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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 30, 2009

Journal - Week of August 24 - 30

This bright beautiful fruit has the taste and consistency of a Kiwi but is much larger. The outward appearance looks like a pine cone.

24 August 2009..…Monday
It was a good day at the office. All my work is caught up to date. I even had time to finish up the month of July for the PEF Area History. Dick has been uncomfortable for a couple of days so he walked down to the doctor’s office (about 20 steps). Kim gave him antibiotics for a suspected kidney infection. Later he brought him some pills for the pain that is intermittent. When we got home Jim Tilley and Neal Anderson gave him a blessing. Tomorrow morning we have our assignment at the Employment Center with the returning missionaries so Dick needs to feel well for that. He had an hour and a half nap this evening and is feeling better.

Sister Barney was at Tilleys when we got home. She has been travelling for a week with President and
Sister Torres. She will spend the night at Taylors and then Tilleys will take her to the airport early tomorrow for her trip home to Texas. Once more we have to say goodbye to someone who has become very dear to us. We packed our suitcase and made preparations to leave tomorrow.

25 August 2009…..Tuesday
Dick had a better night and the antibiotics seem to be working. While I finished getting ready this morning he went to the cleaners and to buy some more pain pills. A packet of ten was Q17…..about $2.20. They seem to work will. We left about 9:30 this morning for the Casa de Huéspedes. Once again we did not get the better room with the better beds. They are remodeling….whatever that means. One of the things they have done which certainly identifies the Casa as owned by the Church….there is sisal on the lower part of all the walls. Just like the church buildings at home. The bunk beds do have much better mattresses than they used to have.

Today we have three elders and four sisters. It is the first time we have had more women than men. Two served in Quito, Ecuador, four served in Honduras, and one served here in the city. While we were in the lobby of the Casa we saw Hermana Gramajo. She was part of our family home evening group when we first came here last year. She served as a proselyting missionary. We met her daughter who came to take her back home to Quetzaltenango.

Our first item of business after arriving at the Employment Center was to go to the restaurant here in the building for lunch. Very uninspiring for me and Dick. A good ole’ peanut butter and honey sandwich would taste better to me than the tough beef. About 3 pm, after the volunteers left, I was able to get hooked up to the internet. It is my lifeline. At 5 pm we had our usual chicken salad sandwich which is my favorite meal (snack) here at the Employment Center. It is very slight on the chicken filling, but that is fine. I say “snack” because at 6:30 pm Dominoes Pizza delivered. It is puzzling to us that every time we are here they serve the sandwich at five and then dinner at 6:30 pm. Guatemalans do eat their meals later. We have never waited to be seated at a restaurant. The lunch crowd doesn’t begin till about 1 pm and dinner around 7 pm.

We had a tired group of young people. Two of the elders didn’t sleep at all the night before with packing and excitement about returning home. When we got back to the Casa Dick went out in front and one of the elders visited with him for awhile. I stayed in the room and got ready for bed. I heard a bus pull in, since we are on the first floor in a room facing the parking lot. I knew the bus had come from the airport with a load of missionaries fresh from the Provo MTC. I could hear the excited voices. Dick talked to some of them……from California and Utah. One young elder looked at him and asked,
“Do you speak English?” I relate to that question because I have asked that a number of times. There were about 40 on the bus. They spent three weeks in Provo and then will spend the next six weeks here in the CCM. I got into bed at 8:30 and Dick walked in the door shortly thereafter. He reminded me that today was our first anniversary. We entered the MTC one year ago today.

26 August 2009…..Wednesday
We were up bright and early and all of us were in the lobby well before 7 am. There was a steady but light rain. Our ride to the Employment Center was about twenty minutes late. Gala Tours does all the transportation and they are usually twenty minutes early for everything. Breakfast was at the restaurant. I spent much of the morning with my scriptures. At noon we headed back to the restaurant. I was a reluctant participant, until I saw that they had spaghetti. It tasted pretty good and they served it with a green salad of water cress, a slice of tomato and some sliced onions. The dressing was lemon juice. The taste gave me instant memories of the late forties when we would drive up to Mt. Baldy and pick water cress growing along the banks of a stream. I had to come to Guatemala to remember that.

I was able to get on the internet just before noon. I can go on my office email and check out my messages and that is good because when I go back to the office I don’t have a lot of email to sort through. Class was over by 3:30 pm and the usual tamales were served (mostly cornmeal with a speck of meat). Dick and I both declined as we had eaten a big lunch. We took a group photo. I think every time we are with the returning missionaries I say they were exceptional. Well, this group really was exceptional. Of the seven, six had attended college before their mission. The other, Elder Custodio, had worked as an electrician apprentice and now wants to be an electrical engineer. He will need to use PEF. The others will be able to afford their education. The two day class they attend at the Employment Center teaches the need for education and good skills in getting a job. The class is offered to others, members or non-members, who come to the Employment Center for help. Of course, this is also offered in the Church Employment Centers throughout the world, even the U.S. It is a course that is free through the Church but other places in the states will charge up to $1000 for a similar course.

Our driver was there to take us back to the Casa. As soon as I stepped off the small bus I felt raindrops. Since we had a few minutes all our young people went into the CCM to see President Christiansen, (MTC president). It speaks for the kind of man he is that each group of returning missionaries want to go see him after their 18 month or 2 year mission. He remembers them, too, from their six week stay. By the time we were ready to walk over to the temple the rain was pouring. I had an umbrella and we gave our extra to one of the elders and our large umbrella to the sisters. Dick ALWAYS refuses an umbrella, but before we were out of the gate the water was running off of him. The guard got him a large umbrella from CCM to use. We were all more than slightly damp when we got there. Dick and I played our usual role as witness couple.

