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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 24, 2008

Week of November 17th to Nov 23rd 2008

17 November 2008…..Monday
Time passes so quickly. Today would have been Bailey’s 13th birthday. We had her for only four days, but she has affected our lives forever.
I took the laptop to work today because we had not had internet since Saturday afternoon. I was able to send last week’s journal entry to the kids. I had two computers going for awhile, but it was a very busy workday. We had a new missionary couple come to the office, Elder and Sister Brown. They are headed a few hours away for their assignment of teaching English at a medical school. As we talked with them the small world connections started forming. He had served a mission in Central America and knew Elder King. They are from Prescott, AZ and Dick found out that he had been a counselor to Garth Hansen, who had been Dick’s companion in the mission field. Dick saw Garth last year after they moved to Springville, UT. The Browns had been neighbors to another missionary’s cousin. Yes, it is a small world! The Tilley’s came into our office at lunch time and Bawden’s and we ended up going with them to Wendy’s for lunch. The hamburger and fries tasted pretty good…..and the chocolate frosty, too. Then it was back to the office to work on all the stuff on our desks.
When we got home Tilley’s door was open and they invited us to come over for dinner…..meat loaf. We laughed because that has always been Dick’s birthday and Father’s Day dinner. As we finished the meal Sister Jones and Sister Rowley walked by, climbing the stairs to their apartment. Tilleys invited them in and we cleared off the dirty dishes and they sat down and ate. We want to be just like Rexene and Jim when we grow up.
Family Home Evening was at the Kings on the fifth floor. There was a huge group tonight. We had a great lesson based on President Monson’s conference address, “Finding Joy in the Journey.” Life is good and even when we struggle there is much joy to be found. Then we had a “game.” Each of us had to stand and tell about our companion. The winner would be the person who kept their discourse closest to one minute. Mine was 55 seconds. Dick’s was 90 seconds. Those who hit 90 seconds were stopped. Anyway, it was not like a typical game and we learned more about one another. Plus, we each enjoyed hearing our spouse (companion) tell good things about us.

18 November 2008…..Tuesday
I finally got an answer from my last participant in Belize. I talked to her husband again. She had a baby girl this month. I will take a gift when we travel to Belize in a few weeks and hope I get to meet her. At 10 am we went in the conference room with Reynaldo, Claudia, Hermana Saenz, and another sister who I think will probably replace Hermana Saenz as Call Center director. We did a video conference call with the call center directors in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Pretty interesting to see everyone on the screen. At the conclusion Claudia asked me to say the prayer. My Spanish prayers are pretty basic. I don’t know enough to pray more than a couple of minutes which is long enough anyway. Most of that time is taken up with pauses as I try to think of the right words and conjugation.
At noon we walked down the street to the Chinese restaurant for the BMW in Guatemala luncheon. That stands for Beautiful Mormon Women. It was our first luncheon and was organized by Sister Kerns who will be heading back to the states in two weeks when she and her husband have completed their 2 year mission. There were 20 of us there, all American, most of us missionaries, but some the wives of mission presidents and area authorities for the Church, and others who are here because their husbands are employed by the Church or for other companies down here. We will be meeting for lunch the third Tuesday of every month. For us missionaries who spend 24/7 with our spouses it felt different, going out to eat without them. Dick and Jim went out to lunch.
This is the land of Eternal Spring, but this is a pretty cold spring to me. I need to buy some warmer clothes. I put on my sweat suit when we got home and it feels so good.

19 November 2008…..Wednesday

I am still cold. It was 52 degrees when we got up and the high today, briefly, was 69 degrees. Plus, the wind was blowing about 30 mph…..just like Lancaster on a normal day. I am sitting at the computer in sweats with a fleece throw around me. This morning I saw something I haven’t seen before while on the way to the office. The volcano was clear as could be. No matter how clear the sky, the volcano has always been shrouded in clouds since we arrived here in September.
Mid-morning we went upstairs to Tilleys office and talked about our plans for our trip to Belize in two weeks. We bought empanadas from the red car for lunch. My computer mouse died and I had to wait about 45 minutes for a guy from the tech

