14 September 2009…..Monday
Monday morning and back to the office. Reynaldo is in Honduras for the week. The morning passed quickly. At 11:30 am Dick and Jim went to the bank to get some Q’s. Then they went to the collision repair shop. Our car is coming along but won’t be ready until at least Thursday. Meantime, Tilleys transport us or sometimes Blackburns. Rexene and I met the guys in the front of the office and we went to Wendy’s for some lunch. The crowds were beginning to gather around the Obelisco and in the streets. Tomorrow is Guatemala Independence Day. We went back to the office after lunch and closed up our computers and came home. The office was closing for the afternoon and tomorrow. We were told the fireworks will start at midnight.
Tonight Bawdens hosted Family Home Evening. They had hired a group of mariachi’s and it was a most enjoyable evening. Our first FHE after we arrived here last year was at Bawdens and they had a marimba group. His desire has been to expose us to more Guatemalan culture. The music just makes me feel like dancing.
15 September 2009…..Tuesday
This morning we finished packing our suitcase for our venture with the returning missionaries. Because there are 5 busloads of temple goers from other countries, the Casa de Huéspedes had no room for us. We stayed at the Hotel Plaza. Blackburns drove us over to the hotel at 9:30 am. There was a sister missionary there waiting in the lobby. She served her mission in Guatemala City North Mission and she was dropped off at the hotel this morning by the office elders. A little later we had one arrive from the airport and then the van bringing the group from El Salvador. We didn’t even leave for the Employment Center till shortly after noon. We have four elders and four sisters this time. Because it is Independence Day there are not many cars on the road and the Employment Center is quiet…..only Patty was there today because she has to teach our missionaries. Our lunch was chicken sandwich, fries, and Orange Fanta, delivered by Wendy’s. All the fast food places do free delivery here and they zip around on motorcycles. One of our missionaries, Sister Robles, is from Quetzaltenango. She served in Belize. Her first question was, “Do you know the Dunfords?” They are serving in Belize as CES/PEF missionaries. We have talked to them on Skype several times and via telephone and email. She loved serving in Belize and wants to start using PEF soon. She is going to Dallas in a couple of weeks to visit her sister and her nephew who was born recently. Then we found out that one of the elders served in the Cayo District of Belize for nine months. He knows all of our PEF participants there.
At 5 pm we had a snack of juice and a meat/cheese filled pastry, then at 6:30 we had Dominoes pizza for dinner. We weren’t served our usual meals because of the holiday. We were taken back to the hotel at 7 pm, with the leftover pizza. Patty ordered plenty so the young missionaries have a bedtime snack. This time we are on the ground floor on a different side of the hotel so we don’t have a lot of street noise. The airplanes, however, go directly overhead when they take off so it is very loud.
We had one of the elders at our door before we went to bed. He wasn’t feeling well and had been coughing. I gave him a few cough drops, a packet of Alka Seltzer, and two Tylenol and told him to wait 4 hours between taking the Alka Seltzer and Tylenol.
Today is Merrill’s birthday. He is six years older than me but our birthdays are only five days apart and I remember celebrating together when I was a very little girl.
16 September 2009…..Wednesday
The bed was very uncomfortable. We set the alarm for 5 am so we could be at the hotel restaurant at 6:30 for breakfast. I would rather sleep than eat. Breakfast was included with the room. Two months ago when we stayed there we had a “tipico” breakfast…..typical Guatemalan breakfast of eggs, beans, etc. This time the included breakfast was toast, pineapple marmalade, and juice. So, after we got to the Employment Center Dick and the missionaries went down the corridor to the restaurant and had breakfast. I didn’t go. Toast and juice was sufficient for me.
I wasn’t able to get on the internet because the Employment Center also has interns working and they were using the available internet area. I had scriptures to read and some things I could do on my computer without being online. At noon we went to the nearby restaurant. I had a beef stew, rice and beets with onions. Dick bought ice cream sandwiches for all of us. I’m sure there wasn’t a drop of cream in the “ice cream.” The sandwich part was a thin wafer and the whole thing was covered with a thin layer of chocolate. I wish I could say it was scrumptious but it wasn’t, so I can’t. Dick and I didn’t even finish ours. When we came back to the classroom Elder Peñate and Sister Robles started to sing. They both have excellent English and they both served in Belize where English is spoken. They were singing in English, “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” and “Praise to the Man.” Dick and I joined in with them. They both said they love to sing in English. Sister Robles added, “…because that is the language the hymns were written in.” Last night before I got into bed I could hear a sister singing hymns in Spanish.
