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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Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 21st

The birthday dinner.
November 21st: Today was census day.  We had our census taker spend about 15 minutes with us as we answered the many pages of questions.  Everyone in the patron housing building was done by 10:00am so we decided to move up thanksgiving dinner to 4:30pm.  All the North Americans are meeting at Pres. Dyer’s house for dinner.  Mom has assigned everyone something to bring.  We are making the dressing and then I will go up and make the gravy.  The Dyers are cooking the turkey.  Thanksgiving dinner was the best.  The food was great and everyone had a good time. 
Thanksgiving Dinner
More Thanksgiving Dinner
 Everyone says Hi!

After dinner the Dyers showed a video about gratitude and then mom passed out pieces of paper in the shape of the number 4.  On one side it said “I am thankful” and on the other side it had a word like tree and the person who selected this one would then have to tell about what tree he or she was thankful for.  There were some very interesting ones and some very spiritual ones.  But all in all it was a nice way to end our Wednesday thanksgiving day celebration.
November 23rd:  We worked the morning shift and in the afternoon I went to the dentist.  I am starting to have a problem with a tooth.  The dentist thinks that I might have a cavity under the old amalgam filling.  So next week they will take out the old filling and if I have a cavity and it is too close to the nerve I will have to have a root canal.  Not a happy thing.  But if I have to have it done, at least it will cost about one fifth of what it would cost in the states.  We went to a surprise birthday party for Brother Quiroga who is one of our temple workers.  He is a former stake president form Sucre but now lives here in Cochabamba.  His daughter is married to Jimmy Vasquez who will be speaking to us tomorrow in our devotional for the temple workers.  The surprise party is at Jimmy’s home.  Well the Perezes and mom and I went up to the temple and met Pres. Crayk and Connie at about 7:30pm.  Pres. Crayk had gotten some directions from Jimmy.  We were off and drove to where we had been to told to go and then Pres. Crayk was to call Jimmy and he would meet us where he had told us to drive to and then he would lead us to his house.  No answer on his phone.  So we drive around and ask people if they know of the street named such and such.  No, no one knows where that street is.  Pres. Crayk keeps trying to call Jimmy, no answer; he calls the temple and talks to Johny Candia.  Finally Jimmy calls the temple and tells them to tell us to sit tight he will come and get us.  We finally arrive at about 8:30pm.  We miss the surprise part.  They have been waiting for us to serve dinner. 
Mom and I at the Birthday Party.
Brother and Sister Quiroga
Brother and Sister Jimmy Vasquez
We sit down and start to eat and then a mariachi band arrives and serenades us. 
The Mariachi Band and Brother Quiroga's Birthday Party
It is so loud you can hardly have a conversation.  Then people start dancing.

The trumpets were somethings else! 
Brother and Sister Perez they are from Venezuela.
Pres. and Sister Crayk dancing to the Mariachi Band.  Sorry Pres. I had to put this in.
 Sorry Pres. Crayk  too cute.

