Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Warning Signs

The Warning Signs 

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Before leaving for my full time mission, I volunteered as a rural firefighter in Australia. During this period, I learnt just how powerful the forces of nature can be, and it taught me many valuable lessons about how fragile life can be, and how important it is to pay attention to all the warning signs in an emergency.

Australia is renowned for its extreme weather conditions and rough terrain. From bush fires to floods, we get it all. At the peak of the fire season, in February 2009; the conditions took a turn for the worst. For the 2 months prior to this day, Victoria had received little to no rainfall. Temperatures were in excess of 46 degrees celcius (115*F), and the winds over 100 km/h (63mph). These conditions were some of the worst in recorded history.
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On Saturday, February 7,  there were 3,582 firefighters put on standby as 400 fires started blazing across the state; with many travelling as fast 600m every 30 seconds, burning at 1200*C (2192*F). The dangerous situation called for swift action; however, for many people it was too late. For days authorities emphasized the "Stay or Go" message, but this required early action and careful planning. Leaving it to the last minute would put residents in a deadly situation.

Photo by: Jason South
The Black Saturday Bushfires, as it was named, killed 173 people, injured 414 people, destroyed 2,100 homes and displaced 7,562 people. Many people left it to the last minute to get out, and they were killed as ruthless fires swept over their fleeing vehicles. The energy released from these fires is estimated at about the strength of 1,500 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Those who were in the path of this monster didn't stand a chance.

What Can We Learn?

One important lesson I learned from this devastating event, was the importance planning ahead to avoid problems and watching for the warning signs. For years, local governments and fire brigades had been teaching the residence the importance of preparing a safe home, and bush fire plan. The "Stay or Go" campaign encouraged local residents to plan ahead and decide whether they would stay and defend their property, or leave early if the conditions seemed dangerous. Planning is essential in life if we are to avoid dangerous pitfalls and traps. Many people question how they can resist temptations when they come along. The answer, decide beforehand to stick to your morals and values. As we make the choice now to 'Choose The Right', we will reap the blessings later on when we pass through that trial unscathed.
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Sometimes, we can't always plan for everything. That's where the second lesson comes in; watching for the warning signs. Satan will always try and deceive us, luring us into temptation. He often uses the warm water tactic. He recognizes that if he were to put us straight in boiling water, we would jump out pretty quickly. If he were to put us in warm water however, and gradually turn the heat up, we wouldn't notice until it was too late. By constantly looking out for signs of danger, we can be prepared to face whatever challenge comes our way.

Planning and constantly being vigilant of danger have played a crucial role in my life, especially when it comes to fighting fires. I have seen the blessings come from striving to live a Christ centered life, and by always remembering who I am and what I stand for. I know God lives and loves us, He wants us to be happy in this life, so we can prepare to live with Him for eternity. I hope you can find the peace and safety that I have found by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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