About Us

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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, July 25, 2010

Journal - July 19 - 25

19 July 2010…..Monday
Dick went to the office, came home later with a paper for me to sign, went back to the office to have it scanned and sent to Lancaster, then lunch with the guys at their favorite place. We are still working on the sale of the house and it is still a little iffy about this sale. I stayed at home today and worked at my new found “snail’s pace.” I can’t pack or give away too much, or we might need it before we go. I have already had to “borrow” powdered sugar that I gave away last week.

Tonight Family Home Evening was at Guajardo’s apartment…..another goodbye dinner for us and Tilleys.
Rudy barbecued steaks and chicken again and Sandy finished off the meal with her homemade donuts. We visited, took lots of pictures, and then Rudy asked us and Tilleys to bear our testimonies. That was hard and brought tears. What wonderful people we are serving with here in Guatemala. Jim and Rexene fly out tomorrow morning but we plan to see them August 3rd when they are visiting their daughter in Springville. We will meet at Two Jacks Pizza, where Sydney works, with both of our Utah families. Dick went with Dr. Mac to take Gert home.

20 July 2010…..Tuesday
Tilleys flew out at 7 am. Good thing we are leaving in three days or I would be mourning their departure. Dick went to the office to see what he could do. Sandy and I went to the Airport Market and enjoyed each other’s company as we walked around. She treated me to lunch at the restaurant there. I don’t think I have been in a group of just two since we came here. Dick and Dr. Mac went to lunch. We will miss the MacArthurs a lot!

When I got home I checked the computer. There was an email, saying the sale of the house has been canceled. I am disappointed because I truly want to live in Utah. But, that will come at some point, so it is a relief to be off the roller coaster we have been on for three months with the house selling twice. At least we know where we are going for now. My ultimate goal is Utah and I fear the housing market is just going to worsen.

We were invited to the Arnolds for dinner. We had a delicious salmon with pineapple salsa and wonderful rolls with honey butter. We are so grateful that Arnolds came to replace us five weeks before our departure as it has given us time with them. We hit it off from day one and we will always be friends.

21 July 2010…..Wednesday
What a wonderful day! This morning Dick and Tom drove both cars to La Sabana to take our car to its new owners, the Acevedo family (our branch president). When they got back we went with Arnolds to the Employment Resource Center for lunch. They closed the Center for the afternoon and the classroom was set up beautifully with white china dishes. Elvis was barbecuing beef and chicken. I cried as soon as I saw him and Patty. First we sang “Love One Another” and had the blessing on the food. Then they gave us a gift of a “thank you memento” from all of them at the CRESUD (Centro Recursos de Empleos Santos de los Ultimos Dias).

The meat was tender and delicious. We had black beans (refried), corn on the cob, avocado, homemade salsa, and freshly made tortillas. We even had a container at each plate, holding a baked potato. Arnolds and we chuckled went we saw that the baked potatoes came from Wendy’s. Elvis made a chimichuri sauce that was the best I have tasted. Now I have to get the recipe from him. It is an Argentine sauce, served at all the steak restaurants here. He also used it on bread that he then grilled. For dessert Sister Lopez had made strawberry pie topped with whipped cream. The meal joined my list of “memorable meals.”
We took pictures and I cried some more.

We spent the evening sorting through papers and packing and weighing the suitcases to see how we’re doing. I did laundry and bagged up some clothes for our branch that Arnolds can take next Sunday. The clothes in the suit cases are clean but I know they will be wrinkled when we finally unpack. Tomorrow will be a busy day.

July 22, 2010…..Thursday
Today Mark is 34 years old and I am twice as old as him for six weeks. Dick went to the office with Tom and then used his car to go to the bank to cash the check we got for the refund of our deposit. He also shipped via DSL the two gifts from PEF and Employment. They are too heavy to take in the suitcases. I emptied the cabinets of all the dishes for Arnolds to take. Dick picked me up and we went to the office. First, we gave Reynaldo a “do it yourself kit.” It was things gleaned from our cabinets…..cookie mixes, brownie mix, and a container of Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Then we started at the fifth floor and worked our way down to the first floor, telling wonderful people goodbye and taking some pictures. That was emotional. When we were finished we went out to lunch at Applebee’s with about 18 people who work on the first floor with us. A few minutes later José Ruano, who used to work on the first floor, came into the restaurant with his wife. So I invited them to join us. I had been wishing I could say goodbye to José because he is another person who is very dear to me.
I had to say goodbye to Reynaldo and others at the end and I couldn’t do it without tears. Beatriz and John gave us an exquisite, pale yellow table runner that I will always treasure.

Dick and Dr. Mac went to Convergence to stop our internet/TV and to the bank to cash the check for the refund of our deposit. Curtiss’ dropped me off at home and I worked on packing and cleaning and distributing. I gave Mario the items in the freezer. I did another box that Dick took downstairs to the guys later. Victor got choked up when we said goodbye to him. Sandy cooked an enjoyable dinner for us and we spent our last evening with the MacArthurs. We did some apartment hopping to say goodbye to all the other couples here. It is time to close the computer and put it in its case and get ready for bed. We will be up very early and leave here at 6:15 am. This morning I told Dick that I’m going home tomorrow but I am not excited, just sad.

23 July 2010…..Friday
This morning the alarm went off at 4:30 am. We got ready, adjusted our suitcases and weighed them and left the apartment at 6:15 am. We rode to the airport with the Arnolds and Dr. Mac brought our luggage in his car.

I had no tears this morning. After checking in I spent my last Quetz on some bookmarks. After we boarded the plane we put our wedding rings back on. We haven’t worn them in Guatemala because we didn’t want to be a target for someone who wanted them. Half way through our flight I was still feeling sad because I was leaving people I love but most of all it was the sadness of leaving our calling as missionaries. There have been many special blessings for us in the last two years. I do not look forward to being released and removing my badge that carries my name and the name of Jesus Christ.

It was exciting to land in Dallas and be back on American soil. I was beginning to feel excited about what lay ahead and especially to see our family. However, the curse of the Dallas Airport was about to hit. Getting through customs was a never ending process, along with finding and getting our luggage off the conveyor belt and rechecking it again. Then both of us being scanned at security and me having to be frisked because I had my tiny Guatemalan purse with American dollars hanging underneath my clothes and that made me suspect. Then getting to the gate was an expedition. By the time we got to the gate, the door was closed and the plane had left. They booked us on the 6:05 pm flight.

Spending extra time was probably a good break for us from the pace of the last couple of days. First, we met and talked to a man from Las Vegas who had served his mission in Guatemala almost twenty years ago. We used his cell phone to call Kristen and tell her of the delay. We met five great looking missionaries going home from the Mexico Veracruz Mission. It is love at first sight when we encounter other missionaries. We met a young woman who was from Germany and was called to serve her mission in Russia. She was flying to Utah to enter the MTC on Wednesday. During the course of our visiting a thunder storm rolled in. All flights in and all flights out were canceled. Time ticked away. The storm ended. The 6:05 flight was delayed. We were told to go to another gate for our flight to SLC. In the end our group was sent to four different gates. Finally, after 9:30 pm, Dallas time, we were on board and heading west. As the afternoon had progressed I got very excited about going “home,” but by the time we were heading that way I was very tired. I was also concerned because Kristen and family and Scott and family had spent hours at the airport playing the waiting game.

We were sitting on the next to last row on the airplane so we were almost last getting off the plane. An older, distinguished looking couple was walking through the airport. It was Elder Bateman. He told us “welcome back” and then asked where we had served. It was a nice welcoming from a General Authority of the church. The welcome back we got from our waiting family was exuberant and it was wonderful to have our arms around children and grandchildren again.

