- 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.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
28 June 2010…..Monday
On Saturday the Acevedos gave us a CD of marimba music entitled “Marimbas de Guatemala.” It will bring back fond memories of Guatemala in the future. Dick and Tom Arnold went to the office this morning and I stayed home and made a salad to take to the dinner tonight. At noon they came home for lunch and then Julie and I went to the office with them for two meetings. The first was a meeting with the area presidency for all senior couples. They discussed cars. The new policy is that each couple assigned to the Area (not to specific missions) will have the use of a car. That will make us the last couple who had to buy a car. We are glad that our new missionaries won’t have to have the expense of buying a car and paying for insurance and repairs. After that was over we had PEF Committee Meeting. It is our final committee meeting and Arnold’s first. Claudia brought in a cake and soda to wish us goodbye. Guatemalans always serve soda at room temperature. We took a picture of the committee members.
We came home after 4 pm. It rained all day and never made it out of the sixties. Tonight was the Farewell Dinner for the Tilleys and Graffs at the Clarke’s patio.
There was a great attendance….all from our apartment, two mission presidents, MTC president, temple president and missionary couples from the temple and two couples serving at Lake Atitlan area. Plus, plenty of food. We have made great friends amongst this group and they are all faithful servants of the Lord. They sang a song in our honor to the tune of “The Day Dawn is Breaking.” The words were written by Adele Blackburn:
The students were praying for Graff’s undertaking El Fondo Perpetuo por Educación.
The seeds they were sowing, for learning and growing the leaders they’ll need on
that beautiful day.
The futures today, and they’ll meet the test.
Graffs gave them wings and God did the rest
Thanks to our friends, they’re tried and true.
This mission’s done. We bid you adieu!
After the emcee, Steve MacArthur, said a few jokey things, and then the singing for each couple, Elder Martino spoke about the Tilleys and they each responded with their feelings. Then Elder Clarke spoke about us and then we each took a few minutes to express ourselves. This is truly the fastest two years of my life. In the time we have been gone, we celebrated our 49th anniversary. We had another grandson, and two great-grandchildren…..plus, Mother died. I tried to clear up the idea that Victoria Suites was the party place. Our doors are NOT always open. We DO eat a number of meals together and we DO play dominoes on occasion. We LAUGH together and sometimes we CRY together. Being here with other couples is an amazing experience. We took pictures throughout the evening, of course, and we will treasure many wonderful memories. Astonishingly, I didn´t shed any tears. We still have 3 weeks and 3 days here.
Elder and Sister Brady from the temple couldn´t be there tonight but they gave us a beautiful book entitled “Guatemala, Colors of Enchantment.” It is all photos of Guatemala in all its color and splendor. President and Sister Baldwin of the Guatemala Central Mission gave us an Utchi. It is a depiction of the hieroglyph that translates “and it came to pass.”
29 June 2010…..Tuesday
Dick and Tom went to the office, then to Convergence later to try to get the installer out to hook up internet for Arnolds. Julie and I spent a few hours together at home, finishing the Specialist Report and showing her how to get on the PEF administration site and how to enter and record her contact with the students from Belize. Of course, we talked a lot about missions and leaving family, and the blessings that come. Sandy called to see if my TV was working because hers wasn’t. She came down and we watched Glenn Beck together.
This afternoon was the last time Dick and Jim will be with the Young Men from our branch at their Tuesday meeting. They took them to McDonalds and bought them Big Macs, fries and drinks. Then they took them back to the Carrias home for their 5 pm Seminary class. The McDonalds is maybe three or four miles from their homes. As Dick talked to these teenage boys, he found that one had been to McDonalds only once and two had never been there. I know they enjoyed the outing and this fun experience in their young lives.
30 June 2010…..Wednesday
Today was National Service Day in Guatemala. The office and many other businesses were closed. Dick went to the office to send off some information. A little later he, Tom and Jim took a drive to find the Institute building where Dick and Tom have an appointment tomorrow with Elder Abularach. He is over the Seminaries and Institute program here in Central America and is also an Area Seventy. Two years ago at the MTC we were told it was no longer CES but S&I. It is hard to remember the change after so many years of CES. Dick and I both had the opportunity, at different times, to be Seminary teachers.
A little later a group decided to go to the movies. I convinced Dick to go without me because I was having some of my intestinal discomfort. The mall and theater was so full of people because of the national holiday that they all came back to the apartment building. They are now next door playing dominoes.
1 July 2010…..Thursday
We had a full day. Our office was freed up a little when Dick and Tom left to visit with Elder Abularach at the Institute. I showed Julie how to do Shutterfly cards and how to make a Farewell Book since she will take over my assignment. I am making Tilleys book and Julie is making ours. I had an email that made me ecstatically happy. We had an offer on the house last Sunday night. We counter offered and then today we found out that the buyer accepted our offer.
In the afternoon Dick, Tom and Steve went to _______ (fill in the blank…it starts with a W) for lunch. They brought salads back to the office for me and Julie. Our smaller office was jam-packed through the day. Six of us using desk top computers or laptops. It was pretty bizarre. I couldn’t even get to the files in my drawer. When we leave it will settle down to the two couples in the space. After taking me back to the apartment Dick took Tom and Julie to Puerto del Sol to buy American products and then to Paiz.
2 July 2, 2010…..Friday
Another full day. Last night we could not get the house papers to send that we had scanned earlier. So we put the originals in an envelope and this morning Dick went to Fed Ex to have them shipped. They told him they would be there Monday morning. They called later to say that Monday and Tuesday is a holiday in the States and that the papers would not arrive till Wednesday. We tried another scan and this time the signed papers sailed through. Dick went back to Fed Ex to get the original papers and a refund.
