This morning we were on the road with the Blackburns back to Guatemala City. It took us just a little over 4 hours and we were at the office at 12:45 pm. PEF committee meeting started at 1 pm. We had three brothers there from PEF in Salt Lake City. Once again, it was a video conference hooked up with the service centers in the other Central America countries. As soon as that ended on the 5th floor, we were invited to the conference room on the 2nd floor. That was a 2 hour meeting and will be finished tomorrow. They gave me a printed English version of the Power Point presentation they were doing. There are going to be some changes going on. Our area will start as the pilot program and they will add other countries later this year.
At 2:30 Dick and I went back to the 5th floor conference room for a meeting with Elder Clarke and Elder Christensen and all the senior couples.
"Reynaldo, Claudia and the brethren from Salt Lake"
It was good to be gathered with these two members of the area presidency and talk about some concerns. We are all called to the AREA and so activating temple recommends has been a problem. Dick got his new recommend from President Baldwin of the Central Mission, but we really aren’t called to the Central Mission. Central Mission can’t activate the recommend because we are not on the mission roster. The bar code is just going into effect in March here at the Guatemala City temple. After the hour long meeting Dick and I returned to the PEF meeting. We rode home with the Bawdens since everyone else had left.
Rexene had dinner ready for us. Such great neighbors. We didn’t go to Family Home Evening. I was tired and there was too much unpacking and laundry to do.
24 February 2009…..Tuesday
We didn’t take time this morning for me to study Spanish. We wanted to be at the office early so we could participate with the brethren from SLC. One is Daniel de Almeida. When we were interested in serving with PEF, Dick made a phone call to him. After seeing our resume of jobs and church callings he called back and said, “we want you.” It still had to go before the brethren who assign missions, and that is done under the inspiration of the Lord. But, it was to PEF, and specifically, Guatemala that we came. When we were talking to Brother Stephen Baker today we found out that he was called to Argentina in 1970. He mentioned having lived in Whittier, CA many years ago and so I asked if he knew the Simmons. “Curley?” he asked. The Simmons are very special people to us and he had seen them a few months ago in UT.
Brother de Almeida met with us and Claudia in the conference room on the first floor and the whole time was in English. Claudia did well understanding everything we talked about. PEF in Central America is a huge success because of Reynaldo and Claudia and the work they do. There are 43 countries using Perpetual Education Fund. This area is far and away the leader in all key indicators. We are grateful to be here and be a small part of the whole system. There are 63 missionary couples serving with PEF throughout the world and they desperately need more couples. Nigeria has just opened up for PEF. For a country to have PEF they first have to establish the church employment center and S& I (Seminaries and Institute…..the new name for CES). Three more countries will soon be ready in eastern Europe. Spanish speaking Elders are needed, but many countries have no language requirement…..English will do. So much for recruiting! Many senior missionaries are where they are because of someone they know who recruits them. Elder Clarke is always asking us for any referrals of friends that are ready to come to Central America to serve in any capacity.
I am home alone tonight. Dick went with Elder Taylor, our mission doctor. He had a meeting at a restaurant with a Guatemalan doctor. He needed Dick to go with him to help with needed language translation. The Taylors were called here without any previous Spanish.
25 February 2009…..Wednesday
I worked a lot on the area history. Tilley’s called and told us to meet them in the parking garage and we went to Taco Bell for lunch. We all had chalupas. They are a lot bigger than the ones at home. And, they come with fries. Very good fries.
When we got home I took something for my headache and lay down and slept for awhile.
I emailed our family. Today is 6 months since we entered the MTC. When we left I emailed everyone to select a personal or family goal they want to accomplish in the next 2 years and to work on it while we are away. So today, I reminded them about that goal. We got an almost immediate email from Dustin. He listed their accomplishments and their further plans. We are proud of them.
26 February 2009…..Thursday
This morning we took Hermana Barney and Thibault to the Central Mission Office. Because of the traffic at 8 in the morning it took 30 minutes to take them and then get back to the office. Today was very busy. I had a list of about 10 people from our Sunday meeting who wanted the email version of our PEF folder. Reynaldo started me on something new yesterday and I worked much of the day on it today. I am going through his folders of exception letters for each month in 2008 and entering the name of the applicant and the reason for the exception. Then I go to an online participant list to get their PEF number and enter that. I have done over 90. Tomorrow he will show me how to get the information of their payment status and enter that on my form. Most of what we do requires a computer and when the computers all went down at the office for a few minutes last month, no one could do anything. A paper and pencil just doesn’t work anymore.
Today Dick bought our lunch out at the red car. Then we went over and checked the Annex behind our office where Sunday’s training meeting will be held. We made 20 more folders for that meeting. Dick is working on his plans for the Saturday meeting that we are doing with the North Mission.
