Search This Blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Cuddles

Today we spent several hours delivering food and presents to families in the valley. Afterwards, we ate some good Mexican food, albeit, not so authentic. After coming home I helped Mom make a double batch of ris a l'amande, wrapped presents, and helped prepare breakfast for tomorrow - Oven Apple Pancakes! Yum! Then we headed over to the Morgensen's, my former seminary teacher and bishop, for a little Christmas party for the ward. We saw some dear friends, socialized and laughed, before heading home. We were running around getting ready for bedtime when I heard Ashley crying in the bathroom. She was being uncooperative because "I'm so cold!" So I grabbed a warm fleece blanket and went down the hall. When Victoria got Ashley's new pull-ups on, I wrapped her up in the blanket and carried her out to the living room where the kids were getting ready to open their presents from Grandma and Grandpa before going to sleep. As I carried her out there, Ashley reached over and kissed me on the collarbone. I remembered once again the love of God and the blessings I have in abundance. How blessed I am!
I held Ashley tucked in her little blanket while she opened her present. I should note here, Mom and Dad buy the grandkids the same presents every Christmas, new pajamas. Last year, I watched Hannah, Brynne, Logan and Kenna open theirs. When I asked Hannah if she wanted to guess what the presents were, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "PJs, Aunt Sarah." So, it made me giggle that as little Ashley slowly and carefully picked off the bow and peeled back the wrapping paper, she kept whispering, "I don't know what it is...I don't know what's inside." Pajamas! Surprise! She was so thrilled. We put them on straightaway and she gave me more kisses. She was quite happy by then and content to sleep in her new, warm pj's from Grandma and Grandpa.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

As I'm sitting here munching leftover Ris a l'amande, I'm thinking about a Christmas miracle I just experienced with my friend Hsin Yao.

This is the 2 of us writing letters for my roommate Nicole's club, Stand for the Family. I met Hsin Yao when she was Sister Cho, serving in Ukiah. She started her first semester here at BYU this Fall and has been drowning in school, but did a great job finishing a huge workload. Tonight we had a couple spare minutes to sit down and talk and exchange presents. As poor college students, they weren't much, but they meant a lot.

Last week I found a sweet little nativity set of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus that I picked up and wrapped. I felt that I should give it to Hsin Yao and have been trying to find time in our busy schedules to give it to her. Well, tonight we made the time! When she opened it she got really excited. Like, REALLY excited. I was thinking, the poor girl doesn't realized what an inexpensive little gift that is, when Hsin Yao told me that she had been pondering the purpose of Christmas and had decided to get her very first Nativity set. This afternoon when she was in the bookstore she almost bought the very set that I gave her, but something stopped her, and told her that someone had already gotten it for her. She paused and said, "It wouldn't be Sarah? Nah." But decided not to buy it all the same. I was afraid maybe the surprise of the gift had been a little spoiled, but Hsin Yao kept told me that this present was precious to her and let her know how aware God is of her. She says that she will tell her family about it every year when she puts it out. How awesome is that?

That's not the end, however. It was my turn to open my present, so I'm going to tell you about what I've been learning in Physical Science. I know, totally logical. Anyways, so this last unit we've been learning about the solar system. What especially interested me was the life cycle of stars, how they are born, their progression, etc. Then, reading and hearing about the star that appeared at Christ's birth, I realized that that event was prepared years in advance. The star was actually born hundreds, maybe millions, of years ago, but it took all that time for the light to reach us so far away. It made me think, maybe Christ created that star, and when He did, He said, "You will shine at my birth." Interesting, right?

So, I opened the card that Hsin Yao wrote for me and she wrote this:

About the star that led the shepherds to Bethlehem, Elder Maxwell said, "God had to place that star in a precise solar trajectory in orbit centuries before it shone that night so brightly over Bethlehem...In like manner,...each of us has been placed in precise human orbits, in order to light up the landscape of life for our fellowmen. We must be like that star and do our duty and be where we're supposed to be and do what we are supposed to do...that star shone for the glory for God. When you and I accomplish what we have been sent to do, we shine in glory of God. We light the way."

It is a beautiful message, and it complemented my musings of the past few weeks. God knew the ponderings of my heart and sent me the message He would have me learn. I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who is aware of the challenges two of His daughters face and send them to each other prepared with His love. Hsin Yao received what she needed from God through me, and I received what I needed from God through her. It was a true manifestation of God meeting our needs through other mortals. I love my Father and am thankful for the chance to have been an instrument in His hands, and I know that He watches carefully over His beloved children. May we let God guide our lives that we may shine in His glory and guide His children.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I find myself with 15 minutes to kill, so what do I do? Write, of course. Brilliant. I've been hanging out with Jelaire's companion from the mission, Bethany, who is visiting from London. I feel the frequent urge to respond to questions and comments with "Cheers." Hopefully I don't sound like an impostor or something.

Today I will be taking my Italian final. It's scheduled from 8 to 10pm. (Yeah, ick is right) Some of the people in my class asked to meet a couple hours before so we can review the vocab. I just hope they were kidding when they said I would be leading the review. To be honest, I'm not really concerned about this test, I've been studying for the class all semester and doing well on the quizzes. The test that I AM concerned about is my Physical Science class. I do not like this class, at ALL. I strongly dislike classes concepts that I don't understand. I think it's called intolerance. I'm working on fixing that...Fortunately my friend Kevin is aware of my dislikes and came over last night for an hour to help me study. As an airplane pilot he loves physics, and I feel like I'm starting to understand it a lot better. Such a good teacher. I got all excited to study, then my friend Israel came over and distracted me for an hour. But I'm not complaining.

I will be home in a week! I fly home on Monday then I get to play with the family for almost 2 weeks! San Francisco for a couple days, ocean, redwoods, RELAXATION! This is going to be amazing, the longest vacation I've had for a long time. I don't have to worry about school or work, just work on recovering from the semester and enjoy my family 100% Yay!

