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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.