“President Hinckley Addresses L. A. World Affairs Council,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 75
“Volunteer service is the genius of this Church,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on 12 June 2002.
President Hinckley focused his remarks on the elderly and on the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund as he addressed the more than 2,100 people attending the event. They included diplomats, professors, local government officials, media representatives, and Church members hosting their guests. Religious leaders of many faiths were represented.
President Hinckley spoke first about the challenging service opportunities available to retirees and the thousands of individuals taking advantage of these opportunities. “God bless them for their great and dedicated service.”
He highlighted a few of the 5,300 retired Church members on missions who are having a tremendous impact in serving others: two widows teaching and encouraging Jamaicans in need; two brothers, retired doctors, who established a neonatal clinic and a general practice to help the disadvantaged in Ho Chi Minh City; and twenty retired people teaching English to Thai children in Bangkok.
“Now I know, of course, that there are many other volunteer groups doing a great service in the world,” he said. “But I know of no other organization which so harnesses the abilities, the capacities, and the willingness of retired men and women in an organized program of Christian service in many areas of the world.
“These people are experiencing in a very real way the promise of the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, ‘Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it’” (Mark 8:35).
President Hinckley then spoke of the Perpetual Education Fund, designed to help the many young men and women who may return to poverty in their home countries after they finish their missions and do not have the opportunity to get an education. They receive loans to finance their education in their own country, then pay these loans back.
A quarter of a million people have sent in donations to the fund. “We have, without touching the corpus, earnings enough to provide loans to more than 3,000 individuals,” said President Hinckley. “Today, only 14 months after the first announcement, we have made loans to 720 young people in Brazil, 696 in Chile, 338 in Peru, 194 in Mexico, 523 in the Philippines, and 634 in other countries,” he reported. “I am confident the number will rise dramatically.”
One young man from Concepción, Chile, wrote to the President: “This is a great blessing. Today I can change the future and give something better to my children. Thanks to all who have made this possible.”
Loans from the Perpetual Education Fund are helping finance training in fields from automobile mechanics to hotel administration and Web technology.—Kathleen Lubeck Peterson, Harbor Hills Ward, Newport Beach California Stake