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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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Week of April 20th-April 26th 2009

20 April 2009…..Monday
We had a lot to do today at the office as we were getting ready for our 1 pm PEF Committee Meeting. We told Elder Clarke that the new missionaries in Belize, the Dunfords, need PEF help. He said, “Go!” So tomorrow we will start making plans to fly to Belize to train the Dunfords and probably do a couple of firesides.
There was a missionary in the office today with Bawdens. He is Elder Karchner and he is a senior missionary. He is here for this week only to do ground work for a water drilling project. He has gone with the Bawdens to Quetzaltenango where he will supervise the drilling of a water well. They will then go to Honduras where another well will be drilled. His wife is not with him as she just got released from the hospital. She picked up some kind of bug from one of the countries they were in. They serve a 30 month mission, live in Salt Lake, and then are sent for short periods of time wherever his or her expertise is needed. She trains dental hygienists.
We left the office at 2:30 pm and went to Central Mission office to pick up Sister Thibault and came home for an appointment with Convergence, our internet-TV provider. Blackburns, Tilleys and us signed up for a new package because we lost some stations when they switched to digital. So, we will be getting a converter box and getting BYU-TV again and paying a year in advance. We will buy 12 months and get 3 months free and that will complete our mission time. It will save us a few hundred dollars by doing so and end the hassle of a monthly bill that we pay at Paiz.
Tonight Family Home Evening was held at Kings and Gert taught the lesson. He has lived in Guatemala 30 years and he gave us great insight into the Guatemalan people. Dick went with Kim to take Gert home.

21 April 2009…..Tuesday
We took Sister Barney and Sister Thibault to our office today. At 8 am we had a Spanish lesson with Rexene and Adele. Patty Alvarez taught it. She is the wife of a stake president who volunteers in the office of the area president. The timing is right for me to get some extra help with my Spanish. Patty wants no money for teaching us but we will pay $5 a lesson or Q40. She has one son on a mission and another son who will be leaving in June. Extra money can always help. Patty teaches English classes in her stake and she has also written some grade school level workbooks. After our hour class Sister T stayed at the area office as she will be working there now. Dick and Jim took Sister Barney to the Central Mission office.
Today was the monthly American women luncheon. Jennifer Johnson picked us up at the office and took us to the restaurant. She and her husband are here as employees….he is the lawyer representing the Church in Central America and she volunteers in the office of the area president.
We have a new missionary couple, Elder and Sister Albert. They served a mission a few years ago in Chile. Now they are here for a 6 month mission. He will oversee the construction of a dental clinic that the Church is building. It is one of the projects that the Bawdens have put together. Dick made a visit to them this morning to give them some info about buying a car and general info about the apartment and some things they need to know.
Tonight the Taylors called and invited us up to see a movie….”The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.” Kathy Jones went up with us. It brought tears and emotions and afterwards a counting of our blessings, that our grand children have all the opportunities and blessings to grow up in a land of freedom. We must preserve that for our future generations.
We got mail! Cyndy sent a card and Jill sent pictures.

22 April 2009…..Wednesday
Today was Hannah’s 10th birthday! Tonight while I was in the shower she called and talked to “Papa” to thank us for her birthday gift. Jill does a great job of doing our birthday shopping for all the family. This morning we gathered in the conference room for birthday cake for Kim Taylor’s birthday. Carolyn had 3 birthday cakes and had invited people from all over the building. He has caught up to Dick in age.
We left the office early. Convergence was coming at 2 pm to install our box and do the upgrade because of the digital changes here in Guatemala. They came at 7 pm. Not bad. They have come two days late before. Dick and I walked over to Johnson’s apartment at 3 pm and Tilleys kept an eye out for the cable guys. Melinda Johnson cut our hair. She is 29, single, and has been here visiting for a couple of months. She does a wonderful job and has owned her own business in SLC. She would not take money. She has been doing all the missionaries for free as her “service.”
Carolyn came by with some banana bread after dinner. We had a Skype call from Dick Peel tonight, Dick’s buddy since they were young boys.

