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.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Week of July 27 to August 2, 2009

27 July 2009…..Monday
It was good to get back to the office today. We took Sisters Barney and Thibault to Central Mission office first. I had plenty of loan report entries to do and a report for Reynaldo and René that extracts info from the priesthood report. I had an email from Hermana Karine Lopez, one of our Belizean PEF participants who has been in Guatemala City for the last few weeks as a missionary. She found out that her aunt died and she was very sad, so she emailed me. I hope I was able to help lift her spirits. I actually feel very good today. Probably the best I have felt in four months. I notice that when I get out of my desk chair and walk to the copy room that I am moving faster and with more energy.

We stopped for a few groceries on the way home. Dick made another loaf of cheese-onion bread for dinner tomorrow night. At 6 pm we went upstairs to the King’s apartment for an open house for Sister Thibault (Sarah) and Sister Barney (Darlene). They move out on Thursday. I took chocolate caramel pecan bars. I can’t eat nuts yet but I enjoyed some of the other food. In fact, I enjoyed it a lot and ate more than I have in a long time. It was a fun open house. All of us from Victoria Suites were there, the sister’s mission president (President and Sister Baldwin), the north mission president (President and Sister Torres), and about 10 of the young elders from Central mission.
Sister Barney and Sister Thibault

Sister Barney was the “mom” to those office elders. They would buy groceries and take to her and she would cook at night and the next morning she would take wonderful food to them. She really spoiled them and they really love her.

When we got back to our apartment I finally took time to sit down at the keyboard and do some practicing. With no sustaining pedal it is really hard to do the right fingering. Now is when some organ skills would come in handy.

28 July 2009…..Tuesday
I was awakened at 5:30 am with a cacophony of fireworks that went on and on and on. My usual morning routine is the Book of Mormon in English and then Spanish, mingled with my breakfast. It always makes me think of when Jeff was still living at home. When he grabbed a meal on his own he would sit down to eat and read the newspaper. Now I find myself eating and reading at the same time.

I inherited a great pan for making soup. This morning I sent Dick out to the hallway when I heard familiar voices. I usually borrow Rexene’s big pan when I need it. But she had just got on the elevator. Dick knocked on the Sister’s door and not only did Darlene have a nice big pan I could borrow, but she told me I could have it. Dick thought it was funny that I was excited about inheriting a pan. Later in the day we were given some more treasures from the Sisters: an excellent kitchen knife, two more measuring cups, good scissors, flashlight, stapler, and Dick got excited over his own set of measuring spoons.

At the office our familiar routine was broken by a Skype call from Elder and Sister Dunford in Belize. They have been there for about three months and are responsible for CES and PEF. Dick has sent a lot of materials to them and talked on the phone at various times. Belize is English speaking and it has been an effort to get English PEF material for them.

We were home by 2:30 pm so I could start dinner. We invited Tilleys, Darlene, Sarah and Darlene’s new companion, Sister Badham, a young sister from Bountiful, UT. I made clam chowder and we had the bread Dick made last night and watermelon. We finished off the meal with the rest of the ice cream from last Saturday and I made more ganache to top it.

Anderson’s came down later and they pulled out the dominoes and played while I cleaned the kitchen. Sarah, Kathy Anderson and I sat and visited as there were already six around the table.
I finished my day at the keyboard, practicing the hymns for Sacrament Meeting and the songs for Primary.

Last night Sister Baldwin told me of a young sister missionary from somewhere here in Central America whose father was kidnapped and killed last week. He was an electrician, working in a home, and just at the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost him his life. The missionary is the oldest of 11 children and her father and grandmother are the ones raising the family. Yesterday one of our guards was assaulted on the way to work. He had no physical injuries but his back hurt. The receptionist came to me to see if I had Tylenol. Doctor Taylor came in soon after. We found out that René Oliva’s son was robbed….no, not in Guatemala where many of our missionaries have that experience. He is a missionary in New York City. Here the robber would stick a gun in your face. Elder Oliva was playing basketball with other missionaries and someone grabbed his things. He didn’t even see it happen so at least he is not traumatized.

29 July 2009…..Wednesday
We started the day driving Darlene and Sarah to Central Mission office. That will be the last time as Sarah flies home to Maryland tomorrow. When we got to the office Claudia had a new assignment for me and it needs to be done by Friday. I have to go on the PEF administration site, enter in an account number and enter in the information that a text message was sent. I have 866 loan numbers to do and they are nine digit numbers.

We’re having a hard time saying good bye to the Hemanas so we went to Tilleys for dinner tonight. The Andersons joined us. I made Sandi Stratton’s recipe for rice cooked in coconut milk and pineapple juice with added pineapple and green onions. I found out that Kathy Anderson moved to Mt. Rubidoux Stake in 1963. That is the stake Dick and I grew up in and where we lived after we were married. Kathy was 12 at the time and I was married so our paths never crossed. She lived in Hemet. She, Rexene and I visited after dinner while the domino game was going. Sarah played her first game since she has been here since it would also be her last game.

30 July 2009…..Thursday
Tilleys took Sarah to the airport early this morning. She was our mental health missionary and she kept us all laughing. Our halls will be quiet. I devoted all my time at the office working on the PEF administration site. Claudia got her computer set up with Skype. She and Reynaldo do a lot of conference calling so they called me to see if it worked. Of course, their office doors are about two steps from my desk. They couldn’t get the camera to work but I could see their reflections in my computer screen. We came home about 12:30 pm to eat a bite of lunch and get our temple clothes. We met Bawdens and Taylors down in the garage and we all went to the temple. It was very busy today. There were 200 Hondurans who had come by buses to spend two days doing temple work.

