News of the Church

By Molly Farmer, Church Magazines

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    Perpetual Education Fund Is a Growing Miracle

    As a recently returned missionary, Brother Viwe Xozwa’s schedule was exhausting. The education-driven convert in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, attended school from 8 a.m. to noon, worked from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., then studied until 8 or 9 p.m. on a regular basis.

    Brother Xozwa was never bothered or upset by the busy schedule he maintained, though. In fact, he was grateful just for the opportunity he had to study and learn, which was made possible by others’ generosity.

    Brother Xozwa is a recipient of a Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) loan, which made obtaining an education a more realistic possibility than it otherwise would have been. Now a 27-year-old computer engineer and the executive secretary in his stake, he attributes many of his blessings to the PEF.

    “I would not be where I am right now in my life if that inspired program was not established,” he said.

    A Chance to Overcome

    President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) announced the PEF at general conference in March 2001. The program was designed to help young people obtain skills that would allow them and their families to rise above poverty and make meaningful contributions to society and the Church.

    In many nations throughout the world, young missionaries with modest backgrounds faithfully serve the Lord. In his address, President Hinckley spoke of the challenges these young people face when they return home:

    “Their hopes are high. But many of them have great difficulty finding employment because they have no skills. They sink right back into the pit of poverty from which they came” (“The Perpetual Education Fund,” Liahona, July 2001, 60).

    Based on the same principles of the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which enabled Saints to travel to the Salt Lake Valley in the 1800s, Church leaders hope the PEF program will help end persistent poverty.

    By providing loans for vocational, technical, and professional training at a low interest rate, the program gives ambitious participants between the ages of 18 and 30 a chance to learn employment skills as well as self-reliance and independence without accruing a lot of debt.

    Elder John K. Carmack, an emeritus member of the Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Director of the PEF, said the program facilitates learning and advancement for young people who just need a chance and some direction.

    “We help the young people dream, we help them plan their careers, and we help them achieve,” Elder Carmack said.

    Opening Doors

    While he always planned to attend college, Brother Xozwa and his mother lacked the funds to pay for school. A conventional bank loan was a possibility, though higher interest rates would have made it very costly and would have taken a long time to pay off. Instead, Brother Xozwa heard about the PEF from a Church Educational System couple in his area. He applied for and received a $1,150 PEF loan and enrolled in computer engineering classes at Damelin College in Port Elizabeth.

    After about a year of study, Brother Xozwa was offered a job at an IT consulting firm. The company waited for him to finish up the school year and supported him in his continued studies. Because of his employment, he was able to pay off his loan the following year, and the company has sponsored his further studies for the past four years in disciplines such as labor relations, corporate governance, business administration and management, and advanced project management.

    “The PEF program gave me the initial kick-start that I needed, and the rest I could do on my own,” he said. “It gave me an initial boost; everything else just opened up.”

    A Miracle with More to Come

    Since President Hinckley first announced the program seven years ago, about 28,000 young people, approximately half of them men and half of them women, have received PEF loans. The program premiered in Mexico, Peru, and Chile, and has now expanded to assist people in 40 countries throughout the world, including Mongolia, Cambodia, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, some Pacific islands, and virtually all of Latin America.

    The program is funded both by members, who allocate funds toward the program on their tithes and offerings slips, and by friends of the Church who believe in the program’s purpose. The money collected (the principal) is never spent, with loans being made only from the interest earned on the principal.

    “The members and friends [of the Church] have been extremely generous,” Elder Carmack said, adding that both President Hinckley and President Monson have called the program’s success “a miracle.”

    “We have grown,” Elder Carmack said, and he expects the Church will see “more growth ahead.”

    Repaying Sacred Funds

    Knowing where his loan came from made Brother Xozwa dedicate himself completely to doing well in school and paying off his loan. He wanted to use the generous donations the best way he could.

