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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, May 7, 2009

Week of April 27th-May 3rd 2009

27 April 2009…..Monday
This morning we took Sister Barney and Sister Thibault to the Central Mission office. Traffic wasn’t too bad today and it only took 30 minutes to get back to our office. The Alberts came into the office with Blackburns who have helped them find a car to buy. They need another day to get enough cash to pay for it. We gave them the keys to our car and they drove it to the building he is going to remodel, plus looking for tools and necessary equipment. Blackburns came down at noon and asked if we wanted to go with them. We drove over to McDonald’s and before going in to eat we went into a small clothing store. Adele found a nice dress. I found nothing. After eating we went to an electronics store and Dick went in and got a flash drive. We went back to the office for awhile and then we rode back home with them.
Tonight was FHE at the Hermanas apartment across the hall. They asked Dick a few weeks ago to speak about Perpetual Education Fund. He prepared a short Power Point and presented that tonight, plus talked about the Fund and how it works. He went with Bill to take Gert home afterwards.
We got mail today….L A county ballots for the election in May and a Mother’s Day card from Cyndy. That one was mailed April 22 and arrived today….5 days. Must be some kind of record!

28 April 2009…..Tuesday
It was a pretty normal day at the office today. For lunch we had a cup of noodles at our desks. We had no internet shortly after noon and so by 2:30 pm we decided to head home. It’s amazing how little can be accomplished when there is a computer problem.
Jim came home from the dental brigade. He passed out bags of dirty clothes to all of us and we did laundry for some of the brigade volunteers. I did two loads of laundry, folded them, and they are ready to go back tonight when Jim goes back to pick up Rexene.
We received a warrant message from the American Embassy saying that because of the swine flu scare Guatemala is monitoring their border with Mexico plus the airport. There are no reported cases of swine flu here in Guatemala.

29 April 2009…..Wednesday
Dick left for the office at 7 am for a video conference, this time in English about the new PEF program. I enjoyed my morning. He was back to get me at ten and take me to the office. He worked on an application for a 26 year old stake Relief Society president. I was 51 before I got that calling. The leaders here are young.
Marilyn Bawden went to the doctor today, 2 months after her hospitalization for Typhoid Fever. He gave her a clean bill of health and told her she can eat whatever she wants. She has subsisted on boiled fish and cooked carrots and squash, but today, Claudia and Reynaldo had a chocolate cake and Marilyn had a piece. She and Dean were in Honduras last week when they both had their birthdays, hence the cake today. Her doctor also gave both of them flu shots. He said all of us senior missionaries should have the shot because of our age and our “American” immune systems. Also, because our callings cause us to be amongst the people, we are at greater risk. Of course, these flu shots will not keep us from getting the flu, but he thinks it could help reduce symptoms. He had 17 doses left and won’t be able to get more until at least Tuesday. We went over to his office and got our shots. Dick talked to him about his allergies and he gave some suggestions. We really like him and feel confident that if we need a doctor, he is who we will call. He gave us both a mask. He said the masks have all been sold in the pharmacies.
We stopped at Paiz and there was no sanitizing gel. We have some in the kitchen, bathroom, office and my purse, but I wanted to get more. I did find some sanitizing hand wipes, a couple of bottles of a creamy, no water needed, sanitizing lotion. I found two packages of toilet paper with a free bottle of sanitizing gel, so I bought them. I also got four small bottles of alcohol. The doctor stressed frequent hand washing, sanitizing gel afterwards, and if no gel, put alcohol in a pump bottle and use.
After we got home we took the doctor’s business cards around to our neighbors. When I went over to tell the Hermanas about the shots I found out that Sister Barney had just had a traumatizing experience. She took a taxi home from the Central Office. As they were coming out Reforma, there was a bus in front of them. They heard five gun shots and the bus went off of the road into a tree. The driver was dead from the gunshots. Such is life in Guatemala….or death. It happens a lot. There are those who try to extort money from the bus drivers to allow them to drive in their neighborhoods. If the money isn’t paid, the bus driver is killed….all over the equivalent to 15-30 dollars a week. Dick and Bill gave Darlene a blessing tonight.
On the good side. We had a wonderful show out our window…..lightening. We have not received any rain yet, and there was very little thunder, but the lightening in the distance was spectacular.