I will always remember and love many people in Guatemala. Our experience was unique and a great blessing in our life. Serving the Lord takes on many forms and we are so grateful to have been counted among the 53,000+ missionaries serving at this time in the world. Carolyn Taylor wrote some beautiful words about being a senior missionary:

OUR MISSION by Carolyn Taylor
Time, a dimension, has blurred edges.
Time is measured by clocks, calendars,
and the movement of the sun.
Time is different in many cultures.
The planting and harvesting of corn,
The placement of Orion in the evening,
the emergence of Lyra in early morning
dictate and regulate our lives.

It’s different, somehow, while on the Lord’s errand.
The markers between hours and minutes differ
for those who serve move by a spiritual clock.
The goals of the day are gifts from the Spirit
and it is those promptings which mark
the seconds of our day.

“Is it time for lunch? Oh, it is 5:00pm.
Where did the hours go?” we say.
The hours fly by when we have one foot
in another world.
Our “clock-maker” stretches out the days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Journal - July 12 - 18

12 July 2010…..Monday
Last night Dick and Tom arrived home from their meeting that never happened. The stake president was there, the S&I director was there, the PEF specialist was there, and they were there. However, no one else came to the meeting. It had been raining hard for hours and the buses weren’t running, and most people don’t own cars. So no one was able to get there. But, no meeting is not a failed meeting to Dick, because Tom was able to meet the three leaders who were there and they talked for an hour together.

At the office this morning I showed Julie how to finish the Priesthood Report. I took my laptop into the PEF Call Center and worked on some things. Tilleys called at lunch time and wanted us all to meet at WENDY’S. So MacArthurs, Curtiss’, Arnolds, Smiths, Tilleys, and we all met at that restaurant of fine dining.

This afternoon Dick took the bread maker to Sandy and I took the mixer and other kitchen items to Julie. Then Rexene and I moved our kitchen tables and chairs. We moved theirs into our apartment since it is missionary furniture, and we moved ours into their apartment because it is part of their “apartment” rental furniture.

Family Home Evening was at the Hatches, hosted by the MacArthurs. I played the teclado and Dick led the singing and we sang “My Country Tis of Thee,” and “America the Beautiful.” Obviously, they are not in the Spanish hymnal but Sandy had an English hymnal for me to use. Dr. Mac taught a lesson about patriotism and we shed a tear or two over some of the stories told. We all wore a version of red, white, and blue. Sandy made homemade donuts which are the best we have eaten in two years, and Dick knows donuts! He misses Sweetie Pie’s in Lancaster and their apple fritters.

13 July 2010…..Tuesday
This morning I went through more things at the office computer, cleaning things off, and saving files that Julie will need. I sent emails to the nineteen stake specialists to give them our greetings and tell them we would be leaving and Arnolds will be here to help them. I emailed some of the students in Belize to tell them we are leaving and that I love them. They have become very special to me.

We came home in early afternoon and Dick framed the “Proclamation on the Family” for his young men. They did a “farewell” with the boys two weeks ago but Dick wanted to go for one last time. He took pizzas and sodas. No wonder these kids love him and Jim….they feed them every week.

14 July 2010…..Wednesday

Today I stayed home to clean the fridge, the oven and sort through kitchen items and food that I am ready to part with. As I was studying the scriptures and “Preach My Gospel” this morning I came across something I had written in the margin of the book while at the MTC: “What has been my spiritual journey that has led me to this point?” Pondering that question brought me to my journal. I think of 68 years of experiences that have prepared me with faith, courage, testimony, and the desire to be obedient. All the years of serving in callings, from my first calling as a Primary teacher when I was 16 to the last callings I had as we served in the young single adult ward, has been preparation. Age is an advantage as I have experienced life, the good and the bad, the trials and the joys, the hopes and the fears, the successes and the failures. Then I think of my sons and grandsons serving as missionaries at 19 years of age. They, too, go forth with faith, courage, testimony and obedience…..all garnered from less than two decades of life. How I love and admire the young missionaries! They truly do the Lord’s work. Senior missionaries become the “support staff” to help the work go forth and it is a privilege and an honor.

After I ate some breakfast about 11 am, Dick came home with house papers for me to sign so he could scan them back to Lancaster. He also said we were going to the Chinese restaurant for lunch. So I changed and at 12:30 pm we took Arnolds and met MacArthurs, Tilleys and Smiths. It was good company and good food.
Rexene told the waiter that we two couples were leaving for the States and asked for the recipe of the picante sauce for the shrimp. Instead of bringing the complimentary dessert that comes with the meal, they brought a banana, wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried, because we have been such good customers.

Mario came up to repair the bathroom light switch so I had company in the apartment for over an hour. I spent my time bleaching, washing, rinsing, and drying Guatemalan coins to take home to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want to eliminate any possible germs.

This evening we and MacArthurs went to Hatches for a game of Dominoes. Wow! They play by the rules and keep score. We are too used to Tilley rules! Needless to say, I didn’t get all that cleaning done today.

15 July 2010…..Thursday
Today Bethany is 31! I actually cleaned out the fridge and freezer today. We took a box full of items downstairs to our apartment workers. I did five loads of laundry for the guys on the film crew from Salt Lake. We had more paper work to sign and scan for the house so Dick came home to get my signature. It seems the older I get, the less I accomplish. I was busy all day but I didn’t get much done.

This evening a group of us went to Pecorino’s for dinner, arranged by the Steimles. From the crusty bread, dipped in olive oil to the gelato served on a warm brownie with hot fudge sauce, the meal was exceptional. I had eggplant parmesan (that’s not what they call it in Spanish). It was the best I have ever tasted. I have always loved eggplant. When I was a child, Daddy would dip eggplant in eggs and bread crumbs and fry it for breakfast on occasion. It is hard to visit when there are eighteen sitting around the table, but we certainly enjoyed the ones near us.

16 July 2010…..Friday
We did not hurry to the office early, but meandered in about 10 am. Dick’s computer is in Elder Arnold’s name now…..mine will soon be (maybe by now) in Sister Arnold’s name. I updated the Area History and Julie can start their history of PEF. Reynaldo gave us a wonderful memento, a “thank you” for serving with the Perpetual Education Fund in Guatemala. It will sit on a shelf when we have settled into the next phase of our life.
Claudia has taken her son to Disney World so she isn’t here to go through the good-bye portion. Then we took Reynaldo to lunch,

along with Arnolds and John Curtiss. We went to Applebee’s and the meal was good (the Firehouse burger) and the company better.

After we got home, Jim showed up briefly and asked Dick if he wanted to go with him and Jim Smith on their security assignment with the film crew. Dick jumped at the chance since he is NEVER home from the office at 3 pm. The assignment has been keeping security out till ten, eleven or even midnight. The three guys got back at 9 pm tonight.

17 July 2010….Saturday
I finally got to the stove today and cleaned out the oven. We continue to give a few items away and hopefully, by Thursday we will have the apartment empty of everything but the furniture and the housekeeping items that we are passing on to others. Dick took his last trip to the cleaners to pick up his white shirts and to get milk and peanut butter at the store. It was rainy and gray all afternoon and the temperature at 3 pm was 66 degrees, the same that it was at 8 am. As I sat reading on the couch next to the window I heard a loud thump and looked up in time to see a pigeon fall straight down between the corrugated coverings of our parking space and Tilley’s parking space. Twice I have seen a bird fly into our big picture window, but each one recovered flight and flew off. I knew this one was dead or knocked out as he fell like a rock. Awhile later I heard a pigeon and looked out to see one sitting on the metal bar of the garage cover. I figured the injured one had recovered or its mate was watching over it, so I went down to the garage, and sure enough, there were a number of feathers on the floor but the bird with some ruffled feathers was on the metal bar. I startled him and he flew off.

