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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, June 4, 2009

Week of 25th May to 31st May 2009

25 May 2009…..Monday
This morning while I was waiting for my loan report to come I was able to put the finishing touches on my April entry for the PEF Area History. I printed it on the color printer on the 4th floor and took it up to Bonnie on the 5th floor so she could put it in the binder. I was able to get everything up to date with May but I haven’t added any pictures yet.
This afternoon Dick called Elder Lewis Pettingill in Dominican Republic. He and his wife are PEF missionaries. Dick saw Lewis a few years ago at the temple, but I haven’t seen him since I was 14 years old. Lewis emailed us a lot of questions about how PEF works here. The Fund is much smaller in the Dominican Republic and the Pettingills are pretty much “it.” They have no director, like Reynaldo, or supervisor, like Claudia, or call center. They do it all. Besides Claudia’s job with PEF she is Relief Society president in her ward and she is going to school on Saturdays to earn her business administration degree. She has worked at the Area Office for 12 years in a variety of jobs.
President Clarke called Dick today just to see how Mother is doing. I am also touched by emails from friends who have read my blog and tell me they keep Mother in their prayers.
Tonight was FHE at Bawdens. Bishop Navas did a Book of Mormon presentation with a lot of information that coincides with locations in Guatemala. It is fascinating.
We entered the MTC 9 months ago today.

26 May 2009…..Tuesday

Today is Tristin’s third birthday. He and Marian called us last week on Skype and thanked us for the birthday $$. Thanks to Jill the birthday gifts from us are always sent to the grandkids under 21 and the great-grandchildren. We started the morning here in our apartment with a Spanish lesson. Patty Alvarez, our teacher, brought her son, Jose, with her. He enters the CCM in a few weeks. His call is to Guatemala City Central Mission, which is pretty ironic. Rexene and I were the only ones here but Patty keeps us on our toes and she speaks mostly in Spanish. Class ended at 9 am and we headed to the office.
I rechecked my Shutterfly photo book and then ordered it. I finished it two months ago but I was waiting for a good sale. I was able to get it for 25% off plus free shipping. It chronicles our mission from the day we entered the MTC till March 31st. It will be shipped to Kristen and she can put it into one of our Rubbermaid containers that she is storing for us. I am already on page 20 of the photo book I started April 1.
Today is Bill Blackburns 66th birthday. We went to their apartment to celebrate. Just before I crawled into bed, Jill called to tell us that my cousin, Randy Greenhalgh, had died. I am so sad. I remember the first time I ever saw him. It was 1953. I was eleven years old and he was an infant. I loved holding him.

27 May 2009…..Wednesday

Today is Tyler’s 11th birthday. His is the last of the ten birthdays we have had in May. Today we left for the office and before taking Sister Barney to her office, we dropped off Sister Jones at the hospital to see Sister Torres. President and Sister Torres, of Guatemala City North Mission, had been gone for 9 days for conferences with their missionaries up in the far north reaches of Guatemala. Sister Torres was very sick and they called Dick to get the name and number of the doctor that treated Marilyn Bawden. They were about 4 hours out of the city at that point. They got back before dark and went directly to the hospital. The Taylors met them there. Sister Torres was hospitalized for pneumonia and Typhoid fever. Last fall Sister Torres had Dengue fever. They keep such a busy pace I don’t know how she ever gets any rest. She has also been to the states twice this year for the weddings of two of their sons.
Our day at the office was very busy. This morning I got a call from President Clarke’s secretary, Telma, saying he wanted to meet with me. The Kings received a photo book from their kids yesterday and Elder Clarke is excited about how beautiful it is. Rexene told him I make Shutterfly albums, so he wants me to make one for Elder and Sister Christensen, member of the Area Presidency, who has been re-assigned. He also wants photo books made for visitors from SLC, like Sister Julie Beck, General Relief Society President, who arrives with others tomorrow evening. He figures if we get some software we could have something printed here. We will discuss it tomorrow in a meeting with others.
Today Reynaldo asked me to put the names and status of those who have applied for exceptions on Office Excel. I have worked on forms already made but I have never made my own before. It worked out pretty well. Not an expert job but it will help them track the status of exceptions as accepted or denied.
Soon after we got home Taylor’s called and invited us for dinner….also, all the other missionaries in our building. We all enjoy each other’s company so much and it was a delicious soup dinner.
Jill emailed an update about Mother. She has been moved into a transitional care unit until Linda can find the right place for her. I feel badly that Linda has to do all of this without my help.

