29 March 2010…..Monday
This is a special week in Guatemala…. “Semana Santa” or “Holy Week.” The office will be closed from Wednesday till next Monday. But, most of the employees also take off Monday and Tuesday. Reynaldo will be gone and he told us not to come in Monday or Tuesday, either. But, Dick went to the office before 7 am. The applications and exceptions had to be in Salt Lake by 9 am this morning. I stayed home and patiently waited for one of the apartment workers to come put our closet shelving back together after it collapsed yesterday in half of the closet. One of the guys came to the door and told me they had to go buy new brackets. That was this morning. It was almost 4 pm when they came to work on it. At 5 pm Rexene, Suzanne and I took a walk through a safe area. Not too far from us is a gated community with very nice homes and several embassies. We walked about 45 minutes. When I got home I was glad to get all of my clothes hung up and put other things back into the closet. Family Home Evening tonight was at the Tomkinsons.
30 March 2010…..Tuesday
It was a wonderful day. Dick took the car to be repaired for a noisy brake problem. Tilleys picked him up and brought him home. A little later the four of us went to the temple. There were eight buses in the parking lot behind the temple. I don’t know what countries they came from but the temple will be busy this week with travelers. We attended a special, reserved session at 11:30 am for the sister missionaries of Guatemala City Central Mission. There were about 40 young sister missionaries. I was thrilled to see Sister Lopez (Karine Jennifer Lopez) from Belize. We shared more than a few hugs.
We met her in December 2008 when we did a fireside in the Cayo District of Belize. She is one of our PEF participants. Her loan is on hold for 18 months while she serves a mission. She has been in the mission field for 9 months. We continue to exchange emails occasionally. She is a happy, lovely young woman. Also in attendance was Elder and Sister Sandberg and we got to talk for a few minutes outside the temple. They are from Rancho Palos Verdes and friends of Linda and Steve. It took two ordinance rooms to serve all of us that were there with Central Mission.
As we were ready to leave the temple a young man came walking up that looked so familiar. He called me by name but I had to ask his. It was Brother Bonilla, from Mazatenango, who was one of our young returning missionaries a year ago. He is going to school but able to do it on his own without using the Fund.
After the temple the four of us went to Zurich’s for lunch…..quiche and cold chocolate milk. There was a little sign on the table about menu items for “chocoadictos”…..chocolate addicts, another way to say “chocoholic.” Then we stopped to see if our car was ready. It was. Dick and I took it and went to Price Smart. I hoped to buy a ham for Easter dinner for the 8 senior couples here in our apartment, but ham is not exactly an Easter tradition here. Instead, we bought steak and I will make milanesa for Easter dinner.
When we got home I went upstairs to return a book to Blackburns and to get something else to read, and Adele trimmed my hair for me. Then Rexene and I took a walk in our new found safe area. It feels good to get out and walk and to have an area where we feel safe.
31 March 2010…..Wednesday
This morning a group of us drove down to Zone 1 to see the making of alfombras (carpets). Specifically, Alma Cruz, who works in the travel area of the office, invited us. Her boyfriend is a lawyer with his father’s business. His family has been making an alfombra every Easter time for over 30 years. Theirs is made entirely of sand and sawdust, all colored in vivid hues.
Others we saw are made of pine needles, flowers, leaves, etc. In the early afternoon the huge “floats” that weigh thousands of pounds are carried through the alfombras and they are totally destroyed. Men carry one of the floats and women carry the other. It is a sight to behold and since we saw it last year we didn’t hang out on the street very long. Tilleys had to be back by noon so we came home with them.
1 April 2010…..Thursday
Another month has passed and time moves on. Dick just had to put on a white shirt and tie and head to the office. Someone asked him later if anyone else was at the office and he said, “Yes, the guard out front.” Meanwhile, I did a few things and then Suzanne came to my door. We then walked into Tilleys open door and talked awhile. Later I went over to Tomkinsons and Tilleys came over. We had to make our plans for the next few days.
I had one jar of marshmallow cream left in the cupboard. I had bought some in California last June and then got two more at Puerto del Sol later last summer. I couldn’t let that last jar go to waste so I made Aunt LuDean’s fudge recipe. It will be an Easter treat for our friends from us. Then at 5 pm Tilleys called to say they and Stokers (temple missionaries) were at Friends ready to order dinner and why don’t we join them. So we changed our clothes and drove over there. It is on the way to the office and the roads are very empty of cars because of Semana Santa.