This evening we inherited a couple of fans and a pitcher and glasses. We have a great fan that we bought last year. It cools great. However, it is so noisy, even on low, that we can’t hear each other talk. Sounds like an airplane ready to take off. Sister Barney moves out of her apartment tomorrow and will go to the apartment of her new companion, Sister Badham, where she will complete the last four weeks of her mission. It has made us realize how much “stuff” we will have to give away when the time comes. All the furniture and many kitchen items are “rented” from Victoria Suites. But, there are things we bought and things others have given us. It is all earmarked for other senior missionaries. Darlene also gave a lot of things to Tilleys and Rexene and I always borrow from each other so it works well. We have the keys to each other’s apartments and we don’t hesitate to go in and get what we need if the others are gone.

This week there has been a weather change. I doubt the temperature has varied at all. Most days it is high 70’s, but the humidity must be making the difference. We have not had much rain for quite awhile. This afternoon we got about ten drops, a huge clap of thunder, and then it was over.

31 July 2009…..Friday
I worked almost four hours in finishing up the PEF administrative entries. I have not received loan payments from finance for the last 7 days so I will have a lot to enter on Monday to finish the July report.

Dick dropped me off at home this afternoon and went to the dermatologist. Next Friday he will have a basal cell carcinoma removed from his nose. We had dinner at Tilleys, along with Arnolds, and finished up leftovers from Wednesday’s dinner. We came back home and Taylors came over so I could teach Carolyn how to use Shutterfly. We finished up more leftovers with them as we had hot fudge sundaes and a good visit with them. I haven’t gained any weight, but at least I haven’t lost any more, so I think I am doing pretty good.

1 August 2009…..Saturday
The calendar is turned over another page and July has flown by. Dick was at Paiz by 7 am to buy some more Dannon Activia drinkable yogurt for me. Since the good flora and fauna in my intestines was pretty much eliminated with all the antibiotics I am using Activia to help restore the good stuff. This came recommended by Sister Torres who had Typhoid Fever a few weeks before me. At 8 am Jim brought some warm blueberry coffee cake to our door and he and Dick left for the dental clinic that is being built because the cement roof is being poured this morning. Exciting guy stuff! I kept my usual Saturday routine of cleaning and laundry. Then I had time to practice the keyboard for Church tomorrow.

After the guys got home we all went to Price Smart. We bought an adjustable table to hold my keyboard and I bought a new bed pillow to try. We had a Guatemalan experience on the way home, better than any TV show. As we were driving out a congested three lane, one way street, the traffic came to a standstill. Jim was looking in his rear view mirror and saw a motorcycle next to the car behind us in the next lane. He saw the guy on the cycle hold a gun at the passenger in the car and the driver handed over the cell phone that she was using. He pocketed the phone, along with his gun, and took off. Jim, being the former DEA agent that he is, knew exactly what was happening. He told Rexene to write down the license of the motorcycle which he rattled off to her. He jumped out of the car and took a few steps to the women who had been robbed and asked if that is what had happened. They were both in tears, scared to death. In the opposite lane was a police vehicle and Jim handed the officer the license. In the traffic the only recourse the police had was to call other officers in the direction the guy was headed. The thief had two accomplices on motorcycles. It seems like every day there is someone who is killed in similar situations if they fail to hand over their cell phone, money, or whatever. That’s why we are told not to use the cell phone when we are in the car because that makes you a big target.

In the afternoon Dick and Jim went upstairs to help Neil Anderson cut screens and duct tape them to the window opening ala Guatemalan style.

Our sweet renter, April Thompson, has moved to Utah. Lucky girl! She has lived in our home for a year and I know she took excellent care of it. She has been a member of the YSA ward from our very first meeting and we love her a lot! Her roommates, Dawn and Jackie, are still there and we hope they will be able to get a third person to move in with them soon. Jill continues to be our “property manager” on top of our bill payer and everything else she does for us while we are gone. Probably her biggest job is keeping on top of the birthday and Christmas gifts.

2 August 2009…..Sunday
We loaded the Tilleys car with our new adjustable table and the teclado (keyboard) and headed to Church. Las Americas was blocked off for a race, or something, so traffic was detoured. Jim headed down past the temple and back around another way and we came out at the intersection near our branch. My new table works great with the keyboard because most tables are too high to play the keyboard comfortably. The “church organ” sound that I played adds to the feeling of being in church, even though we meet in a rented house. It went very well. I also played for Primary. The Primary president and her counselor both said it brings a reverent feeling into Primary.

After Church we took one of our young members to her home to leave some things the Tilleys had for her. Namely, a big suitcase that Sister Thibault had left behind, full of clothes that the last three sisters didn’t take home. There was another big trash bag of clothes, too. This young sister, Sister Guzman, has been called to Honduras to serve her mission. She leaves in October. She will definitely use the suitcase, and hopefully she will be able to use some of the clothing. She is tiny so most things will need to be altered for her.

We had dinner next door at the Tilleys with the Blackburns and their daughter who is visiting from Oregon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Elder y Hermana Graff,
Thank you once again for a very entertaining report! What wonderful people you serve! I can't imagine that kind of fear of being mugged or even killed for a cell phone or money. Wow. Thank goodness you have been protected by our Heavenly Father because of your dedication and faith. Thank you so much for your service to the Guatemalan people.