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Guatemala City, Guatemala
We have been called as missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve with the Perpetual Education Fund in the Central America Area. We are living in Guatemala City, Guatemala and we work at the area office. Our assignment is to visit with the Stake PEF Specialists in all seven countries, to train and assist them in this inspired program.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Week of November 10th to Nov 16th 2008

10 November 2008…..Monday
Another day at the office. For someone who has spent almost 48 years at home, this is an adjustment for me, to get up, get ready, and leave every day. We had a lot of things to do today. We didn’t finish all of it but we will work on it tomorrow. I got the 19 local specialists emailed for their monthly report. I got a great email from one of the fund participants in Belize. When Dick hands me something to type up I am always grateful when it is in English. When it is in Spanish I struggle more, but I have spell check for the Spanish typing, and for that I am grateful.
Family Home Evening was at the Johnson’s tonight. He is a lawyer, here on assignment with the company he works for to do work for the Church. They live half a block away in a beautiful apartment on the 12th floor. They have a fantastic view of the city. Our lesson was on preparedness and we assembled 72 hour emergency kits for each of us. We put all the contents in Mylar bags and then sealed them. The twelve missionaries in our apartment building walked together…..safety in numbers…..we hope.

11 November 2008…..Tuesday

Now that we are in the dry season and haven’t had any rain for a couple of weeks, the Americans are saying how dry they feel. It still isn’t as dry as the Antelope Valley. On the other hand, I never felt the humidity was bad during the rainy season. My hair had the droops but I was never uncomfortable with the humidity.
We spent time at the office with Tilleys, working on plans for a trip to Belize the first part of December. We bought a chocolate house from one of the men at the office. His wife makes them. It looks like a traditional gingerbread house but is made totally of chocolate. That works for me. It was Q70 (less than $10). It makes a darling Christmas decoration and it will be fun to eat afterwards.
This evening we met at the Taylor’s apartment with the rest of the group about doing service for the Lion’s Club. We are planning on making fleece blankets for about 50 children. There were other ideas presented as to what we might do and some of the young women and Relief Society sisters are willing to make some of the quilts.
Last Saturday a new missionary arrived. She is Sister Thibault from Maryland. She is the mental health specialist for Central America. She was widowed a few years ago and this is her second mission. She lives in the same apartment building as some of the other single sisters. We are getting another missionary couple later tonight, Elder and Sister Blackburn from Hawaii. They will be the Central America Area auditors and will replace the Kerns who are going home in a couple of weeks. They will move into our building. That will make 7 out of the 15 apartments in our building to be occupied by Mormon missionaries.

12 November 2008…..Wednesday
The weather has been a little warmer and very pleasant. There is grayness to the sky that comes from burning sugar cane fields many, many miles away. We bought lunch today from the red car. This time she had tacos. They were stuffed with beef and cabbage and then fried. Very greasy. Of course, we like grease. Tilley’s emailed us this afternoon and said they were going to PriceSmart and would we like to go. So, we left the office at 3:15 and went with them. First we stopped at a store called La Puerta del Sol. They told us they have American products but they’re not cheap. We bought wonderful black licorice. I finally found two items I have looked for since we came: marshmallow cream so I can make fudge and poppy seeds so I can make Mother’s poppy seed bread. I bought sliced almonds and was thrilled to get two one pound bags so I can make my almond crunch. Then we went to PriceSmart. I found sliced almonds that Costco never had back home. The pound bag was one third the price of the one pound size I bought at the other store.
We didn’t stop at the office to get our car. We will just ride to work with Tilleys tomorrow. When we were putting groceries away Rexene invited us over for dinner. She did some spicy chicken wings and I collected various things I had and we enjoyed a pleasant dinner. Time now to study Spanish.
I discovered a new sound today. In the underground parking garage at PriceSmart there are “guards” directing the vehicles. They have a whistle in their mouth and they blow it almost constantly. I think it must be related to all the horn honking here. They all like noise. Anyway, it sounded like giving all the grandsons a whistle and letting them blow to their hearts content.

13 November 2008…..Thursday
We rode to the office with Tilleys. We got some basic things done and at 10:15 am we got in their car again and drove to the temple. This time I went through the veil in Spanish with the help of a card to read. It was a wonderful feeling. I love the peace I feel while I am there. It breaks my heart to know that demonstrations and picketing have gone on at the Los Angeles Temple. Sandi Stratton emailed and said there was a demonstration at the San Diego Temple. They chose to do it last Sunday, thinking they would disturb everyone arriving for services. Must have been a great shock for anti-Mormons to discover that we do not conduct any meetings at our temples on Sunday and therefore no one was there.
After the temple we went to Pizza Hut and then back to the office. We picked up our car and went to Paiz and did grocery shopping. After we got home we met the new missionary couple that arrived Tuesday night. They and Tilleys came to our apartment and visited. They are Bill and Adele Blackburn from Hawaii. We all hit it off great with them. He served a mission in ARGENTINA in the early sixties. He named Tandil as one of the places he served and Dick had been branch president there in 1959. They got home four months ago from serving a mission in Mexico City with PEF, so we have to pick their brain and find out the things they were doing with the Fund. As we talked, Rexene and Adele discovered they both graduated from Provo High, several years apart, and had been in the same stake. Elder Blackburn grew up in Porterville. He was surprised that we knew where that was. He didn’t know the Badders but I would bet they know people in common. It just seems that we have a lot of common connections. We think they will be an enjoyable addition to our special group.
Last night Dick talked to Dana and tonight he talked to Dennis on Skype. We think Skype is a great find and we love the connection with our family.

