Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shepherds of the Far Realm

Besides sounding like an obscure Swedish progressive metal group, (Which I totally dibs the name by the way) there's a story behind the title of this week's post after my yuletide hiatus. You see, last Sunday, we get a call from the mission office that a certain Richard Alvarez is in need of a blessing and besides his address, we weren't given any more information. Later that day, my companion and I drove to the address which was in a neighboring town to see what was the matter.

We cautiously approached the house which only had a dirt driveway and and old ford truck in it. Through the pouring rain, we could see a doorway with a bunch of older gentlemen standing behind it in mid conversation. We walked up and gently knocked on the glass and immediately the fellow next to the door opens it up and asks, "Are y'all the Mormons?" 

As if the white shirt, tie, and black plaque that reads 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' wasn't enough of a giveaway, I replied, "yes we are, we're here to give brother Alvarez a blessing." 

Immediately a fellow wearing an old army hat, horn rim glasses, and a white mustache peered from behind the door.

"That's me." 

He kept his long, snow colored, hair in a ponytail and sat confined in his wheelchair. A tube hanged under his nose and connected to an apparatus that pumped pure oxygen into his lungs. The machine hissed like a cold snake every few moments

The other fellow let us into the cramped room that had apparently been serving as Richard's bedroom for who knows how long. None of the men in room, including Alvarez, were members of the church. Apparently it was the family of Richard's brother that had suggested that they call the missionaries and ask for a blessing. Richard then proceeded to tell us about how he was diagnosed with some malignant cancer due to being exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. He had gotten MRI's back a couple day prior to calling us and he was told that he only had a couple weeks left to live.  

Agent Orange or Herbicide Orange (HO) is one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.

He then proceeded to tell us that he is at peace with himself and just wants a blessing of peace and comfort during his final weeks of mortality. I'm the senior companion so I was the lucky duck that got to be the voice in the blessing. The room was dead silent as I offered a blessing of peace upon this dear man's head. Every few sentences punctuated by the hissing of that machine that made me think death itself was standing in the room with us. Waiting. In the end, it was a good blessing and the spirit filled the room after we finished, chasing away the gloom of death. We talked for a bit afterwards about what be believe as mormons and we gave him a Book of Mormon to read. He was excited to start on the new literature. 

We stepped out of the cramped bedroom and Richard's brother comes out with us into the rain. He's teary eyed and tells us that he knows what he needs to do. He had contact with the missionaries before and had even taken the discussions, but he tells us that he is going to get baptized after he got back home to Texas. He thanks us repeatedly for our service and we bear testimony that the gospel is true and can help him in his own life just as he witnessed the gospel work in the life of his brother. It was a somber conversation, but spiritual as well. 

I've had unique opportunity to come into acquaintance with Death a couple of times on my mission, likewise, I've been able to recognize the unique effects that she tends to have on people. Death is a profound, unforgiving, teacher. By which I mean that she reminds us of what's important in life and what we can do to improve in a rather forceful nature. She takes us by the neck with her frozen grasp and forces us to look into the casket, graveley whispering in our ears, "You see that? That'll be you in a few decades. Are you ready?" 

It's a stark reminder of what's important in life.

What puzzled me was that Richard Alvarez was completely ok with the fact that he was going to die. It didn't seem to faze him in the least, in fact he told us that he was ready to die. That he had lived his life and was ready for the next step. At the time, it seemed impossible for anyone to be ready to face the great beyond with such peace and without being properly baptized. (We as missionaries tend to get in this tunnel vision where no one can possibly be happy without the restored gospel of Jesus Christ) 

But I made a realization later on. That each one of us is placed in a life that God knows we can handle. Just as we have differing abilities and talents in this life, so too we had them in the life before this one. In the premortal life, we had identities and the ability to choose for ourselves. That's one of the reasons that you're reading this, you chose to come to earth and receive a body. You chose to come to earth and experience mortality. However, it's a fundamental fact that human beings don't all perform at the exact same level. There are some that can handle more than others. God took this into consideration when we were given our assignments for mortality. 

