About Us

My photo
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, July 25, 2010

Journal - July 19 - 25

19 July 2010…..Monday
Dick went to the office, came home later with a paper for me to sign, went back to the office to have it scanned and sent to Lancaster, then lunch with the guys at their favorite place. We are still working on the sale of the house and it is still a little iffy about this sale. I stayed at home today and worked at my new found “snail’s pace.” I can’t pack or give away too much, or we might need it before we go. I have already had to “borrow” powdered sugar that I gave away last week.

Tonight Family Home Evening was at Guajardo’s apartment…..another goodbye dinner for us and Tilleys.
Rudy barbecued steaks and chicken again and Sandy finished off the meal with her homemade donuts. We visited, took lots of pictures, and then Rudy asked us and Tilleys to bear our testimonies. That was hard and brought tears. What wonderful people we are serving with here in Guatemala. Jim and Rexene fly out tomorrow morning but we plan to see them August 3rd when they are visiting their daughter in Springville. We will meet at Two Jacks Pizza, where Sydney works, with both of our Utah families. Dick went with Dr. Mac to take Gert home.

20 July 2010…..Tuesday
Tilleys flew out at 7 am. Good thing we are leaving in three days or I would be mourning their departure. Dick went to the office to see what he could do. Sandy and I went to the Airport Market and enjoyed each other’s company as we walked around. She treated me to lunch at the restaurant there. I don’t think I have been in a group of just two since we came here. Dick and Dr. Mac went to lunch. We will miss the MacArthurs a lot!

When I got home I checked the computer. There was an email, saying the sale of the house has been canceled. I am disappointed because I truly want to live in Utah. But, that will come at some point, so it is a relief to be off the roller coaster we have been on for three months with the house selling twice. At least we know where we are going for now. My ultimate goal is Utah and I fear the housing market is just going to worsen.

We were invited to the Arnolds for dinner. We had a delicious salmon with pineapple salsa and wonderful rolls with honey butter. We are so grateful that Arnolds came to replace us five weeks before our departure as it has given us time with them. We hit it off from day one and we will always be friends.

21 July 2010…..Wednesday
What a wonderful day! This morning Dick and Tom drove both cars to La Sabana to take our car to its new owners, the Acevedo family (our branch president). When they got back we went with Arnolds to the Employment Resource Center for lunch. They closed the Center for the afternoon and the classroom was set up beautifully with white china dishes. Elvis was barbecuing beef and chicken. I cried as soon as I saw him and Patty. First we sang “Love One Another” and had the blessing on the food. Then they gave us a gift of a “thank you memento” from all of them at the CRESUD (Centro Recursos de Empleos Santos de los Ultimos Dias).

The meat was tender and delicious. We had black beans (refried), corn on the cob, avocado, homemade salsa, and freshly made tortillas. We even had a container at each plate, holding a baked potato. Arnolds and we chuckled went we saw that the baked potatoes came from Wendy’s. Elvis made a chimichuri sauce that was the best I have tasted. Now I have to get the recipe from him. It is an Argentine sauce, served at all the steak restaurants here. He also used it on bread that he then grilled. For dessert Sister Lopez had made strawberry pie topped with whipped cream. The meal joined my list of “memorable meals.”
We took pictures and I cried some more.

We spent the evening sorting through papers and packing and weighing the suitcases to see how we’re doing. I did laundry and bagged up some clothes for our branch that Arnolds can take next Sunday. The clothes in the suit cases are clean but I know they will be wrinkled when we finally unpack. Tomorrow will be a busy day.

July 22, 2010…..Thursday
Today Mark is 34 years old and I am twice as old as him for six weeks. Dick went to the office with Tom and then used his car to go to the bank to cash the check we got for the refund of our deposit. He also shipped via DSL the two gifts from PEF and Employment. They are too heavy to take in the suitcases. I emptied the cabinets of all the dishes for Arnolds to take. Dick picked me up and we went to the office. First, we gave Reynaldo a “do it yourself kit.” It was things gleaned from our cabinets…..cookie mixes, brownie mix, and a container of Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Then we started at the fifth floor and worked our way down to the first floor, telling wonderful people goodbye and taking some pictures. That was emotional. When we were finished we went out to lunch at Applebee’s with about 18 people who work on the first floor with us. A few minutes later José Ruano, who used to work on the first floor, came into the restaurant with his wife. So I invited them to join us. I had been wishing I could say goodbye to José because he is another person who is very dear to me.
I had to say goodbye to Reynaldo and others at the end and I couldn’t do it without tears. Beatriz and John gave us an exquisite, pale yellow table runner that I will always treasure.

