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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, March 28, 2010

Journal - March 22 - 28

22 March 2010…..Monday
A new week that will prove to be a busy one for us. I finished the Specialist Report with a lot of new information. I typed up PEF Exceptions for Dick to take to Elder Clarke and then forward to Salt Lake. Just before noon we found out that PEF Committee Meeting was changed till tomorrow. At 1 pm Jorge Barrera, the employee responsible for the fleet of church cars, had a meeting for the senior missionaries. When the meeting was over Sandy and I rode home with Blackburns. Dick had applications to work on and came home at 5:30 pm. Tonight was Family Home Evening at the Justices who live about a half mile away. Dick took a tumble on a small step in the white tile flooring just before we got on the elevator. He got right back up and if anything hurts, he’s not telling. I always walk with him and warn him of steps or uneven pavement (he really doesn’t like my warning system). Tonight there was so much conversation with about eight of us walking in together that he didn’t hear me.

The Embassy issued a Warden Report for U.S. citizens. It concerns a bus strike between 6 and 11 am today. This morning the drivers parked their buses to block all the roads leading into the city. They removed the batteries so that the police can’t remove the buses. They are protesting the country subsidizing the new safe buses. It created a real mess for John and Beatriz who live outside the city. They didn’t make it to the office till 11 am. Because we are registered with the U.S. Embassy they send the “Warden” reports to us via email.

23 March 2010…..Tuesday
Dick was at the office before 7 am to get two hours of work done. I packed our suitcase for our two night stay at the Casa de Húespedes with the missionaries returning home to Guatemala. We were very happy to get the extra nice room on the second floor of the Casa. We have seven missionaries….. five elders and two sisters. One sister served in Peru. Elder Alvarez came home two months ago but is taking the class now. His father is our stake president. His mother is Patty, one of our specialists who is now employed in the office of the area presidency. His uncle, aunt, cousins and grandparents are members of our branch. I’m sure he is one young man who will achieve great success in his life.

When we all arrived at the Employment Resource Center we had our opening devotional and then went down the hallway to the restaurant. I actually liked the meal: very tender ground beef patties with rice, and zucchini with a touch of bell pepper and less than a touch of onion.

I had a lot of problems trying to access the internet. They still have very slow speed internet in the Employment Resource Center, unlike the good access we have in the Area Office. Elder Clarke came and spoke to our group for an hour. He is a very energetic man that did very well in the business world. He is a great motivator and speaks very directly to these young people. One of the young elders has only the equivalent of a sixth grade education. Elder Clarke challenged him to take the classes for junior high this year and then next year finish high school classes so he can go on to higher education. Education will be the defining process between poverty and providing for themselves and their family.

At 5 pm there was a break and we had chicken salad sandwiches with sliced tomatoes and lettuce. This meal is also something I like. At 6:30 pm Dominoes delivered pizza. I wasn’t hungry but these kids can put the food away. The van picked us up at 7 pm and we went back to the Casa. One elder and one sister were not feeling well so I got the first aid kit we put together and gave both of them what they needed to feel better. They were all up at 3 am this morning to catch a 5 am flight so I think they were worn out.

24 March 2010…..Wednesday
Today is Zachary’s 17th birthday! We were up early and left the Casa at 7 am for the Employment Resource Center. All the missionaries are feeling fine today. We had our opening devotional and then went to the restaurant for breakfast. Brother Guarcax, an Institute director, went with us. He then taught the first two hours this morning. Patty taught the rest of the day, as usual.

Shortly after 11 am we experienced an earthquake. There was a slight shaking and then a bigger shaking. I was in an office on the computer. Dick was in the next room, making notes for the fireside he is speaking at on Sunday. He didn’t feel it. Off and on for the next two hours I felt like the earth was moving but I know it was me. Weird. I really think that the moving of the earth is the cause of the dizziness I have felt several times.

