This was a day of heavy rains. We left the office before 4 pm because it was getting dark and it was pouring outside. The three lanes on our side of the boulevard were flooded from curb to curb in most areas, but we made it home just fine. That is the heaviest, most prolonged rain we have seen since arriving in Guatemala. Tonight we are going to Bawden’s for Family Home Evening so we had a light dinner of chicken noodle soup, crackers, cheese, avocado, and green olives. I will always remember being in Anchorage when Rosenlofs were serving their mission with CES. After a big lunch we would have a light meal at night and Jon would pull out various cheeses, meats, and crackers…..meals that made memories.
We had a busy schedule at the office today. Two gentlemen came in to see some of our co-workers. We found out that one was a stake president. We talked to him about his stake PEF specialist and our desire to meet her. Later she called us and we set up an appointment for next Sunday after Church. At 1 pm was the monthly PEF Area Committee Meeting. Elder Clarke is in Salt Lake so he wasn’t there. It was very interesting, or it would have been if I could have understood what they were talking about. I understood practically nothing. Yo estoy perdido! (I’m lost!). I did fine when they showed charts and graphs but when they were talking about banks and the funds I was clueless. Afterwards we talked with Reynaldo about the situation with the banks in each country. The goal is to have the students repay their loan by having it debited from their account each month, but most of the banks they deal with don’t offer that service.
After dinner there was a knock on the door. It was Rexene. We stepped into their kitchen and Jim cut open a strange fruit and gave us a taste. The Tilley’s call it the red furry eyeball fruit. It must have a name but they don’t know what it is. They said it is like a lichee nut. It had the texture of a grape and was mild in flavor but I don’t think I will be rushing to Paiz to buy any.
Family Home Evening was at the Bawdens. The elevator was broken so we climbed the stairs to the fifth floor. They have a large 3 bedroom, 3 bath apartment. Dean served his mission in Guatemala in the 1960’s. He wanted to give us all a taste of Guatemala so he arranged for a group to come share their music. There were three on the marimba, a guitarist and a drummer. They played for two hours for us. They have a tour to Los Angeles and Provo coming soon. We bought their CD for $10. It made me want to get up and dance. There were 18 of us missionaries, Brother and Sister Justice who own a school here and live here part of the year, one of the men who does repairs around the apartments, and at the end someone went and got our upstairs neighbor who keeps some of us (not us) awake with his electric guitar playing at night. He is from Israel and is fluent in Spanish and English. Marilyn made the black bean paste that Guatemalans eat….black beans cooked and pureed. We ate it with chips and salsa. We had fresh fruit which is a big thing here in Guate…..and brownies which is so American.
We have been in Central America three Sundays. The first Sunday Carolyn Taylor, the mission doctor’s wife, played a keyboard for Sacrament Meeting. The second Sunday, in El Salvador, they actually had a young man playing the piano. The third Sunday there wasn’t even a keyboard in the chapel. The chorister stood, sang the first line of the song to give everyone the pitch, then we all started at the beginning of the song. That is the way it is done in each of the Relief Society meetings….no piano or keyboard, just a chorister who can get us started. The upside of that is I can actually sing the melody since most people start the a capella singing quite low.
Just before bed we had an uninvited guest coming out of our kitchen into the dining area. He was a big-------------------------------------------(about that long) cockroach. I held him down with the broom, Dick opened our front door (with three locks that takes awhile), and I swept him out. He had a few choices at that point….to go up the stairs to the third floor, down the stairs to the main lobby, wait for the elevator doors to open or go into our neighbors next door or the neighbor on the other side of the elevator. I didn’t wait to see how he used his agency, I just shut our door quickly.
