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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, June 27, 2010

Journal - June 21 - 27

The following is an excerpt from an email Cyndy sent to Dick on Father’s Day. It hits the nail on the head about the purpose of my Journal/Blog:

“I thought of Mom's journal and combined it with a thought for the day that gave me an insight I hadn't ever considered. The Book of Mormon wasn't available to the Nephites and Lamanites. It was the continuing journal of the prophets and leaders. It was written with the intent of being a testimony to us. So, as I thought about this, and tossed in a few thoughts about the Ensign and modern day revelation, it occurred to me that the blog you've been writing is like family scripture. It's counsel to us and history (current history) shares the same types of counsel and history the scriptures do only on a personal family level. It's not counsel or stories with examples of righteous service for the world, but for our family, for us on a more intimate level because of our relationship with you. I expect my brothers and sisters and all the friends that read your blog, wait with anticipation of its posting every Sunday afternoon, but I wonder how many read between the lines and see the "scriptural" content of your daily activities. How every FHE report teaches that FHE is important no matter where or the design of your family. That attending meetings, regardless of hardships, is essential to our faith. That the people you are serving joyfully accept the gospel and sacrifice even in their meager circumstance to participate and serve. It certainly should put us in our place about our minor inconveniences when it comes to our own efforts.”

21 June 2010…..Monday
Dick has had a full day. He was out of here at 6:30 am and took Elder Tom Arnold with him. (Arnolds are from Lehi, UT). All of the exceptions, already signed by Elder Clarke, need to be in Salt Lake City by 9 am. They also took care of the security passes and a few other things. They came back to the apartment building so Arnolds could pay their deposit and first month’s rent. Then Dick took Tom and Julie to the office to get the resident visa started and then to Price Smart to stock up on all the Costco products. They came back and unloaded the car, then left for Hiper Paiz to buy the other groceries and household goods they needed. Sister Tobler went with them. After they unloaded the car, Dick and I went downstairs to apartment 101, hung up the “BIENVENIDOS” (welcome) sign, and put an assortment of food items in the refrigerator and on the counter. We had a bowl of soup for dinner that Rexene had made and then Dick hurried to the cleaners before it closed at 6 pm.

At 7 pm we were across the hall for FHE, hosted by Tilleys but held in the Tobler’s bigger apartment. President and Sister Steimle from the MTC spoke tonight. We took the teclado so I could play “Called to Serve.” By 8:30 pm Dick, Jim and Steve were at the airport picking up Elder and Sister Guajardo, public affairs missionaries, from Texas. I had the key to their apartment and they were thrilled with their new home.

22 June 2010…..Tuesday
This morning Dick and Tom Arnold went to the office at 9 am and took Elder and Sister Guajardo (Rudy and Janie). They were taken to the fourth floor to their area of responsibility. Meanwhile at home, Julie Arnold and I talked about various things at work, at the apartment, and Guatemala in general. When Dick and Tom got back we used the projector to show pictures on the wall of the seventeen times we have spent two days with returning missionaries. It was a great way to cover all the things we do there and what their responsibilities will be. It is still our favorite part of our calling. There is nothing like being around the young missionaries. We talked for a couple of hours. It was much easier doing this part of the training at home than at the office.
At 2 pm Dick took the Arnolds to the office to meet with Reynaldo. Then he was back in an hour with the Guarjados. They were able to meet with Nancy, the apartment manager, to pay their deposit and rent. Then Dick and Jim took Guajardos shopping at Price Smart. As soon as they got back we all gathered in the Fillmore’s apartment and had our leftovers from Sunday. It tasted as good tonight as it did Sunday.

23 June 2010…..Wednesday
We took Arnolds with us and were at the office by 8 am. It is a tight office with six of us in there….more than tight. I showed Julie some of the basic things I do. Before 11 am the manager at our apartment building called to say that Convergence was here to install the internet/cable for the Toblers, so the four of us came back. After all the work was done and we had lunch, Dick and Tom went back to the office. I had a “Shutterfly” class to teach Julie and Sandy so the Farewell Books will be done for couples after we leave. We weren’t able to finish because I had internet problems.

