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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, May 2, 2010

Journal - April 26 - May 2




The Jacaranda blooms are almost completely gone. The Matilisguate blooms, in their pink splendor, are fading quickly but I got a few pictures on the way to the office.

26 April 2010…..Monday
Last night we presented a PEF fireside in Central Stake, planned by the stake Relief Society president. There were 30 present. Dick spoke an hour and we didn’t use the Power Point. But, I was ever ready for the nod from Dick to push the arrow. Tomkinsons went with us and Wayne drove because Dick is very good about not driving after dark. All our good neighbors are so supportive of one another.

Dick was at the office early because this is the morning that all exceptions need to be in Salt Lake by 9 am. He picked me up and brought me to the office when his task was completed. We went with MacArthurs to the airport to get their camera. They needed Dick’s help with Spanish. When they returned from Honduras Saturday night Sandy had the camera on her lap, but forgot it when she stood up. We were amazed and gratified that whoever found it turned it in and it was waiting for them. They took us to “Friends” for lunch.
I did a new type of specialist report for Claudia that Elder Clarke requested. We got home before five.

We found out this morning that the guy killed in front of the office last week was shot down because he had killed two other drug dealers a few days earlier. Street justice in action. Still, very sad to expose the innocent men, women, and children to such happenings. His widow came to the office today, soliciting for donations to bury him.

Tonight was Family Home Evening at Caziers. Our trio expanded by two and we sang a medley of three hymns. Two on soprano, two singing tenor an octave higher, and me on alto. My voice is not meek so I held my own with the others. We actually sound good together.

We watched two short videos…one about Mary Whitmer and one about John Tanner. Both individuals are great examples of the law of consecration, of giving their all, totally, for the building up of the kingdom in the latter days. I would love to have videos of my ancestors and their great sacrifices that not only blessed the Church, but brought blessings to me.

When we went downstairs afterward Tilleys door was open so Tomkinsons and Graffs went in and sat down and talked to them for about 30 minutes. They had arrived home from Honduras a few minutes earlier. We have such a wonderful camaraderie and enjoy our time together. Both couples are closer in age to our oldest children than to us but that makes no difference.

27 April 2010…..Tuesday
My morning started out with talking to Telma, Elder Clarke’s secretary, to set a time and a date for him to meet with all the senior missionaries. I emailed everyone about two options to see what fits in best with their schedules. Then I worked on a report of the status (school and repayment) of fifty-four participants in Central America who are more than 150 days behind in their payments. Dick left at 10 am with John to go to the Distribution Center to get groceries for seven families in need who are members of Curtiss’ branch. The people have no way or means to get to the Distribution Center or to take their groceries home.

We came home before 3 pm because Dick and Jim wanted to leave shortly after three to go to La Sabana for the Young Men’s meeting. Today Dick taught the boys how to lead music. They always take some type of goodies for them. This evening is warm and humid. This morning we got an email from our good friends, Chris and Nan Hansen who read our Blog. It was another “small world” report. They knew John and Beatriz Curtiss many years ago when they all lived in Wisconsin.

28 April 2010…..Wednesday
I had a knot in my stomach for a few hours this morning. It is something I have had, periodically, for the last year. Dick stayed home until I began to feel some relief and then he went to the office. When I started feeling better I finished packing the suitcase that is going to Utah with the Robertsons (Church employee) on Saturday when they go back for another child’s wedding (that is 3 weddings for them since we have been here). It was good to have more time to spend with “Preach My Gospel” and the scriptures today.

This morning I heard a lot of voices coming from the construction project going on near our apartment. I looked out the window and the big crane they had put up last week was operating and moving a stack of long pieces of rebar. They came within about 6 feet of the windows of the apartment building nearest to us. They lowered the rebar. Then the workers began climbing the rebar they put in last week. They started with two men on each already positioned rebar and another would hand up the next rebar and the top guy would attach that to the previous length of rebar. Soon it was high enough that they had a third guy on the rebar handing up more to attach. I didn’t see them go up but I did see them go down. Amazing!

This evening we had a dinner out with all of our apartment residents, plus Curtiss’, Masks, Steimles and Stokers (from the CCM and the temple). There were 24 of us. We sat at three different tables. The restaurant was over the hill from the temple at the Vista Real Hotel and the grounds are beautiful.
It was the most expensive restaurant we have been to here. I had grilled tuna with caper butter (I love capers) and caramelized vegetables (onion, red pepper, squash) that was delicious. We thought they were slow in bringing our bills and then discovered that Paul Hatch had paid the entire tab. He is an exceptional man who leaves us all in awe of his energy and total dedication.

It is raining, a lot. This afternoon, with the first burst of thunder, we lost the internet. It has been out now for many hours.

A cute story. Yesterday I asked Reynaldo how is family was. He said Diego was sick and had kept them up all night. He had a stuffy nose. Reynaldo put his hand over his nose and said, “You know, constipation.” I said, “Do you mean congestion?” We both had a laugh over that. Reynaldo’s English is exceptionally good. He once translated for President Hinckley when he spoke to a gathering.

29 April 2010…..Thursday
We were happy to find out the internet was working when we got up this morning. A new stake specialist came to the office to be trained from El Molino Stake. It was very nice that she came to us.
The area presidency has requested a report from us that will show the PEF participants in each stake and their progress/payment, going back to 2006 to the present. They will use that report each time one of them speaks in a stake conference. There are now 98 stakes in Central America. The mission presidents are trying hard to help the leaders in the districts become stakes. Reynaldo is in El Salvador so we have to wait till he is back to show us how to find and gather that information into one. It will be my assignment since Dick has his hands full. I welcome some additional things to do. I miss the daily loan reports as they kept me busy every day. But, new ways of reporting eliminates the need for me to make the daily payment entries.

