Guatemala City Temple

Guatemala City Temple
Here is where we will be working until Nov. 2018


Dear Readers,

We hope as you read this blog of our mission to the Guatemala City Temple in Guatemala you will feel the joy and happiness we are experiencing by being in the service of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We hope you can experience some of what we feel.

John and Christine

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Monday, September 24, 2018

September 17th through September 23rd

 September 17th through September 23rd: Monday we took our three North American couples grocery shopping.  We also made a stop at the dollar store.  While we were waiting for the Andersons to finish up at the dollar store, we found a community "outhouse" with a double-decker 12 hole potty.  The things that we all find funny are starting to show that we have been away a long time.  
The Holmans and the Jenson sitting on the community outhouse.  Ok, so maybe it was just a planter box.

We had a family home evening and welcomed the Andersons.  We are so glad to have them here.  Elder Mask gave a lesson on the history of the church in Guatemala.  He served as the temple president 6 years ago.  He had a lot of old pictures of some of the first members here.  

Anthon and Dianne Anderson, our new senior missionary couple.
Elder Mask at Family Home Evening.
More of our Family Home Evening group.

Tuesday we went to paint class.  When we got to the temple for our afternoon shift, Brother Carranza told us that he had been to see the cultural minister and he will have to take all our paintings back next week to be photographed and certified so that we can take them out of the country.  

I am feeling better about Luke.  But I am scared to have to finish him without the help of Jill, our art teacher.

So on Wednesday we had to go back to Jill Smith’s to pick up our in-progress paintings and tell her that we have to stop our classes. After next Tuesday, we can’t alter the paintings because they have to be the same as the photographs.  We worked Wednesday afternoon.  Thursday we had presidency meeting and then worked the afternoon shift.  Friday we switched to the morning shift.  Friday evening we went to dinner with President and Sister Hill from the MTC.  

Dinner with the Hills is always a lot of fun.

They will not be able to attend the dinner we are going to have for all the mission presidents, their wives, and the Alvarados, our new temple president and matron next month.  Saturday I got mom up at 2:45 am so she could wash her hair and we could get to the temple by 4:00 am for the morning shift.   The temple was busy and when the temple is busy the shift goes by fast.  Saturday we went and got a card printed to give to friends and workers that indicates our contact information so we can stay in touch with the many people we have come to love and appreciate.  

Mom and I at the temple.  This is the picture we used for the card we had printed.
The card we had printed.

I got to watch the BYU game in the evening.  Sunday we first went to a combined sacrament meeting for the La Leyenda and Villas wards.  A year ago they divided into two wards and this was a meeting to remember and see old friends.  We were asked to speak.  

Mom with new friends at the Leyenda ward.
The chapel is always the nicest building on the street.
After sacrament meeting that had some refreshments for everyone.

We got home and fixed dinner and then we drove 90 minutes to the south to Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa where we spoke at a fireside for all the adults in that district.  

The Primary children in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa were having a choir practice.

It took us just over 2 hours to get home in a rain storm.  There is always a lot of traffic coming back into the city from the coast.  We stayed very busy this last week trying to get things ready to go home.  We got my passport certified by an attorney, Brother Carranza has everything under control for our paintings, and we found my National Identity Number.  We don’t know what else will come up, but we are ready to press forward with the paper work. We have just 5 weeks left and it seems that it is going even faster than before, if that could be possible.  Our blessings are many and we are so thankful for the wonderful memories we will take home of this sacred time spent serving in the House of the Lord. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 10th through September 16th

September 10th through September 16thMonday we started off the day with mom going to the dentist and having her bad tooth extracted.  She will be on antibiotics and pain pills for a week.  I then took the missionaries shopping.   
The broken tooth is gone and the bone graft is in place.

Our friends, Elder and Sister Call, arrived about noon from Frey Bartolome de las casas (don’t you just love that name), where he had served as the branch president.  They are on their way home and will fly out on Wednesday morning.  We went to the movies in the afternoon and saw Mama Mia 2.  

Waiting for Mama Mia 2 to start.  We had the theater to ourselves.

