About Us

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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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week of 15 June to 21st of June, 2009

15 June 2009…..Monday
We have spent the last three days saying goodbye to our family, again. Nathan put his arms around me and cried last night after family prayer. I was very touched by his response. I don’t think I have been able to hold onto him that long since he was born nine years ago. Jill and Jacob took us to the airport last night. We had to readjust the contents of our suitcases because one was slightly over 50 pounds. The Continental employee helping us was LDS. One of the other passengers waiting to board the plane talked to us when she noticed we were missionaries. She lives in Las Flores Ward in La Verne. She was born in Argentina. She knows McCooks and Rowbothams. This morning at 1 am we flew to Houston, a three hour trip. I could not sleep a wink. I tried but it was not going to happen. There was a Pink Panther movie playing with Steve Martin who always makes me think of Jeff. After his mission Jeff had two pictures on his bedroom wall. One of the Savior, the other of Steve Martin. When he got married Dana made him hang the picture of Steve in the garage. We landed in Houston just before 6 am (4 am California time). We had Wendy’s for breakfast. Which reminds me of another story. When Dick went to the Dodger game last week Jeff went out to buy food. He heard two ladies talking about Dick….the white haired man in a white shirt and tie and wearing a badge. They thought he was “Dave” from Wendy’s. I was feeling like a walking zombie as we waited for a flight. We flew to Guatemala City at 9 am. I had been awake for 24 hours. I was finally able to sleep on the plane. Even though I woke frequently I felt a little refreshed.
We arrived in Guatemala at 11 am. It was good to be home. Tilleys picked us up at the airport. Rexene handed me a long stemmed rose. When we got to the apartment there were two things lying outside our door, homemade cinnamon bread made by Darlene Barney and a bag with a carved wooden box from Sister Jones and a picture of her and note thanking us for the use of the car while we were gone. Then we were delivered a gift of grapes, apples and a big Hershey bar and a sweet card and letter from Reynaldo and Claudia. Taylors came by with a baggie of snicker bars. Tilleys made sandwiches and brought them over for our lunch. Rexene gave me a beautiful Guatemala apron she had bought at Central Market. Dick delivered the laptop computer he had carried all day to Alberts. They had it shipped to Jill’s so we could bring it. We brought items from Costco to Tilleys and a box of See’s nuts and chews. Our friends here are incredible. Is it any wonder we are glad to be home?
I unpacked the suitcases and then we had a nap. Dick set the alarm so he could keep his appointment at the dermatologist. I slept till 5 pm. Tilleys brought over a half gallon of milk because they knew we needed it. I did a few loads of laundry and we are heading to bed.
Today was Kayla’s high school graduation!

16 June 2009…..Tuesday

This morning Dick woke up dizzy. He slept off and on all morning. We figured out later that his blood pressure was up because he had missed taking a Cingulair for his allergies while we were on the plane so he took it when we got home Monday. Then he took another one Monday night thinking he was getting himself back on schedule. Instead, he woke up dizzy.
Sarah came over and said she and Kathy had a doctor’s appointment but Kathy hasn’t been following doctor’s orders and didn’t want to go today. Sarah told me I needed to go with her and get some blood work done. I hesitated a little but I have some weird things going on in my abdomen and I have thought I probably had parasites. So, I decided to go and find out. She came back from the office at noon in a taxi and picked me up. I had the tests done and the results were, no parasites, but the blood work indicates I am infected with typhoid fever. Then the doctor did the physical exam and said I have typhoid working in my colon. That explains the weird feelings and symptoms I have had for a number of weeks. I am not very advanced so I am not terribly sick like Marilyn or Sarah was. By treating it now I won’t have to go through all that they did. I thought he was going to let me stay at home and take antibiotics, but he paused and said, “if you were my grandmother, or mother, or sister I would hospitalize you and put you on antibiotics by IV.” So, that is what we are going to do. I will go to the hospital Thursday and stay till Monday which will give me five doses of the antibiotic treatment. We were at the clinic for four hours and Sarah called Tilleys to come pick us up.
When we first got there Dr. Tarot was down in emergency with a young elder. He was the third one to be diagnosed with typhoid in the last few weeks, all from different areas. His case is complicated with malaria and Hepatitis C.

