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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.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week of Janurary 12th-Jan 18th 2009

12 January 2009…..Monday
Dick went to the office early today to meet with the stake specialist for Molino Stake. He never showed up. Dick came back home and we went to the CCM to get a yellow fever shot along with some young missionaries there. We didn’t need it to come to Guatemala, but if we eventually travel to Costa Rica or Panama we will have to show proof that we have it. Doctor Taylor was painless giving the injection.
Back at the office Reynaldo was working on PEF statistics for Guatemala and was doing it in English. He wanted me to check through it and see if he used the proper English words and phrasing. His English is very good and the headings he wrote were appropriate. A little later he invited me into Claudia’s office where they were working on a slide presentation. They had some ideas of what they wanted narrated with the slides, but again wanted my input. I sat down and we worked on it and I wrote things in English. Then they had me read the things I wrote and we correlated it with the slides. After three times of going through the 40 second slide show, Claudia put earphones with a microphone on me. I went through it once and she declared it finished. Reynaldo added some lovely background music to it and it was ready to be presented to the DTA. The DTA for every area reports to the presiding bishop in SLC. The DTA is responsible for the secular activities as opposed to the priesthood responsibilities. There is an upcoming world conference for all church DTA’s in Panama. Our DTA over Central America wants to do a short presentation on the Perpetual Education Fund in Central America. He liked the presentation Reynaldo and Claudia gave him this afternoon. So this slide show has my narration (who is that voice anyway? It sure doesn’t sound like me) and near the end is a picture of me with Karine Jennifer Lopez in Belize and a picture of Dick and me at our desks at the conclusion. Just another day in the life of a missionary.
This afternoon Dick went upstairs to see Brother Robertson. He is flying to UT for his son’s wedding and asked if we needed anything from the states. Kristen put together a few of my clothes that I had left there after our summer travels. Dick gave him Kristen’s phone numbers and the address for Utah Valley Pediatrics, where she works. He looked at it and said the address looks familiar. It happens that his daughter works in the same building in a dentist’s office. Less than two hours later Kristen emailed us to say they had picked up the bag of clothes. The son had a dental appointment this afternoon so he stopped by Kristen’s office. We are still laughing at the coincidence that both our daughters are in the same building. I am looking forward to a few things that will vary my wardrobe.
Pouch mail today….one card. I made Dick an anniversary card on Shutterfly with our picture on it. I was hoping it would make it by next week but it came today.
Tonight was FHE, taught by Hermana Villegas and Hermana Gramajo. They are being transferred from the Central Mission and will be out proselyting. We got home and when I sat down to do my journal we had a call on Skype. It was Kelsey holding baby Ava. She is 12 days old and so beautiful. We enjoyed our conversation with Kelsey and Blake.