14 November 2008…..Friday

All the work at the office continues to move forward. I walked the steps to the fourth floor twice to talk to Tilleys so we could coordinate our Sunday meetings with both of our callings. I would like to say I walked for the exercise, but the elevator was being serviced. Actually, I really enjoy walking. Sitting at the desk from 7:30 till 3:30 most days is hard on the body. Almost everyone around us leaves the office at lunch time but we eat a sandwich at our desk. I bought “cup of noodles” and there is hot water available, so I enjoy that occasionally.
We slid the two beds together. We have been sleeping in a double bed size (matrimonial bed) and we are pretty crowded, so now we have it combined with the semi-matrimonial bed so we have a larger than king size bed. We will try that for awhile and see how it works for us.
I discovered that I didn’t have the pie crust recipe that I wanted to use tomorrow so I emailed all the girls in the family to see if they had it, plus my good friend Margaret in Atlanta who gave me the recipe.

15 November 2008…..Saturday

This really was a preparation day. I work much slower than I used to so I am grateful for a small apartment. I got it cleaned and laundry done. Our stackable washer/dryer doesn’t do very big loads but I am so grateful for the convenience of having it in our apartment. We talked with and saw Alison’s family on Skype. Dick talked with Jeff today and Mark called so we saw his family. Dick called Santa Maria and talked to Jon. We are still enjoying the fact that we can have conversations on the phone or the computer through Skype.

No one in the family had the recipe I wanted for pie crust and there was no reply from Margaret. Dick got on Skype information and came up with Thompson’s phone number in Georgia and called Margaret. It was so good to hear her voice, and she gave me her wonderful recipe again. Then I went in the kitchen and made lemon pies for Dick’s birthday. At 7 pm the missionaries in our apartment building joined us for pie and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Dick.

Elder and Sister King

Elder and Sister Taylor

Elder and Sister Tilley

Sister Jones and Sister Rowley

They all enjoyed the pie. There wasn’t even so much as a crumb left on their plates. They talked about how flaky the crust was. Thanks to Margaret and a recipe that doesn’t have to be rolled out, just pressed into the pan. For future reference and for the readers of the blog wondering about it…….here it is:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup oil
Mix together and it will be a gloppy mess. Then add
1/3 cup cold water and stir. It will change in appearance and form a ball. Divide in two. Press into two pie tins. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes, (unless you are in Guatemala…then you had better lower your oven and readjust your time)

As we were finishing the pie we heard loud noises. My first thought was, is that gunshots? My next thought was, is there a revolution going on? It was so loud that the car alarms were going off. Those who have been here longer had a clue. So we all went up on the roof and watched the fireworks explode into the sky. It was just like being at Jet Hawk stadium in Lancaster on the 4th of July. We think it must all have been part of lighting the huge Christmas tree at the Obelisk.
Before everyone came for dessert, Dick and Jim gave me a blessing. I have had some minor health issues going on that may just be the results of getting older and age can’t be cured.

16 November 2008…..Sunday

Today is Dick’s 72nd birthday….and to think that he was 22 when we had our first date. We left with Tilleys at 7am this morning and met a brother at the office who guided us to Central Stake. He happened to be the stake patriarch. Since we had plenty of time, we followed him in is little red Volkswagen beetle around some beautiful old buildings and he would call Dick’s cell phone and point out places of interest. You could tell he was proud of his beautiful city….old intermingled with new. We attended all the meetings in Centro Ward and then Dick met with the stake specialist. This was a big ward and very much a family ward with a lot of children. As I sat in Relief Society with a sweet, “older” sister ( like me) who literally took me with her and sat with me, I listened to someone reading out of the manual. Even with my Spanish manual in front of me I could hardly follow along, she talked so fast. I sat there thinking that I will never be able to understand and speak Spanish.
I tried to have an hour nap this afternoon but it turned into a quiet time of meditation and prayer. At 2:30 pm we drove to the Montufa building to meet the specialist from Nimanjuyu Stake so she could guide us to her stake center for a PEF class she was teaching. It’s a good thing we had someone to follow as I doubt we could have found it on our own. She is one smart woman. She went to 3 years of college here, then she got a Fulbright Scholarship and went to school in Vermont for 2 years. For the last 15 years she has worked for Roche Pharmaceuticals here in Guatemala City. She has five ward specialists working with her in PEF. She drew a map for us to come home because we wanted to leave by 4:30 to allow time to travel and get lost and be home before dark. We missed the turn at 18th. No surprise. We only saw 2 street signs…one for 50th and one for 34th. She had said not to worry that if we missed a turn, as long as we went straight we would get back to where she met us. It did work and we ended up on the same street we had been on this morning and Dick knew how to get back home. “You can’t get there from here” is my phrase for traveling here. We could see the condos and high rise in our neighborhood when we were traveling, but there is no street coming across the area. Thus, we had to go north and then back south. We were back home in 30 minutes.
Today we have had a family fast for Jill who is having surgery on Thursday. We pray that she feels the power of fasting and prayer from her loved ones to bring blessings upon her body to heal and upon the doctors and those who will care for her. She feels like she is in good hands and that is important. She has lost 160+ pounds and now she will have excess skin removed from many areas of her body to complete this project she started in June of 2007. She has shown such determination and commitment to the process and in doing so has eliminated the need for all meds for cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. We are very proud of her but we worry about this 9 hour surgery and going home the same day.
We broke our fast with avocado sandwiches and the last two pieces of lemon pie. Tilleys called and suggested a game of dominoes for Dick’s birthday so they are coming over now. The internet is not working for any of us in the apartments. I will take my laptop to the office tomorrow and send my journal.

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