The past few weeks have been really busy at the office. One of the projects Craig and I have been working on is a sort of booklet/pamphlet for Mexican missionaries when they are finishing the missions. It is something that the Area Presidency asked that the Self-Reliance office to produce. A draft was prepared even before we arrived here, but it had never been fully used and was in need of review and improvement. So, it was assigned to a committee of a few of the 16 regional Self-Reliance (SR from now on) managers, and Craig was also a member of this working group. Craig also got me (Bonnie) to help because, in the end. The whole purpose of the new pamphlet, which is several pages long, is to help all the Mexican missionaries learn about the importance of SR as they complete their missions and transition back into normal life. They need to get involved in the church’s new SR classes as soon as possible. Many of the missionaries in Mexico need this push in order to get them headed in the right direction after their mission. The brethren want them to acquire a profession but also to remain active in the church. There are too many returned missionaries that lose their way temporally after their mission. They get discouraged because they cannot find a job and so they slowly also become inactive in the church. But, they need to realize they have learned many skills on their mission that can help them in the workplace and in school, and that their local wards and stakes need to function. It is a shame to lose them. Actually, this is one of the main reasons behind the SR concept -- that if you can help an individual and a family become more self-reliant, they are more apt to also be active in the church and therefore, stay spiritually in tune. Anyway, the pamphlet/booklet we have helped produce is to help missionaries go directly to their stake self-reliance specialist and become involved in attending the right self-reliance course for their continued success. We are happy with the product that we have drafted, but we know it will evolve and improve with the help of the SR managers and as it is used.
We have also been busy compiling lists of all the service missionaries and the hours of operation for the approximately 260 self-reliance centers around the country. Such a listing has never existed before, and it will be a continual work in progress as these service missionaries finish their missions and are released. But the initial list is nearly complete and updating will be less intense.
We also recently attended a meeting to discuss the Perpetual Education Fund this morning. There have been some recent changes in this program. Emphasis was really focused on the fact that members need to make every effort to find low-cost education before turning to the PEF for a loan. Elder Netza Salinas, the Area Self-Reliance Coordinator, said that all of Mexico needs to make sacrifices necessary to become self-reliant both temporally and spiritually. All around the country there are many good government-funded universities and other schools that members can attend at no cost. Apparently, there too many members these days who are discounting these institutions and want to go to a more costly private university because they have the misconception that the PEF program exists to make that possible. It was emphasized to all the regional SR managers that the church is NOT a lending institution! If members can receive a good education in a no-cost institution that leads to a job, then that is what they should do. They need to ‘sacrifice’ and the principle of sacrifice to help one’s self needs to be applied more often here in Mexico, and we suppose in many places.
We finally got the map we asked for when we first arrived on our mission. It is bigger than we thought, but it is a map of Mexico and we can mark the 16 Self-Reliance regions here in Mexico. It is framed and has an acrylic front, so we can mark it with a white-board marker. We have it marked and have put a photo of the manager for each area. It is easier for us to figure out where people are located and identify the managers with their regions. Some managers have large areas to cover. They do a lot of traveling in order to fulfil their jobs. We on the other hand walk across the street from our apartment to our work. Not much travel involved. Maybe we will have travel opportunities soon.
Shopping at open air market with friends (the Stevens)
Traveling to see the butterflies
Our Butterfly Group!
Cute little girls at Butterfly Reserve
Even in Mexico we can enjoy Olive Garden!