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, November 20, 2017

November 13th through November 19th

 November 13th through November 19th: Tuesday we went to our painting class.  Now that our teacher is only giving lessons twice a month, it feels like it is taking forever to finish Miles.  But he is close to being done and then I have Badger to finish.  I will then be caught up with the first 6 grandchildren who have been baptized, just in time to start Jake and Xela who turn 8 in December.  Jake and Xela should keep me busy for about 6 months.  
Mom's landscape is really coming together.
Miles--what do you think Charlotte?
Wednesday after our shift, we took the Ellington’s downtown to the central market. We walked around and found the Pan American Hotel, named after the airline, which started flying here in the 30’s.  We had a piece of pie in the restaurant and wondered what it would have been like to visit Guatemala 70 or 80 years ago.  We then went to the central market.  Merlene and Mike had not visited the market yet.  Merlene found a white blouse and mom found another nativity set.  
Central market shoppers.
Merlene is buying a new white blouse.
Thursday we had many members from the Polochic valley in at the temple.  Brother Caal is one of the new bishops in the newly formed Senahu stake and his parents, who are in their 70’s, came to receive their own endowment and be sealed.  He was then sealed to his parents along with a sister who had died as a child.  His wife represented his deceased sister.  I did the sealing in Spanish and then I had Brother Caal read the ordinance in Kekchi so that his mother could understand.  She cried through the entire ceremony and I did also.   It was a very tender experience and it was such an honor to be able to officiate and extend to this sweet family the blessings of becoming an eternal family.  This morning as I have been writing about this family, my heart is full and the spirit is powerful and I am wiping the tears off my cheeks.  These are experiences that are hard to put into words.  The spiritual impressions are so powerful and profound; words just can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of love that engulf everyone involved in these sacred ordinances.  The love our Father in Heaven has for each and every one of his children, the love these sweet people feel for each other and the love they have for the temple were all a part this sealing experience.  The people from the Polochic sacrifice so much to be able to come to the temple.  They are poor in worldly terms, but they are not poor in Spirit.  They are full of testimony and gratitude for their many blessings.  Father in Heaven loves them and pours out his Spirit upon them.  I am so lucky to be able to be part of these sacred experiences.  
These are some of the young girls who came to do baptisms for the dead from Senahu.
Friday morning we went to the temple to attend the 7:00 endowment session.  There was a big group from Senahu and another one from Chulac (both from the Polochic), so they had to have two sessions at 7:00am, both of them in Kekchi.  We had to use headphones and listen in English.  Mom has been practicing helping women in Kekchi.  Most of the women don’t understand enough Spanish, so we have a great need for people who can help these faithful people with the ordinances in Kekchi.    After the morning shift, we took the Fisher’s and the Ellington’s to Cayala, a huge open air mall.  We had lunch and walked around.  
Walking around Cayala.
More of Cayala.
Christmas has come to Cayala.
Sunday I got up early and worked on a talk for our annual devotional for temple workers.  I have been thinking a lot about the scripture that Elder Bednar referenced in his last conference talk.  2 Peter 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” My talk was about how the temple helps ordinances workers develop Christ like qualities.  I spoke about how the Spirit in the temple changes us little by little and smoothes out our rough edges.  As we love the patrons that come to the temple and treat them with kindness, we become more and more like our Savior, in whose house we serve. Through this process, we become worthy of the “exceeding great and precious promises” and partakers of the divine nature.  As we were leaving for the devotional, I got a phone call informing me that Elder Cordon, from the Area presidency, who was to be our main speaker, was not going to make it to our meeting.  He was stuck in Costa Rica and his flight would not get him back here in time for our meeting.  I called President and Sister Rosales, who were going to bear their testimonies because this is their last devotional, and asked them to take their time and turn their testimonies into talks.  I began thinking how I could add to my talk.  We arrived and had our last choir practice.  
Our choir practice before the devotional.
It took 3 vehicles to get all our missionaries and presidency to the meeting.  The meeting was very well attended and all in all it turned out to be a great meeting.  Mom and I both got lots of compliments on our talks and we got home feeling very blessed that the Spirit once again had picked up the pieces and put them together in such a way that no one was left wanting.  
Our Devotional
L to R President Rosales, me, and President Funes
L to R Sister Funes, mom, and Sister Rosales
Brother Abadillo and some of our temple employees who served the refreshments.
Mom with some of her workers and Sister Fisher and Sister Winkfield.
Mom got lots of compliments on her huipil.
Mom with Maggie and Marta, two of the secretaries in the temple.
We got home and Facetimed with our kids in Utah.  They were all together for the Norman family Thanksgiving dinner.  They had it at James’ new home right by the Mt. Timpanogos temple. We are so grateful that they will get together, even though we are not with them.  Family is so important and we feel so blessed that they love each other and will make the effort to do things together.  
It was quite the fancy affair.  Wish we could have been there.
James, the Master Smoker and Rib Chef, tries his hand at turkey.

