Thursday, July 24, 2014

Humanitarian news from Tonga

This article tells of Church Humanitarian money used to rebuild homes in Tonga, damaged or destroyed by the tropical cyclone Ian.

My favorite part of the story - other than the amazing generosity of the Saints - is that the homes will be rebuilt by TRAINING LOCAL PEOPLE in building trades and hiring them to build the homes.  This combination of self-reliance and humanitarian aid is truly the LORD's way and promises the best outcomes for the future.  We are supporting a similar program in Slovakia with the Roma.

I posted the photo because they got it right this time: the face of the Church in Tonga is actually Tongan!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Roma Housing in Slovakia : An Amazing Solution

Randy and I met this family and toured their house a few months ago. The Church provided the pipes and fittings to connect these houses to the main waterline which we helped build in this community.

Normally, Roma people live in shacks and 'squat' in temporary housing on land they do not hold title to.  When they do that, they cannot legally connect to the municipal water or electrical systems so they either "steal" these or go without.

ETP Slovakia is one of our partners who has been developing some creative new ways to integrate the Roma into the communities where they live, thus improving their lives significantly.  This is from the ETP Slovakia website : follow the links entitled 'Building Hope" to see the video of the community we visited. 

"Lukáš Turták with his wife Michala are some of the first homeowners in Rankovce. They built their new house by themselves with assistance from the project Building Hope. Lukáš′s father also helped with the construction as he has experience working construction. Today, the couple lives in the house and step by step they will furnish it as they are able. Lukáš and Michala enjoy their own home and enthusiastically talk about what they have already purchased and furnished and what else they would like to do. They have warmth in the house thanks to the new furnace. They purchased a kitchen table, have furnished the living room and have obtained many other necessary things, although, as they say, at the beginning they had nothing.
Lukáš is now a skilled brickmason. He enjoys working construction and he is able to do most things now that are necessary for brickwork. He hopes that the practical skills he acquired building his own home will help him to get a good job in building industry.
Project Building Hope continues to bring hope into many lives. In this year (2014), construction of another ten houses by ten more families is planned, this time in Moldava nad Bodvou."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Humanitarian Resources

There are a lot of resources available on Humanitarian work done by the Church.  
This page has an interactive map which lets you findout about ALL the projects done in EVERY country in the world.  

After you have selected a country, on the righhand side of the page will be links to articles and photos about some of those projects.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Humanitarian Work : Report to the UN

Mormon Representatives Discuss Church Humanitarian Efforts at the United Nations
Representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed the role of the Church’s global humanitarian outreach efforts at a meeting at the United Nations in New York City on 27 February 2014.  The gathering was part of the Focus on Faith series of the Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) Relations and Advocacy Section of the U.N.’s Department of Public Information (DPI). The U.N. officially recognized the Church as an NGO several years ago.
This first meeting of its kind at the U.N. dedicated exclusively to the Church was titled “Discovering Mormonism and Its Role in Humanitarian Assistance.” Those representing the Church included  Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities; Ahmad Corbitt, senior manager of public affairs in New York; and Elder Phil Colton, who, along with his wife, Barbara, is serving as a public affairs missionary interacting with the U.N.