This evening we watched the Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert from Salt Lake City, via the internet. It was spectacular to hear the Tabernacle Choir. Dick left before 8 pm with Jim on his security assignment with the film crew.

18 July 2010…..Sunday
The Hatches wanted to visit our branch so they went with us to La Sabana Branch. This was our last Sunday at the branch and in Guatemala…..the last time to play the music for Sacrament Meeting and Primary….the last time to listen to Brother Mena teach the Old Testament in Sunday School….the last time to spend with the children in Primary and kiss their cheeks

and the cheeks of Sister Melchor

and Sister Guzman….

the last time to hug and be hugged by the teenagers, the women and a few of the men. President Acevedo took me into his office for a few minutes and with tears, he thanked me for our service in Guatemala and for my music, and released me as the “pianist” (he didn’t know what Spanish word to use and neither did I) for the branch. I had never been officially called and sustained, just given the teclado, but I appreciated the few moments with him as he released me from the calling. Dick also went to his office to be thanked and released from his calling as first counselor in the Young Men presidency.

After dinner we went to MacArthurs and played dominoes with them and Tilleys. Dr. Mac put the bread machine to use that we gave them and we ate hot bread and butter, plus other goodies while we played.

When I was learning Spanish two years ago, I loved the word for excited…..emocionado. I was excited to be a missionary but it was mixed with a lot of emotion of leaving home, my family, and my mother for two years. Now, as we prepare to leave Guatemala and missionary service, I am emocionado….excited, but that excitement is mixed with a lot of emotion. Tomorrow I start my 100th journal and on Friday the 23rd we will fly to Salt Lake City. Then I will write my last entry to my mission journal and post my last blog.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Journal - July 5 - 11

5 July 2010…..Monday
Yesterday we gave a big bag of baby items to the indigenous family who just had a baby. (wish I could remember their last name) Tilleys collected most of the items and I was able to get a newborn kit from Humanitarian Services. We also put in something for each of the other children and the parents.

Last night Dick and the Arnolds returned from the training meeting at 6 pm and I put dinner on the table. We sat at the table for 2 ½ hours and thoroughly enjoyed our time together and the conversation. This morning Dick and Tom left early for the office to send the exceptions to Salt Lake. Julie stayed home to wait for Convergence to come and get the internet connection to her laptop working. I made good use of my morning. I used some of my remaining ingredients and made a triple batch of hot cocoa mix. I will take most of it to the office for Reynaldo and Claudia. The remaining mix I will give to someone else, maybe our apartment guys. I washed our temple clothes and put them in the suitcase. The temple is closed for the next few weeks so we won’t attend the Guatemala City Temple again. I started packing a small suitcase of paperwork and books, etc. that we will take home. I put some items aside to give Arnolds, like books, CD’s of Christmas and classical music, plus the Christmas tree, and the small heater. The bread machine that we inherited from Sister Barney is back in the box and we will give it to Sandy MacArthur. The more things we can eliminate from our apartment now will make it easier when we are ready to leave. I also had a much longer time to study scriptures with “Preach My Gospel.” I have always liked to “putter” at home and this little apartment has been “home” for the last two years.

I worked on the Farewell Book for Tilleys in the afternoon. After dinner we went up to Arnold’s apartment with an outline of their activities for the next three days with the returning missionaries. Dick will be there with them each day for awhile to walk them through a few things. Later Tilleys came over (they’ve been gone for two days) and we had hot fudge brownie sundaes. We visited with them and thought of how things will be changing. They go home two weeks from tomorrow morning.

6 July 2010…..Tuesday
Last night when I was cleaning the kitchen after dessert, I took the leftover brownies downstairs to the lobby desk. Mario was there and he repeated “gracias” over and over again. I often think of Dick’s mother who told him he was part of the “clean plate club” because children were starving in China. Now, here I am in a third world country. There are many prosperous people here in our part of the city, but I have seen way too many who don’t have sufficient food or nourishment. When I scrape a plate of uneaten food into the trash, I always think of those whose bodies could use that little bit of food. People actually live in the dumps where they scavenge what the more affluent throw out. I have started cleaning out cupboards and the freezer in preparation for vacating the apartment, and I filled a box for Dick to take to the small living area in the garage where the workers can stay overnight or sleep during the day if they have been on night duty.

Dick went to the office for a couple of hours but was back home about 9 am. Then he took Arnolds for their first time with the missionaries returning home to Guatemala. Because the temple is closed for two weeks and so is the Casa de Huéspedes, the Arnolds and the ten returning missionaries will stay two nights at the Hotel Plaza. Their classes will be at the Employment Resource Center, as usual.

I started sorting through papers, what to throw and what to pack. Then I got out our second large suitcase, did a couple loads of laundry, and started packing clothes I won’t be using in the next 16 days.
In the afternoon I went through all the mail received here. There was over 200 pieces of individual mail. I had to throw away over 100 greeting cards because the space and weight will be limited in our suitcases. But, I am bringing home 31 cards, the 24 cards Cyndy made and sent monthly, and 75 pictures that have been sent to us by our family. I will always carry with me the thoughtfulness of those who took the time to send greetings to us. Getting mail was always a great boost. I think my favorite was a handwritten note from Tyler saying “thank you for the gift I know you are going to send me.”

Dick arrived home after 4 pm. They had an interesting experience with the returning missionaries because a new employee at the office failed to give the proper information to Gala Tours who handles all the transportation. It was a blip that was worked out in about two hour’s time.

7 July 2010…..Wednesday
We were delivered two huge cinnamon rolls this morning by Rexene. They were delicious, as always. Dick and Jim took both cars and drove to La Sabana to pick up the Mena family so they could take their son, Luís, and his luggage to the CCM (MTC).
He has been called to serve his mission in Nicaragua, his father’s native country. He will spend three weeks at the CCM before leaving for Nicaragua. He is a wonderful young man. He has been a Primary teacher and he always converses with me in his progressing English. Six months ago Dick and Jim took both cars to take the whole family to the airport to pick up Abínadi Mena, the oldest son, when he returned from his mission to Nicaragua. The Menas have a thirteen year old son, Kevin, and a six year old daughter, Júlia. They are a very stalwart family and a blessing to the La Sabana Branch.
After they took the family back home, Dick stopped at Acevedo’s house and talked to Lillian. They will be buying our car. Dick went to the office and then over to the Employment Resource Center to see how everything was going with the Arnolds. He came home for a couple of hours and had Mario fix a clogged drain in Arnold’s kitchen sink. Then he left to take the Arnolds and the one remaining missionary to get some dinner at McDonalds.

I held down the fort back at the apartment building. Victor was supposed to come up and check the draperies at 10:30 this morning. I don’t know if they will put up new drapes or just clean these. Victor never came but Nancy, the manager, came about 3 pm. Mario needed to clean the carpet in Tilley’s apartment so I used our key to let him in and then lock it up when he was through. I told Mario that I wanted him to come back to our apartment when he was ready to go home and I would give him a 5 lb package of pollo (chicken) that I have in the freezer. He and I usually laugh when we try to communicate but he understood me this time and said he would be here at cinco. Rudy Guajardo stopped by to borrow a cup of sugar and I gave him a two pound bag we won’t be using. He invited us for dinner on Friday. There was all kinds of activity going on here.

8 July 2010…..Thursday
Just before we were heading to the office, the Arnolds called. Their last missionary had been picked up, so Dick drove over to the hotel to bring them back to the apartment. After they got back Tom rode to the office with us. I sent the Priesthood Report to the Call Center Directors in each country and then Reynaldo sent me the Report that I use for the Area Seventy. I got the letters from Claudia to accompany the reports. I sent the reports with a special letter to the stake presidents and specialists in Costa Rica because they will be having a PEF meeting later this month for the entire country.

