Last night our farewell dinner for Sister Rodriguez was very nice. Sister Torres, wife of the North Mission president, and Sister Jones were going to sing “How Great Thou Art” in Spanish, but Rexene had to tell them that I sing, too. So, I was drafted. Sister Torres has a beautiful soprano voice. Sister Jones and I sang alto. Actually, it sounded pretty good even though we had not practiced. Carolyn Taylor had her keyboard there and accompanied us.
Since we have been spending some time these last five months with the Baldwins and Torres, I have decided that the calling of mission president has to be the busiest calling in the church. They both have over 170 young missionaries to look out for. Their cell phones ring a lot. When a young missionary needs a “mom” he will call the president’s wife, looking for a word of advice or encouragement. These sisters are the ultimate cook, hostess, and traveler. These couples travel for hours, often on treacherous roads to hold zone conferences and check up on their young charges. These are great men and fantastic women. I have great admiration for them. I also have great admiration for the senior sisters who come on a mission. Three of them are widows and they are serving to complete the plans they had with their husband. They, too, are valiant servants of the Lord. The couples we serve with enrich our lives daily. It is an honor to be in the midst of these saints.
It was a shortened day at the office for us. There was a meeting at 1:30 pm at the Montufar Chapel. It was for all of us at the Area Office. Brother Hernandez, the Area DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs who answers directly to the Presiding Bishop) is going to Brazil to be DTA there. There were speakers, a slide show, music, and a lot of laughter from those who understood all the language. The Crowne Plaza Hotel catered the refreshments. It was all very nice. Our new DTA has arrived from Utah. His last name is Duran. Reynaldo had to make a joke about Duran-Duran so we told him about Alison and Kristen’s room with the posters of Duran-Duran. I remember that we HAD to watch them perform on TV one Christmas Eve. That had to be 25 years ago. We will remember to NOT use Brother Duran’s last name twice when we are referring to him.
11 February 2009…..Wednesday
Mail time! We got a Valentine card from Cyndy, and Jill sent pictures of her boys and of Dustin, Sunny and Aidan. Mail is good!
So much to accomplish at the office. We got letters emailed to three members of the Seventy about meeting with some of the leaders in their assigned area. We found out today that we will be leaving next Tuesday for six days in San Salvador, El Salvador. We need to put together 16 PEF folders and a multitude of other things for the meeting to go well. We need to be well prepared because the day we return is PEF Committee Meeting and we will have three visitors from Salt Lake PEF attend our meeting.
At noon the Taylors invited us to go to lunch with them. We ate at one of the Zurich Chocolates Restaurants here in the city. We enjoyed lunch with cold chocolate milk. Then Dick and I bought Valentine chocolates for each other and some for Reynaldo and Claudia. We were in the most incredible traffic jam. I wish I had my camera with me. Cars were literally facing all angles trying to change lanes and there was a cacophony of honking horns. Back at the office Dick worked on some PEF applications and submitted them to Salt Lake. The weather seems to be warming up. I haven’t used my space heater since we came back from Xela.
12 February 2009…..Thursday
We started printing off the material that we need to take to El Salvador next week. Dick worked some more on PEF applications. I printed up some sign-in sheets with name, stake/district, calling, phone and email. Just before 1 pm we came back to the apartment to leave our car and we went with the Taylors to the temple. It is always a blessing to be in that peaceful place. There were a number of women there from Honduras. They had come by bus yesterday, a 14 hour trip. I am constantly amazed by the faith of these Central American saints. One thing I have noticed everywhere we have been in this country, most members of the church wear CTR rings.
This evening I got to talk to Mother on Skype. She looks good and with Linda beside her she is able to understand the things we say. I told her that I am writing my 25th weekly journal and that is one quarter of our mission that has passed already. I expect her to hang in there and still be doing well when we go home in July 2010.
We bought Valentine candy for each other at Zurich where we had lunch yesterday. Their chocolates are very tasty and everything is packaged beautifully. They have tiny boxes with an individual piece of chocolate, heart shaped baskets with 6 pieces, and a multitude of other packaging with assorted numbers of chocolates. We bought each other a pretty little “petal” shaped dish, green for Dick, pink for me, with 10 pieces in each.