    “I realized these were sacred funds. Others had made a contribution to my education, so it was my responsibility to show appreciation by studying hard,” he said. “The money that was granted me was not mine to play around with. I was given the opportunity to make something of my life, to kick-start a good future, and it was my responsibility to grab that opportunity with both hands and not fail.”

    In addition to giving young adults financial opportunities, the PEF enables them to grow in the gospel and strengthen their countries and other members in need of an opportunity for education. Some graduates of the program have gone on to become leaders of the Church, Elder Carmack said, and are fortifying the Church in their countries.

    “As faithful members of the Church, they will pay their tithes and offerings, and the Church will be much the stronger for their presence in the areas where they live,” President Hinckley said (Liahona, July 2001, 60).

    As students repay their loans, the money goes back into the fund to aid other individuals who need help financing their education, making it a “perpetual” fund.

    Doing Wonders for Yourself and Others

    Brother Xozwa understood this principle and was motivated to help others receive the same opportunities he had.

    “The Lord is giving you the opportunity to progress, but also to help the next person,” he said. “It was my responsibility to repay the money as soon as possible so that the next person could have an equally good chance to study and progress. Think of how many people you can influence if you use the funds correctly. You can do wonders not just for you but for other people.”

    His experience has taught him leadership skills and independence in addition to self-reliance and the ability to keep commitments.

    “It’s not just education. It’s not just getting a diploma or getting a degree. It’s not just a career. It’s so much more than that. It opens doors for you to grow individually,” he said.

    Pocket Change Changing Generations

    Brother Xozwa said he will be forever grateful for the generosity extended to him that made a world of difference in his life.

    “I would love one day to meet the person or the people who contributed to the program in the initial stages just to say thank you,” he said. “Maybe it was pocket change for them, but it changed generations. It has changed my family.”

    Many recipients of Perpetual Education Fund aid are returned missionaries whose employment opportunities may be hampered by lack of educational opportunities.

    Photograph by Welden Andersen, © IRI

    Matching young members with educational opportunities not only helps to prepare future leaders but helps them to be economically stable enough to serve.

    © 2003 Robert Casey

    Once young members find employment they are able to repay their PEF loans so others can benefit.

    © IRI

    PEF-funded schooling helped Viwe Xozwa of South Africa find work with a company that paid for the rest of his education.

    Photograph courtesy of Viwe Xozwa

    New Mission Presidents Now in Place

    Accepting assignments from the First Presidency, 124 new mission presidents began serving on or around July 1, 2008. The missions and their respective new presidents are:

    Mission

    New President

    Alaska Anchorage

    Alan Roy Dance

    Albania Tirana

    John Martin Neil

    Argentina Buenos Aires West

    Evrett Wade Benton

    Argentina Mendoza

    James Blaine Lindahl

    Argentina Resistencia

    Jorge Luis del Castillo

    Argentina Rosario

    Jorge Marcial Villalba

    Argentina Salta

    Dan Northcutt

    Arizona Phoenix

    Paul Sherman Beck

    Arizona Tucson

    Wesley Paul Walker

    Arkansas Little Rock

    Robert Wyman Drewes

    Baltic

    Douglas Leon Dance

    Bolivia Cochabamba

    Miguel Angel Tenorio Dominguez

    Brazil Brasilia

    Gelson Pizzirani

    Brazil Florianopolis

    Walter Guedes Queiroz Jr.

