It’s been a quiet week. The Ivoiriens who were scheduled to come cancelled their trip. We were able to officiate again in ordinances and enjoyed that. Sue has been more involved in training and recertification. Tom did some preparations for the next 2 excursions.
Monday we attended a special family home evening with Parry Merkley, brother of one of our senior missionaries. He was hired by Elder Ballard 7 years ago to head a committee that was to produce a campaign to make the church and its message more visible. Despite the view from the inside, surveys at the time showed that very few people worldwide knew anything about the church.
As was recounted to us, Elder Ballard had a dream that he died and went before the Lord for judgement, and the Lord said, “Russell, Satan learned to use the media, why couldn’t you?” That prompted a lot of research, meetings, and creative ideas. The results included the website mormon.org, the personal profiles of members (I Am a Mormon), and the major ad blitzes in London, New York, and Melbourne that piggy-backed on the Book of Mormon Musical. A group now also monitors and strategizes on how to keep the church sites at the top of the results when online searches are done.
He had interesting comments about the reluctance of some of the leaders to endorse the use of “Mormon” rather than the full name of the church. They eventually did when they understood that “Mormon” was how most people look for information about us online. He also had comments about how Elder Perry was an early and enthusiastic adopter of the use of technology to enhance missionary work in all its facets.
We really enjoyed General Conference. There seemed to be a theme of gentleness, kindness, focus on the Savior, loving your neighbor, and inclusion. We were very interested in the backgrounds of the new Relief Society Presidency (https://www.lds.org/church/leader/jean-b-bingham?lang=eng https://www.lds.org/church/leader/sharon-eubank?lang=eng https://www.lds.org/church/leader/reyna-i-aburto?lang=eng ). Here is a stimulating talk given by Sr. Eubank at the FAIR Conference in 2014, titled “This is a woman’s church”: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/2014-fairmormon-conference/womans-church. We heard her speak in person about humanitarian services and principles of self-reliance several years ago and found her approach very enlightening.
It is possible that the rainy season has begun. We’ve had two large showers in the last week that were impressive in the amount of water that fell. The seasons are changing!