Eubank told a story of how Dutch potatoes were sent to Germany in November 1947 following World War II, even though bitter feelings existed between the peoples of Holland and Germany. “Mormon potato patches sprang up in the backyards, road medians, vacant lots and former flower gardens,” she said. The warehouse soon held 70 tons of potatoes, five times what the export permit of the expected 15 tons would allow. “It’s one thing to talk about brotherhood. It’s another thing to actually act like brothers.”
“Charity is more than aid,” explained Eubank. She said the example of the Dutch potato story “creates some foundational planks in the platform of LDS Charities. It emphasizes dignity, human worth, cooperation, unity, sacrifice and the assurance that no one is too poor or too disabled or too marginalized to contribute something of value.” She highlighted some of the projects of today, including hygiene kit production in Jordan, peer group mobility training in Nepal and family nutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The primary purpose of LDS Charities is to relieve suffering, foster self-reliance and provide opportunities for service for families of all nationalities and religions. Eubank said the organization is self-funded from donations, with most of those contributions less than $50 each. She said the “unique approach” relies mostly on volunteers. There are 36 paid employees, including 16 staff members in Salt Lake City and 20 others in 16 area offices in major cities of Argentina, South Africa, Germany, Russia, Jordan (administered in Salt Lake City), Philippines, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Guatemala, China, Mexico, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
“We work with lots and lots of partners,” said Eubank. She mentioned organizations such as Rotary International, Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, World Health Organization, U.N. High Commission for Refugees and others.
Eubank reported that in 2013 LDS Charities provided $84 million in total assistance to individuals in 130 countries. “Faiths and religions are central to achieving common goals and transformational change,” said Eubank.
Initiatives of LDS Charities in 2013 include clean water (560,000 people in 37 countries), neonatal resuscitation (28,000 people in 37 countries), vision care (89,000 people in 34 countries), wheelchair distribution (66,000 people in 55 countries), family gardens (35,000 people in 20 countries), immunizations (18 projects in 12 countries) and emergency response (103 projects in 54 countries).
Elder Colton, a nuclear physicist who retired from the U.N. in 1999 and the State Department in 2000, spent several years in Southeast Asia supervising hundreds of humanitarian projects. “LDS Charities is making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “There is a basic desire by all men to help [each other].”
Elder Colton said global poverty continues to decline and childhood deaths have dropped dramatically due to the “hard work on the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals from people throughout the world.” “We look forward, my wife and I, to work in the U.N. system to achieve the goals that we are here for today,” he added. “We promise that we will work better and smarter through your guidance. We hope to be invited [to speak] another time.”

Corbitt told a crowded room that Church priorities “correspond with U.N. priorities.” “We respect everyone’s religious freedom,” he said.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Teaching Deep Doctrine

One of the spiritual things that has really impressed me as we travel in eastern Europe is the spiritual maturity of the members.  Some may have only been members for a year or so and may not know a lot about church history or procedural matters from church handbooks, but they are HUNGRY for doctrine.  As I speak and teach on our travels, I have been surprised at times at what the Spirit has given me permission to teach.  Rich and deep ideas, which bind our hearts together.  I will love these people forever.

Just days after experiencing this again in Romania, I read these words of Glenn Pace when he waspreparing for many talks as a member of the West Africa Area Presidency:

I finally decided I would just have to rely on the Lord for instant, spontaneous inspiration and be completely extemporaneous. There is nothing more humbling to me than to stand before an audience completely foreign to my own cu¬ture, knowing they are looking to me as a General Authority of the Church. They have complete confidence that the General Authority will lead them where they need to go. I therefore left on this first assignment with much trepidation.
And yet my concerns turned out to be unfounded.

When I visited the mission, I was very impressed by the intelligence, inquisitiveness, and attentiveness of the missionaries. I was speaking to them about foreordination when one of them asked whether we would be black or white after the resurrection. Another wanted to know if we were individuals when we existed as intelligences. One thing I learned from that experience is while you have to be pretty basic in teaching procedures and policies, you don't have to hold back a minute when teaching doctrine. On this first assignment I received a certain knowledge that the doctrines of the kingdom have a universal appeal. I'm thankful for that early recognition because it gave me the confidence I needed for "straight talk" throughout our ministry.