Alright, time to jet over to the class for some review before the exam. woohoo...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I slept in an hour, made it to a 9am Physical Science class. It doesn't matter which class you attend, as long as you use the iClicker to take the quizzes. I kind of like the 9am professor more than my prof who teaches at 8 because she's dynamic and her quizzes make more sense. Then I headed off to work where my boss found me after an hour or so and was kindly concerned for my health. I have a great boss, the best in the world.

Today I was going through some correspondence from one of our favorite veterans, Larry "Lucky" Chesley. I'm going through several boxes that he donated to BYU, stuff that he can't keep anymore and his kids don't want. It's neat to go through all his memorabilia and read letters from people who were changed because of him. One of the programs from a club where he spoke had a funny quote that made me giggle, "Before you fall in love with a pair of bright eyes...make sure it's not the sun shining through the back of her head."

The funniest thing is that I'm sometimes (often) teased for my eye language. Makes me wonder how full my brain is...

Blessings from this week:

I just took a quiz and scored 100%.
I get to take a test tomorrow and hopefully get 100% as well.
I improved 11% on my last Phys Science test. I'm not telling you either score.
Because of my back paralysis I finally got to play with Michelle Scott, one of my favorite people in my ward that I've been able to see at school so far. She gave me a massage and I got to watch Jane Eyre. Yum...
I got a sweet text from a boy across the room during the ward Thanksgiving dinner that made me remember that I'm a girl.
My brother, sister and 6 sobrinos are coming on Friday!!! The anticipation alone is a blessing.
My friends carry my backbag for me. Not because I'm lazy, but because I can't.
I was blessed to start the morning off with service, we gave a lady a ride. Her name is Dora and she's from Mexico City. I'm having a sudden influx of new acquaintances from Mexico City.
I realized that writing two 6 page research papers is no biggie. Totally doable.

Off to take another quiz. YES!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ending 5

Velvet, Cecilia, and her daughter during waiting for their interviews. Look at that confidence! :D
Our graduating group.

Katherine, Cecilia and me.

We finished and I kept a close eye on Cecilia all day. She brought her youngest daughter with her, she’s about 16 or 17 I think. She enjoyed participating in the last day’s activities as well. Cecilia did great in the interviews and other practices. She and Velvet went for interviews yesterday and she said that while Velvet was received for an interview she, Cecilia, was turned away. However, she assured us, her self-esteem had been strengthened by what she had learned and done in the workshop and she was at peace with it, not devastated like she would have been before. Wow! Gospel principles in action, she is truly making changes in herself and becoming stronger!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Turns out Cecilia only met Velvet yesterday, but Velvet invited her to come with her to the workshop. How awesome is that? What great missionary work. Cecilia is doing great, when we talked about how to turn weaknesses into strengths today she used said one of her weaknesses is her lack of confidence, but she took this workshop which has taught her to have confidence with people and in herself. She told us that her kids noted a change in her when she went home yesterday and practiced what she had learned in class. Wonderful!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Workshop #5

Fifth workshop…We should be getting the hang of this, right? We’re having fun. This week we have a non-member in class, Cecilia. She is a super sweet, shy, single mother of 3 kids. She may be quiet, but she isn’t dull, she learns quickly and I’m excited to see how she progresses. She came with another participant, Velvet, and they seem to be pretty good friends. This is going to be a great week.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Katherine and I went to the Museum of Natural History in downtown Guatemala City today. The layout of the museum was…interesting. There weren’t very many informative signs so we just kind of interpreted the exhibits on our own. We did a great job of entertaining ourselves. By the way, natives are charged 5 quetzales (roughly 62 cents) to enter and foreigners are charged 50 quetzales ($6.25). Crazy, right?

I swear I found a portrait that looks like Mel Gibson so of course we had to take a picture of Katherine kissing him. The kissing thing was her idea. It always is. Katherine agreed that he looks like Mel, but I don’t think it translated well into photographic form. I guess to understand you have to see it person. One of the funniest parts of the museum was seeing the height difference between Katherine and the vintage clothing. I also have an awesome video of her playing a marimba instrument that’s at least 200 years old. We should have been supervised…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Today we went to the cemetery for a class assignment. To be honest, it kind of creeped me out. I’m used to cemeteries and have visited some gorgeous ones through the years. I love the cemetery in Ukiah because of the big beautiful trees that make a kind of quiet shade for you to be alone. In the cemetery here in Guatemala there were not very many trees. It was all cement and crosses. Very forlorn and the spirit there was not welcoming. There were some elaborate mausoleums and gravesites. Those that can afford to, take very good care of their dead. It was also interesting to see all the different countries represented, we saw names from Korea, Italy, Brazil, and tons from Germany. Guatemala seems to be a popular place to die. Did that sound insensitive? Anyways, it was an interesting experience, but I prefer to visit my brother’s grave with the soft grass, birds, and deer in the shade of the oaks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finishing Fourth

We finished our fourth workshop, wow! They all did so great in the interviews, I was so impressed. I have to say Gustavo was one of my favorites, his little faux hawk and sweet personality just endeared him to my heart. I was super impressed by the professional demeanor of the participants and how sure they were of what they wanted in their professions and job search. They were a super talented group, I was really impressed with Juan (far left on picture); he has worked as a nurse and a bus driver among other things. He has a long list of accomplishments and just had such a kind charisma and nice, edifying things to say to everyone. Loved this group!

Sick. Bleh

I missed work today, I guess I had too much fun last night. Bleh. Katherine told me that another woman showed up today, another Sandy. She said it was difficult teaching the workshop alone, Juan, another participant, even commented that it wasn’t the same as the first day. It’s kinda nice to be missed, especially when I didn’t enjoy my day alone. Can’t wait to get back!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Workshop #4!

New week, new workshop! We’re getting into the swing of things; I love the unity Katherine and I are building. We have another great group. Isabel, from a previous group, returned with week with a friend of hers, Sandy. She stayed for the first day to help Sandy feel comfortable, she such a sweet girl.

