Long Time No Writing
The New Year came in almost a full two months ago and yes, we are still here in Ghana. Four months now. It has had its highs and lows, some tears and frustrations and yet so many positives and wonderful experiences. As the future posts come up I know that you will notice that they are definitely out of order but I hope that you will enjoy them.
We have been praying for inspiration and we hope that as we go forward we will be on a good path. We were called as PEF missionaries. PEF stands for Perpetual Education Fund. What's that you ask? Early in the history of the Church after the pioneers had settled in the Salt Lake Valley the Church began a program called the Perpetual Immigration Fund. This money helped saints from many lands have the necessary funds to immigrate to the United States and get to Utah. This money was only a loan to the new members. They would then pay it back and more members could use the funds and the cycle continued.
In 2001 President Gordon B. Hinkley, then the President and Prophet of the Church, had the inspiration to use this idea of perpetual funds for the education of members outside the US and Canada. Initially the funds were established to help returned missionaries that went home from their missions, often to poor and underprivileged areas, where they had no great hope for the future. Now the funds are used for any church member still, outside the US and Canada, 18 to 60 that desires to educate themselves for a better life. Just as before the funds are a loan and should be payed back. The payback can be reduced by as much as 40% for things like good grades, completing the course, paying funds on time, and even getting a job after graduation. It is a marvelous program and something that we have been passionate about since its inception.
PEF is such a huge program that there are now church staff members that handle its operations so we don't need to function there. Next we thought that we would be working with finding resources for schools or business to hire members. In Ghana no one is hiring, governmental freezes, 34% plus inflation, bank loan rates of 50-60% level term, no power, and the list goes on. Side note: most of the country has lights off for 12 to 24 hours and then on for twelve, If there are street lights, they are never on, and believe it or not they turn the traffic lights off at night. Night time driving is unreal.
When we got to Salt Lake we learned that PEF was now under the umbrella of Self-Reliance. The Church again through its inspired programs sees the need to help everyone become self-reliant. Our missionary tags say Self-Reliant Services. We have three programs that are taught; Education for Better Work that can lead to PEF funds if necessary in six weeks, Starting and Growing My Business, a 12 week course, and My Job Search also six weeks. We don't teach these classes they are run by facilitators that are part of the group. We do offer coaching and help in how to get the groups started but eventually they learn to do it on their own.
We feel that sometimes after the 12 week business class our members might need some more help. The outline in this course and the research and commitments that each person must make are extensive. There may be even too much material for some of these "small, small" businesses to assimilate. We are going through the lists of everyone that has taken these classes to see what and how they are doing and if we can mentor, encourage or coach them along to see if we can help them to grow or be more successful. It is a work in progress. I will keep you posted. We have been working on this idea the last week and feel we are inspired. We will see.
We still miss you all and wonder what you are doing and how you are doing? To those of you that we hear from we love your emails and the fact that you keep us in the loop. May the Lord bless all of you and keep you safe.