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Financial and economic challenges to Church activity


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32 minutes ago, rongo said:

Huh. Does anyone know anyone in the U.S. or Canada who had help from PEF? I would be fascinated to here about that! 

Iirc, it wasn’t available in the past, just as Pathways wasn’t.  Sounds like there may have been changes. (Not that much, apparently)

some info:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_Education_Fund

In 2017, PEF was not available in US (see map):  https://universe.byu.edu/2017/06/09/new-lds-pathway-program-will-affect-the-churchs-perpetual-education-fund/

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The church’s website outlines the requirements for those seeking an education loan through the Perpetual Education Fund:

  • Be a temple-worthy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • If a young single adult, be enrolled and active in an LDS institute of religion (married students and those over 30 are not required to attend institute)
  • Live and attend school in a Perpetual Education Fund–approved country. Currently, the Perpetual Education Fund is not available in the United States or Canada.

Countries available in at this time according to website (not always up to date ime):

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A,B,C,D
Albania, American Samoa, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic

E,F,G,H
Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, DR Congo, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong

I,J,K,L
India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia

M,N,O,P
Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Mozambique, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico

Q,R,S,T
Samoa, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago

U,V,W,X,Y,Z
Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/self-reliance/pef-perpetual-education-fund/learn-more?lang=eng

Edited by Calm
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11 hours ago, rongo said:

The German government actually wants American students to study at German universities. There is a program that systematically prepares motivated American students, starting the sophomore year, to study (for free) at German universities. Even students at high schools without German programs are welcome. Interested student pre-test to see what their existing German level is (A1=beginner, A2=advanced beginner, B1=beginning intermediate, B2=advanced intermediate, C1=proficient. Those are the standard European language competency levels), and then intensive online language training with the Goethe Institute in D.C., coupled with summer trips to Germany, are provided to get students up to the required C1 level. The sophomore summer, students take an intensive course in Germany, and the junior summer, they take a STEM or economics course in German in Germany. And then they are good to go once they are certified at a C1 level. So, a motivated student who really would like to learn German and study in Germany for free can do it, even if he doesn't have a German program at his school. 

How are the universities in Germany compared to US? My husband the professor is curious...especially how professors are treated.

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1 hour ago, rongo said:

Huh. Does anyone know anyone in the U.S. or Canada who had help from PEF? I would be fascinated to here about that! 

From longo's quote I think this would be the problem:

"Think about all your different sources of income (your own and your family’s) to pay for school. This can include grants and scholarships"

I would guess at least in the US if you were needy enough to qualify for PEF you would qualify for grants, which may then disqualify you for PEF.  Maybe if you were undocumented?

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14 hours ago, Calm said:

How are the universities in Germany compared to US? My husband the professor is curious...especially how professors are treated.

I don't have a lot of first or second-hand experience with the faculty experience in Germany, but this is interesting:

https://www.quora.com/What-do-US-professors-think-about-German-universities

I have heard from German professors and students that, since university students are Gymnasium students, and since German universities don't do liberal arts or general studies requirements, it is a much more direct and driven experience out of the gate. They don't waste time on the things that most freshmen take at our universities; they dive right in and begin. 

These articles explain really well the cultural divide (between the U.S. and Germany) that business people have to overcome. Anyone who has lived, worked, or served a mission in Germany can well relate to these! Understanding these in advance is helpful to both German and American workers and bosses. There are also cultural conflicts when an Austrian branch or company gets a German boss (our Austrian friend who works for Siemens got a female German boss. She didn't last long --- the cultural conflict was too big).

https://www.handelsblatt.com/english/authors/where-americans-systematize-germans-break-down/22611748.html?ticket=ST-4677113-A7ThHHnhFb3pe2TwJDAr-ap1

"Americans overpraise, Germans underpraise" (Germans find our penchant for praise to be superficial and coddling, and Americans find Germans to have an impossible standard. Success and excellence are a given to Germans, and thus not something that deserves accolades or praise. You're just doing your job. ;) )

"Germans deal with their own conflicts, Americans escalate to the boss"

"German processes vs. American relationships"

"German 'soccer coach' boss vs. American 'football coach' boss"

"Germans consult, Americans serve" (Germans find our "customer is always right" obsession to be groveling). 