17 June 2009…..Wednesday
Today is Spencer’s graduation day! He was born two days after Kayla and now he is graduating two days after Kayla. They were born in the same hospital in Santa Maria, delivered by the same doctor with the same nurse assisting and I was privileged to be there, too. Now, Kayla is in Lacey, WA and Spencer is in Exton, PA. They couldn’t live much further apart. These two high school graduations remind me that I haven’t recorded some college graduations. Donovan has earned his Master’s degree and has entered the California Highway Patrol Academy. Dustin has graduated and has several things in the works like a cookbook and his already existing travel business. Blake graduated from Sacramento State and was drafted by the Oakland A’s. He left Sunday morning for Phoenix and the rookie development league.
I got a package from Cyndy while we were at Jill’s last week. She sent me 8 packs of Dentyne Ice cinnamon gum. I couldn’t find any before we left the states and none in Guatemala. It was a pleasant surprise. One evening at Jill’s Robert called on me to say family prayer. Mark’s family was also there. I prayed in Spanish. I could hear little gasps as I prayed. When I finished our grandchildren were so cute. Aimee said, “Nana, you prayed in Spanish!” Pretty smart for a 6 year old. I think that Dora the Explorer has educated a few of our grandchildren in the Spanish language. The children were praising me and my accomplishment just like we praise them. Pretty cute!
Dick is feeling fine. He went to the office today. I stayed home. I did laundry and finished replying to the 26 friends who sent emails of condolence. They are all very special in my life and span the time from my teen years, friends from Pomona, La Verne, Santa Maria, Lancaster and here in Guatemala. I love email and the ease of keeping in touch with important people in our life. I need to pack a small suitcase for my “vacation” at the hospital.
Dick invited Tilleys over and he and Jim gave me a blessing. We had a nice thunderstorm this evening and it rained several hours. Dr. Tarot was complaining yesterday that we just haven’t had the usual amount of rain for this time of year.

18 June 2009…..Thursday
Dick went to the office for a few hours. My neighbors gave me a hug before they left. Dick was back to take me to the hospital. I checked in at noon. They put me in a small room in the emergency area. Dr. Tarot was in his office and actually checking one of the young elders who had been in the hospital last week with typhoid fever. There have been 3 young elders with typhoid. I ended up waiting in that small room for almost three hours. The suite that he had reserved for me was needed last night for a patient who had a liver transplant. This is one of the few hospitals that do transplants.
My room is private and very suitable for me. Sure wish I knew what the nurses are saying. Dick stayed quite awhile, then he left for a bite to eat. While he was gone Elder and Sister Christensen came by to visit. He is a member of the Area presidency and his assignment was changed at April conference, so they are reassigned to Salt Lake and are leaving Guatemala next week. President and Sister Torres came next. She had been in the hospital a few weeks ago with typhoid and pneumonia. A few minutes after they left Kim and Carolyn Taylor were here. I don’t think I will be lonely while I am here.
My dinner was the ultimate in “hospital” food. Enough said. I will probably lose more weight while I am here. I’m so glad I had an In n Out burger and steak and lobster last week. I am hoping my diet won’t be restricted. Marilyn was on boiled chicken and boiled squash and carrots for 60 days.
I have kept a health journal for a number of years. I had Dick print what I have recorded since we came here. I highlighted a few things and showed in to Dr. Tarot while he was admitting me. In December we were up in the Peten to the north and then in Belize. After we got home I was sick with vomiting, diarrhea, fever and I mentioned a rash on my neck. He read that and when he got to the rash part he said he thinks I have had typhoid since then. He thinks I have a milder variety since it has taken six months to start manifesting my latest symptoms. I told him I had read typhoid symptoms on the internet the other night and I found another symptom that I have….swollen tongue. He said that is a symptom and he has never had a patient with that particular symptom and he treated 500 cases last year alone. A few weeks ago I asked Dick if he has ever felt that his tongue is too big for his mouth. That is exactly what I have felt. Weird.
Dick left for home at 8:30 pm about a mile away. I have been hoping for an internet connection but I don’t think it will happen while I am here. I have been able to look at the 475 pictures that Maren put on my computer from my camera, hers, Jill’s, Alison’s and Kristen’s. Most of our subjects were the same but of different views. I will use them to make a new Shutterfly album of Mother’s funeral.