    Brazil Fortaleza

    Alan Charles Batt

    Brazil Maceió

    Gary Ray Beynon

    Brazil Manaus

    David Woodward Jayme

    Brazil Recife

    Mário Hélio Emerick

    Brazil Ribeirão Preto

    Ricardo Vieira

    Brazil Rio de Janeiro

    Antonio Kaulle Machado Bezerra

    Brazil Rio de Janeiro North

    Scott Warren Pickett

    Brazil Salvador

    Carlos Roberto Toledo

    Brazil São Paulo Interlagos

    Christopher George Jackson

    Brazil São Paulo North

    Jeffry Lynn Cooley

    Brazil São Paulo South

    Stephen Darrow Richardson

    California Anaheim

    Steven Bennett Watrous

    California Arcadia

    Oscar Arthur Pike

    California Fresno

    John Arthur Gonzalez

    California Riverside

    Melvyn Kemp Reeves

    California Roseville

    Mark James Pendelton

    California Sacramento

    James Stuart Jardine

    California San Diego

    Lee Leonard Donaldson

    California San Jose

    Eric Michael Jackson

    California Ventura

    Wayne Dale Murri

    Canada Toronto East

    Chris Allan Eyre

    Canada Vancouver

    Kent Kruger Nelson

    Cape Verde Praia

    Joselito Medina Costa Neves

    Chile Concepción South

    Joe Neil Swenson

    Chile Osorno

    Kenneth David Lovell

    Chile Santiago North

    Michael Edward May

    Colombia Cali

    Edgar Nain Bolivar Forero

    Colorado Colorado Springs

    Brian Loyal Pfile

    Colorado Denver North

    Gary Gail Ely

    Connecticut Hartford

    Hugh Gary Pehrson

    Cote d’Ivoire Abidjan

    Yapo Ayekoue

    Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East

    Guillermo Arturo Antivilo Rojas

    Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West

    Juan Evangelista Almonte

    Ecuador Guayaquil North

    Jose Wilson Gamboa Galvez

    Ecuador Quito

    Timothy Quinn Sloan

    El Salvador San Salvador East

    Alex Moroni Perez Ulin

    El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize

    Alejandro Lopez Mota

    England Manchester

    David John Bullock

    Fiji Suva

    William Orval Ostler

    Finland Helsinki

    David Blaine Brown

    Florida Fort Lauderdale

    J. Nathan Hale

    France Paris

    Don Hansen Staheli

    France Toulouse

    Michel Joseph Jules Carter

    Georgia Atlanta North

    Steven Douglas King

    Georgia Macon

    Mark Oliver Bowman

    Germany Frankfurt

    Kevin John Ninow

    Germany Munich/Austria

    Robert Gideon Condie

    Ghana Accra

    Byron Lindsey Smith

    Ghana Cape Coast

    Melvin Burns Sabey

    Guatemala Guatemala City Central

    Richard Allen Baldwin Jr.

    Guatemala Guatemala City North

    David Jaime Torres Rodriguez

    Guatemala Guatemala City South

    Herbert Edgardo Alvarado Renderos

    Guatemala Quetzaltenango

    Ramón Darío Lorenzana Reyes

    Honduras Tegucigalpa

    Luis Gerardo Chaverri Madrigal

    Japan Hiroshima

    Yoshiaki Isa

    Japan Kobe

    William Arthur McIntyre Jr.

    Japan Sapporo

    Lee Alford Daniels

    Japan Sendai

    Reid Tateoka

    Kentucky Louisville

    Steven George Glende

    Korea Busan

    Kenneth Wayne Jennings Jr.