28 May 2009…..Thursday

We had a rude awakening about 2:30 am. It was a good shaking earthquake with something banging against the wall. Being the experienced Californians we are we just laid in bed till it was over and went back to sleep. This morning we read on the internet that it was a 7.1 quake off the coast of Honduras. If that huge quake had happened on land it would have devastated the surrounding area.
We had many things today at the office with all the preparations for our Salt Lake visitors. I printed off close to 200 pages on the color printer of PEF information/instructional materials and organized it into two binders. Tilleys wanted us to go to the temple with them but there was no way we could leave for the afternoon. Taylors came by our office to see if we wanted to go to lunch, but we just had munchies at our desk as we had too much to do. They became the great-grandparents in the early morning hours. Their granddaughter gave birth to twin boys.
We didn’t leave the office till 5 pm. Dick was putting together a Power Point to use on Saturday for a PEF meeting with Elder Richard Cook. Linda called tonight. I was very glad to be able to talk to her and get first hand information about Mother. Linda is still searching for the right place for Mother and it is hard for her that she can’t take her home. But, Mother’s needs are beyond what can be offered at home. I am very grateful for the 3 years I was able to have Mother with us. It will be a year on Sunday since she moved to Linda’s as we prepared for our mission. Linda and I are also very sad about the death of our cousin, Randy.

29 May 2009…..Friday

We took Sister Barney to Central office then we went on to our office. At noon we went upstairs to the 5th floor conference room with all the PEF Committee for a lunch with Elder Richard Cook. Elder Clarke was not there as he was with Sister Julie Beck in Retalhuleu. We had Quiznos soup and sandwich plus cookies and juice. Elder Cook, a former Seventy, is retired from Ford Motor Company financial department, as are several other volunteer directors of PEF in Salt Lake. He is 79 years old and very much on the ball. He had a Power Point presentation that was prepared for the Board of Directors of PEF, which includes the First Presidency, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve, two of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, and Sister Beck. It included financial information we have never seen before. There are 23 missionary couples serving with PEF throughout the world. There are more couples than that serving with CES/PEF responsibilities. Needless to say, there is great need for senior couples.
The office was quiet. Bawdens are in Panama, working with the Navy hospital ship that was on the cover of the Church News. He is organizing volunteers, some of whom are missionaries, who will work as translators on the ship as it goes through the Panama Canal and on to Nicaragua and El Salvador. Tilleys are the back-up security vehicle for Sister Beck and the group traveling with her. They will be gone next week to the other countries of Central America.
Yesterday we had good news about two of our Belize students. Karine Jennifer Lopez has received her mission call to Guatemala. I need to email her and find out which mission. Her brother, Leovany, a school teacher, married 6 months and expecting their first child, has been called as the Cayo District president in Belize. He is among the first PEF graduates in Belize.
Dick needed a haircut so Darlene said she would do it tonight. Tilleys are gone, but we have each other’s keys, so I went in and got their hair clippers and then put them away when Dick was all trimmed up. Then Alberts came by and wanted to use the vacuum that Tilleys have. Ditto. I unlocked the door and got the vacuum. When we have been gone they have used our dishes or carried our table to another apartment. We are a sharing community.
We had a Skype call from Scott’s family. It was the last day of school for the girls. It made me think of being their age and how my summer days were full of reading books.