We have been very worried about Carolyn Taylor. Monday morning she passed out just after getting out of bed. She landed hard on her tail bone and then hit her head. A good thing she is married to the doctor. She had a concussion but her biggest fear was that by the end of the day her kidneys were shutting down. She has kidney disease (no other explanation) but it has been in remission for 5 years. She has multiple sclerosis which was diagnosed 40 years ago when she was 30. She had x-rays yesterday that confirmed that she fractured her tailbone. She is walking slowly but claims she is much better. She is the most positive, inquisitive person I know. She is a retired junior high science teacher. Everything she does is an adventure in learning. She will be 72 in April.
The three hermanas came over after we got home and said they needed the home teacher. (Dick) They needed him to translate and help them speak with the manager about a phone bill that isn’t theirs. Sister Jones has a good handle on Spanish but this involved a different subject than she is used to talking about. Hermana Barney and Jones took our car this evening to go shopping. Dean Bawden came to the door and asked if we had cumin….yes, it is called cominoes and I keep all my spices in my freezer to keep them fresher longer. This second floor is the busiest floor in the building.
27 February 2009…..Friday
I finished up the exception report that Reynaldo needed. I have improved some of my computer skills by doing so. We worked on some things that we need for tomorrow morning and Sunday morning. I did some cleaning when we got home since tomorrow will be a busy day.
Rexene emailed during the day and suggested dominoes tonight. The hermanas were there and so it was a rip roaring game with seven of us.
28 February 2009…..Saturday
This morning we gathered up our things about 9 am and drove a mile to the Guatemala City North Mission office of President Torres. The area Seventy for the north mission area, Elder Boza, is gathering the leaders of the stakes and districts for Sunday morning training in auditing and PEF. President Torres cut his mission budget in one area so the North Mission paid to bring 18 brothers from the districts to Guatemala City last night, put them up in a hotel for two nights, hold training meetings for them today and feed them. (Sister Torres is the cook). He invited Blackburns to talk about auditing, Bawdens for welfare, Tilleys for security, and us for PEF. He gave each of us an hour. We did more of an introductory presentation, and the best part was getting their feedback about the branches of colleges that are in their area. There are 52 PEF students in the northern districts. School is 4 1/2 hours travel time one way for some.
Tomorrow these same brothers will be in auditing training or with us, along with leaders of six stakes and PEF specialists. This is a great opportunity for us.
When we got home Dick gave the keys to the car to Hermana Jones for the rest of the day. A little before 4 pm Carolyn came to the door to tell us that Marilyn has been taken to the Emergency Room. She has had chronic neck/back problems which will require surgery but she plans on waiting till after they return to the states in October. Today she had an MRI and shortly after returning home she started having problems. Dean called Kim. Kim took her blood pressure and said they needed to get her to a hospital now. They gave her a blessing first. Carolyn had walked down the stairs with her fractured tailbone. She didn’t take the elevator because she wanted to knock on missionary doors. We were the only ones here. She came in and Dick offered a prayer for Marilyn. A couple of hours later we found out that Marilyn has typhoid fever. We all had to have immunization for typhoid before coming here. As Dick was reading about the typhoid immunization (oral) on the internet he read that it is 70% effective. That leaves 30% with vulnerability. It comes from contaminated food or water and has an incubation period of 1 to 2 weeks. Bawdens have traveled into some outlying areas within the last two weeks. Marilyn will be in the hospital a week.
We invited Blackburns for hot fudge sundaes. As they were leaving, the door across the hall was open so the four of us walked over there and visited awhile with the hermanas and the Tilleys.
The best part of our afternoon was watching Rush speak for over an hour at the CPAC meeting on Fox News. I loved it!
1 March 2009…..Sunday
Out of bed this morning at 5:30 am. Too early for me! Before 7 am we left for the office. Elder Boza, a member of the Seventy, had a meeting for all the leaders in his area and we were able to present PEF information.
We had 19 in our group. There were 7 stakes and 6 districts invited and every stake and district was represented. We had stake presidency counselors, high counselors, and our stake specialists. None of the districts have specialists yet. These people always amaze me. We had the district leaders from yesterday, and the stake leaders in the North Mission area joined the group today. The Coban Stake rented a van to bring their people, over 4 hours and they were here for an 8 am meeting. I love to hear them sing the hymns of Zion. They had lots of questions and Dick kept them involved for an hour and 45 minutes.
After the low eighties yesterday, we were greeted with a windy, cloudy, blustery day today…..sorta like Lancaster in November. When we got home I made the Badders recipe of Italian green bean salad for break the fast. Then I laid down with my fleece throw and had a nap.
At break the fast dinner the Smiths, who are here serving a temple mission, said they wanted to sit by us and talk about what we do. Dick always enjoys telling others about PEF. They go home in June and I think they are probably considering a PEF mission. They would certainly be a blessing to the program. One PEF statistic: there are 43 countries using the Fund. The Fund relies a lot on volunteers. Central America (7 countries) gives 80% of all the volunteer hours throughout the world. Just another reason that Central America has the most successful PEF program.