I wanna go here

Some of us wouldn't be able to handle very much. Just the commandments would be hard for us to follow, and so God assigned those people who could handle the bear minimum to places where the Gospel was an unknown thing. Third world countries where we would only be judged by our ability to survive and do good to others in the process. There were others of God's children that could handle more. Maybe being in a first world country where they could learn about his gospel and strive to live according to all the commandments of God. There's a lot more to be lost because of the temptations of Satan, but so much more can be gained if they are faithful. Again it's all based on what we can handle. 

We all are given a place in this world. The trials that we pass through are meant to test and to try us, but never overwhelm us. God gives no commandment to his children save he prepares a way for them to keep it. I know that he loves each of us and has put us in our lives to test us, but never make us fail. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

No One is Watching

If there's one thing that online games are known for, it's that they're home to the absolute worst kinds of people. In the virtual world, social norms and courtesy can be disregarded with wonton glee. In Eve, I've been lied to, backstabbed, blown up, robbed, and blown up again just for good measure. Confused bystanders would ask why anyone in their right mind would want to play such a game where complete strangers regularly betraying you is a normal aspect of gameplay. I've yet to come up with a good response for why I keep going back for more. 

Pictured: A complete stranger that wants to ruin your life for no reason. 

Just like in real life, examples of pure charity and christian behavior in Eve are as eye grabbing as an armed robbery, it's a rare occurence and usually quite spectacular when it does happen. 

One day, our target on a hunt was a lonely Nidhoggur Carrier who was relaying through the Aridia system. The 'man on deck' with me at the time was Gunny, a formidable German fellow with a hearty laugh and a lust for killing anything bigger than a cruiser. Our scout observed a Nidhoggur Carrier jump into the Afrah system at a planet, after which he jumped to the station in Yiratal system. 

Since we also monitored the local market carefully for clues, we noted that the Carrier pilot had quickly purchased 300 units of liquid ozone next door and returned to his spot on the planet. Clearly, after his business was done in Yiratal, this mean the Nidhoggur would likely jump back through Afrah system. 

In preparation for this, I positioned my own ship close by where his would turn up, at the same planet. The plan was simple: on his return trip, we'd tackle him and then drop our own capital ships to kill him. it seemed the easiest and cleanest of kills.

"HE'S UNDOCKING!" roared Gunny, who had docked at the same station in Yiratal.

But instead of a massive capital ship, the fellow appeared instead in a Rookie ship, a small frigate known as a reaper. 

To our surprise, this reaper then jumped to our own home system in Fihrneh. Once there, we monitored him buying Hydrogen Isotopes (The fuel for his carrier) at the market. Then, he undocked again and flew back to Yiratal, where his Nidhoggur was docked.  

"Now it comes!" enthused Gunny. But again it was the reaper, and not the carrier, which appeared. 

We waited. Clearly this man, whom we now dubbed The Ferryman, was intent on moving a lot of fuel for some grand journey. He also appeared to have no intention at all of simply dropping into the station and putting it all into his carrier at once. No, he was happy enough to fervently fly back and forth, hauling it piecemeal in the under-endowed cargo of a rookie ship. 

In Eve, good things often come to those who wait. So we sat and watched. As we imagined the isotopes piling up and the carrier getting ever closer to its fateful departure, we decided that there was something inherently moribund about the sight of a man so methodically crafting his own doom.

Even his anointed name became strangely apt. The scent of death followed our ferryman as closely as it would his namesake scurrying across the banks of the River Styx.

And still we waited. And still the ferrying went on. 

Then, with our patience wearing thin, we devised a plan to give fate a helping hand.

During one of his stops in Fihrneh, we piloted a Hoarder (an industrial ship) to the system of Edilkam, which lay between the fuel haven of Fihrneh and his carrier's location in Yiratal.  

While he was busy loading up another round of fuel and undocking, the pilot ejected from the Hoarder and left it floating in space. Although unboarded, the hauler was far form empty. We'd laden it to the brim with Hydrogen Isotopes.

The Ferryman's rookie ship soon arrived. We watched with baited breath as he aligned toward Yiratal. Would he ignore this offering? Suddenly, to our Malignant delight, he began approaching the Hoarder and boarded it. After a long pause, he warped it toward Yiratal.

"We have him now." exclaimed Gunny. 