23 September 2008…..Tuesday
We have a real entrepreneur who comes into the office a couple of times a week. He is small for his eleven years. We told him we have four grandchildren who are 11. His name is Gregorio and he shines shoes. He is adorable and smart. He talks to his customers, trying to learn English. He goes to school in the mornings. He comes to the front door where security is always standing guard and requests certain customers. The girl at the switchboard will call the extension and if one person lets him in he will work the building. The switchboard girl came to our office today and asked for Elder Graff because Gregorio wants to know if he needs his shoes shined. She said he asked for Elder Clarke (area president) who is in Salt Lake City, then Elder King, who wasn’t in his office, then the Bawdens. Marilyn is his big customer. She says she doesn’t know how many layers of polish are on her shoes. The Bawdens were gone, so he asked for Elder Graff. I thought that was funny. He had done Dick’s shoes only once before but he doesn’t miss a thing. He is so smart and industrious. The shine on Dick’s shoes is incredible.
Just checked the ten day weather forecast for Guatemala City on www.weatherchannel and I don’t want to say that the weather here is boring but…..it is forecast to be 75 - 76 degrees every day, 61-63 degrees every night, 60% chance of showers every day. It is the land of “eternal spring.” We have no air conditioning or heat in the apartment. We don’t need it. The office is air conditioned and when someone turns it on we all freeze. Everyone keeps the windows open in their apartments all the time. We closed the window in the living room once, for about thirty minutes, because there was a cool breeze billowing the drapes.
Today we used the conference room and talked with Sister Alvarez, the stake specialist in Palmita Stake. We had emailed her to see if we could come to her home in the afternoon and she replied that she would be at our office for part of the day because she volunteers in one of the offices. We enjoy meeting with the specialists and appreciate the things we learn from them.
For our evening study time we have started reading the Doctrine and Covenants in Español. The words are more modern and easier for me to translate as we read than the Book of Mormon is. I have some favorite Spanish words. From the Book of Mormon there is “murmurando.” There is absolutely no question of what that means when we are reading of Laman and Lemuel….yes, they were big time complainers and murmured. As we contemplated our mission there was the word “emocionado,” meaning excited. It was exactly the feelings of excitement and emotion all mingled together. And, my favorite is “ama de casa,” meaning homemaker, or love of home. Sometimes it just takes Spanish to really put meaning into words. (When we married in 1961 I was a “housewife,” so at least that progressed to “homemaker.”)
Jill’s family has requested more scripture references so they can use them for Family Home Evening. On Sunday I was reading in Alma 34 where Amulek gives his witness of Christ. Verses 18-37 teach of constant prayer. I think those are beautiful verses to teach our children of the things we need to pray for.
24 September 2008…..Wednesday
Today I was really busy. As always, the PEF group met in the call center for a morning prayer. I was asked to offer the prayer. It didn’t even occur to me to do it in English. I often say my personal prayers in Spanish and when Dick and I pray together I have done it in Spanish recently. This was my first prayer in Spanish for a group of people. I did ok. About mid-morning Reynaldo and Claudia asked me to translate the PEF flyers into English for the country of Belize. That will take considerable time. Also, I will be making the calls to each of the PEF participants in Belize. It is a very small group of about 8 because the fund isn’t fully established there, but that is another challenge for me. Hermana Saenz trained me how to do it as all the info about them and their loans and payment schedule is on the PEF website. It is confidential material so I need their loan number to access the info. Interestingly enough, Hermana Saenz does not speak English so my training was all in Spanish. For an hour she talked and showed me things and I understood a great deal. She is 71, a senior sister missionary, who has lived in poverty in Guatemala all her life, so she truly understands these young people on the program. She is amazing.
We didn’t bring a lunch today so we walked out to the red car that is in front of the office every day with “safe” food and bought 2 large cheese empanadas, rice and 4 tortillas. It cost less than $2. After we got home from the office we had a call from Rexene, inviting us to dinner. So, we drove back to the office an hour later and met up with the group and went to El Portal de Los Angeles. Brother Roger Sears, from SLC, will oversee the building of the El Salvador Temple. The Tilleys knew him when they lived in Ecuador when Bro. Sears was overseeing the building of the temple there. His other projects have included the Conference Center and the refurbishing of the Tabernacle. Another brother, Dale Pritcher, is from the finance department of the Church and works with him on these major projects. Also going to dinner was Tilleys, Bawdens, Taylors, Kings, and Johnsons (they are here for a year as legal counsel for the church in the Central America Area). Dick and I had Milanese and enjoyed our meal very much. The company was wonderful. We sat at a table with two large windows on two sides and looked out over the lights in the valley below. Throughout the evening the sky was lit up every few minutes with lightning but the storm was too far away for us to hear any thunder.