Hermano Gomez, our Center Manager, invited us to his home for Family Home Evening. We finally got to meet his kids! They are sooo cute! They love Katherine to death because of her volleyball skills, she played outside with them for an hour or so while Heidi, Hermano Gomez’ wife, taught me how to make mole de plátano. It was…interesting. After making the mole, Hermano Gomez taught Katherine and me how to make pupusas, a traditional food in El Salvador. They are soooo good! It’s basically a tortilla with cheese or meat or beans inside. We put a tomato sauce and cabbage boiled with some herbs on top, it was delicious. My mouth is watering as I write.

After making the food we had a super quick lesson from Belén, their daughter, and played a game with the kids and Evelyn, Heidi’s sister. They took some flour and packed it into a cup then set it carefully on a plate and put a piece of chocolate on top. Each person took turns slicing a way a part of the flour without making it fall. Evelyn made it fall so she had to dig the chocolate out with her face. It was pretty funny. I’m pretty sure the flour wouldn’t have been as visible, if at all, against my white face. After the game we finally ate the pupusas and mole. Qué rico!

Pictures: Me and Katherine making pupusas with Hermano Gomez. Me and Katherine eating said pupusas. Evelyn and Belén (Belén means Bethlehem in Spanish) after Evelyn found the chocolate piece with her teeth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

La Granja

Anita Rojas, one of our coworkers in the Center, invited us to her farm out in San Juan. Her son César picked us up at 4 on Friday afternoon and we arrived in time for dinner with Anita and her husband. It was great to see the moon and stars again, but I think the best part was the quiet. I slept so well.

We left the farm early Saturday morning, around 6:30, to go into town and see the market. The whole plaza was filled with flowers being sold, it was beautiful sight. We totally crashed a wedding. Well, technically, we crashed 6 weddings. We saw the church and went in, at which point we realized the priest was marrying 6 couples in a wedding ceremony. We decided to join in. Hermano Rojas took my camera and took pictures of everything, for which I was grateful, because I was not comfortable doing it myself. It was a fun experience, even though the couples didn’t look excited about getting married.

We spent another hour or so wondering through the market which sold everything. Hermano Rojas took us the school where he teaches science and we white girls caused a little bit of a stir. How unusual. After we got back from the market César took us around the farm and we met the different farmers. We interviewed the workers planting vegetables and the rose gardeners. It was pretty interesting, and the view was beautiful. I enjoyed being out of the city for a while. It was kind of hard coming back to the noise, pollution and crowds.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears...

We went to the zoo today! Wow, there were a lot of kids. JuanMa, my friend from the mission, explained that it’s a pretty popular school activity. No kidding! There were probably 15 school buses. It was fun to see all the little elementary kids, even if they did gawk at the gringas. JuanMa teased them and made Katherine and me wave to them all, which made them burst into giggles. Good times. Oh, and the animals were pretty cool too. Katherine, who is not at all fond of animals, even played with a baby monkey a little, I got it on video just so her children will actually believe me when I tell the story.

Afterwards JuanMa took us to his house just outside the city and we met his mom and sisters. They’re all so wonderful! We had a great time and enjoyed the beauty of San Carlos. JuanMa has been such a great friend, we really appreciate his kindness. His family is just as loving and sweet.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Trial Test

Someone decided to join our class for the last day today, too bad I kept forgetting his name. Today we did mock interviews again, but we decided to try something new. While everyone was doing the interviews in the main room I took two participants into Patty’s office and they interviewed each other in a real environment. It worked out pretty well! One participant, Sergio, was nervous when he first came in, but he asked the interviewer about her Bob Marley CD and after a small conversation about his music they started the interview and Sergio was all calm and ready to go. Great distraction technique! Everyone of the participants said seeing the video really helped them know how to improve not only their answers but their presentation. This is working out pretty well!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keep on Truckin'

We lost half the class, but Katherine and I talked about it afterwards, we’re not worried about numbers, as long as we can help them. We’re excited to help those that have come back and we have no idea what stopped the others from returning so there is nothing we can do, just hope that they come back sometime in the future to finish the workshop. We try hard to get them excited for the rest of the workshop and every time we end on the first day everyone seems eager to keep going but we lose several anyways.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Workshop Threeeee

Today after the participants found some information on the job they’re seeking we talked about long and short-term goals. I explained it to them and we got them started setting goals. Katherine whispered to me as I passed her by, ¨You explain that so well!¨ It was a wonderful boost, especially because I was feeling drained and low on energy today, at least I was able to do something well. It’s great to have such a great companion who teaches certain principles so well that I can’t but also know that I teach certain principles well. What a great complement and compliment!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Keny's Miracle

Yesterday we went to the Relief Society Conference. Sister Julie Beck had traveled to Guatemala and after a leadership meeting spoke to all the sisters in Guatemala via satellite. Amazingly the transmission originated from our ward’s chapel so we would listen to her live while other sisters in the city and country listened by broadcast. We got there about 30 minutes before it started and found some comfortable seats and I went over to visit with some senior missionary sisters. One sister introduced me to Keny, a sweet sister who makes figurines and sells them. She makes them out of clay and decorates them with beautiful material to give it a native Guatemalan look, they are exquisite! She brought with her a Captain Moroni figurine (with his Standard of Liberty), a native Guatemalan doll in complete dress, and a nativity scene with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in Guatemalan clothing. They were beautiful! I was admiring them and invited her to sit with Katherine and me when she explained that she wanted to give them to Sister Beck as a memento to remember Guatemala. She said she hoped to give it to her after the conference and I said that it was a wonderful thought. Then, as we were chatting, she worried a little about getting it to Sister Beck and I found myself suggesting that she give it to Sister Beck before the meeting started. I suggested she go into the main building and look for her there and she asked me to come with her.

