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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.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week of July 13 to 19, 2009

13 July 2009…..Monday
Feeling better today but it was a busy day at the office. Tomorrow we will go be with our returning missionaries so there are things I needed to get done.
Kathy Anderson has been doing all kinds of things for us missionaries. Her husband, Neil, a BYU professor is here on a Fulbright Scholarship. She made a skirt for Sarah and so I showed her the wrap around Guatemalan skirt I have had for a couple of months. It was huge on me and I figured it would make great pillow covers someday. Instead, Kathy cut it down, sewed up the side seam, put on a waist band and I now have a usable skirt.

Family Home Evening was at Taylor's. To prepare for tonight they told us to choose a verse from a favorite hymn, tell why we have feelings for the particular verse and then as a group we would all sing the verse, accompanied by Carolyn on the keyboard. Dick chose the last verse of “Praise to the Man.” I chose the 7th verse of “How Firm a Foundation.” Most of the songs selected were ones that made me think, “oh, that one is a favorite of mine, too.” The power of music in our life is incredible. The written word can touch and teach us but the same words put to music can lift our spirits and bring great joy. In “Phantom of the Opera” Andrew Lloyd Weber has a song that says “music makes my spirit soar.” Such an accurate word to express what music does….it makes my spirit soar! Andrew Lloyd Weber is my favorite contemporary composer. I miss our CD’s of his music.
But, I digress. When our assignment was given to choose a favorite verse out of a favorite hymn I did not pause for a second to think. I knew immediately it would be verse 7 of “How Firm a Foundation.” Eight years ago I was blessed to take a trip with five of my friends….Gwen Dodge, Margaret Thompson, Kris Porter, Cindy Litchko and Linda Bascom. Gwen was our tour guide and made all the arrangements. We flew to St. Louis, MO. After attending the St. Louis temple we drove to Independence and spent a couple of days. Then we made our way across Missouri to Nauvoo, IL. What a blessed time it was to be with women I love so much and to see the sights of Church history and to feel the emotions every day. At night we would meet in Gwen’s hotel room and she would teach us the history of the places we had visited and would visit the next day. Gwen is a real Church historian and I loved the time she spent teaching us. Which takes us to Haun’s Mill, the sight of the massacre of 18 men and boys in 1838, simply because they were Mormons. Amanda Smith’s husband and son were killed. Her youngest son Alma, who I believe was about seven years old, was shot at point blank range, blowing away his hip. In her anguish Amanda prayed and was directed to make lye and insert it in the wound. She was directed with further treatment and wrapping the wound. Alma spent the next five weeks lying on his stomach and his hip fully healed. The days immediately following the massacre were horrendous. The survivors put their dead down a dry well to keep the perpetrators from mutilating the bodies. Many of the people left Haun’s Mill, but a few, including Amanda, could not leave. There was no way she could travel with her injured young son. Members of the mob continued to return and threaten those who remained. They even forbid them from praying. One day Amanda had had enough. She went into the cornfield and hid herself and raised up her voice in prayer. As she left her place of private prayer, the words of the 7th verse of “How Firm a Foundation” were clearly repeated in her mind:

“The soul who on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I cannot----I will not desert to its foes.
That soul, tho’ all hell should endeavor to shake.
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

Thus it is that these words mean so much to me because they blessed and strengthened Amanda Smith and they bless and strengthen me, too.

14 July 2009…..Tuesday
This morning we drove over to Hotel Plaza. The hotel is old with chipped paint. It needs a good repainting and a thorough cleaning of the pool. I was a little worried about the room. It is old but clean and that is all I needed. Clean is everything!

All of the missionaries arrived and were assigned rooms. The mini-bus took us to the Employment Center, a trip of about 5 minutes. We had lunch and classes began. I could not eat anything from the meal except the tortillas and horchata, a rice drink. The doctor had told me about canned tuna that has peas and carrots in it. I brought one with me and I rolled the tuna mixture in the tortillas and had a satisfying meal. I was able to go into one of the offices and get on the internet.

The late afternoon snack was a chicken salad, very thinly spread, on a large roll. I pulled off the lettuce and tomato because I can’t eat them yet, and ate most of the bread and very little of the chicken mix, because I can’t have regular mayonnaise yet. At 7 pm we were taken back to the hotel.

Dick was content to find the All Star game and I was content to crawl into bed at 8:30 and go to sleep.

15 July 2009…..Wednesday
I actually slept quite well. It was noisy with a major highway nearby and traffic noise from the street right out our bathroom window. There was no air conditioner to turn on to mute the outside noises. The room was also warm, but not uncomfortably so. My Ambien kept me asleep till 5:30 am. At 7 am we met our 6 young men and 4 young women at the hotel restaurant. Everyone ordered the Chapina breakfast, which the Church pays for. I can’t have the black beans, platanos, or crema yet so I opted for oatmeal and toast with no butter. The doctor told me I could add citrus back into my diet so I had orange juice.

One of the Institute directors was here to teach the first class of the morning. As always, these are great young people and we enjoy our time with them. I spent the morning reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish, reading our Sunday School lesson in English, and then studying Spanish from one of the books we got from BYU a year ago. At 10 am we had a “snack.” It was two chicken tamales. I ate one. At noon was lunch. I had a little chicken and some rice. I can’t have the salad with raw vegetables. Anyway, I was full from all the food we had this morning.

