a good benchmark of where we are at in our desire to be within the fold of God (see vs 10).

Willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light

The first passage to me speaks of concern for those around us built on genuine selflessness. As I think back over the trials of my life, I recognize many times where I truly felt that someone was coming to my aid out of nothing more than a willingness to lift me, not themselves. I felt that they were concerned with me, not with themselves. Because of that, the service rendered was effective, enabling, and enlightening for me. Probably for the server as well. Looking to the Savior, I envision this being the Savior sitting on the mount feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. His concern was for their welfare, the hunger they surely felt, and the physical needs that were probably dominant in their minds. Miracle though it is, His actions speak to a willingness to take a real burden from another.

Mourn with those that mourn

This is the one that, I think has touched me deepest. Again with the trials of my life, I know plenty of people who are willing to be a shoulder to cry on. I know plenty who were willing to hear but not act. And I’m sorry, but that hurts sometimes. I often don’t need or want someone to cry on as much as I want someone to cry with. I think back to when Grandma died. We were so very far away, and mom was so very sad and lonely for it. She was in her room crying and the rest of the family was hiding from the moment, giving her peace. But I knew in my heart that mom didn’t need the solitude. I also knew that she didn’t need someone to cry on. She needed someone to share the hurt and the tears. Grandma was always special to me. I used to call her my grandma, as though she weren’t grandma to anyone else. And I knew that because of that, I could cry with her. So I did.

I think of Jesus crying with his beloved disciples Mary and Martha as they mourned over Lazarus. Even knowing what He knew, that Lazarus was soon to walk again, here was a Man who understood that the tears matter. Here was a Savior who knew that sometimes the mourning, the tears, and the grief is an experience to share, not to merely bear. Here is an Example who knew that to understand and love often means to descend to the depths of the grief and lift rather than to stay on the surface and pull.

And for me, I think this is what I long for the most as I go through whatever trials and hurts and pains. I don’t want someone to say it’ll be okay. I don’t want that shoulder. I want someone to understand to such a depth that they can do nothing else but mourn with me. The love and unity I feel for the few who can descend so far is beyond mere love. It’s the deepest trust and intimacy, and it is far too rarely shared. It’s full vulnerability and acceptance and believe in the healing power of those around us.

And I mourn that so few are capable of being so powerful.

Comfort those that stand in need of comfort

This speaks of the need we all face and the blindness of the offer. The Savior served the sinners, the publicans, the despised. He reached out to the leprous, to the woman caught in adultery, to the Samaritan. He saw not color, age, size, or status, but He did see hurt. He saw guilt and wiped it away. He saw temptation and lifted it. He saw pain and offered relief.

How often do we choose to not share the gift of comfort because we don’t know the person? Or because we’re scared of how they look?

I remember once sitting in a room filled with a thousand people feeling utterly and completely alone. How was that even possible? The Savior didn’t sit back and wait for someone to come to Him although that often happened. He was proactive in helping, loving, and comforting those around Him.

I asked Katherine many years ago how Jesus would respond should He see a kid crash on a bike. Her first words have stuck with me forever: First, He would run as fast as He could…. I can guess the rest of what she said, but I honestly don’t remember. I do, however, remember the image of that Running Savior rushing to the aid of the unknown and unnamed child. We should, too.

Stand as witnesses of God

As I think of this final passage, I see the bow tying it all together. Reading the passage at other times, I’ve always assumed this had more to do with taking on us the name of Christ and keeping His commandments. While I still think that, I had the thought tonight that perhaps this means being who He would be, standing as though we were God Himself. The truth is that God uses those around us to do His work and provide that comfort and help. Perhaps it would help you to recognize that when you comfort or when you mourn or when you lift burdens, you aren’t necessarily who those we serve are seeing. Perhaps they are seeing Him. At least, perhaps they are seeing His light.

John 15:13 reads: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The greatest love I have ever known is in the arms of someone who is truly listening to me, hearing me, feeling the depth of the burdens. Rarely is that person fixing the burden. Rarely is that person offering advice. Rarely do they even speak. But they do lift, they do mourn with me, they comfort, and when they’ve done all that, it’s easy to see in their acts and their behavior a Godlike light and feeling.

