This week I would like to write more about our day to day experience as missionaries - less pictures about things we do out of the office. This coming weekend we are going to the Guadalajara Temple and stopping on the way back in Guanajuato so will be lots of good pictures next week.
It was exciting this week to have a visit from our nephew, Matt Sandberg, he is the son of my brother David.
Matt and his family have lived in Guatamala City where he works in the US embassy. He and his wife Jessica and 4 children will be transferred to Mexico City about July of this year. It will be fun to have some family here.
While Matt was here I was thinking of my father, who left Sweden speaking only Swedish and knowing only the Swedish culture, and now he has a son and grandson married to women with a Latin culture living in Mexico City speaking Spanish. It is kind of nice to think of how the gospel is going to all the world. This past week they made a new stake in Jalapa, Mexico. Of Xalapa as it is often spelled. Now there are 3 stakes. Elder Valenzuela started his mission as a youth in Jalapa and there was one branch then!
A couple of good news items. The USA changed to daylight savings time today, but Mexico doesn't change until April. That means we are now on the same time as Utah and maybe I can stay up and watch the BYU basketball team plan in the WCC tournament!!
Also the public affairs person in the area office said the movie, Meet the Mormons, in Spanish was the 12th movie in attendance last week, ahead of some Disney movies! We expect even more attendance this weekend. Our local ward rented a whole theater for all the young and leaders and friends to go.
Once a month we have committee reports. These committee come in and meet with the area presidency to give them an update. I continue to be amazed at the items we cover. Part of my job is to put us green, and then yellow, and then a red ball to show them how much time they have left. Here are some examples of some of the things we hear about.
The legal committee talks about land we thought the Church bought on which we are ready to building a chapel. But now there is some concern about the title. We have a couple of lawyers in the area office but mostly they contract with local lawyers to do the work. One time one of our lawyers wanted to brief the AP on an abuse case, and said to us executive secretaries, "Don't go away mad, just go away." So we don't hear everything, but I hear all I want to in this area. The public affairs committee updated on the movie Meet the Mormons as I told you earlier. They also talk about news coverage, good and bad.
The missionary committee reports on the senior missionaries about 200 coming and going in Mexico and about 2500 young missionaries from Mexico in the MTC or in the field. They had done a survey of the cost for couple missionaries, it is costing more than we think. The presidency decides what to tell potential couples from Mexico the cost they should expect.
The records department shows the records and attendance and full tithe payers etc. for all of Mexico. They have really good, up to date records. The area presidency recently sent thousands of membership records back to the wards they came from and asked for help in locating these members. We get a report on how many membership records have been moved to a new ward and how many have come back to the unknown file.
We watch all this and keep track of action items to be followed up on.
The audit committee reports on the hundreds of audit committee that audit the records of wards, stakes and missions. They tell us they train all new stake presidents and they tell us which stakes are late in the audit reports. Some times the AP decides to call some leaders. These people are amazingly competent with a good spirit.
(If you have heard enough, you can stop but I will try to have a spiritual thought at the end).
We also had a report on the self-reliance committee. Over the last couple of years they been putting in place self-reliance committees in the stakes and districts. 90% of the stakes and districts have them - they are employment centers, PEF resources, and training. They helped 1000's of people find better jobs, start their of business, or start an education program.
The welfare committee reports on how many people have been helped with fast offering. The biggest needs are food and medical help. We talk about a young woman who needs a kidney transplant and help from the Church. We see the report on fast offering. The members are paying more fast offering. In a year or so we might not need fast offering funds from outside the country!
The temple committee reports on the number of ordinances done in the temple. More and more names are coming locally. We may not need names from outside the country soon. The temple in the Colonies often has the best numbers.
Finally the youth committee reports on the 8 or 9 FSY (formerly EFY) campouts of up to 10 stakes that we will have this year. We hear about young single adult activities and conferences. And finally their are 100,000's youth in seminary and institute and the number is growing.
Really, after all these committee reports I just sit there amazed. So many people doing so many good things.
My big assignment last week was to help with the slides (in English) for a presentation the area presidency will make to the 1st Presidency, 12, and 7 presidents by video conference about the work in Mexico. We had a rehearsal with some brethren from SLC. They did not like our slides which I made. Oh well, they used to say at Hewlett Packard where I worked, "Don't get married to your slides, they will change." So we are working on that this week.
Just to show you it is not just fun times here. Tuesday I went to the office at 7:15 am, had a break for lunch at noon, and worked until 7:15 am preparing recommendation for new leaders for the area presidency to review. On my cell phone I listened to the BYU basketball game as I walked home. (On my computer I watched they lose).
Wednesday I went to the office at 6:45 and came home at 5:30. I get tired.
Also this week I gave the spiritual thought in presidency meeting. We are now doing the thought and signing a hymn in English to help the presidency improve their English.
I choose Mark 4 as my theme where Jesus teaches.
24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.
25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
As I read that I saw what the Joseph Smith translation says:
JST and unto you that continue to receive, shall more be given.
I took note of the phrase, continue to receive. I thought of some who had received, some how stopped receiving and lost even that which they had received earlier.
Sydney Rigdon was an early convert, brought many people to the Church, dedicated the land of Zion. experienced the vision recorded in the 76 section with Joseph Smith and was in the first presidency But somehow he did not continue to receive, was excommunicated, started several churches that failed and lost what he had received before.
I thought of Joseph Smith who received and continued to receive until the end of his days in Nauvoo.
I thought of my mother, a good Baptist girl, college educated who married my father, a Swede with a strong accent who probably only went to the 6th grade because she received a testimony for herself. About 15 years latter when my father died she did not stop receiving, did not go inactive, did not go back to the Baptist Church with her family.
She continued to receive and to serve and went on 2 senior missions, one for herself and one for her deceased husband she said. She continued to receive until the end of her days. She was always humble and interested in learning more.
So how do we receive. I think the fist thing is humility, admit that after all, maybe after many years, we still don't know and understand everything. We continue to receive though inspiration, revelation, meetings, counsel, reproof, scriptures, reading, and conferences,
So let us continue to receive, until the end of our days, least we lose what we once had.
It has taken me a while to get this out, but here it is. (Michelle has not reviewed it for errors).
I am getting busier and busier, but I enjoy it. I understand nearly everything in Spanish. Even some jokes. Today in the meeting someone told this joke in Spanish. "Two men were sitting and eating in a restaurant and one said, 'All lawyers are jerks' . The man at the next table said. 'Don't make that comparison!!' The first man said, 'Oh, I am sorry, are you a lawyer?' The man at the next table said. 'No, I am a jerk'".
Elder Sandberg - Dad - Granddad