10 of the 14 grandkids ready for some turkey.

All the adults (minus Charlotte, who is taking the picture) and the three oldest grandkids at the big person table.

The devotional was our last also.  Even though we still have almost a year left, the next devotional will be presided over by the next president.  I didn’t say anything in my talk about that, because I knew it would be too hard and too emotional for me to talk about.  What a beautiful and sacred experience we are having.  Words don’t do justice, nor can they express our profound gratitude for this assignment. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 6th through November 12th

 November 6th through November 12th:  Monday we took everybody to Antigua.  One group toured the Popenoe House, another group did the Chocolate Museum and mom and I went and delivered baby kits at the hospital in San Felipe. We then all met for Texas BBQ at Pappy’s, one of my new happy places.  And no trip to Antigua would be complete without some shopping at the artisan market. 
Sister Chen who is a doctor at the hospital sent us a couple of pictures she took.

Mom is trying to get just the right color outfit.
Sister Chen sent us this of one of the premies all dressed up.
I think this is the little guy that Sister Chen dressed up in the red and white hat and sent to us.
One of the little guys who got a new outfit.
Yum Yum Texas BBQ
Wednesday we did the morning shift and then drove to Las Colinas, the church camp, and spoke to a group of young women from Escuintla.  It took us 3 hours to get there and we were 30 minutes late. It only took us an hour to get home.  The traffic during rush hour is brutal.  
Young Women's camp at Las Colinas
Group picture when we got done.
Thursday President Rosales called and said that one of the buses with members from the Polochic was stopped and prohibited from coming into the city because it did not have the right papers.  So he drove the temple van, Brother Abadillo drove the MTC van and I drove our van and we went and got the people and brought them to the temple.  Saturday morning before our shift mom went over and spoke to a group of primary kids from Coban.  They gave her pictures they had drawn of the temple.  
Mom and the primary kids from Barrio Los Campos, Coban.
The primary leaders from Coban.
Mom being given all the pictures of the temple.
These were so cute.

So sweet.
We scored.
Some of the kids wrote letters to the missionaries at the MTC.
Mom found a place for some of the pictures.  Every grandma needs art on her kitchen door.
Sunday we had a multistake conference with all the stakes and districts in Guatemala.  It originated in Salt Lake and we heard from Elders Duncan and Soares, Sister Aburto, and Elder Ballard.  It was a great meeting. 
This is from Elder Jenson's blog.
In the evening we had a choir practice for all the missionaries.  We are singing next week for our annual temple worker devotional.  We enjoyed the week and the many different experiences we are having.  We feel like we have the best job in the church.
Getting ready for choir practice.

The tenors were ready.

Monday, November 6, 2017

October 30th through November 5th

 October 30th through November 5th:  Monday morning we followed President and Sister Faundez and their son Carlos and his new wife to Semuc Champey.  Wikipedia say:  “Semuc Champey (Where the river hides under the stones) is a natural monument in the department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, near the Q’eqchi, Mayan, town of Lanquin. It consists of a natural 300 m limestone bridge, under which passes the Cahabon River. Atop the bridge is a series of stepped, turquoise pools, a popular swimming attraction. Although it can be difficult to get to, Semuc is becoming more and more popular with travelers.” 
Driving through some of the small towns can be a challenge.