We walked into the main building and I saw Sister Johnson, the wife of the Church’s head lawyer in Guatemala City and asked her where we could find Sister Beck and she directed me to Sister Tilley, a senior missionary, who was standing by the restrooms. We approached Sister Tilley and I explained to her (all in English) that Keny had a present for Sister Beck and just then Sister Beck came out of the bathroom and with a huge smile I said, “And we just wanted to make sure she gets it before she leaves.” Sister Beck gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and asked my name. Sister Tilley told me to explain what I’m doing here in Guatemala which I did briefly, but I was more interested in introducing her to Keny and her mission. Sister Beck accepted the beautiful gifts with great thanks and admiration for the craftwork; they are truly delightful pieces. She gave Keny a hug and I had a perfect view of the shock on Keny’s face as Sister Beck hugged her. Her eyes were wide open but Sister Beck held on to her and after a moment she just melted into Sister Beck’s arms. It was beautiful. Then she explained to Sister Beck about her creations and that she wanted her to remember Guatemala and Sister Beck was so appreciative. Keny’s voice and hands were shaking as she presented her sweet gifts. I was standing with Sister Clark, the wife of the Area Authority, and we had our arms around each other as I saw Keny overwhelmed by the presence of women that she respected so deeply. It was so wonderful to see Keny feel how much Sister Beck loves her and how it warmed her heart.

After we said goodbye Keny and I returned to our seats and the impact of our experience took a little while to catch up to us. Keny was still shaking a little so I just held her hand and kept my arm around her while she calmed. She looked at me and we both realized how miraculous the moment was. “Sarita,” she said, “She’s shaken the hand of the Prophet!” What a wonderful perspective! Then we realized if I hadn’t gone with her she wouldn’t have been able to find Sister Beck. She calls me her angel now, but I know anyone listening to the Spirit would have done the same. She cried as she explained to me that it was such a small gift but it meant so much to her to be able to give it to Sister Beck. I told her that that is how life is, our smallest, most humble presents are all we can give, but they are truly a part of us and mean so much, especially when received with love and appreciation. Keny told me that she has been going through some hard times, and while she knows things will work out, she’s hardened her heart a little so it doesn’t hurt as much. I thought about her face and how I saw it soften as she was in Sister Beck’s arms. Keny said that it was like something inside her softened, and I was a witness to that.

I have a testimony of the leaders of the Church; they truly are representatives of Christ. They stand in His place and share His healing love with His followers. Keny’s gift may seem small to many, but I know how much of your soul goes into something that you create and she gave a part of herself in that gift. By giving that gift she opened her heart and in returned felt an outpouring of the Savior’s love from one of His representatives that softened her broken and bruised heart. I have never felt so privileged to help one of God’s children. I pray that I might continue to be worthy to take part in serving others and see many more miracles like Keny’s miracle.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Our manager in Utah, Mike, called us today. He asked about our manager, the center and the workshop. We shared some of our numbers and how we had been teaching. He offered some great advice, we suggested that we video record the participants in the interviews and show them so they can see themselves in action. It is a great method of teaching, you see so much about yourself that you never would have known otherwise. The only difficulty is that we only have 9 hours to teach the workshop when it requires 12-16 hours. We want to do it, but it’ll be a tight squeeze when we’re already pretty tight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Katherine and I both decided that the doing the mock interviews is our favorite part of the class. One of our major focuses is getting the participants involved in the class. It keeps them interested, they learn better by doing and, let´s be honest, they know a lot more about the Guatemalan job market than we do! Dina and Marissa were among the amazing graduates this week, everyone did so well. I was so pleased to see how everyone worked so hard to make sure Dina could communicate and understand. It was a very special group.
Here are some pictures, one of the whole group, another of Marissa (left) and Dina (right) doing mock interviews.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today Dina brought several deaf friends and an “oyente,” a hearer. The oyente friend was able to translate what the deaf participants couldn’t understand. It was awesome to see how confident and outgoing Dina was with her friends with her and it was an honor to meet such incredible people.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Workshop #2 Begins...

Our second workshop! We have a very unique group, including a deaf young woman. She has a hearing aid but can’t hear most of what we’re saying. Plus, I imagine it’s pretty difficult to understand 2 foreigners when you struggle to understand the language to begin with. Fortunately we are a companionship so we work together to keep Dina up with the class. After the class finished we had the unique experience of learning Guatemalan Sign Language. Dina taught us and Marissa, another participant who knows some GSL, the alphabet and signs for family members and other basic words. It was so much fun!

Ok, I owe my dear sister Kelly an explanation and I will explain it today. We teach the Career Workshop, a workshop designed by the Church to help unemployed people find jobs. It focuses on giving them hope in what often seems like a hopeless situation and teaching them to take the initiative. There are 4 different parts to the workshop:

1. My Goals

Here we talk about the different interests and talents the participants have. Then we look into the job they are looking for, the skills, education, training, and experience needed for it, and make long and short term goals based on their needs. We also prepare a statement called “Me in 30 Seconds” that is a way to introduce yourself briefly but powerfully. It’s a great tool to prepare the participants to introduce themselves to strangers and interviewers.

2. My Resources

This section opens with the scripture from D&C 104:14-15, 17. We concentrate on the promise from the Lord that “there is enough and to spare.” In this section we talk about the most effective way to get jobs: 36% of jobs are found through networking, 30% by contacting employers directly, the rest is split between want ads, employment agencies and others. We look at our current networks, ways to contact employers, and resources that the Church offers. We set up some rules, including the 10-2-2 Rule: Contact at least 10 people per day, get 2 referrals from each contact, set up at least 2 face-to-face interviews each day.

3. My Interactions with Resources

The focus of this section is “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30) The participants learn about Power Statements, a statement that focuses on a skill or talent and a specific example of that skill and the result of that example. I had a hard time when I first learned about Power Statements, but now I see every success in my life as an opportunity to create a new Power Statement. Pretty encouraging! This is pure practice; the participants practice their statements, contacting employers, networking, calling referrals, making great first impressions, opening and closing interviews, and we close with full mock interviews. It’s a great chance for everyone to start losing their fear and know what to expect.