Dreadnoughts were primed and final checks were made on the drone bays of our own hungry carriers. Surely it would b only moments until he warped into our trap.

Suddenly, Gunny erupted again on the comms. "It can't be!" 

The Ferryman had returned to Edilkam and he was still flying the Hoarder. We watched in shock as he carefully positioned the cargo sip back into the same spot over the gate where he'd found it. Then he boarded his rookie ship again and continued his work.

During one of his stops in Yiratal we checked the Hoarder. It's cargo was completely untouched. 

In Eve, the phrase 'Honor tanked' is often reserved for the dark art of hull tanking. (taking direct fire to the hull of your ship, rather than the armor or shields) And yet, it would never have been more applicable than for the incorruptible Ferryman.

When he finally did jump out, it was much as we expected. He warped to the exact planet and spot where our own pilots were waiting. Our tackler remained resolutely cloaked and we could only offer a silent salute as he jumped on to whatever adventures awaited him in New Eden.

Integrity means thinking and doing what is right at all times, no matter what the consequences. when we have integrity, we are willing to live by our standards and beliefs even when no one is watching. Choose to live so that your thoughts and behavior are always in harmony with the gospel. 

True integrity is a rare thing these days in society. Just like the virtual world, there always seems to be someone lurking around the corner just waiting to cheat you in some way or another. I think we all know at least one person that cheated his way through high school. Ditto steroid use in sports. There's an awful lot of pressure for us to do well in life and there seem to be just as many short cuts to achieve what we think will make us successful. But there always seems to be a catch. 

It never pays off to take the easy route through something. One way or another, it'll come back to bite us in the rear. The above account with the Ferryman provides a stark contrast for that. Had he done what we assumed he'd do, he would've taken the fuel for his carrier and then warped into his doom as we sprang the trap. Another Carrier would have become scrap metal floating in space. 

So what will you do the next time the opportunity presents itself and you believe no on else is watching? Will you take the shortcut or follow the path you know to be right? I can promise you that the we'll always know the difference between the two and when we make the correct choice, sometimes at great sacrifice, that we'll be recompensed for our effort. That's the joy of living the commandments. We're able to receive the help that we need from a loving heavenly father who knows our needs and is ever anxious to bless us. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Active Faith vs. Active Belief

There is a common annoyance for me as a missionary serving in the south. You see, I meet a great deal of people who say that they believe in God and have faith in him. However, when it comes to getting them to actually act on the faith that they claim to have by inviting them to read scriptures or go to church, you might as well be kicking a two week old seal carcass into action. I think a lot of people, especially the church going variety, tend to misunderstand what it means to believe in something vs. to actually have faith in something. The difference being that faith requires action in order to be faith. Otherwise it is simply belief, and in today's society of constant turmoil, simple belief isn't good enough. 

Pictured: Active Belief

It is easy enough to say that you believe in something. There's not a doubt in my mind that anyone who says they believe in God really does believe in him. (If you're in the south, that's just about everybody.) They'll spend all day telling you how their belief in God has helped them become better people and how they know that he's watching out for them. Granted, you'll never see these people set foot in a church on Sunday, but gosh darn it they BELIEVE! In the end, however, these people lack real faith. Belief is the prerequisite of faith and without belief it impossible for anyone to have faith. Again we're brought to the conclusion that in order for belief to become faith, it requires action because it is through our actions that we are able to qualify for the blessings of Christ's Atonement. 

How is it that our actions can help us receive blessings from God, you ask? Let's take a look at the concept of repentance for example. By definition it is an effort to turn from things we do that are contrary to the laws of God and make a commitment to follow his laws more fully in the future. In return for our effort, we are blessed with greater sensitivity to the spirit and freedom from guilt over past mistakes as we receive a remission of our sins. It's that simple. Repentance isn't repentance unless you make the required effort to change your heathen ways and make changes in life in order to not go to hell. The heretic remains a heretic if he sits on his tucas all day and believes that he'll be saved because Christ suffered for his sins. Compared to the sinner that becomes a saint who exercises his faith in the atonement by changing his sinful ways, because he believes that Christ suffered for his sins. 

