Last night we saw baby Ava on Skype and even heard her cry and that brought tears to my eyes. She is beautiful! She had to stay in the hospital an extra day because of jaundice and they had to pump her stomach because she swallowed so much amniotic fluid. That took her weight down from 7 lbs. 3 oz. to just over 6 lbs. She will be a toddler when we return home but Skype will let us see her grow.
Today was very busy at the office with everyone back and so much to do. I worked on my Belize contacts and on my December PEF specialist report for Elder Clarke. This evening we went up to apartment 402 to give Hermana Rowley a hug and tell her goodbye. Her 18 month mission is over and she returns to San Diego tomorrow.
One thing has struck me about this week. I am on Journal #20….that means 20 weeks into our mission. Our call is for 23 months and that equals about 100 weeks. Our mission is 1/5 of the way through. We feel like we have barely begun. There is so much to do and so much Spanish that I want to learn. Time waits for no one.
Today is Donovan’s birthday. That is our third birthday in the family this year, and the year has barely begun. Robert had an appendectomy last night and is home now.
6 January 2009…..Tuesday
We got mail. We now have more pictures by my desk: one of the Mission Viejo Graff family and school pictures of Cameron and Jessica; a family group of Myrna’s family; school pictures of Jill’s boys. I love the pictures of my family.
Another busy day getting reports and other items taken care of. We went into the conference room for awhile and talked with Blackburns. They will soon start traveling for their auditing position and we talked about us going along and doing PEF meetings while they are doing training for Church audits. We will probably be able to work out some times together. We also talked to them about PEF as their last mission was PEF in Mexico. What they did there and what we do here is totally different. In Mexico they did all the monthly calls to participants. Here we have a call center of volunteers who make the calls. There they worked with prospective participants and approved applications. Here we have Reynaldo, the PEF director, and Claudia, PEF supervisor. They had no stake specialists like we do in Central America. Central America has made great progress with PEF. Tonight we are invited to Las Victorias stake to a stake bishops meeting to talk to them about the Fund.
About noon Taylors came into the office and invited us to go to lunch with them and Bawdens. We went to Los Cebollines, a Mexican restaurant. We ordered nachos and enjoyed them. Mexican restaurants aren’t very popular in Guatemala.
Tilleys knocked on our door when we got home and said they were going with us tonight and would do the driving. As security missionaries they are very concerned about us couples driving after dark and especially into the area we will be going tonight. They are our guardian angels. We met Fulvia Alvarado at the office and followed her to Las Victorias stake center where she serves as Stake PEF Specialist. President and Sister Torres arrived shortly after us. He was there to do a mission report with a couple of elders to the stake presidency and bishops. Tilleys, bless their hearts, waited in the foyer till 9 pm when we left the high council room. Fulvia had asked the Torres to lead us back to our area. The trip that had taken an hour going took less than 15 minutes coming home. We drove through some areas that we were glad to be out of. We stopped at Pollo Campero for ice cream and ended up having chicken and fries at 10 pm. It was a good evening and the stake presidency was very receptive to Fulvia, Dick and the Fund. The stake president is one of our newest participants. It was good exposure to each of the bishops and how the Fund operates.
7 January 2009…..Wednesday
Today we began a new routine. Dick drove the Hermanas to their office about 7:30 am. I have wanted to begin my day like a real missionary for a long time. So, we did individual scripture study and then I worked on my Spanish for about an hour before going to the office. We left home about 9 am and it was nice to begin my day studying and not leaving it till evening when I am tired. We had a really nice surprise. Dick’s driver’s license and our new credit card FINALLY arrived at the office. The pick pocket got the others on Nov 1st and everything was replaced and mailed to Jill within a week. The first time she sent them they were returned to her because the mail room in SLC rejected them. The second time she mailed them it worked like a charm……just took 6 weeks to get here.