24 June 2010…..Thursday
Arnolds don’t have a car yet so they go with us each day. We were at the office for an 8 am video conference with Salt Lake. It was in English which is always good. After that was over it was repeated at 10:00 for Spanish speakers. Dick went to that one, also. I acquainted Julie with the Spanish computer keyboard, which we have at the office. I also showed her how I can switch my typing on my laptop to Spanish so I can put in accents and have spell check in Spanish. We worked on the Specialist Report. Then she did an online calendar with all the information of when the various reports need to be done. After noon all four of us went for haircuts…..Julie and I to the beauty shop and the men to the barber shop. It is the first time Dick didn’t stick around with me to help me tell Esmeralda what I wanted done. It really is an act of charades to let her know how we want our hair cut. She asked if Julie and I were hermanas (sisters) and I told her, “Si, hermanas en la iglesia.” (sisters in the church)

25 June 2010…..Friday
A new stake PEF specialist came to the office for training today…..at 7 am. Dick and the Arnolds left at 6:30 am. Dick was back to get me at 8:30 am. We went up to the fifth floor for an appointment with Elder Clarke. It was our “exit interview.” The Clarkes and Martinos leave for the States next week so Elder Clarke needed to take care of our final interview. (Four weeks from right now, 4:15 pm, we will land in Salt Lake City). We enjoyed our thirty minute visit with him. He gave both of us a certificate saying we were honorably released from our calling as a missionary….effective July 23, 2010. He gave us two sealed envelopes….one for our stake president and one for our bishop, plus a copy of the letter for us. It seems like just yesterday that we were sitting around that same round table when we first arrived in Guatemala City and he welcomed us.

As soon as we were finished I left with a group to go with the Curtiss’ to “Ayudame vivir,” (help me to live), the pediatric cancer clinic. It was an emotional experience just like the last time we were there. There was a presentation of medical equipment from Church Humanitarian Services, arranged by the Curtiss’ and formally presented by Elvis Gomez. He is the director of the Employment Resource Center.

Four children presented framed paintings, done by patients, to Curtiss’ and to the head doctor. The teen-aged boy is free of cancer after many years of treatment.
Afterwards we had a tour of the facility and tears ran. So many sick children. As we walked into their rooms we presented hats to the patients, made by many church members in the States. One little four year old boy was crying. He just wants to go home. A two year old that looked much younger, blew kisses to us.

Parents sat by all their bedsides.
One mother was taking her child home, many miles away. She had spent the last five months here with him and now he was well enough to leave.

PEF Committee Meeting was cancelled for this afternoon so we let John off at the office and Beatriz drove Sandy, Julie and me out for lunch. We went to Le Café. After lunch she brought the three of us back to the apartment building.

The guys went to Blockbuster and rented some movies. We gathered at Hatch’s apartment and watched “2012.” It just seemed fitting to see that particular movie while we were still in Guatemala since it is supposed to be based on the Mayan calendar that ends in 2012…..except the calendar doesn’t end in 2012, it just starts over.

26 June 2010…..Saturday
While I cleaned and did laundry Dick went to the office to clean up his desk from all the paperwork. We went with Tilleys to the Acevedo’s home for lunch. He is our branch president and they wanted to do a goodbye lunch for us.

It was very, very nice. Lillian prepared a Guatemalan chicken dish made with a flower called loroco. It grows in another area of Guatemala, only during a certain part of the year. It was delicious (had cream in it) and probably the best native dish I have had here…..plus, I truly trust her preparation and cooking of the food. We had a hot drink with the meal that she called an “apple infusion.” Dessert was boiled plantains that were mashed and rolled around a filling of mashed black beans that had been sweetened. Then it was fried. It was tasty.

We love their children, too…..Nicole, José and Dan.

We have had almost non-existent rain for the last week. There is a period of time here in Guatemala City called “canicola.” That is a dry period of about two weeks when there is no rain during the rainy season. Just a little information on meteorology.

27 June 2010…..Sunday
We woke up to rain and it has rained off and on all day. Arnolds rode to Church with us. At 11:30 am Dick, Tom and Jim left. Dick had a stake PEF specialist to train in El Bosque de San Nicolas Stake. We three women stayed and did our assignments in Primary and then Rexene drove us home.

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