One of the greatest honors I have in my assignment as an Area Medical Advisor is aiding the of Presidents in our three countries of the South America Northwest Area, those of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.
We were invited to a Mission Presidents' Seminar of the entire area (including Peru and Bolivia) recently in Peru, arriving in Lima and heading south along the barren coast to the meeting place.
As usual, Paula studied along the way,
while I pondered the passing countryside,
which frankly wasn't very inviting.
Once there, the Presidents and their wives were taught by the Area Presidency for three days.
Mission Presidents are called by the 1st Presidency of the Church by inspiration to serve for three years. Many are still working when the call arrives; in the group below you'll find the head of South American sales for a billion-dollar piping company, a Chief Administrative Judge for the state of California, the Human Resources director for the Church in Venezuela, and a former Regional Manager for the FAA. All are asked to leave whatever they are doing and lead the 150 to 240 young missionaries in one of the 340 geographical missions of the Church.
The Mission Presidents' wives are called and set apart to work right at their husband's side, often bringing along growing kids. Their duties include looking after the health of the young missionaries, and so I interact with them frequently.
It was a very useful conference for Paula and I, as we got to know face-to-face the folks we'd be working with for the next two years.
One of the rules by which the missionaries are to live is a 30-minute exercise period each morning. What's good for them is good for us, so Paula and I do the same. It was a particularly good idea at the seminar, as getting to know the Mission Presidents occurred over more food than usual. We walked along the quiet coast most mornings.
One evening we were feted by a group of Peruvian LDS youth who also burned off some calories.Although getting used to Bogotá and trying to learn my job has been a challenge, I couldn't be serving with a more hardworking, spiritually sensitive and kind bunch of people. As a friend once said who works in rarefied air as one of GE's top legal folks, "As opposed to my work, the closer you get to these people, the better they look."