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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, February 14, 2010

Journal - February 8 - 14

8 February 2010…..Monday
After I posted my blog yesterday, Dick showed me a note written to him. He was standing in the hallway after church with a few of the young people. All he knows is that it came from one of the girls. He had put it in his pocket and read it later when he remembered it. It really touched him. Whoever gave it to him didn’t sign it. We pretty much narrowed it down to the two sisters in their early teens who come to church alone. We figured it was written to him because he used to be their home teacher. They told him that their mother would be upset if she knew they had written to him. Their mother makes 20Q a day….less than $3. They said their mother doesn’t have shoes. They were wondering if we could help with rice, sugar, beans, toilet paper, etc. Dick drove back to La Sabana to talk to President Acevedo so he would be aware of it. President has tried to get the mother to write a list of what she needs but she would never do it. Some people try to get all they can out of the church welfare system, but here is a mother in desperate need who doesn’t want to take the help. We would gladly go out and shop for the necessities, plus some treats, but the church will take care of it. Since being here, I understand why the missionaries are told not to do so. We are so surrounded by need and I can remember Jeff talking about families in Argentina who were in great need. It would be easy to spend all our time and resources trying to take care of everyone we know. We will still do something for the girls and their mother but the long term needs will be provided through President Acevedo by the church.

Today Kelsey is 25! Little did we suspect that there would be 30 more grandchildren after her. They each bring great joy to us. I was able to do a full day’s work on the PEF Priesthood report. There is still much to do but I was able to divide it by stakes, districts and missions and then sent them to the PEF Call Center directors and to the stake presidents in Guatemala.

Dick, Reynaldo, Claudia and Kelvin took Lester to lunch. He enters the CCM (MTC) here in Guatemala on Wednesday. I didn’t go because I just don’t feel well, so I stayed at the office and emailed reports. After lunch Dick took him to the airport market and bought an over the shoulder, carry-all bag. Most of the missionaries here use them instead of backpacks. I gave Lester a hug and Dick and I both fought tears when Dick said that we wouldn’t see him again.
He invited us to be with him tomorrow night when he is set apart, but we will be with the returning missionaries.

It was overcast and smoky all day from the burning cane fields many kilometers away. It is the routine after the harvest. We didn’t see sun or blue sky at all. Tonight was the farewell dinner for Neil and Kathy Anderson. They leave March 1 to go back to his job at BYU Provo. He has been on a Fulbright scholarship here since June.

9 February 2010…..Tuesday
More birthdays….Megan is 14 and Mitchell is 13 today! It seems like yesterday our little group of toddlers (Megan, Madi, Kourtney, Mitchell and Jacob) had “Rug Rat” titles and in three weeks Jacob will be 13 and they will all be teenagers.

Dick went to the office at 7 am and was home to get me at 9:30 am. We went by the cleaners first to see if he had left his cell phone in the pants he took to be cleaned earlier this morning. It wasn’t there. Then we went to the Case de HĂșespedes. We had nine missionaries, returning home to Guatemala from various Central American countries and also Peru. It has been two months since our last assignment in early December. The Casa lobby has been enlarged and it has a granite counter for check-ins and new sofas and tables. Very nice.

I went over to the CCM and introduced myself to the new president and his wife…..the Steimles from Glendora, CA. I told them that I was Robert McGary’s mother-in-law. President Steimle was one of Robert’s YM leaders many years ago. (Robert is 53 so it has been many, many years ago).

When the van arrived to get us we went to the Employment Resource Center. After our devotional we walked down the hallway to the restaurant. The cucumber salad was okay, as was the macaroni salad. The beef was as usual, practically impossible to chew. I didn’t have any of the juice to drink because the glasses were not totally dry and I know they are not washed and rinsed in “pure” water. Air drying will kill any germs in the water but these glasses hadn’t even totally air dried.

Three more missionaries came later in the afternoon from Nicaragua. At 3 pm Elder Martino, counselor in the Area Presidency, came and talked to the group. He is a wonderful motivational speaker and has a great spirit about him. Even with my limited Spanish I can feel what he is stressing to them. He was a mission president in Venezuela a few years ago. Dinner was at 5 pm……chicken sandwiches delivered from Pollo Campero. They spread black beans on the bun and it tastes pretty good.
At 6:30 pm the pizzas were delivered. These two meals close together, every time we are here, baffles me. The kids enjoy all the food. They boxed up the leftovers and took it back to the Casa, which was good, because we had one more missionary there who had arrived about thirty minutes earlier. We had a room on the first floor and the one sister missionary was in the room across the hall from us. All 12 elders were in a room on the second floor. Eight of them had bunk beds and four of them had an extra mattress on the floor. Of course, they had to share one bathroom.

10 February 2010…..Wednesday

We were all ready to go this morning at 7 am. There were a few missionaries coming in the gates to the CCM, beginning their training. I was hoping we would see Lester and Jorge, the volunteers from the office, for they also report today. The Casa will be very busy when we get back this afternoon. They are expecting 4 buses from Honduras bringing 200 people to the temple, (at least a ten hour trip). They will be here three days. One hundred will be housed at the Casa and the other 100 at four homes the church owns next to the temple that can sleep 25 each.

