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, March 19, 2018

March 12th through March 18th

March 12th through March 18thMonday we went to lunch at President and Sister Rosales’ home.  They will finish their service as our counselor/assistant this week and they invited us to see their house and have lunch.  We took President Funes and his wife and we drove up the hill for about 20 minutes and found their condo.  We enjoyed carne asada and other great food.  

Lunch with the Funes' at the Rosales' house.
After lunch, we were sitting at the table talking about the Polochic valley. As a young man, President Rosales served his mission in the Polochic and he got out the photo album of his mission to show me some pictures.
As we were looking at the photos, we came across one and he said, “Oh, this one is a picture of Benjamin Poou”.  Benjamin Poou is a counselor to President Faundez in the Coban mission and is often our translator.  We enjoy his wonderful smile and great attitude.  The picture was of him as a small boy.  I took a picture of the photo with my phone and sent it to President Poou and asked if he knew the small boy in the picture?  
R to L  Benjamin Poou, his sister, his aunt, his grandmother, and another aunt.  He was mostly raised by his grandmother.
He wrote back, “Wow, you made me cry, president.  That is probably the only photo of me on the day I was baptized and I did not even know it existed.  Thank you so much.  I will treasure it forever.  I don’t know where you found it, but thank you so much.  A hug, Benjamin Poou.”  I felt so good that he now had a picture of his baptismal day.  There are no coincidences-- he was supposed to get that picture.  Monday evening we had Family Home Evening and a going away party for the Ellington’s who go home in a few weeks and for President and Sister Rosales whose final day at the temple is this Wednesday.  We don’t have a replacement yet, but we hope that Salt Lake will let us know this week if the counselor I asked for has been approved.  The Rosales’ will be hard to replace and we will miss them.  They have served now for 3 years and have worked hard and done a great job.  The Ellington’s have been a joy to have with us, if only for six months.  We will miss them also.

Click below to listen to Sister Rosales sing the opening song.

Family Home Evening.
Family Home Evening.
Brother Reyna and Elder Holman singing a tribute to the Rosales.

Click below to hear them sing.
Brother Reyna and Elder Holman

Our presidency.
The Ellingtons.
Tuesday we went to our paint class and tried a new medium, water colors.  It is so different from oils.  We will have to see how we like it.  
Mom's water color.
My water color.
What we were trying to paint.
We then did our afternoon shift.  Wednesday we had our last Presidency meeting with the Rosales’.  It is sad in some ways to see them leave.  They have been in the presidency since we got here.  Saturday we were up before 3:00 am for the early morning shift and then we drove 3 ½ hours to Coban for the Coban stake conference.  We stayed at President and Sister Faundez’s home.  I went to the priesthood session with President Faundez and then mom and Sister Faundez joined us for the adult session.  

Click below to listen to the men's choir.

I spoke in both sessions and mom also spoke in the adult session.  After mom’s talk, we showed a video of the growth of the church.  I have added a link to see this in English, we showed it in Spanish.  Everyone enjoyed the short video. 

Click below to view a timeline of the growth of the church.

Choir for the adult session.
Adult session Saturday night.
The roses were incredible.
We got back to the Faundez’s home about 8:30 pm.  We were exhausted, but Sister Faundez had dinner in a crock pot for us.  We went to bed with full stomachs and very tired bodies.  Sunday we went to the general session and had another opportunity to witness of Christ.  Mom spoke about the parable of the laborers and that it doesn’t matter when you come into the church, but who you become as a result.  I spoke about President Nelson’s message to the church about the blessings of staying on the covenant path and that as we do, we will have power to resist Satan’s temptations.  It was an excellent conference and even though it makes for two very long days, it is worth every minute.  We get to feel the Spirit and testify of our Savior and God’s love for each of his children.  I think we always get more out of speaking in the stake and district conferences than the members get.    
Choir of the Sunday session.

Click below to listen and view.
I believe in Christ sung in Kekchi

Sunday Session
Stake President Coy in the middle and President Faundez.
The conference on Sunday was broadcast to 5 chapels.
His tag says Future Missionary.
Mom got to hold President Ovalle's little boy. 
After the conference, President Poou asked me to give him a blessing.  He had a pain in his left side and it was hard to breath.  So President Coy anointed him and I sealed the anointing and blessed him. President Faundez joined us for the blessing.  Presidents Faundez and Coy then took him to the hospital.  We then drove home to Guatemala City.  We got home about 4:30 pm.  
We only spent about 30 minutes stopped for construction.
In the evening, I got an email from President Poou saying that he was going to spend the night in the hospital, but that he was going to be ok and that it was a muscular problem and not his heart.  I was relieved and grateful that the blessing was fulfilled.  We are praying that we will get a new counselor soon, but until we do we will be working every day.   Life is great and we love what we are doing.  We could not feel more blessed.  God is good. 
This is a condo that we have watched go up this past year.  We walk by this building everyday that we go for a walk.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 5th through March 11th

March 5th through March 11th:  What a great week.  Tuesday we went to our paint class and worked on the still life we started in the previous class and I got Jake’s eyes painted and mom did the sky on her landscape.  It was a good class and I came away thinking, “I can do this!”  After some classes, I feel like I will never be able to paint without Jill’s help.  
Mom's still life.
My still life.
Just painted his eyes.
Mom added the sky.