It's a simple fact that God will not do for man what man is perfectly capable of doing for himself. I imagine that's the goal of any parent; their kids learn to do things on their own, to solve problems on their own, to become agents for themselves. The kids that don't learn this tend to be the ones that cause their parents to exclaim in desperation "Get out of the house, you're thirty years old!" They are generally known as lazy folks and are a burden on everyone they come in contact with. 

Little wonder, then, that the greatest blessings that we seek often take the most effort. For every sacrifice we make, God promises to make up the difference, but first we have to make the sacrifice. He loves us, he really does, but I also imagine that he gets terribly frustrated with those of his children that expect hand-outs and then bewail and curse everything when their every whim isn't met. Kinda like the new dad that watches his two year old writhe on the floor in a screaming fit because the kid can't have cookies any time he wishes. 

In the end, we all must believe. It's where everyone must start out on the road to salvation. However, in order for it to become faith and in order to strengthen the faith that we already have, me must, as Nike puts it: Just do it. We do what it takes to maintain the faith by getting up and doing what God has asked us to do. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy

There's a song called Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin which, aside from being the anthem of every stoner ever, is also the motto that God wants all of his children to follow. It's a simple fact that contrary to popular belief, God does in fact want us to be happy in this life. Hard to believe at times isn't it? Your car payment is late, you don't have the funds to pay for it, and you just found out that you have some sort of super rare form of larynx cancer... Okay, so maybe that's a bit extreme, but you get the idea. In life, we're constantly facing some looming problem or another. Others build up amid the constant swarm of annoyances that we face as human beings and someone dares write a song titled Don't Worry Be Happy?

The sad truth, or rather, the joyful truth is that God has actually commanded us to "Be of good cheer." In fact, the word "Gospel" literally means: The Good News. I've also noticed that those who have the Gospel in their lives are inexplicably happier than those around them who do not. As a missionary, I've been able to experience this 'joy for no reason' as well. 

My companions and I would stumble through the front door at the end of a long day, exhausted as could be. We'd be disappointed because appointments fell through, people cursed us and at us, investigators refuse to progress, etc. There was always a tsunami of worries that we had to deal with. Yet, I noticed that I was happy and the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that I was pretty much happy for no reason. What reason did I have to be happy? In one day, all of our teaching appointments fell through, I got charged by a pit-bull, random guys swore at us and told us to go to hell, our dinner fell through, and to finish it all off, my bike tire popped. Yet, at the end of the day, I was still at peace with myself because I had given my all for God. 

Contrast this with the lengths that people go to for personal happiness through material wealth or otherwise. Billions of dollars are spent every year on chocolates, toys, and mind altering drugs to make one happy. People indulge in every little fantasy and dream they could possibly have, as if the new iPhone 4SG PS4 or a fleet of porches could bring lasting happiness. We invest in material things with the subliminal hopes that they'll make us happy and perhaps they do, But the happiness that a new Kawasaki R3 brings in only temporary. (Because the engine tends to wear out after a good 15,000 miles) 

For me, it's a question on priorities and what's really going to make you happy in life that brings... well... happiness. To focus more on what's going to bring the happiness that lasts throughout this life and into the eternities. Bullet bikes come and go, but things like family and marriage can last lifetimes. God only expects us to obey his commandments and not to worry about the rest. We can put the troubles that we face in his hands and then forget about them. Then as long as we hold out strong until the very end, we will be guaranteed happiness in this life and the life to come. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lean on Me

There's a common expression for those of us with little faith that goes, "With God, all things are possible." This statement usually follows an expression of self doubt in terms of overcoming a personal obstacle. Like gravity for instance. We tell our beleaguered friend to press onward and have faith. He thanks you for the comfort, then proceeds to brush it off later on. 

I feel that the general attitude towards most things in life is to square your shoulders and go forth the best you can relying on your own strength to carry you through. As though it's a display of manliness that we take on life's obstacles by ourselves rather than reaching out for help. Action movies draw on this and love to show burly heroes who take on entire zombie hordes by themselves wielding nothing but a garden weasel and their teeth. While I can understand that we don't want people to see us in our moments of weakness, I fear that this leads us to include God right next to the government and mother-in-laws on the list of people who cannot help us in life. Unfortunately for your pride, life doesn't work that way. 
Unless you're Chuck Norris, Then life works for you.
It's true that God expects us to do things on our own. The whole purpose of this mortal life is for us to learn the difference between good and evil so that we can make good decisions and act for ourselves. Like learning to ride a bike, God doesn't expect us to use training wheels all of our lives. Even if it takes falling down a couple times to find our balance. He wants us to become agents for ourselves. However, there's another lesson that he expects us to learn during our brief sojourn through mortality; that there will come a time where we cannot do things by ourselves and must rely on Him to carry us through. 