Two good things happened today. Arnolds got their assigned car and Renaldo Acevedo, our branch president, came to the office and he and Dick did the paper work so he can buy our car. Dick had some things to do this afternoon so he left two different times. The last time he brought back Taco Bell for lunch, but since it was almost 3 pm we gathered up our things and came home and ate. Then he went to the bank and then GNC to replenish our vitamins. He is a happy man when he has errands to run but I think he will love getting into his truck and driving it in two weeks.

We had a Skype call tonight from Sarah Thibault in Maryland. It has been a year since she left the mission field and went home. She lived across the hall from us and we really miss the Irish/ex-Catholic/redhead. There is no one quite like her! Dick called the Rosenlofs. We shed tears as we talked to them. Jon has been very ill and it was so good to hear him speak to us.

9 July 2010…..Friday
This morning I accomplished some things at the office, like sending the Priesthood Report to the Area Seventy and cleaning up some files on the office computer. The Arnolds treated us and Tilleys to lunch out. It was delicious. We went to Media Concha, the Argentine restaurant. Dick loves their milanesa. My steak was delicious. We went back to the office for awhile, then Dick left to go pick up Gert from somewhere in the city and take him to his home. I rode home with the Arnolds.

This evening we all gathered at the Guajardo’s apartment for a wonderful Mexican meal. We made arrangements to reserve an apartment for them before they came and we exchanged a number of emails, giving them information we thought would be helpful as they prepared to come here as missionaries. I think those emails were a bonding experience.
Afterwards, they sent us all out the door with a packet of the meat they had barbecued. We have eaten plenty today. As if that wasn’t enough, Tilleys were at the door last night at 10 pm with a box of See’s candy for us. They will be spending the next nine days (leaving them one day before they go home from the mission field) with a film crew doing church instructional films. At least they can return to the apartment to sleep. Rexene’s nephew is one of the crew, so they had him bring See’s for us.

10 July 2010…..Saturday
We were on our way to Montufar Chapel this morning by 8:30 am for an educational fair sponsored by the church and planned by Elvis and others at the Employment Resource Center. There were fifteen different colleges, universities, and technical schools represented with personnel to answer questions, plus the Perpetual Education Fund booth manned by those of us with PEF. They started with a gathering in the chapel. Elvis conducted, Elder Abularach spoke, and I played the piano.
Then everything adjourned to the cultural hall and the adjoining covered garage. There were food booths, also. There was an excellent attendance.

After we came home this afternoon it was time to clean and do laundry, and sort out more things we are taking or leaving. Of course, Dick had a few items to pick up at the store so he left for awhile. Then he took the rubbing compound and cleaned up some spots on the back of the car mirrors. Then he took our stand fan down to the garage and cleaned it good so we can pass it on when we leave. He will love it when he goes home and has his own garage and tools, wherever that may be.

Every time I sit at the piano or teclado, I think of my friend, Judy Tufts and what she told me many years ago about playing the piano. “It is okay to skip some notes.” So, when there is a particular difficult left hand, I have crossed a few notes out. It works out very well, especially with the teclado.

11 July 2010…..Sunday
Last night Tilleys got home in time to go pick up their replacement at the airport, Elder and Sister Smith from Gunnison, UT. He is a former prison warden and they will now be the security missionaries. Since Tilleys were off with the film crew before the crack of dawn, we took Smiths to church with us. Our branch was happy to see another new missionary couple.

This afternoon it started pouring rain and it hasn’t let up yet. Dick left with Tom for an S&I meeting for future PEF participants at Nimanjuyu Stake center.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Journal - June 28 - July 4

28 June 2010…..Monday
On Saturday the Acevedos gave us a CD of marimba music entitled “Marimbas de Guatemala.” It will bring back fond memories of Guatemala in the future. Dick and Tom Arnold went to the office this morning and I stayed home and made a salad to take to the dinner tonight. At noon they came home for lunch and then Julie and I went to the office with them for two meetings. The first was a meeting with the area presidency for all senior couples. They discussed cars. The new policy is that each couple assigned to the Area (not to specific missions) will have the use of a car. That will make us the last couple who had to buy a car. We are glad that our new missionaries won’t have to have the expense of buying a car and paying for insurance and repairs. After that was over we had PEF Committee Meeting. It is our final committee meeting and Arnold’s first. Claudia brought in a cake and soda to wish us goodbye. Guatemalans always serve soda at room temperature. We took a picture of the committee members.

We came home after 4 pm. It rained all day and never made it out of the sixties. Tonight was the Farewell Dinner for the Tilleys and Graffs at the Clarke’s patio.
There was a great attendance….all from our apartment, two mission presidents, MTC president, temple president and missionary couples from the temple and two couples serving at Lake Atitlan area. Plus, plenty of food. We have made great friends amongst this group and they are all faithful servants of the Lord. They sang a song in our honor to the tune of “The Day Dawn is Breaking.” The words were written by Adele Blackburn:

The students were praying for Graff’s undertaking El Fondo Perpetuo por Educación.
The seeds they were sowing, for learning and growing the leaders they’ll need on
that beautiful day.

The futures today, and they’ll meet the test.
Graffs gave them wings and God did the rest
Thanks to our friends, they’re tried and true.
This mission’s done. We bid you adieu!

After the emcee, Steve MacArthur, said a few jokey things, and then the singing for each couple, Elder Martino spoke about the Tilleys and they each responded with their feelings. Then Elder Clarke spoke about us and then we each took a few minutes to express ourselves. This is truly the fastest two years of my life. In the time we have been gone, we celebrated our 49th anniversary. We had another grandson, and two great-grandchildren…..plus, Mother died. I tried to clear up the idea that Victoria Suites was the party place. Our doors are NOT always open. We DO eat a number of meals together and we DO play dominoes on occasion. We LAUGH together and sometimes we CRY together. Being here with other couples is an amazing experience. We took pictures throughout the evening, of course, and we will treasure many wonderful memories. Astonishingly, I didn´t shed any tears. We still have 3 weeks and 3 days here.

Elder and Sister Brady from the temple couldn´t be there tonight but they gave us a beautiful book entitled “Guatemala, Colors of Enchantment.” It is all photos of Guatemala in all its color and splendor. President and Sister Baldwin of the Guatemala Central Mission gave us an Utchi. It is a depiction of the hieroglyph that translates “and it came to pass.”

29 June 2010…..Tuesday
Dick and Tom went to the office, then to Convergence later to try to get the installer out to hook up internet for Arnolds. Julie and I spent a few hours together at home, finishing the Specialist Report and showing her how to get on the PEF administration site and how to enter and record her contact with the students from Belize. Of course, we talked a lot about missions and leaving family, and the blessings that come. Sandy called to see if my TV was working because hers wasn’t. She came down and we watched Glenn Beck together.

This afternoon was the last time Dick and Jim will be with the Young Men from our branch at their Tuesday meeting. They took them to McDonalds and bought them Big Macs, fries and drinks. Then they took them back to the Carrias home for their 5 pm Seminary class. The McDonalds is maybe three or four miles from their homes. As Dick talked to these teenage boys, he found that one had been to McDonalds only once and two had never been there. I know they enjoyed the outing and this fun experience in their young lives.

30 June 2010…..Wednesday
Today was National Service Day in Guatemala. The office and many other businesses were closed. Dick went to the office to send off some information. A little later he, Tom and Jim took a drive to find the Institute building where Dick and Tom have an appointment tomorrow with Elder Abularach. He is over the Seminaries and Institute program here in Central America and is also an Area Seventy. Two years ago at the MTC we were told it was no longer CES but S&I. It is hard to remember the change after so many years of CES. Dick and I both had the opportunity, at different times, to be Seminary teachers.

A little later a group decided to go to the movies. I convinced Dick to go without me because I was having some of my intestinal discomfort. The mall and theater was so full of people because of the national holiday that they all came back to the apartment building. They are now next door playing dominoes.

