15 March 2010

Today we start our new adventure as Employment Services missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). We are scheduled to fly to São Paulo, Brazil this afternoon, arriving there tomorrow morning about 7:30 am.

Employment Services is just one facet of the Welfare Services Program that the LDS Church offers to members and nonmembers alike. The two overarching principles of welfare are teaching self-reliance and caring for the poor and needy.

"The responsibility for each person's social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof. No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family's well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with spiritual and temporal necessities of life. (See 1 Timothy 5:8." (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p.124; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 77-78).

One of my favorite quotes related to how the gospel of Jesus Christ changes people was given by President Ezra Taft Benson in November of 1985:

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people. And they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing the environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature."

During our stay at the Mission Training Center here in Provo, Utah, we have come to understand a little more what our exact responsibilities will be in Brazil. These entail assisting members and nonmembers alike to prepare themselves for successful job interviews by teaching a "Career Workshop" in which participants learn to identify their skills or traits, to explore career options, to set career goals, and finally make a plan that will help them reach their goals. It is our understanding that approximately 80% of the Career Workshop participants in the São Paulo Educational Services Center have been non-members of the Church.

We will also help job seekers learn how to build a "network" of people who can help them in finding employment. Further, we will identify and cultivate relationships with resources that provide jobs, teach employable skills, and offer financial aid or assistance to those desiring to start or improve a small business.

There is much for us to learn and do, if we are to be successful in helping others help themselves. Our first task, however, is to improve our language skills by mastering the Portuguese language.

09 March 2010

In the MTC and loving it!

All: We've finished a whole week at the MTC in Provo, and I can tell you that it has been a whirlwind of activity. We're up early, rushing to different training sessions and then enjoying special firesides and devotionals. I have been trying to learn some Portuguese, but we're kept so exhausted that I can't spend much time at it. Our Visas finally came and they are for 12 months, which means we'll have to renew when we are in Brazil. We have gained such a testimony of the Lord's programs, most especially the Perpetual Education program and the Employment/Welfare Resources program which we are in. There are miracles waiting to happen all over the world when these programs are in full swing. We've made many acquaintances and even met some distant cousins here in the MTC. All of the young missionaries open doors for me, and we get to go to the front of the line in the cafeteria. I guess old age does bring a few privileges. We love you all and miss you, too. We will update soon. We fly to Sao Paulo on Monday the 15th!