"German contentiousness vs. American small talk" (Germans find Americans' small talk to be superficial, and Americans are aghast at Germans' love for debate and controversy in conversation, even with relative strangers. It's not personal, and they appreciate Americans who participate in this "blood sport" give-and-take. They simply like talking about interesting things, and don't take it personally when their Gesprächspartner disagrees with them. Americans are groomed to avoid "politics and religion" like the plague). 

"Americans systematize, Germans break down"

"German directness vs. American euphemisms" (this drives Germans nuts about Americans, how we seek to spare people's feelings by not saying what we mean. And, Americans find Germans to be rude)

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Update on Pathway Connect:

My wife's sister called her last night. She is doing Pathway, but the offerings and program have changed since my wife did it. She has conflicting information on what is required, what is not, what will transfer (in her case, to Ensign College --- formerly LDS Business College). She doesn't really want the offered certificates (a new thing, where certificates, which are like a "minor-lite") and has questions about them. 

The whole Pathway/BYUI system has changed to where you can't even call and talk to an inexperienced and unknowledgeable BYUI student any more. It's 100% automated with a set menu, and the menu options often don't exactly or even roughly/remotely match your question. There is zero option to press 0 and talk to someone. Your only recourse if you can't get your question answered is to send an email into the void. 

I can't even imagine!

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31 minutes ago, rongo said:

Update on Pathway Connect:

My wife's sister called her last night. She is doing Pathway, but the offerings and program have changed since my wife did it. She has conflicting information on what is required, what is not, what will transfer (in her case, to Ensign College --- formerly LDS Business College). She doesn't really want the offered certificates (a new thing, where certificates, which are like a "minor-lite") and has questions about them. 

The whole Pathway/BYUI system has changed to where you can't even call and talk to an inexperienced and unknowledgeable BYUI student any more. It's 100% automated with a set menu, and the menu options often don't exactly or even roughly/remotely match your question. There is zero option to press 0 and talk to someone. Your only recourse if you can't get your question answered is to send an email into the void. 

I can't even imagine!

Weird.

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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

Weird.

It has such potential to be a very good thing, and the customer service aspect, the very meager degree offerings, etc. are atrocious. It is extremely affordable, and you can get a degree if all you need is a degree, any degree, but sheesh. Why not make this a flagship program and lift up the world?

When I was a bishop, most people wanted to get a teaching degree/certificate. There were some RNs who wanted their RN to BSN, and some who wanted IT or business, but most actually wanted to become teachers. The Pathway people at the "rah, rah" firesides, when asked, said that Pathway/BYUI had no interest in offering that, and wouldn't in the future. I was stunned. Each state has massive teacher shortages, and here we have lots of people wanting to get a degree, get certified, and teach. And these are Church members, too! Student teaching wouldn't be a problem; it would be like any other internship or practicum. And believe me --- the schools want a flood of students teachers, too. Many get thrown into the fire and are "battlefield commissioned" into filling gaps in the now. 

My wife barely got out with her University Studies degree (a little of everything). They now have to do business, IT, or family history or something like that. 

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The starting salary for a new attorney in the best firm in San Diego, which means you got a salary premium above others IF the firm desired to hire you above the mob who applied, was a whopping $15,000 per year!

When?

1970

And that was a jumping up and down, crying "we are rich" experience.

And gas was 29 cents per gallon.

Let's just print more money and add more rent control so no one wants to build apartments!!!

Just keep the populace happy with bread and circuses!

That should fix it!!

I have seen that strategy now for 50 years.

Heck I remember when a denarius was a denarius!

It doesn't fix it.

It never has.

Edited by mfbukowski
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33 minutes ago, rongo said:

It has such potential to be a very good thing, and the customer service aspect, the very meager degree offerings, etc. are atrocious. It is extremely affordable, and you can get a degree if all you need is a degree, any degree, but sheesh. Why not make this a flagship program and lift up the world?

