Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cartagena

We did our first full training for auditors in Cartegena. Miguel Angel was with us and did the training while we watched. Next week in Duitama Darwin does the training and Miguel watches. The systems for handling church funds are a little different in this area than they are in the US because they have a cash economy. People do not use checks. They pay their donations in cash and when there is an activity that requires supplies they do not have enough liquid funds in individual families to buy the supplies and then get reimbursed after they turn in a reciept. They need to get the cash up front and then go get the items needed and then bring in the reciept (this is also hard because reciepts are not routinely given) and return any of the unused advance. As a result there are different accounting procedures in place and the twice yearly audit looks for some different things. Boring as it sounds Darwins job is to make sure that generally accepted accounting procedures are used and followed and that the auditors are trained in exactly how things should work so that any variation in procedures that could result (or has resulted) in the misuse of the scared funds of the church can be found and fixed. That is a harder task than you think when you realize that the church is relatively new in these countries. There are many very young leaders. We are working with stake presidents under 30 and stake finance clerks who are barly off their missions (or who haven't gone yet). Or ward clerks who have only been members for 6 months. Turn over is high. A person may servce as a clerk for a year and then be called into a bishopric for 2 years and end up as a bishop for 3 years and then be called as a stake president. (not an unusualy occurance). It is hard to get seasoned priesthood leaders. You just get one bunch trained and they turn over. Also the church is growing so fast that young congregations have a hard time having the kind of experienced leadership they need to learn the administrative procedures that they need to function in thier positions. (yes this is plea for more senior missionaries. You would be suprised at how much you could contribute just by being available with the wealth of experience that you have. -- How does the primary work? How do you organize a Relief Society enrichment night. How do you teach a lesson. How do you handle the funds of the church. How do you conduct a meeting. How do you lead the signing. Different places need different things and their are some wonderful skilled leaders but the depth of leadership and the subtleties of administrative function are in need of help. All the emerging areas of the church are in the same boat. Africa, Turky, Mongolia, South East Asia, Russia and others. If you are approaching retirement and want a great experience using your experience in new and different ways, call the senior missionary department and asked what you can do.
Below are some of the pictures I took in Cartagena.





Coming in from the airport along the beach

Down the block from our hotel
Old Historic Cartagena. Cartagena is definately a tourist town. However, it is also a the major exporting port for Colombia so there are huge shipyards. Cartagena away from the tourist area is like any Colombian town. Street venders and small shops everywhere and incredably happy people. It is hot (really hot) in Caragena. The taxi's are all airconditioned which I really appreciated. However, I was glad to get back to the perpetual spring like weather of Bogota.


The beaches
Typical Market from the back streets of Cartagena while we were looking for the chapel

Flowers at the hotel
A Food court in an area away from the beach Saturday night after the training.


Nicer neighborhood in Cartagena

Bicycle Taxies in just like in Bogota


One of the Chapels in Cartagena. There are two stakes in Cartagena. I don't know how many wards. We visited two chapels but there are more.

3 comments:

benandkiki said...

How Beautiful! It looks so fun and warm. I miss warm beaches. The beaches here are freezing. The most I would want to put in are my toes. It sounds like the auditing training could get crazy, with all the turn around and new members. We hope we can go on couple missions when we have retired. Love ya!

Sandra said...

Wow, what an experience you are having! Loved the bathing beauties too!!!

Marshallparents said...

Aw, I see you are on a mission. How long have you been gone and when do you get home? And when you get home where will you be. Ken and I want to go on a mission when we are both able to retire. Ken has 4 1/2 years and I hope to be able to sell my practice about the same time.

Good for your both

Ken and Barbara