After the band leaves they serve the cake and they have a tradition that the birthday person has to take a bite out of the cake before it can be cut.  Well, as the person is taking a bite, someone else pushes their head into the cake.  I think you get the picture of what their face looks like after this happens.  What a cultural experience.  Home about 10:30pm.
Brother Quiroga gets the first bite of his cake.
November 25th:  President Crayk assigned us to go to the Sacaba ward today.  It is a new ward in the new Sacaba stake.  Before the stake was formed from the University stake it was a branch.  But it was made a ward when the stake was created.  It is the only ward in the city that meets in a rented house.  We were driven by one of the temple security.  It is quite a ways out and we would not have found it without a driver.  The sacrament meeting was the primary program, Haz tu lo Justo, Choose the right. So I didn’t get a chance to give a message.  There were about 20 kids in the primary and they were so cute. 
Mom and 3 of the primary girls from the Sacaba ward.
Priesthood meeting was on the second floor and the young men and young women met on the third floor.  This was a very large building, but it is made out of cement and not entirely finished.  The main room is tall and narrow and the sound reverberates off the walls.   But, it has much more room than the ward house in Tiquipaya.  We can home and had some lunch and then we went to the temple for the devotional for all the temple workers.  What a great meeting.  I gave the opening prayer.  Jimmy Vasquez, the director of seminaries and institutes, spoke about walls and the need to fortify our spiritual walls.  Pres. Crayk spoke and did a great job.  He had just finished a stake conference and talked a little about his new idea to give a polished rock to everyone in the Cobija stake, the stake he was at that morning, who would commit to come to the temple in 2013 on a more regular basis.  Our concluding speaker was Elder Cabrera.  He did a great job of thanking the workers for their service and Pres. Diaz gave the benediction.  It really was a nice meeting. 
November 26th:  We went to La Cancha today.  Pres. Crayk needed to stock up on polished rocks.  He bought 42 sacks of 20 rocks per sack.  That’s 840 rocks for you math challenged folks.  He plans on giving these away to everyone in every stake in Cochabamba that will make the commitment to come to the temple on a more regular basis in 2013.  We wandered around La Cancha looking for buttons and toys for the orphanage.  Those of you who have followed our blog for a year now, remember that every year for Christmas, the temple missionaries go to this orphanage for children with disabilities.  We always try and bring gifts that the kids can play with and will not get destroyed too quickly and then we also try and help do some kind of major project for the facility.  This year we are trying to raise enough money to replace the metal gates at the front of the facility. They have to stack things in front of the gates because some of the children try and climb under them.  If any of you would like to help in our efforts to provide a little Christmas for these kids who have nothing, we would appreciate it and you could send a check made out to my daughter:  Charlotte McBean, 656 East 250 North, Bountiful, Utah, 84010.  She will deposit it in our account and I will make sure it is used to help these kids.  I have posted some pictures of last Christmas.
Sister Ahlstrom handing out some presents for the kids.
The tables we bought last year for them to eat on.
Sister Cardon talking to one of the orphans.
After 3 hours at La Chancha we hit Burger King and on the way home we stopped and had ice cream.  If you thought we were done for the day you would be mistaken.  After dropping off all our purchases we went and saw “Breaking Dawn 2”.  Now that was a full P-Day.
November 27th:  I went up for my turn for the first hour and then we had Pres. Meeting.  President Crayk was all ready to make assignments to all of us to go this Sunday to every ward in Cobica stake and hand out polished rocks.  His best laid plans were thwarted by el Dia de Peaton, the day of walking.  This coming Sunday is another day when you can’t drive your car and there is no public transportation.  If you go anywhere you have to walk.  And the following week there is a stake conference in La Paz and also a coordinating council meeting here in Cochabamba.  He really wants to get the rocks to the wards so we will ask the Bishops to come to the temple sometime this week and we will talk to them about the commitment and ask them to hand out the rocks to those in their wards who will make the commitment to come to the temple on a more regular basis this next year.  My dentist appointment did not go so well.  After waiting 30 minutes, I asked for a new appointment.  I still don’t have much patience.  So next Monday we will try again.
November 28th:  This morning on our shift, the sealer, Brother Candia, said that he had to leave to take a family member to the doctor.  So he officiated the first session and then left.  So I became the sealer.  After the first session, I sealed for an hour with patrons, from Santa Cruz and La Paz, who had been on the first session.  Then there was a young couple from La Paz who were married on Monday and had now come to be sealed.   This has got to be the best part of being in the Presidency.  This young couple was so cute and both had joined the church when they were young around 10.  He was a returned missionary and his parents were there.  She had her sister and her husband.  I can’t describe the emotions and feelings, but sitting here remembering, tears are flowing down my cheeks.  I had put a roast in the crock pot before going to the temple and mom had put baked potatoes in the oven.  So we invited the Vallenases and Sister Castilla to lunch.  Sister Castilla goes home this Saturday to Argentina after completing her mission and we wanted to say good bye.  We had a nice lunch with them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 10th