    Louisiana Baton Rouge

    William George Woods

    México México City North

    Daryl Nancollas

    México Oaxaca

    Leobardo De La Cruz Rosales

    México Puebla

    Steven Glen Rex

    México Tijuana

    Robert Hernan Heyn

    México Torreón

    Bruce Richard Clark

    México Tuxtla Gutiérrez

    Guillermo Velasco Coronado

    México Veracruz

    Jay Peter Hansen

    Michigan Lansing

    Marc Ducloux Jones

    Minnesota Minneapolis

    Mark Douglas Howell

    Missouri Independence

    George Johan William Van Komen

    Nevada Las Vegas

    Peter Kevin Christensen

    New Jersey Morristown

    A. Lee Bahr

    New Zealand Auckland

    Benson Lee Porter

    New Zealand Wellington

    Clive Richard Jolliffe

    Nigeria Enugu

    Jerry Reid Boggess

    Nigeria Lagos East

    Spencer Bennion Jones

    Nigeria Lagos West

    Gary Leslie Neuder

    Ohio Columbus

    Robert Forrest Jensen

    Oregon Eugene

    Thomas William Macdonald

    Oregon Portland

    Timothy John Dyches

    Pennsylvania Pittsburgh

    Lane Alma Summerhays

    Peru Lima East

    Juan Augusto Leyva Ponce

    Philippines Angeles

    Rudy Burt Puzey

    Philippines Cebu

    Darrel Parke Hansen

    Philippines Davao

    Jairus Cinco Perez

    Philippines Manila

    Mark James Howard

    Philippines Olongapo

    Dave Advincula Aquino

    Philippines San Pablo

    Richard Edwin Anderson

    Philippines Tacloban

    Edwin Valencia Malit

    România Bucharest

    James Scott Lundberg

    Russia St Petersburg

    Gennady Nikolaevich Podvodov

    Samoa Apia

    Otto Vincent Haleck Jr.

    Slovenia/Croatia

    David Henry Hill

    South Africa Cape Town

    Randall K Probst

    South Africa Johannesburg

    David Edward Poulsen

    South Carolina Columbia

    Stephen Lowell McConkie

    Sweden Stockholm

    Larry Ernest Anderson

    Tahiti Papeete

    Matthew Artell Smith

    Tennessee Knoxville

    James Ermon Griffin

    Tennessee Nashville

    Gary Lynn Hutchings

    Texas Dallas

    Barry Morgan Smith

    Texas Houston

    Todd Bailey Hansen

    Texas Houston East

    Dan Edward Moldenhauer

    Texas Lubbock

    John Lee Robison

    Ukraine Donetsk

    Timothy Lee Fry

    Ukraine Kyiv

    Lane Orin Steinagel

    Venezuela Caracas

    Freddy Valentin Herrera Molina

    Washington Tacoma

    Harvey Kent Bowen

    West Virginia Charleston

    Michael William Thornock

    Missionaries in 124 missions received new presidents this year.

    Ward Members a Model of Missionary Preparation

    Strong, supportive families who are grounded in the gospel play a vital role in preparing youth to share the gospel as full-time missionaries. Add the support of dedicated leaders, and the result is a generation of committed missionaries.

    Such has been the experience of the Voyager Ward in the Gilbert Arizona Val Vista Stake. Of its 310 members, 21 elders and 1 sister have accepted calls to serve the Lord over the past two years.

    What has been done to help produce such dedication? Family foresight, excellent examples, and making preparation a priority early.

    Family Foresight

    Christopher Law recently returned from the Massachusetts Boston Mission. “I can’t remember when I decided to serve a mission,” he said. “I always knew I would. … Going on a mission was a part of our family’s daily conversation.”

    Families who help their children look ahead to missionary service from an early age help build enthusiastic, committed youth.

    Bishop William Whatcott of the Voyager Ward said: “I believe the emphasis our parents have put on the importance of serving has been critical. Because of that, we have found that by the time our young men receive the Aaronic Priesthood as deacons, the decision to serve a mission has already been made, and their desire to stay faithful and close to the gospel through their teenage years is greater.”

    Families are best at equipping a future missionary with what he or she will need both spiritually and practically. One of the key tools a family has for helping children prepare to serve is family home evening.

    Frank Lang, an advisor in the priests quorum and parent of a missionary, encouraged parents to hold family home evening whether they are new or established members.

    “That is where our children learn about the gospel,” he said. It also offers frequent opportunities to emphasize the importance of missionary preparation and service.

    Brother Law noted that family home evening was a time for his family to do member missionary work. “Making missionary work a part of the family helps develop the desire to serve,” he said.

    Excellent Examples

    While the family is key in fostering practical and spiritual preparation, the encouragement and examples of good Church leaders can support the instruction given in the home and can make a big difference in the lives of the family members.