30 May 2009…..Saturday

Dick left this morning about 8:30 am with Reynaldo and Elder Cook to go visit participants using the Fund. I did my usual Saturday routine of laundry and cleaning. I had a few visits in the hallway….with Hermana Jones, Bill Blackburn, and then Judy Albert. Dick got home shortly after noon. Tilleys arrived home for awhile before heading out on their security assignment when Sister Beck speaks tonight to all of the Guatemala City Relief Society sisters.
We left at 1:30 pm to go to the office for another PEF meeting with Reynaldo, Claudia and Elder Cook. Three PEF volunteers were also in the meeting. Guillermo Diaz is a former stake president and Regional Representative. He sends the monthly priesthood report to each branch president, bishop and stake president in Central America (95 stakes). Aviles Oliva is the wife of Rene Oliva, the Area Welfare Director (they are the ones who want Kayla to meet their son). She and her husband were in San Pedro Sula, Honduras a few years ago when he served as mission president. She is a professor at a university here in the city. She wrote the handbook for the call center volunteers and she also serves in the call center at times. The last was Mynor Ruiz who had his 16 year old son with him. He sends email greetings to participants on their birthday and other holidays. All three play a major role in the success of PEF here in CA. The meeting lasted for three hours. It was mostly English because Elder Cook does not speak Spanish. I love meetings in English. It was very informative and helpful. Reynaldo began by showing a presentation about the volunteers in CA that I had narrated a few months ago. We showed our own slide show of the things we have done.
At 5 pm the meeting was over and I left in Blackburns car. Bill took Adele, Judy and me to the Montufar building for the 6 pm Relief Society meeting with the General Relief Society President, Julie Beck. I have loved her from the time I first heard her speak via satellite at a women’s broadcast. Watching her tonight was extraordinary. There were 2000 women in the meeting.

Since the chapel wouldn’t accommodate that large of a group they had set up chairs in the enclosed parking garage. Sister Beck lived in Brazil as a child when her father was working there, and she speaks Portuguese. She also speaks Spanish. What a great blessing to the sisters in Central America to hear ‘their’ president speak to them in their native tongue. They asked her questions and she responded. They laughed. She was very good. I understood parts but wish I could comprehend everything she said. When she spoke in Retalheleu on Friday night they had planned for 500 attendees, but had 1200. The people of Central America really respond to their Church leaders. They represent Salt Lake City and the prophet and that is very important to the people. Meanwhile, Dick and Bill went out for dinner and then picked us up and brought us home.

31 May 2009…..Sunday
Today Dick and I went to La Sabana branch. Then we drove into the old part of the city (Zone 1) to make sure we could find the Central Stake building as we will be participating in a session of stake conference there this afternoon. They had to cancel their Saturday night session because of the meeting for the women last night so they rescheduled it at 4 pm today. We had the right streets but navigating with the one way streets is always a challenge. Thank heaven for the beautiful steeple sticking above the old buildings. We actually drove back to Zona 9 and then turned and headed back again to be sure we could get there without problems. It worked!
We came home and I made grilled cheese sandwiches with leftover meatloaf. Needless to say, Dick loved it. He is the ultimate meatloaf lover. We left before three and picked up Sarah Richardson and Katherine Kinnison, the BYU interns, at their apartment on Reforma. It was starting to rain. Thank goodness that didn’t last more than a few minutes. We drove to Central Stake. The meeting was divided into four sections. We were in the chapel with a PEF presentation. Sarah and Katherine were in another room doing an employment presentation. They both speak excellent Spanish and Katherine even signs for the deaf in Spanish. I am impressed! Having lived in Juniper Ward with the deaf members has given me a great appreciation of those who know sign language.
There were about 200 adults there and Dick taught four different groups and I worked the computer with the videos and Power Point. At the conclusion of the two hours it occurred to me that I understood just about everything he said. It helped that I am very familiar with the subject of PEF and it helps that he speaks Spanish slower than many of the native speakers. He doesn’t leave off endings and he doesn’t slur the words together. Anyway, it was like a revelation to me to realize that I understood his presentation.

What great people we are able to associate with. The members speak a different language than everyone at home but they have the same faith and testimony that we bear. They give great service here. They always boost my faith.

Lester and his dad...Lester is a PEF participant and a volunteer in the Call Center and Dick's right hand guy for computer help.

We got the girls safely back to their apartment and then we arrived home about 7:30 pm. I believe it is the first time that we have been out after dark in our car.

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