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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 11, 2009

Journal - Week of October 5 - 11

Our painting of Antigua

5 October 2009…..Monday
I had a very busy morning at the office. Dick left for a few hours to go pick up the Bradys, temple missionaries, and take them to Price Smart. Blackburns and Tilleys also took couples shopping. I worked on the loan report and finished that for September. Then I began the work on the Priesthood Report and getting it emailed to all of Central America. I finally reached the point that I couldn’t do any more until I receive the October form to enter loans and the rest of the Priesthood Report. We go to the Employment Center with our returning missionaries tomorrow so I won’t be back to the office till Friday. I haven’t been able to get my laptop on the internet at the office again today. I need to finish the Shutterfly photo book for Alberts and start the ones for Williams (temple missionaries), Martinez (temple president), and Bawdens who will soon be leaving the mission field.

Bawdens replacements are here, Elder and Sister Curtiss from Florida. She is a native Guatemalan and he was here in the Peace Corps. They were married here in Guatemala City and joined the Church at a later time. They have retired here in Guatemala City, moved here (drove all the way down through Mexico!), went back to Provo to the MTC, and now are here to serve. They will have two weeks to be trained by the Bawdens before they leave the mission field.

After dinner, I packed our suitcase for tomorrow. At 7:30 pm all of us went to Taylor’s apartment. Kim wanted to report to all of us on the conclusions of the SLC doctors who were here a couple of weeks ago. One of the new edicts is to not eat any strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage or onions. I have had a green salad no more than six times and I have always been cautious of them. I will now refrain entirely. The foods listed cannot be totally cleaned even with soaking them in bleach water. We are also told to not steam any vegetables, just boil. Tilleys came in and we visited for awhile. Our nights seem to be warmer and we have been sleeping with the fan on the last three nights. Actually, the temperature, which I track on weatherchannel.com, doesn’t seem to be any warmer but the humidity must be playing a part. Maybe it’s because we got so warm in Belize that we are still having trouble cooling down.

6 October 2009…..Tuesday
This morning we finished packing and had an unhurried morning. We left for the Casa de Huéspedes at 9:30. Traffic was good and we were there in less than fifteen minutes. This time we were able to get room 205 and I was more than happy. The room has been completely refurbished. In fact, they have a few things left to do. There is a new wood floor, recessed lighting, comfy chair and a straight backed chair, new smaller refrigerator, new drapes, and the best part was two new queen size beds with new Serta mattresses. Then I walked into the bathroom and I was ecstatic. ….new tile floors and walls, new sink and counter top, new toilet, and a brand new tiled shower. I always have brought a spray to put on the shower before getting in because it was scummy. If I just had internet connection I could stay in the room for days. So, I was a happy camper when I saw this much better room, vastly improved.

When I saw the bus pull into the parking lot I went downstairs and joined Dick. There were five elders on the bus. They had flown in from Honduras. We were supposed to get nine elders and one sister. So phone calls had to be made. We found out that the elder from Nicaragua had been picked up by his parents at the airport and gone home. One had gone home a couple of weeks ago and the others we expected had extended their mission until the next changes. So, we had only five, but the small groups are very enjoyable and more personal. At 11:45 am we boarded the bus and went to the Employment Center. Traffic was slower than usual because there had been an accident and one vehicle was badly damaged. Emergency personnel were there and working on someone lying on the side of the road.