At breakfast this morning Sister Robles told us a story about the El Salvador temple that is now under construction. The day the ground was broken for the temple a woman who lives nearby was standing on her balcony. She saw many people dressed in white in the vacant lot. She decided to go see what was going on. When she got there she saw no one dressed in white and asked where all the people had gone. She was told that there had been no one there dressed in white. I wonder if she even knows that she was given a beautiful gift, to see those on the other side of the veil rejoicing over the commencement of another temple of the Lord on the earth.
We had a meal of tamales, (1% meat, 99% cornmeal), that Dick and I skipped, and then we all went out to the curb and got in the van. We were taken to the temple. Because a group of missionaries from the CCM were there we were not in the 5 pm session. At 5:45 pm they started another session for us. The room was packed with about 30 people. Dick and I were witness couple. Our van was there to pick us up at 7:00 but all of us weren’t out of the temple until 8:30. We went back to the hotel and parents had been waiting quite awhile to pick up their children. It was a joyful occasion. I wish I had my camera with me out there in the dark because Elder Choc’s family was there and his mother and sisters were in their indigenous dress. They are from Patzicia where the area they live in is named Zarahemla. So many faithful saints there. They invited one of the other families to stop at their house for the night because they had a four hour drive home to Quetzaltenango. So many good people in this country. And once again, we felt that this was an exceptional group of returning missionaries.
We had one elder remaining with us. We wanted to get a bite to eat at the restaurant for the three of us but it was closed. They don’t have room service. Dick called McDonald’s but they don’t deliver after 9 pm and it was ten minutes after. Elder Lopez said he was fine. He still had twenty-four hour old pizza sitting in his room. He said he had plenty for us but we declined. Food that would give us food poisoning does not seem to bother most Guatemalans.
17 September 2009…..Thursday
We were so tired last night. Dick was with Elder Lopez this morning till his family picked him up. Then we called Blackburns and Bill came and got us and brought us back home. Dick went to the office awhile later with Blackburns. I unpacked and prepared to repack. We are going to Copan, Honduras tomorrow with a group. We got mail at the office today, finally. With Labor Day in the U.S. our mail was delayed. I got a birthday card from Jill, Linda, Juniper Ward Relief Society presidency and a card and lovely poem written by Cyndy. We got another card from Cyndy and her ward RS news letter. Jill forwarded a notice about the Pomona Gang Annual Reunion and a wedding announcement from Jeremy Lloyd and Kathlyn de la Rosa, two more Amargosa Ward members who are getting married. We were also given an announcement today from José Ruano and Laura Arredondo. José always practices his English with me and asks me questions so I can practice my Spanish. He is a cutie and so is she.
18 September 2009…..Friday
Today would have been Mother’s 94th birthday. I’m sure she is joyful to be on the other side of the veil with Daddy and her beloved family. I am grateful she is no longer going through the trials of aging and declining health. Today is also an anniversary for Dick and me……50 years since our first date. We went to the Los Angeles County Fair. How time flies!
We were awakened with a phone call saying we would not be leaving for Copan, Honduras at 10 am but will go at noon as the Walkers, who work for the American Embassy, have to work this morning. So, we left for Honduras about 12:30 pm in a very nice Gala bus. There were 16 of….Bawdens, Tilleys, Kings, Taylors, Blackburns, Johnsons, Walkers and us.
It cost each couple $240 for transportation, hotel, and admittance to the ruins. We greatly enjoyed being all together. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds here in Guatemala City. As we headed out of town we saw dark clouds ahead and soon we were in a downpour. There was flooding along the sides of the road. We had to stop for quite awhile at a construction area. When we got going again we encountered some fog but that soon cleared up. As we progressed we could see the effects of the drought in the outreaching areas. The corn fields, and there are a lot of them, are totally brown and dry. At one point we saw a piece of brush in the road, which they put there as a warning of a road problem ahead, and as we made a curve in the road there was a car, with a power pole that had fallen, laying across the hood. We saw a lot of rock slides as we traveled. Some were small rocks but some areas were huge boulders. We drove through pines and palms today. When we got to the border it was just about 6 pm and getting dark. Guatemala charged us Q10 a piece to leave and Honduras charged $3 a piece to enter. We added another country stamp to our passports.
