We've had a hard time getting the internet, so we haven't been able to write. We spent 3 days in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicenta. We visited a couple of schools to pass out school kits. That was a mixture of good and bad experiences. The good part is always the beautiful children who can hardly wait for their bag of school goodies. With so much poverty, a few pencils, 1-2 notebooks and a box of crayons is a treasure--and must last a whole school year.
We attended a Works Skills Training that's being piloted here by an organization out of SLC called the Ashby Foundation as one of our Area Projects. Approx. 20 young adults attended the workshop to learn how to get and keep employment. The unemployment rate is about 30% on the island. The average annual income is about $2000. Most of the young people who attended the workshops are members of the church--a few are return missionaries. It is what we call a Train-the-Trainer program. The idea is to teach these young people to help themselves, while also going out into the community and teach additional workshops. It’s a great way to multiply employment concepts and help the community.
We left Sao Vicenta last night for the capital city of Praia--and see much of the same poverty we saw in Mindelo--accept the city is quite ugly. There's nothing here to attract much tourism, except fishing. There is very little tourism and industry on the islands, so jobs are few and in high demand. There is a huge clean-water problem. We kept a water bottle with us at all times and eat nothing that is not cooked. But, they're just like every other country in the world. They have plenty of Coca Cola and love french fries. The church was introduced to the islands about 1991, and now have about 6000 members. (The total population of the Cape Islands is about 400,000).
Many of the missionaries stay and serve locally on another island from their home. And the members are enjoying their first in-country Mission President. They're very proud of "our" Pres. Neves. We meet with him on Tues. to see if he wants us to ask for Humanitarian Missionaries for the islands. Though there is much poverty, the people are good and humble, crime is low, the ocean scenery is beautiful. There has to be a change of attitude, however, for the country to move forward. Hopefully, our young people can help make a difference for the future of these islands. We've fallen in love with many of the young adults, and have been spending quite a bit of time with them. Several either work for or volunteer at the Ashby Foundation, so they have helped us with much of the activity of the week. They're great kids. There’s so much good that can be done here, while also emphasizing self-reliance—and that is the big key. They need to feel they have accomplished and made a difference.
We look forward to sharing, in detail, some of the projects that the church is involved with. We leave on Wed. for Lisbon for three days, then back to Frankfurt Sunday night (Oct. 5). We'll write more later. We love you all. Keep us in your prayers. We need it. And, give each other a hug from us. We keep you close to our hearts. ---Happy B-Day Scott, Nelly and Jayna. Hope you got our e-mail cards.
Love always, Mom and Dad, Joe and Dee
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