Tuesday we went to paint class.  In the evening, we invited the Jensons to play cards with the Calls, for the last time.  

Luke is coming along.
Mom's landscape is done.
Stan is underway.
One last card game with the Calls and the Jensons.  Larry won.

Wednesday I got up early and drove the Calls to the airport.  We worked the afternoon shift.  Thursday we had a meeting in the morning with the shipping company.  They came to get an idea of what we have to ship home.  It turns out that we have to have permission from the Ministry of Culture to take paintings, even the ones we have painted ourselves, out of the country.  I didn’t know we were THAT good.  They will come back on the 10th of October and pack everything up and take it away.  We again worked the afternoon shift.  Friday we switched and worked the morning shift.  Friday evening we went to the airport and picked up our new missionary couple, Anthon and Dianne Anderson, from Salt Lake.  They are from our good friend, Wally Cooper’s ward.  Bishop Cooper encouraged them to come and serve here.  They also live in the same building as my brother, Van, and his wife Maude.  They are good friends and worked together in the LDS hospital branch.  We are blessed to have them serve with us.  

Anthon and Dianne Anderson arriving in Guatemala.

Saturday we got up before 3:00am and worked the morning shift and then packed the car and drove to Coban.  We always stay with the President and Sister Faundez when we go to Coban.  Sister Faundez had a feast prepared for us and they had invited the other two members of the mission presidency, the Poou’s and the Vela’s, and Elder Arredondo, the area seventy, and their wives to have dinner with us.  The Poous came and ate and then had to get home to kids.  The Velas and the Arredondos were at a meeting and did not get there till 9:00pm.  So we ate twice.  

Sister Faundez and her ribs.  She is an amazing cook and prepared Chilean empanadas and humitas, as well as salmon, chicken and pork ribs.
L to R  Elder and Sister Arredondo, Sister and President Faundez holding the flag of Chile, President and Sister Vela,  and mom and I.
Mural on one of the streets in Coban.

Sunday  President Faundez and I started at 7:00am with my last coordinating council meeting for this area.  We took a break at 8:00 am for sacrament meeting and then it was back to our meeting.  We ended about noon.  This was a very emotional meeting for me.  I have come to love these good men as we have worked side by side in their stakes and districts.  This area includes the Polochic valley where we have visited many, many times.  I shed some tears as I expressed my gratitude for the opportunity it has been to serve with them.  I expressed my love for them.  I told them they were handsome, but that I wanted them to be more handsome and then I gave them all new temple ties.  After I finished speaking, Elder Arredondo said some very nice things.  He said that he believed that I had been called to serve in the Guatemala City temple at this time to help the Coban area prepare to someday have their own temple and that I had made a difference.  He then asked if anyone else would like to say anything.  Many of the stake and district presidents expressed their thanks for our service.  They made me cry as they said explained how our service had impacted their units and how individually they had been influenced for good by our service.  President Cuz, from Senahu, said that mom and I had made the people of the Polochic feel valued and welcomed in the temple.  He said that most of the time they feel abandoned and isolated, but our many trips to visit them in their hard-to-get-to towns have made them feel accepted and appreciated.  He said the people of the Polochic will never forget us.  I was overcome with a feeling gratitude that perhaps our service has made a small difference here in this area.  They served us lunch and we drove home.  

L to R  President Jub, second counselor Sacsuha District, President Maas, Chulac District, President Lopez, Salama District , President Hernandez, San Benito Stake, Elder Arredondo, area seventy, President Vela, counselor mission presidency, me, President Faundez, Coban Mission, President Coy, Coban Stake, President Cuz, Senahu Stake.
Los Faundez are some our dearest friends.  We will miss serving with them.