When I was a bishop, most people wanted to get a teaching degree/certificate. There were some RNs who wanted their RN to BSN, and some who wanted IT or business, but most actually wanted to become teachers. The Pathway people at the "rah, rah" firesides, when asked, said that Pathway/BYUI had no interest in offering that, and wouldn't in the future. I was stunned. Each state has massive teacher shortages, and here we have lots of people wanting to get a degree, get certified, and teach. And these are Church members, too! Student teaching wouldn't be a problem; it would be like any other internship or practicum. And believe me --- the schools want a flood of students teachers, too. Many get thrown into the fire and are "battlefield commissioned" into filling gaps in the now. 

My wife barely got out with her University Studies degree (a little of everything). They now have to do business, IT, or family history or something like that. 

I wanted to finish college but got married and started a family instead. When my last child was in first grade I wanted to finish my degree in the education field but then my older children needed help with college and then housing after marriage, we provided some help because our kids didn't want total help, but I still felt guilt for going back to college in case they needed funds for something later on. My in-laws helped us with a lot to build a home so I've had that in the back of my mind to be able to help my children like they were able to do.

It would have been awesome to have Pathway for an education degree, which is so needed now and teachers deserve much better pay. Teachers work long past the end of their shift as you well know. I sub in the schools now so I get to at least be where I realized too late in life, is where I want to be.

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4 hours ago, rongo said:

"Americans overpraise, Germans underpraise" (Germans find our penchant for praise to be superficial and coddling, and Americans find Germans to have an impossible standard. Success and excellence are a given to Germans, and thus not something that deserves accolades or praise. You're just doing your job. ;) )

I found this to be very true. Even going above and beyond your job description is often met with silence.

"Germans deal with their own conflicts, Americans escalate to the boss"

I don't really agree with this. Germans escalate to the boss, too. I think the real difference here is that Germans tell you bluntly to your face when they don't like something and Americans are more likely to find passive-aggressive ways to let you know.

"German processes vs. American relationships"

This is spot on.

"German 'soccer coach' boss vs. American 'football coach' boss"

I'm not really sure what this even means, but I find German bosses to be more command and control and American bosses more collaborative. But I've had terrible and great bosses both places.

"Germans consult, Americans serve" (Germans find our "customer is always right" obsession to be groveling). 

Customer service in Germany is apalling. In most customer-service interactions, they do the bare minimum possible to avoid getting in trouble and often lie just to rid of you. Don't even get me started on the government agencies and the health insurance companies.

"German contentiousness vs. American small talk" (Germans find Americans' small talk to be superficial, and Americans are aghast at Germans' love for debate and controversy in conversation, even with relative strangers. It's not personal, and they appreciate Americans who participate in this "blood sport" give-and-take. They simply like talking about interesting things, and don't take it personally when their Gesprächspartner disagrees with them. Americans are groomed to avoid "politics and religion" like the plague). 

I don't agree with this one. Politics and religion are maybe a little more openly discussed, but there's still plenty of small talk. And contentious discussions are just as likely to alienate someone who disagrees.

"Americans systematize, Germans break down"

Assuming I'm understanding this one, I don't really agree with it. Germans have a process for everything and follow it slavishly, even when it makes little to no sense. Things are done a certain way, and you don't deviate from it.

"German directness vs. American euphemisms" (this drives Germans nuts about Americans, how we seek to spare people's feelings by not saying what we mean. And, Americans find Germans to be rude)

I hinted at this above, but this is absolutely accurate. I found German directness to be nice, most of the time. Sometimes, though, it really is just being rude. My wife and I both got yelled at regularly for one thing or another (parking slightly crooked, for example) that most Americans would just ignore.

My experience is only working for one company in Germany, but my observations are above. The observations about German vs Austrian culture are interesting. I had both German and Austrian bosses, and I found the Germans much easier to work with and get along with. From talking to people in our ward and my wife's family, though, Austrians are typically easier to get along with. Which just goes to show that generalizations only get you so far. We're all still just people.