19 June 2009…..Friday

It is 10 am. I took my usual half of Ambien last night but I had a very wakeful night. Of course, I am in a hospital and nobody sleeps in a hospital. The door is kept closed so I don’t have a lot of hall noise but the desk is right outside my room so I heard a lot of annoying ringing, probably the in house phone to connect departments.

I have a big window. This morning the sky was blue but it is overcast now and it looks like the rain won’t hold off for long. To the east at the next corner I can see the high rise apartments where Durans and Robertsons live. To the west and down two blocks are the apartments of the Area Presidency and the Torres. I still cannot get internet. TV is not interesting. No Fox News. American Channel with an assortment of U.S. shows is fuzzy. National Geographic is in English.
All the nurses are very sweet. I seldom understand what they are saying. I have had IV’s with saline solution, several doses of antibiotic, and another of something for “gaseous” and she rubbed her stomach. I understood that and it did help the pains in my abdomen. The hospital is quite new. There is a beautiful atrium full of plants on the main floor and extending up to the roof. I am in room 338. The doctor’s clinic (office) is attached to the hospital and he is on the 13th floor. He lives in Antigua. It is an hour drive but he says if he leaves at 7 am it can take 3 hours to get here. He very much would love to live in the states because it is a better life there. Is wife is an American citizen, therefore, so are his children. His daughter is going to attend high school in Sugarland, Texas and live with an aunt. For him to practice in the U.S. would require 7 years out of his life to do residency for a year and a half, then back here for 4 years, then back to the states for more training. His plan is for his daughter to move there and when he is able to retire then he and his wife can be sponsored and move there. He is 44.
My appetite has been declining for awhile but breakfast was so unappetizing: pancakes that wouldn’t cut with a fork, served with a little syrup, scrambled eggs, cereal which was so thin that I thought it was a drink and totally tasteless, a roll, an unidentifiable juice that was probably very watered down. I did eat the watermelon. I can hardly wait to see what is for lunch! What I would really like right now is a malt from The Malt Shop in downtown Provo. I think I would have the appetite for that!
Dick came in to see me about noon. He had a red scrape on the bridge of his nose. I asked if he bumped his glasses and they scraped his nose. He said “yes.” The doctor came in a little while later and took one look at Dick and said, “what happened.” Dick said that he fell.

He was at the office and walked out to the patio between the office and the annex. He kicked the top of the one step and fell. Most of the buildings here in Central America have white tile floors. It is very hard to see the steps up or down. When I am with him I always give him little alerts about a step up or a step down. He knew that particular step was there but it is also a taller step than usual. Dr. Tarot felt his nose and told him he had broken it. He sent Dick for an x-ray and sure enough he has a horizontal break in the bridge of his nose. He told Dick to be very careful or he could end up with a crooked nose. So, the doctor learned a new English word, crooked, and Dick will be careful.
The Alberts came by for a visit. Tilleys and Sister Barney came a little later. Sister Torres stopped by and gave me some Avon hand lotion. Lastly, Dr. Tarot was here. He thanked us for letting him practice his English. We talked about the foods I cannot have for the next two months and he said I would probably lose ten more pounds, minimum. I actually don’t want to lose any more weight. But since I can’t have chocolate or oils I probably will. Basically it boils down to no foods that produce gas.
Dick found Fox News for me. The reception is very bad on the TV so I must have been scanning through looking for it when it was static and snow. He left before 7 pm to go to an open house for Sister Jones who leaves the mission field on Monday for her home in Lakewood, CA. When we told her about Blake being drafted by Oakland where his brother plays and that his dad had also played baseball, she said “Ed Crosby?” It seems that her husband had played on the same team as Blake’s dad. Yet another small world episode.