We still have a leak under the bathroom sink that they have to come back and repair again. Our refrigerator also has water leaking. The fridge is so warm that milk I had only a few days went bad. It is the first time we bought regular milk. We have been using the kind in a box that has a long shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration until it is opened. The fridge was so warm that we put everything in the freezer. I had icy juice for breakfast but it was good. The mayo is a little icy. So, for two days I keep switching food back and forth.
Another interesting item here. Most stores, restaurants, etc., have an armed guard at the driveway that writes your license number on a piece of paper and gives it to you. You cannot leave the parking lot without giving back the paper. It is their way to prevent having cars stolen from the lots.
25 September 2008…..Thursday
It is one month ago since we entered the MTC. It has been an extraordinary month for us. I had a small problem from something I ate, so we didn’t go into the office until noon. It worked out well because the refrigerator repair guy came. He said it had frozen up. Hopefully, he has solved our problem with the refrigerator. We are still waiting to have the kitchen sprayed for the cockroaches that have staked their claim there.
I spent four hours at the office translating information from Spanish to English for 2 bulletin board flyers. I have a lot more work to do on them and then I will do the “trifolderes.” These were created here in our office. If Salt Lake had done them they would have already been available in English.
On the way home from the office we stopped at Burger King and got dinner for Dick and a malt for me. I didn’t feel like having much more. But, I did. Rexene came over with half a loaf of warm homemade bread. It tasted so good. For two hours tonight we had a great internet connection. We hope to have our own internet and cable before General Conference, but I won’t hold my breath.
26 September 2008…..Friday
I worked all day again on translating PEF materials into English. For lunch we shared a plate of chicken, rice, warm tortillas, and a fried doughnut like pastry with pieces of fruit in it. This afternoon the lightning and thunder came. We left the office at 3 pm, intending to go to Paiz, but it was raining hard and the Boulevard of the Americas was flooded curb to curb. We came straight home. We really need to shop because we threw out things that got too warm in the fridge.
The repair guys for the apartment came up to check the bathroom sink leak. They said they would call a plumber to replace the bathroom faucet. We showed them the new cockroach droppings in the kitchen and the manager came up to see. She wants us to kill one for them to see next time one is running around. That ought to be a fun activity.
27 September 2008…..Saturday
This was a day of venturing out for us. I washed two loads of clothes and then we left the apartment at 8:30 am and went to a mall. It is very deceiving from the outside. I would have never suspected that it is a mall. The parking garage is underneath and is on two levels. There are a variety of stores, but I have never seen so many shoe stores in one place. We saw at least a dozen. Our main purpose in going there was so we could both get haircuts. Bawdens recommended Marta who works there. First of all, I had the most incredible shampoo. I felt my whole body relax as she rubbed my temples and other areas of my head. It was a great massage. Since I have decided to not have perms anymore I was very glad to get a good haircut to give me some shape. She did a good job on Dick, too. We went into a department store and bought two pullover shirts for Dick. We found a surge protector at an appliance store to protect our computer from a power surge. There was a woman wearing an apron walking through the mall. On her head she had a blue plastic crate and in that crate was at least a dozen bottles of beer. She walked along with her hands at her side. When she turned her head to look at something, the whole crate would turn. It is quite a sight to see. Then we went to Paiz to do grocery shopping. I haven’t been able to find a 9x13 pan. I must not be going to the right stores. I was thrilled to find an apron. I didn’t bring any grubby clothes and when I cook and disinfect the counters I am afraid of ruining my good clothes. If I could go back in time and repack I would bring grubbies and at least one of my denim dresses. On the plus side, the best thing I brought was my three pair of Merrell shoes. They are incredibly comfortable and stylish enough with my skirts.