It started raining again before noon with thunder and lightning. This beautiful country looks fresh and green. It is a Catch 22 with the rain. Last year Guatemala had a drought and some areas were starving because their crops turned brown. But, when we have a normal rainy season there are mud/rock slides in some areas that take lives. The internet was out again this afternoon for awhile but I think that might become a daily experience with the rainy season beginning.

30 April 2010…..Friday
Such a beautiful, clear morning with blue skies and vibrant green landscape. RenĂ© Oliva was in Quetzaltenango for a few days and he brought back some bakery rolls for Curtiss’ and a small bag for us. Later, Sandy came to the office with cupcakes to celebrate Steve’s 67th birthday. John made up an 8x11 “gift card” for Steve with Q36 attached to buy a meal for two from the “trunk lady,” the lady who cooks and sells lunch out of her trunk to the employees of our office and a few others. He added the words….”watch your back.” The street out front is not considered safe lately.

Reynaldo sent some information for me to start working on for the report the area presidency needs for stake conferences.

1 May 2010…..Saturday
It was time to use the red oil on the brown shower tile. It is a huge improvement. The apartment workers use the red oil in water each day when they mop all the hallway floors. They keep the apartment building very clean and it always smells clean!

Dick and Jim helped get the Robertson family and all their luggage to the airport. They are taking a suitcase for us and one for Tilleys as we both have daughters in Springville. It is one less for us to take in July. The guys brought back Pizza Hut pizza for lunch. We had rain off and on today and it was wonderful. I made baked beans for Break the Fast tomorrow. We will send the food with Blackburns because we have a fireside to present.

We had a baptism today at 4 pm for Mario Soto, a fine fifteen year old boy. We got over to the Lourdes chapel and only the missionaries and Mario were there. It was raining most of the day. The Mena family took the bus to get there since it is a few miles from where the members of La Sabana Branch live. The Carias family and the Acevedo family own cars. That was all who were there. If it hadn’t been raining, more would have been there because they walk the distance, up a fairly steep four lane road. Mario’s mother will be baptized in two weeks. I played the piano for over thirty minutes as we waited for the meeting to begin. At the conclusion we watched the beautiful video of the first vision, in Spanish, of course. The spirit of that beautiful portrayal is strong, no matter what language it is in. Mario gave the closing prayer at his own baptism and it was very touching.


2 May 2010…..Sunday
Sydney is 17 years old today! Tilleys rode with us to church. It was a good Fast Sunday. Eight year old Cornelio Lopez who was baptized three weeks ago, along with his family, bore his testimony. It was tender and sweet. Rexene called it a “pure” testimony, and it was. Not only did his tears flow, but also the tears of us that witnessed the special moment. We had started our fast yesterday after lunch so today we broke our fast at lunch with Blackburns at Tilleys apartment. At 3 pm we left for Alameda Stake in Zone 18 to present a PEF fireside. Tilleys drove and accompanied us. We appreciate so much having them with us when we go into these outlying stakes. Dick spoke, two participants spoke and Brother Guarcax, Institute director, also spoke for a few minutes. They had three hymns chosen for the meeting and a chorister, but no one to play the piano. So I did double duty between the computer and the piano. We arrived home before dark.

2 comments:

Keith Thomas said...

I hope you don't mind that I have been reading your blog. My name is Keith Thomas and I served in teh Guatemala-El Salvador mission from 1965-1968. I am currently living in Las Vegas. I served as a full-time service missionary as the housing coordinator for the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission for two and 1/2 years and have been serving here in Las Vegas as a part-time Humanitarian Service Missionary for the past 2 1/4 years. We would love to return to Guatemala and serve as missionaries some day. Our neighbors have been called to serve in Guatemala City. He is to be the Central America Dental Advisor. Their names are Ron and Judy Tobler and are scheduled to arrive in Guatemala in mid-July.

I am friends on Facebook with some folks in Guatemala; one is named Arturo Mijangos who I baptized. He has been a mission president in Veracruz Mexico and I think he is serving again as a bishop.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful blog. And thank you for the great work you are doing.

Keith Thomas
kthomas@byu.net

Shewinn8 said...

Dear Brother and Sister Graff,
Thanks for your blog. My son is currently serving his mission in the Guatemala North mission and will be finished in September. I had to comment when I saw the Robertson name. My daughter is one of the three weddings that happened in the family. I actually came across your blog by a link sent by a mother who's son is also serving in the Guat North mission. Small small world. We absolutely LOVE the Robertson family. They are wonderful as I am sure you already know. My daughter Megan married their son Dave who is the oldest. He is an amazing young man. We are planning to come to Guatemala in September when Jack is released. If you have any great tips for us...let me know. You know how you said you get knots in your stomach? Well I have a couple with the thoughts of coming there. I am a little bit of an nervous Nelly about traveling, much less out of the country. I think what you are doing is amazing and I pray for the missionaries around the world everyday. Thanks for your service in Guatemala. Our family has come to love the country through my son's emails and his great love for the people there. Also Guatemala is ironically how Megan and Dave met. It is a really great story but I won't make this post any longer.
Thanks for your blog!
It means a lot to us Guatemala missionary moms to read anything about the country.
Shelley Winn