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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, October 18, 2009

Journal - Week of October 12 - 18

>12 October 2009…..Monday

We had an enjoyable dinner with Taylors on Sunday. We sat around the table and talked for two hours about gospel truths and it was an uplifting experience. Carolyn is a deep thinker and has an inquisitive mind. She asked me a few weeks ago what I thought about “truth.” That developed into researching scriptures and what the Savior had to say about truth. Jesus is the light. Light is truth. Truth is a very deep subject. I think we all decided that there is so much more to “truth” than our mortal minds can comprehend. But, we enjoyed our time talking. Before we were through with our conversation the power went off. Kim got candles and a flashlight and we finished our evening surrounded by darkness and even saw the little light we had as indicative of the “light of truth” and what a small flickering flame can do to relieve darkness. The generator soon started down in the garage but it only lights the lobby, halls and stairwells. We headed down to our apartment. Everyone had their door open for the added light from the hallway. We visited with Tilleys and Tomkinsons and then we went to the roof to observe how much of the city was in the dark. It was good to come back to our apartment when the power came back on. I do love electricity!

Reynaldo and Claudia are back in the office. They, along with Reynaldo’s family, arrived in Guatemala City at 5 am this morning. They had a wonderful trip to Salt Lake and had seats up close in the Conference Center for General Conference. Now the office feels back to normal. Reynaldo emailed the Nicaragua Priesthood Report to me so I was able to finish that country. I still have Guatemala to complete.

We left the office at lunchtime and went to Price Smart. We bought all the paper goods for the farewell dinner next Monday. We had a Price Smart hotdog for lunch. Just like eating at Costco in Lancaster. We brought our items home and Dick mixed up all the ingredients for Pumpkin Dessert. For Family Home Evening tonight the men had a bake off. The women judged. The apartment building smelled incredible this evening when Dick had his dessert in the oven; Jim was baking coffee cake; Wayne had peach cobbler coming out of the oven; Kim made short bread tarts with cream cheese filling; Neil, chocolate chip cookies; and Bill added the savory addition to the bake off….chicken calzones and taco pie. We had a great time. The men were very proud of their accomplishments. Of course, some of them have been cooking for years. Dick’s specialty was always fried eggs and sausage. His pumpkin dessert was excellent. All the chefs got a prize, pinned on them by their wife.

Then we had a discussion of the General Conference talks. We were all uplifted by the blessings of hearing the brethren and sisters talk and we were uplifted again as we were able to talk about our own feelings.

13 October 2009…..Tuesday

I didn’t feel well when I woke up. I ended up going back to bed an hour later and Dick went to the office. He took his leftover dessert. They all loved it and were surprised that he had made it himself. I slept till noon. He came home to check on me after going out to lunch with Blackburns and Tilleys. When Dick left for the office this morning he found two packages of Angel Food cake by our door. One of our good neighbors had left them for us. We found out later our "angel" was Marilyn Bawden.

14 October 2009…..Wednesday

I was feeling better today. We took a pound of See’s chocolates for Reynaldo and Claudia. We just wanted them to see what wonderful chocolate tastes like. The wireless system in the office has been changed, resulting in the problems I have had getting on the internet with my laptop at the office. Today the computer guys worked on getting my laptop into compliance with the new system and I am happy to have it done. Now I can work on the Area History and other things that I use it for at the office. I was finally able to start the loan report. It took me all day and I still have more to do.

Dick brought me home then left to go to the bank for Quetz and to pay our electric bill and to a few other places. He went to the Distribution Center and bought us a new Spanish Bible. I got hymns for Sunday from President Acevedo. Three of them I have never played on the keyboard and the fourth, I have never heard before. It is not in the English hymn book. Dick made calls tonight so I can finish up the Specialist Report tomorrow.

15 October 2009…..Thursday

I finished up the Specialist Report and emailed it to Reynaldo and Claudia. Then I worked on the loan report and finished it up through the 13th of October. It kept me busy all day. This afternoon the sky got very dark, we had several claps of thunder, and then a little rain and it was all over. This country is hurting from lack of rain. Many crops rely on the consistent rain from May through October. When we got home we helped Taylors load their car with all the things they are taking to the eye glass clinic……900 pair of reading glasses, hygiene kits, etc. They have a sign on their office wall that says “1000 eyeglasses.” That was a goal they wanted to accomplish while on their mission. They have handed out many times over that first goal. This evening we went upstairs and I got a couple of kitchen items from Bawdens who are beginning to clean out their kitchen in preparation for going home in a few weeks.

