Monday, February 15, 2010

39p - ..."the Lamanites Shall Blossom as the Rose!" Doctrine & Covenants: 49:24

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Before launching into Today's Theme I will present to you a summary of the Welfare assistance the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided throughout the world since 1985. This is a follow-up to the information I have been providing as part of my most recent blog posts.

LDS Church News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010

Welfare assistance since 1985
Since 1985 the Church has sent humanitarian aid around the world, including:
Total Monetary Assistance – $1,115,900,000
Countries served – 167
Food – 61,308 tons
Medical supplies – 12,829 tons
Clothing – 84,681 tons
Hygiene, newborn, and school kits – 8,600,000
Major responses to emergencies:
2010 - Haiti earthquake
2009 – Samoan/Tonga earthquake, Philippines Typhoon
2008 – China earthquake, Ethiopia famine
2007 – Peru earthquake, California wildfires
2006 – Indonesia earthquake, Lebanon war relief
2005 – U.S. hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Pakistan earthquake
2004 – 2007 – South Asia tsunami
2004 – Florida and Caribbean hurricanes
2003 – Africa floods and famine, Iraq and Liberia war relief
2002 – Europe and Chile flooding
2001 – El Salvador and Peru earthquakes, Afghanistan war relief
2000 – Mozambique and Brazil flooding, Belize hurricane
1999 – Kosovo war relief
1998 – Central America hurricane
1997 – U.S. Midwest flooding, North Korea crop failure
1996 – Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia war relief
1995 – Japan earthquake
1994 – Rwanda war relief

Under the leadership of their First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has provided assistance to people in need throughout the world. This is just what the Lord, Jesus Christ would expect of his modern-day representatives!Now we come to that which is referred to in TODAY'S THEME: (I repeat this from the heading of this post): ..."the Lamanites Shall Blossom as the Rose!" Doctrine & Covenants: 49:24
When our Resurrected and Glorified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ conducted his ministry among the Nephite-Lamanite people in ancient Central America, he was very clear about the record of that people he was then among, becoming, in the "Latter-days" (Our Days) something very important in assisting their descendants, who were to have all become Lamanites who would be living in our day and time, to be greatly blessed by the Latter-day Church which he would have established.

That record was to be: The Book of Mormon, Another Witness of Jesus Christ and his Church would be named: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The following article was copied by me from our most recent LDS Church News which we received this past Saturday with our regular newspaper, The Deseret News (Published in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.) You will learn from this article how a certain group of descendants of the Nephite-Lamanites among whom our Lord and Savior ministered anciently, are now, in our present day, being helped to "Blossom as the Rose." In their apecific case it is in regards to their learning to become a more healthy people.
Greenhouses 'above the clouds'Structures help Bolivians grow vegetables to improve their health
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Published: Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010
Bolivia's sprawling La Paz has been dubbed "The City in the Clouds" for good reason — resting at 12,000 feet above sea level, it's the highest elevated capital in the world.

Jason Swensen, Deseret News
The snow-capped Andes surround the open lands of the Bolivian Altiplano. Located some 14,000 feet above sea level, the region's harsh environment renders impossible traditional farming of most plants.
Jason Swensen, Deseret News
Bernita Choque picks leafy green vegetables from her underground greenhouse. The vegetables will be used to make a vitamin-rich salad for her family of 11. The family lives on the Bolivian Altiplano. The Church's Benson Institute* and Welfare Department are helping people on the Altiplano grow vegetables in greenhouses to enrich their diets.
So what do you call a rural community some 2,000 feet above La Paz? In many ways, the tiny hamlets of the Bolivian Altiplano defy description. The region is at once enchanting and forbidding. First-time visitors marvel at the Altiplano's vast open landscapes, its alpaca herds and its breathtaking (literally, at 14,000 feet) views of the perpetually snow-capped Andes.
Still, there are daily reminders that this is tough land. Forget your sunblock and your skin will pay a painful price, even in chilly weather. Sudden cloudbursts can wash out mountain back roads within minutes. And Altiplano residents know if they miss the gas man making his weekly rounds through the community they'll have to go a week without.

Jason Swensen, Deseret News

In Bolivia's Altiplano, Bernita Choque said her children's health has improved since they began eating vegetables grown in the family greenhouse.

Jason Swensen, Deseret News
Benson Institute* workers Gustavo Vargas, left, and Elizabeth Garcia teach the Ignacio Choque family about utilizing good nutrition to ensure good health.

It's also impossible to grow a good tomato, cucumber or almost any other type of vegetable you would find stocked in the local produce section. The climate here is simply too harsh to sustain such crops. For Altiplano residents — including many Latter-day Saints — such scarcities of vitamin-rich vegetables can exact a lifelong toll on their physical health, intellectual development and spiritual growth.