We met our neighbor today. She is employed with the United Nations. They lived in Columbia before moving here a month ago. She is from Spain and her husband is from Peru. They have a four year old and a 5 month old. They plan on moving to Switzerland in three years. That is where she wants to rear her children. It makes us feel even more secure to know what kind of people live across the hall from us.
For the first time in a month, Dick and I were separated for an hour and a half. I went next door at 6 pm to watch the Relief Society Women’s Broadcast from SLC with Rexene on their computer. It was inspirational. I especially enjoyed Sister Beck‘s and President Uchtdorff’s words. I could imagine my daughters and daughters-in-law participating in the same event at their stake centers in the states or on BYU TV. When I move to Utah someday I want to be at the Conference Center with the other 21,000 who attend.
This is our third evening to have a good internet connection and we are both grateful for it. The rain dripping outside is such a change from the dryness of the Antelope Valley. Our rainy season will end in a month or so and then we are told there will be no rain for about five months. Hard to believe, since we see it almost every day. Some prevalent sounds here. Horns. Everybody honks their horn. Usually, for no good reason, or because someone is taking up parts of two lanes. The multitude of buses each have their own rat-a-tat going when they come to a stop and the people recognize the pattern of the honking of the bus they are waiting for. Car alarms. When there is thunder you can hear a number of car alarms. During the day at the office, you can hear car alarms. On a quiet night you can hear car alarms. Planes. The airport is not very far away from our apartment. There is not heavy airplane traffic, but in the morning or at night there is the sound of a few planes. It is even closer to the office and during the day the sound is much louder and occasionally we can see one taking off over the trees and buildings. Interestingly enough, we have become accustomed to the planes and the alarms so it doesn’t always register in the brain anymore. The airport has a very short runway and the planes come in over the city and drop down between tall buildings. We read about it in a great travel book that Anita gave Dick when he retired. She and Nancy were the “other women” in his life at school. Now he has just me, 24/7…..such is the life of a missionary couple. I was always content to stay home while he ran errands. Now, we have to do all that together.
28 September 2008…..Sunday
We left the apartment this morning at 7 am. We had a scheduled appointment with Sister Barrios to talk about the PEF and so the Tilleys decided to go and do their security routine at the building. We attended Kaminal Juyu Ward in Utatlan Stake. Church started at 8 am. It is the most beautiful meeting house we have been in since coming to Central America. The wooden pews were gorgeous and padded. There was a flower arrangement of fresh salmon colored roses. The last two Sundays we have sat on stackable chairs in the chapel and the flowers have all been plastic. The young missionaries were the first to greet us. Elder Garcia was from Spanish Fork, UT. Two young men had been baptized and today they were confirmed members of the Church.
Once again we find that the people are so warm and friendly. The men go out of their way to shake my hand and the women always give a hug. I took a picture after Church of four little girls who had candy. They were sitting on the tile near a doorway and sharing it. I showed them the picture and they all laughed. The children are darling. The little twins reminded me of Madisen and Kourtney when they were four years old. Now they are about to turn 12!
Our appointment with Hermana Barrios was very good. She was full of information and is doing a great job with PEF in Utatlan Stake. I told her afterwards, in Spanish, that I didn’t understand much of what she said, but I could feel of her spirit. The spirit is the grand communicator and we are blessed to feel of each other’s spirit. I think it is what brings us close together and bonds our friendships.
It rained all night and most of the day. The roads were very wet. We missed the place where we needed to turn and a few minutes later got off the major roadway at Mixco, Guatemala. It looked like we were in the midst of traveling in time,…..colorful, a street teeming with people and only the cars gave it a touch of the modern. It felt far removed from the modern roads, buildings and people that we were surrounded by when we arrived at the church.
Dick dozed off reading this afternoon. I ended up laying down on the bed and slept for two hours. That is the first nap I have had for months and months. After our Sunday dinner of pancakes and sausage, I made brownies…..my first baking experience in Guatemala. I finally had all the ingredients I needed and a pan to bake them in. I’ll cut them in awhile and take some to our neighbors.