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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, May 26, 2009

Week of May 18th to May 24th 2009

18 May 2009…..Monday
Today Kaitlin is 21 years old, living life in Provo and loving BYU. Last night I was able to call Linda, right after they had experienced a good shaking earthquake. I found out that Mother is not doing well or making any improvements. Her morphine has been doubled, so hopefully she will have some relief. I have cried many tears for her. It is hard to be so far away and wait for information. It is harder for Linda to be there and witness what Mother is going through.
We had some things to get ready and reports to finish for PEF Committee Meeting today at 1 pm. Jill emailed just before the meeting to say that Mother’s kidney function is better today and she had a better night last night because of the morphine. However, she is not as responsive. The doctor said she would be there at least a week and probably a lot longer. We had an email of concern from Marilyn and Jon. For thirty years they have been the first there for us with any worry or concern. They used to be two houses away, not thousands of miles away.
Jill emailed tonight after talking to Linda. Jeff emailed immediately after. He spent two hours at the hospital with Mother and Linda this evening. I appreciate my kids so much for being there, too.

19 May 2009…..Tuesday
This morning Carolyn Taylor called to see how Mother was doing. The Taylors are in El Salvador for a week. She also called me last Sunday morning to check on Mother. We took the sisters to Central Mission office. They were carrying a crock pot and a baking dish. Sister Barney loves to cook and the young missionaries in the office buy the groceries and tell her what they want and she cooks it for them. Lucky guys. We had mail today, two envelopes from Jill. One contained pictures of her and how good she looks! The other was information about the Ganesha High School 50 year reunion. Can’t believe I was graduating fifty years ago this June.
Jill went to the hospital to spend time with Mother today so Linda could have a few hours to do things she needed to do. I tried calling Jill’s cell phone on Skype but it just went to voice mail. So I called the hospital number about 12:30 pm and it went through fine. What a wonderful blessing for me to be able to say a few words to Mother, to tell her I love her and to hear her tell me that she loves me. It nearly broke my heart. She was not too out of it with pain and morphine. She knew it was me. I could not understand the other things she was trying to tell me. Jill did say that Mother said there were things she wanted to tell me. I was such a basket case afterward that Dick brought me home.
Life is so precious, and here in Guatemala it is cheap. I picked up the newspaper last week and the first four or five pages had pictures of dead bodies. I put the paper down. A lawyer was killed here in our Zone 14, the safest area of the city. The next day there was a video of him on You Tube saying if he died it was the president of this country, his wife, and others who wanted him dead. There is corruption on all levels and as I was reading the Book of Mormon and the workings of Kishkumen and the Gadianton Robbers, I think those “secret combinations” are alive and well here and probably at home as well. Last Friday about 9 am, at the McDonald’s less than a mile from us, five people were shot and killed. Hopefully, the good people here will take back their country from those forces who try to take away their freedoms.
Rexene came over for awhile to check and see how Mother is and to see how I am doing.

20 May 2009…..Wednesday

This morning Kim Taylor called from El Salvador at 6:30 am to see how Mother is doing. I am so appreciative of my friends. I got an email from Linda this morning saying that Mother is doing better. She is more alert, and in less pain, so less meds. She is eating better. She has a strong body. Her heart and blood pressure are good. She has always had a strong spirit and a strong will to live. I am greatly encouraged.
This morning Marilyn Bawden said she was bringing dinner in tonight. I told her “no,” that I am doing fine. But, she insisted. About 5 pm Tilleys came to the door with a glass of cold chocolate milk for me to sample. Jim and I are always trying new concoctions. We both use cocoa as our base. It makes the best chocolate milk. While we were sitting around visiting, Bawdens came in with dinner. They were heading out for a meeting. So, we pulled four plates out of the cabinet and Tilleys and we had chicken, tomatoes and squash, corn bread, and homemade pineapple-mango pie. I took slices of pie across the hallway to the Hermanas. They thanked me for sharing the pie and said that Mother is in their prayers.