I was able to get hooked up to the internet this afternoon. Today is Bethany’s 30th birthday and she is lamenting getting old. Thirty is the prime time of life!
We were back at the hotel at 4 pm and the parents began arriving to pick up their missionary children.

It is always a fun experience for us to witness. I love to see the ones who run into their parent’s arms, or vice versa. Today we actually had a mother who didn’t rush to her son and they didn’t even hug each other. But, they seemed happy so I guess that is what it is all about. It was just interesting in the midst of seeing others not want to let go of each other. We had one sister missionary, Sister Salazar, stay another night and so the three of us went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I ordered a plain hamburger and the meat tasted very good. The doctor said I could add lean beef to my diet.

16 July 2009…..Thursday
Our young sister missionary left early this morning so we took our time getting out of the hotel. It is always good to get home but we greatly enjoy our time with the returning missionaries. I am so happy to report that with the new dietary additions I have done very well intestinally. I have received emails from family and friends stating they have put my name on the prayer roll at their temple. I am so appreciative of that for I feel the blessing and the strength of those prayers. I am reminded that we were once told that every fifteen minutes, night and day, there are prayers for all the missionaries being offered in a temple somewhere in the world.

Dick ran some errands, of course……the cleaners, Paiz, and Cemaco. We bought candles months ago and I cannot find them. I have searched this small apartment over and over again. So, he bought a couple of large candles. The power goes out occasionally and it is smart to have candles readily available. Maybe when we move out of this apartment next year we will find the candles. Maybe not. We always thought when we moved out of our house on Stanton St. in Pomona that we would find all of Jill’s lost pacifiers. We moved out in 1971 and didn’t find even one.

When Dick got home he decided he wanted to make his first loaf of bread in the bread maker. It turned out quite well.

17 July 2009…..Friday
It was a long day at the office. I spent my time getting the PEF Priesthood Report broken down into wards for Guatemala and sent the reports to the bishops. Not all wards have participants and not all bishops and branch presidents have internet, but it still took a lot of the day to get it done. Coming home and lying on the couch felt good.

18 July 2009…..Saturday
Got the apartment cleaned, including the wood floors with a floor cleaner that contained some wax. I haven’t decided if I like it better than my regular cleaner or not. I guess living on it for a few days will determine that. Dick had important things to do so he went to the office for about 2 hours.

After 5 pm Jim knocked on our door and asked if we were ready for dinner. I had just started my cooking and I told him I knew nothing about dinner….Rexene had invited us for Sunday but I didn’t know we were invited for Saturday. Both meals, he said. So I took off my apron and we went over there, joined by the Hermanas and later the Andersons when they arrived home from traveling. Rexene made Ceviche and the shrimp tasted very good.

I spent another evening lying on the couch.

19 July 2009…..Sunday
This morning we went to Minerva Ward, Bosques de San Nicolas Stake to train the new stake specialist. I have sworn we would never drive out there again. The last time we went was the end of October when we knew nothing about the city and the surrounding environs. We had to get on the Peroferico, sort of like a freeway, or the closest thing they have to a freeway. We got there okay last time but were totally lost coming home. Today we drove out Roosevelt and got on the Peroferico and that was when our problems began. We got off where it ended and were totally confused. It doesn’t help that there are very few road signs here in Guatemala. We wandered around an area and stopped and asked some guys washing a car for directions. We went about a block and saw an ambulance parked and figured they could give us better directions. He said, in English, “follow me.” He turned on his red flashers and we followed right behind him through narrow streets, winding around, for several miles. Then he stopped just before an intersection and motioned for us. We pulled beside him and he told us to go right at the corner. That got us back on the Peroferico. It was purely by accident that we got off at an exit that happened to be the one we wanted. From there it was easy to get out to the area and fairly easy to find the chapel, after asking for directions again.

Brother Milian is a former bishop and counselor in the stake presidency. Now he is a high counselor responsible for employment and PEF. Such a good man. Dick taught him some things about the Fund and he taught Dick some things about the educational process in Guatemala.

Before we left we asked him for directions once we get to the Periferico. We were not sure about where we get off but made a decision and went with it. Dick figured we were totally off again. We knew we were not in the Roosevelt area, but I saw a sign that said “2nd Avenue” and I suggested we were in the old city area. We had only a little ways to keep going to find 6th Avenue which leads us right back down to the Obelisk and home. One other problem here is that there are 21 zones in the city and each zone repeats the street and avenue numbers. We have proved through going to church and coming home today that we are “accidental” travelers……we find places entirely by accident, although I really know it is the guidance we pray for before we venture out. After all, we are on the Lord’s errand.

This afternoon I cooked onions and garlic in a tablespoon of oil, layered it in a casserole dish with cooked squash and canned tomatoes, then kept it warm in the oven. Just before dinner I sprinkled it with grated Parmesan cheese. We went to Tilleys for dinner along with Blackburns, and the Williams and Bradys who are temple missionaries. Bradys arrived a couple of weeks ago. He has been temple president in Buenos Aires. He has been in the temple presidency in Peru and in Frankfurt Germany, so this is their fourth mission. We had an excellent dinner. Four of the men at the dinner table were former Argentine missionaries.

After dinner we went up to King’s apartment. Two women who attend Boston College have been in Quetzaltenango for the last month learning Spanish. One is in her early thirties and is working on her PHD. She is doing a dissertation on the importance of education and wants to include how PEF works in the lives of the people. Dick answered all her questions and we spent an hour and a half with them. He loves talking about PEF.

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