13 January 2009…..Tuesday
Today has been full and busy. This morning I finished the last of the 63 Spanish lessons on vocabulary. Each lesson contained 18 to 30 words. It doesn’t mean I remember all the words but I have progressed. Now tomorrow I will begin working on grammar. I am not looking forward to that. I was doing it with my tutor before and during the MTC but, for me, it is the hardest part of learning Spanish. I am glad to reach this landmark but my brain is dreading the hard work of conjugation and tenses.
There are binders in President Clarke’s office that holds records of various things that take place here in Central America. I will type up our doings with the Perpetual Education Fund for the last part of 2008 and also begin writing for the current year. I took my laptop to the office today and began going through my pictures to find ones that I can use. It is a history and is also used for the next missionary couples to read and find out what things have been done. I found the record that the Jarvis’ kept. They were PEF and left in 2005. There were no PEF missionaries in the intervening time and what we do is entirely different from the things they did. Since they were here Reynaldo and Claudia have been hired and many good things have happened with the Fund. We talked to the Jarvis’ on the phone after we got our call because they saw our picture and the article Jill had placed in the Inland Empire LDS paper.
About noon, Hermano Barrios, PEF specialist from EL Molina Stake, came by our office. He had missed yesterday morning’s appointment. The three of us went into the conference room and talked for 45 minutes. He is serving as specialist but he is a member of the stake presidency. His comment was, “ there are many people but few workers.” So, the load is always heavier for those who are willing to work in the kingdom. I admire these wonderful, faithful saints in Guatemala. The hard workers are striving to help the church grow and those serving with the Perpetual Education Fund are striving to help their fellow man progress. So many people just get stuck in the poverty of their parents. When a young person gets his first job and has a little money in his pocket, after helping with family expenses, he thinks he has all he needs and cannot see past tomorrow. Another thing that keeps some from using the Fund is the fear of paying back the loan. They need to put their trust in the Lord. There are many, many success stories of skills learned or college degrees earned, that will forever pull families out of poverty. They start repaying the loan when they start school at five US dollars a month. Their payments increase 6 months after studies are completed and are still small by our standards. They have 8 years to repay.
Meantime, Reynaldo had sent a report up to President Clarke’s office. They requested that it be done in English instead of Spanish. So, Reynaldo asked Dick to translate it into English. That took some time and when he was done I typed it and emailed it to Reynaldo so he could re-do the report. As soon as Dick finished that he wrote up some notes in Spanish to use tomorrow in an early morning meeting and then I typed them.
We finished just about 4:30pm, packed up our things and met Tilleys at the car. They had borrowed Bawden’s bigger car and we went and picked up Elder and Sister Williams at the Casa de Huéspedes where they live. They are senior missionaries from Roosevelt, UT, serving a temple mission. He is 83 and this is their second mission. We all went to Portal de Angeles for a delicious steak dinner. The huge windows by our table overlooked the valley. As we were talking and gazing out the window, I spotted the temple, not very far away. With the winding roads and hills and changing directions while driving, none of us had any idea that the temple would be within our view.

14 January 2009…..Wednesday
Dick was up and out of here very early with Bill Blackburn for a 6 am video conference at the office. There was only one other brother there. It seems the meeting was changed till tomorrow and for some reason they never got the email telling them of the change. They will repeat their early morning tomorrow.
The day went well and we kept busy. I took my laptop so I could work on the PEF history of our service in CA (Central America) but didn’t ever get to it. We left about 3:30 pm and went to Cemaco to buy a mat for our shower. It is just a little slippery and since we are just a little older than we used to be we decided it was a good idea. I bought a paring knife (don’t know how I’ve gotten along without one) and metal measuring spoons (the plastic ones died in the dishwasher) and a screw driver for Dick. I bought a small flexible ice cube tray that fits perfectly in my nightstand drawer so I now have all my pairs of earrings in their own little cubicle. We stopped to get Dick’s white shirts at the cleaners on the way home and congratulated ourselves for how well we found our way. Leaving the mall, making the next right, going two streets, making a left, turning right at the next right pass the car dealership and straight on down the road. It’s only taken 4 months to be able to find it easily with all the one-way roads and every other obstacle that the city throws up.
While I cleaned the kitchen Dick got to use his screw driver. This is a man who loves his tools and he has been deprived of them. He used it to take the shower head apart that we had bought new a couple of months ago. The water flow has been so low that it is hard to even rinse off. We blamed it on low water pressure, but he found a rock in the pipe so the problem is solved. I hope.