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11 hours ago, rongo said:

Update on Pathway Connect:

My wife's sister called her last night. She is doing Pathway, but the offerings and program have changed since my wife did it. She has conflicting information on what is required, what is not, what will transfer (in her case, to Ensign College --- formerly LDS Business College). She doesn't really want the offered certificates (a new thing, where certificates, which are like a "minor-lite") and has questions about them. 

The whole Pathway/BYUI system has changed to where you can't even call and talk to an inexperienced and unknowledgeable BYUI student any more. It's 100% automated with a set menu, and the menu options often don't exactly or even roughly/remotely match your question. There is zero option to press 0 and talk to someone. Your only recourse if you can't get your question answered is to send an email into the void. 

I can't even imagine!

Just talked to someone on the missionary board. She said your sister-in-law should have a mentor to help. If she doesn't have one she is willing to find out who her mentor is. Let me know if she would like help with this and I can connect the 2 of them.

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9 hours ago, Rain said:

Just talked to someone on the missionary board. She said your sister-in-law should have a mentor to help. If she doesn't have one she is willing to find out who her mentor is. Let me know if she would like help with this and I can connect the 2 of them.

A friend in our current ward who is struggling with the Pathway labyrinth asked my wife if she would be her mentor. They are supposed to find their own from among those who have been through it! She said, of course, but I haven't done Pathway for years, and haven't been at BYUI-online for over a year. I'll help with what I can.

The mentors don't have any special hotline or anything. They're just former Pathway students.

My wife said that her sister's last mentor didn't know anything and couldn't help with her questions. And there's no way to get a better one, other than by asking around. 

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1 hour ago, rongo said:

A friend in our current ward who is struggling with the Pathway labyrinth asked my wife if she would be her mentor. They are supposed to find their own from among those who have been through it! She said, of course, but I haven't done Pathway for years, and haven't been at BYUI-online for over a year. I'll help with what I can.

The mentors don't have any special hotline or anything. They're just former Pathway students.

My wife said that her sister's last mentor didn't know anything and couldn't help with her questions. And there's no way to get a better one, other than by asking around. 

He is not a former pathways student and his wife says they are assigned now.  If your sister-in-law needs help then this may get it for her and might be worth a try since she isn't getting the help now.   So the offer is there to connect the two if so.

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1 hour ago, Rain said:

He is not a former pathways student and his wife says they are assigned now.  If your sister-in-law needs help then this may get it for her and might be worth a try since she isn't getting the help now.   So the offer is there to connect the two if so.

PM me their contact info, and I'll give it to her. 

Thank you!

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One more thought after this weekend. I was assigned to visit our most distant branch yesterday to conduct stake business and then speak in sacrament meeting. I left at 1pm on Saturday and returned at 6pm on Sunday. The total cost for fuel, a basic room in the cheapest motel, and food on Saturday (I fasted yesterday) was US$166.53. Beyond the expense, I couldn't have done this without having my weekend free. Heaps of good men in our stake lack either the funds or the time to serve as members of the high council, and that hinders their having these kinds of experiences.

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38 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

One more thought after this weekend. I was assigned to visit our most distant branch yesterday to conduct stake business and then speak in sacrament meeting. I left at 1pm on Saturday and returned at 6pm on Sunday. The total cost for fuel, a basic room in the cheapest motel, and food on Saturday (I fasted yesterday) was US$166.53. Beyond the expense, I couldn't have done this without having my weekend free. Heaps of good men in our stake lack either the funds or the time to serve as members of the high council, and that hinders their having these kinds of experiences.

Are those expenses reimbursable?  Here in the states they would be so I assume it's the same there, though even with that it's a large out of pocket expense that would take some time to get back and so still might not be doable for everyone. 

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25 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Are those expenses reimbursable?  Here in the states they would be ...

Are you reimbursed for all the driving you do to fulfil your current calling? I've never considered it anything other than part of my commitment to the Law of Consecration.

Regarding food and lodging, I'm aware that many stake leaders simply choose to make the trip in a single day, leaving very early in the morning. I don't feel safe doing that, so I choose to split the travel over two days.

