Well, we spent the day in Salt Lake City in PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) training. We knew about that program - but then again, did we really? They explained a lot more than we knew and we are extremely impressed! That is one inspired program!
We were told of missionaries from poor countries who go and serve missions, living better than they ever have in their whole lives! Their families pay what they can and then the Church (i.e. you and I) help. But when it comes time to return home, some literally beg to be able to remain. "Please don't make be go back!" Now understand, I really mean beg! They told us of a couple of them who were on the floor, wrapped around the Mission Presidents feet!
They have no skills, no jobs to return to, no future, really, of any kind. They must work 80 or more hours a week at 20 cents an hour (if they are lucky) inorder to even put some food on their table (once they start a family for instance). There is no time for church or much of anything else. It is really heart rending! One missionary returned to his home, went back to digging ditches and started a family. He would go everyday to stand with his shovel waiting for a job. If he was picked to work that day, his family ate that day. If he wasn't, they did not eat.
We don't know how good we have it!
But now, thanks to the PEF, they can return home and have a way to go to school; to gain some education and get a better job before they start their families. Some just struggle through school while working what they can and eventually finish. Some had worked for $75 per month before being able to go to school. After finishing school they found better jobs they were now qualified for at around $1000 per month. It is a wonderful program!
They told of us of a branch in which nearly all of the leadership, now, were graduates of the PEF program! They have good jobs, can provide for their families and also serve where the Lord needs them!
They told us of another returned missionary who had excitedly called his PEF advisor to tell her he had purchased a car! It was the first anyone in his family had owned for over 17 years!
There are currently over 32,000 people going to school through that program. It now reaches countries the world over and is being implemented in others as fast as they can make it happen. Mongolia has that program, but it is a year or less old there. Hopefully, we can help it grow.
Another interesting thing; though there have been a few larger donations, the millions that are now available in that fund, come mostly from you and I. Nearly 90% of the monies donated have come from individuals, in the amounts of $5 and $10 at a time. We do make a difference!
Donate to the PEF!!
One last thing. Elder Cook of the Quorum of Twelve came by to talk to us. He was the first mission president to Mongolia and now works with the PEF. He came through the door and nearly the first thing he said was, "Where's the Caldwells that are going to Mongolia?! They are going to the best mission in the Church!" and he came over and shook our hand.
The Gospel is true!