I live in the high-elevation tropics, where the best weather in the world occurs. My home is in the Panchoy Valley of Guatemala, which includes Antigua. At 4500 ft above sea level, a hot day might get into the upper 70s, and a really cold night will dip into the upper 40s. Only the fanciest hotels in Antigua have air conditioning. If you can open a window, you are almost always cool enough.
On just about any Sunday, many people here actually wear cold-weather jackets to church, some even on the warmest days. Most members clearly do not think there is a need to cool the chapel.
I was very surprised to learn, then, that the chapel I attend is being converted to central air. Jalousie windows are being removed and replaced by unopenable panes. All this to cool people who for the most part already feel too cool. No doubt other chapels in the Antigua area and likely Guatemala City are being outfitted for central air.
So, an unneeded expense. Perhaps not a big deal. On the other hand, this kind of expense represents serious insensitivity to a number of issues. Very few buildings in this part of Guatemala have AC. Probably no other churches in this entire area have AC. So what kind of message are we sending here? An unneeded expense like this in a country as poor as Guatemala is baffling to say the least. How about climate change issues? Here we had a perfectly suitable building with very little carbon emissions now joining the ranks of the worst carbon emitters in this area. But even more damning, the Panchoy Valley is not but 50 miles as the crow flies from the Dry Corridor (Corredor Seco) of Guatemala, where hunger and malnutrition abound. What use could this money have made in that area? Maybe since the poor we will always have with us, maybe we feel no real need to make institutional sacrifices. No need for us to break a sweat, not if the AC is working anyway.
We are not a poor church, institutionally speaking. There is enough and to spare for “upgrades” like this, even if totally unneeded. As we become a mature third-century church, perhaps more of this is to be expected. We want and can afford “nice” facilities. It is difficult for any organization lasting as long as ours has to keep its “edge”.
Elder Holland made an unusual call a year ago in GC to retake what should be our natural leadership role, by going to the poor, like our Captain of old. He declared that that we must commit our resources to freeing the world from the virus of hunger, [and to] freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty. That was about as radical a call to action as you can get. But it did not appear to stir many to action. Maybe such a call is unimaginable in a 3rd century church?
This brings us to the $100G, our very flush rainy-day fund. That is a lot of money. But what if we decided to be a “poor” church, and added all the unneeded expenses to that fund? Difficult to put a finger on that amount, but it would add significantly to an already overflowing pot.
But maybe we could imagine a way to heed that call. Catholic Charities operates in the US on about a $5-billion annual budget, with about $3 billion of that coming from the US Government. They do some good work with that money. I wager we could do better.
We could fund a very effective Mormon Charities. Oops, wrong name—how about Restoration Charities? Five percent of $100G is 5 billion bucks. That’s that kind of scale we could be operating at. We could live a little large and maybe draw $7 or $8 billion from that rain-maker fund. Eight billion put to work globally would be a very big deal.
The expertise provided could cover just about all areas of human need. We can’t necessarily solve all kinds of problems, particularly structural issues that increase poverty, but we could strengthen weakened hands and knees by direct assistance in many ways. We could foment and guide cooperatives for both agricultural and light manufacturing initiatives. We could set up entrepreneurial training programs. We already do a lot of this –but not anywhere near $7-$10G-worth annually. We could hire first-class experts, and with something as big and imaginative as this, likely recruit many more volunteer senior welfare missionaries, increasing greatly the value of that rain-maker fund. I come from the Extension side of the land-grant university system. Restoration Charities would be a global land-grant extension system on steroids!
Its no longer time to wait for a rainy day. Its time to become a rain maker. Folks in the Corredor Seco need that rain. And people in the Panchoy Valley will happily sacrifice that AC to help those folks.
We need two things. First we need to be a poor church. Donations need to be put to the best use. We could suffer a little extra heat. Maybe we don’t always need to wear a suit jacket to church. Even in Houston, where we previously lived, male leaders kept the thermostat low in the summer, so they could be comfortable with their coats on. Maybe we can sacrifice coats in the summer to help deal with climate change, for example.
Secondly, we need imagination, from our leaders and from ourselves. Wouldn’t a vast global enterprise like this make you proud to be a member? Maybe you would even want to lend a hand. I think this is how Brother Joseph might have imagined the Restoration playing out in the latter days. The third century of the Restoration would be a vibrant time indeed.
Turn down the AC, and turn up the heat!
Featured image: Wiki Commons: The crank of a jalousie window in the closed and open position.