I hope that as we serve, love, and care for our fellow man, we will realize that so little of what really helps has any basis in what we are instinctively wanting to do. He showed us how to serve, how to love, how to lift.

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Packages 2014!

My packages came in on Thursday, and thanks to Lee’s wife, I was able to get them and install them yesterday. Here’s two of the packages (for another friend) on the front porch:

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If you’ve never seen a package, it’s a shoe-box sized box with screen on two sides. Inside the box is a can of sugar syrup (you can see it in the middle) and a queen in a little cage. The bees stay alive in the box for a few days until you can get them in the hive.

Personally, I try to get my bees out of the package as quickly as I can. I don’t like seeing them trapped like that, and I’ve heard some people express concern that the queen being trapped in her cage can lead to stunted development of her ovaries. Since she’s mom to all of them, I’d rather not have her trapped any longer than necessary.

For my packages, I noticed that both packages had started to build comb on the queen cage already, which was a first for me. I also figured that was a good sign that the package had taken to the new queen already. I was tempted to do a direct release, but I didn’t.

So, one package became the new Hive 2 and the other the new Top Bar. I went out today to inspect things, and here’s the report.

Hive 1–Didn’t touch. Very active and happy.

Hive 2–I figured there was a good chance that they would have already released the queen, so I figured why the heck not. She was indeed out of the cage, and the hive was thick and full of bees. I gave them a lot of the old comb from my old hives, including honey, so they have a wonderful start to the year. They look great.

Hive 3–I took only the outer cover off on this hive just to see what was going on. There hasn’t been much in the way of flyers out of this hive, and I was a bit worried. I took a peek through the hole in the inner cover, and I think we’re okay. Lots of bees. I made sure they had a lot of stores when I split them off, so food isn’t exactly their top priority right now (getting a new queen is). I’m okay with this hive, a little worried, but okay.

Top Bar–I should probably have a more awesome name for this hive…. Oh well.

I went out first thing this morning to remove the old package boxes from Hive 2 and the Top Bar, and I also decided that I needed to flip this hive around. I had it facing one direction last night, but this hive was particularly defensive going in to the hive. In fact, I normally do my package installs sans protective gear, but I needed it for this one. I had to stop mid-install and put on my veil, which was unusual. I think it was because they were well on their way putting in comb; something to defend. It was fun when I dumped the package into the Top Bar to watch the bees spread up and over the sides of the hive as they explored.

Anyway, I decided to rotate the hive slightly to face another direction because last night they were a bit more territorial than I would have liked. We park right in the same area as the hives, and I hoped that turning that hive a touch would change the defensive area so that it did not include right around the car. I guess we’ll see. They also could have just been agitated from the install.

When I opened the hive this morning to pull the queen cage out (not released yet), I found the hive filled with bee bridges all over the place. It was fun to pull bars out and find a long strand of bees hanging off of each other. I popped the end off the queen cage, and she slipped right in. I feel confident that she’ll be well accepted given how long they were in the package together. Hopefully I’m right!

Here’s a few pictures:

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Here’s the front of the Top Bar. There are four one-inch holes drilled into that central triangle (three low and one high) for entrances. There are also small caps here and there in the top bars that the bees can certainly use if they like. The food unit you can see at the top right of the image. It’s a rather ingenious tunnel through a two by four with a mount for a masonry jar of sugar syrup. Completely self-contained. I don’t like using sugar syrup, but in this case I didn’t have a way of getting the bees honey. I guess this works for now.

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And here’s a shot across the bow. Hive 1 is the one farthest on the right. Yes, I know that my new Hive 2 is already two deeps and that technically you should only have a single deep for a new package. Dad and I were talking about it the other day, and we talked about how in a natural environment the bees neither expand or contract the size of their hive. I’m sure there is some reason why someone somewhere determined that they should restrict hive size, but I just can’t think through a logical reason to do so here. I’ve heard it’s harder to keep a stable environment, but again, they do it naturally somehow. I’ve heard they are harder to defend, and I have the same response. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Last but not least, I finally realized last night when I was doing the packages that this is my hobby again. Not for someone else, not for any other reason. It’s my hobby. It’s what I want to do. It’s nice to have people helping for sure, but it’s not necessary. I welcome the mentoring opportunity, but I’ve finally made a complete break emotionally in relation to the hives from the tragedies of last year. It’s nice. I honestly wondered if that would be stolen from me like so much else was (emotionally speaking).