During our not so quiet dinner conversations (music videos at Friends) Rexene discovered that Stokers, who are from Beaver, UT, knew her uncle. Then Sister Stoker mentioned living in Payson as a child, and also Salem. Tilleys were in Ecuador for about five years when Jim worked at the U.S. Embassy with DEA (drug enforcement). That is where they first met the Stokers who were serving as temple missionaries there.
2 April 2010…..Friday
A stay at home day. Good Friday in Guatemala means businesses are closed down and many local people go to the beach. All of our group gathered on the roof to eat barbecued hamburgers and the trimmings. The Hatches have two of their daughters and one daughter-in-law here visiting. Their daughter-in-law is Becky Hatch from La Verne. We know many people in common. We also found out that Cindy Corbett is Hatches daughter.
After dinner we had a movie night at Tomkinsons.
3 April 2010…..Saturday
I love General Conference. This morning some of us gathered at Tomkinsons to watch the Saturday morning session projected on the wall.
Blackburns and we had lunch with the Tilleys. Then we went back to Tomkinsons for the afternoon session of Conference. At 4:30 pm the men all left to have dinner out and then go to the Montufar Chapel for the Priesthood Session. The women all gathered at Tomkinsons for a potato bar and visiting. It was a very enjoyable evening, learning a little bit more about one another. Afterwards I came home to prepare the milanesa for tomorrow. Rexene and Adele wanted to learn how to make it so they came over.
They didn’t just watch. None of us had a mallet to work on the already thin slices but Rexene used a meat prong on it and Adele cut it in pieces. I dipped the steak into the beaten eggs and the bread crumbs. I put it all in the fridge and will fry it tomorrow.
What a beautiful spirit General Conference brings to me. What a blessing for the internet and Conference broadcast in English, my language! One of the thoughts I had when President Eyring was speaking: I was a cautious child and a cautious teenager. It was a gift, for it kept me from doing things that would have led me down the wrong path. Elder Packer said that too many of us are living below our privileges and expectations of the Lord. Then, “Fear is the opposite of faith.” There are many sermons in that one short phrase. Elder Bednar reminds us that we live in a day of warning. We need to be vigilant. Elder Ballard counseled the women of the Church to hold our tongue, to not judge others. That is good advice for all of us, male or female, young or old. He had good counsel and kind words for women. My thoughts ran to my daughters and granddaughters, those by birth and those by marriage.
4 April 2010…..Sunday
It was a beautiful Easter day. In between sessions of Conference we had our Easter lunch. I fried over 8 pounds of milanesa for 16 people. (Yes, I haven’t changed. I still prepare far more food than is needed.) The beef wasn’t as tender as what I use in the States, but it was good and it was enjoyed. Everyone brought their own plates and silverware, dished up their plates at Tomkinsons, then stayed there or came to our home or Tilleys to sit around the table. Three plates were dished up and taken downstairs to our workers here at the apartment.
Since I was cooking the meat throughout most of the meal, Wayne asked if I was a Martha or a Mary. I told him that I had the beautiful picture of Mary and Martha and the Savior, hanging in my home. That used to be a question I had myself until I realized that Martha was just as valuable in the kingdom as Mary. I am a blend of both. And then Elder Schwitzer spoke this afternoon in Conference about Martha, who has been misjudged and the doctrine that Christ revealed to her. We all loved hearing Elder Martino speak who is in our Area Presidency and a friend to all of us. He spoke about adversity and it’s not what we face but how we face it. Of course, all bore witness of Jesus Christ, of his atonement and the great meaning it has for us and our responsibility to live lives of faithfulness. As Elder Hales spoke about the stripling warriors I wondered if my own children would say about me, “I do not doubt that my Mother knew it,” concerning my own testimony and belief in my Savior. Hearing the words of the prophet brought an overall feeling of peace as he told us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not unto our own understanding.
The music of the choir was incredible. The Tabernacle Choir is always inspiring and the most profound sermons come through their music. During the congregational song in the afternoon session I saw Jeff. As a bishop he takes his graduating seniors to April Conference every year. I walked up to the wall where Conference was projected and used my pen as a pointer to point him out to Dick and the others. Jeff confirmed later with an email that they were sitting on the ground floor and it was them. How exciting for me to see my son. I didn’t have a chance to pick out anyone else before the camera moved. It has been an uplifting and enjoyable week but it is time to get back to the office and the work of the Perpetual Education Fund.
- 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.