21 May 2009…..Thursday

Today Emma is 8 years old! She is very excited about her baptism. We took the Hermanas to the Central Office. Traffic was very heavy today. As we went around the Obelisco to 6th Ave. there were about 5 lanes converging. We needed to be to the far right and traffic was creeping. I pulled a Guatemala trick…..I rolled down the window and flopped my hand back and forth and the car next to us backed off and let us in. There are things brewing down here. There are 35,000 who have signed a petition to oust the president over accusations made after the gunning down of the lawyer last week. This is a fragile democracy here. Yesterday there were a lot of people gathering at the Obelisco. They do seem to be peaceful groups. Of course, there were pickup trucks with military in the back.
I feel like I have been shopping……..oh, I have. First of all, Sister Saenz was volunteering in the Call Center today. She brought a small box of more jewelry she has made, so I bought two necklaces with matching earrings. They were Q50 a set. That is under $7 a set. I probably won’t wear them but I can buy from her and that helps her support herself. Jennifer Johnson, whose husband is a lawyer representing the Church, said her daughter in SLC lives next door to someone who works with someone who comes to Guatemala about once a month. I know, that is pretty confusing. He always has an empty duffel bag to bring things down for Jennifer or others. She said if we wanted to order things and have them sent to her daughter (whoa!...just had an earthquake!) she would give them to her neighbor and he would take them to work and give them to “Jim” who will bring them. So, I ordered make-up that I can’t find here, Glide floss-picks (we hate the ones here) and shampoo and conditioner that I like. It is great to know that we have a way to get particular things. When I was doing the order two weeks ago, Jill got a call for overstockdrugstore.com telling her that our credit card had been used in Guatemala with shipping to Utah and they wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a fraudulent use of our credit card. To make a long story short, as Jill talked to “Britt” who called, she told her that her parents were serving as missionaries in Guatemala. To which Britt responded that her parents had served a mission in Brazil. Pretty funny. Britt ended up emailing me about the order and something that was no longer available, and telling me about her parents serving in Brazil a few years ago and how hard it can be to get products we are used to.
The office was pretty quiet today. We left about 2 pm and went to Paiz for a few groceries. They have a check-out lane for those who are disabled, pregnant, or old. Seldom a wait there.
Today Dana went to Torrance and stayed with Mother so Linda could go look at care facilities. Mother is not strong enough yet to go home with Linda. Jeff called us this evening and said he went to the hospital on his lunch hour and he told us to call Dana. She was still on the freeway driving home. She said Mother was sitting up in a special chair, talking to her and Jeff about the houses she has lived in and even about my birth. Nothing wrong with her memory. The morphine is finally out of her system. She is on Vicodin and still in pain and she got very worn out. Dana described her as fragile. She needs care beyond what Linda will be able to do. Dana says Mother is good with going to a nursing home and getting strong so she can go home. Even the doctor was surprised when he saw her today because of the great improvement over yesterday. I tried to call Linda but ended up leaving a message on her phone and on email.

22 May 2009…..Friday
This morning our door bell rang about 6:30 am. Our gallon of orange juice was sitting by the door. One of our neighbors had gone down to the lobby to get our Friday morning delivery. A few minutes later the door bell rang again. This time there was a plate of four orange muffins. Must have been Rexene. She goes to bed very early and gets up very early and cooks. We took Darlene to the Central Mission office. Traffic was much better today. I kept very busy at the office. I did my second approval report from SLC for all the CA countries. René asked for my help. That is the most English I have ever heard him speak. I went in his office, sat at his computer, and corrected a few comments on a report that he and Reynaldo had written in English. There are a lot of budget cuts going on and the report was relaying how badly some cuts will affect the welfare of the people here in Central America. I didn’t even get to my loan report till after noon. That’s good. I like it when I am busy.
President Baldwin wanted us to go with him to do a district conference in Santa Lucia tomorrow, but Elder Abularach, one of the Area Seventy wants all the time. We will go in November when they have their next district conference in Santa Lucia.
We gathered at the Hermana’s after dinner with Tilleys and Blackburns and played dominoes. I tried calling Linda again tonight and this time I was able to talk to her. Mother now has a blood clot in her left leg. Dana had emailed when I was talking to Linda to tell me about the clot. So, another problem and another set back.