Glenn L Pace :  SAFE JOURNEY  : page 118

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Missionary SERVICE Revisited
In Northern California, the image of Mormon missionaries in dark suits and white shirts, knocking on doors at inconvenient times, is being replaced by the sight of these name-tag-wearing twosomes in blue jeans and T-shirts, hoeing gardens, scrubbing off graffiti, dishing out food in homeless shelters and reading with refugees.
It’s part of the LDS Church’s recognition that its long-held practice of "tracting," going door to door handing out church materials and delivering religious messages, is no longer effective. Now few people are home during the late morning and early afternoon, and those who are may not want to be disturbed.
"The world has changed," LDS apostle L. Tom Perry said in June 2013. "The nature of missionary work must change if the Lord will accomplish his work."
People today, he added, are often "less willing to let strangers into their homes."
The LDS San Jose Mission already had discontinued tracting. Mission leaders got the word three years ago from church headquarters in Salt Lake City: Find something else for these eager, young full-time missionaries to do.
And it’s not about baptizing.
So San Jose leaders proposed that missionaries provide two hours of nonproselytizing community service every day, five days a week — up from the normal four or so hours a week. This meant that Mormons would have to build partnerships with charitable organizations in their area that might need regular volunteers.
With the help of Web designers in Utah, LDS public-affairs officials in San Jose created a website called, which lists organizations with service opportunities.
"We met with a lot of nonprofit organizations," explains Randy Mack, an accountant and regional LDS public-affairs co-director with his wife, Pat. "We said, ‘Here’s what we are doing. If you have anything we could do, let us put these projects on our website.’ "
The Mormon missionaries have taken to their new assignments with relish, he says. "Because of their being involved with service, people love the missionaries. They are welcomed and get very positive responses — a much different response than knocking on doors."
On top of that, they have more meaningful ways to fill those daytime hours, Mack says. In addition, missionaries are less likely to have health problems or depression, and relationships between the pairs known as "companionships" have improved.
"It’s all been very positive," he says. "The mission president is really excited about it."
The San Jose initiative was a pilot program, but was followed about a year ago in Dallas and Denver. Others are urging that all Mormon missionaries perform extra community service.
Elder Chad Le Beau,18, of Peoria, Ariz., has been in the Bay Area for about seven months, as an American Sign Language missionary (both his parents are deaf). He and his companion spend a lot of his service hours helping out at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont.
"We volunteer at homecoming events, set up parking, cook hamburgers for everybody and help out at basketball games — keeping score, working the shot clock and interpreting for the refs," Le Beau says in a phone interview. "I love service. It builds friendships and love that cannot be obtained through any other means."
Le Beau enjoys this part of his mission a lot.
"Being able to help someone and noticing that you’ve made a difference," he says, "I don’t see how you could not feel good about that."
Other missionaries are helping with an after-school program in a low-income area in East San Jose, which serves kids who are at high risk for joining gangs, says September Higham, an LDS Relief Society president in Mountain View, Calif. They "hang out with the kids, play handball, help with homework and provide other mentoring services."
This organization reached out to the missionaries in particular, Higham says, "because they had trouble finding volunteers who were available between 3 and 5 in the afternoon."
These young Mormons also help a neighborhood association clean up trash around the so-called "Jungle," a large homeless encampment in San Jose and one of the biggest in the nation.
About six to 12 missionaries clean out cow stalls and chicken coops, put in irrigation systems, and weed and mulch once a week at Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational organization, Higham says. Another 15 missionaries work several times a week for a wildlife-habitat-restoration group called Acterra, removing invasive plants, planting native species and providing other services.
"The missionaries were recently honored at the [Acterra] organization’s volunteer dinner as the ‘largest core group’ of volunteers," she says.
Each pair of missionaries has to find its own service opportunities, which fit within established guidelines:
• The service has to be within or near their assigned areas.
• Missionaries are not allowed to use power tools and can go only four steps up a ladder.
• Missionaries are not allowed to work directly with children in most cases. (Exceptions are where there are lots of adults around and the service is in a public area.)
• Missionaries always must be within sight and sound of their companions.
• Missionaries always have to wear their name tags.
When evaluating service prospects, missionaries are told "to use good judgment and protect the name of Christ."
Higham celebrates this move toward putting more service in Mormon missions.
"We’re sending a whole generation of young missionaries back home with the awareness and the experience to engage in service in their own communities," she says. "Some of these missionaries will become community leaders and the experience they gained at age 19 or 20 working with the homeless, at-risk youth, disabled individuals and other disadvantaged populations will become invaluable."
And there’s still plenty of time in the evenings to seek baptisms.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Adventures in Greece