20 June 2009…..Saturday

I had a much better night with much more sleep. Dick brought the wall clock from home yesterday so at least when I woke up during the night I knew what time it was. Sister Barney and Sister Thibault came in dangling the keys to our car. They had errands to run. Dick will have to wait till they get back to go get his suit and shirts at the cleaners and do some things at the office, plus visit me.
Every time hospital personnel come in they knock on the door, then open it and say “con permiso.” (with permission) Elsewhere, if there is a group of us and one leaves the Latinos always say con permiso. They are a very polite people. Dr. Tarot was here. He said I will get the fourth IV of antibiotic tomorrow morning and he will be here about noon. Then I can go home about 3 pm. Meanwhile, I constantly have the saline solution and once a day they hook up a bag for the gas pains.
Dick came in the early afternoon. Elder and Sister Clarke came with a gorgeous bouquet of sunflowers. They constantly follow the sun and symbolize that we should always follow the light. I appreciate their visit and the flowers. Sometimes my writing gets a little strange. Since I started learning Spanish vocabulary I seem to have forgotten how to spell English. Spanish puts the adjective after the noun and sometimes I read what I have written and my sentences seem very awkward. Too bad I don’t know Spanish better since it has confused my English grammar. Thank goodness for spell check!
Sister Torres came into my room about 8 pm. She was so worried about “her missionary,” the young man admitted last Tuesday with typhoid, malaria, and Hepatitis C. His intestines have shut down and he throws up all the malaria medication. President Torres was at district meetings and she wisely decided to stay home as she is recovering from typhoid and is very tired. I asked if she had walked because they live a little over a block from the hospital. She said she had but she spent so much time with the missionary that it had gotten dark and she was afraid to walk home. I told her to call Tilleys, which she did, and they picked her up. When a young missionary is in the hospital a bed is brought into the room for his companion so they remain together. She says his companion assists and helps and is a great support. She has been in contact with his mother by email.

21 June 2009…..Sunday
I slept quite well until about 5:30 am. I awoke with pain in my chest. I couldn’t even take a deep breath. It worried me a lot and I lay there contemplating how I could express what I was feeling to my nurse. My door opened and Dr. Tarot stuck his head in to see if I was sleeping. He had been at the hospital since 2 am. I told him what I was feeling and he asked me some questions. It could be acid reflux, which I have never had before, but he ordered an electrocardiogram and a blood test to check my enzymes. That all happened almost immediately. They both turned out well and so he ruled out a heart attack. I’m grateful he acted quickly because it certainly eased my mind. He constantly reminds me of my age and the risks associated with the young, the sick, and the “old.” The doctor went home to sleep but there was a pretty female doctor there who also speaks English. I got another IV for “gas” and my last dose of antibiotic. The whole two hours of the drip felt stingy and caused my arm to ache. I was relieved when the IV was out. Because of my allergy to adhesive they had used a clear tape when they put the IV line in last Thursday and it worked very well. Doctor told the other doctor to remove the tape before I left as he didn’t want a nurse to do it and pull of skin with it. I am also his first patient that needed only one vein for the treatment. Usually they have to change the vein after two doses. Sarah required a new vein each day and she was there 7 days.
Dick arrived at the hospital about 11 am. He had taken Sisters Jones, Barney and Thibualt to their branch. Sister Jones leaves tomorrow for home and she had a number of students in the branch to whom she taught music directing and piano. Each who took the course received a tecla (keyboard) today. It is a special Church program. What a blessing to this music deprived area.
We were invited to Father’s Day dinner at Tilleys. Dick went. I stayed home but wandered over later. Rexene had chicken and rice for us three recovering typhoidites and steak and scalloped potatoes for the others. It is going to require some resting on my part in the coming days. The total bill for hospital and doctor was Q11,000, or about $1300. I have three prescriptions I will be on for up to a month which was $200. By the time we got home Jill had received a call from Capital One and AVFC credit union. She thought Dick had lost his new wallet and his credit cards were being used by others. Dick has had a good Father’s Day thanks to Skype, email, and cards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Hermana Graff,
I thoroughly enjoyed your weekly post once more. I am so sorry to hear that you have been sick. And also poor Elder Graff's fall!! My prayers are with you both. What a wonderful missionary family you have there in Guatemala. What precious memories are being made. Heavenly Father has chosen some very special angels to minister to His children in Guatemala. Lots of love.