 November 10th:  We got up early and went to the temple a little after 6:00am to help get everything ready for the early morning session.  I then drove Pres. Crayk and his wife to the airport.  They are going to Sucre for a stake conference this weekend.  Since they are out of town we got the assignment to go and speak to a ward youth conference for the Jaihuayco ward.  The bishop works at the temple in the cleaning department.  I had one of the office workers call him on Thursday and ask for directions to Los Molles, the place where the conference would be held.  He said he wasn’t exactly sure but would get back to us.  We didn’t get a call, so on Friday I asked someone else in the office if they knew where Los Molles was and how to get there.  He said that if it was where he thought, he could get a map off the internet for me.  Sure enough, before we left for the airport a map was on my desk.  It looked like it was somewhere above Tiquipaya in the foothills of the mountains that surround Cochabamba.  We found the road that led up into the foothills.  As we passed the end of the bus line that ran up this hill, there was a couple walking with one small child.  They kind of flagged us down and asked for a ride.  I asked if they knew where Los Molles was and they said yes, that that was where they wanted to go.  So they climbed in and directed us up the mountain.  It took maybe 15 minutes from where we picked them up so they really would have had a long walk if we had not happened along.  There are no coincidences in life.  We needed to go to the conference and talk to the youth and we didn’t know where it was and so the Lord provided us a guide.  We had been assigned to speak at 11:00am and we arrived at about 10 minutes to 11:00am and the youth were on a break.  They had name tags for us that they put around our necks and gave us a drink of soda.  Los Molles is kind of a place where you can go and stay and be out in nature.  They had rented a building that had two large dormitories one for the boys and one for the girls. It had a kitchen and then a big room where there were tables for eating and they had set up the tables so all the youth faced the fire place.  They had asked us to talk about the importance of preparing to go on a mission.  Mom spoke about her mission for about 15 minutes and did a great job of bringing the Spirit.  I then talked for 40 minutes on the changes in the missionary age and how many young women will now also be planning on a mission, not just waiting to see if they get married before deciding to serve or not.  Then I talked about the importance of preparing and how they need to know the Doctrine of Christ.  I then taught them about the Doctrine of Christ as found in 2 Nephi Chapter 31.  I was on a roll and really had them with me.  The Spirit was strong and we left feeling totally energized. 

Youth Conference

We then went home and had a bite to eat and went to the temple for our shift.
November 11th: Since I had the car, we took the Eames to the Tiquipaya ward for church.  I was asked to sit on the stand and while sitting there was asked if I would give a talk.  I was the concluding speaker and since I had not come with any of my talks, I gave my talk about Dulce from memory.  Mom said it was one of the best talks I have given.  I certainly had some help with that one.  I had put a roast in the crock pot and when we got home I made gravy but since we had forgotten to buy potatoes I made rice and had gravy over rice.  The gravy was good and we had enough left over so we can buy potatoes and have leftovers for a few days.
November 12th: We had a fun FHE tonight.  The Eames were in charge and had asked every couple prepare a 1 minute presentation on a chapter of the Book of Mormon in a way that would be unforgettable.  Some of the skits and ideas were so clever and it really was a lot of fun.  We did Moroni 10 which talks about the gifts of the Spirit (and also the promise of the Book or Mormon).  So mom had printed all the gifts of the Spirit on a slip of paper and we had rolled them up and everyone picked their gift from a bag and then read it.  We also learned hand signals for the 10 commandments from the Kennedys, the Johnsons acted out the Garden of Eden, the Crayks gave everyone clear stones to light our boats, and the Hursts had us blindfolded and holding onto a rope to demonstrate listening to the Spirit.  The Cardons performed an original song, set to the music of Gilligan’s Isle. 

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from the Sinai,
Aboard this tiny ship.  (they held up a reed boat from lake Titicaca)

Nephi was a man of God,
A prophet with a  plan,
The Israelites set sail that day,
For the Promised Land.  For the Promised Land.
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
Nephi’s brothers tied him to the mast,
They thought that all was lost.  They thought that all was lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this unchartered Promised Land,
With Sariah,
And Lehi too,
Ishmael and his wife,
Their daughters too,
Zoram, Sam and the rest,
Here in…………the Promised Land.

So this is the tale of Lehi’s clan,
They’re here for a long, long time,
They’ll have to make the best of things,
With kids fighting all the time.
Nephi and his followers,
Will do whatever they can,
To follow God’s commandments here
In the Promised Land.

