CES = Church Education System
S & I = Seminary and Institutes = Seminary offers religion classes taken by high school students; Institute offers religion classes taken by college age students – or any adults. These programs are offered all over the world, usually taught by volunteers.
CfYA – Center for Young Adults
We spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in classes that concern these three entities in our Church. We were given a flash drive with church manuals, lesson plans and other resources on it, two DVDs and two days of instructions. We were also introduced to the Church Seminary and Institute website with other resources we are to use if we will be teaching classes. (We are not sure if we will be actually teaching, but we are better prepared to do so because of this training.) Some in our group included people being sent to Military bases to find and support young military men and women of our faith; others will be helping those who have received financial aid for education and training through the Church Perpetual Education Fund (PEF).
The Church has set up several funds to allow us to donate to needy members and non-members – (with no administrative costs) PEF, Temple Fund (so members in distance places can travel to a temple at least once in their lives), Humanitarian Fund (that they use to pay for the supplies that are sent all over the world after tragedies – like ship loads of materials sent to Japan after the 2011 earthquake), Missionary Fund, so young men can go on missions, when they or their family cannot afford to pay for it themselves. In addition to paying a full tithe, many of us pay a certain amount each month to these funds PLUS we pay our Fast Offerings (money that goes towards helping those in need in our own local areas).
Some of the things we learned in our classes are the following:
We should have the Spirit when we teach – D&C
We should teach the message that the inspired author of that scripture was trying to convey. We should not teach our opinions.
We learned some methods in how to convey the message of the scriptures.
Inspired methods that bring the Holy Spirit into the classroom and the Holy Spirit is what convinces us of the truth of the principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ. We used Luke 5:1-11 as our text for the class. One simple principle in the scripture story of Christ calling Simon Peter to leave his fishing life and “fish for men,” is Obedience to Christ’s teachings Brings personal Blessings. It was easy for us to relate to this scripture, as we senior missionaries have left our lives behind us, left our families, our homes, our comforts and we have committed to serve our Lord for 18-23 months. We have already been blessed by 8 days of feeling the Spirit, which confirms our commitments and we know that there will be other blessings for our families to come.
We also had a Church Security person come and explain some of the dos and don’ts of being in a foreign country. With our badges and suits and church clothes, we really do not blend in too well!
Elder and Sister Bell from Church Headquarters shared some of their experiences while serving on a CfYA Mission in Athens, Greece. We asked many questions and learned that each area has specific needs and issues, so there is no one answer that will fit every area of the world. We also learned that we need to follow the local Priesthood authority. (We are there to SERVE the members not to take over their callings or to tell them what to do.)
Elder and Sister Bell also explained the process of how we are individually picked for our mission calllings. There are 17 various departments in the Church who all want various senior missionaries to serve for them all over the world. The medical department looks over all the senior missionaries and recommends who goes foreign and who stays in the USA – according to their medical needs. Then a committee tries to sort us into 5 or so of those departments with a ranking system. Then a Seventy looks at their recommendations and revises us into a ranked system among those categories. Then a committee of Seventies does the same. Then our ranking is sent to the Apostles and they might revise our ranking even more. Finally the Prophet makes the final decision to as where we go. After this explanation, we really knew that we were sent where the Lord needed us! There is someone we will touch.
A daughter of Elder and Sister Bell lives in our ward and is married to one of Ron’s second cousins. (Ron is related to about a fourth of the ward – his grandmother, Eliza Lowe Allen, was a daughter of James Carson Allen, who had one of the original farms in the area where we live.)