After work we stopped at Paiz for a few groceries and then a number of us went to the Tilley’s for a Mexican dinner. It was most enjoyable and the food was great. Hermana Jones has a new companion to replace Hermana Rowley. Her companion is Hermana Lott from St. George, UT. She is a mission nurse. She is 23 and so Hermana Jones, who is 59, will be under young missionary rules which means she can’t turn on her TV and they will be limited to staying within the North Mission boundaries, though we all live in the South Mission boundaries. There are few “rules” for us senior missionaries.
8 January 2009…..Thursday
And the Guatemalan adventure continues. I love my new morning routine. I even have time for breakfast instead of taking something with me to eat at the office. We kept busy at the office. At noon Tilley’s called and said to meet them at the car. We went to McDonald’s for a bite of lunch. We sat at a table and ate and talked, and when we were ready to leave Rexene’s purse was missing. It was amazing to me. There was no one even near us that any of us saw. Rexene said a young female worker had been sweeping the floor. We really suspect she blithely used her broom to remove it from the floor where it was right between Rex and Jim and probably just swept it to some accomplice. So, it was their turn to cancel a credit card and get a new driver’s license. Their camera was in her purse. Of course, Elder Bawden jumped right on it when we got back to the office, because the Tilleys are the SECURITY missionaries. They send out a daily “security tip of the day” to all the senior missionaries. So, Dean sent out a safety tip to all of us about eating at McDonald’s and putting purses on the floor. We have all had a good laugh about it but we recall that we have been the only ones there with every missionary incident…..the slicing of Rex’s purse in Antigua, the picking of Dick’s pocket, and the stealing of Rexenes’ purse.
There was an earthquake in Costa Rica today. We got word when Dean was called and told about it. That is usual procedure because the Bawden’s calling is as welfare missionaries. A short time later he was called and told that all the missionaries in Costa Rica are safe and accounted for. The buildings were all safe except the temple where Moroni lost his trumpet. It had been damaged by lightening awhile back but the earthquake caused the trumpet to fall.
We spent an hour in Reynaldo’s office listening to a meeting on the computer that took place yesterday in SLC about PEF and updating computer information. It was 5 pm when we left the office. Dick dropped me off and went to the cleaners to get his shirts.
We took taquitos and went to Elder Clarke’s tonight for dinner and a football game via satellite. I came home with Tilleys at 9:30 and Dick came home with Bawdens at 11 pm.
I have struggled a lot in my own head about my expectations for being a missionary. I don’t want it to feel so much like a job. I want my spirituality to grow. I know the language is a huge roadblock to me and I think as it improves I will find more and more joy here. If the tower of Babel had never happened we would all be speaking the same language and I wouldn’t have to struggle to understand what is going on. I am very grateful for two conversations. First, with Adele who arrived last month but just finished their first mission three months before. She had the exact feelings I did when they served in Mexico. Then while I was chatting with Marilyn, the same feelings came forth. It gave me the courage to act on what I have talked about to Dick for my plans for the New Year, and that is to go to the office later and have time for my scriptures and my Spanish in the morning, not at night when I am tired. Last night Adele and I had quite awhile to talk while we were at the Tilleys and I appreciate the insight she has given me and validating my feelings. Today was our second day of our new schedule and I feel it is a wonderful answer to my prayers. I have come a long way toward being comfortable here in Guatemala in the last few months. I am more comfortable in the car as we become more familiar with the city. We don’t get lost as easily. But there are many crazy drivers here who don’t observe rules of the road. I am more comfortable with food, in eating and food preparation, but I am very careful. I am more comfortable in public places, though the markets (not grocery stores) make me cling to my purse as that is where thievery seems to pop up its ugly head….that is the markets and McDonalds. These are good steps for me.
9 January 2009…..Friday
It was not the usual day at the office. The work, emails and phone calls were all there, but it got pretty funny when Jim sent out an email saying they had found the culprit that stole Rexene’s purse. Attached to the email was a picture of two police officers carrying off Ronald McDonald. Then Bill Blackburn emailed that it was discrimination and not politically correct to make fun of people with big feet and orange hair. It was called “profiling.” Well, emails kept circulating amongst us missionaries. We got a lot of entertainment out of the theft of Rex’s purse. The funniest one came just as we were cleaning up our desks to leave. It was a “safety tip of the day.” It was from Preston King. He is so serious most of the time and it was extra funny because he sent it. It’s funny, too, because it is based on daily living in Guatemala.