4. My Continued Success
After obtaining the job we want the participants to keep it so this section is dedicated to helping them be prepared for emergencies, know how to interact and negotiate with managers and set new goals for continued progression.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I went to the temple today!!! It was beautiful! I love Guatemala! I went with the Durán family, their son Sebastian drove Katherine and I to Antigua our first week here, he’s such a love. He leaves for the Provo MTC on Monday, he will serve in the New York North Mandarin speaking mission. Wow! He’s a pretty talented guy, I’m thrilled for him. The session was so wonderful, I just felt so good to be in the Lord’s house again.

After the temple we had a party at the Church with the other young single adults in the ward. Katherine couldn’t make it because she’s still recovering. But she has leftover pizza to keep her happy. It was pretty fun, Hermano Durán and Sebastian are tons of fun and everyone brought a ton of food. It was a real feast. I’m falling in love with tortillas, I can’t deny it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sick Companion

Katherine’s a little under the weather, she’s feeling pretty crummy and has a little fever. After spending all day in bed I knew she was probably feeling at least a little homesick as well so I did the best I could for my sweet friend. I ordered Domino’s. I went into her room with the large pepperoni pie in my hands, sat on her bed, saw her eyes open and opened the box. She was thrilled. Have I mentioned how obsessed my companion is with pizza? She spent a full semester eating it every day. I do not exaggerate. That is dedication.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Together again!!

Things are amazing here; we finished our first workshop with mock interviews and had a graduation and everything. Katherine and I joined our classes because they had shrunk, I loved teaching with her again. It was awesome! I wish you could have seen their faces, there is so much light in their countenances. I know they will have success in their endeavors, I just hope they come back to share their success stories with us.

What an honor to see them progress. I love this work! One sweet lady, Elvira, who worked so hard to gain more confidence in front of people was crying as we said goodbye and thanked me. They are each so special, I already love the people here so much.

I LOVE teaching, it is so hard but so rewarding. Seeing their progression is the most marvelous thing in the world, I can’t believe how much they’ve blossomed in just 3 short days. It is so amazing to be here and be involved in this work. I’m super happy and relieved to be done with the first workshop, it should be less stressful from here on out.
Here are some pictures of the class practicing interviews, the whole graduating class, and a picture of my class and me, doing our "Wave cheer."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 2 at it alone...

Today we worked on power statements, short statements that give a specific example of a skill or talent you have to make an impression on the person interviewing you. There is this sweet middle-aged man, Rigoberto, that is super shy and timid but yesterday he stood in front of the class and shared the power statement that he worked so hard on. It wouldn't be seen as perfect in many people's eyes, but we knew how hard he worked and how much it cost him to stand up there. (how much it cost him...can you say that in English? It was really hard for him.) He did so well! We were all so thrilled at how much confidence he showed as opposed to yesterday when he wouldn't say anything. It was miraculous!

Another participant shared with us that she just left her husband after 10 years of domestic abuse and not being permitted to associate with anyone. She is now a single mother for her 4 children and trying to find a job to take care of them. The best part is seeing how she helps Rigoberto who is illiterate. She is very quiet but soaks up the compliments and validation that we share with her like a dry sponge. I've seen a light born in her eyes in these last 2 days, she's letting her sweet personality show more and more as she grows in confidence.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Workshop!

We started teaching our first workshop today, but so many people showed up that we had to split up to teach them all. I had 15 in my classroom and Katherine had 13 in hers. It’s weird to teach apart from Katherine, especially for our first time teaching. Fortunately we have the Spirit with us and He made up for everything I lacked. I realized how much I depend on Katherine; she is able to express certain things so clearly in a way that I just cannot convey without her. This is a picture of my group playing a game called "Executive" The people standing behind the chairs are bosses, the people sitting are employees. There is one empty chair so the employer with the empty chair tries to convince the other employees to come work for him. If the employer touches the employees shoulder when they try to leave their chair they have to stay. I asked another participant to come stand by me and be my helper. She finally spoke up and said, "I don't have a job, can they hire me?" YES! Exactly! There is always a job available, but companies don't like to advertise outside because they'd rather just network. So we encourage participants to get in there, talk to employers and employees to see who's hiring, get recommendations, etc, to fill that empty chair. It's a fun way to teach an important concept.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today we taught a couple of the sections in the workshop, it was pretty fun. The missionaries are great, they attend the workshop to help motivate and teach them how to get jobs and pursue their education. Since a lot of the Perpetual Education Fund managers require them to take the Career Workshop it also gets them a step ahead there. Mostly, it was amazing to be in a room with 21 missionaries for 2 days. Just listening to them sing brought tears to my eyes. I miss being a missionary, but I am so blessed to be able to serve here in Guatemala.

Funny note, When Patty was introducing us to the missionaries (21 of them!! Only 2 sisters) she explained that we would be teaching the workshop from now on. Then she said to the Elders, “If you want to come visit them they will be here in the Center until July 25th. But remember; right now you’re still missionaries. Give it another day.” I was bright red and Katherine was giggling nervously, but it was pretty funny. Too bad she forgot to tell them that we don’t date while we’re here; there may some disappointed RM’s.

Last night Katherine and I stayed up until 1am just talking. We had the most amazing conversation about everything, mostly how the gospel has shaped us and blessed our lives. I really can’t imagine my life without the gospel. It was so amazing to spend 4 straight hours just talking with her; we have just clicked from day one. I’m amazed everyday at how well we work together and what great friends we are becoming. I have been blessed with the best companion ever, how is it that I get so many blessings? I am working hard to be worthy of them.
Pictures: Missionaries doing mock interviews with each other, one Elder holding up his graduation certificate ( I think he was a whopping 4' 10") and the whole group together.