Dick and Dr. Mac went to Convergence to stop our internet/TV and to the bank to cash the check for the refund of our deposit. Curtiss’ dropped me off at home and I worked on packing and cleaning and distributing. I gave Mario the items in the freezer. I did another box that Dick took downstairs to the guys later. Victor got choked up when we said goodbye to him. Sandy cooked an enjoyable dinner for us and we spent our last evening with the MacArthurs. We did some apartment hopping to say goodbye to all the other couples here. It is time to close the computer and put it in its case and get ready for bed. We will be up very early and leave here at 6:15 am. This morning I told Dick that I’m going home tomorrow but I am not excited, just sad.

23 July 2010…..Friday
This morning the alarm went off at 4:30 am. We got ready, adjusted our suitcases and weighed them and left the apartment at 6:15 am. We rode to the airport with the Arnolds and Dr. Mac brought our luggage in his car.

I had no tears this morning. After checking in I spent my last Quetz on some bookmarks. After we boarded the plane we put our wedding rings back on. We haven’t worn them in Guatemala because we didn’t want to be a target for someone who wanted them. Half way through our flight I was still feeling sad because I was leaving people I love but most of all it was the sadness of leaving our calling as missionaries. There have been many special blessings for us in the last two years. I do not look forward to being released and removing my badge that carries my name and the name of Jesus Christ.

It was exciting to land in Dallas and be back on American soil. I was beginning to feel excited about what lay ahead and especially to see our family. However, the curse of the Dallas Airport was about to hit. Getting through customs was a never ending process, along with finding and getting our luggage off the conveyor belt and rechecking it again. Then both of us being scanned at security and me having to be frisked because I had my tiny Guatemalan purse with American dollars hanging underneath my clothes and that made me suspect. Then getting to the gate was an expedition. By the time we got to the gate, the door was closed and the plane had left. They booked us on the 6:05 pm flight.

Spending extra time was probably a good break for us from the pace of the last couple of days. First, we met and talked to a man from Las Vegas who had served his mission in Guatemala almost twenty years ago. We used his cell phone to call Kristen and tell her of the delay. We met five great looking missionaries going home from the Mexico Veracruz Mission. It is love at first sight when we encounter other missionaries. We met a young woman who was from Germany and was called to serve her mission in Russia. She was flying to Utah to enter the MTC on Wednesday. During the course of our visiting a thunder storm rolled in. All flights in and all flights out were canceled. Time ticked away. The storm ended. The 6:05 flight was delayed. We were told to go to another gate for our flight to SLC. In the end our group was sent to four different gates. Finally, after 9:30 pm, Dallas time, we were on board and heading west. As the afternoon had progressed I got very excited about going “home,” but by the time we were heading that way I was very tired. I was also concerned because Kristen and family and Scott and family had spent hours at the airport playing the waiting game.

We were sitting on the next to last row on the airplane so we were almost last getting off the plane. An older, distinguished looking couple was walking through the airport. It was Elder Bateman. He told us “welcome back” and then asked where we had served. It was a nice welcoming from a General Authority of the church. The welcome back we got from our waiting family was exuberant and it was wonderful to have our arms around children and grandchildren again.

I will always remember and love many people in Guatemala. Our experience was unique and a great blessing in our life. Serving the Lord takes on many forms and we are so grateful to have been counted among the 53,000+ missionaries serving at this time in the world. Carolyn Taylor wrote some beautiful words about being a senior missionary:

OUR MISSION by Carolyn Taylor
Time, a dimension, has blurred edges.
Time is measured by clocks, calendars,
and the movement of the sun.
Time is different in many cultures.
The planting and harvesting of corn,
The placement of Orion in the evening,
the emergence of Lyra in early morning
dictate and regulate our lives.

It’s different, somehow, while on the Lord’s errand.
The markers between hours and minutes differ
for those who serve move by a spiritual clock.
The goals of the day are gifts from the Spirit
and it is those promptings which mark
the seconds of our day.

“Is it time for lunch? Oh, it is 5:00pm.
Where did the hours go?” we say.
The hours fly by when we have one foot
in another world.
Our “clock-maker” stretches out the days.


BenjaminFamily said...

You don't know me, but I have been following your blog for the last year. I found it one day when I was googling something about Guatemala. I have truly enjoyed reading your weekly entries and feeling of your spirit. I am saddened today as I read your last entry. May God bless you always for your service in Guatemala. And thank you for sharing your spirit with the world!

Anonymous said...

Well, you barely know me also and I have thoroughly enjoyed your journal of your wonderful mission. I am a great friend of Cyndy and I have met you at least once here in Chico, CA. Good luck on the house hunting. Much love!!

Leslie said...

Welcome home Brother and Sister Graff! Thank you for your insights to this wonderful country. My son, Jordan Smith, has 18 months left in the Guatemala City North mission. I have followed your blog every week since he got there. As sad as it is to see this blog end, I wish you the best on your next chapter on the journey of life!
Leslie Smith