Friday, May 22, 2015

WOW good things happening - Sandbergs in Mexico

Dear Family and friends,

We are just about to finish up with a 10 day area review visit to Mexico by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Craig C. Christensen one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy.

It is a wonderful experience, but generates lots of activity here in the area office.  I will talk about that visit more in a later post.

First a little funny experience.  In the meeting of the presidency they were talking about a building which was in a place called Lo Mas Verde (The most green).  I kept wondering where this most green place was.  Finally asked the other executive secretary, and he said they are talking about Lomas Verdes (Green hills).   I thought it was kind of funny.

One of the senior missionaries works in a mission office and taught the priesthood lesson at Church on flooding the world with the Book of Mormon.  He says he orders about 500 Books of Mormon a month so if you take that times the 34 missions in Mexico times 12 months that makes 200,000 copies of the Book of Mormon a month going out from the missions a year.  That does not count what the members do on their own.

Recently I was able to watch a talk by an emeritus Seventy reflecting on what he had learned.  One of the things he mentioned was how important unity is.  He said, "Sometimes you may be prematurely right."  Meaning you may see something in your ward or in the Church that needs to be improved, but it may not be in your area of responsibility.  But with a little patience, it will be taken care of by the Lord, and we should not get ahead of our leaders.

I also heard another talk by a leader who had been told in his patriarchal blessing when he was a young man that he would see the return of the lost 10 Tribes of Israel.  He said he was recently in Russia and was in a meeting of about 70 members in a remote part of Russia.   When asked how many had received their patriarchal blessings about 35 raised their hands.  In that group of 35, in their blessings stating their linage, all the tribes of Israel were mentioned.  Interesting times.

I love it when all the different committees, youth, church education, temple, missionaries, etc. come to report to the area presidency.  The welfare committee recently reported their efforts to help people here in Mexico have a better income.  One of the senior couples goes out and helps people in the remote area to get animals and gardens of their own.  They don't give money but help with seeds and plants and often help the members get help from government programs they didn't know about.  I enjoyed some of the pictures they showed.

Happy to have some chickens of their own.

And turkeys

They say rabbits are good to eat and that they multiply quickly.

They are helping the members, and non-members, get seeds and learn how to have gardens.

This effort follows the principle of our welfare system; we should help people help themselves.  This helps preserve self-esteem.  To just give things to those who are capable, encourages dependence which does not lift them.  Of course for those unable to do things, that is different.

I enjoyed the report from the Self-Reliance Committee.  Self-Reliance is an initiative by the 1st Presidency for areas outside of the US and Canada to help the members be better off economically.  It is new but is getting going in Mexico.

Each stake is to have a self-reliance center, kind of like a family history center.  In fact in most places they share the same room and use the same computers.  The self-reliance centers form interest groups.  They have manuals, videos, etc. to help them.  Here is how the groups are growing.

The self reliance centers are also job placement centers as well as training centers.  Here is a slide about people using the self-reliance centers.

So in 2015, 223 people have come in looking for jobs, 367 asking about additional education which can include Perpetual Education Fund, and 1004 want to start there own businesses.  I may have mentioned before how amazing these numbers are.  I think if these classes were offered in the US where I have lived, the number wanting to start their own bushiness would be the smallest group! Difference in culture I think.

The First Presidency has asked that we give priority to five groups in the Self-reliance Centers.  Here is a report so far.

We also get reports on buildings,  There is a big effort to have good meeting places for members but at lower costs.  This is called the Meeting House Priorities program.  For example we are looking more at renting buildings for chapels rather than buying land - very expensive in parts of Mexico - and fixing them up.  The cost is less.

Here is an example of a building that the Church signed a 10 year lease on.

These are some pictures of the inside.

After the remodel.

And the inside.

All of this supports the Area Plan put together by the Area Presidency with these statements.

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.

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. 

People are very excited about Mexico being more self-reliance, meeting our own needs, and helping the Church in other parts of the world.  The programs of welfare and self-reliance, and managing the cost of buildings will help all that to come about.

One of the committees that reports is the youth committee.  This time they talked about the Especially for Youth (or sometimes called Strength of Youth) events they have.  It reminded me when we helped organize and put on the first EFY for the youth in Belize.

This is when each group chooses a name and makes a flag and a cheer and they are judge for best.

I can remember the talent night we had in Belize.  This is in Mexico with a native dance.

Oh yes, and the favorite food night; there is always a Pizza night.

And finally this is Samuel with Elder Smith, one of the senior missionaries whose calling is hep organize these youth events.

Samuel told Elder Smith of an experience he had.  Elder Smith wrote it up in Spanish and I translated it to English.

Here it is, maybe we should call him Samuel the Lamanite.

Testimony and Experience of: Samuel Silva Cruz from Juchitan, Mexico

Samuel was sitting in a classroom at school during free time before the next class began. There were in the classroom a few students and a teacher preparing materials for the class following.

Samuel was reading the Book of Mormon and during this time the students around him began mocking him saying gross things about reading the book during his free time.

The teacher realized what was happening and asked why they were saying these words to Samuel. When she realized that he was reading the Book of Mormon, she also said that he could not read the book in class.

Samuel replied that they were now in their free time not in a class and there was no reason that he could not read the book.  He stopped speaking and without saying more he continued reading the book. After a few minutes the students began to tease and bother him again, but he said nothing.

When the students finished speaking, Samuel stood up and said something like this, "I let you speak and now it is my turn.” He said that the Book of Mormon is the most important book he had read in all his life. He said he had a strong testimony of the book and it changed his life. He testified that Jesus Christ spoke of his visit to the Americas, and here was a book that everyone should read. "

After that he sat down and there was not one more word said during the leisure time, and a little later the teacher and students left until the hour of his class.

We say, "Very good Samuel.  You did very well, you were a very good example in your school showing much patience and love for your fellow men."

April 2015 - The Guardian Mexico


  1. Hi Mom and Dad, thanks for the post, we love hearing from you and it is exciting to see the growth of the church in Mexico! Love, Richard

  2. aha! Maybe I found a way to comment on your blog! This is Wanda. One more try to make sure

  3. Really enjoy your blogs. this is Wanda. Thanks for taking the time to write them. Seeing the charts was amazing. I guess I really never knew that countries as entities made these facts and figures just for their countries. That helps to see the church in the area, which is just a step I missed thinking about I guess. Wonderful progress! I remember looking at the self-reliance mission and choosing that as my own personal favorite. But we are where we are supposed to be. I would like to try that someday though. There were many centers that needed English speakers, so I think we might qualify. The remodeled church was amazing! What a transformation! Thanks for sharing the story of the modern Samuel the Lamanite. Inspiring! Sure appreciate what you are doing. It is IMPORTANT! Love you lots!

    1. Yes, I got your comment. It came from "anonymous"