16 October 2009…..Friday

Today Madisen and Kourtney are 13 years old…..teenagers!

We left on our trip about 10:15 am for Hotel Atitlán at Lake Atitlán. This area has been number one on my list of places to visit since we got our mission call. Many believe it to be the “waters of Mormon.” We took four cars and they were packed with a variety or goods for tomorrow’s clinic, including groceries from Price Smart for Elder and Sister Sandberg who serve in that area. Taylors drove their car, Kings drove theirs, Tilleys and Blackburns went in a fleet car from the office, and we rode with Tomkinsons in another fleet car…..roomy, newer vans. Carolyn had a bag for each car with M and M’s, apples, oranges, ginger snaps and granola bars, plus her favorite Walt Whitman poem. It is a pleasant drive of about three hours. We drove through Sololá, around winding roads, passed a very high waterfall, and down a long dirt drive to the hotel. It is a lovely place to be, right on the shores of Lake Atitlàn. We were on the north shore and could see the three volcanoes across the lake. It was quite cloudy and overcast over the lake so it was a rather muted view, but lovely, nevertheless. After getting settled in our room and taking pictures from our own personal terrace we walked through the grounds between the hotel and the lake. They have beautiful gardens with flowers, trees, and colorful birds…..macaws, parrots and toucans. All were caged but the macaws were in the trees and a lively group they were.

We met in the restaurant for lunch at 2 pm. Dick and I both had avocado stuffed with tuna salad. The table settings were full of color.

We thought we would drive into the nearest town later but we all decided staying right where we were for the afternoon was just what we needed. It was restful and beautiful and serene. We walked through the rest of the gardens on the other side of the hotel and they were gorgeous and well tended.

I did wander into the gift shop and bought an apron. There were a lot of Americans staying there. Mostly, they were part of larger groups. One group of Methodists from Arizona come on a regular basis to do humanitarian projects for a week or two. We met another such group and then people with the Rotary Club from the U.S. We often encounter good people who come to Guatemala to help others and we enjoy talking about the work we are all doing. Bawdens arrived later. Dean´s brother is here visiting from New Mexico so they were taking him around to their favorite places. We sat on our terrace later and watched it rain. We gathered at the restaurant for dinner. I had grilled salmon with pesto. The conversation at our end of the table was stimulating. At one point Adele asked Suzanne what her heritage was. Suzanne gave her maiden name, which is of German origin. Adele said she was also of German heritage and gave her maiden name, to which Suzanne responded, “that is my mother’s maiden name.” So they found out that Suzanne’s mother is Adele’s cousin. Another small world encounter.

17 October 2009…..Saturday

Before the sun even hit the lake I was on the terrace to take some pictures. Later I took a picture of a volcano through an archway of Listeria vines.

We all ate a buffet breakfast together before starting off for the day. We left the hotel at 8:30 am to drive to San Andres and the chapel where we would spend our day. First of all, we drove through Panajachel. Then we drove over a bridge that had been an “iffy” part of our trip. It had huge cracks in the base and was being repaired last week. It was Thursday before we knew that the repairs had been made and that we could take this much shorter route. Otherwise, we would have had to backtrack taking a lot more time. The cracks were very visible in the base after we crossed the wooden structure that was the “repair.” We soon came to the village of San Andres, led by the Bawdens before they left to continue their trip. There was already a line of people in the street, waiting to get into the gates to the chapel grounds. I recognized Elder Sandberg right away. (He and Preston King were missionary companions in Central American many years ago).

He is from the Dennings ward in Rancho Palos Verdes and we met him in June at Mother’s funeral. Then I saw Sister Sandberg and gave her a hug and told her I was Linda’s sister.

