Sunday, September 23, 2012

Training in Salt Lake, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Arrival in Guyana

Alicia Phagwah, a Guyanese sister who is going to serve on temple square.
Sep 22, 2012

We made it safely to Guyana yesterday. Guyana,Trinidad and the Dominican Republic are third world countries. We have lots of adjustments to make. Today we got phones and the car. We can only withdraw two $150 amounts a day. We have used up the money we withdrew from the bank yesterday. Food is very expensive if you eat something besides rice, beans, and bananas. I am going to set up the computer today. We got the internet hooked up last night. Everything takes a long time partly because you have to wait in long lines. One store we went to that sells Kirkland brand items had us look at samples upstairs, write the name, number and quantity on a form. The clerk called on the phone. Then we walked downstairs gave the form to another man, who gave it to another man. He got all the supplies. The men put the items into bags and after we had signed the form were handed the goods.
 Katie cooked our first meal. We had chicken and rice cooked with bora.  Bora is a long skinny green vegetable.  It is kind of a cross between green onions and beans.  It was tasty.  We also had a green salad after soaking the lettuce in the bleach water.  We have air conditioning in the bedrooms. We put the little kitchen table in one of the bedrooms and leaned the bed up against the wall.  The "office" has a large desk. We cool the bedroom down before we go to bed and then turn it off and leave a fan or two blowing on us under our mosquito net, which Bob hates and Katie is afraid not to use. The pineapple is delicious as well as the bananas. We went on an hour walk in the botanical garden which is quite close to our place. We are six feet below sea level. We are grateful for the sea wall which is about a mile away. Driving on the left hand side of these narrow pitted roads is an experience. The roads have potholes and some have severe speed bumps. There is a lot of honking, but mostly friendly toots to alert you that something is happening, like they are passing.  So far the driving has been much more courteous than in the DR. There are trenches all over filled with dirty floating smelly garbage. There are beautiful huge water lilies sticking several feet out of these trenches in places. There are maybe 1,000 green noisy parrots in the botanical gardens. We have been cleaning the apartment. It has beautiful lacquered wood floors, which we have already managed to scratch. There are two kinds of pineapple.  We think we prefer the shorter rounder variety.

We loved the marketplace!
Guyana is a land of contrasts

There are some nice homes in our neighborhood.

 We arrived in our mission on Katie's birthday and entered the MTC on Bob's.  Our flight was late because of the American Airlines pilots negotiations.  The pilots were looking for any excuse to stall the planes.  We were late the day before flying from the D.R. with the same problem, so we missed our flight to Trinidad and had to stay in Miami overnight.  However, we did make it to Trinidad and Elder and Sister Andrus picked us up and took us to the mission office for a very brief training - because everyone was ready to go home.  Then we went to meet the mission president, Daniel Mehr and his wife.  We ended up going out to eat with all of them at Ruby Tuesdays, and then Sister Mehr had baked a birthday cake, so we went back to their home for dessert.  We celebrated all of the September birthdays: Bob's on the 3rd, mine on the 20th, Pres. Mehr's on the 22nd, and Sister Andrus on the 25th.  Plus President and Sister Mehr had just celebrated their 5th anniversary.
A great view from the top of the church office building
We had a great time in Salt Lake City training with all the PEF people.  We were privileged to meet with the Executive PEF Committee.  Elder John Carmack and Elder Richard Cook, the general authorities over PEF were in charge.  There were 12 or so people there.  It was amazing to be there for that meeting.  We met some very wonderful people.  We went up to the top floor of the church office building to take some pictures.  Since we had sold the cars we rode the trax and buses to Temple Square.
Then we went to the Dominican Republic to meet the PEF people who we will be working with.  The Hammons met us and took good care of us.  We stayed in the Courtyard Marriott, and it was very nice.  We got to meet with all the Area people.  Rufino Diaz and Richard and Marylou Roberts spent a couple days with us teaching us.  The Roberts are Ashley Hansen's parents.  Ashley is the wife of our nephew Nick Hansen.  We had a great time with them.  
Dominican Republic Temple
MTC in the Dominican Republic
Welcome to the Dominican Republic Temple
We attended church and Family Home Evening at the MTC.  We had a nice visit with the Glaziers, who Liz and Phil will be replacing in January.  She showed us their apartment which is on the 3rd floor in the MTC building.  The missionaries live on one end and their classrooms are on the other end.  So the missionaries go back and forth all day and knock whenever they need anything.  It is a 24/7 job. The Glaziers go straight for six weeks and then have a two day break.  It was fun to be there for church.  The Haitian missionaries sang in French, the North American Elders sang in Spanish, and the Senior Missionaries sang in English, and it sounded good.  We were also able to attend the temple there and it is beautiful.  It is ten years old this year.
Trinidad, which we only saw for a few hours was different from the DR and driving there was very organized compared to the Dominican Republic, where nobody thinks the rules are for them.  Trinidad seemed a little more modern.  People speak English.  In the D.R. they speak Spanish.  Here in Guyana the people we have met have brown skin, brown eyes (except for a Guyanese lady we saw at the airport who had huge light blue eyes) and it's surprising when they speak English - some of which we can understand.  The people here are very friendly.  We love the horse drawn long narrow wagons carrying all kinds of stuff down the roads, and people on bikes, riding two on a bike.  The taxis and autobuses drive crazily, but people stay in their lanes more than they do in the D.R.  We are still trying to get our feet on the ground.  The District President's wife told me today that when we get it all figured out it will be time to go home:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

At the MTC

We are at the MTC (Mission Training Center) in Provo, Utah.  We came on Bob's 66th birthday.  We spent the day getting oriented, lectured, organized, and getting into our room, which consists of a hallway, bedroom, and bathroom.  There is a built-in desk for two and the Elders who helped us move in said that it was much nicer than their accommodations.  It does have a framed picture of Christ and the Woman at the Well.  We have not spent much time in the room and it has everything we need, including an air conditioning fan, which we have turned off most of the time.  The weather is beautiful.  We have the need to step out in the fresh air and breathe deeply a few times a day.  We have gone on some nice walks, once out-of-bounds and then around the mission property, which includes the temple grounds.  This is a gorgeous time of year in Provo with the leaves turning bright fall colors.  We have connections with several people here at the MTC.  Ralph Benson and his wife are going to Stuttgart, Germany.  Ralph was in the Austrian Mission with Bob.  A single sister, down the hall, a couple of doors is Pearl Clement's granddaughter.  She was born in the same hospital as Bob and lived in the Tri-Cities for much of her growing up years.  We have seen Julie Schneider, from our home ward.  She is going to Montana.  The MTC is almost at capacity- maybe over.  Some couples are staying at the Marriott.  There are 118 senior missionaries, which is perhaps the largest group of senior missionaries the MTC has ever had.  We also saw Elizabeth Hoyt, from our Young Single Adult ward, who is going to Russia on a mission.  We have met some wonderful people who are  going to serve all over the world.  We sang last night in the choir at the fireside where Elder Kopesche and his wife spoke.  We are learning how to teach using Preach My Gospel.   Today we got a box from our kids with sugar free candy and gum, letters and notes from the kids and grandkids, and it was delivered to us during our small class time.  What a treat!  We are grateful for their sweet notes.  The only other thing that has been delivered was a notification to another couple that they needed to get some additional shots or medication. We got a note from Liz and are going to meet her for lunch when she comes to the MTC on Friday.  She offered to get us anything we need.  She already took us shopping to get Katie a purse.  Actually two purses were purchased.  One is a big red bag and the other is smaller and could fit inside if it is not stuffed to the brim. The spirit is great here!  It is a beautiful place!