23 April 2009…..Thursday

This morning we took Sister Jones to her office and then Sister Barney to hers, then back to our office…..a 45 minute loop in the morning traffic. Sister Barney was taking hot fresh cinnamon rolls to the young missionaries who work in her office. She had some for us, too. We have shut the windows because of cooler weather and some wind. This morning it was 52 degrees at 6:30 am in the land of “eternal spring.” By afternoon it was 82 degrees.
We received an email from Dunfords in Belize today. They have had training from an Institute director in El Salvador and met Leovany Lopez in San Ignacio who is one of our successful Belizean participants, and so they are feeling good about what they have to do and we don’t need to go to Belize. I actually wasn’t disappointed. Hopefully, with Dunfords there, PEF will finally take off in Belize. There have been 8 participants there since the beginning of the Fund. Four graduated, 2 quit school, and 2 are still in school.
At noon we had a video conference on the 2nd floor….Reynaldo, Claudia, Dick and I on video with Chile, Argentina, and Salt Lake about coming changes in administering PEF. It will begin with Central America on July 1 as a pilot program. The rest of the world will begin in October. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
We stopped at the cleaners and Paiz on the way home and a little later Sisters Barney and Jones borrowed our car to go grocery shopping.
Reynaldo told us today that a good friend of his in Honduras was assaulted and died yesterday.

24 April 2009…..Friday

This morning we took the Alberts to the office with us. They don’t have a car yet. We told them to take our car and do whatever they wanted. It was perfect for them because they wanted to go out to the building that he is remodeling and adding on to for a dental clinic.
I worked on the loan report and Spanish. Dick created a new Power Point to use on Monday for FHE at the Hermanas. The office was quiet. There is a dental brigade here from the U.S. for the next week. They are all set up at a nearby chapel. They are dentists and doctors (mostly LDS) from the states who are donating time and talents to treat about 1000 Guatemalan young people who are preparing to serve missions. It is a great service to many who have never had a dental checkup in their life.
Blackburns came to our office after noon so we packed up our things and went with them. We went to Saritas for lunch. It started to sprinkle and then rain. The first real rain in many months. The power went off in the restaurant but the big windows kept it light enough to enjoy our meal. We enjoyed a lot of thunder after we got home but the rain was pretty much ended. I baked a few cookies tonight and we let ourselves into Tilley’s apartment and left a plate for them. They have been at the dental clinic all day in their role of security missionaries. Dick and I had a pleasant evening, sitting together and watching “Numbers.” Rainy day, warm cookies and cold milk….it just doesn’t get any better than that!

25 April 2009…..Saturday
We entered the MTC 8 months ago today. Time flies! This morning we left the apartment at 9 am with Tilleys and drove to Montserrat Stake to the dental clinic. I was astounded! It is hard to describe what we saw there. It is a large chapel. There were lines of young people who plan on serving a mission in the next year. They came at times assigned to their stake. They checked in, then went into rooms where a doctor would give them a physical check-up. Then some even got haircuts. Then they went to the overflow area between the chapel and cultural hall where they had a presentation about the care of their teeth. Stepping into the cultural hall was beyond what I had imagined. First they waited on some chairs for their turn to be x-rayed. There were three x-ray areas.

Waiting for X-rays
Then there were three rows of tables and portable dental chairs down the large cultural hall. To the left against the wall were ten specialists doing root canals.