Our last trip to Coban was very emotional as we said good-bye to so many close friends.  Most of them said they would make one last trip to the temple before we depart.  We hope they can, so that we can give them one last hug good-bye.  It is hard to put into words what we are feeling.  But just know that “these are days never to be forgotten”.  Thanks Oliver Cowdery

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 3rd through September 9th

September 3rd through September 9th:  Monday we took the missionaries, minus Elder Jenson, to San Antonio, Aguas Calientes and Antigua.  We had heard that there was a market in San Antonio on Mondays, but there wasn’t, so we just went to Antigua to do some shopping.  Even though we say we don’t need anything, we always find something to buy.  We enjoyed a nice lunch and then headed home.  

The Holmans, Sister Jenson and mom in front of the church in San Antonio, Aguas Calientes.
Close up.
Sometimes they don't even bother to paint the school buses they bring down from the states.

Click below to ride with us.
Tuk Tuk ride to lunch

Tuesday we had our paint class and then spent the afternoon printing and ironing the last of the labels into the pillow cases we had made.  We are off all this week and we are trying to stay busy.  

I know it looks like Luke has a dirty face.  I am going to fix that.
Mom started a new landscape.
She put the finishing touches on this one.

Wednesday we had another paint class.  We need to add a few extra classes if I am going to get Luke and Stan finished before we go home.  

We saw these trees with their roots exposed on our walk through the park this last week.
I got Stanford drawn Tuesday at home so that I could start painting on Wednesday.
Wednesday's work.

We then took Brother Abadillo, our recorder, and his wife, Cynthia to lunch for his birthday.  In the afternoon we started to box up things we are going to ship home.  It is amazing how much stuff you accumulate in three years.  

Birthday lunch at PF Changs for our good friend, Oscar Abadillo.
I won't tell you how old he is, but he is more than 1 years old.

Thursday we took the missionaries to zone conference.  Elder Uceda, the new Area President, was our speaker.  They also asked mom and I to bear our testimonies since this is our last zone conference.  

Lunch after zone conference.
Zone Conference.

Friday we went to the temple for a session and then we went downtown and found some fabric for mom to make a vest she has wanted to sew.  The front of it will be a huipil from San Lucas Toliman.  We then went to see Neils Rosales, the dentist and son of our ex-counselor.  Mom has had a tooth that has been bothering her.  It was not good news.  One of her roots has a vertical crack in it and he sent us to a specialist.  Each day we have been packing up at least one box to ship home.  Saturday we went to the specialist.  He trained at NYU and spoke perfect English.  He indicated that the tooth needed to come out and that mom would need a bone graft to make it so there was enough bone to do an implant and then a crown.  We scheduled to do this next Monday.  

She is not smiling.
This tooth has three roots.  The problem is it is only suppose to have two.
View from the office of the dentist.  He is right across the street from the temple.

We got serious and packed 5 boxes.  We now have 10 boxes ready to ship.  The shipping company contacted us and is coming to review what we need to send home next Thursday.  Sunday we went to the stake conference in the Florida stake.  Elder Uceda was the visiting general authority.  It was a nice meeting and they gave mom one of the flower arrangements to take home.    Mom loves fresh flowers.  

It was packed a 1/2 hour before the meeting started.
All the sisters in the choir had on huipils from all over Guatemala.

Click below to hear the choir.
Choir singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic in Spanish.
Pretty amazing flowers.

We spent the afternoon in the temple training a group of restricted workers from the Antigua stake.  We were able to talk to some of our kids in the evening.  Everything we do now is the last time we will do it, last zone conference, last stake conference in the Florida stake, last Sunday training and so on and so forth.   We try and not think about this assignment coming to an end, because when we do we realize how much we are going to miss everything and we can’t quite visualize what it will be like when we return.  We give thanks everyday for this wonderful opportunity to serve here in Guatemala.   

Monday, September 3, 2018

August 27th through September 2nd

 August 27th through September 2nd: Monday Elder Magnusson, the Belize City district president and a senior missionary, drove us to the water taxi and Sister Magnusson became our tour guide to Caye Caulker, one of the many keys off the east coast of Belize.  It was about a 45 minute ferry ride out to the island.  We walked to one end of the island and saw what is called the Split.  Part of the island was split off during a hurricane a number of years ago.  The island is very small and much of it is only about 200 yards wide.  
Sister Magnusson and mom waiting for the ferry to leave Belize City.
We had a lot of comments on this picture that we posted on Instagram and Face Book.
It was a smooth ride out to Caye Caulker.