It's a lesson that the Mission has taught me thoroughly. I've been reminded just how dependant I am on God when certain challenges come. Taking over an area is still one of the most stressful experiences I have had in the field because I'm suddenly personally responsible for the salvation of everyone in the entire city because my new companion doesn't know jack about the area. In short I stress myself out as I try to comprehend all that I must do in order to make sure that the area runs smoothly. 

I took over the Monroe area on the 12th of November and about a day later, I woke up sometime around three in the morning and couldn't fall back asleep because of all the things that came into my mind that I was stressing out about. Are the people we're teaching still going to progress? Are we doing everything we can to help the members out? How's my new companion doing? Do I know the area well enough? The questions kept coming with no sure resolution. I was sinking into despair when I realized that this is the Lord's work, therefore, I should let Him take care of things and that's what I did. I prayed to God for quite some time. Telling Him how I felt about the area, the fears I had, and what I wanted to do. I asked for help in the guidance in the things I was expected to do as a missionary and left the rest up to him. As soon as I finished, the despair dissipated and I was able to go back to sleep. Since that first night, I haven't been worried with the schedule of the upcoming days. I haven't been stressing over the people we're teaching and how they're doing because now I understand that we're expected to simply take things day by day and not concern to much about what's to come. This is the Lord's work and He'll do it His way. 

I was able to feel a weight lifted off my shoulders as I asked for God to throw me a bone and help a brother out. Even though it wasn't as dramatic as fighting off a rabid kodiak grizzly using nothing but a tin of Altoids, God was able to pull me up and help me out when I felt like I couldn't do things on my own. I know that god answers prayers and is willing to help us in the situations that we face where we feel like there's no hope to be had. Because there is always hope, and when we have hope, we have faith, and when we have faith, we can do anything. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That's Just the Way I Am

The Human race seems hell bent on destroying itself one way or another. Perhaps that's the major reason we need God in the first place. The guy can't turn his back without us running off some proverbial cliff or starting some war somewhere. Every day in the news we hear something about a shooting, armed robbery, homicide, abortion, chemical weapons, the list goes on and on. If it wasn't for the tender mercies of God and a sufficient amount of 'Good' people, the human race would have self destructed eons ago like a snake eating it's own tail. 

There is nothing so discouraging in life than to hear the phrase, "That's just the way I am." Especially as a missionary because nothing else conveys such a profound sense of hopelessness on their part or evoke as much frustration on mine. We as missionaries are here to help people change their lives for the better and everyone can through living the Gospel of Christ. I know for a fact that anyone can make changes to their lives and improve. So imagine what it must feel like when someone tells me that they cannot change because that's "Just they way they are." It's the greatest form of self condemnation that I've ever heard. 

I understand that there is a part of us that will never change despite years, growth, or maturity. Our personalities are as permanent a part of our lives as the shape of our noses because they reflect the eternal soul that dwells within. Despite the changes of view on politics, or our maturity as we go through experience, at our very cores, we are the same people from when we were born to when we die. I feel that's a fear of a lot of people that undertake something that requires them to change, that they'll lose that spark of what makes them... well... them. However, I know for a fact that that's not the case. 

My first week or so in the mission, I absolutely dreaded what I would become. I feared that I would change and become a person that I didn't want to be. I saw the robotic personalities of missionaries around me, how everyone expected me to act a certain way. That there was a right way and a wrong way to act and if you didn't act the right way, you would be cast out into outer darkness where there's weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Granted I was terrified of the social norms in the MTC but in the beginning of my mission, I saw my flaws as an integral part of who I was. In the beginning I repeated to myself  "That's just the way I am." and I'll never change. 

