Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting our feet on the Ground

We hope all who read this had a great Thanskgiving.  We had a very enjoyable time with other Senior Missionaries and the Area Presidency and their families, with all the fixings of  a traditional meal. As usual, we went away well satisfied with both the food and the interaction with friends, all of us away from home.

By now, we have had some time to get settled into our apartment and our missionary work.  We will elaborate on each a bit today.

We live in an apartment-hotel that is across the street from the Mexico Area Offices.  That makes it convenient for us to get to the office and back each day.  It is a small one bedroom apartment, but adequate for a missionary couple.  We have internet and TV to keep us entertained, when there is time for it.  The hotel has a small gym, with two treadmills and 2 spinning bikes, so we can exercise if we can get there when someone else isn't using it.  The same goes for the washers and dryers in the basement. There are 3 washers and dryers that are home grade, not commercial. We are able to use them after 6 p.m. and before 7 a.m.  Everyone in the hotel can use the washers and dryers so it is hit or miss if they aren't being used during those hours.  I think we have found a time when we can use them, Thursday evening.  But we have to be there right at 6:00 p.m. or will lose out. Sometimes the dryers get over-heated and shut off automatically before the clothes are dry, so we wait until the dryers cool down and then hit it again!  The dials on the washers and dryers are so worn that they hardly turn washers on, and with the dryers they don't work at all! You just have to push the start button. and hope for the best! For transportation, we primarily take taxis everywhere nothing is really close except the office and the distances are too far to walk, especially if carrying groceries or such.  We are grateful taxis aren't too expensive.  There are a few Area Office cars that some of the missionaries use and they are kind to give us rides when we need them. Perhaps later we will feel up to driving to favorite shopping locations ourselves, and request a car from time to time.

What we are doing in our calling, however, is much more rewarding, and is really the reason we are here, of course. We are assisting with the administration, throughout the Mexico area, of the Church's Self-Reliance Initiative. This initiative is managed directly under the First Presidency and, so far, is only active overseas. It is a new initiative that has taken the place of the former Employment Centers and includes the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) within it, as well. It is basically a whole new approach to assisting people to become more self-reliant in every aspect of their lives, with emphasis on temporal as well as spiritual self-reliance. It has been active in Mexico now for basically one year and a lot has been achieved. For example, in that time, 95% of the 265 stakes and districts in the Mexico Area have a self-reliance center located in the Stake Center. The program shares space and equipment on alternating days with the Family History Centers. Getting this effort to the point that has been achieved has been a daunting task, but the Mexico Area Presidency has been behind it 100% and see this initiative as the primary means through which the Church in Mexico can become self-reliant, in a literal sense. That is their goal.  We are establishing the data bases and other means for tracking a number of important items, for example: the stake specialists, service missionaries, and volunteers who serve in each of the 260 S-R  center, hours of operation; all the S-R equipment in the centers;  and so forth. We will also be updating and keeping current the Area Office webpage and Facebook page and helping the Area S-R Director and Operations Manager (the only two Church employees in the Area Office who manage the effort, in organizing the weekly web-based meetings and other duties as they come up. So far Craig has done a number of translations that were needed very quickly and Bonnie has used her computer skills to create charts and tables for collecting and reporting data. We will include more about the S-R initiative in following posts, but for now, we close by stating that Self-Reliance will help the members, as well as nonmembers who seek assistance, obtain employment, become self-employed, or provide education or skilled training that can lead to good employment. Once people can adequately provide for themselves and their families, they will be able to serve in the church to a higher capacity, and will not be worrying about where their next meal will come from. Again, this initative is almost world-wide, Outside the U.S. and Canada) but our focus is in Mexico.  The goal for Mexico is to be totally self-reliant in just a few years.  We are excited to be part of that.

We look forward to seeing for ourselves how the results of this program bless the lives of the people of Mexico.

We would like to share this link with you this Christmas season.  Let us not forget the real reason for celebrating Christmas. Our love to each of you!!!

At Palacio de Bellas Artes to see Ballet Folklorico
 Chapel in Northern Mexico City
 Our Apartment, we are on the third floor
 At a Stake Self-Reliance Center

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