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On 1/15/2021 at 2:25 PM, rchorse said:

Customer service in Germany is apalling. In most customer-service interactions, they do the bare minimum possible to avoid getting in trouble and often lie just to rid of you. Don't even get me started on the government agencies and the health insurance companies.

I have also found in Germany that a standard reply to a difficult customer service request is "That is not possible"

Americans would never say that. 

They might explain why the task may be more difficult than it is worth in effort, (as in "That part is no longer made, and you would have to have it fabricated, which would cost more than the car is worth")  but "not possible" is just not in the American vocabulary.

That phrase "not possible" just drives me nuts !

And I also have found Austrians much more flexible and easier to work with than Germans.

Also Austrian German is much easier, I think, on American ears 

😉

Swiss German is almost a different language I think!

Edited by mfbukowski
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52 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Are you reimbursed for all the driving you do to fulfil your current calling? I've never considered it anything other than part of my commitment to the Law of Consecration.

Usually only if it's excessive.  Like driving hours away and a required stay overnight or other expense that was specific to the calling.  That way people don't have to be at a certain level of wealth to be able to fulfill those callings.

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5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Usually only if it's excessive.  Like driving hours away and a required stay overnight or other expense that was specific to the calling.  That way people don't have to be at a certain level of wealth to be able to fulfill those callings.

Fair enough. I would be happy if the stake presidency were to reimburse a high council member who couldn't afford to fulfil his calling. I can, though it's still a significant 'sacrifice'. And that still leaves the problem of having to work weekends. Thanks!

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41 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Fair enough. I would be happy if the stake presidency were to reimburse a high council member who couldn't afford to fulfil his calling. I can, though it's still a significant 'sacrifice'. And that still leaves the problem of having to work weekends. Thanks!

There should be no question about such things. Ask.

While a Bishop and on the HC I was always reimbursed for expenses like this.

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35 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

There should be no question about such things. Ask.

While a Bishop and on the HC I was always reimbursed for expenses like this.

I've literally never encountered the concept in all my years in the Church.

I've been reimbursed for buying food for a ward activity or buying supplies for a priests quorum activity. I've never been reimbursed for driving my car somewhere, and there have been weeks when I have driven hundreds of kilometres just picking up boys and taking them to Sunday services and weekday activities. Some Sundays I might drive close to 150km just attending stake/high council, church, and something in the evening.

Pre-COVID, I served as an ordinance worker (and haven't been released). If a room were available in temple accommodation, I could access it for a reduced tariff (half price if I remember correctly), but it was never free, and no one has ever suggested paying for my travel expenses to the temple, for example.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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In my experience reimbursement usually comes from having a calling.  So say I had to drive 3 hours to the temple to go as a patron - I wouldn't think of asking to be reimbursed.  But if I was a youth leader taking the youth as part of my calling and it was enough of a hardship that I considered not going or not accepting a calling because it entailed doing then I might ask to be reimbursed.  

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I've literally never encountered the concept in all my years in the Church.

I've been reimbursed for buying food for a ward activity or buying supplies for a priests quorum activity. I've never been reimbursed for driving my car somewhere, and there have been weeks when I have driven hundreds of kilometres just picking up boys and taking them to Sunday services and weekday activities. Some Sundays I might drive close to 150km just attending stake/high council, church, and something in the evening.

Pre-COVID, I served as an ordinance worker (and haven't been released). If a room were available in temple accommodation, I could access it for a reduced tariff (half price if I remember correctly), but it was never free, and no one has ever suggested paying for my travel expenses to the temple, for example.

I know you are not in the US, but those kinds of thing are deducible from your amount of income upon which you pay tax.  That is a little help.

But our ward is only 7 or 8 miles in diameter so we never have those kinds of distances to travel.

Since tithing is based on your "increase", I would deduct those expenses from the amount on which you Tithe . But that's me.

I would still talk to the SP about it.

I can't imagine him not understanding if it is a burden 

 

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

There should be no question about such things. Ask.

While a Bishop and on the HC I was always reimbursed for expenses like this.

The church has billions just sitting there too. 

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