Security Tip of the Day: (with my comments in parentheses)
Wear typical rather worn-out clothes with a dirty hat
Hire three body guards that are dressed the same as you
Don’t read e-mails that could strike fear in your heart (in other words, don’t read the security tip of the day)
Don’t ever eat out where Americans go
Don’t go into the office unless Security has verified the roads are safe within the last 12 hours on a different route than the last five used
Don’t go outside until you have the color warning code completely memorized (American Embassy guidelines)
Only ride on the outside of busses for best security (chicken busses have half a dozen people hanging on to the outside. I’m too chicken to ride one, besides, security missionaries tell us we can’t)
Buy a really big dog to take with you to run along beside
Never climb a live volcano unless you take your own hot dogs (Preston made it to the top where the lava flows)
Never miss memorizing the latest security tip of the day and always promise to comply
Don’t ever drive, but if you break this rule follow all back seat driving and screams
Take out additional life insurance – tip: the kids may want to contribute to a larger policy
If you still have a purse, kiss it goodbye
Don’t worry, be happy
10 January 2009…..Saturday
Cleaning and laundry. Pretty typical Saturday. We talked to Nan and Chris Hansen in South Carolina, Gene and Joan in California, Merrill and Laurie in Florida, and Sim and Kathy Gribble in Alaska. Skype is such a blessing to us.
This afternoon Dick and I drove to Utatlan Stake Center for an Institute open house. Traffic was light at 3 pm in our area and we made it over there in about 12 minutes. The parking lot was empty and the gates were locked. Then I looked at the flyer Dick had brought. The open house is next Saturday. Neither one of us thought anything about the flyer saying Saturday the 17th. We just assumed that it was today. It reminds me that this year is my 50th high school reunion. There is info on the internet for my reunion: Ganesha High School in Pomona, class of ’59. The title that has been chosen for the reunion is “Senior Moments.” I think that is clever and apropos.
The Robertsons, a church employee family, will be attending their son’s wedding in the Timpanogas Temple next week. He asked Dick on Friday if there is anything we would like them to bring back from the states. We talked about it and decided that we didn’t need anything. Then I thought of some of my summer clothes in a huge Rubbermaid container at Kristen’s. I contemplated it a lot because I don’t want to inconvenience them, but they did offer. So we talked to Kristen last night and she pulled some of my clothes out of the container. I had to look through the Shutterfly website and see my photo book from last summer’s travel to even know what clothes I left behind when we entered the MTC. There is not a lot of clothes…..they will all fit in a plastic grocery bag. Now I wish I could get some of my winter clothes in a storage unit in Lancaster, but that is an impossibility. I will be happy with an extra skirt and some casual blouses. Robertson’s daughter is in school in Provo and Kristen works in Provo so they should connect easily.
11 January 2009…..Sunday
Today we didn’t make it out of the 60’s. It is cloudy and we have had a few sprinkles. We didn’t have a specialist to visit today because he will come to the office tomorrow. So we went with Tilleys and picked up Marlene Christensen and went to her usual ward out by the temple. Elder Christensen is an Area Authority Seventy and is in Panama. There are more Americans in the Vista Hermosa Ward than anywhere we have been. There are several families working here for Walmart in their corporate offices. The new bishop is one of them and they have four young children. The two year old understands Spanish better than I do. The temple missionaries also attend this ward. As we left the chapel we saw a horde of young missionaries walking to the chapel for their Sunday meetings from the CCM (MTC).
One final thought for the week. Linda emailed a few days ago to tell me that Mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is a devastating thing to hear and I am still trying to digest it. At 93 she has been blessed with good health and she still finds some enjoyment in reading and chocolate, not necessarily in that order. (Sounds like me!) We pray that the medication the doctor prescribed will slow the process and give her more years to enjoy good health. She must use her walker to keep her safe from falls, for that is my greatest worry for her.