The Priesthood Report was available today and I started off doing it to show Julie how to divide it into the 97 stakes. I did Guatemala and El Salvador and then she finished them. Dick showed Tom how to write up the exceptions and I typed the first one and then Julie finished them. She is computer savvy so things come easy for her. The guys went to Quiznos and brought sandwiches back to the office for lunch. We came home about 4 pm and I think we were all tired, except Dick. I lose steam in the afternoon but he plows on through. Joanne came downstairs and we loaded all our plants into the elevator and she took them up to her apartment. This morning we took our large framed picture of Antigua to the office and they will wrap it and ship it home for us.
This evening we and Tilleys were invited to go to a Guatemalan restaurant with Ruby Moeller and her husband. She retired recently from her job at the office and she also makes the beautiful jade jewelry that I have purchased. We went to Zona Viva to Kacao. It was a beautiful restaurant, excellent service, delicious food, marimba music and the company was exceptional. The Moellers both speak pretty good English and the conversation was a mix of Spanish and English. They ordered appetizers. I tried the fresh tortilla with a filling made of loroco. I put a small spoon full of salsa on it. The salsa was the hottest thing I have ever eaten. It wasn’t uncomfortable but my entire mouth was burning for a good ten minutes. I like hot. The waiter said it was made of Coban Chile. I ordered ravioli stuffed with squash and served with a loroco cream sauce. The loroco is the flower I wrote about last week that Sister Acevedo served us for lunch. It was excellent. They ordered two desserts that we shared. One was made of corn and similar to a very sweet cornbread but denser, served warm. The other was a squash called quaquil. It was split, baked and sweetened. It was a very wonderful evening.
The thunder is rolling now. We love it!
3 July 2010…..Saturday
Today is Alison’s 41st birthday. We couldn’t celebrate with her but we had an absolutely wonderful day.
Dick drove to Villa Hermosa Stake to make sure he knows how to get there for the meeting tomorrow afternoon. He was very happy with himself that he drove right to it. Then he went to the office to work on some things. I cleaned and made cookies to take to Reynaldo’s.
When Arnolds got back from a trek to Central Market with some of our group, they went with us to Reynaldo’s for lunch. Reynaldo met us near where they used to live and we followed him back to their new home. Today was a farewell meal for us and a welcome meal for Arnolds. This is the first time we have seen Reynaldo and Elijahana’s new home. We haven’t seen Monica (3)
and Diego (1½)
since their combined birthday party. They have grown.
Claudia was there with her guapo (handsome) son, Diego (7).
Reynaldo’s parents were visiting from Honduras. We met them last November at the birthday party. René and Adilís Oliva were also there. They are the couple who asked for Kayla as a daughter-in-law. Their son is serving a mission in New York City.
We ate all afternoon. We started outside under a canopy. Reynaldo’s mother was stirring chunks of cheese into refried red beans (only Guatemalans make refried black beans) that were in clay bowls, sitting on top of small clay pots of charcoal. She invited Julie and me to help stir.
We dipped tortilla chips into the beans. We also had a bowl of sliced onions, red peppers, and chile to dip the chips into. Some scoops were mild but getting some of the chile intensified the feeling of heat. Then we were served a bowl of potato soup. It was steaming hot. There were no discernible pieces of potato in it but it was definitely a potato broth. It started to rain and the atmosphere under the canopy was fun. Julie and I just melted into the experience of our wonderful friends and the Honduran food we were eating. The rain got pretty intense and even though we were under the canopy we were getting splashed by the pounding rain. We dashed inside and sat at the dining room table. Out came enchiladas and carrot salad with raisin and pineapple. I tried the banana soda. It is also a product of Honduras. I have never seen it here. Popusas were served with the meal. We ate some in El Salvador but these were the best I have tasted. The frozen ones in the market can’t compare. There was a woman doing the cooking and Reynaldo took Julie and I into the kitchen to watch her make the popusas. Pretty soon we were involved in the project. The dough was already made of corn flour, salt, and water. We dipped our hands in oil to prevent sticking, then took a ball of dough and patted it between our hands to flatten it. Then we took a small handful of the filling (cheese and loroco seed) and put it in the center, folded the sides up around it and then patted it flat again.
It was fried in oil on both sides and then Julie and I ate our own popusas, sharing them with Tom and Dick. What a fun experience. A beautiful cake topped off the whole meal.
We sat around the table for a couple of hours and talked……almost entirely Spanish. Many stories or jokes were repeated in English so Julie and I could get it all. We laughed and laughed. As we sat there we played a version of “Name That Tune,” but we had to whistle a tune. That brought many more laughs. I told them it was like being with our family, just talking and laughing and enjoying one another’s company. It made me teary to think I would be leaving and will never again see people who have been so dear to us. The little children have helped relieve the feelings of missing our grandchildren. Three year old Monica with her dark curls and determination reminds me of Sydney at three years old. I am so grateful that the Arnolds were able to have this special experience while they are so new to Guatemala and the mission field. They, too, will now feel that they have family in Guatemala.
4 July 2010…..Sunday
Today is Independence Day in the States and living in a foreign country makes me love my country more than ever. We have listened to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood that I downloaded last year. Plus, this morning we heard strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” on an email. Of course, we didn’t sing any patriotic songs about the U.S. in Sacrament Meeting today. Dick and I both bore our testimony. I have such strong feelings in my heart but expressing them in Spanish is totally beyond my linguistic ability, so I have to just go with the basics.
Dick left with the Arnolds at 3 pm to speak about PEF at the Villa Hermosa Stake bishops meeting. I will have a meal ready when they all get back. It has been a wonderful week, here in Guatemala, in the mission field.