15 January 2009…..Thursday
The month is half way over! This morning Dick and Elder Blackburn were back at the office before 6 am and this time the meeting took place. Dick never met a church meeting that he didn’t like and this was no exception. It was a meeting of all the area Seventy in Central America, conducted as a video conference. Dick and Bill both got to speak a few minutes about their mission responsibilities and the desire to be able to speak to groups of stakes and do training. We hope to get invitations from the various brethren to travel to their areas.
I started my studying of Spanish grammar today. I will use the same 63 TALL lessons I just used for vocabulary. It is installed on my computer and I am very grateful for this program produced by the church. Each lesson offers grammar based on the previous vocabulary lessons. The lessons are all based on “Preach My Gospel” and on various “Tasks.” There is no way I will get through a complete lesson at one sitting.
This busy week continued at the office. My project of working on the history of PEF since we got there will take a lot of time. It just seems that there is so much to do. We left for awhile with Tilleys to go to Office Depot. We bought a screen cleaner for our laptop and it works very well.
My body really feels the effect of sitting at the computer all day. Cooking and cleaning is easier on me than sitting. So, today I took a couple of breaks and walked up and down the stairs to loosen all the kinks in my neck, back and legs.
Tonight we watched President Bush on TV, giving his farewell speech and we are filled with gratitude for a man who has the courage of his convictions and who has kept us safe these last 7 ½ years. He is a man of integrity and honor. There was a knock on the door about 7:30 when we were preparing to read Sunday’s lesson in Español. It was Carolyn Taylor with a plate of fudge and a lovely poem she had written about “Neighbors.” Thirty minutes later there was Rexene’s familiar knock and she had a small loaf of hot bread…..that will be breakfast tomorrow. Our neighbor’s are a great blessing to us.

16 January 2009…..Friday
This has been one of our busiest weeks at the office since coming to Guatemala. We still have things on last Monday’s list to get done. Getting replies to emails and returned phone calls is always the hardest part. Tomorrow is Reynaldo’s 32nd birthday so this morning we stopped at Paiz on the way to the office and bought bottles of Sprite and Orange Fanta. Claudia brought the cake. At 11am those in our area of the office went into the conference room and sang happy birthday to him and ate. We had told him that we and Bawdens wanted to take him to lunch. Others had already planned that so the four of us went along with Claudia, Kelvin, René, Reynaldo and Marta. We went to Applebee’s a couple of miles away and we didn’t even know there was one in Guate. I had the salad that I like so well in the US but the lettuce here leaves a lot to be desired.

Tilleys invited us and Blackburns for dinner tonight. We made another stop at Paiz on the way home and bought Pop’s Ice Cream. I made ganache out of the rest of my cream so I will heat it and we will have hot fudge sundaes after we play dominoes.

17 January 2009…..Saturday
It has been a chilly day. The lower part of our bedroom window doesn’t close completely tight. The kitchen window needs a little new insulation. Therefore, when the wind is blowing on a cool day it is chilly inside. We had some dark clouds but no rain.
At 2:30 pm we drove to Utatlan Stake for an Institute Open House. We set up our materials and visited with young people. It felt like being in a young single adult ward again. One of them was one of the PEF specialists we have met with. Another one we met a couple of months ago and he is a high counselor over PEF….a young high counselor which is pretty prevalent here. In the background was a video from EFY (Especially for Youth) at BYU. What a blessing that inspired program has been in the lives of our four youngest children and a number of our grandchildren. EFY is being expanded to four new countries outside of the U.S. and one of those places is Guatemala. What a blessing for the youth here. It will only be open to about six to eight stakes so hopefully it will expand in the future.

We left Utatlan at 5:15 and made it home in 15 minutes. Not bad for a Saturday evening.

18 January 2009…..Sunday
Last night as we were about ready for bed Dick’s cell phone rang. It was Brother Moran of Villa Nueva Stake. He and his wife are specialists that we trained a few weeks back. He had some questions for Dick because they were holding a planning workshop today. This morning Dick drove over to the office for info for him but was back here before 8 am. Since we have met with all the stake specialists in Guatemala City, we ventured to a stake outside the city. We drove up past Antigua to Chimaltenango Stake and visited Chimaltenango Ward. They don’t have a stake specialist but Dick talked to the new stake president during the week and next Sunday he wants to meet with us and learn more about the Fund. So, next Sunday we will go there again. It is a very big ward and there are two more chapels within a few miles distance. Tilleys were able to check out all three for security.
I am getting very used to having an afternoon nap on Sunday since we don’t spend all of our time lost. After we had dinner we went up to Taylor’s apartment. They had all the senior sisters for dinner. Sister Sinclair, the nurse for the Central Mission is going home tomorrow to North Carolina and I wanted to give her a hug goodbye.

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