1 July 2010…..Thursday
We had a full day. Our office was freed up a little when Dick and Tom left to visit with Elder Abularach at the Institute. I showed Julie how to do Shutterfly cards and how to make a Farewell Book since she will take over my assignment. I am making Tilleys book and Julie is making ours. I had an email that made me ecstatically happy. We had an offer on the house last Sunday night. We counter offered and then today we found out that the buyer accepted our offer.

In the afternoon Dick, Tom and Steve went to _______ (fill in the blank…it starts with a W) for lunch. They brought salads back to the office for me and Julie. Our smaller office was jam-packed through the day. Six of us using desk top computers or laptops. It was pretty bizarre. I couldn’t even get to the files in my drawer. When we leave it will settle down to the two couples in the space. After taking me back to the apartment Dick took Tom and Julie to Puerto del Sol to buy American products and then to Paiz.

2 July 2, 2010…..Friday
Another full day. Last night we could not get the house papers to send that we had scanned earlier. So we put the originals in an envelope and this morning Dick went to Fed Ex to have them shipped. They told him they would be there Monday morning. They called later to say that Monday and Tuesday is a holiday in the States and that the papers would not arrive till Wednesday. We tried another scan and this time the signed papers sailed through. Dick went back to Fed Ex to get the original papers and a refund.

The Priesthood Report was available today and I started off doing it to show Julie how to divide it into the 97 stakes. I did Guatemala and El Salvador and then she finished them. Dick showed Tom how to write up the exceptions and I typed the first one and then Julie finished them. She is computer savvy so things come easy for her. The guys went to Quiznos and brought sandwiches back to the office for lunch. We came home about 4 pm and I think we were all tired, except Dick. I lose steam in the afternoon but he plows on through. Joanne came downstairs and we loaded all our plants into the elevator and she took them up to her apartment. This morning we took our large framed picture of Antigua to the office and they will wrap it and ship it home for us.

This evening we and Tilleys were invited to go to a Guatemalan restaurant with Ruby Moeller and her husband. She retired recently from her job at the office and she also makes the beautiful jade jewelry that I have purchased. We went to Zona Viva to Kacao. It was a beautiful restaurant, excellent service, delicious food, marimba music and the company was exceptional. The Moellers both speak pretty good English and the conversation was a mix of Spanish and English. They ordered appetizers. I tried the fresh tortilla with a filling made of loroco. I put a small spoon full of salsa on it. The salsa was the hottest thing I have ever eaten. It wasn’t uncomfortable but my entire mouth was burning for a good ten minutes. I like hot. The waiter said it was made of Coban Chile. I ordered ravioli stuffed with squash and served with a loroco cream sauce. The loroco is the flower I wrote about last week that Sister Acevedo served us for lunch. It was excellent. They ordered two desserts that we shared. One was made of corn and similar to a very sweet cornbread but denser, served warm. The other was a squash called quaquil. It was split, baked and sweetened. It was a very wonderful evening.

The thunder is rolling now. We love it!

3 July 2010…..Saturday
Today is Alison’s 41st birthday. We couldn’t celebrate with her but we had an absolutely wonderful day.
Dick drove to Villa Hermosa Stake to make sure he knows how to get there for the meeting tomorrow afternoon. He was very happy with himself that he drove right to it. Then he went to the office to work on some things. I cleaned and made cookies to take to Reynaldo’s.

When Arnolds got back from a trek to Central Market with some of our group, they went with us to Reynaldo’s for lunch. Reynaldo met us near where they used to live and we followed him back to their new home. Today was a farewell meal for us and a welcome meal for Arnolds. This is the first time we have seen Reynaldo and Elijahana’s new home. We haven’t seen Monica (3)

and Diego (1½)

since their combined birthday party. They have grown.
Claudia was there with her guapo (handsome) son, Diego (7).
Reynaldo’s parents were visiting from Honduras. We met them last November at the birthday party. René and Adilís Oliva were also there. They are the couple who asked for Kayla as a daughter-in-law. Their son is serving a mission in New York City.

We ate all afternoon. We started outside under a canopy. Reynaldo’s mother was stirring chunks of cheese into refried red beans (only Guatemalans make refried black beans) that were in clay bowls, sitting on top of small clay pots of charcoal. She invited Julie and me to help stir.
We dipped tortilla chips into the beans. We also had a bowl of sliced onions, red peppers, and chile to dip the chips into. Some scoops were mild but getting some of the chile intensified the feeling of heat. Then we were served a bowl of potato soup. It was steaming hot. There were no discernible pieces of potato in it but it was definitely a potato broth. It started to rain and the atmosphere under the canopy was fun. Julie and I just melted into the experience of our wonderful friends and the Honduran food we were eating. The rain got pretty intense and even though we were under the canopy we were getting splashed by the pounding rain. We dashed inside and sat at the dining room table. Out came enchiladas and carrot salad with raisin and pineapple. I tried the banana soda. It is also a product of Honduras. I have never seen it here. Popusas were served with the meal. We ate some in El Salvador but these were the best I have tasted. The frozen ones in the market can’t compare. There was a woman doing the cooking and Reynaldo took Julie and I into the kitchen to watch her make the popusas. Pretty soon we were involved in the project. The dough was already made of corn flour, salt, and water. We dipped our hands in oil to prevent sticking, then took a ball of dough and patted it between our hands to flatten it. Then we took a small handful of the filling (cheese and loroco seed) and put it in the center, folded the sides up around it and then patted it flat again.

It was fried in oil on both sides and then Julie and I ate our own popusas, sharing them with Tom and Dick. What a fun experience. A beautiful cake topped off the whole meal.

We sat around the table for a couple of hours and talked……almost entirely Spanish. Many stories or jokes were repeated in English so Julie and I could get it all. We laughed and laughed. As we sat there we played a version of “Name That Tune,” but we had to whistle a tune. That brought many more laughs. I told them it was like being with our family, just talking and laughing and enjoying one another’s company. It made me teary to think I would be leaving and will never again see people who have been so dear to us. The little children have helped relieve the feelings of missing our grandchildren. Three year old Monica with her dark curls and determination reminds me of Sydney at three years old. I am so grateful that the Arnolds were able to have this special experience while they are so new to Guatemala and the mission field. They, too, will now feel that they have family in Guatemala.

4 July 2010…..Sunday
Today is Independence Day in the States and living in a foreign country makes me love my country more than ever. We have listened to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood that I downloaded last year. Plus, this morning we heard strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” on an email. Of course, we didn’t sing any patriotic songs about the U.S. in Sacrament Meeting today. Dick and I both bore our testimony. I have such strong feelings in my heart but expressing them in Spanish is totally beyond my linguistic ability, so I have to just go with the basics.

Dick left with the Arnolds at 3 pm to speak about PEF at the Villa Hermosa Stake bishops meeting. I will have a meal ready when they all get back. It has been a wonderful week, here in Guatemala, in the mission field.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Journal - June 21 - 27

The following is an excerpt from an email Cyndy sent to Dick on Father’s Day. It hits the nail on the head about the purpose of my Journal/Blog:

“I thought of Mom's journal and combined it with a thought for the day that gave me an insight I hadn't ever considered. The Book of Mormon wasn't available to the Nephites and Lamanites. It was the continuing journal of the prophets and leaders. It was written with the intent of being a testimony to us. So, as I thought about this, and tossed in a few thoughts about the Ensign and modern day revelation, it occurred to me that the blog you've been writing is like family scripture. It's counsel to us and history (current history) shares the same types of counsel and history the scriptures do only on a personal family level. It's not counsel or stories with examples of righteous service for the world, but for our family, for us on a more intimate level because of our relationship with you. I expect my brothers and sisters and all the friends that read your blog, wait with anticipation of its posting every Sunday afternoon, but I wonder how many read between the lines and see the "scriptural" content of your daily activities. How every FHE report teaches that FHE is important no matter where or the design of your family. That attending meetings, regardless of hardships, is essential to our faith. That the people you are serving joyfully accept the gospel and sacrifice even in their meager circumstance to participate and serve. It certainly should put us in our place about our minor inconveniences when it comes to our own efforts.”