Lunch time was not bad. They had plain spaghetti with parsley as a side dish to the chicken or beef. I opted for no meat and had the spaghetti. I didn’t have any of the “gravy” they had for the spaghetti. The salad was good. Fresh green beans and carrots, a little red onion and one small slice of red bell pepper. It is served at room temperature with a vinegar dressing. I am getting over my notion that salad has to be lettuce. Though, I want a really good salad with lettuce when we go home. Lettuce is one of the foods that I try very hard to avoid here. The doctor said it is a no-no. When we were at the market in Chichicastenango a few weeks ago we all drooled over the berries. They had huge baskets (about 18 inches deep and 18 inches across) of boysenberries and strawberries at almost every food stall. The berries were large and beautiful. But you can’t wash/bleach a berry enough to rid it of the germs. I want a bowl of boysenberries with cream when we arrive in Utah. Hopefully, berries will be abundant about then.

This afternoon Dick was talking to a 36 year old man who had lived in Van Nuys, CA for the last ten years. I’m sure he had been illegal. He said he had gone to night school two nights a week for the entire time he was there, to learn English. He speaks very good English. He was laid off earlier this year and wants to further his education but it would be too expensive in California, so he came back to Guatemala to go to college.

We had the handing-out of certificates for finishing the class, took our group picture and headed for the van.
Patty handed out McFlurrys as we left. We went to the temple for the 5 pm session and afterwards families picked up their missionaries. We had three remaining with us for another night so Dick took the three to McDonalds a little after 8 pm for a meal.

25 March 2010…..Thursday
Our missionaries were gone by 9 am. We loaded up our car and headed for the office. I had typing to do for Dick’s exceptions so Elder Clarke could sign them and they could be sent to SLC. We met Tilleys at Wendy’s for lunch and then I rode home with Tilleys to unpack and do laundry. Dick went back to the office. At 3:30 pm he came home and got me and we went to the office. We were expecting a new stake specialist to go to the office for training. Guatemalans tend to not be on time for appointments and the traffic can be bad, also. Dick called her at 5 pm and she had forgotten. So we went to the cleaners and to Paiz for a few groceries and came home.

We had a late night, getting through the college basketball games and all the overtimes.

26 March 2010…..Friday
Dick went to the office. There is always plenty for him to do. I don’t need to type up any exceptions because Elder Clarke isn’t here to approve them. The Area Presidency left today for SLC and all the meetings leading up to General Conference on April 3 and 4. I found plenty of things to keep me busy at home. We got mail today….Spencer’s Eagle Court of Honor (sorry Spence, we missed it) and Cyndy’s monthly card and Relief Society newsletter. Tonight was dominoes night at Tilleys.

27 March 2010…..Saturday
Dick and Jim took both cars to take eight La Sabana Branch young men to play paintball. Each boy had to earn it as they passed off “Duty to God” assignments. It makes me think of being at Dennis’ home in Durham, CA and he had us out by the fence shooting paintballs…..even Mother took her turn and she was well into her eighties. We shot the fence, not each other.

After getting the boys back home the guys went to the Casa de Húespedes to pick up Elder and Sister Brown and Elder and Sister Anderson, one couple per car, and then to La Media Cancha for lunch. Browns have been teaching English in Chiquimula and are going home and the Andersons are their replacements. Rexene and I rode to the restaurant with Blackburns. There were sixteen of us and we sat at two separate tables.
La Media Cancha is said to be the best steak restaurant in Guatemala, and I think that is true. My steak was delicious. I had the salad, which was sliced tomatoes and onions with olive oil and vinegar. Dick had milanesa napolitana (with marinara and mozarrella). I rode back with Blackburns and Dick took Andersons back to the Casa as they had a bus to catch for the four hour trip to Chiquimula. After he got back he went to get his suit at the cleaners and to get a haircut. A busy day for him but that’s the way he likes it. He worked on his Power Point presentation after he got home. We have a fireside to present tomorrow evening for Nimajuyu Stake.

28 March 2010…..Sunday
This morning when we were getting ready for church there was a nice crash in our closet. Half of the shelving fell to the floor….the half that had my clothes hanging on it. This has happened to three of our friends but it is the first time for us.

It feels like the weather has taken a turn. It was 84 degrees today and the sun is very hot on the skin. Rexene and I rode home from church with Blackburns because Dick and Jim both had home teaching assignments.

Tomkinsons volunteered to go with us to our fireside tonight. They drove and we went to Nimajuyu Stake. We had a great attendance of about 40. Dick did a great job with his presentation.
I did the Power Point part on the computer. Three participants bore their testimony of the value of PEF in their life and Brother Flores, one of the Institute directors, was there to answer questions. It was a good experience for us.

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