The day has finally arrived. We are sitting in the airport in Dallas. We got everything pulled together today, had our last MTC breakfast, and weighed our luggage one last time. All four weighed under 50 pounds each, barely, and only because I have one of Dick’s shoes in my carry on. Our driver picked us up fifteen minutes early and we were ready. He served his mission in our mission and so all the way to the airport he talked about Guatemala. He is the same driver who shuttled us around last Saturday to the BYU Bookstore. We got through security just fine. It is always a hassle. Dick is always pulled out and checked over because his bionic knees set off the alarm. Plus, we have to pull the computer out of the case and his breathing machine, also. When we got to our gate we didn’t even sit down when we were asked if we wanted to take the flight to Dallas that had already loaded. We said yes, so we left two hours early. As we were flying into the airport we wondered what Mark must have felt when he flew into this airport to serve his mission thirteen years ago. It gave us time to have a gourmet meal at McDonald’s at the airport. Twice we had women stop and speak to us. The first had parents serving as mission president in Tennessee. She grew up in San Luis Obispo. The other served a welfare mission in the Philippines. Dick has been calling all the kids to say goodbye. I choose not to talk. I am doing great and would rather not have
to say goodbye again.
September 7, 2008…..Sunday
We landed safely last night after 8 pm. As soon as we deplaned the humidity hit me and my hair. We had a long walk on a long corridor but getting through immigration was a breeze. All of our luggage arrived and that was a relief. I got a cart and we loaded the four big suitcases for Dick to push and I pulled the two carry on cases. As we left the terminal there was a roped area where people were picking up passengers. I picked out Elder and Sister Bawden as quickly as they spotted us. They are the welfare couple for Central America. I have corresponded with her by email in the last three months. We hope to move into an apartment on Monday so for now we are guests of Dean and Marilyn Bawden. They have a three bedroom apartment that is very nice, on the fifth floor of the building we hope to move into. They are from Sandy, UT. We talked for awhile and he took us to meet Elder and Sister (Kim and Carolyn) Taylor. He is the mission doctor and they are from Salt Lake. There are six missionary couples living here in this apartment building. I got shirts ironed last night and pulled out things we will need for today and tomorrow. I can hardly wait to unpack in our own place and put the suitcases away for the next 23 months.
Church started at 10 am today. We three couples traveled together. Couple missionaries who are not proselyting missionaries assigned to wards can choose where they want to attend. There is an English speaking ward and other ward and branches closer but we drove about 30 minutes to a branch because the branch president was a friend of the Bawdens. The sad part is that the branch president and his wife died in a plane crash two weeks ago. The plane was a small charter plane carrying members of the Church who were working on plans for a welfare project here in Guatemala. The Bawdens were supposed to be on the flight, too, but they had decided to drive. For several hours Church headquarters thought they had perished, too. Ten people died. The branch president and his wife had sons in their late teens and a fifteen year old daughter. The project was Elder Bawdens from inception; his vision for a five year plan to bring power, water, stoves, schools, farming projects and construction projects to a Mayan people who have been passed up by time. There are only dirt roads into the area. All the projects will give them opportunity for work. They already grown Mandarin’s but many are too small to be bought for market because they don’t prune or fertilize. One of the areas has 775 dwellings and 5 LDS chapels. Fifty percent are members of the Church. Elder Bawden is a go-getter and has many things donated and the Church will fund the rest.
Our Church experience today was wonderful. Almost everyone shook our hands and I was hugged by many women and teenage girls. They are such a loving people and I love them already. Some of the men speak English, probably because they have served missions in the U.S. Today was Fast Sunday and testimony meeting. There was a constant stream of people going up to share their testimony. I understood everything one little boy said. I could pick out words and phrases in testimony meeting but most of the people speak too fast for me. I hope in time my brain and Spanish will catch up. President and Sister Lopez of the Guatemala City North Mission (not our mission) were there. She is a lovely lady who joined the Church in East Los Angeles. They lived in Mohave at one point and he worked at China Lake. Sunday School was enjoyable. We got to take our turn reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. Relief Society was very much like being at home. There were announcements about going to pick strawberries and canning them, which might have been their way of saying they would make jam. The teacher did a good job teaching a lesson from the Liahona magazine. A young father stuck his head in the door to get the diaper bag from his wife so he could change a diaper. Children came to the door before the meeting was over to find their mothers. Just like I have experienced thousands of times in other wards and other places. There was another ward meeting in the building so there were frequent sounds of children’s voices, plus the crowing of a rooster. It was my welcome to Guatemala. I love it! And, another thing that sparked a memory of Jessi, Kayla, and Sydney…there was a young women texting before Church. Our three granddaughters are the texting queens.
This evening we went to our Mission President’s home for our break the fast meal. There were about 20 couples and 5 senior sister missionaries. There are missionaries involved in all aspects of the Church. We have a pot luck meal the first Sunday of each month.
We are tired tonight. Tomorrow we will leave at 7 am for the area office. Hopefully, we will find out exactly what we are going to be doing for the next 23 months. We also hope to be able to get into our apartment tomorrow. We don’t have internet connection yet and we are hoping it will all come together in a couple of weeks. I think that is wishful thinking.
Our Apartment: We love it!!