Wednesday mom drove our car and I drove the van and we took all the temple missionaries to a devotional for missionaries where Elder and Sister Ochoa, Elder and Sister Gong, and Elder and Sister Cook spoke to all the missionaries in Guatemala City area.  There were over 500 missionaries in attendance and the Spirit was palpable.  We were asked to sit on the stand and I sat right behind Elder Cook.  Mom sat right behind his wife, Mary.  The meeting was to start at 8:30 am.  We left the temple at 7:00 am and arrived at the Montufar chapel and were in our seats by 8:00 am.  At 8:00 am everyone stood as these three general authorities and their wives walked in and up to the stand.  We were with the 3 mission presidents and their wives and the MTC president and his wife on the stand. They shook our hands and then they took the time to shake the hand of every missionary before the start of the meeting.  We had a perfect view of the missionaries all filing past and with great big smiles on their faces as they shook the hands of these three servants of the Lord, Jesus Christ. That was all before the start of the meeting.  

The missionaries shaking hands with Elder Cook, Elder Gong, and Elder Ochoa.

Click below to hear the missionaries.
 500 plus missionaries singing.

Sister and Elder Ochoa spoke first and then Sister and Elder Gong.  But the real highlight of the meeting was to hear Sister and Elder Cook.  Sister Cook had all the missionaries stand up and sing “Pon tu hombro a la lid” (Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel).  She had about a third of them singing “con fervor” with hand gestures and another group singing something else with hand gestures.   She then said, “Ok, on the last verse we are going to put this all together”.  Elder Cook turned around to us laughing and covering his eyes he said something to the affect, “I don’t want to watch.  I never know what she is going to do.”  The missionaries loved it and it was great.  He then spoke to us.  I am going to included notes compiled from a couple of our temple missionaries and from my own notes.
Missionary Conference - March 7

Elder Quinton Cook
"I believe this is a very special place where you are and a very special time where the people here have not succumbed to all the problems in the world.  The 'great and spacious building' is not as powerful here right now. "

Your calls were given to you at this time so that you could be with these people and these Presidents. This is an urgent time. I had a strong impression of the urgency of this work last June as I was preparing for the new mission presidents seminar and I had that same impression yesterday as I spoke in the devotional for the church employees here in Guatemala.  Some of the urgency is the same as that which was recorded when the church first sent out missionaries.

 People need to hear the message of the restoration in their own tongue and language.   

The Prophet Joseph said that the primary gift of tongues will be missionaries speaking in the language of the people that they serve.  The language of the heart is the language that you pray in. 

He told about how in 1837 when the First Presidency sent out missionaries to England and they didn't have a song book.   Brigham Young asked Parley P Pratt to put together a hymn book.  He wrote the hymn of the restoration "The Morning Breaks" which is #1 in our hymn book and has always been #1 in our hymn books.

Elder Cook said he prays that we will feel a real sense of urgency.  Remember that the harvest is the Lord's.    When the people are as ready as these people are, if you don't feel gratitude for being with these special people, then change and recommit.  Love the Lord and love the families. 
D & C 31:7 The Lord will open the hearts of the people and the Savior will establish a church by your hand. 

1. Don't underestimate the power of mighty prayer.   Alma 6:6

2. Be warm and gracious and carry a spirit and your impact will be increased.  The newest missionary can help to bring the Spirit.

Elder Cook said he had a significant experience in joining with the other apostles in ordaining President Nelson as the prophet.  It left no doubt that President Nelson was to be the president and prophet.  President Nelson really feels an urgency to get the message from the Lord for what he must do. President Nelson is not getting a lot of sleep.  He wakes up nightly and writes down things that he has received. He is getting a lot of revelation.

Elder Cook says that as an apostle he has a special responsibility to be a special witness and he feels he needs to be more specific about his testimony. "I feel a great urgency about being a special witness and I want you to write it in your hearts and on your paper.  I testify to you that I know the Savior's voice and His face.  I am a sure witness of the Savior Jesus Christ. "

The Savior’s atonement will make everything right that appears to be unfair in life.

 He then left an apostolic blessing upon all of us there that we will feel an urgency, that we will have a great love for the people, that our love for the Savior will increase, and that the time will come that we will have a feeling as to what it means to be an emissary of the Savior.  You may have family problems, parents divorcing, or other problems.  He then said. “I invoke a blessing upon you that this mission you are serving will not only bless you but everyone you love.  Everyone near and dear to you will be blessed for your service”. 

He testified that Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet on the earth.

We all stood again as they walked to the back of the building and shook the hands of 42 missionaries that had left at 4:30 in the morning, but arrived after the meeting had started.  

Everyone standing as they walk out.
Pano of everyone standing.

We then went and had presidency meeting and then did the afternoon shift. Thursday I was able to paint the hair on Jake and Xela.  We then did the afternoon shift.  

I worked on Xela's hair.
I think I can call Jake's hair done.  I like how it turned out.