20 November 2008…..Thursday
Today has been worrisome for me. Today Jill had the surgery she has hoped for. After losing 160+ pounds since June 2007 she has wanted surgery to remove all the loose skin. That happened today. She was in surgery about 9 hours. She has worked so hard and has overcome the need for medicine for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Dick just talked to Robert and Jill is in recovery now and the doctor said everything went well. The other thing I worry about…..she will go home tonight. Not being there to help her has left me with emotions trying to spill out.
At the office this morning Dick called the brother who we most want to meet while we are in Belize. He was one of the early participants with PEF. He will get at least one district fireside organized for us while we are there. He now works for the Church in the Facilities Management group which means he is the main contact that the Tilleys need for getting around to the various chapels for their security check. We look forward to the experience.
We left at 10:15 am with the Bawdens to go to the temple. The session was full. Five buses came from Honduras the day before with temple attenders. Such faithful people. The room probably holds 25-30 and there are two ordinance rooms. Dick and I were witness couple again. I found that I did a better job of understanding Spanish this time. We had things to do at the office so we didn’t go out to lunch. I worked on a flyer for the Belize fireside that Claudia will refine and then we will email it to Belize.
When we got home I lay on the bed and actually slept a little, trying to get rid of a headache. I baked my first cake in Guatemala. The proof will be tomorrow when we eat it for a surprise party for Rexene’s birthday. Instead of my candy bar cake being 4 layers, I baked it in the only cake pan I have…..a 9x13. I will top it tomorrow with the chocolate/almond filling and then put whipped cream on each piece as I serve it.

21 November 2008…..Friday
What a great day! We were busy at the office. Then we were called into the conference room and there we had birthday cake for Dick and three others who had birthdays in November. Tilleys were going to go see the relief map of Guatemala with Manolo, a stake president who is over Facilities Management for the area of Central America. We went along. It is extraordinary. Guatemala is the only country in the world that has a relief map. It probably covers about half an acre but it looked huge. It is in a lovely, quiet park and they charge for us to get in. Admission every place is always cheaper for the Guatemalans than for us foreigners. The map helps put everything into perspective. The northeast area is flat, all the way to Belize and the Caribbean. The west is very mountainous until it flattens out and drops down to the Pacific and there are many volcanoes in the country. There is stairs at either end of the map to climb and look down on the map. I have carried my camera everywhere since we got here, but in my effort to not have such a heavy purse, I have left it home this week. Now I wish that I had it with me
On the way back we went to Zurich Chocolateria for lunch. Dick and I had a delicious quiche and I had chocolate milk to drink….scrumptious. (Jill and Robert says I write about food…..a lot…..they are right.) Back at the office we got some things done. It was cold in the office today. I enjoyed my little heater and I am very glad I brought it home to use.
We rode with Bawdens to Estancia for dinner. We were there to surprise Rexene for her birthday dinner. Even the men were cold in the restaurant. I never expected to be this cold in Central America. I need some warmer clothes. Dick and I both had Milanese. He had the kind I make and I had Milanese Napolitano like Jeff used to talk of having in Argentina. It was topped with marinara sauce and Mozzarella cheese. It was very good. We all came back here for birthday cake. Today was also Matthew’s 5th birthday.
After everyone left we had a Skype call from Jill. She was trying hard to put on a good show for Mom and Dad but I know she was in a lot of pain and discomfort. She has a long road ahead of her.

22 November 2008…..Saturday
My favorite kind of day…a stay at home day. I did laundry….6 loads in our small washer and dryer. I cleaned. I cooked. I put black beans in the crock pot and cooked them for a 6 hours with hamburger and assorted seasonings. We ate them like a soup and we had avocado and flour tortillas with cheese. I made my hot chocolate mix to share with our friends and co-workers in the coming weeks. The little space heater is going now to take the chill off the apartment. I never thought we would need a heater in Guatemala but if feels so good.

23 November 2008…..Sunday

We left the apartment this morning after 8 am with Tilleys and went to Lomas del Norte Ward, Atlántico Stake. We had been there in September for our first meeting with a stake specialist. One of the young sister missionaries there was Tilley’s neighbor when they lived in Washington state and they wanted to take some holiday things to her. Relief Society and Priesthood meetings were first. After that we met the specialist, Evelin Vasquez and her boyfriend in the hallway and found out she has been released from her calling. When they get a new specialist we will take another trip to their stake. After partaking of the sacrament we left because we had an appointment at noon at the Montufar building with the specialist from Villa Hermosa Stake.
Brother Cerrate was waiting for us when we arrived along with the high councilor over the young single adults and the high councilor over the PEF. Wow! These are organized brethren and the work is in good hands. They have 10 units in their stake and five of the bishops and the stake president and one of his councilors have not completed their education. They are all under 30 years of age and qualify for the Fund. We look for good things in Villa Hermosa Stake.
I heated my left over bean soup and mashed them up with some good old bacon grease into refried beans. We are taking them next door when we have dinner with the Tilleys…..the world´s most perfect neighbors!

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