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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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week of April 13th-April th 2009

13 April 2009…..Monday
Last night before retiring we had another Skype call, this one from Scott’s family. A little later we talked to Kristen. It is always good to get a call and hear how the kids are doing. We got an email telling us Pat Mintey was the new second counselor in Amargosa YSA Ward so Dick called and we were able to talk to Paula for a few minutes.
It was good to return back to the office today. I didn’t get my loan information until 11:30 am but I finished entering all the information by 2 pm. The office was so quiet during lunch time. We are the only ones on the first floor who stay in the office almost every day instead of going out or home. I did take a break for a few minutes and climbed the stairs to the fourth floor and chatted with the Tilleys for a few minutes. When I came back down many of the young employees were back and there was a lot of laughing and talking going on. It reminded Dick of students going back to school after a vacation.
We left the office at 3 pm. Dick dropped me off at the apartment and went to Cemaco to get a few items. At dinner time we took our own plates to Tilleys, filled up our plates with leftovers, then went across the hall to the Hermana’s and ate our dinner. Family Home Evening was at the King’s on the fifth floor. Elder Clarke spoke to us about his experiences at General Conference. It was so uplifting to hear his comments about the brethren and the meetings he attended in the days before and after Conference. He said that the PEF committee in SLC gave a standing ovation when it was stated that Central America is the leader in PEF. That is because Elder Clarke has a great vision of the program and he knows how to confront the problems that arise. He doesn’t look at the Fund from the sidelines and he is very adept at seeing a problem and coming up with solutions.
He stated that our government and the Church are diametrically opposed. The government is trying to get people to spend. They are even trying to convince us that we can spend our way out of debt. Our Church leaders have always told us to avoid debt. No person or family ever got out of debt by spending. We all need to get out of debt and stay out of debt. We have been given that advice and we had better heed it. No matter what our income, we must live within our means. Even if the economy gets better, it will not last, because we are in the last days. We had better be prepared and follow the prophet. Lastly, he testified that President Monson is a prophet and he is a prophet for our time. He is a man known for compassion and helping the needy. His focus will be on rescuing those in need just as Brigham Young sent people out to rescue those in the Martin and Willie Handcart Company. We need to make sure that we are the ones helping to rescue others and not the ones who will need to be rescued.
President Clarke admonished us to study the words of the First Presidency so I will go on the Church website and print them for our study time.
Dick and Jim left afterwards to take Gert home.

14 April 2009…..Tuesday
This morning Taylors drove our car to a meeting and we took theirs to the office so it could have some work done on it. Today I actually got the PEF Area History up to date. Finally! I got it printed and took it to Bonnie to put into the 2009 notebook. We found out that friends of the Clarkes are now in Belize. We knew they had a mission call to work in Belize which is part of the El Salvador West Mission. Elder Clarke wants us to call them but we have been unable to get their phone number. We will try again tomorrow.
I cooked a plantain again. This time I added a little brown sugar and butter to them after I browned them in oil. We really like them. Adele came to the door with some tortillas (actually they are pre-fried tostado shells) and a salsa mix she made with mushrooms, avocado, onions and cilantro. It was slightly sweet. I think it was a recipe from their mission service in Mexico.

15 April 2009…..Wednesday
Today was another warm day but the sky was very gray….not clouds but the haze created from the cane fields burning many miles away. We accomplished things at the office then came home for lunch. I stayed home and Dick went to the Guatemala South Mission office to meet with President Alvarado. He had a great meeting and President Alvarado thought it was inspired for Dick to seek the appointment. He has been laboring about what to do about the districts in many areas of concern, but especially Perpetual Education. He was an Institute Director by profession in El Salvador so has worked with the young people over the years to get started on the application process. Dick stopped at an electronic store on the way home and bought a set of speakers that are a great boost for our computer.
I spent the afternoon and evening at the computer at the dining room table with Fox News going and watching the “tea parties,” or “hot chocolate” parties as Adele Blackburn calls them. It is an interesting time we are living in. The Prophet Joseph Smith said over 150 years ago that the time would come that the Constitution would hang by a thread and IF it were to be saved it would be saved by the elders of the Church. The Constitution has been in trouble for a number of years, but never before has the threat seemed so imminent. Our freedoms seem to be melting away before our eyes and all the liberties that our founding fathers fought for are being legislated away. The Book of Mormon prophesied of the government that would be established in North America and it would be established under the hand of the Lord. Truly, those men were inspired. They believed they were inspired and I know they were inspired. We must protect and defend our rights.