Jason Swensen, Deseret News
An indigenous Bolivian woman outside her above-ground greenhouse that was built with the assistance of the Church's Benson Institute* in Bolivia.

"The majority of the people eat only meat products and potatoes, and they really don't have any other types of foods such as vegetables, which are needed for them to receive vitamins," said Elizabeth Garcia, administrator of the Church's Benson Institute* Office in Bolivia. Humanitarian workers such as Sister Garcia and her colleagues in the Church's Welfare Department were eager to incorporate invigorating vegetables into the Altiplano diet. So plans were developed about two years ago to assist the local members and many of their neighbors by building underground greenhouses outside their homes.

The greenhouses allow families "to grow green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, peppers or any other sort of vegetable they would want in [an environment] where the temperature stays consistent," said Wade Sperry, an agronomist working as a field operations manager for the Welfare Department.

Jason Swensen, Deseret News

Jason Swenson, Deseret News

Utilizing simple building materials and training provided by the Benson Institute*, the Altiplano members constructed the greenhouses and, for the first time, started growing and eating cucumbers, lettuce, beets and other healthful plants. Some 100 greenhouses have been built so far.

The greenhouses are relatively simple to build and easy to maintain, Brother Sperry said. Most are about five feet deep, five to six feet wide and 10 to 15 feet long. After the hole is dug, a wooden frame is constructed that typically rises about two feet above the ground. Fiberglass or plastic is then stretched across the top of the frame to form a roof.

Greenhouse farming is new to most here, so the Church provides all the training needed to grow a county fair-worthy crop.

"You teach the people here that they need 10 hours of sunlight to grow a good vegetable," Brother Sperry said. "They have to orient their greenhouse so the sun crosses lengthwise across the greenhouse. Different vegetables are planted at different depths. If you get the depth wrong they won't grow right."

The Church also provided new greenhouse owners with sufficient seed to produce a maiden harvest large enough to feed their families — and yield a few extra vegetables to sell so they could purchase the next round of seeds. Principles of self-sufficiency are championed in all aspects of the greenhouse project.

The Church's Altiplano program extends beyond building, operating and maintaining a greenhouse. For many here, vegetables remain an exotic food. "They have to get used to eating vegetables — they're not used to the flavor," Brother Sperry said.

So, Benson Institute* workers such as Sister Garcia, Gustavo Vargas and others have worked with the greenhouse owners, teaching them to make salads and how to cook their vegetables using salt and herbs. They also teach the families, including the young children, about ways nutrition works and how it can make them bigger, stronger, faster, smarter and even more spiritual.

Bernita Choque and her husband, Ignacio, have a large family. With nine children and another on the way, Sister Choque knows well it's important to keep her children well fed, healthy and happy. Their family greenhouse, she said, has helped make that possible.

"My children needed this type of nutrition; we're so happy and grateful for the help of the Benson Institute*," she said. "The children are happier and healthier. They don't seem to get sick much."

Sister Choque added she's blended vegetables into her family's diet. She often tosses together a spinach salad and enjoys cooking vegetable soup.

Altiplano resident Eulogio Ticona is not a member, but he's quick to add the Church has been instrumental in improving his young family's health by helping him build an above-ground greenhouse. His only son, Joel, 3, is being raised on a typical Altiplano diet supplemented with carrots, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables.

"I believe [the vegetables] are helping him with his intelligence," said Mr. Ticona. "He's learning his numbers and other things quickly. He's growing quickly."

Brother Sperry is certain that a program designed to improve physical health is also boosting the spiritual vigor of the members here. Greenhouses make excellent year-round classrooms for learning the Law of the Harvest.

"Whenever you get down and work in the soil and see the product of your labor growing and providing food, it adds a lot to one's spiritual strength," Brother Sperry said. The Altiplano greenhouses also provide families with daily opportunities to work together, shoulder-to-shoulder. Children of all ages learn they have a role in sustaining and helping their family.

"Everyone helps," said Sister Choque. "The little boys bring in water. They all help to collect the vegetables. Everyone helps."

While the Church's Welfare Department has been pivotal in building the greenhouses, the local leaders will determine the project's sustainability. Bishops, branch presidents and Relief Society leaders will play the deciding role in the program's long-term success, Brother Sperry said.

"It's satisfying," he added, "that the Church is providing the opportunity for these families to do this."
(*The Benson Institute is named after Ezra Taft Benson, since deceased, who served for about ten years as the Secretary of Agriculture of the Government of the United States of America while serving concurrently as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He later served as the President of that Church.) (This clarification was added to this Church News article by this blogger, Neil Birch.)

J. Swensen - Deseret News

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