LAS VEGAS – The standard of women’s 7s keeps on getting better and better and we have just been treated to a fantastic tournament at the HSBC USA Sevens.

It seems that at every series leg we can see more improvements. The players are getting faster, stronger, more skilful, more tactically aware and the overall spectacle that is the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series is enhanced as a result.

And it’s not just the top teams. New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada are the best sides in the world at the moment but they are being challenged now in a way that they haven’t been in recent years.

Russia are stepping up, Spain are making big improvements, Ireland are making their move —— beating the Americans in Las Vegas was a huge result for them —— but the big improvers have been Fiji. They are starting to play with the freedom, style and athleticism that their men are known for and it’s only a matter of time before they topple one of the big guns.

The secret to their success has been a change to their training and diet. At this high level, you can’t just turn up and expect to compete.

The work that Fiji are putting in before tournaments is really starting to show. We know already that they have the skills to be the best but we now see a fitter, faster Fiji and they are not too far away now.

World Rugby need to be congratulated for developing women’s sevens the way they do and giving these great opportunities for improvements to be made. It’s a great series now, fast-paced and exciting, and it’s helping to make women’s rugby one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

Portia Woodman is one of the greatest athletes in the world across all sports and some of the other players are not far behind. Let’s promote them like other sports do and turn them into superstars.

Another stand-out player from the USA Sevens was Ireland’s Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe but her name is a commentator’s nightmare. By the time you’ve said it, she’s already scored!

So NZ came out on top in the US but looking ahead to the next stage in Kitakyushu, Japan,

Even with a very unusual president of our USA, a major goof-up on the Academy Award for Best Picture caught on national TV, and almost daily news of guns and violence — some close to home — the topic most discussed everywhere is “the weather.” A good portion of TV newscasts is spent talking about the weather. Weather apps are popular, and even a designated weather channel makes forecasts readily available.

With instant worldwide information, we can be up to date with the weather anyplace in the world. Today we heard from friends in New Zealand enjoying a beautiful summer day; our granddaughter in the state of Washington has had nearly continuous rain for a month; and the Midwest had multiple serious tornadoes. Here in Northern Utah we’ve had more snow than we’re used to and the mountains are the skiers’ delight.

With all the snow we’ve received lately, the few days of warmer temperatures and rain caused major problems for many in Box Elder, Rich and Cache counties. Sandbags helped in many cases, but waterlogged fields have to wait to dry out. In the meantime, prepare for the coming mosquitoes!

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But the one situation I have never been part of before was the call for citizens to cut back on sending water through the sewer system – the rain and accompanying stormwater overwhelmed the sewer system. We were all asked to cut back on washing clothes, running dishwashers, having long showers and, oh yes, flushing only when necessary. The “crisis” was averted for now and things are back to “normal” for most of us. Yet the foot of snow we received last week is a reminder that it’s still not yet spring, and there is a lot of snow in “them thar hills.”

I shared this little jingle before, but I love it. “Whether the weather be fine, whether the weather be not, whether the weather be cold, whether the weather be hot; we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!” And we will.

Do you remember the big flood in Salt Lake City during May and June 1983. In Sept 1982, the Salt Lake area had 10 times more moisture than normal. The storms continued through January and February of ’83 with mudslides becoming almost common. In April rain continued, plus a hurricane with winds up to 140 mph. A huge mudslide drowned the town of Thistle on the Spanish Fork River. Gov. Scott Matheson was quoted as saying “This is a hell of a way to run a desert.” On May 26, 13th South was transformed into a river flowing from 6th West to the Jordan River. Trucks dumped eight loads of earth per hour into dikes, bolstered by sandbags and plastic. Soon these dikes went up to 7th East. Then City Creek went over its banks, ran along North Temple, then rushed through Temple Square to the Salt Palace. It was finally contained on State Street and ran to Eight South. Wooden bridges were constructed over the river on State Street, so cars could still travel north and south through the city. By June’s end, only mud, memories, repairs, and photographs witnessed Salt Lake County’s trial by weather and its triumph through cooperation. (A lot like Cache Valley, only on a larger scale.)

Flooding can even occur in tropical paradises. We lived by BYU-H while on a Church Mission serving Polynesia. There is a huge grassy area as you approach the circle displaying international flags. One storm was a real downpour for several days. That field filled with water nearly 18 inches deep. The students had a great time playing in that lake. They did everything but fish! When the storm continued and became a problem to nearby homes, the students filled sandbags and made sure the homes were safe. These great kids smiled and laughed the whole time. They loved the rain. Each time we had to go out in it, we were again surprised how warm the rain was!

One of our mission responsibilities was to visit church schools in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati and New Zealand, so we spent quite a bit of time flying from one country to another. For some reason, travel in the Pacific takes place in the middle of the night! One beautiful night we landed in Pago Pago, Samoa, at 1 a.m. and transferred to a smaller plane heading for Upola, the main island of Samoa. It was to be a short flight and we were quickly on our way. We were sitting behind the pilot and a couple of other passengers were behind us. As we took off, we enjoyed seeing the beautiful southern sky. Then the pilot said “We are flying into a storm, be ready for some bumps.” Now I’ve seen storms before, and I’ve seen lightening, but this experience was unbelievable. The plane heaved and bumped and plunged just like a wild amusement park ride. Jane grabbed my arm (I still have the marks from her nails) and closed her eyes. But I watched. The windshield wipers were working feverishly, but the pilot couldn’t see anything. He just held on and tried to keep the plane upright. This lasted about 15 minutes, then bump, bump, bump. We had landed! On the runway! The rain was still pelting the plane and the wind was blowing fiercely. We could barely see the lights of the small terminal building. The pilot finally said, “I think we may as well go in, it’s not letting up.” We were drenched clear through when we entered the building. I turned to the pilot and said, “How did you ever land that plane?” He looked at my missionary badge on my drenched shirt and said, “Elder Monson, I wasn’t flying that airplane.” True story.

Sometimes miracles come with storms. True, some lives are lost, but “weathering the storms of life,” does include miracles. This I believe.