This has been an incredible week! We started out last Monday, going to Lisbon, Portugal where we participated in a two day conference on the PEF Loan Program in Europe. This included 5 of our managers who have PEF loans approved in their regions and was organized by our Operations Team who are based in Lisbon. Our Area team and our support manager from HQ came to help this to be a meaningful experience for all. With all of our efforts to help the Self-Reliance Initiative to get going throughout Europe, at least personally, I have not spent very much time emphasizing or supporting the PEF loan program, even though that is where I spent over l0 years of my life. The majority of the effort of PEF loans comes under the capable direction of our Operations Manager, Miguel Adriano. He hosted this seminar and we were happy to participate and offer all of our support.
While I was excited to focus more attention on this important program, I was not prepared for what happened to me during these days. It started on the first morning when our Area Self-Reliance Manager, Thomas King, set the stage by teaching doctrine. He started his presentation by having us listen to the initial talk by President Hinckley in 2001, when the Perpetual Education Fund was revealed to the Church. As we listened to that initial talk in it's entirety, my mind and my heart reflected on those prophetic words which I had studied and taught over and over again. They were the basis of everything that we did during those many years. I reflected on the precious experiences that I had while in the presence of President Hinckley during many of the meetings of the PEF Board of Directors. I remembered the many witnesses that I had received that President Hinckley was clearly a prophet of God and the Perpetual Education Fund was an example that he cited of a revelation that he had received. I remembered one day when President disagreed with what we were presenting and in his comments he said "That is not the way that I saw it!". All of these memories and emotions overcame me that morning and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for having the privilege to play a small part in this incredible revelation that has now blessed almost 80,000 individuals throughout the world.
Later on, Thomas King also shared a video clip about "Arturo", a young man who lost his leg and sight in one of his eyes to an accident. With the help of the Perpetual Education Fund, he was able to get an education and pull his life back together. I had the privilege of meeting Arturo during one of my visits to Lima, Peru as he was serving others in the PEF Service Center. I was able to share my personal witness of his goodness and the blessings of the Perpetual Education Fund. What an incredible morning! I am thankful for having that experience which filled me with immense gratitude.
That certainly set the stage for the remaining two days as we discussed principles and practices to make sure that we help these loan recipients to become self-reliant in their lives. We love being with our Self-Reliance Team in Europe. They are our dearest friends and the add so much enrichment to our lives.
On Tuesday evening, we took time as a team and went to an amazing Aquarium in Lisbon, Portugal. The photos below are some of those from that experience. We loved it!
|Our team in front of the Aquarium.|
|Sister Rueckert in front of her favorite sea creature, a sort of manta ray|
|Here the creature is in full glory|
|Together in front of a large school of fish|
|Sister Rueckert in front of one of the sharks|
|One of our favorites, a sea dragon!|
|Small eels half buried in the ground|
|Another view of a jelly fish|
Since we arrived home on Thursday, our lives have been a whirlwind of other amazing experiences, too many to share in this particular blog. I will post the rest of the week in our next entry.