21 June 2010…..Monday
Dick has had a full day. He was out of here at 6:30 am and took Elder Tom Arnold with him. (Arnolds are from Lehi, UT). All of the exceptions, already signed by Elder Clarke, need to be in Salt Lake City by 9 am. They also took care of the security passes and a few other things. They came back to the apartment building so Arnolds could pay their deposit and first month’s rent. Then Dick took Tom and Julie to the office to get the resident visa started and then to Price Smart to stock up on all the Costco products. They came back and unloaded the car, then left for Hiper Paiz to buy the other groceries and household goods they needed. Sister Tobler went with them. After they unloaded the car, Dick and I went downstairs to apartment 101, hung up the “BIENVENIDOS” (welcome) sign, and put an assortment of food items in the refrigerator and on the counter. We had a bowl of soup for dinner that Rexene had made and then Dick hurried to the cleaners before it closed at 6 pm.

At 7 pm we were across the hall for FHE, hosted by Tilleys but held in the Tobler’s bigger apartment. President and Sister Steimle from the MTC spoke tonight. We took the teclado so I could play “Called to Serve.” By 8:30 pm Dick, Jim and Steve were at the airport picking up Elder and Sister Guajardo, public affairs missionaries, from Texas. I had the key to their apartment and they were thrilled with their new home.

22 June 2010…..Tuesday
This morning Dick and Tom Arnold went to the office at 9 am and took Elder and Sister Guajardo (Rudy and Janie). They were taken to the fourth floor to their area of responsibility. Meanwhile at home, Julie Arnold and I talked about various things at work, at the apartment, and Guatemala in general. When Dick and Tom got back we used the projector to show pictures on the wall of the seventeen times we have spent two days with returning missionaries. It was a great way to cover all the things we do there and what their responsibilities will be. It is still our favorite part of our calling. There is nothing like being around the young missionaries. We talked for a couple of hours. It was much easier doing this part of the training at home than at the office.
At 2 pm Dick took the Arnolds to the office to meet with Reynaldo. Then he was back in an hour with the Guarjados. They were able to meet with Nancy, the apartment manager, to pay their deposit and rent. Then Dick and Jim took Guajardos shopping at Price Smart. As soon as they got back we all gathered in the Fillmore’s apartment and had our leftovers from Sunday. It tasted as good tonight as it did Sunday.

23 June 2010…..Wednesday
We took Arnolds with us and were at the office by 8 am. It is a tight office with six of us in there….more than tight. I showed Julie some of the basic things I do. Before 11 am the manager at our apartment building called to say that Convergence was here to install the internet/cable for the Toblers, so the four of us came back. After all the work was done and we had lunch, Dick and Tom went back to the office. I had a “Shutterfly” class to teach Julie and Sandy so the Farewell Books will be done for couples after we leave. We weren’t able to finish because I had internet problems.

24 June 2010…..Thursday
Arnolds don’t have a car yet so they go with us each day. We were at the office for an 8 am video conference with Salt Lake. It was in English which is always good. After that was over it was repeated at 10:00 for Spanish speakers. Dick went to that one, also. I acquainted Julie with the Spanish computer keyboard, which we have at the office. I also showed her how I can switch my typing on my laptop to Spanish so I can put in accents and have spell check in Spanish. We worked on the Specialist Report. Then she did an online calendar with all the information of when the various reports need to be done. After noon all four of us went for haircuts…..Julie and I to the beauty shop and the men to the barber shop. It is the first time Dick didn’t stick around with me to help me tell Esmeralda what I wanted done. It really is an act of charades to let her know how we want our hair cut. She asked if Julie and I were hermanas (sisters) and I told her, “Si, hermanas en la iglesia.” (sisters in the church)

25 June 2010…..Friday
A new stake PEF specialist came to the office for training today…..at 7 am. Dick and the Arnolds left at 6:30 am. Dick was back to get me at 8:30 am. We went up to the fifth floor for an appointment with Elder Clarke. It was our “exit interview.” The Clarkes and Martinos leave for the States next week so Elder Clarke needed to take care of our final interview. (Four weeks from right now, 4:15 pm, we will land in Salt Lake City). We enjoyed our thirty minute visit with him. He gave both of us a certificate saying we were honorably released from our calling as a missionary….effective July 23, 2010. He gave us two sealed envelopes….one for our stake president and one for our bishop, plus a copy of the letter for us. It seems like just yesterday that we were sitting around that same round table when we first arrived in Guatemala City and he welcomed us.

As soon as we were finished I left with a group to go with the Curtiss’ to “Ayudame vivir,” (help me to live), the pediatric cancer clinic. It was an emotional experience just like the last time we were there. There was a presentation of medical equipment from Church Humanitarian Services, arranged by the Curtiss’ and formally presented by Elvis Gomez. He is the director of the Employment Resource Center.

Four children presented framed paintings, done by patients, to Curtiss’ and to the head doctor. The teen-aged boy is free of cancer after many years of treatment.
Afterwards we had a tour of the facility and tears ran. So many sick children. As we walked into their rooms we presented hats to the patients, made by many church members in the States. One little four year old boy was crying. He just wants to go home. A two year old that looked much younger, blew kisses to us.

Parents sat by all their bedsides.
One mother was taking her child home, many miles away. She had spent the last five months here with him and now he was well enough to leave.

PEF Committee Meeting was cancelled for this afternoon so we let John off at the office and Beatriz drove Sandy, Julie and me out for lunch. We went to Le Café. After lunch she brought the three of us back to the apartment building.

The guys went to Blockbuster and rented some movies. We gathered at Hatch’s apartment and watched “2012.” It just seemed fitting to see that particular movie while we were still in Guatemala since it is supposed to be based on the Mayan calendar that ends in 2012…..except the calendar doesn’t end in 2012, it just starts over.

26 June 2010…..Saturday
While I cleaned and did laundry Dick went to the office to clean up his desk from all the paperwork. We went with Tilleys to the Acevedo’s home for lunch. He is our branch president and they wanted to do a goodbye lunch for us.

It was very, very nice. Lillian prepared a Guatemalan chicken dish made with a flower called loroco. It grows in another area of Guatemala, only during a certain part of the year. It was delicious (had cream in it) and probably the best native dish I have had here…..plus, I truly trust her preparation and cooking of the food. We had a hot drink with the meal that she called an “apple infusion.” Dessert was boiled plantains that were mashed and rolled around a filling of mashed black beans that had been sweetened. Then it was fried. It was tasty.

We love their children, too…..Nicole, José and Dan.

We have had almost non-existent rain for the last week. There is a period of time here in Guatemala City called “canicola.” That is a dry period of about two weeks when there is no rain during the rainy season. Just a little information on meteorology.

27 June 2010…..Sunday
We woke up to rain and it has rained off and on all day. Arnolds rode to Church with us. At 11:30 am Dick, Tom and Jim left. Dick had a stake PEF specialist to train in El Bosque de San Nicolas Stake. We three women stayed and did our assignments in Primary and then Rexene drove us home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Journal - June 14 - 20

14 June 2010…..Monday
I was at the office all morning, tying up loose ends but still no updated directory for the bishops in Guatemala. Dick left to take a temple missionary couple to Price Smart. They are new and just arrived in country a couple of days ago. When he got back to the office he brought me home and then he went to Convergence to take care of Blackburn’s final doings for internet and cable.