Click below to experience small town driving.

Driving trough one of the small towns

You never know when you will come upon something interesting for the blog.
Around every corner is a vista worthy of a photo.
After passing through the town of Lanquin we only made it about half way to Semuc Champey before we had to abandon our car at a place where we could get it off the road.  
The road was narrow, muddy in places, and bumpy.
I am trying to keep up with President Faundez.
We all piled into President Faundez’ car, a large 4X4 with new “gnarley” tires, but we only had about 5 km to go.  The statement that it can be difficult to get to might be considered by some as an understatement.  
Here we are packed in.
The road was cut through the jungle.
On the really steep parts, they have two concrete strips.

Click below to experience the road.

On the road again.

Bridge over the Cahabon River.
Now those are mud tires.
After arriving, we had about a ten minute hike to where they had some changing rooms.  We got into our swim suits and hiked another bit, passing some of the most beautiful turquoise pools you can ever imagine.  We enjoyed swimming and soaking in the water.  
Hiking into Semuc Champey.
Does that not look inviting?
You can see how the pools are terraced.

Click below to see Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey

This is the only picture I have proving that I got in the water.
Water fun.
Truly good times.
We then hiked 5 minutes more, to where the river goes underground below the pools.  Watch the video, the sound of the river is incredible.  
Where the river goes underground.

Click below to hear the river

Where the river disappears

We hiked out and this little girl was selling water and soda.  Of course, we had to buy some water from her. 

Click below to see little girl

We crammed in again and headed back to our car.  We then drove 2 ½ hours back to Coban.  
Lanquin again, see the taxi on the right.
This was a lot steeper than it looks in the picture.
Pictures sometimes don't capture the true beauty of a place.  But this one comes close.
We stopped for linner, a cross between lunch and dinner, about 4 pm at a hotel just north of Coban.  It was a beautiful place.  With our bodies recharged, we drove back to their home.  We then had a relaxing evening.  
The hotel gardens where we ate linner.
Waiting for our food while everyone else went exploring.
It would be a nice place to stay.
Linner after a long day of fun.
Tuesday we left by 6:00 am to drive back to Guatemala City.  The drive back was only interrupted by the road construction going up and over two mountains just past El Rancho.  We got stopped a couple of times and it maybe added 45 minutes to an hour to our trip.  We got home by 11:00 am and had lunch, got ready and went to our afternoon shift.  
Let's move a mountain.
Soon this will be 2 lanes in both directions.
Stopped dead in our tracks.
They have been working on this project since we got here.  We hope it will be done before we leave.
They really are moving mountains.
Wednesday was a holiday, Day of the Dead, and the temple was only open in the morning.  We went over to help and had presidency meeting.  We then went to lunch with all the English speaking missionaries to Applebee’s.  It is always fun to share a meal with these wonderful couples.  
Lunch at Applebee's.
One of the ribs got away from me.  But I look good in BBQ sauce, don't you think?
These are some of the bug bites I got from our trip to Semuc Champey.
Sunday after church, I was working on family history and got a call from the guards at the temple saying that the Villa Hermosa Stake was there for training.  Somehow this had not got on our schedule.  We hurried over and did 2 hours of training and then took all the missionaries to our monthly “Break the Fast” dinner at the area office.  We had a big group of people this month, about 40, 14 from the temple.  It is starting to get dark early and by the time we got home at 7:00 pm it was night time, completely dark.  
Break the Fast
We had a wonderful week and we give thanks everyday for this amazing assignment.  We still can’t believe this is happening to us.  I thought I would end with a picture of the Call’s and the Fisher’s in Rabinal from two weeks ago.  They still do baptisms in the river in many parts of Guatemala 
Baptisms in the river in Rabinal.
and then with the letter from Sister Fisher about their trip to Xela over general conference weekend to visit the family Boj, who Elder Fisher baptized 41 years ago.  I think as you read her words you will feel the power of the Spirit of this work.  Thank you Elder and Sister Fisher for sharing this with us.
The Boj family 1976
 Dear Friends and Family,
We have officially lived in the "Land of Eternal Spring" for two months now in Guatemala.  It has flown by, and I already am thinking of how difficult saying goodbye will be.