Dear Friends and Family, (this is Randy writing)
I would like to tell you a little about our trip to Greece and Macedonia.  First Greece.  We flew in to Athens late in the evening of Friday, Dec. 27, 2013.  We rented a car and drove to the Park Hotel in Agia Paraskevi, a little way from where our Humanitarian couple lives. Great breakfasts.  Elder and Sister Carder are the first Humanitarian Couple in Greece and they are from Ireland.  The Lord knew what he was doing when he called them.  They have been able to open doors with religious charitable organizations that no previous members have been able to do.  The wife told me about one call she made to an orphanage where the nuns had refused their help.  She said, “I told them that they should be ashamed of themselves for denying help to those sweet little children.  Was their pride and stubbornness going to deny these children the help they needed?”  The nuns gave in to her Irish stubbornness and in the end appreciated what we were able to do for them. 

(This is Rebecca writing)  The Carders had some teaching appointments for a few hours on Saturday morning so we took the subway into town.  We headed straight for the National Archeological Museum, knowing we wouldn't get another chance to see it until Tuesday at the earliest.  Incredible collection of antiquities.  Each one is the finest of it's kind in the world.
Asclepius, god of healing with the serpent on his staff
Bronze statue of a god, probably Zeus, found on the sea floor; made about 460 BC.

Athena : smaller model of the massive statue that once stood in the Parthenon

Art of the ancient Cycladic civilization, which flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea from 3300 - 2000 BC
Family group on cemetary monument
Poignant cemetary monument of a mother who died in childbirth bidding farewell to her baby.

Ritual handshakes show up in about half of the cemetary carvings
Amazing huge bronze of a boy on a horse

Famous Linear B script from 1400 BC in Mycenae

A Mycenaean funeral mask identified as the "Mask of Agamemnon" by Heinrich Schliemann.
Silver repoussé rhyton with gold horns, from Grave Circle A at Mycenae, 16th century BC 

"Heinrich Schliemann, a German is considered the father of Greek archeology. In 1873 he uncovered fortifications and the remains of a city of great antiquity, and he discovered a treasure of gold jewelry, which he smuggled out of Turkey. He believed the city he had found was Homeric Troy and identified the treasure as that of Priam. His discoveries and theories, first published in Trojanische Altertümer (1874; “Trojan Antiquity”). Next he began excavation at Mycenae,in Greece. In August 1876, he began work in the tholoi, digging by the Lion Gate and then inside the citadel walls, where he found a double ring of slabs and, within that ring, five shaft graves (a sixth was found immediately after his departure). Buried with 16 bodies in this circle of shaft graves was a large treasure of gold, silver, bronze, and ivory objects. Schliemann had hoped to find—and believed he had found—the tombs of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and he published his finds in his Mykenä (1878; “Mycenae”). " Most of Schliemann’s Mycenaean treasure is at the National Archeological Museum in Athens.

The Museum also has a special exhibition about the Anticythera shipwreck, which Randy was really excited to see.
The left part of the head was buried in the mud and so was not exposed to damage by sea life.

"In 1900, a storm blew a boatload of sponge divers off course and forced them to take shelter by the tiny Mediterranean island of Antikythera. Diving the next day, they discovered a 2,000 year-old Greek shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera.. Among the ship's cargo they hauled up was an unimpressive green lump of corroded bronze. Rusted remnants of gear wheels could be seen on its surface, suggesting some kind of intricate mechanism."

Reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (made by Robert J. Deroski, based on Derek J. de Solla Price model)

 "The first X-ray studies confirmed that idea, but how it worked and what it was for puzzled scientists for decades. Recently, hi-tech imaging has revealed the extraordinary truth: this unique clockwork machine was the world's first computer."

 "An array of 30 intricate bronze gear wheels, originally housed in a shoebox-size wooden case, was designed to predict the dates of lunar and solar eclipses, track the Moon's subtle motions through the sky, and calculate the dates of significant events such as the Olympic Games. No device of comparable technological sophistication is known from anywhere in the world for at least another 1,000 years." You can view videos about the shipwreck on YouTube.