15 February 2010…..Monday
I had one choice today….leave for the office at 6:40 am or wait for Dick to come back for me. I chose the latter. I was able to get two loads of laundry done and make a double batch of brownies for tonight. He came home at 10:30 am and got me. The office was abuzz….briefly. A van was waiting in the parking garage for our visiting apostle, Elder Neil Andersen, his wife, and Elder and Sister Clayton. There was a large white van in front of the office and Elders Clarke, Falabella, Martino and their wives rode in it. It was all followed by a police escort which is always hired when general authorities are traveling here.
Dick and I met with Reynaldo concerning the time he spent reporting on PEF this morning to Elder Andersen and Elder Clayton. I love Reynaldo. He is like a son. He is the secret to the success of PEF in Central America.
Tonight we hosted Family Home Evening. It was a smaller group because so many are traveling, but we had 15 here. We did a “getting to know you” night since we have a few new couples that we want to know better and they also want to know more about us “old-timers.” I served brownie hot fudge sundaes.
16 February 2010…..Tuesday
I had a very unique experience today. Julie Robertson picked me up this morning and we drove to Zone 1 to a small pediatric hospital. Rexene, Sandy and Adele were there also. There is a contingent of doctors from SMILE here to do surgeries. Specifically for cleft palates. They started with the youngest. Each baby had to be bathed and hair washed before surgery. That was our assignment. Then their parent dressed them in a diaper and a hospital baby gown. We also had to be dressed in a gown and our hair covered. It was hard for the babies because they couldn’t have anything to eat and some of them had traveled a long distance and waited a long time.
Then the toddlers would see these strange looking women in our outfits and cry even more. Little did they know how they would feel when they woke up. One of the doctors took a few of us upstairs to take fleece blankets and a little shirt to those who had had their surgery yesterday and were being released today. We saw older children there who had surgeries other than for a cleft palate. One smiling little girl of about ten had bandages around her head but her braids were hanging out in back. She had received new ears. She was born with just nubs so they took bone and tissue from other parts of her body to construct ears. They began the process last year when they were here and finished it for her yesterday. When I gave her a blanket she said, “Thank you very much.”
One doctor told me and Adele that yesterday there was a baby they could not operate on. He was five months old and weighed five pounds. He was malnourished and dehydrated. Surgery could kill him in that condition. The doctor said he would get a case of formula for them but he does fear they will just sell it. So sad.
The most amazing thing was to see the babies after surgery. The doctors would carry them out and hand them to their mother or father.
Before they went to surgery they were very deformed. When they came out they looked totally different. There were a few stitches but they looked like they had a swollen lip, not the gaping holes they had earlier. For the young ones under two they do the lip only and then next year when they come they will close the palate. For the ones a little older they do the lip and the palate. I watched one young father, holding his little one, waiting for surgery. He got a close up look of a baby who had come out of surgery and he got the biggest smile on his face, to know the miracle that is worked in the operating room. I had to come to Guatemala to see the help that is offered by hundreds of groups from North America and even Europe.
17 February 2010…..Wednesday
A busy day for me. I got most of the Priesthood Report sent. Most of my time was taken up with separating the report into wards to send to bishops and branch presidents. Tilleys came into our office and delivered a box of See’s chocolates, hand packed the way I like. Julio Alvarado had gone to Salt Lake two weeks ago for training. He took a suitcase of Tilleys things they wanted to send home. Their daughter that lives in Orem bought the See’s candy and took it to him at the hotel in Salt Lake when she picked up their luggage. So, we are very happy.
We had another surprise today. Our little shoe shine boy that we haven’t seen for many months was here. He is 12 years old now. I said “Gregorio?” He said, “Si. Mas alto.” Yes, he is much taller. He said he goes to the fifth floor (offices of the Area Presidency) every afternoon and Telma, secretary to Elder Clarke, helps him with his homework. His family is still in Quiche but he is back here living with an aunt and uncle again. He is going to school and is a smart, polite boy, plus a budding entrepreneur.
Dick dropped me off at the apartment at 4 pm and then went to Cemaco to buy a special kind of light bulb for the Tilley’s lamp. They are always commenting how bright our lamp is. When he got back we went over to Tilleys and replaced their old bulb. Rexene was cooking and she told me to bring over a plate and she filled it with enough dinner for us to take back to our apartment and so another night without having to cook. We have enjoyed watching the Olympics each evening.
18 February 2010…..Thursday
We woke up to drizzly skies and the ground was wet, but it cleared up quickly. I finally finished the Priesthood Report by getting everything separated for the Area Seventy and sent to them. Then I worked on the specialist report and the area history. Dick took me to get a haircut. I used my best sign language and very little Spanish to tell Esmeranda that I wanted a little of my bangs, a little off the sides, and a lot off the back. She cut my hair in December and I went back to her because I really like how she does the back. I continue to clip my bangs and the sides when they get too long for me. It was 155Q, about $20. We had a little bit of conversation. She asked if Dick was my husband and so I told her how long we had been married. Then she asked how many children we have and so I also told her how many grandchildren. She asked what my name is. Then she stated that I was a Mormon missionary. That is the benefit of our black identification tags…..our name and the name of the Church. Many people recognize that we are “Mormones.”
19 February 2010…..Friday
The mornings have been cool, but not cool enough to use the little space heater. It was a good day at the office. After I finished all my work for the day I started the Shutterfly photo book for the Andersons. It is very hard to write something every day in my journal, but I want to be able to go back and read about each day in our mission experience.
20 February 2010…..Saturday
Jessica is 18 today. She got wonderful news this week when she got an acceptance letter from BYU-Provo. Today was gorgeous and the temperature hit 82 degrees. We met the MacArthur’s in the garage and they rode with us over to Montufar building to assemble school kits. All of the school kits that have been distributed came assembled from Salt Lake. Today we had many donations from Walmart, a local bank, radio station and others. We were able to put together almost 300 kits. I personally bagged hundreds of crayons. We had big boxes with a hundred or more same color crayons in plastic bags. There were many broken bags with loose crayons, too. We put about 14 different colored crayons into sandwich baggies and then they were put into the kits. After we left at noon some young adults arrived and they completed over 500 more kits for a total of 840 today.
After we came home Dick left to go to the cleaners and to Paiz for milk, but first he went to the mall and had my glasses repaired. I had laid them on the bed and he sat down, right on top of them. The lens popped out but they were easily repaired and Dick wasn’t even charged. He gave the guy a tip. He brought Taco Bell home for a late lunch/early dinner. Tomkinsons came over for awhile and visited. We watched Glenn Beck speak at CPAC on Fox. He was awesome!!!
21 February 2010…..Sunday
When we got to church the big gate to the parking lot was not open so we parked at the curb to wait. Little Gaby and her mother were on the side of the road waiting with other members who walk. She loves to talk to us. She is five and her command of Spanish is so cute because she talks so plainly and she can really roll those Rs.
Then two of the Guzman boys were at Dick’s window to shake hands with him.
We were the only senior missionaries at La Sabana branch today. Tilleys are in Retalhuleu with the general authorities and Blackburns are in Panama doing auditing training.
Tilleys arrived home early afternoon and Dick and Jim left at 3 pm to help transport young men and young women to a meeting at the stake center. We can take passengers in our car because we own our car. Those who have church cars can only transport other missionaries because of insurance purposes. I took a nap and when the guys got home Rexene brought over some warm homemade bread.
- 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.