Conference weekend was one of the few weekends that the temple was closed, which gave us an extra day to venture out.  We decided to be courageous and drive the 5 hour drive to the last town Tim served in before he returned home from his mission.  Tim reached out to a very special family, Timoteo and Eva Boj, that he and his companion (Elder Berrios) had taught and baptized 41 years ago (first picture). We arranged to visit the Boj family at their home in Quetzaltenango (also nicknamed "Xela", pronounced -"Shayla") between sessions of Saturday conference.

Not quite knowing what to expect, and with my limited Spanish, I was a bit apprehensive but excited.  What we did know, prior to our arrival, was that the father of this family had framed our temple wedding invitation we sent them 41 years prior.  It had hung on his bedroom wall all these many years. We gave them a more recent picture too that he immediately put next to it.
The wedding invitation framed now with a new picture of the Fishers alongside.
 We arrived in Xela after a crazy, (gross understatement in Latin America driving) 7 hour drive in the dark and rain.  By some miracle, and the help of WAZE (Latin version of mapquest-really should be named CRAZE), we found our hotel.  The hotel was over 100 years old (so were the beds ) and surrounded by very narrow cobblestone streets - all of which looked the same and felt like we were going in circles.  Tim's phone died exactly when we pulled up to the front of the hotel (#tendermercy).
The next morning, one of the daughters of Hermano Boj, Yolanda and her husband, Ricardo, came to our hotel and picked us up. They greeted us with hugs and the warmth that typifies these people. Right from that first hug and kiss on my cheek, I knew this was going to be a good day.  Tim in his thoughtfulness, asked if we could go to a place to buy flowers for Sister Boj, so they took us to an open market just outside the city cemetery and we were able to pick from a vast array of flowers, unlike I had ever seen!  Tim picked a dozen brilliant pink roses intermingled with white carnations.  We arrived at their home and Tim was taken back to 41 years ago where he knocked on this same door to call on Brother Boj and his family. (Three of their eight children, Sandra, Obdulio, and Rudy, in their teens, were already members of the church). 
The mom and dad, now grandpa and grandma.
Apparently, for a few years missionaries had been trying to get in to share their message with the parents, but Brother Boj would sneak out the back door when the missionaries arrived.  His little girls, Yolanda, Veronica, and Ingrid would always answer. They would run and tell their dad who was at the door.  This was his cue to leave the premises!

So one evening, Tim decided he would be creative in his door approach to the Boj family.  As they were walking up the street to visit this family, he asked a stranger on the street if he would go and knock on Timoteo Boj's door and ask for him. He told the stranger they wanted to surprise this "old friend" that they haven't seen in a long time (which was true) and that his little girls would answer.  The stranger could leave after the little girls went to get their father and the missionaries would step in his place.  The plan worked perfectly.  Hermano Boj was too polite to refuse the handshake of these two Elders, he invited them in, and that was the very beginning of an eternal family. 

One of the little girls said the prayer that night, as they always did when the Elders visited, but this was the first time their Father had knelt down with his family and heard their sincere prayer asking; "Heavenly Father, please bless our father to stop hardening his heart and to repent of his sins and be baptized".  Tim feels it was the prayers of a child that touched this good man's heart.  If we all could become as little children we could change the world.  A few months later, this man and his wife Eva were baptized. Within a year, Brother Timoteo Boj baptized his twin girls when they turned eight, the same ones that had prayed so sincerely for their father to join the church. Edwin and Elvis, the other two brothers, were also baptized.

 We arrived at the house and waited in their "parlor" as Yolanda went to get her parents, who are now 84 years old.  Hermano Boj was in his suit, wearing a white shirt and tie, and Hermana Boj was in her very best Guatemalan Corte and Huipil (traditional handmade skirt and blouse).