Family Home Evening tonight was at Johnson’s, half a block away. We walked over. Blackburns did their famous, or “infamous,” portrayal of Abbott and Costello of “Who’s on First.” They are quite the entertainers. It was raining afterwards. Dick and Tilleys walked back to the apartments and I jumped in Martino’s car for a dry ride home. I had to say my goodbyes to Blackburns. I will really miss them.

We got mail at the office….Jessica’s graduation announcement! Our house is officially back on the market. Here we go again! Long distant selling is not recommended!

15 June 2010.....Tuesday
Dick drove Blackburns to the airport this morning at 6 am and Tilleys took all the luggage. It would be very nice if one of us had a bigger van, but alas, the Corolla station wagons we all drive are too small for people and luggage. Late last night Elder and Sister Tobler arrived. They will replace Tomkinsons at the dental clinic. They will live in 201, the three bedroom apartment across the hall from us. We met them, briefly, this morning.

After going to the airport this morning Dick went to the office for a couple of hours. He was back to get me at 9 am and I had everything packed and ready to go. We drove to the Casa de Húespedes, happy to get the newly remodeled room with the queen size beds instead of the bunk beds. We have nine young missionaries, 4 sisters and 5 elders. The Gala Tours van that picks them up at the airport always waits till we are ready to go to the Employment Resource Center and then transports us all there. We went to lunch at the restaurant down the hall from ERS. It tasted pretty good to me today….spaghetti plus squash and carrots. The horchata (a rice drink) was very watered down so I didn’t drink much.

This afternoon Elder Martino came and spoke an hour. Our missionaries are always thrilled to have a general authority speak to them.

As I was working on my computer in one of the offices today I got into a conversation with a volunteer at the ERS. She speaks some English, has served a mission and wants to go to college. She was very interested when I told her we were PEF. She is from Amátitlan Stake. I replied that that area was hit hard with the volcanic sand and the flooding from Tropical Storm Agatha. She said she woke up that day about 4 am and water was rising over her feet. She called for her mother. Their TV, radio, clothes were all affected by the flooding. After she is finished here today she is going to help with a priesthood project in her home area to help those who have lost everything. I said it was all very sad. She said, “ the Lord is calling his people to repentance.” Amen!

16 June 2010…..Wednesday
We were up bright and early and ready to board the shuttle to go to the Employment Resource Center at 7 am. The streets were damp but no rain while we traveled. Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous but we had a lot of thunder and rain the rest of the day. After our opening devotional we went to the restaurant for the “tipico” breakfast. I particularly like the “nectar” to drink. Usually, it is melon. Today it had pineapple, papaya, and mango in it. I was able to get hooked up to the internet early and except for taking a few pictures of our group and the Institute director I was able to do computer work. Lunch at the restaurant was the usual un-exciting selection. I had a bowl of beans and some rice, but I didn’t eat the cauliflower and broccoli mix that looked like it had been boiled for a couple of hours. Some doctors have told us not to eat cauliflower or broccoli because we can’t disinfect them enough to kill all possible germs. Those veggies on the menu today couldn’t possibly have had even the most minuscule germ left after all the cooking.

When class was about finished we passed out the McFlurrys that had been delivered by McDonalds. At 4 pm we went to the curb and boarded our “bus.” We took a picture of everyone by the bus when we got back to the Casa.
Then we all went to the temple. One of our sister missionaries had been having stomach problems since she came Tuesday morning. She hardly ate anything, even skipping two meals. At the temple she told me she had “fear” about going home and not having a companion to travel with by airplane tomorrow morning up to the Peten. I told Dick so he could talk to her later. When he saw her in the lobby afterwards he asked if she would like a blessing. She said, “No. I have been to the temple. I am fine.” She was gung-ho at the prospect of ordering Big Mac’s, fries, and drinks when we got back to the Casa. The transformation in her countenance was uplifting. So, Dick and a couple of elders drove to the nearby McDonalds and we all went into the kitchen at the Casa and ate.

We love our experiences with the returning missionaries and this group was no exception. Only one sister was picked up by her mother after the temple session. The other eight spent one more night.

17 June 2010…..Thursday
When every missionary but one had left, Dick took him for breakfast at McDonalds. It was 11 am before he was finally picked up. We loaded up the car and came home. We unloaded the car and then Dick went to San Martíns to get a dozen large rolls and I heated up three cans of corn. Rexene had planned a little surprise meal for our four apartment workers and the guard. Today is the Guatemalan Father’s Day. Rexene, Sandy and I took our folding tables down to the lobby and set the table with real dishes. Then we took down food that others had helped prepare…..roasted chickens from Price Smart, rice, punch, and cake, plus the corn and rolls. Mario, Rogelio, Victor, Tomas, and the guard were surprised and very pleased. It was an hour later before they were through eating and they ate it all! These are good men who we trust, who take care of whatever we need and keep this building spotless. Their earnings are a pittance and they have families to support. We wanted them to know how much we appreciate them.

The Clarkes and Martinos wanted to take us out to dinner before they leave for the month of July. Caziers, Tilleys, and we met them at our favorite Chinese restaurant. The streets were flooded with rain. My favorite dish, camarones (shrimp) with picante sauce, was more delicious than ever. We had a very enjoyable meal and visit. We greatly appreciate our association with the Area presidency.

18 June 2010…..Friday
This morning I typed the PEF loan exceptions for Dick, in Spanish. Then I typed up the schedule we have with the returning missionaries, from Tuesday morning when they arrive to Thursday morning when the last of them leave. Dick emailed the schedule to Elder Martino and we will print one for Elder and Sister Arnold, our replacements who will arrive here tomorrow night. Dick had written the schedule out in Spanish but I typed it in English. A little later Sister Dunford called from Belize to ask Dick some PEF questions and I talked to her about some of the students she has visited recently. Then I entered her comments about each of them onto the PEF administrative site.

Our shoe shine boy, Gregorio, 13, was in the office. He likes to learn new English words. Lately, Dick drills him on multiplication tables. Today John started asking him about square roots and was amazed at all of the correct answers. Telma Chacon and Patty Alvarez, secretaries to the Area Presidency, have taken him under their wings and help him with his homework. He is thriving with their help. He is not the same little boy he was almost two years ago.

MacArthurs and Tilleys were heading out to lunch and so we met them at Wendy’s, of course. I still don’t know the fascination with Wendy’s but I am getting very tired of it. I had my usual baked potato and chili with orange juice to drink. The company was great though. Then we drove over to Pais and did some grocery shopping. We bought water, bread, milk, eggs, juice, yogurt, cereal, granola bars, bananas, crackers and cookies to put in the apartments of the two couples arriving in the next few days…..just enough to tide them over till we can take them to the grocery store.

The power went off late afternoon and we weren’t even having a thunderstorm. Charlie Albert and Jim were in our apartment visiting. Rexene and I went upstairs and visited with Judy Albert. When we couldn’t see much anymore we came downstairs and I lit some candles. That always works like a charm and the power came on in less than five minutes. Cheryl Baldwin came by the apartment and brought the markos for Tilleys and us that the Cranneys had purchased for us in Sololá. Markos are the measuring devices used by the people in the Book of Mormon.

19 June 2010…..Saturday
We had our usual Saturday activities, getting the apartment cleaned and laundry done. We went up to apartment 303….Blackburns old apartment that has been painted and cleaned, and put in the grocery items we purchased yesterday. Dick went to the office for awhile and I made an Angel Food cake.

At 2:30 pm we loaded our car and Tilleys car with big black plastic bags of clothing and boxes of miscellaneous items from Tomkinsons, Blackburns, Tilleys and us that we are leaving in Guatemala with our branch members. The Acevedos will go through it and distribute it to the branch members, according to need. Fillmores also drove over and he did a dental hygiene presentation with the branch members. We had 30 in attendance and they enjoyed the entertaining presentation.

