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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.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Journal - Week of August 10 - 16

10 August 2009…..Monday
Skype has been busy. Last night we had a Skype call from Sarah…..Sister Thibault who is home now in Maryland. Myrna called us later and we got to talk to Kristy and Katy. This afternoon we had a Skype call with Scott and Bethany. Bethany is 17 weeks along in her pregnancy and the pre-term labor has started, earlier than with the other children. She is on bed rest. Scott told us they are carrying on the Graff name…..yes, it is another boy! That will give us 14 grandsons and 17 granddaughters. But, we worry with all the contractions that she is having so early.

Today we kept very busy. At noon we left with Tilleys for lunch at Wendy’s. I worked most of the day getting the 700+ page PEF Priesthood Report separated into individual stakes and tomorrow I will email the individual reports to all the stake presidents in Central America. Dick had an appointment at 5:30 pm with his dermatologist to check his surgery. Everything is in good shape. Carolyn Taylor had the same surgery today as Dick, only the Taylors flew to Houston on Saturday so she could have the Mohs surgery for the basal cell carcinoma on her nose.

FHE tonight was at the Walkers who both work for the American Embassy. They are from Santa Barbara. We all walked down the street half a block to their apartment. Afterwards Dick and Jim took Gert home. It is about a 45 minute round trip for them.

Today when we were having lunch at Wendy’s, Dick and Jim were deep in a conversation. Rexene and I burst out laughing. It was so funny to us. Last week Jim made bread sticks, from scratch. No bread machine for him. So he and Dick are talking and Jim says, “I think I’m going to make cinnamon rolls next.” Then Dick chimes in about one of his bread recipes that calls for raisins and you throw them in when the bread machine beeps. It was pretty funny and I laugh as I write about it. Dick wanted to know why it was so funny and I said it would be like me and Rexene talking about, “next time I change the oil in the car…..” Our boys all learned to cook so it would not be so funny if they said it. But Dick’s expertise was usually fried eggs.

11 August 2009…..Tuesday
We both kept busy at the office. I had an appointment with Dr. Tarot this afternoon. He declared me fully well from Typhoid Fever. He said I can eat anything I want. I can also start taking my vitamins and Glucosamine. It is over 7 weeks since I left the hospital and I am very grateful to be doing so well. There is always fear of intestinal problems for up to two months but I am passed that danger. He was pleased to hear that I have gained a few pounds. We had chili for dinner and it tasted good.

12 August 2009…..Wednesday
We got mail today from Cyndy. She sends a beautiful homemade card each month and her Relief Society news letter. This morning Dick talked to Jorge, the church employee responsible for the fleet of cars in Central America. That does not include our car because we bought our car. Jorge recommended a collision repair shop and then went with Dick to get an estimate. We had a very busy day at the office and I have a lot more to get done tomorrow.

We went to Tilleys for dinner. Sister Barney was there. She has been “in the field” for the last two weeks serving as a companion to the young mission nurse. She will spend the last days of her mission with President and Sister Torres and traveling to some of the northern reaches of Guatemala for conferences with the young missionaries. I’m sure glad Rexene enjoys cooking.

13 August 2009…..Thursday
A lot of work going on at the office today. After all the time I spent the last couple of days getting the PEF Priesthood report divided into all 97 stakes, I emailed them to each of the stake presidents. I began getting emails back that they had the wrong report. I got back on the report and figured out what happened….I just don’t know why it happened. The report I had been sent had 715 pages because each ward was on a separate page. The report that went through emails to the stake presidents had 300 pages with multiple wards on a page. Anyway, all the different numbers meant that no one had their own report. Tomorrow I will start from scratch again. I sent out emails to reply to the presidents….”Lo siento,” (I’m sorry) and that I would search for the problem and resend.

I cooked spaghetti and added it to sautéed garlic and sun dried tomatoes in olive oil and butter, then topped it with Parmesan. Food tastes so much better to me.

14 August 2009…..Friday
Today Kayla is 18! Last year we were in Lacey, WA on her birthday. I had a lot to accomplish at the office today. Dick saw his dermatologist this morning and he removed the stitches from his nose. It looks very good. As the afternoon wore on I was trying to finish emailing to the stake presidents when Reynaldo said we had an emergency. Because our two young men volunteers didn’t come in today we had to sort all of the payment coupons we printed for Nicaragua last week so they could go out this afternoon in the pouch mail. Reynaldo, Claudia, Jose Ruano, Dick and I worked on them for about 45 minutes but we got it done before the mail was picked up. I tried to finish the emailing I was doing but Reynaldo said to save it till Monday. We finally left the office a little after 4 pm.

When we got home I just wanted to put my feet up but Dick announced he was going to make bread. This time it is cinnamon raisin bread. Taylors have returned from their trip to Houston for Carolyn’s surgery. They brought us a candy bar from See’s.