Hoy enseñamos un par de las secciones en el taller, fue muy divertido. Los misioneros son increíbles, ellos asisten el taller para ayudarles a ser motivados en conseguir trabajo y enseñarles cómo conseguir trabajos y seguir su educación. Muchos de los administradores del Fondo Perpetuo de Educación requieren que los solicitantes tomen el TAL entonces estos misioneros ya están adelantados un poco. Fue increíble estar en un cuarto con 21 misioneros durante 2 días. Sólo escucharlos cantar trajo lágrimas a mis ojos. Me hace falta ser misionera, pero soy bendecida poder servir aquí en Guatemala.

Anoche Katherine y yo no se acostaron hasta 1am porque estábamos hablando. La conversación fue asombrosa, hablamos sobre todo, en su mayor parte cómo el evangelio nos ha formado y ha bendecido nuestras vidas. Yo realmente no puedo imaginar mi vida sin el evangelio. Fue tan increíble pasar 4 horas hablando con ella, nosotras nos hemos llevado bien desde el primer día. Me sorprende cada día en cuán bien trabajamos juntas y qué gran amigos somos ¿He sido bendecido con la mejor compañera, cómo así que consigo tantas bendiciones? Estoy trabajando duro para ser digna de ellas.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We met the group of missionaries, there were a TON, 21 in total! The majority of them are from the capital but there are some from Huehuetenango, Chichicastenango, and one from Quetzaltenango. Wow, I just like saying those names. We spent 6 hours in the workshop and these young adults are sharp. Patty involved Katherine and me a little in the teaching, but mostly we sat in as participants. It was awesome to see how easily they understood how to share their talents and abilities and examples of their skills. At one point they stood up to share with their neighbor some of the skills they had. I walked around and listened to how confident and well spoken they are and felt overwhelmed with the love I felt pouring down from Heavenly Father for His children. These are amazing missionaries.

¡Conocimos el grupo de misioneros, había bastante, 21 en total! La mayoría de ellos son de la capital pero hay algunos de Huehuetenango, Chichicastenango, y de uno de Quetzaltenango. Wow, me gusta decir los nombres. Pasamos 6 horas en el taller y estos jóvenes adultos son pilas! Patty incluyó Katherine y yo un pequeño en la enseñanza, pero la mayoría del tiempo nosotros nos sentamos como participantes. Fue impresionante ver cuán fácilmente ellos comprendieron cómo compartir sus talentos y habilidades y ejemplos de sus destrezas. En un momento ellos se pararon para compartir con su vecino algunos de las habilidades que ellos tienen. Anduve alrededor y escuché cuán seguro y bien hablado ellos son y el Espíritu llenó mi corazón con el amor yo sentía del Padre Celestial para Sus niños. Estos misioneros son impresionantes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We're HERE!! Estamos AQUI!!

We got to the Center this morning bright and early! We spoke with Patty and Hermano Gomez a little and worked on hammering out a schedule for the coming month. It looks like we’ll work Monday through Wednesday teaching the career workshop. Fortunately we get to see Patty teach the workshop to a group of missionaries finishing their missions. Every 3 weeks missionaries from Guatemala who are finishing their missions are given the opportunity to come to the Career Workshop to help orientate them so they’ll be better equipped for finding a job, completing their education, even applying for the Perpetual Education Fund. It’ll be great to watch Patty teach so we can learn more about applying the workshop principles in the Guatemalan culture. It’ll be a good icebreaker instead of just diving into teaching when we’re unfamiliar with the people and customs here.

¡Llegamos al Centro esta mañana tempranito! Hablamos con Patty y Hermano Gomez un pequeño e hicimos un horario para el mes que viene. Parece que vamos a trabajar el lunes por el miércoles enseñando el Taller de Autosuficiencia Laboral (TAL). Afortunadamente tenemos la oportunidad de ver la Patty enseñar el taller a un grupo de misioneros que ya terminan sus misiones. Cada 3 semanas misioneros de Guatemala que terminan sus misiones tienen la oportunidad de venir al TAL para ayudarles a orientarse para que estarán más preparados para encontrar un trabajo, seguir con su educación, o solicitando al Fondo de la Educación Perpetuo. Será buenísimo ver la Patty enseñar para que podamos aprender más acerca de aplicar los principios de taller en la cultura guatemalteca.

Friday, May 1, 2009


We had our closing day, it was amazing! We toured Welfare Square and also visited the Humanitarian center, or something. I was a little distracted because I was on the phone with the BYU travel agent trying to get our tickets transferred from Mexico to Guatemala. It was a little hairy there for a while, but it worked out perfectly!

We had our graduation ceremony and Katherine’s grandfather, Elder Carmack, came to speak. He’s the director of the Perpetual Education Fund and has been involved with the program from the beginning. It was an honor to listen to him, he knows so much about the program and the people involved in it. It is an amazing program and it’s exciting to be involved in a small part of it. Many perpetual education fund applicants are required or recommended to take the career workshop so we’ll probably see a few.

Tuvimos nuestro último día, fue increíble! Visitamos la Plaza de Bienestar y también visitamos el Centro Humanitario, o algo así. Estaba un poco distraída porque estaba en contacto telefónico con la agencia de viajes de BYU tratando de transferir nuestros boletos de Mexico a Guatemala. Era un poco caótico por un tiempo, pero todo salió perfectamente!

Tuvimos nuestra ceremonia de graduación y el abuelo de Katherine, Elder Carmack, vino a hablar. Él es el director del Fondo Perpetuo de Educación y ha participado con el programa desde el principio. Fue un honor escucharle, él sabe mucho sobre el programa y las personas involucradas en ella. Es un programa increíble y es emocionante estar involucrado en una pequeña parte de ella. Se recomienda que los solicitantes del fondo perpetuo tomen el taller que enseñamos, así que probablemente va a ver algunos.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elder RUDD!!