23 May 2009…..Saturday
Cleaning/laundry day. Dick went to Cemaco and the cleaners. At noon we left for Jocotenango to go to the wood factory.
at the wood fruit factory

It is just a little beyond Antigua. Bawdens took us and Alberts. Tilleys took Hermana Barney and Thibault. We wanted to buy wood fruit. I pictured the “factory” as a big building.
a craftsman at work

Instead, there was a tiny space where they sold the wooden artifacts and a tiny space where they made the product. There was another “factory” the same size. We could probably put all four places in our living/dining room and kitchen. I bought a wooden tray and various fruits at the first place. Then, two bell peppers at the second place. It all came to Q255…..about $30.
my purchase of wooden fruit

After our purchases Tilleys car headed back home. We went with Bawdens and Alberts to Ciudad Antigua which is in the same vicinity.
the Bawdens, Alberts and Graffs at Ciudad Antigua

It was the original capital circa 1540, until the volcano sent a mud slide down killing residents. It was at that point that the capital was moved to Antigua, and then, eventually, Guatemala City because of the volcano.
Jill called tonight. They had gone to spend some time with Mother. It was good for Jill to see Mother doing better this afternoon than she was last Tuesday and last Saturday when she was there. She took the boys in for a few minutes to see “Nana Great.” The calls and emails are so important to me. I either sit here and think things are worse than they are, or think things are better than they are. I check my email dozens of times a day to see if there is any word about Mother. I’m just grateful that there is email and Skype for senior missionaries.

24 May 2009…..Sunday

Our little branch is growing. It would be wonderful to see it made into a ward before we leave here. Today during Sunday School a bird flew into the room where we meet. One brother caught it and put it in a box and took it home with it. I wondered if they would eat it. Rexene even asked if they would eat it but he said no, it’s too much work.
Rexene took some humanitarian supplies that were left from the Dental Brigade to a family in our branch. The mother is the Primary president. She has 13 children. The oldest is a young woman 21 years old who will go on a mission in a few months. The youngest is 5 months. She took a nice bag and filled it with diapers, an outfit, fleece blanket, a school kit and a couple of wooden toys. I am sure the family can use it.
Sister T, Sister Barney and we went to Tilleys for lunch. Rexene made clam chowder. At 2 pm Dick and I left for El Molino Stake so we could speak with the stake president. We had a map that was drawn for us over two months ago. It was on both sides of the sheet of paper. We started out and it was getting dark with lightening in the northern sky. Then it started to rain. It poured. We drove down the narrow streets of Zone 1 at the center of the city. As we headed east on Marti the road was flooded in many areas. Twice we asked someone on the sidewalk, is this the direction to ------? We found the chapel shortly before 3 pm. It is the El Molino Stake Center. It is a year old and the largest chapel in Central America. Right now there are four wards meeting throughout the day on Sunday. We spent about 30 minutes with the stake president. We will be going back in two weeks and meet with the stake bishop’s council to talk about PEF and encourage the leaders to use it and increase their education. Elder Clarke has been very concerned about the number of leaders with no higher education. Our drive back home went quicker because the rain had stopped and we knew where we were going. We were not lost at all today so we have come a long way in the last 8 ½ months since we started driving around this city.
A few minutes after we got home we left with Tilleys to go to the Duran’s apartment for a delicious meal. Their son, Sebastian, flies to Provo tomorrow to enter the MTC on Tuesday. He will be learning Mandarin Chinese to serve his mission in New York. The Durans are from Chile but have lived in the Philippines and Utah. Jorge Duran is the DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs) for the Church in Central America. Their 15th floor apartment has a great view of the city and the airport.
Just got an update via email from Jill. When physical therapy brought a walker in to Mother she actually walked. That is a giant step. It is so good to hear that she is improving. I am so grateful for all the prayers offered in her behalf.

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