28 December 2009…..Monday
Our fireside last night was exceptional. President and Sister Mask both served missions here in Central America so were thrilled to be called as Guatemala City Temple president. He is a former CES employee and a former member of the Seventy. He has great interest in the geography of the Book of Mormon. We greatly enjoyed all the information he gave to us tonight and we look forward to our “field trip” next Saturday with them.
This morning Dick and a few of the guys went to Convergence to talk about our internet/TV contracts. Hopefully, it will be cleared up soon. Most of us bought year contracts that gave us 3 additional months for free. They claim their salesman was not authorized to do so, but it is written on our contract. When Dick got back we went to the office. We should have stayed home. The office furniture for us and Curtiss’ is piled together in the middle of the room. There is no way to use the computers. My file drawer was very accessible so I got out our list of phone numbers for the stake specialists. Dick went into the call center and was able to submit one PEF application to Salt Lake. Kelvin, Alma, Jose and Nahomy were the only ones working on the first floor. We came home. Dick has been battling a cold for a week so I convinced him it would be very good for him to come home, lie on the couch and watch some TV. For lunch we heated up the tamales Sister Torres gave us Christmas Eve. Then we found a movie in English on TV and watched “Twister.”
This evening we had a Skype call from four year old Trevor. Donovan didn’t know he was making a call. It’s pretty cute when our great-grandson calls us in Guatemala! Of course, his first question was “where’s grandpa?”
29 December 2009…..Tuesday
There are loud fireworks going on outside this evening. This morning Dick and Jim both drove over to La Sabana to pick up the Mena family: Brother Mena, Sister Mena, their two sons and young daughter. Then they all went to the airport for the arrival of their eldest son who was returning from his mission to Nicaragua. They needed both cars for all the people and the luggage. I’m sure it was a very happy family greeting their son/brother. Then they took everyone home.
I undecorated the house. Most of the items on our Christmas tree are going home with us so I packed them well and put them in a suitcase since we won’t be using Christmas decorations here again. I also wrapped up my nacimientos (nativity sets) and put them in small boxes, then into the suitcase. We watched a movie on TV this afternoon. Then I baked some potatoes and we went next door to have dinner with the Tilleys.
30 December 2009…..Wednesday
Today is Dana’s 48th birthday. It was another day at home for me. Dick went to the cleaners and stopped at the office and our desks have now been moved into the other room. Hopefully, it will all be completed by next Monday. He and Jim went over to La Sabana to deliver the “Liahona” to one of Dick’s home teaching families. I made 12 apple dumplings and told our neighbors to bring a bowl and a spoon.
Tomkinson’s youngest daughters are here visiting. Alyssa, the youngest, is attending BYU. The other, Sarah, is a hairdresser. This evening she cut my hair. Mark sent a “chat” saying that Rico had to be put down after he was run over by Maren’s dad out in the Lancaster desert. It is a hard situation for all of them. I’m sure Rico is running and playing with Max right now in doggy heaven.
31 December 2009…..Thursday
This is New Year’s Eve. It is also the first birthday of Ava Lee Crosby. I’m so glad we got to hold her and kiss her when we were in California for Mother’s funeral in June. Last year at this time we received an email telling us she had been born. Now, this year, we are waiting for a Skype call from Scott. They are at the hospital and Bethany should deliver before the old year ends and the New Year begins.
Elder and Sister Cazier arrived today. He is the new executive secretary for the area presidency. They moved into King’s old apartment on the fifth floor. They served a mission here a few years ago and lived on the first floor then. The guys bought dinner….pizzas from Pizza Hut and a bucket of chicken from the new Kentucky Fried Chicken. The fireworks started over an hour ago and should start increasing in intensity. It is just 10:50 pm now.
Our Skype call came just after 11 pm. Doran Edward Graff was born at 9:30 tonight, Utah time. He is named after Bethany’s uncle and dad. He weighed 8 lbs 15 oz. We saw him 35 minutes later…..eyes wide open, yawning, chewing on his fist, chubby cheeks, absolutely precious. I wish I could hold him!
1 January 2010….Friday
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Where has the last decade gone??? It is football day at our home, just as it has always been.