We were told he was so excited he could hardly sleep in anticipation of meeting Elder Fisher again.  The smiles on their faces, all of them including Tim's, reminded me of D&C 18:15 "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" I cried.  But that was only the beginning of my tears that day.
Following this tender reunion, they drove us a few blocks away to one of the daughter's house, Sandra Arana Boj. Waiting for us there was a four-person Mariachi band in a double car garage full of four generations (the Boj family now totals around 70) They had set up chairs and several long church tables topped with hand embroidered tablecloths.  We were served a lovely meal of chicken Corden Bleu, rice, and salad.

When we stepped out of the car, they began singing Luna de Xelaju, (pronounced 'Shayla Who -Mayan name for Quetzaltenango) it is a very popular here.  It took all I had to keep from sobbing at this touching show of appreciation for the missionary who brought their family the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as a result, afforded them the unspeakable joy of being together forever.  Again, I thought of the words of Ammon in Alma 26 when he said, "How great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?"  How could the 21 year old Elder Fisher and Elder Barrios have ever known what was in store for this amazing family? 

All 8 children in the Boj family have been sealed in the temple. Three of the sons served missions and all four sons have served as Bishops. Many children, spouses, and grandchildren have served as missionaries, bishops and in branch, mission, relief society, and stake presidencies.  They truly have been a pioneer family in the growth of the church in Quezaltenango and have shared the gospel with many that have joined the church. Today, two of the "little" Boj girls serve as ordinance workers in the Quezaltenango Temple. Truly "they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day" (Alma 26:7). Throughout the dinner, members of this family came up to Tim, and with all sincerity of heart, thanked him for bringing the Gospel to their family. 

Then, they squeezed us all into the living room and showed us a slide presentation of their family over the years.  The first slide was of the sealing of Brother and Sister Boj and their children in the Arizona Temple, four years after their baptism in 1980.  Overlayed on this picture were the words, "Gracias Elder Fisher, Salvando Cuatro Generaciones".  "Thank you Elder Fisher, Saving Four Generations."  At the end of the slide show, Tim read the pages from his missionary journal about the conversion of this good family.  I've attached a picture of one of the daughters listening to him and wiping her tears away as he was telling their story.  
Elder Fisher reading from his journal.
Then two of the grandson's, who were awaiting their mission calls (see picture of Tim with Bryan and Danny), 
The two grandsons waiting for mission calls.
stood up and bore their testimonies. They expressed excitement for their missions and their desire to bring the blessings of the gospel to a special family.
After this lovely luncheon, the men went to Priesthood and the women went to the grocery store. They drove me by the Temple, and then we had "pupusas" at a restaurant owned by the youngest daughter, Ingrid.  She told me there that she would sit on Elder Fisher's one knee, with his flip chart on his other knee, and she would hug and kiss him throughout the lesson.  She was five.  I sensed there may have still been a little crush on Elder Fisher . It was sweet.

We thought that day of celebration was enough joy to last us a lifetime, but they insisted on taking us to General Conference at their stake center the next morning.  We met them there and upon arrival, Ingrid had brought a Corte and Huipil for me to change into and watch general conference.  It was the most fun dress-up activity I have ever had.  Truly, she made me feel like I was one of them. It was a great honor.
All dressed up ready for conference.
After conference and visiting some more at their home, we took pictures and bid goodbye.  I understood for a moment when Ammon said, "My joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God" (Alma 26:11).  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He knows each one of us individually.  He desires us to return to Him and there live eternally with our families.  He has provided the way, and the path, to that end is clear.  He gave His only begotten Son to atone for the frailties and sins of all mankind.  His atonement is infinite and His plan is simple.  I love Him.  I love His Gospel.  I love the Temple and the ordinances offered within it's walls to all who live worthy.  This IS His work and His Glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  I will be forever grateful I received this knowledge. HE LIVES!
This wonderful and faithful Boj family is a great testimony to us of the hand of the Lord in their lives and the truthfulness of the gospel.  Once the seed was planted, the Lord did a mighty work with their righteous hearts and desires and His harvest has continued through four generations.
Part of the Boj family today.

This truly is a marvelous work and a wonder!


Hermana Nancy and Elder Tim Fisher