I love being in the temple in my white clothing and the peace that I feel in the temple. I always felt a huge contrast from the freeways and Santa Monica Blvd. and then the peace of the Los Angeles Temple. The roads to the Guatemala City Temple are harrowing and the walk over to the temple always makes me think of the evening a few months back when a small collision sent a car careening up over the curb and into the shrubbery at the Shell gas station. A young elder and sister were walking with me and we were narrowly missed by the car. Yes, I cherish the peace of the temple.

After the session we had damp clothing to put back on. It is always a joyful reunion when we leave the temple and see families waiting for children. When Elder Custodio walked out there was a huge group waiting for him. They had a three hour drive home. He hugged Dick and made a comment about Dick’s corbato (tie). He was wearing the red/gold tie with Book of Mormon hieroglyphics. He had told him during the day how much he liked the tie. So, there on the steps of the temple, Dick removed his tie and placed it around Elder Custodio’s neck. Because all of our missionaries were picked up by family tonight, we went back to the Casa, packed up our things, and drove home. There IS no place like home.

27 August 2009..…Thursday
Because we are always exhausted after our intense couple of days and nights with the returning missionaries, we took the morning off to get some things done. Dick took his rained-on suit to the cleaners. I practiced the hymns for Sunday. When he came back we went to get my hair cut. I tried a new place since Sister Barney has gone home. I haven’t yet decided if I am happy with the cut.

We went to the office about 1 pm. At 4 pm we had visitors…..Ali Crandall and Julie Wilder from Boston. They hold positions with a humanitarian organization that helps to support orphanages in a number of countries. The real struggle here is the law change in 2008 that no longer allows adoptions. There are so many orphans and abandoned children in this country. Because there is no income or support for many of the orphanages it reduces the number being cared for. So sad. Ali is a member of the Church and had emailed a few weeks ago requesting an interview about PEF. After we were through we dropped them off at their hotel and got home after 6 pm.

28 August 2009…..Friday
It was a normal day at the office, though pretty quiet with a few of the nearby desks empty. We do like it quiet, though. Being on the first floor does bring a number of people into the area at times. There were two men today from BYU working with the Welfare group concerning agriculture in the area.

We came home and Marilyn rode with us since Dean had a meeting. After dropping us off Dick went to the collision repair shop to see if they had the parts in for our car yet. I made brownies and we took them next door for dinner and dominoes with Tilleys and Taylors. Charlie Albert came by and had a bite to eat. Judy is in the hospital with Typhoid Fever. It has been ten weeks since I was released from the hospital and she is the first case of Typhoid among us seniors since then. Kim Taylor talks regularly with the Salt Lake medical department responsible for missionaries. They are totally baffled why so many of us have had problems. They feel the main source would be water but we all use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, etc. We are careful.

29 August 2009…..Saturday
Laundry, dusting, sweeping, mopping….even cleaned out the refrigerator. It was a busy morning. Dick left for a haircut and to do some things at the office. I finally got the page numbers for Primary music last night so I had a good practice at the keyboard this morning. It seems like I am always finding some interesting things with the hymnbook and Primary songbook in Spanish. First of all, tomorrow we are singing “Rock of Ages.” It isn’t in our English hymnbook but it is in the Spanish hymnbook. The opening song is “Trabajad con fervor”….. (“Today While the Sun Shines,” and only the first word is capitalized in the Spanish hymns). The rhythm is slightly different, no, a lot different than in English. Fitting in all the Spanish words makes a change in rhythm. It really has been a challenge for me this week. We are also singing “Haz el bien” (“Choose the Right”) and “En el pueblo de Sión” (“In Our Lovely Deseret”). I greatly enjoy being able to bring some music help to our little branch.

We went to the temple with Tilleys this afternoon for the Palmita Stake temple session. There were about 12 members of our branch in attendance. Our young sister who has her mission call received her endowments today. One sister in our branch used the headphones for the dialect she speaks. I wish I had my camera afterwards. One of our sisters walks up the hill every Sunday to church with her 76 year old son. She always wears an apron to church and she wore an apron to attend the temple. I love the women of Central America as it is an “apron” society. I remember going for my patriarchal blessing when I was ten years old. We were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Jensen in Goshen, UT. My Aunt Melba said she wanted to go with us and she put on a clean apron and was ready to go. I love aprons. I have purchased a few to take home with me.

30 August 2009..…Sunday
It was a bright, clear Sabbath, though we did have some thunder last night. We drove our car today because Jim had some home teaching afterwards. Before Sunday School started Brother Mena, the Gospel Doctrine teacher, asked me to play “Praise to the Man” so the class could sing at the end of his lesson today on Section 135 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Since today was the fifth Sunday of the month with Relief Society and Priesthood combined, they used the big room and Primary moved to the small room. I actually think it helped contain the active little ones better. Though I could have used a lot more light on my music.

This afternoon we went with Tilleys to visit Judy in the hospital. She is doing well, is getting her last dose of antibiotic, and will be released tonight.

Jill was sustained today in a new calling. She is the Young Women’s President, again. She served in that calling twelve years ago. The interesting thing is that Jill, Alison and Kristen are all YW presidents at the same time. They are going to do a conference call to give each other new ideas. Mark also emailed during the week that he was excited over his new calling as a ward missionary. What a blessing it is to give service to the Lord in our wards and in our communities.

Pictures of our drive to Church today.....

We drive up past the Catholic Church, then farther up to our branch. On the left of the last picture is the 76 year old brother. His mother is walking ahead in the white sweater and wearing her apron. She needs no help nor support walking the distance.

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