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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 14-18, 2016 MTC - Second Week

The Purpose of the Welfare Services department of the Church is "to relieve suffering and care for the poor and needy of all nationalities and religions."

We received so much information this week that it's a little hard to wrap our brains around it all, but it has been and will be helpful. We were so impressed by the responsibilities of the people who came to speak with us. All of them are managers or directors of their departments, so we got things right from the top. We appreciated their taking time to come train us.

To clarify, Welfare Services is sometimes called LDS Charities or Humanitarian Services.

There is a wonderful website that explains in details of What We Do, Why We Help, and Where We Work. www.ldscharities.org

From this website:

"Our humanitarian signature programs are built on the principles of personal responsibility, community support, self-reliance, and sustainability. We employ these principles even during times of critical aid and emergency response. Our efforts are designed to give individuals and communities the tools they need to improve their own circumstances in permanent and meaningful ways."
"We seek to align ourselves with partners that share our desire and commitment to meeting humanitarian needs around the world. By working with those organizations most capable of meeting the needs outlined in our various initiatives, we are able to put the donations we receive to the best use. By working with us, our partners are able to increase their impact through our funding and volunteer resources."

Monday: Five couples called to be Welfare Services missionaries in Bosnia, Vanuatu, Albania, Guatemala, and of course, Jamaica, went as a group to tour and receive training at Welfare Square in SLC. Wow! We then enjoyed a very nice luncheon up on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. In the afternoon, we received more training about how all the pieces of Welfare Services work together and heard from the director of Emergency Response. Again, wow! It is awesome to hear all the myriad of things the Church does in the context of the gospel.

Tuesday: We were trained by a sister who is a program manager and analyst of some of the Major Initiatives. She helped us see how we fit in the overall scheme of things. Major Initiatives (or sometimes called Signature Initiatives) are the bigger projects that are headquartered in SLC. Our job will be to facilitate when a team of specialists comes to start-up, follow-up, etc. in our country. We learned the organizational structure from Church headquarters down to us. We talked a lot about serving as Ammon did.

Here’s a quick synopsis of Ammon’s mission to the Lamanites. (Nephites and Lamanites are the two groups of people in the Book of Mormon who inhabit North and South America from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D). Ammon (a Nephite) goes first to the land of Ishmael. He is captured by the Lamanites and taken before their king, Lamoni. Lamoni asks his purpose in straying so far from Nephite lands. When Ammon replies that he wants only to serve, the king, impressed, offers him one his daughters. Ammon refuses and offers to become a servant in the king's household, assisting others in caring for the king's flocks. When bandits attack, Ammon directs the others to encircle the flock so they will not scatter and confronts the bandits. Fellow servants tell him they will be killed if the bandits acquire any of the flock. As he is seemingly outnumbered, the thieves attack Ammon. From a distance he kills several with his sling and then in hand-to-hand combat cuts off the arms of every robber who attacks him. After this event, the king asks where Ammon has gone. He wants to thank him for his courage in saving the flock. The king is told Ammon is out feeding the king’s horses. Ammon does not seek recognition or praise. Ammon's defense of the king's flock convinces the servants and the king that he is favored by God, and they desire and ask to hear his teachings.

As Welfare Services missionaries we are not trying to go into a place and take over - thinking our western ways are always best. We also learned how the Church does not do give-aways except in the case of major disasters and immediate aid is needed.

So simply, there are Major Initiatives and Area Initiatives. There are 6 major: wheelchairs, vision, newborn and maternal care, clean water, food production, and immunizations. (Bobby and Emily, I kept thinking of you as we learned about the Helping Babies Breath projects. I could picture you, Dr. Bobby, right in the forefront of such a project helping so many with your expertise in pediatrics and Emily right by your side.)

The Area projects are specific to a need in our country; many are already underway, or we will propose new ones. Worldwide 46% are medical projects. A couple of examples: in Jamaica we will continue working with the Jamaica Society for the Blind. Another is in the South Pacific islands where they are working with other (NGOs) nongovernment agencies on education, prevention, and treatment of diabetes. We did a practice case study about a proposed project for helping equip a clinic for treatment of foot sores, etc. on diabetic patients.

Wednesday: This morning we had a very interesting training session with the director of Family Services. He has a PhD in family counseling. (I thought of you, Collin. I know this is something you're interested in.) He had tons of information, was a lot of fun, and led us through a bit of a therapy session as we all struggle at varying degrees with the immensity of the work we will be doing. We watched the funniest, but oh-so-true video about marital relationships. It's called, "It's Not About the Nail." I need to check to see if it's on YouTube; it's priceless!

Thursday: We were trained on several nuts and bolts kinds of things land specifically how to use the Church Humanitarian System (CHaS) which is a data base and reporting system we will use to write up project proposals and to keep track of progress and budgets. During the whole proposal process, we will need to enter all types of pertinent data including all the who, what, when, where, and WHY. Once a project is approved, we use the same system to record all the plans, implementation, development, budget, pictures, evaluations, comments, etc. It's quite a process. (I thought of you, Tom, they're rolling out a new version this fall.) As far as budgeting, the amount of money for a project determines who exactly is involved in the approval process.

One of the biggest principles that was repeated over and over this week is that we are to be the helpers not the doers. We actually can make things much worse if we don't remember that.

I have so many good quotes and spiritual thoughts I'd love to share. Maybe I'll go back through all my notes and compile them, but then again, they probably wouldn't mean as much to you. One I will share, "We need not always look to SLC for direction, instead we need to look into the handbook, into our hearts, and into heaven." I think this applies to any calling in the Church and really life in general. Look into heaven for guidance.

With every aspect of this training and all the multitude of world-wide welfare projects, I kept thinking of something each of our sons and daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law would be so good at. I am so grateful for all of them.

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