News of the Church

By Molly Farmer, Church Magazines


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.