These are two fantastic people.
They live in a little place right around the corner from the chapel. They don’t have a car. They ride the “chicken” buses or they hop into the back of pickups. They are the ultimate senior missionaries, living the lifestyle of the young missionaries. They walk the streets of San Andres and the people know them. What a magnificent influence they have on the people of their little village.

We unloaded the cars, got our areas all set up on the grass, mostly under a tree, and at 9:30 am the gates were opened. We had great help from eight young missionaries. They speak the dialect so were of help with the people who don’t even speak Spanish. A few people were let in the gate at a time. First, there were six chairs for them to wait, then three places where their vision was accessed through their ability to see clearly using the Book of Mormon title page and the varying sizes of print on the page. Then we had rows of glasses with varying degrees of strength. The stronger lenses were on our table but most people didn’t need glasses that strong.

I had the Windex and the towel. After they selected a pair of glasses they came to me and I cut off tags and pulled of stickers and then cleaned the glasses. When I handed the clean pair back, many would grab them by the lens, so I’m sure many are wearing already smudged glasses. I probably cleaned over 400 pair of glasses. Dick helped me for most of the time.

After leaving our area they went to the Tomkinsons station where everyone got a toothbrush and were taught basic hygiene for their teeth. They even got some applause after a few of their presentations. Then the children went back to a canopy area where two young sister missionaries were, along with some of our group. They colored, played games, and each got a bag of play doh that Rexene had made. When they left the church grounds every family got a hygiene kit that we put together of towel, soap, comb, bandaids, and safety pins. The gates were closed at 2 pm. I finally left my post with the towel and the Windex. We had all taken food for the young missionaries and it was divided up into four boxes. Each companionship had a box to take back to their home filled with muffins, nuts, trail mix, cheese/peanut butter crackers, apples, oranges, candy, etc.

We began our drive back to Guatemala City, exhilarated from a great and wonderful experience. We took a road that wound around Lake Atitlán. We were now on the east side of the lake. The views were more than incredible. They were spectacular. We pulled over to the side where there was some space and got out and took pictures. My pictures are okay, but they do not capture the “spectacular.” It felt like it had to be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Switzerland was magnificent but this was something else, with the volcanoes and the inlets and the blue skies and gorgeous water. Aldous Huxley called Lake Atitlán the most beautiful lake in the world.

We drove through Patzicia and followed Kim as he went through the narrow streets and not the main highway. It seems Carolyn wanted to see the inside of the big Catholic Church. She is my most inquisitive friend. So we waited a few minutes and then she was back out and getting in the car. We had to back out of that narrow street. When we got to Chimaltenango we stopped at Burger King for a bite. That’s about all I had. There was nothing tasty about my plain hamburger. Then we detoured and drove to Jocotenango to the wood factory. I bought a few more pieces of fruit to add to my collection of wood fruit. It was 6 pm and dark when we finally left. We drove through the adjoining narrow but busy streets of Antigua and came home. It was good to be home, but it was a most memorable experience for us. Seeing the beauties of this earth and His creations are a testament to His majesty and glory. Being amongst the people and interacting with them was a blessing for us. Being with our close friends here in the mission field is a gift of friendships that will last forever.

18 October 2009…..Sunday

This morning we left for church and Tilleys rode with us. After Sacrament Meeting we left the teclado (keyboard) with Blackburns so they could use it for Primary. We and Tilleys went to Alameda Stake to train a new Perpetual Education Fund specialist. The stake is in zone 18 which is considered the most dangerous in Guatemala City, so the Tilleys declared they would go with us. I am always thankful for that. We drove there, to a building we have been to before, but relying on our memories, and found the building. Dick and Jim were very proud of themselves. After talking to a few people we found out it wasn’t the stake center, so we got back in the car and drove to where we were told the stake center was. We also had been there before. But, we found out it wasn’t the stake center, either. One of the brothers we talked to told a 17 year old young man to go with us and show us the way. It was only a mile or two but at least we found the right building and we were still early for the appointment. The specialist, a 74 year old sister, was waiting in the parking lot for us and we went into a room with her and two members of the stake high council. That is just the way it should be. They are a great support to her and hopefully, good things will happen, or continue to happen in Alameda Stake. So, we had to laugh about being in three different chapels today. It was good to get home and get my journal up to date and my blog sent.

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