Sometimes it’s hard to think of something to write about. It seems like this week was no different than any other but it gives us a chance to really think about the little things that make up our lives, probably not very interesting. We received two Christmas gift packages Friday, sent Dec 5 and Dec 15. That was exciting missionary mail!
Just to highlight the economic problems of Venezuela due in part to the dropping oil prices, just yesterday there was a segment about Venezuela on World News. It really helps to understand and see first-hand what’s going on in that country, and it helps us as we deal with the AAA’s and local stakes and leaders in the country with their challenges. The people stand in long lines in the heat, many of them with their children, waiting to get in the grocery store. Ironically, one person had a Disney umbrella for shade. Then the camera took us into the grocery store and it was sooooo sad! The Church is not allowed to have Bishop’s storehouses because the government sees that as hording food. The only answer is to go to the streets and buy the needed items for twice the money on the Black Market.
The Church is very aware of the problem. From our Senior Missionary, Bill Murray, we hear one of our ward buildings was confiscated by the government and is now being used for a school house because they needed it more than church services once a week. Yea! Hard to believe. The Church is just reconciled to the fact that the building is no longer church property.
Venezuela is an unusual country. In the five countries in our area, Venezuela and Colombia have the most difficulty in way of economic distress. With all five countries, the misuse of funds is pretty equal. In all, there are a total of 250 stakes with almost 3,000 local units. Problems occur when there are missing funds, embezzlement or sometimes due to robbery. With such great numbers of leaders, we are only dealing with 6-8 real problems a year. Awesome percentages when compared to world averages for business losses. Of course, the Church is more concerned about the worth of a soul, proper training and policies in place to protect the leaders
Sure helps us know how blessed we are!
Imagine the faith of the Saints who give their tithing and fast dollars freely when they have so little. The job through our office here and those we work closely with is to check the receipts and expenses of how the fast offerings are spent. When there is an irregularity, a special audit is made and questions asked. If and when the questions are not answered satisfactorily and through the spirit, the case is turned over to the ecclesiastical leaders for appropriate action.
Dianna taught the Relief Society lesson yesterday and she had quite a surprise. Sister Holland was visiting and attended the little English class. What a blessing to have her present. Diane had a video for the end of her lesson, actually with President Monson, but she asked Sister Holland to bear her testimony instead. It was so sweet and tender as she expressed gratitude for being in Peru and being able to travel with her husband. Last year she woke up one morning with a bad cough and congestion and learned she had pneumonia. She was in the hospital for two months! Finally, the doctors told her they had done all they could do and she should call her family around and make final preparations for this life. Having been through that, we knew what that was like and her testimony of God's love and answer to prayers was a blessing to hear.
Billie Murray is finishing her project of creating a timeline of the history of the church in Peru. What an awesome undertaking and accomplishment as she rolled out the timeline on the table. This will saved on a disc and copies of the timeline will be placed on a wall in all the institute buildings throughout the area. She is matching pictures to upload onto the timeline and then it will go to the publisher.