30 April 2009…..Thursday
What a day! We took the sisters to Central Mission Office, then we went to our office. I got my loan information all logged in before 10 am, just in time to leave for a special meeting. Elder Quentin Cook and his wife are traveling in Central America. Today he spoke to all the Church employees so there was a bus at the Area office to take them and us missionaries to Montufar chapel. There was a video hook-up so the Church employees in the other CA countries could be part of the meeting. He talked about the economic crisis that has hit the states, Western Europe, and Asia. Central America is not yet greatly impacted by the stock markets or the home mortgage situation, but there are concerns about loss of employment. He talked to everyone about being a good employee….come early, stay late, take care of the details in the job. The Church has no plan to do any layoffs. He counseled them that doing their job well will assist the bishops and stake presidents as they deal with more and more problems in their wards and stakes. He reminded all of us that we have had plenty of time to prepare for the crisis. Truly, the prophets have told us to prepare ourselves for as long as I can remember. He spoke of the ongoing situation in the Book of Mormon…..it isn’t in times of prosperity that people are humbled and accept the gospel, but in times of trial and need. If we keep the commandments we will prosper in the land, and he reminded us that that does not mean big house, expensive clothes, travel, etc. It means a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food on our table and the influence of the Holy Ghost.
He told us that when the brethren are interviewed by newspapers or other publications and are asked what we believe, the reply is: the restored New Testament Christianity. That is a perfect definition of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We enjoyed the meeting a lot. Elder Cook spoke to all the missionaries when we were at the MTC so it was good to hear him again. After the meeting Tilleys, Blackburns, Sister Thibault, Sister Barney and we walked a couple of blocks to a Chinese restaurant. I was not very enthralled with the meal. Too many things on my plate that weren’t identifiable, even though we had 8 different dishes on the table. It all was pretty much alike.
We walked back to the chapel for a second meeting at 2 pm for all missionaries. The chapel and cultural hall was packed. There were the senior couples from our apartment and the Bomans from Peten. The rest were all young sisters and elders. I love being with them. And when they all sing I don’t want it to stop. This meeting was also a video hookup with some of the other CA countries which made a total of 1200 missionaries. A young elder played prelude for an hour before the meeting started. Then there was a male quartet made up of three Americans and a Latino and they sang “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.” I could have listened to them forever. They were wonderful. Elder Cook had a huge part in the writing of “Preach My Gospel” and he talked about being a good missionary and how to use the book, using specific chapters. He said the finished copy was given to the first presidency and President Monson said, “There are no stories in the book.” So, stories and examples were added.
At the conclusion of the meeting Tilleys took us back to the office to get our car. We passed groups of missionaries walking, and several groups waiting for buses. What awesome kids! Emissaries of the Lord.
We came home and lounged around with a little Fox News. We senior missionaries are tired when we get home, even the ones in their fifties. We have wonderful rain right now and we love to hear it come down. Tomorrow is Labor Day here in Guatemala and the office is closed. A day off!
One other thought. Sister Cook spoke for a few minutes today. She expressed a wonderful thought that is worth repeating: “There is nothing stronger than truth except truth set to music.” That is a true statement. Music enlightens are soul and allows us to feel truth more fully.

1 May 2009.....Friday

Happy May Day! While riding the bus to the meeting yesterday we had a better view of the center divider on Las Americas. There are many flowering plants that we recognize: bougainvilleas, oleanders, canna lilies, lily of the Nile, daylily …a lot of beautiful color. The green is greener and fresher with the rain we have had the last week. No alarm to wake us today because no office today. Sarah Thibault and Darlene Barney came over and visited awhile.
It was a quiet day, just the way I like it. I made some cookies. Dick worked on our presentation for district conferences. All three mission presidents based here in Guatemala City want to use us for their Saturday night presentations. A little after 5 pm the gathering clouds obscured any sun we had and the thunder started. Then some rain. I am a weather lover.
Yesterday was the final day of the dental brigade. They treated almost 900 young people in the 6 days they were here. Rexene, with tears streaming down her face told of a young man who had problems with 17 teeth. One was growing straight out above his front teeth. He spent 6 hours in the chair. With his mouth full of gauze, and in pain, he cried and thanked the doctors who had worked on him. Then his father cried and said now his son can serve a mission. He could never afford to pay for the treatment for his son. One girl had no front teeth and they made a bridge for her. She cried and said that now she can smile. Many miracles occurred during the 6 days.

2 May 2009…..Saturday
Today Sydney is 16! Dick told her she couldn’t get her license till we come home and he can check her out behind the wheel. Yeah, that’s not going to happen! The May birthdays in our family are just beginning with a total of 10 this month.
I enjoyed a quiet morning. Dick enjoyed getting in the car and taking a pair of pants to the tailor for repair. A little after noon we went with Blackburns. We ended up south in Villa Nueva at La Estancia for lunch. We walked briefly through a mall and then to Hiper Paiz. I bought a blouse. When we got home we went across the hall to the Hermanas and watched “Get Smart” via the computer and the projector showing it on the wall. It is raining. Dick called Santa Maria and talked to Jon.

3 May 2009…..Sunday

Today we took the opportunity to fast for Hermana Barney and her family. Her oldest child, a 36 year old son was diagnosed with bladder cancer about nine months ago, just after she arrived in Guatemala. On Tuesday he undergoes biopsies on his bladder and kidney as they suspect more cancer. She is a woman of great faith but she is very worried and puts on a good front.
We were in our little branch today. I bore my testimony and told them it is very facil (easy) for me to bear my testimony in Ingles but muy dificil (very difficult) for me in Espanol. There is so much I want to say that I don’t know the words for. We had a nice little shaking earthquake during Sunday School. Dick had a very bad allergy day and we came home after Sunday School.
Tonight was “break the fast.” I opened a bag of ravioli, poured Prego over it, and put it in the oven. When it was done I garnished it with parmesan cheese that I had grated. Will I ever cook from scratch again??? We rode with Kings. We were able to talk to Scott’s family and to Kristen tonight.
Lately the planes have been taking off to the south and I can see them out our living room window seconds after they leave the runway. I have always had a love affair with planes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Elder & Hermana Graff,
I am a good friend of your daughter Cyndy and we met before when Cyndy lived in Chico, CA
I am enjoying your missionary journal blog and am so happy that you two were able to go. What a perfect mission for you! Bless you for your sacrifice!!
Ann Struthers