Today’s Talk: To The Rescue: We Can Do It
I can’t remember ever being so hot, sticky or dirty. It was a feeling I’d almost begun to think of as normal. Almost. Just like I’d almost begun to think of the cockroaches scuttling across my berth on the small boat every night were normal. Almost. And the way the world never stopped moving and hygiene took on a different meaning with a total lack of hot water. Almost. And the way we cooked always-available bananas like they were potato chips every meal. Almost.
But that day my boat mates and I were headed ashore with a mission to cool off. We’d arrived at a tiny island in the South Pacific called Pentecost. There wasn’t much to Pentecost. Black sand beaches. Thatched-roof huts. Locals in tribal dress with dark skin just as black as the sand watched as we landed our boat and then disappeared into the lush, surrounding jungle. We travelers had a rough-drawn map of the island – roughly an oval-esque line representing the island. A straight line near the middle represented a landing strip for airplanes and an “X” marked the general position of a waterfall. A waterfall meant cool, non-salty water. A waterfall meant swimming and a rare moment of our skin not feeling the uncomfortable pressure of 110 degrees and 99 percent humidity.
It turns out the map was a joke, another almost. We found out the hard way that there was no real scale to the map and after an hour of hiking, when we reached an unmarked large river that ran directly into the ocean we decided to revise our waterfall plan and instead play in the gorgeous, cold river. After finding a series of natural pools formed in the river a few hundred yards from the ocean we jumped in, sure we would never willingly leave the welcomed relief of the luscious, frigid temperatures.
After a while I heard a voice from the top of an embankment to my left. A local man stood above us, motioning with his hands in a strange, yet seemingly calm manner. We travelers glanced around at each other and then waved at the man, who continued to gesture. He spoke, but we didn’t understand what he was trying to tell us and after a few minutes he disappeared. He returned about fifteen minutes later and just stood there, watching us. It seemed a little weird but it didn’t seem threatening in any way and the man was very complacent, so we basked in our own inertia until a new group of local men turned up. The first man motioned to us and then one of the newcomers shouted to us in English, “Please, please come out!” The man was insistent so we gathered around him on the riverbank.
“Please, you must not go in the water. The bull sharks. They swim up the river and wait for prey. This kills people.”
As you can imagine, we didn’t get back into the water. I’ve thought about that day more than once since then. I’ve thought about the man on the embankment and how he could have left us there and gone about his day, almost helping us. But he didn’t. He went for help and then he came back. He stood and watched for signs of danger and waited until help we understood came. He waited until we were safe.
There are people in our lives who are in danger. They’ve left or are leaving the safety of the Good Ship Zion for temptingly cool, shark-infested rivers. Sometimes there isn’t anything we can do to help them, not immediately. But sometimes there is. Are we helping those people? Are we waiting or acting or actively watching? Or are we walking away from them, leaving them to fend off the unseen bull sharks in their lives by themselves? Are we almost helping them?
In his April, 2016 talk, Elder Mervyn B Arnold outlined three principles to help rescue those in danger in our lives:
Principle 1: We Must Not Delay Going to the Rescue
Principle 2: We Must Never Give Up
Principle 3: How Great Shall Be Your Joy If You Bring Save It Be One Soul unto Christ
Let’s not almost help those who need us. Let’s not delay. Let us rejoice with those both stay safely in the boat, and those who return to safety.