We got to the Employment Center and into our classroom. There was a man who came into the room as we got settled. He had his phone to his ear and I thought he was trying to get somewhere so he could hear. He sort of hung around. Then he left. I asked Dick if he was a parent of one of the missionaries. We had the opening song, prayer and a scripture. Then Pati sent us down the hall to the restaurant for lunch, but the food is so un-appetizing to me. When we got to the doorway of the restaurant, with the missionaries following me, I turned around, and there hanging on with the group was the same guy on his phone. He was so distinguishable because he had on a shirt of amarillo y azul (yellow and blue). Then he was gone. I truly acted on a prompting and I am so glad I did. I told Dick I had to go check my computer. I went back to the Employment Center and down the hall to the classroom. Just as I got there the man was coming out, carrying my computer case. I reached out my hand and said, “my computer.” He said, in English, “is this yours?” and I said “yes.” He gave me the computer and walked out. Elvis was in his office and I told him but I really don’t think he understood enough of my English. I thought he was going out to find him but someone was coming in for an appointment with him and they went back to the office. I found Patty in the kitchen and she understands English so I told her. We have been warned before not to use our computer out in the open room of tables and work stations because someone might take it. Anyway, I put the computer in the kitchen with Patty and two volunteers and went back to the restaurant. After eating a few bites of rice and meat loaf I went back and got my computer and went back to the classroom. I called the Tilleys later because I knew they would be proud of me for being so observant. Usually, I am so unobservant. Then when they asked for a description for their report I realized how totally unobservant I am…… I doubt I would recognize him again. Elvis had seen him, too, and he also thought he must be a parent of one of the missionaries because he had followed us in the door. I didn’t know that he came in with us since I was leading the group in. At the prospect of losing my computer I am very grateful that my files are entrusted to Carbonite so I would not lose all my work and information if something happened to the computer. The interesting thing about all of this, the door from the little lobby off the hall into the offices and other rooms has to be unlocked by using a buzzer. It is done by the receptionist, but yesterday there was a young intern manning the position. The thief walked in when the door was opened for us, but when he left the buzzer had to be hit so he could get out the door. No one would have known or seen if he had a computer that wasn’t his.

After 2 pm I realized another blessing. I always go into the class room and while Dick is getting assignments made I am taking a few pictures. Therefore, my camera always lies on the table but today I totally forgot to do that and it wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures. If I had done that earlier my camera would have been stolen. Instead it was still tucked inside its case in my bag. I truly feel the workings of the spirit today with the promptings, those recognized and those unrecognized.

I was able to spend a lot of time with my scriptures, English and Spanish. Pati knew one of our missionaries from his days in Primary. Another missionary is a cousin to the receptionist who works here. We had sun this morning but rain by noon. It was 4 pm before the last of the volunteers left and freed up the internet connection. I finished up Albert’s Shutterfly photo book and submitted it. They will probably have it at their home in Colorado in a week.

We had our usual chicken tamales at 5 pm and at 6:30 pm Dominoes pizza delivered.

At 7 we walked out to the van. The missionaries surrounded me to be sure there was no one lurking to take my computer. Our van driver went an unusual route back to the Casa and the traffic was horrific. It took us three times as long to get there. At 8:30 pm I saw the old yellow U.S. school bus pull into the parking lot of the Casa and I knew that it was American missionaries who had left Provo this morning and flown to Guatemala City. (This country is full of old school buses from the States). They will be here in the Missionary Training Center (CCM in Spanish) for six weeks. We went outside and watched them unload. I hugged the sister missionaries. They said there were no hugs allowed in Provo because of health issues. They come here and I hug them and Sister Christensen was hugging them. There were several girls from Utah and one from Tonga. President and Sister Christensen do a fantastic job with an on-going population of about 70 missionaries. Every three weeks new missionaries come and those who have finished their preparations leave for their assignments here in Central America. The Christensens attend break-the-fast with us but as soon as the meal is over they leave to get back to the CCM. They have a few hours one evening a week to shop or do what they need to do. Otherwise, they are with their young missionaries full time. Oh, to have the energy and mobility of these young people. They are full of the joy of serving. They have a lot of work ahead of them.

7 October 2009…..Wednesday
We were in the van by 7 am this morning, headed back to the Employment Center. This is the first time Dick had to use the key to unlock the door and then use the combination to turn off the alarm. Usually, someone is here before us. After a song, scripture, and prayer, we went over to the restaurant for breakfast. Pati locked both doors into the classroom to protect our belongings. I would rather eat breakfast than any other meal here in Guatemala. We had the “tipico” meal of scrambled eggs, black beans, a slice of white cheese, and platanos (fried plantains). Our drink was watermelon juice.