Now I just need to convince my British Beekeeper Buds (BBBs) to send me some of the awesome cakes that they always have in their apiary! :-) I have yet to see them bring something that didn’t make me drool at least a little….

Almost there!

I had my braces tightened yesterday. I’m at the 15-month mark now, and I asked the dentist how things were looking. He said we’re on track for July/August, but I’ve got three super stubborn teeth that have yet to move all the way in. He upgraded the wires, the bands, and even the brackets to put some extra torsion on those teeth, and yes, I hate when he says “torsion” and “torque” in relation to my teeth….

He did take off the top front six brackets to replace those, and it was fun to just sit there and stare at my (mostly) straight teeth in the mirror while they worked to prep everything. I was telling Courtney about that, and she said I was going to have a beautiful smile when all was said and done. :-)

It’s been long enough now that I’m trying to remember what it felt like to not have braces. I hardly think about them that much anymore unless they are hurting or I’m trying to clean them (ugh, how I won’t miss that!), but still….

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Today I did my first hive inspection of the year, and I even had a new helper (Shiloh). It was nice to have someone out there again.

I only have a single survivor hive, and I went through each box selecting a few frames only to look at. The hive itself was quite strong. If you remember, I had a full two deeps and a two mediums on this particular hive. When we pulled the cover off, the top two mediums were quite full of bees, and the two deeps were about 50% each. I’d guess that I had a good two deeps worth of bees. Shiloh also pointed out that one of the cells that was ripped open moving the supers off had what appeared to be a potential queen cell (lots of royal jelly in it!). It was the only one we really noticed, so I’m not sure that the hive was thinking swarming or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

We decided to split this hive today, and we conducted an artificial split moving a lot of the brood and nurse bees to a hive in a new location. We didn’t do as good of a job as I would normally do on a split, and I admit to feeling a little off today with beekeeping. Not as confident as I normally am. It felt much more chore-like than enjoyable this time, and I think that’s because I spent the morning weeding, mowing, and otherwise caring for the outside of the house. I was tired by the time we got to the bees.

Hive 1 is strong, looks healthy, good brood patterns, and plenty of eggs. Lower on the honey, but we’ve got a good nectar flow right now between the fruit trees and the dandelions.

The newly created Hive 3 (we left space to put a new Hive 2 in the middle) is smallish, with a good enough honey supply. They have most of the brood and nurse bees with several frames of eggs with which to create queens. We tried to find the queen and make sure she stayed with Hive 1. We never did see her, but I’m 90% sure she’s not in Hive 3, which is good.

My two new packages come this next week, and it looks like we are going to use the top bar hive. That’ll be an interesting experience. I had debated not using it all, but since we split, we don’t have much of a choice. I’m okay with that.

So I got sick on Wednesday. Just that pain in the back of the throat that says, “I’m coming down with a cold.” By the evening, it had turned into hot flashes and a pretty serious headache. I took Thursday off with joint pain, congestion, hot flashes, a very sore throat, headache, ear pain, and so forth. By Friday, I was feeling moderately better, so back to work. That night, again with the hot flashes, serious throat pain, ears, congestion, and blah, blah, blah. Saturday, more of the same.

In all of this, I would feel more or less fine from time to time, so I held off going to the doctor, especially since, going to bed on Saturday, I felt more or less okay after a day of more of the same.

And then Sunday… I woke up in the middle of the night with a left eye glued together. The dreaded pink eye. Fine! I’ll go see a doctor.

The doctor didn’t even bother diagnosing what I actually have; he took one look at my symptoms and prescribed a grape fruit-sized antibiotic. In the end, he said it was definitely pink eye, probably strep, possibly the flu, possibly ear infections, probably a sinus infection, possibly a chest cold, and possibly advancing into early stage pneumonia. Let me look back over that list and see if I missed anything… flu… strep… infections… pink eye… pneumonia… ears…. I think that was it.

Oh, and I still have a headache.

On top of the antibiotic, I have a second one for my eyes. It’s an ointment that I smear all over my eyes every three hours. It’s great stuff… Gets into my eyelashes and then brushes up against my glasses so I have to clean them every 15 minutes or so.

I don’t believe in doing things small….

Apparently.

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