They finally told us that we’re going to Guatemala City! We’re “super stoked” in Katherine’s words. We have to wait another week so they have time to get an apartment for us. They said that Costa Rica would have loved to take us but that Guatemala has a real need for us. YES!

Today we had the immense honor of listening to Elder Rudd. He is an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and managed Welfare Square for many years. He has been involved in the Church’s welfare program for decades and was commissioned by the Church to write the history of the Church’s welfare program, a book called Pure Religion. If you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, that’s on my list. I started reading it in the mission and loved it but had to leave it behind in one of my areas because I just didn’t have room for it.

Elder Rudd spoke to us about service in the Lord’s kingdom. He told of his life and worldwide travel. He said a while ago he heard a speaker in New Zealand say that time of great men had passed and there are no more great men in the world today. Elder Rudd disputed that statement and said that he has traveled the world with great men and met many very wonderful and accomplished people. The world is full of great people. We are not all born rich or brilliant, but every day we choose to develop our mind and become a great person. Elder Rudd has a true understanding of the potential of every person and faith in their ability to become an accomplished child of God. He understands that we are all beloved children of God and He wants us to have success. Like President Hinckley said, “The Lord would want you to be successful. He would. You are His sons and His daughters. He has the same kind of love and ambition for you that your earthly parents have. They want you to do well and you can do it.” Elder Rudd went on to say, “When you live the life of a true Latter-day Saint you live a life of adventure.”

Por fin nos han dicho que vamos a la Ciudad de Guatemala! Estamos bien emocionadas. Tenemos que esperar una semana más para que puedan conseguirnos un apartamento. Nos dijeron que Costa Rica nos habrían aceptado con brazos abiertos pero Guatemala realmente nos necesita. ESO!

Hoy tuvimos el honor de escuchar al Élder Rudd. Él es un miembro emérito del Primer Quórum de los Setenta y dirigía la plaza de Bienestar por muchos años. Ha participado en el programa de bienestar de la Iglesia durante décadas y fue encargado por la Iglesia a escribir la historia del programa de bienestar de la Iglesia, un libro llamado La Religión Pura.

Élder Rudd nos habló sobre el servicio en el reino del Señor. Le dijo de su vida y de viaje en todo el mundo. Dijo hace un momento oyó un orador en Nueva Zelanda momento de decir que han pasado grandes hombres y no hay más grandes hombres en el mundo de hoy. Rudd discute que los ancianos declaración y dice que ha viajado el mundo con los grandes hombres y se reunió con muchas personas maravillosas y realizada. El mundo está lleno de grandes personas. No todos somos ricos o brillante nacido, pero cada día elegimos para desarrollar nuestra mente y convertirse en una gran persona. Élder Rudd tiene una verdadera comprensión del potencial de cada persona y la fe en su capacidad para convertirse en un cumplido hijo de Dios. Se entiende que todos somos hijos amados de Dios y Él quiere que tengamos éxito. Al igual que el Presidente Hinckley dijo: "El Señor desea que usted sea exitoso. El orador. Usted se encuentra sus hijos y sus hijas. Él tiene el mismo tipo de amor y ambición para que los padres tienen su tierra. Quieren que les va bien y puede hacerlo ". Élder Rudd continuó diciendo," Cuando uno vive la vida de un verdadero Santo de los Últimos Días se vive una vida de aventura ".

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No more Mexico!!

Tuesday News!

We finally heard that we are NOT going to Puebla because of the swine flu epidemic. Our directors pulled Katherine and I aside and explained that BYU has closed all internships and study abroad programs in Mexico. Then they asked us if we could pick anywhere to go, what country would we pick? We pretty much said wherever they need us, and Katherine added that she just wanted a warm place. That’s my southern California girl. They threw out some places, like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Lima, or even Quito. At the end of the day it sounded like Costa Rica was preferable.

Por fin nos han dicho que NO vamos a Puebla por la epidemia de la influenza. Nuestros directores hablaron con la Katherine y yo para explicarnos que BYU ha cancelado todos los programas en México. Nos preguntaron que país queríamos escoger y les dijimos que queremos ir donde nos necesite, y Katherine añadió que quiere estar en un lugar caliente, no le gusta el frío. Ellos sugirieron algunos lugares como Costa Rica, Guatemala, Lima o aún Quito. Al fin pareció que Costa Rica era preferible.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Monday. Bwa da, bwa da da da

So we started training today and it is exciting stuff! We had a very interesting morning; Jeff Foy spoke to us and recounted the story of a Stake President who asked him to come speak to his stake priesthood leaders. He asked Jeff to not talk about what the Employment Resource Services does but about something else. Jeff shared a quote with him from President Hinckley that says, “The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul.” The Stake President asked him to center his remarks on that, which he did.

A week or so after speaking the Stake President returned and disclosed to Jeff that he had been without a job for the last 6 months and felt that the ERS wouldn’t help but came back humbly to ask for help. Jeff listened to all his efforts and realized that this man was doing everything right. So they discussed other employment options and the man left.

Several weeks later Jeff saw him again and he had the strangest look on his face. He asked him how he was doing and the Stake President explained that he had found employment as a professor at a Church university, an old dream of his. When Jeff asked about the strange look on his face the man explained that he had been thinking about his impending move and leaving the ward and stake. When he thought of his counselors and the men he had served with the only thing that came to his mind was Jeff’s talk. He said, “These men who I served with side by side never, in all those months of unemployment and struggle asked how I was, if I needed help or even if I had enough food. They watched my crucifixion complacently.”

This makes me think of Elder Holland’s talk this last General Conference; we cannot allow our Savior to stand alone again in His Gethsemane. I believe that we can stand by Him by serving our brothers and sisters as they pass through their own Gethsemanes and crucifixion. It is the way that I want to stand by my Savior. I will never complacently stand by; I hope to always offer my love and whatever else my brother or sister may need.