Friday we did the afternoon shift. We switched with President Funes so that we could have Saturday free to drive to the conference in Sacsuha.  Saturday we left at 6:00am and we took the Elder and Sister Jenson with us.  We made good time and arrived at around 11:30 am.  

Two women getting some herb ready to take to market.
Stopped for construction.

We met up with President Faundez who was in the pool at the hotel in Teleman.  There was no water in the shower at the hotel and it was really hot.  Elder Jenson and I changed and got in the pool for about 30 minutes.  

Cooling off, it is much hotter here than in the capitol city.
L to R Sister Faundez, mom and Sister Jenson.

We then got ready for the adult session and on the way, we stopped for lunch.  The adult session was from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and mom and I both spoke.  

The choir for the Saturday Adult Session.

Sister Faundez then took mom and Sister Jenson back to the hotel.  Mom and Sister Faundez got in the pool.  We stayed for the priesthood session from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  I spoke for 30 minutes, but it is really only a 15 minute talk because everything is translated into Kekchi.  I felt good about the day and there was a nice Spirit in the meetings.  We arrived back at the hotel about 7:30 pm.  

Priesthood Session.
Loading up after the Priesthood Session.

We took our treats over to the Jenson’s room and shared our snacks for dinner.  When I got back to the room, I could not find my cell phone.  We searched all over and called the number repeatedly.  Finally we searched the car, three times.  We went back to the Jenson’s room and looked there.  We went to the Faundez’ room and asked if he had picked it up when he got out of the car.  No luck-- it was lost.  We searched our room again.  Finally we said a prayer and went to bed.  At 2:30 am I woke up and went to the restroom.  I laid back down on my back and my left hand was by my side.  I felt something.  I picked it up and it was my cell phone and the screen was on-- not enter your code screen, but all the apps screen.  I had searched the covers on the bed at least twice while searching earlier.  This was such a tender mercy.  I thought I had dropped it at the chapel.  We are calling this the miracle of the cell phone.  Sunday we got up and with no hot water, I shaved and called it good!  After all, I went swimming the day before.  We had our snacks, Oreo cookies and Onion and Sour Cream potato chips, for breakfast.  We left for the chapel at 7:00 am.  We had the first session from 8:00 to 10:00 am and the second session from 10:30 to 12:30 pm.  Mom talked in each session about how we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord.  It doesn’t matter our culture or language or anything else, the requirements for eternal life are the same for everyone.  In the temple, we all dress the same and are the same before God.  I spoke about President Nelson’s first message on January 16th,  that we need to start with the end in mind, which is the temple, and that because of this he was broadcasting from the Salt Lake temple.  He said that we will receive power to resist the temptations of Satan as we worship and do the work for our ancestors in the temple.  I then I said that his remark about receiving power made me think about my favorite temple scripture.  D and C 109:22  And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;  I then talked about each of these four blessings. I felt the Spirit in both meetings and I was satisfied with our effort and our talks.  

On our way to conference Sunday morning.
Thanks Elder Jenson for this picture.
The choir for the Sunday session.  They were great.

Click below to hear Kekchi.
Choir singing The Spirit of God like a Fire is Burning in Kekchi.
Sunday first session.
Sunday second session.
Everyone rides in the back.
The girl in the turquoise did not want me to take her picture.

We then went to President Xol’s home for lunch.  The mission presidency, President and Sister Faundez, President Vela and his son, President Poou and President Xol’s two counselors joined us.  They served us Kak’ic, which in Kekchi means red chile.  It is a spicy turkey soup.  The turkey in not cut up but a large piece of turkey is placed in your bowl.  I rather like the dish, but it might be an acquired taste for others. 

L to R President Vela, his son, President Faundez, Sister Faundez, President Xol, Sister Xol, their daughter, President Barillas, second counselor in district presidency, President Poou, counselor in mission presidency, Elder Jenson, Sister Jenson, and mom.
Usually you don't get a spoon.
Fingers are the only way to eat the meat.
I ate it all.
President Xol and his family.

We got on the road about 1:30 pm.  We made good time and only got stopped twice for maybe 30 minutes in total.  We got home just as the sun was going down.  After the long, dusty and bumpy dirt road and then about 1000 sharp turns through and over 3 mountains I was exhausted and could not even work on the blog. 

It is the dry season and we followed President Faundez on the dirt road for half the way.  He then stopped and said that he would eat dust and that we should go ahead.  The dust was horrible.
Even though it is the dry season we still found a few mud puddles.
Mom never really likes it when I am taking a movie while driving.

Click below to see the mud puddle.

The biggest mud puddle we could find.

One last stop.

We talked to our son, James, who is on vacation with his family in Disneyland and then fell into bed.   What a great week that was filled with inspiring talks, shifts in the temple, and a weekend conference in the Polochic valley.  We dread going into the Polochic because of the road and how far away it is, but we always return home feeling so blessed to have been able to be with those special saints.  Our spirits are renewed and we feel invigorated and ready to do it all over again this next week.  President Nelson and Elder Cook both feel a sense of urgency and now so do I.