16 April 2009…..Thursday

Soon after we got to the office Sister Saenz came in to volunteer in the Call Center. She brought more jewelry that she had made. I bought 3 necklaces with matching earrings that are too dangly for me so I won’t wear them.
She is taking a class to learn how to make jewelry and her skill has greatly improved since the first two necklaces I bought from her. I buy it to support her efforts to support herself. Marilyn, Rexene, and Adele also bought some. The loan report was on my computer and I was able to finish it before leaving for the temple with the Tilleys.
Tilleys had a security meeting with Elder Cardon at the temple and Dick and I went to the Distribution Center to buy more scriptures to take to La Sabana Branch. The sister working there today is the new stake specialist in Atlántico Stake so we were able to get her correct phone number. We and the Tilleys went to the noon session. It was a good experience for me. We were witness couple again and my understanding of the language was much better today. I did the veil in Spanish with a lot of help from Elder and Sister Smith, temple missionaries. I felt so uplifted and encouraged and blessed at the conclusion.
We made our favorite “after the temple” stop at Zurich Chocolateria for lunch. Then walked over to San Martin bread store and bought a few things to take home. Then we went to the store that has specialty foods that we can’t usually find at Paiz.
We had a Skype call from Linda and Mother. It was so good to see Mother and know how well she is doing. I miss her so much! Later I had a chat going with Mark. There were layoffs at his office today and he survived, again. What started at 20 employees is now down to 4. He was told it was his good performance that helped him keep his job. His move from the Roseville, CA office to Phoenix was a good one. Over all it was a wonderful day.

17 April 2009…..Friday
This morning for breakfast I had the last piece of fruit cake that I made in December. It still tasted very good with all the dates, cherries and nuts. It is the only fruit cake recipe that I have ever liked. I couldn’t share this fruit cake with Mother. Every Christmas time for many years she has been eating my fruit cake.
It was very interesting at the office today. We had a group of 4 Americans come in from Salt Lake City. One woman was Carole Mikita who used to be a news anchor at KSL TV. She had a cameraman with her. They are in Guatemala filming humanitarian work being done here. The results of their efforts will be used in October for the TV program between sessions of General Conference. They interviewed Rene Oliva, the area welfare agent; Elvis Gomez, director of the Employment Center; Elder and Sister Bawden, who plan and direct all the humanitarian efforts in the area; and Reynaldo Nunez, our very own PEF director. I was proud of Reynaldo, like he is my own son. (He says he is my son…Reynaldo Nuñez Graff…..he is Mark’s age). I can hardly wait to see the results as we were able to watch most of the interviews.
The receptionist at the front desk and her husband have started a business in addition to their regular jobs. They import oranges from Honduras and are making fresh juice. It is very nicely bottled into plastic containers. She gave us a small container to try today and it is very good. We all ordered gallon containers that were delivered to the office at 3 pm. We love supporting those we know in their enterprises. One of the sisters working in the Call Center came in with a cute bag of Easter goodies for each couple. Then Taylors came in this afternoon with a huge chocolate chip cookie for each of us. Enough eating!
We gave Bonnie a ride home today and then Dick went to the cleaners. After dinner Dick and Jim gave Hermana Jones a blessing. She has been put on antibiotics because of an infection. Then we went to the Tilleys apartment to watch a movie with the Taylors and Blackburns. We saw “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Dick took over our comfy chairs and we enjoyed our movie night with nuts, popcorn, and drinks.

18 April 2009…..Saturday
It was a busy day at home. Dick did his usual job of cleaning the shower. When it was all dry I used red oil on the tile. It really looks better. I did the wood floors and a lot of extra things that I don’t do every week. As I did the floors I moved the furniture and changed the look of the living room. Dick was scrolling through the TV stations and found “Numbers” on A and E, so I sat down and we watched it together. I haven’t watched anything but Fox News since coming here. But, I couldn’t resist seeing “Numbers” in English with Spanish subtitles.
This afternoon was relaxing. I read from the Liahona and some of the Conference addresses of the First Presidency that I printed off of the internet. This evening the Tilleys were at our door with fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies that she made to take to La Sabana Branch tomorrow. We sure get spoiled.
I have finished my first missionary photo book with Shutterfly so I have been working on my second photo book. I already have 13 pages of pictures and that was just in the first two weeks of April. I took many, many pictures of the Easter celebrations. While I worked on my Shutterfly album Dick made phone calls for PEF and then called the new missionary couple in Belize. They have been in Belize a week and were recruited by Elder Clarke. They said they need help and want us to go to Belize and train them in what we know. We hope we can get permission to do that, but with the economy problems in the world the Church has cut way back on travel so there will be more funds to help where there is the greatest need, and travel isn’t one of those items. We may have to do a video conference instead. Speaking of recruitment, they love it when senior missionaries can recruit replacements from amongst their friends back home. Who do we know that would love to do PEF work and has the advantage of Spanish that could come here to replace us in July 2010?

19 April 2009…..Sunday
This morning we took off alone for Atlántico Stake to meet with the new specialist, Hermana Rosales. After meeting with her we attended Sacrament Meeting in Juana de Arco Ward. Dick’s allergies have been almost non-existent this week, but he was sneezing a few minutes after he got out of bed this morning and has had problems all day. We are heading upstairs to Taylor´s apartment. They have received many used eye glasses from the states and we are all going up to clean them for distribution to the needy.

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