Así que empezamos la capacitación hoy y es muy emocionante! Tuvimos una mañana muy interesante y Jeff Foy nos habló y relató la historia de un presidente que le pidió que viniera a discursar en una reunión con el liderazgo del sacerdocio. Pidió que Jeff no hablara de lo que hace los Servicios de Recursos de Empleo. Jeff compartió con él una cita del Presidente Hinckley que dice: "La Iglesia no puede esperar para salvar a un hombre el domingo si durante la semana se trata de un testigo complaciente a la crucifixión de su alma." El presidente le pidió que centrara sus observaciones en eso.

Una semana después de hablar el presidente regresó y divulgada a Jeff que había sido sin trabajo durante los últimos 6 meses y consideró que el ERS no ayudaría, pero regresó humildemente a pedir ayuda. Jeff escuchó a todos sus esfuerzos y se dio cuenta de que este hombre estaba haciendo todo lo posible. Por lo que discutieron otras opciones de empleo y el hombre se fue.

Varias semanas más tarde, Jeff lo vio de nuevo y vio que él tuvo la más extraña mirada en su rostro. Él le preguntó cómo se estaba haciendo y el presidente explicó que había encontrado empleo como profesor en una universidad de la Iglesia, un viejo sueño suyo. Jeff preguntó por la extraña mirada en su rostro y el hombre explicó que había estado pensando acerca de su inminente traslado y salida del barrio y de la estaca. Cuando pensaba de sus consejeros y los hombres con quien había servido, la única cosa que vino a su mente fue el discurso de Jeff. Él dijo, "Estos hombres quienes servía, nunca, en todos esos meses de desempleo y de lucha, me preguntaron cómo estaba, si necesitaba ayuda o incluso si tenía suficiente para comer. Ellos vieron mi crucifixión con complacencia. "

Esto me hace pensar en el discurso del Élder Holland de esta última Conferencia General; no podemos permitir que nuestro Salvador pase solo por su Getsemaní de nuevo. Creo que podemos estar con él al servir a nuestros hermanos y hermanas que pasan a través de sus propios Getsemanís y crucifixiones. Es la forma en que quiero estar al lado de mi Salvador. Nunca veré con complacencia el sufrimiento de mis hermanos, espero siempre ofrecer mi amor y todo lo que mi hermano necesite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Almost ready... Casi listo....

So I've been feeling pangs of guilt for not posting more on this blog. However, when these pangs happen I remember that I am in the throes of finals and packing and preparing to leave the country for 4 months. Then I try to feel less pressure. Sometimes it works.

I report to the Church Sunday the 26th and will undergo the week-long training with my companion, Katherine, and the rest of the interns. Katherine told me on Monday that her grandpa, the director of the Perpetual Education Fund Program, will be speaking at our graduation at the end of training. I know, right? We have a graduation? Crazy. Oh, and it's pretty cool that Katherine's abuelo is the director.

I leave on Wednesday with my friend John to drive my car back to California to leave it my parents for the summer. I'm excited to have a few days home of fun, sun and kids before I dive headfirst into the career workshop intensive training. Phew! I'm getting more and more nervous!

I'm also not having much luck with contacts for Sean's project. I know things will fall into place, but I'm having a hard time finding people to meet with and interview down in Mexico. It's a short time, 3 months will FLY by so I wanted to get it all prepared before I left. I'm putting my trust in the Lord to help me find these people, there is a story waiting to be told.

Bueno, he sentido mal por no haber escrito nada en estas semanas. Pero cuando me siento mal me recuerdo que estoy en medio de los exámenes finales, empacando, y preparando para salir del país por 4 meses. Entonces trato de relajar un poco. A veces este método funciona.

Me presento a la Iglesia el domingo para empezar la capacitación con mi compañera Katherine y los otros internos. Katherine me dijo el lunes pasado que su abuelo, el director del programa del Fondo Perpetuo para la Educación, va a discursar en nuestra graduación al terminar la capacitación. Qué chévere, no? Tener una graduación? También es bacán que el abuelo de la Katherine sea el director.

Voy el miércoles con mi amigo John a California porque voy a dejar mi carro con mis padres durante mi viaje. Estoy emocionada para tener algunos días para divertirme con el sol y los sobrinos antes de comenzar con la capacitación intensa. Ay! Me estoy haciendo más nerviosa!

Tampoco tengo mucha suerte buscando conocidos de Sean en México. Sé que todo irá bien, pero es difícil encontrar personas para conocer y entrevistar. Tres meses es poco tiempo e irá rápido y por eso quería arreglar todo antes de irme. Estoy poniendo mi confianza en el Señor para encontrar estas personas, hay una historia que contar.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Beginning

I had to fill out a student intern profile for the church and this is the picture I submitted. The beginning of my internship!

I am more than a little excited about the chance I have to go to Puebla Mexico and work as an intern in the LDS Employment Center. I will also be taking 12 credits, 4 of which will be a research project on the Mexican culture reaction to death. This is a very special opportunity for me to meet and interview the people Sean taught on his mission.

I fly out with my companion, Katherine Kinnison, from Southern California, on May 2nd. We will be teaching workshops to members and non-members of the Church alike and also training leaders to give the workshops as well. The workshops are about 16 hours in total and we will be giving them over the course of 3 or 4 days. We might be required travel to different stakes and wards and give condensed versions of the workshops to members of the Church there.

In my group there are 16 interns, about half are going to Brazil. To give us a taste of what we will be doing the director arranged to have us attend a condensed version of the employment workshop. I had to work and missed more than half of the workshop, but what I was able to see was amazing! Basically this is a chance to teach people confidence and skills in their search for a job. We, as teachers, will only spend 20% of the time teaching/talking, the students will spend 80% of the time practicing the skills. For instance, we teach them how to present themselves in 30 seconds. They practice 4 or 5 times alone then a few times with other classmates. It's really a confidence booster to realize that you CAN do something.

I'm excited to learn more about this and get to work. I'll report to the Church Sunday evening, April 26th for a week of training. Yay!