    “We have had wonderful leaders who have been great examples, mentors, and instructors,” Bishop Whatcott said. “From the time these young men are deacons until the time they leave on their missions, their leaders have focused on helping them stay active and maintain their desire to serve a mission.”

    Once a month the young men of the Voyager Ward meet together to hear returned missionaries from their ward, including those who served many years ago, share their testimonies and life-changing mission experiences. Bishop Whatcott calls the monthly experience “invaluable.”

    Brother Lang agrees. “The boys catch the vision of how important a mission is in their lives—that it still affects these men even now,” he said. “These returned missionaries bear powerful testimony of the importance of serving a mission.”

    Leaders in the Voyager Ward have also felt it would be appropriate in their ward to gather the young men together on a Sunday evening before one of them leaves for the missionary training center. After a simple dinner, the young men share what the departing elder means to them. He in turn shares his testimony.

    Making Preparation a Priority

    Mission preparation is more likely to become a priority in the lives of young men when it is a priority in the lives of parents and leaders.

    Priesthood leaders make an effort to support the family years before a young man is of missionary age.

    At weekly missionary preparation classes, priesthood leaders teach with the assistance of recently returned missionaries. The Preach My Gospel manual is used for the lessons and discussions. Once a month parents attend the class to serve as investigators so the class participants can practice teaching the gospel.

    Seminary attendance is also an important factor in helping to prepare young men for a mission, according to Brother Law. “Be active in seminary,” he said. “It helped me a lot. Scripture mastery is key. I used those scriptures every day on my mission.”

    However, no matter how high a priority they are for parents and leaders, the choice to serve and the choice to prepare must be made by the missionary.

    “No one can convince them to serve without the Spirit touching their hearts,” Brother Lang said. “They each must be taught and converted by the Spirit. We leaders or other boys cannot do it.”

    Vee Hiapo, the mother of two returned missionaries, B. J. and Kiana, said, “We must have faith that our children will make the right decisions and allow them to use their agency.”

    And in the end, if a young man or woman chooses to serve, even those who may be struggling with finances or a lack of family support will find a way. “The Lord will provide a way for them to serve if they follow Him in faith,” said Lothaire Bluth, Val Vista stake president.

    The Law family holds family scripture study each morning to study and mark scriptures and sing hymns together. Members of the family (from left) are mother, Janice, a returned missionary; Maddie; BrookLyn; Christopher, recently returned from the Massachusetts Boston Mission; father, Dallin, a returned missionary; Kellen; and Jackson. Their son Patrick is currently serving in the Orlando Florida Mission.

    Photograph by Marci Johnson

    Museum Seeks Submissions for Church Art Competition

    With the goal to bring in submissions from around the world, the Museum of Church History and Art invites members to submit their original artwork for the Eighth International Art Competition.

    The competition takes place every three years and highlights work by both professional and amateur Latter-day Saint artists. This year’s competition is centered on the theme “Remembering the Great Things of God.”

    Approximately 225 pieces reflecting this theme will be selected for display in an exhibit beginning in March 2009.

    To make the submission process easier for artists worldwide, submissions will be accepted online through a new Internet-based submission tool. All submissions must be entered online or postmarked by October 10, 2008.

    For information on submitting by mail, contact the museum at:

    Eighth International Art Competition
    Museum of Church History and Art
    45 N. West Temple Rm. 200
    Salt Lake City UT 84150-3470 USA

    The competition is open to members who are 18 or older by the end of 2008. The art selected for the exhibit will encompass the experiences of Latter-day Saints everywhere. More information about the theme, rules, judging, and submissions is available at lds.org/artcompetition

    International Resources Now Available on Church Music Site

    Recent updates to the Church music Web site offer downloadable PDF versions of the hymns in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Recorded music from the Children’s Songbook, as well as the hymns in Spanish, are also available. Other newly added resources in Spanish, French, and Portuguese include lessons on conducting or accompanying music and PDF versions of Hymns Made Easy, a book of simplified forms of the hymns.