I see the things I am doing on the computer and I have come a very long way in the last 14 years. My first real experience with the computer was typing up agendas for Stake Relief Society presidency meetings. Mark would turn on the computer and I would type. When I was finished he would print it for me. Finally, one day he said, “Mom, I’m leaving on my mission soon. You need to learn how to do this.” The rest is history. Over the years I am always amazed when I have learned something new. I don’t know a lot but I certainly never imagined that I could do the things I do with the internet and computers. What a life changing invention.

One of the things Sister Barney gave us when the sisters moved out of the apartment is a DVD player. Tonight we watched “Journey of Faith: The New World.” It belongs to the Blackburns but we want to get our own copy. It is excellent about the ruins of Guatemala and southern Mexico, but even more it is a beautiful journey and conversation about The Book of Mormon. Sister Oliva, wife of Rene Oliva, gave us a DVD today about Guatemala and the tourist sites. After watching both we had some warm cinnamon raisin bread. It was excellent and Dick was talking about using cranberries next time.

15 August 2009…..Saturday
This morning we were getting ready to go with Tilleys and Anderson’s to Antigua.
Dick was showing Jim the loaf of bread he made and said, “I added a little more yeast than the recipe calls for.” Well, again I had to laugh so I took a picture of them admiring the raisin bread. As we were leaving Kim was here giving us some muffins. Tilleys were able to get a fleet car so all six of us could go in the same car. We went first to Jocotenango. They had some roads closed for a parade for the Día de la Asunción. We wanted to go to the wood factory so Andersons could buy some wooden fruit.
We went down a very narrow street and it ended up bringing us out near the Catholic Church which is down the street from the wood factory.


After they made their purchases we drove the short distance to Antigua. It took us a little while to find the Jade Museum. All the streets in Antigua look alike but eventually we found it. Jim and Dick stayed in the car since it was not really legally parked and Rexene, Andersons and I went inside. We each bought an “And it came to pass” emblem.
It is a piece of jade with an engraved symbol in the Mayan language of, “and it came to pass.” They give out an explanation card with it. It tells about the symbol inscribed at a Mayan site in Chiapas, Mexico that was interpreted in 1985 by a Mayan scholar. Then the card goes on to state that the phrase appears 1,381 times in the English version of The Book of Mormon. It says that the Old Testament uses the phrase 526 times and the New Testament uses it 87 times. The concluding line states: “This fact suggests that the phrase “and it came to pass” is Hebrew in origin.” So here is the Jade Factory and Archaeology Museum in Guatemala handing out literature about a Mayan symbol and stating exactly what the Book of Mormon tells us…..the origin of the people here in Central America were those who came from Jerusalem.

We got back to the city and stopped for lunch at the nearby Chinese restaurant. After we got home Dean brought a thick slice of honey-carrot bread that they bought at a bakery and then Kim was at the door again with banana nut that they bought when they were with Bawdens. The power went out shortly thereafter and Tilleys came over to visit. When it started to get dark (and warm) inside Rexene dished up ice cream for us and we went up to the roof. We found the Blackburns up there where Adele was cutting Bill’s hair because it was too dark in the apartment. So, another exciting night in the life of senior missionaries. At 7 pm it is 70 degrees with 83% humidity and very comfortable.

16 August 2009…..Sunday
This morning we got into the fleet car that Tilleys have for the weekend, along with Bill. Adele is still not feeling well. Today was La Sabana Branch Conference. We got there plenty early to try a new spot to put the teclado and helped get the chairs organized. But, the big gates were locked. There were some others waiting who had driven or walked. Finally, President Acevedo arrived and opened the gates. We had about 80 in attendance which included the stake president and other stake leaders. My initial thought while I was playing prelude music was that I miss ward conference in Lancaster Stake with President Porter. I miss his spirit and his airplane stories, a lot! The congregation is improving in the singing of hymns. I think they are getting used to the accompaniment. Today also went better in Primary. The children were not so curious about touching the keys of the teclado and no one turned it off while I was playing. It is a great blessing for me to contribute with music in our branch.

Rexene is fantastic with the children. She has the language skills from living in Ecuador a few years ago and a natural gift with children, and adults for that matter. In Montana she works with Special Ed children. Our Kaitlin has been accepted into the Special Ed program at BYU. She, too, is one of those people who has a gift with children and will touch many lives. On the way home from church we stopped so Dick, Jim and Bill could give a blessing to one of the brothers that Dick home teaches. He had emergency surgery this week for kidney stones.

We both are feeling well and enjoying good health. I am happy to be passed the poor health and low energy days. We are very blessed.

1 comment:

The Struthers Clan said...

Elder y Hermana Graff,
Once again I enjoyed your weekly journal. So glad you are feeling better and Dick's nose is healing. You are such an inspiration to me. We hope to serve a mission some day and we love to hear of your experiences!!