Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another day of "school". The picture is outside our "school" building. Note the name (we have a grandson named Matthew Cowley)! We finished 'Preach My Gospel' training, and now we are headed into Welfare training. Monday we will travel to Salt Lake again to go through Welfare Square and meet with more important people. I can't even begin to tell you how senior missionaries are loved and appreciated!
   We were suppose to have P-day today, but they called us to a welfare meeting all morning. But what a meeting! Brother Beecher (our leader) asked if anyone had experienced a miracle in their lives because of their mission call. WOW! One of the senior elders shared the neatest experience. He is around 60 years old and never learned to read! About a year ago he was camping alone. He decided to pray to ask what the Lord wanted him to do with his life. He heard as clearly as an actual voice, "Learn to read!" Remember he is around 60 years old. He felt so good about getting that answer, he decided to go and pray again to see if there was more. He told us the Lord didn't actually say this, but it felt like He was saying, "You idiot, I already told you--learn to read!" When he returned he went to the library to get help. The librarian gave him some suggestions, which he tried. Two days later an 88 year old retired Colonel called him. They started working together and, in about six months he could read! For the first time in his life he can study the scriptures. He was so humble. He was crying, we were crying. Brother Beecher just hugged him as he sobbed in his arms.
   Another Elder had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was told they would make him as comfortable as they could 'til the end. He said, "No, I have a call to serve a mission!" He is here and in quite good health. One sister's health had become so bad after receiving their call that she was certain she would not be able to finish a mission. They came anyway and now she can climb stairs, attend classes, walk wherever she needs to and is doing fine. These stories are common here.
There was such a strong spirit in that meeting!
   The need for Welfare missionaries is tremendous. You would be amazed to sit in these classes and hear and see what the rest of the world is struggling with and how desperately they need to be taught the prinicples of the gospel. President Hinckley had so much vision and understanding. He is constantly being quoted here.
   We are still struggling with the Mongolian language. They keep double scheduling us. Next week, we have computer classes at the same time as our language classes. We have homework from 3 different classes every night! Murmur, Murmur, Murmur! We found out today that we are suppose to be in English as an International Language classes (which are required to get into the country) until 5:00 Tuesday night and fly out at 8:00 that same night. Not goin' a happen! It is the weekend, so we will have to wait until Monday to get this fixed--we hope.
   It is good to hear from everyone and see you on our blog and some of you on the web cam. They talked about web cams in our class today. They are 100% for it. They know that is how they get grandparents away from their grandchildren. They left us with a quote and we'll leave it with you: "We are entrusting our children and grandchildren to a higher level of parenthood!"

We love you all,
Elder and Sister Caldwell

Thursday, October 30, 2008

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!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We've hit the ground runnig!

We had a busy but wonderful day today! What an absolutely marvelous experience to be in this place with such a huge group of wonderful people! They treat senior missionaries here very, very well.

We had dinner tonight with some of our children and grandchildren (they let seniors do a lot of things the younger missionaries can not do) and that was wonderful! Besides they brought us a number of things we had inadvertantly left home!

The culmination and highlight of our our busy day had to be to sit in a large room full of missionaries, sing together the hymns of Zion as we waited for the meeting to start, then to be treated to a huge missionary choir singing, "Lead Kindly Light" (move over Tab Choir!) and then listen to 86 year old L. Tom Perry of the Council of Twelve Apostles teach us how to be even better missionaries!

What a day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

We're on our way!

We made it! We are at the MTC! And what an incredible first day!

First, I met a cousin who I have never met. He and his wife (Elder and Sister Caldwell) are on their way to Bangkok. And David Henry Caldwell, Jr. is great grandfather to both of us! He is a bit older than I and was raised in Canada, after the Caldwell's moved there, near Cardston. He has lots of storites to tell -- first person!
Then I discovered that the couple right across the hall from us in the residence hall, is from Tacoma, Washingtion! He looked very familiar so I introduced myself and asked where he was from. As soon as he said Tacoma, I knew why he looked familiar!

Elder and Sister have known our family for years and he knew my father and mother very well. We will have a wonderful time talking of things in Tacoma, I'm sure!

The Spirit here is incredible! We only spent a half day in classes to day, mostly orientation. But even that was wonderful! I can't believe the number of different countries these senior couples are going to! They are awesome!

And, of course, the day started out nice as we were able to have breakfast with many of our children and grandchildren before arriving at the MTC. And we have been told that family is welcome to come and visit us when time allows. That's good news as some of children really would like to do so.

Well, we care kind of tired. So, as Tigger would say, "Ta, ta for now!"

Elder and Sister Caldwell