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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, September 13, 2009

Journal - Week of September 7 - 13

7 September 2009…..Monday
This morning we opened our door when we were ready to go to the office with Tilleys. Tomkinsons were hanging around, waiting for the cable/internet guy to come. They tried hooking their computer up at Tilleys with no success. Then they tried our hook up and it worked. We told them to stay in our apartment and do their internet stuff.

I took fudge to the office. I had baggies for the guard down on the garage level and for the one at the front door. I put a plate in Reynaldo’s office. He is almost as big a chocolate freak as I am. I gave Claudia a big plate and she passed it around to all the interns and volunteers. I took the plate around the other areas of the first floor. Everyone got some, including Bawdens, Taylors and Blackburns.

About an hour after we got to the office I received the letters that I need to include in my emails to the stake presidents, bishops, specialists, and members of the Seventy. The rest of the day I had plenty to keep me busy. At times the internet was so slow; it was frustrating for Dick and for me. We came home about 4 pm with Tilleys. It rained most of the afternoon.

After dinner I made up eight plates of fudge for our neighbors and Dick delivered them. Then we spent the next two and a half hours at Tilleys playing Dominoes with Tomkinsons and Andersons.

8 September 2009…..Tuesday
We left a little earlier for the office today. Percy, our computer expert, was working with a young intern to get our computers in the “Welfare” area of the office all hooked up with the new printer. It took about an hour so I sat with my laptop and worked on downloading pictures of all the senior missionaries on to Shutterfly. When I was finally able to get to my desk I had plenty of work to do. I emailed the priesthood report to all the stake specialists in Central America. Then I broke down the Guatemala stakes into the ward/branch units for the bishops and branch presidents in Guatemala. I will email them as soon as Claudia emails the updated bishop directory to me.

Carolyn Taylor came to our office and got me and Marilyn to come look at the picture on the computer of their 20 minute old grandson. They have waited by their computers all day with updates on the labor. In four months we will be doing the same thing. We left the office after 4 pm. We found out that the delay with our car repair is because of another “wrong” door. First, it was a passenger door for the undamaged side that was delivered. Then it was a rear door for a Corolla sedan and we have a station wagon. Hope they can get it right, soon.

Dick spent some time this evening preparing a talk for Sunday, and it isn’t even Saturday night!

9 September 2009…..Wednesday
I finished the emailing of the Priesthood report. We left the office at 11:30 am and went to Wendy’s for lunch with Tilleys and Blackburns. Then Tilleys and us went to Paiz for a few groceries and brought them home. Then back to the office for a couple of hours and I worked on the loan payment record.

I got a cute email birthday card from Blackburns on my computer tonight.

10 September 2009…..Thursday
It’s another day and another birthday. Today I am 68 years old. Dick gave me a box of Zurich dark chocolates. Rexene had a gift for me this morning. She gave me one of the beautiful Christmas ornaments that she bought. It is white and silver and beautiful. She also had a gift for me from Sister Barney….. scented shampoo and shower gels. Very sweet of her to think of my birthday before she went home last month. I had an e-card from Cyndy on my office computer when I turned it on this morning and a birthday greeting from the Kings. A little later I heard a duet of “Happy Birthday” and I knew immediately it was the Blackburns. They carried in some balloons and taped them to the window by me. A little later Carolyn came by and wished me a “Happy Birthday.” Kim came a few minutes later and wished me a good day. Today is also Kelvin Escobar’s birthday who sits at a desk about fifteen feet away. He is 49. I sent a couple of emails to Belize and then Sister Clarke was at my desk and invited me to leave the office and go with a group to visit an orphanage in Chimaltenango. So, Dick stayed and worked and I left.

Those going were Bawdens, Taylors, Sister Clarke and Sister Martino, (wives of Area Presidency) and Sister Christensen, who serves with her husband as president of the MTC. It was an hour trip. The orphanage is clean and orderly. There are only 12 children there right now. They are sweet children. Those caring for them are kind and attentive. In telling Rexene about the feelings I had there she hit the nail on the head when she said that the spirit was there. It truly was. The director/owner of the orphanage always wanted to have a place for orphaned children. His mother helped him get started. He is married to a Canadian girl. They take the children to Church. They are baptized. There is a little family of four siblings whose parents were murdered. The youngest little one, Alejandra, is just learning to walk.

Anthony was a cute friendly little boy of about ten. His bright eyes and big smile reminded me of Matthew even though his eyes weren’t blue and his hair wasn’t blonde.

There is a young girl of 12 that won my heart. Her name is Abigail. She smiled, she hugged us, but when we left her eyes were glistening, just like mine.
It was a touching experience for me and a very memorable birthday experience.

We got back to the office and there was another “happy birthday” balloon taped to my desk, this one from Claudia. I missed the birthday cake for Kelvin and me but everyone else enjoyed it. I sent another email to Belize and then Dick and I went up to see Ruby on the fourth floor. She makes beautiful jade jewelry. She is making me some green jade earrings and some blue jade earrings. They are my birthday gift from Dick. As soon as we got back down to our office we closed everything up and went home because Bill was leaving and he was our ride home for the day.