13 February 2009…..Friday
After getting a few things accomplished at the office Dick brought me home about noon. I thought I might lie down and rest but I was feeling a little better so I worked on the lesson for Family Home Evening since we will be hosting on Monday. Dick went out to lunch with the PEF group.
Dick came home after stopping for his allergy prescription and a stop at the cleaners for his shirts. As I was talking about heating some tomato soup for dinner, Hermana Jones appeared at the door and invited us over for a spaghetti dinner. I contributed a package of spaghetti. Tilleys brought English muffins, and we sat down to a very enjoyable dinner. We had a good time visiting.
Hermana Barney moved in with them today so all of the sisters are now out of the other building and are all here with us. Carolyn Taylor came by earlier with a Zurich chocolate for each of us.
14 February 2009…..Saturday
This morning I cooked a batch of sausage. The only decent sausage we have found here is Jones links from the good old USA and we can buy them at Price Mart. At 9 am we took the sausage next door where we all gathered at the Tilleys for Valentine breakfast. Rexene made bacon and crepes, others brought fillings and we took the sausage. Jim made a ton of hot cocoa. Great breakfast and great company. In a conversation with Hermana Thibault we talked about birthdays. I am a month older than her. When I remarked that Dick was the oldest missionary in our group she said, “yeah, but he is the cutest.” The two of them banter back and forth a lot. She told me a few weeks ago that she hopes I don’t mind, but she just loves my husband. She has certainly livened up our apartment building since she moved in two weeks ago. She keeps us all laughing. She is the mental health missionary which makes some of the things she says even funnier.
I came back and started my cleaning. The wood floors look great with the cleaner I use. All the work made me very warm and we got out our new fan. It is wonderful for cooling. We won’t be able to use it if we want to hear TV or conversations, because low speed is a slightly lower roar than the jetliners that fly over head. Oh well, at least it cooled us down very quickly. Dick went to Paiz to get a few items for Monday as we are hosting FHE.
This evening we went to Portal de Angeles for Valentine’s dinner.
We rode with Taylors. Also going was Tilleys, Blackburns, the hermanas and Elder and Sister Christensen. The filet mignon was delicious. As we were leaving the manager thanked us for coming and asked where we were from. Tilleys replied, Montana, and the Blackburns said, “Hawaii.” When we told him California he said he used to live in San Pedro and he worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Then as he looked closely at some of the name tags he said, “You all have the same name!” Dick replied that “Elder” was a title. We thought it was pretty fine. Then someone showed him that all the women’s tags say “Hermana.” After we got home Hermana Jones had me come over and practice a song with her so she could learn the alto. She will sing it at a North Mission meeting on Monday with Sister Torres.
During the week Gert came to the office to talk to the Tilleys. He is the Austrian in his seventies who has lived here for many years. He has severe health problems and wears a back brace because of an auto accident in front of the temple a couple of years ago. He has been robbed three times in the last two weeks. He has nothing to begin with, but his saw and some other tools that he used to make bookshelves and storage areas in his tiny place were stolen. Then his computer was stolen. He has a contract to do some computer work so he can support himself, but when it was stolen he tried to figure out how to solve the problem. Tilleys told him they would help if he could find a used computer. A few days later Tilleys went with him as he had found a pretty good deal at 900Q. So, Tilleys, Taylors and us each put in 300Q and he has a computer now. He has been a victim so many times in his life. It is sad but he is an eternal optimist and has great plans to improve his situation.
15 February 2009…..Sunday
This morning we were back at our little branch for our meetings. We took the dozen scriptures that we bought for the branch members who don’t have their own. I do better in Sunday School class with Brother Mina teaching than in any other place. He even asked me a question and I was able to give an answer in Spanish. He asked me how my children strengthened me and I responded that their faith and obedience strengthens me. After Church, Rexene had a platter of decorated Valentine sugar cookies for the branch members.
This brother is blind
They were a huge hit. I took a lot of pictures of one of our young elders and told him I would email them to his family in Utah.