We had an unusual church meeting last Sunday afternoon from 4-6 pm. It was held in the cultural hall at a local stake center here in Chillán. It featured computers, MLS data, google documents, lds.org, and an enthusiastic response from the Chilean members. Several bishops, the stake president, clerks, and youth attended. The goal was to teach them how to find the lost and less-active members and bring them back. Thanks to an inspired member from England, Ben Ingram, who now lives in Curicó with his Chilean wife and 2 children, we have the ability to find most of the lost sheep. The numbers are staggering. This is what we have found thus far in the Chile Concepción Mission, having completed 63% of the research on nearly 40,000 members 18+ and older.
- 50% have addresses different than those on their church records
- 3% are dead (723 as of now and all have current membership records, some of whom died as far back as 1988. This number will probably exceed 1000 when we are finished)
- 10% have misspelled names
- 10% cannot be found in the database. When we started 50% of the members could not be found. We now have the ability to find most of those lost sheep.
The reasons that this has happened are pretty obvious. When members no longer attend church they don't notify the church of there whereabouts. Years pass, decades pass, and many current members don't know who these lost sheep are. UNTIL NOW! Thanks to Brother Ingram we have the names and addresses of registered voters that a government agency published online according to a law passed in Chile. He created a searchable database of that information for the sole purpose of finding the lost sheep. And we are finding them. In the database we have 8+ million names from 2008, 13+ million names from 2012, and 4+ million names from real estate records. Lots of work remains to be done. Only 10% of our findings have been verified. This work requires the cooperation of members and missionaries. That is why we are so excited about the training meeting we held on Sunday. We first met with the stake presidency about 2 weeks ago, then the bishoprics a week later, and finally a training meeting for them all. The members have so much knowledge about people and where they live. This is going to hasten the work tremendously. They are also taking a much greater interest in the records of the church. That is a very important part of sealing the leaks in the church boat here in Chile. Our goal is to see this carried throughout the country. The rescue is starting to move forward. We are grateful to be part of it.
Computers are second nature to youth who have loved participating in indexing.
President Fuentes loves the youth and they love him!