Click below to be with us on the ocean.
Boat ride to Caye Caulker 
Arriving at Caye Caulker.
Sandy beaches and a sign to remind you where you are.
Lots of places to sit on the beach and have a cold drink.  We had water.
Ready to pour the next floor.  Interesting supports.
On the way back to Belize City we sat on the main deck.
We made it back to our hotel with time to shower and check out by 1:00pm.  We had lunch at the hotel and then headed to the airport.  We shared the plane to San Salvador with 4 missionaries that were being transferred out of Belize.  We caught our last plane to Guatemala City and arrived about 9:00pm.  We were tired and went straight to bed.  
I gave away my tie to Silbert Gordon.  We are headed home.
The San Salvador volcano.
Tuesday we had a day off and we went to our paint class and then spent the afternoon resting up, traveling is tiring.  
Xela is done.
Paint Class,  Sister George and the Mathews have joined our class.
Mom's landscape is coming along.
Luke got hair, a background, and a white shirt.
Wednesday we did the morning shift and had presidency meeting.  After lunch I wanted to go to Mega Paca, but Chris didn't.  So she sent me off by myself, big mistake.  I had a great time shopping.  I bought 2 pair of Levis and 20 shirts; some were brand new with the tags still on.  I got some great shirts, a Woolrich, which was brand new, a North Face, a Cabelas, and many other name brands.  The grand total of my shopping spree was $36.00.  The Levis were $5.00 and the 20 shirts $31.00.  That is an average of $1.55 per shirt.  
I think the other two shirts are still in the laundry.
Chris was a little surprised by the quantity of my shopping and commented that I have never had such a nice wardrobe of shirts.  Thursday we took the missionaries grocery shopping and then we did the afternoon shift.  
We bought radishes.  They are really just small apples.
Friday we started a week off.  President Flohr needs a week off later in the month so we are switching up our rotation of one day morning shift, next day afternoon shift and the next day off to one week all the morning shifts, the next week all the afternoon shifts and the third week off, only we are starting with the first week off.  We are going to try and get everything organized into what we are going to take home in our luggage and what we are going to ship in the container.  We still haven't finished the labels for all the pillows we have made.  So we hope to keep busy.  Friday we went back to Mega Paca and I got 10 pairs of khaki slacks and 3 jackets: a Colombia jacket, a fleece and a wind breaker.  The total damage was $38.00.  The jackets $18.00 and the slacks $20.00.
Khakis in every color.
We are headed back at the beginning of the winter.
We don't know what we have in storage and I now won't need anything from the storage unit.  Chris is a different story.  She has not had any luck finding things she likes.  Saturday we went and did the first 4 hours (4:00am to 8:00am) of President Flohr's shift. He kindly agreed to go and speak for us to a group of YSAs in the Palmita Stake at 5:00pm because we have to be at our grandson, Stanford's, baptism via Face Time.  We spent the day shortening the cuffs on a number of the new slacks I got.  I cut and pined and mom sewed.  Stan's baptism was sweet and we enjoyed seeing everyone, but Ginny and her family who live in California.  Sunday we went to the stake conference in the Linda Vista stake. It was a nice meeting and we enjoyed being with the saints there.  
Linda Vista Stake Conference
L to R President Cluff, mission president, President Alias, 1st counselor, President Lopez, stake president, President Leiva, 2nd counselor, and me.
The choir.

Click below to listen to the Choir

God be with you till we meet again in Spanish

God of our Fathers in Spanish
This young man was the accompanist for the choir and congregational hymns.   He is 8 years old and was terrific.
In the afternoon, we took the missionaries to our monthly “Break the Fast” dinner.  It was fun to be with all the senior couples who are serving here in the city.  It was another great week.  We are feeling so blessed.  We got word that John and Sally Price have received a mission call to come back to the Guatemala City Temple.  We are so excited that they will be coming back here. 
Welcome back to Guatemala.