God has accurately been compared to a gardener. A master of his vineyard. Like anyone with a garden and a green thumb. He wants the best out of the plants that he grows. He wants them to be tall, green, and bear a lot of fruit when the harvest comes. Therefore He'll do all he can to prune, shear, cut, and trim his plants so that they grow according to His desired manner and fulfill the vision that He has for them. Gardening is rarely a gentle process for the plants, but you'll never hear a barren berry bush exclaim "That's just the way I am." when God expects it to yield fruit. 

As I got into the work and started to develop an actual testimony of the gospel rather than having a sideline basic knowledge of what repentance was, I realized that despite the changes that we go through in life. We remain the same at our core. I still have the quirks and thought process that I did when I was sixteen but now I've become a more refined and mature individual even though I'm still... me. The process wasn't easy, nor was it particularly enjoyable at times, but it was well worth it and will continue to be worth it. It also taught me that there's no such thing as "That's just the way I am." We can always become better. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Livin on the Edge

A while back I was wearing a shirt that features a chimpanzee dressed as Che Guevara and the phrase: "Viva la Evolucion" when I was approached by another missionary and he said. "Ah, I see you believe in evolution." 

To which I replied, "Uh yeah, the same way you believe in electromagnetism or the theory of gravity." 

We later got into a conversation about how Bruce R. McConkie stated that natural selection was one of seven deadly heresies and I told him to stuff it because James E. Talmage noted that the stones that Adam supposedly used to build his first altar were fossiliferous. (Meaning that there were dead things in them.) In either case, I tend to get heated up in discussions such as these because I can't wrap my mind around the concept that people don't accept Evolution as scientific fact. 

The way I see it, there's this massive genre of stuff in our every day lives wherein we don't really have any form of guidance from God or holy scripture. We're forced to use our own personal judgement and hope for the best. Stuff that falls into this category are things like which political party you should join, what kind of car you should drive, and is Weight Watchers really worth it? God promises us that he'll always be there for the big important stuff but there's a plethora of things in life that in the end, don't really matter to him. It may make a lot of people upset but I don't believe God really cares what we think about evolution because we'll all find out the truth eventually. 

However, I think the issue is important for another reason. Namely how we need to take great care that our understanding and interpretation of scripture and church doctrine doesn't cloud our judgement to other truths that aren't covered between Genesis and Revelations. Things like Gravity, Quantum Physics, or the Dirac Sea. After all, the glory  of God is Intelligence and he wants us to learn everything we can about this dizzyingly beautiful universe He put us in. Knowledge gained is a precious resource because it allows us to achieve so much. I'm using Darwin's theory of Natural Selection as a springboard for this entry because it's been a stupidly controversial topic for quite some time and it's something that I feel passionate about. 

Natural Evolution can be summarized thusly; Over millions of years, species go through physical changes in order to more effectively adapt to their environments. Through reproduction over various generations, traits are developed and refined that help ensure the greatest survival of that particular species. 

It's simple and it makes sense. Yet how much drama has been made over this issue ever since 'The Origin of Species' was first printed? I've discussed it with past mission companions, one of which vehemently exclaimed "NO! I didn't come from no monkey!" Even now we hear of lawsuits in which public education boards (I'm looking at you, Kansas) wish to teach intelligent design alongside natural selection, as if the scientific explanation conflicts with their spiritual beliefs. It's not the first time people were slow to embrace new fact, consider for a moment that Copernicus was put to death by the Catholic church on account of Heresy for saying that the earth orbits the sun. 

Genesis has plenty to say on the "Why" man was created, but nothing to say on "How" he was created. The observations of Charles Darwin and thousands of others since provide that evidence of "How" we came to be. Do we have an entire line of events? Not yet, but we're working on it. I feel that some people develop the attitude that if it can't be readily explained, then God did it and we shouldn't probe any further. This forces God to become a sort of "God of the Gaps." We don't know how something happened, therefore it was God working in "mysterious ways" and we leave it at that. We should take care to avoid this way of thinking because in time, those gaps become filled. It is a way of thinking that undermines faith as our understanding of our surrounding universe improves.

Do we understand everything about Life, the Universe, and everything else? Not even close. But we're working towards those answers and slowly learning how God put together this magnificent world of ours. As our understanding continues to increase at faster rates, I urge you to always maintain an open heart and an open mind.