Dear Family and Friends,
The holidays are over now and we are getting fully engaged in the missionary work. Last week has been our fullest week yet.
Monday was a very busy day in that I spent all day getting ready to present the proposed new bishops, patriarchs, and stake presidents' counselors to the area presidency. They review them one by one, and if they approve we send them to Salt Lake City where the apostles on the Boundary and Changes Committee make the final approval.
We receive the recommendation by email and then send them to the member records department who prepare some background information on each candidate. The information we need includes how long the present leader has served and why he is being released. If the bishop has served less then 5 years we need details of why he is being released. For the candidates we need to know their current calling, 2 or 3 previous callings, work details, worthiness, support of wife, contributions to the church, etc. The area presidency wants the leaders to be an example in living the commandments.
On Tuesday I presented 9 names, and they reviewed each one in detail. My job is to have all the information they need at the first presentation. 6 where approved, 1 rejected, and 2 needed more information. Sometimes the area presidency calls on sensitive matters; I was assigned to call the stake presidents of 2. This is the biggest challenge for me, calling on the phone and speaking Spanish. (Pray for me).
On the first week of each month we have committee reports of various committees in the area. They each get 1 hour or sometimes 1/2 hour. We had committee reports on Wednesday and Thursday. Last week we tried something new to control time. I was in charge of time; we have a green ball I put out to start, yellow ball when half way through, red ball when there are 5 minutes left. People kind of laughed about it but by the 2nd day the area presidency were announcing and support it. It seemed to go well.
Some of the committees reporting - legal, facilities, missionary, temple, youth, church education, public affairs, family history, church history, welfare, self reliance, church records, auditors, etc.
The church is looking for ways to build less chapels to save on costs. Here in Mexico they are writing a musical production like they have in Nauvoo or Manti This will be the first one in Spanish. This week I will try to get clearance to call 6 people to work on writing the production. All of these kinds of things come up in AP meetings. TRULY I was thrilled and inspired by all the good things going on in the Church in Mexico.
But there are mundane things too. This is what happened when I left a pen in my shirt when it washed.
Fortunately I lost only one shirt
Then I used my just purchased duct tape to help a missionary neighbor when their oven door came partially off.
To my son-in-law Tyler - another use for duct tape.
Wednesday noon the area presidency took us out to lunch. They said it was a farewell to Carl Pratt the Mexico MTC President and to the Olsons the executive secretary couple who are leaving and a welcome to us, the Sandbergs.
Starting on the left - Elder Piper, 1st C and knows my brother David who replaced him as mission president in St. Petersburg, Carl Pratt leaving the MTC; he spoke highly of the work done by Michelle's cousins James and Pat Jewel while they served in the MTC. Miguel Tenorio Director of Temporal Affairs and me and Michelle. Interesting the sisters sat apart.
On the right, Elder Valenzuela 2nd C, President De Hoyos, Elder Montoya executive secretary and grandson of one of the famous martyrs in Mexican Church history, and Elder Olson who will be leaving.
We spent all day Friday preparing for a broadcast Friday night to all the stake, temple, mission presidents and others for all of Mexico. It was a review of the annual plan for the Church in Mexico.
I really enjoyed the productions, so well set up and executed. There were technical people from the area office everywhere. It was held in the large mutli-stake center close to the temple.
We hope the temple will reopen this summer after remodeling and we can attend.
The area plan was the most exciting and inspiration thing for me this week. Here are some of the highlights translated to English.
Over the past 135 years the Church in Mexico has grown in strength and maturity, thanks to the faith and sacrifice of members from both in and outside the country. Ancient and modern prophets have prophesied of the essential role that the saints in Mexico will play in bringing the gospel to all nations. To achieve this, we will need greater faith, sacrifice and commitment. Now is the time to take our place in the establishment of the Kingdom upon the earth.
I like the recognition of those both inside and outside of Mexico who come to help. I thought of my son Nelson. I like the reference to prophets both in the Book of Mormon and modern who have talked about the great future of Mexico and its people. And am inspired by, "Now is the time to take our place in the establishment of the Kingdom upon the earth."
The plan goes on to say:
We will hasten the Work of Salvation by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ. We will make the sacrifices needed to become temporally and spiritually self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and to support the growth of the Kingdom throughout the earth.
They are really emphasizing self reliance; depend less on others, others outside of Mexico, to meet the needs. The plan says:
Areas of Emphasis
In 2015, members and missionaries, working together, will increase our faith to be self¬reliant. To this end, we will:
• Fast faithfully, donate generous fast offerings, and be full tithe payers.
• Help another person each day to receive the teachings and ordinances that will allow him to return to the presence of the Father.
• Find the names of our own ancestors and complete the temple ordinances in their behalf
They are asking for more from the members temporally and spiritually in everything from donations, to number of missionaries, to names going to the temple.
All day Saturday was an area council with the area presidency, 19 area seventies for Mexico, others, and the executive secretaries. We stayed in the Marriott hotel by the airport. The exec. sec wives stayed with us. This is a picture of the lobby.
I took note of this sign in the hall, Yes, we are in Mexico City. No earthquakes yet.
Saturday we reviewed the area plan and did lots of training for the area 70's. They introduced me and asked me where I served my mission. I said Australia and they said something about I had married a Hatch and that is why I was there. I tried to say it is important whom you marry, but I couldn't think of the word in Spanish about married. Kind of embarrassing, but they are all very nice about it.
At the council meeting we met Elder Lester Johnson from the colonies Michelle and he were neighbors when they grew up.
And today another Colony connection. We went first to the Spanish ward and then to the English ward where we met Lauren Bluth Otto, the daughter of Michelle's cousin Rod Bluth who lives close to our home in Utah.
And finally after all the Hatch / Colony connections, a Sandberg connection. After the English sacrament meeting a member came up and asked if we knew a Karl Sandberg who went to Indiana University
Well enough of what has happened; a few spiritual thoughts to close.
During the area council, they showed a video of training about family search and how you can store pictures and stories on there. They showed a video of an older man showing lots of pictures on the walls of families. He said can you hear the pictures talking. The children said they couldn't hear the pictures. He said listen harder; they are saying - "Protect me, share me, and I will live forever".
A man named Richards told a story to be recorded on Family Search. He said when he was a young man they won a church ball tournament in California and came to Salt Lake City to play in a tournament. His name was Richards and when we arrived to play there sat his grandfather who was a member of the 12 apostles. This man said to his grandfather, "Grandpa what are you doing here? You are a member of the 12; you have more important things to do. His grandfather said, "I have nothing more important to do than sit here and watch you play!"
One of the brethren had been with Elder Packer when he took questions. Someone said "You are an apostle you must know when Christ will come again. Would you share that?" The response was, "I don't know when and I don't care."
Finally an authority came to a stake conference. In the car he asked the president. Do you have family home evening. The president responded, yes, every week. The authority asked are they effective. So I guess I close with this response: is our reading of the scriptures effective, is taking the sacrament effective, are our prayers effective?
Dad - Granddad - Elder Sandberg