There were ten dentists down the right side working on patients and about six dentists down the middle, all with patients in their dental chairs. On the stage the hygienists were set up. After going through the dental procedure some were taken into another multi-purpose room where 4 oral surgeons were removing wisdom teeth. Also coming in the brigade were nurses, dental assistants, a massage therapist, and a support staff. All were members of the Church from the states with the exception of two non-member dentists who wanted to give of their time. One was a Muslim female dentist from Tampa, Florida. There was a great spirit about all of it. These people pay their own way and bring much of their own equipment. The Church owns the portable dental chairs, huge generator and compressors needed for the dental clinic. That was all brought by truck from Honduras where it is stored for use throughout Central America. They used pressures cookers to sterilize equipment. The dental brigade is not a “Church” project but is run all over the world by a group of LDS dentists. There was a room full of quilts, fleece blankets, toys, clothes, lotions, soccer balls,…..I could go on and on…..that they all brought to donate to orphanages and other humanitarian projects while they are here. And, there was about a thousand ties brought for the young men to take what they wanted.
Many of these young people had never seen a dentist before. Most of them probably didn’t know what they were in for! Some required only cleaning. Some had cavities. Some had major needs like root canals and extractions. One stake president that we had met before asked Dick to talk to the dentist because a young man from his stake had been in the chair for over two hours. Dick was able to ask the dentist and then give the information to the stake president. The young man had 3 root canals, all in his upper front teeth.
Dick talked with a district president who had brought several young people. We had met him before, too. I have never seen so much dental work going on, and all the young men in the chairs were in white shirt and ties. Awesome to behold! One young woman who had three wisdom teeth removed was cold so I got her a fleece blanket and she reclined on a couch from the church foyer. There were 4 missionaries nearby. One, a handsome black man from San Antonio, Texas, said he had baptized her 7 months ago and now she and her cousin were preparing to serve a mission. We talked with Elder Oldroyd who we had met the day we met Elder Facer from Mission Viejo. Elder Oldroyd’s great uncle was Merrill Oldroyd who delivered my brother 73 years ago.

a baby is always a huge attraction for those who left grandchidren behind
We greatly enjoyed visiting with all the people who had flown down to give their service. We walked through the rows of working dentists and found a former dentist of ours, Kent Johnson from Palmdale. We got to chat with him a few minutes. Right next to him, working on a patient was Dr. Ryan Johnson, his son, who was a teenager when they moved to Park City from Palmdale ten years ago. Two of Kent’s daughters were there working with him. We met a dentist from Las Vegas, Blair Hales, who knows Dick’s cousin, Lou Graff. The small world experiences happen so frequently, even in far away Guatemala.
We took a break to go to Price Smart with Tilleys to buy batteries for the head lamps the doctors were wearing. We ate outside at a Subway next door before facing the traffic and going back to the clinic. They had a room set up with a ton of snacks, fruit, bread, peanut butter, jelly, cookies, etc. Lunch and dinner was catered. When the workers had a break they went in and had a meal. We ate dinner there. It became a very long day, but it was worth it to be there and see the great work that goes forth with people who are willing to give. I am always inspired by the faith of the Guatemalan people. The doctors doing the oral surgery were last and they said they would be working till midnight. Brother and Sister Robertson, Church auditor employee and the ones who brought some of my clothes from Utah, were there volunteering. They both have excellent Spanish. We came home with them and walked in our door at 10 pm. Tilleys arrived back about an hour later.

Dick and Jim at the end of a long day
Yesterday the dental brigade treated 120 patients, today 175, and they will continue for four more days. Church meetings for Montserrat have been moved to a different chapel for tomorrow.

26 April 2009…..Sunday
This morning we went to La Sabana branch with Blackburns. We delivered more “3 in 1’s” to the branch president. He is always very appreciative of our contributions. I read a scripture in Gospel Doctrine, offered the opening prayer in Relief Society, and was asked to share my testimony of temple marriage. Praying is much easier for me than trying to bear my testimony on a particular subject. I just had a revelation while typing this and Dick agreed with me…..praying is easier because it is in the present tense. Testimonies are very much in the present, except when we speak of past experiences and then verb conjugations come into play.
Both of the missionaries in our branch have been transferred in the last few weeks. One of our new ones is from Springville, UT.

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