When we got to our apartment we saw two balloons and a sign taped to the door. I knew then what would be on the other side. We were “vandalized!” (By Tilleys) There were balloons taped all over the walls and cute signs about aging. There was a gift propped up against the door, a calendar with scenes of Guatemala. It was from Andersons. After Tilleys came home Jim took Dick over to Taco Bell to buy chalupas and fries for our dinner. At 7 pm our neighbors arrived and we had pineapple upside-down cake, made by Rexene, with ice cream and hot fudge. Dick asked Bill to say a blessing….you know, we Mormons bless the food to nourish us even when it is dessert. Bill gave a beautiful prayer that blessed me. I have never had a “birthday prayer” before but I think it should become a tradition. I was very touched. The company was extraordinary. We are all true friends and we love to be together. Sister Clarke calls our apartment building “the Mormon dorm”…..and it is. I certainly didn’t expect gifts, but Blackburns brought me chocolate covered Macadamia nuts; Bawdens brought a beautiful ceramic Guatemalan vase; Taylors gave me two Guatemalan ceramic refrigerator magnets and a beautiful note from Carolyn about "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and the “daughter of Eve.” I must say, when the Alberts came in with an empty piñata of Dora the Explorer it took my breath away.
I am 68 years old and Dora is just the most magnificent gift! Thanks to 30 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, I KNOW Dora. Everywhere you drive in Guatemala there are stores with piñatas hanging all over the front and Charlie chose Dora for me. I thought we would keep Dora and just pass her on to another missionary couple next year, but I have decided that when Dora gets tired of us, probably just before Christmas, I will give her to Reynaldo for Monica and Diego. She really should be in the same home as Diego Nuñez, though I think Monica will like her best. And now I know that Dora is not Mexican. She is Guatemalan!

Dick was so concerned that I should have a good birthday. It was an extraordinary birthday that I will always remember.

11 September 2009…..Friday
We got to the office a little earlier today and I kept very busy all day with loan entries. Tilleys called on the way home from meetings at noon and we met them outside. When we got in the car Jim told me to choose where we should go for lunch. My choice was the Chinese restaurant around the corner. I don’t even know the name of it but they have a shrimp dish with crispy noodles and an exquisite, spicy sauce. It was a delicious lunch. Back at the office I continued my loan entries. About 4 pm Bill came by our office so we closed up the computers and came home with him.

Bawdens were busy with phone calls and meetings. There is a real crisis with lack of rain in Guatemala and therefore lack of food. With Elder Clarke’s help they got Salt Lake to authorize $100,000 from the Church for food. Instead of shipping food down, they will buy it here and get it to the people immediately. Besides going through the stake and district presidents in the outlying areas they also will distribute it with other sources….one through the wife of the president of Guatemala, and the other through Catholic charities. It is very interesting to sit near the Bawdens and see the work that goes on when there is a humanitarian need in Central America.

Dick went to Tilleys to play dominoes with Jim, Neal and Wayne Tomkinson. We women opted out. It has been a busy week and a quiet night to play catch up on the computer was just what I needed. I watched the hour special on Fox about 9-11. I cried as I relived that day but when it was over I felt that my tears were for my country now and those things that have “changed,” like the policies that kept us safe for eight years.

12 September 2009…..Saturday
Today we moved the “extra” sofa and coffee table that we had in our bedroom to the Tomkinsons across the hall. They have a three bedroom apartment so they had space for it. Dick borrowed Tilley”s car to get a couple of items at Paiz and go to the cleaners. When he got back we got on the internet and watched Donovan walk across the stage to receive his Master’s degree from the Sacramento campus of University of Phoenix. We are so proud of him and we are grateful for modern technology.

In the afternoon Dick went with Tomkinsons to the Clarke’s to watch BYU play another football game. I made clam chowder and we went up to Bawden’s with the whole group for dinner. Taylors had invited Dr. Tarot to come to dinner because his family is visiting in Texas and he is lonely. It was a lovely evening. After dinner we sang “I Am a Child of God” in English, then he was given a Spanish hymn book. It had belonged to Sister Barney so we all signed it for him. I gave him “The Liahona” in Spanish and pointed out the cover which mentions an article about women. I also told him there was a section for children. He was very gracious. He loves his Catholic roots. He is a church-going Catholic. But he said the American Mormons have changed his life. He has great respect for our service and things each couple does to make things better for Guatemala. He wants us to all go to his home in Antigua in December and sing Christmas songs. He wants his wife and children to meet us. We also have great respect for him. I think there is a reason that six of us had Typhoid Fever. We needed to be treated by Dr. Tarot and expose him to the gospel in action.

13 September 2009…..Sunday
Dick spoke today in Sacrament Meeting. He did a good job with his Spanish. I was a little insecure with a couple of the songs today as they are harder for me to play. It didn’t help that just before the closing song I had an aura and therefore I couldn’t see all the notes. I made it through the song okay but that is the first aura I have had at a critical time when I really needed to see all of the notes on the page. During Sunday School Dick and I both had a bee buzzing around our head but it soon flew out the open window. Brother Mena asked me to read some scriptures and I always enjoy reading aloud, even in Spanish. Primary went just fine but by then I had a headache. I felt pretty much out of it. That called for a nap when I got home. I tried. I lay down for an hour but there was no sleep. At least my Ambien cures that problem at night.

In Church they handed out flyers about the new Bible in Spanish that the Church has printed. It is a very nice, hard bound book. The price is Q10. That is less than $1.50.

Today Myrna sent a message to check her blog. The news they told us last time they called has been posted. Brian will be deployed again. We are so proud of him and Myrna and honored for his service in the Air Force. He brings honor to our entire family and represents us well.

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