I have puttered with a few things. It seems like New Year’s Day for me is usually a day of contemplation and planning. Today it is a melancholy day for me, probably because of baby Doran Edward Graff that is not yet 24 hours old and how I would love to hold him and kiss him. I put my Il Divo CD in the computer and while I listened I had a slide show of pictures. They all elicited memories and events and feelings. There were pictures of Mother’s 90th birthday and of her funeral; pictures of Switzerland; pictures of our home in Lancaster and my Snow Village on the top of the bookcases; pictures of our family. “Amazing Grace” was playing and a picture came up of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What priceless experiences we had as we visited each of our children in 2008 before we entered the MTC. There were pictures of grandchildren and great-grandchildren with Legos, with siblings, with cousins and with Mother. I saw pictures of the wonderful memories we have made here in Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize. We have made forever friends here in the mission field….fellow missionaries and the good people of Central America. We have had a blessed experience these last 16 months. We look forward to the next 7 months and each new experience. We truly feel the magnificence of the blessings of Jesus Christ and his grand atonement and the whole Plan of Salvation. We are blessed to be “His” missionaries to bring the world “His truth.”
We had a Skype call this evening and got to see our precious baby. He is definitely a Graff boy!
2 January 2010…..Saturday
Last night as I was getting ready for bed I kept hearing a slight noise, like water dripping on a plastic bag in the closet that holds some shelves and our stackable washer and dryer. It appears that we have a leak coming through our ceiling, which means the apartment above us apparently has a leak at the washing machine. We put a towel on the shelf under the slowly dripping water and this morning the apartment workers brought a bucket. They had to go in 302 and do some repair on the washing machine.
At 9 am we left in a caravan of four cars to Santa Lucia. There were 18 of us going to see Stone 21. President Mask, temple president, was our tour leader because of his great love and knowledge of the artifacts of Guatemala. Because of him, Stone 21 was discovered. He had heard about it and while on a tour for CES employees, conducted by Daniel Ludlow in 1994, he convinced the group to look for it. After checking out several possible sites the others were ready to give up, but he finally got them to agree to check one more place. It was a sugar cane field, eight feet high with cane. When they got off the bus there were two young boys. He showed them a picture of the stone and asked if they knew where it was. The reply was, “yes, right over there.” He showed them some money and told them it was theirs if they would show him where the stone was. The boys started running through the cane field. The bus driver was behind them with a machete, and sure enough, they found the large stone.
First we drove an hour and a half down to the coastal area of Escuintla. At Santa Lucia we drove down a street with small homes to a little museum. There were displays of artifacts, but the biggest thing we saw was a replica of the stone. There is also a replica at BYU. The museum had air conditioning and we spent quite awhile there while President Mask talked about the various glyphs on the stone and what they believe each one represents. It is believed the stone depicts the birth of the Mayan nation and the seven individual groups with father Lehi in the center. Before leaving the area we walked a short distance to some room size cages with a number of big iguanas. They looked like miniature dinosaurs.
Then we got in the cars and drove a few miles to the cane field. At this time of year the cane is just beginning to grow so it was only about a foot high. We could easily see the stone from the dirt road we were on. We walked out to where the stone was, took some pictures, and looked at how much the images have deteriorated since the resin mold was made of it about fifteen years ago.
There are some dark spots on the stone. That is from the Mayan’s lighting candles as they worship. We were very anxious to get back to the cars as it was miserably hot. Today Guatemala City never got out of the sixties, but we live at almost five thousand feet. Santa Lucia is about sea level. The city is the “Land of Eternal Spring.” I think the coastal area should be dubbed “the land of eternal heat.” We were just glad we were there in January and not in the real hot times of the year.
Then we drove to the restaurant at La Reunion Resort where we had eaten lunch last month with the PEF group. The views of the volcanoes were outstanding today. Pacaya was pretty much covered with clouds but Agua and Fuerte were gorgeous and beautiful. Agua had puffs of smoke coming out the top.
It was so easy to see the pathways that the lava has taken. Of course at sea level the volcanoes look much taller than they do when we are at 5000 feet in the city. I took about 125 pictures today and many will be deleted when I look at them on Picasa, but hopefully I will have some volcano pictures turn out well. On the way home some of us went through Antigua and stopped at the Jade Factory. President and Sister Torres had not been there before because Antigua is not in their mission area. Rexene, the Torres and the Andersons did the tour. Jim, Dick and I waited in the car because we were exhausted and had done the tour several times. In fact it is only three weeks since we were there last time.
3 January 2010…..Sunday
Today Robert is 53. It is a beautiful Sunday here in Guatemala. It is warm in the sun but otherwise cool. There continues to be good attendance at church, filling almost every seat. In Primary Adele started teaching the new Primary song to the children. I love playing the beautiful melody…”Yo sé que me ama el Salvador.” The title of a book or song is not all capitalized in Spanish and neither are the days of the week or months.
At 7 pm we are going up to Taylors to meet the new doctor that is replacing them, Elder and Sister McArthur. The Taylors go home on the 7th.
After many hours of no internet connection it is finally working. Hopefully I can send my blog now.
- Elder y Hermana Graff
- 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.