Dear President Mehr,
We hope you and Sister Mehr are doing well. We really enjoyed General Conference yesterday and will again today. We marvel at the great messages and incredible uplift the messages give us. I called, too late, to invite an investigator to the Saturday Priesthood session. He decided that it was too late to attend the “Gents” meeting, but is going to try to come today. All through the Priesthood session I thought about how appropriate it would have been to have had him there. I had an older fellow, an investigator, come sit between Elder Beutler and me. He attended all three sessions and said that he has been looking for the truth and the true Church for a long time. He was planning on attending today all the sessions. I hope the Elders will find a good friend for him.
The CXC preparation classes for at least English and Math (they call it Maths) will start this week. The teachers are very excited about teaching these classes. They are giving up two to five hours a week to teach these classes. There are classes scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at three locations. The teachers want to teach other subjects as well, including Biology, Chemistry, Microsoft Office, Office Administration, and Information Technology. Many of the branches are trying to start Literacy classes. Another miracle: Brother Stuart teaches CXC classes as his profession. He came up to us after our CXC meeting a week ago last Friday and volunteered to teach at least English and Maths. He has felt for some time like he should be teaching the Saints. The local people are going to make this happen. We are giving support where we can. They need organizational help. We were in Suriname with the Cooks last week and are trying to figure out a Humanitarian Grant to defray initial costs and to plan a way to make the on-going expenses so they can be paid by a YSA market. We need to make this project self-sustaining. The YSA or CXC students would sell products and then use a portion to cover costs for the CXC classes. Some of the PEF students might be able to make some money to pay towards their loans. There are soooo many details to work out in this project. In Africa they have been doing these little markets with good success. The people involved find a location, sell their products, and use a portable stand that has a cover.
I was feeling pretty discouraged about the turnout to the CXC fireside, how late people were coming to the fireside, how difficult it was to contact key people for at least the two weeks prior to the fireside, but the speakers did well and the message got across. It turned out well. Our YSA presented a musical about the wickedest man in the Book of Mormon. It was crazy to get the play to come together and some people who had practiced regularly did not come the night of the performance, including some who had major roles. Some cast members were being “moody” and were not going to help out. It was a nightmare. There were miracles and the play turned out well. The audience loved it and so did the cast. Last night I was asked if they could present it again on May 6th because “more people need to see it.”
Some of our PEF students are having difficulty making payments and getting credit for their payments. We are working on getting those issues resolved. We were contacted by Wegeners, the Roberts’ replacements in Trinidad, last Friday and they are going to help with several problems. Just when we need help, it arrives. We also heard from SLC and will be getting some new information from them. We also heard from Brother Negron from Puerto Rico and he is planning on a visit in May. He will train our new district Employment and Education Specialist, Sister Merlene Johnson. One interesting note is she has worked as a nurse for many years. She is a supervisor and midwife who makes $300 US a month. When we say we need to help people get their CXC classes taken care of and then a seasoned nurse supervisor only makes $300 a month it puts things into perspective for me how little money they have to make ends meet. Sister Johnson gave a stirring talk about education and how important it is to strive for excellence. I wish more people could have heard her. She took her CXC exams after she had been a nurse for many years at the age of 47. As a result, I think some of our prospective CXC students are older than the Young Single Adults.
We are still plugging away with piano lessons. Our students who practice are doing well. We have some that we need to find a way to motivate. We have 7 boys and one dad we are working with. The youngest boy is 11, and the oldest is 15 and then our WIM RM, Keon Taylor. They are getting pretty good at leading music and enjoy getting a chance to do that or looking forward to playing the prelude and postlude music.
We have had a few job placements. Communication is a major stumbling block. Sometimes people, even in responsible positions, do not respond to phone calls, text messages, nor e-mails. Trying to visit them in person is also a bit tricky. Even when you think there has been clear communication there might be a glitch. We all might be speaking English, however the communicating is challenging. How can I express these feelings without it sounding like complaining? This month has been a month with lots of MIRACLES and frustrations.