The town of Santa Rosa de Copan was just a few kilometers from the border. We stopped in the town and had dinner at a restaurant. Dick and I order nachos and a balleada and shared the meal. We really enjoyed it. A balleada is a very large flour tortilla folded over a filling of beans, cheese, etc. It is very much like a burrito except it isn’t rolled. Reynaldo, who is Honduraño, speaks of this favorite food from his home country. So we had to try it. He will be happy to know that we really liked it. After eating we walked through the street to do a little shopping. Rexene gave away a Book of Mormon to a shopkeeper and her family. I bought a necklace that is a Rosado stone…..the national gemstone of Argentina. It was almost 9 pm and as I looked down the dark street I saw a familiar site…..two young missionaries coming our way. They are from Ohio and Washington. They were excited to see all of us. Especially since Rexene took them in the shop to meet the family who received the book. We went to the Hotel Posado Real de Copan. It was a beautiful setting and we enjoyed a good night’s rest.
19 September 2009…..SaturdayThis morning we met down in the restaurant at 7 am and enjoyed a breakfast together. Several times an employee of the hotel came out and shooed away a herd of brahmas that were grazing, but not before Adele had me follow her and take her picture with the grazing animals. Then we checked out of the hotel and got on our bus for the few minute drive to the ruins. I took lots of pictures. I loved seeing the colorful macaws in the trees in their natural setting.
The ruins were very interesting and our guide told us a lot about Mayan beliefs.
It was hot and HUMID! Very HUMID! And it was only 9 in the morning. Some of used our umbrellas to keep the sun off of us. Soon we needed them to keep the rain off of us but it was a relief.
Of course, there was a gift shop on the premises and I love the little nacimiento (nativity set) that I bought…..a Honduran nacimiento. It was $27 which is half of what I have paid for the nativity sets here in Guatemala. I also bought a covered wood container for coasters and a colorful refrigerator magnet. It felt so good to get in the bus with the air conditioning. While we were boarding the bus a little girl was selling little figurines for $1. We bought one and so did Tilleys. Dick asked her what she was going to do with the money she had made and she said, “go buy more to sell.” Very enterprising little girl. We left at 12:30 pm and were home at 5 pm after a pit stop for bathrooms and a snack of Magnum bars…..very much like a Dove ice cream bar. We came home very tired but happy to be back in our cool city. There is no place like home.
On the way home we were sitting near the Johnsons. Dick Johnson asked Dick a question about the Perpetual Education Fund and the conversation went on for about 45 minutes. I would throw in my two cents every once in awhile, but I couldn’t help but think, once again, that Dick has great passion for PEF. It is truly a dream mission for him and he is committed fully to doing whatever it takes to help the Fund. But, that is the only way he has ever served in any calling, be in scout master or Bishop……with passion and his whole heart.
20 September 2009…..Sunday
We tried to get an earlier start today so Jim could go by the office and print the programs for our branch Sacrament Meeting. Las Americas was closed at our corner for whatever festivity is going on. So we drove out past the temple to get to La Sabana.
Wilson has become a topic of conversation. It’s pretty sad that we have become so focused on a balloon. He is the helium balloon the Claudia gave me for my birthday. He really enjoys skipping along the ceiling as the circulating fan moves back and forth or with the breezes through the window. One day we came home from the office and as I went into the bathroom he came out from behind the door. His heavy string with popped balloons on the bottom have drug him down the last few days and he just skips along about 3 feet off the ground. Friday he was in my way. Everything I tried to do in the kitchen he was right there beside me and I would have to move him elsewhere. I started calling him “he” and Rexene changed that to “Wilson” and so he has a name. Last night after we got home it seems like he was following me. No matter what room I was in, he would soon be there, too. Today I cut off the popped balloons and lightened his load and now he is floating up at the ceiling again. It’s not that we don’t have a life that brings me to writing about a balloon. He is just unique as far as balloons go. I am actually more attached to him than I am Dora.