    “The Church has made a major effort since 2005 to make these materials available online in multiple languages,” said Diane Bastian, the Web site’s coordinator. “When we first put up the music Web site, we got a lot of feedback asking for these elements. We have people from many countries looking at this site, and we want to provide what they need.”

    While just 4 languages are currently available online, the recorded songs from the Children’s Songbook are available through Church Distribution in 10 languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish). Recordings of the hymns are available in English and Spanish.

    The Church music Web site was released in 2004 in an effort to make the blessings of Church music more accessible to members. It features the Interactive Church Music Player, which allows users to view, listen to, and print the Church hymns and children’s songs. Any of the music can be downloaded as a PDF document or in an MP3 format. To explore more of what the site offers, visit www.lds.org/churchmusic.

    Additional Sharing Time Ideas, August 2008

    The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the August 2008 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “The Kingdom Up on High,” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

    1. 1.

      Ask the children to listen as you hum or play “The Holy Ghost” (Children’s Songbook, 105; Tambuli, May 1991, F7). The song will give them a clue about the important person you are going to talk about. Invite the children to share what they know about the Holy Ghost, and include in the discussion the four statements found in Primary 3, lesson 12, p. 57.

      Display Gospel Art Picture Kit 601 (Baptism) and 602 (The Gift of the Holy Ghost). Review the ordinances of baptism, confirmation, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Provide each child with a copy of the baptism and confirmation circle found on page F4. Allow them time to complete the activity. Emphasize that these ordinances are linked together and that the circle will help them remember the importance of both experiences.

      Invite the children to share experiences when they were prompted by the Holy Ghost to make good choices. After each experience is shared, sing the last two phrases of the second verse of “The Holy Ghost,” beginning with “Oh, may I always listen to that still small voice.” Bear your testimony of the blessing of having the gift of the Holy Ghost and how He has helped you make righteous choices.

    2. 2.

      Gather and prepare the materials to play “Keeping Our Baptismal Covenant” (Liahona, Oct. 2006, F8). Begin by telling the story “Clean Again” (Liahona, Oct. 2006, F10). On the chalkboard write the steps of repentance, and review them with the children (see Primary 3, lesson 10, p. 46).

      Play “Keeping Our Baptismal Covenant.” During the game, whenever a child lands on a square that requires him or her to move back, discuss the steps of repentance and invite the children to suggest what he or she could do to repent. Conclude by singing a song or hymn about repentance. Bear testimony of repentance.

    3. 3.

      Song presentation: “When Jesus Christ Was Baptized” (Children’s Songbook, 102; Liahona, Sept. 1997, F5). Display Gospel Art Picture Kit 208 (John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus), and invite the children to share what they know about this event. Read Matthew 3:13–17. As you teach the first verse of “When Jesus Christ Was Baptized,” invite the children to raise their hands when the song reminds them of events that occurred in the scripture account.

      As you teach the song, direct the children’s listening by asking questions such as “What is the name of the river where Jesus was baptized?” “Who was there when Jesus was baptized?” “What do I follow when I am baptized?” “How am I baptized?” “What power is used to baptize?” “Whose kingdom will I be a member of when I am baptized?” “What will guide me every hour?” This song provides a wonderful opportunity to teach important doctrine to the children through song. Bear testimony of these important truths as you teach.

      The melody of this song is gentle and soothing. Invite the children to sing it reverently. It may be helpful to teach it at a slower tempo than is suggested. Then when the children are familiar with the words, increase the tempo to what the composer recommends. To add interest as you review this song, sing the first two lines softly, and then increase the volume when the melody goes up on the third line. Help the children recognize that the melody on the last line goes down in pitch, which invites them to sing the last line softly.