We were back in the classroom by eight. Brother Guarcax, one of the Institute directors in the city, was ready to begin instructing our young elders. I did a lot of scripture reading with no internet available to get some work done. We went back to the little restaurant. We had the choice of beef (unchewable) or chicken (with chopped up broccoli that we can’t have), rice (with lime juice and pretty good) and salad (with ingredients the doctors don’t want us to eat). Dick bought us all an ice cream bar. Afterwards, class was concluded and we prepared to leave at 3:30 pm. These are five good men! They all seem more mature than some we have had. One is 27 so he left on his mission just before he became too old to qualify for missionary service. Since my experience yesterday, he walks behind us as we enter and leave the building or even down the hall to the restaurant. He has taken on a protective role.

It was pouring rain as we hurried to get into the van. By the time we got to the Casa it wasn’t raining. We have four umbrellas in the car, just in case, but we didn’t need them to walk over to the temple. Our session started promptly, by Guatemala standards. One mother of a missionary was in the temple session with us. Afterwards, the others all hurried over to the Casa where their families were waiting. They all went home tonight which freed us up to also go home. It was dark and the streets were wet, not prime driving conditions, but we made it home just fine. There is no place like home.

8 October 2009…..Thursday
Dick went into the office about ten this morning. I stayed home and worked on laundry and some other items that needed to be done. I found out what music I need to prepare for Sunday so I was able to practice. I finished up some much needed work on our photo book. Preparations for the Primary program have been non-existent and so Rexene is helping our young Primary president with ideas. I have a few songs to learn. Dick came home for lunch and then he and Jim left for the Employment Center to meet with Elvis. As “Security” Jim needed to talk with Elvis and see what needs to be done to increase the security to prevent people from gaining access. It will be a hard thing because the employment opportunities are open to all people. It rained hard but as soon as the guys got back Dick headed back to the office to close up his computer. After we finished dinner Neil was at our door with a couple of pieces of cake he had made. He was called as the branch president of their branch recently. They will be here just 5 more months before returning home and to his job as a professor at BYU. Five months isn’t very long but he can bring some good leadership principles to their struggling branch.

9 October 2009…..Friday
This morning I did what I could at the office. I need Reynaldo and Claudia back at the office to email the proper reports and forms to me. I have not been able to get my laptop onto the internet at the office for a week, so therefore I couldn’t work on the PEF Area History. Dick brought me home, had a little lunch, then went back. I enjoyed being home and getting some things done. Tonight we went to Tomkinsons with our other neighbors for a movie night. We saw a beautiful movie, “The Ultimate Gift.” I highly recommend it. While we watched the movie we bagged play-doh that Rexene had made, into golf ball sized balls and put each one in a sandwich bag. We ended up with about 270 bags to take next week when we help Taylors with an eyeglass clinic. The children will be given a bag to play with and take home.

The last two nights Dick has had an email from Jeff telling him that he and Cameron are at the Angel game. Tonight Dick used Skype to call him on his cell phone. Not bad…..Guatemala to Angel stadium.

10 October 2009…..Saturday
While I cleaned today Dick went to the office for a couple of hours. This afternoon we went to Taylors apartment and made over 200 hygiene kits to take to the eyeglass clinic next Saturday. Each contained a towel, bar of soap, comb, small sewing kit, safety pins and some bandaids. They were packaged in a Ziploc bag and will be given out one per family. Toothbrushes will be given out separately by the Tomkinsons at their dental hygiene station.

At 7 pm the Tilleys, Taylors and we went to the Blackburns. We are having a special fast tomorrow and we met together to talk and to have a prayer as we begin our fast.

11 October 2009…..Sunday
Our Sunday meetings went well and I am so grateful to be able to contribute something to our little branch. Our Sacrament Meeting was full. I hope the time will soon come that a chapel can be built as attendance has increased over the last few months. Tito was confirmed today. He is a small little eight year old and almost always well behaved in Primary. He is the first member of his family to join the Church. His parents can’t be baptized yet because they are not married, but they are quite faithful in attending. They can’t be married because the father doesn’t know where his first wife is, if she is dead or alive. We also have a new young missionaries serving in our branch. Elder Rodarte is from Bell, California. He even has relatives in Palmdale.

I came home with Blackburns because Dick and his young companion, Mario, went home teaching after Church. Blackburns, Taylors, Tilleys and we met later to join in prayer at the conclusion of our fast. Dick and I had dinner at Taylors.

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