The first thing after arriving at the Employment Resource Center, after devotional, was breakfast. So, back to the restaurant. The tipico breakfast is my favorite meal….scrambled eggs, black beans, a slice of white cheese, platanos (fried plantains), and melon juice. Dick bought an apple filled doughnut for everyone. The first class was with Brother Flores, an Institute director. I was able to be back at “my” desk in one of the offices, to work on the computer and to read scriptures. We went back to the restaurant for lunch. Besides the usual choice of chicken or beef, they had spaghetti, so that is what I had. Dick bought hellado (ice cream) for all of them. He and I skip the ice cream because the brand they sell is very icy and no cream. When they went back to the classroom Patty wasn’t there yet, so they started singing hymns. They are awesome!! They sing with their whole heart.

The wind is howling today. Sounds like I am in Lancaster. McDonald’s delivered McFlurrys and we left at 4 pm for the Casa. When we got back we saw Lester, now “Elder Rodas” as he was with a group of new missionaries. He looks awesome with his official name tag and his beautiful new suit. We always enjoy our temple session with the missionaries and the family reunions that take place afterwards. We had two missionaries spending another night at the Casa so after everyone else left Dick took them to McDonalds for a late dinner.

11 February 2010…..Thursday
This morning the last two missionaries were picked up by their families. They came from Huehuetenango, at least six hours away. We stopped at a baby shop on the way home and bought a little outfit for Leovany, the baby son of President Leovany Lopez of Cayo District in Belize. Blackburns are flying to Belize tomorrow to do auditing training and they will take the gift to them.

I was getting ready to reheat the chicken that we had Monday evening when Rexene knocked on the door and invited us over for carbonara. So we took the chicken and went over for dinner. When Tomkinsons got home, Suzanne came and ate with us while Wayne went to the gym. A little later, Kathy came by delivering cookies to each apartment. She filled plates for her and Neil and took them back to their apartment. The impromptu meals seem to be the most fun.

12 February 2010…..Friday
This morning Dick left before 7 am. Our plan was he would be back to get me before 9 am so we could go do a school kit presentation at a school in the Vista Hermosa area. As it ended up, Brother Arredondo took the assignment and so we didn’t go. He recently got a call to serve as a mission president.

I waited in front of the apartment for 35 minutes to be picked up. There were delays due to various meetings in preparation for Elder Neil Andersen’s arrival tonight (the apostle, not to be confused with Neil Anderson our neighbor). I had a full day at the office typing up the exceptions for Dick and working on the PEF Priesthood report.

Dick has been unable to find his phone. The last time he used it was at the office on Monday. It is not at the office, at the apartment, or in the car. Sister Torres tried to call him during the week and someone answered the phone so whether someone found it or stole it, it is gone. But, that is ok. His old one was a used phone when he got it our first day at the office. They gave him a brand new phone and the sound is incredible. We both can clearly hear the caller on the new phone.

Elder and Sister Hatch took a bunch of us out to dinner for all the help putting the furniture together two weeks ago. We went to a steak restaurant and everyone enjoyed their meals. Elder Hatch put a small clear plastic heart containing 3 Zurich chocolates in front of each of us women. We lingered at the table quite awhile, visiting and enjoying one anothers company.

13 February 2010…..Saturday
This morning I worked on the wood floors and Dick stuck around awhile to help me move furniture. Then he headed for the office to play catch-up on all the applications and exceptions. He worked six hours. We had a quiet evening.

14 February 2010…..Sunday

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! That means chocolate to me and I was not disappointed. It is also Katy’s 3rd birthday! (That is, Katy Mace, not to be confused with Kaiti Graff or Cady Graff). That makes 4 family birthdays this week.

Church and Primary went well today. We only had ten children there. Dick and I were the only senior missionaries. Blackburns are training auditors in Belize and Tilleys are playing their role as security missionaries while Elder Andersen is in Guatemala. We have a new young missionary in our branch, Elder Coles from South Jordan, UT. President Torres, Guatemala City North Mission, was his school principal back in Utah.

The trees and grassy areas are looking very dry. That will change in April when the rains come. There is one thing that will come to my mind for the rest of my life when I think of Guatemala, and that is color. At this time of year the jacarandas are blooming. There are other large trees with huge, plentiful orange flowers. There are trees with pink and white flowers. And, this is just the beginning of the season of flowering trees. Every day we encounter color in the clothing of the “tipico” Guatemalan, especially on Sunday when we are in La Sabana and there are many women walking along the road in their tipico clothing. We have a family at church who wears the tipico clothing. It is the women who dress in the native dress, except in some of the outlying areas like Lake Atitlan where there will be some men in the tipico clothing, too. Many buildings, houses and small businesses, are painted in vibrant colors. Even with my eyes closed, all I see is color when I think of Guatemala.