Dick and Jim made an airport run to pick up Elder and Sister Arnold. They were back at the apartments by 9:30 pm. We had the key for Arnold’s apartment and they were very pleased with it. We really like this new couple who has come to replace us.

20 June 2010…..Sunday
Today is Father’s Day, a day to be grateful for my wonderful Daddy and to remember the things that he taught me, and also a day to honor the man I chose to be father of my children. I chose wisely and our children have great love and respect for him. This morning Tom and Julie Arnold rode to Church with us. They will fit it beautifully here with all the other senior couples. La Sabana Branch was also very welcoming to them and I know they will enjoy attending with the good people there. Sister Arnold will inherit the teclado when we leave and she will take over the music for Sacrament Meeting and Primary. That will be a huge blessing to the branch.

After a relaxing afternoon of reading, phone calls, and a nap for Dick, we went to Cazier’s apartment for a Father’s Day meal. I took Angel Pudding, a recipe of Dick’s mom…..angel food cake broken into pieces and covered with a mixture of chocolate and whipped cream. The only problem here is that the cream doesn’t whip up nice and airy and light. But, it still works. (The recipe is in the Graff Family Cookbook, attached to my blog.) We had a delicious dinner and a wonderful visit with our good friends.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Journal - June 7 - 13

7 June 2010…..Monday
Dick went to the office early to get the exceptions emailed to Salt Lake for the approval meeting. I rode with Tilleys. They took the Tomkinsons to the airport early this morning and it is strange that the door to apartment 201 has not been open today, though I did hear the apartment guys in there working. It needs to be ready for the next dentist who arrives in a week.

I kept busy at the office till 4 pm. Dick left at noon to get an estimate on the car so we can have the scrapes and scratches repaired so we can sell it when we leave. There is not a car here that doesn’t need a little repair work. It is all the tight fitting parking areas with support pillars everywhere. The other cars are all church cars so the church pays for repairs. We bought our car when we came so we will pay for our repairs. Dick brought Taco Bell back to the office for our lunch. After we came home the “doc” followed Dick to the collision repair shop so Dick could leave the car for the work to be done.

This evening we had a short meeting in our apartment with Tilleys and MacArthurs about the PEF mentoring program we are doing. We all attend the same stake so each couple has one PEF student to “mentor.”

8 June 2010….Tuesday
Today Cady is 3 years old. She is our youngest granddaughter. Dick rode to the office today with Jim. Today Rexene, Adele, and I hosted the monthly “Ladies Day Out.” We did it the easy way. We all met at the Airport Market. We had lunch first at the restaurant

and then some of us shopped at the market. It is a much better organized, safer, cleaner market than the others. It is near the airport so it caters to the traveler. I bought another beautifully made pillow cover. Rexene drove the four of us coming from the apartment. The guys always go out to lunch whenever the women go to lunch.

We have had some nice rain today, off and on. It rained so hard on Sunday that it washed down more of the volcanic sand from ledges of the surrounding buildings. Tilleys came in and visited for quite awhile tonight. Jim and Dick went to the airport at 8 pm to pick up the Alberts. They were here in 2009 on a six month mission to build the dental clinic and went home in September. They are back to check out some humanitarian projects of their own.

9 June 2010…..Wednesday
We rode to the office with Jim. I got the letters for the priesthood leaders from Claudia today so I was able to attach them to the emails and send the reports to the members of the Seventy in Central America and all of the stake presidents. Alberts came into the office to talk with John. We all got in Curtiss’ car and went to the hotel to get Alberts suitcases because they will be staying in apartment 301 for a couple of weeks. John brought Alberts and me back to Victoria Suites and then Dick and John went to the Bishop’s Storehouse to fill orders for a few families in Curtiss’ branch.

10 June 2010…..Thursday

We rode with Jim again this morning. I emailed reports to all the specialists in Central America today and typed up a new schedule of dates with returning missionaries. We came home with Jim and made a stop at the cleaners and Paiz. I stayed home. Dick took the MacArthur’s car and went back to the office for the 4 pm English class he teaches but none of the men were available today.

Dick bought sweet potatoes a few days ago and I baked them today. They were ugly as could be on the outside with a very thin skin. I had them in the oven at 450 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes. They still weren’t done (must be the elevation). So I scooped them out into a dish and put them in the microwave for several minutes. They were not the orange color that I love but a very pale yellow. I have never seen this variety before. The taste was okay but not what I would call a sweet potato. I wanted it to taste like our Thanksgiving yams.

11 June 2010…..Friday
This morning Tilleys dropped us off at the office. I updated the information on some of our Belize participants and on the specialist directory. I still can’t do the Priesthood Reports for the bishops in Guatemala, as the bishop’s directory is being updated and I have to wait for it to be done. I went upstairs twice and helped Blackburns for awhile as they prepared materials for their 8 hour training tomorrow for auditing with representatives from all of the missions in Central America. They go home on Tuesday so they are super busy at the apartment with packing and at the office. Jim and Dick brought me home and then went to Office Depot to buy some calculators that the Blackburns will give to the men involved in the training tomorrow. Before coming back to the apartments, Jim dropped Dick off at the collision repair shop to pick up our car. Dick is so happy to have the car back. We have had to rely on others for our transportation since Monday.

The apartment building being built outside our picture windows has provided a lot of entertainment for us the last few months. Now the structure is five stories high. They have poured the cement for the fifth floor and will have all the pillars poured in a few days. I no longer have a view of the Jacaranda trees or the tall pine tree. I can’t even see the planes as they take off. I am just grateful for the view I have had all the time we have been here.

12 June 2010…..Saturday
Today was a big cleaning day. We moved the furniture around in the living room/dining room and I worked on the wood floors. Dick went to Convergence to straighten out the mess again with them. Fifteen months ago some of us paid a year in advance and they gave us three months free for our internet/cable TV. They have tried to bill all of us at various times. Hopefully, this will be our last time to have to clear up the situation. They continued to bill three others who have already returned to the states and now have a “warrant” out for them if they ever return to Guatemala. It is sort of funny. How many times do we have to tell a company that we are moving back to the states and don’t need their service any longer?

This afternoon I went through our closet, removing things we are not taking home with us and putting them in boxes to take to our branch…..clothing, books, toiletries, etc. Dick and Jim went to the temple where they worked in the baptistery. Our stake is having a stake day at the temple at 6 p.m. Buses will pick up the stake members and take them. Our branch has a total of four cars so a bus is very necessary. They met the bus down by the Catholic Church in La Sabana. This day is for ALL branch members. Those endowed will do a session. The youth and others will do baptisms for the dead. Others can go to a room behind the temple for a meeting and even children may attend that meeting. Babysitting will be provided. It is different than a stake day at the Los Angeles Temple.

13 June 2010…..Sunday
We woke up to overcast skies and it has rained off and on all day. Our branch grew by one this week. A baby boy was born to our sweet indigenous family. They have faithfully attended since before we came here, but are not members because he doesn’t have a divorce from his first wife since he has no idea where she is. After Church Dick and Jim went home teaching and Rexene brought me home. Then the guys went to stake priesthood meeting and after they got home we went to dinner at the Tilleys, along with the Blackburns.

After church Doris Carrias had a gift bag for Rexene, Adele, and me. She gave each of us a table runner. Mine is bright yellow with an assortment of other beautiful colors. It is lovely and very representative of Guatemala. I will always think of her when I see it.

We have a very busy week ahead of us. We are expecting 10 returning missionaries that we will be with from Tuesday to Thursday. Tomorrow night the dental missionary couple arrives and next Saturday night our replacements will arrive. It is so wonderful to see those who are willing to leave their families behind and come to Guatemala and give their invaluable service.