No homes, no wine, no dancing girls,
Not a single luxury,
Like Moses in the desert land,
As primitive as can be.

So here we are this week my friends,
Many miles from our homes,
Still trying to spread the gospel here
November 13th:  I went up and did initiatory this morning and then we had presidency meeting.  We then went to lunch with the Crayks and then Pres. Crayk and I went to the airport to pick up the Dibbs.  They are a couple who have been serving in the La Paz mission.  The altitude finally got to them and they asked to finish their mission here at the temple.  So they will be with us until April.  I then went back up and did initiatory for the first hour of the afternoon shift. I hurried home because we had invited Christian and Lillian to dinner.  I taught Lillian to make beef and bean burritos.  We then had dinner and talked.  They seem so happy.  This is the couple who we taught the temple prep classes to and then I had the honor of sealing last month. The week after they were married, Christian was called as second counselor in the Bishopric in the Tiquipaya ward.  He is 24 years old.
November 14th:  We were on the morning shift today.  Mom and I have been studying Preach my Gospel.  We take turns reading in Spanish and English.  We can only do 3 or 4 pages a day.  But we are learning new words and it is good Spanish and Gospel study.
November 15th:  We took the Dibbs shopping this morning.  They need to buy stuff for their apartment and don’t know where to go.  We then worked the afternoon shift.  We have been concentrating for the first part of every shift on initiatory and the men have the goal to do at least 50 names each shift.  I had noticed that the morning shift had done about 65 names and I had counted that we had done over 80.  For some reason, I walked into the office and looked at the computer and asked how many initiatory had been completed.  Brother Candia, the assistant recorder, said 117. I said, “That is not the right number.”  I knew it had to be over 140.  We went back and took all the pages that he had recorded and found 4 pages that had not been recorded.  It is amazing to me how random things that we do are not really random at all, but the Spirit guiding us.  I don’t remember how many times I have looked to see how many names the morning shift has done, but it is fewer than 5 times, and to then realize that there is a problem and find the problem and correct it is truly a testament to the fact that this is God’s work and that He is directing it and will help it be done correctly if we will follow His guidance.
November 16th:  We were off today.  This evening we went and did a session with the Tiquipaya ward.  It is their ward conference this weekend and we wanted to be with them, but I will be speaking this Sunday in another ward.  The temple missionary choir is going to the University Ward and it is my turn to give the talk from the temple presidency. 
November 17th: We were up early today and at the temple by 6:15am.  We worked the morning shift and we had pretty good attendance.  We had a number of sealings, all at the same time, so I sealed a young couple and it was very special and such a privilege to be able to do this.  One of our coordinators, Sister Cardozo’s mother died yesterday and the funeral is this afternoon.  She is the lady that has made me a couple of white shirts.  Mom really wanted to go and support her.  So we took a taxi to the cemetery and then waited for over an hour for everyone to arrive.  We were told it was at 3:30pm and we arrived on time, but they didn’t show up till almost 5:00pm.  Later we realized that the funeral had probably stated at the funeral home at 3:30pm, but something got lost in translation and we went straight to the cemetery.  It was very similar to what would happen in the states.  We had a movie night at the Cardon’s and watched “New in Town” and ate popcorn.
November 18th:  This morning the Temple Choir is performing so I drove President Crayk’s car and he drove the pickup truck and we took as many of the missionaries as we could squeeze into the cars to the University ward.  The rest had to take public transportation.  But we all arrived on time.  We had a good meeting.  I felt good about my talk but the meeting went over and I probably should have cut my talk short.  We then came home and mom wanted to use up the cabbage we had so I found a recipe for chicken, cabbage and apples.  We got a call from the Cardons that they had shrimp po boy sandwiches and we decided to share and then we got a call from Sister Crayk saying she had made Navajo tacos and so we all took what we had made and went to the Caryk’s home for a feast.
November 19th:  We started our day with a meeting of all the missionaries in the patron housing building to prepare us for how to answer all the questions that will be asked on Wednesday during the national census.  The government is going to try and have a census taker (a university student) visit EVERY HOME IN BOLIVIA on November 21, 2012.  This is like a 8 page form with over 50 questions.  All businesses, schools, offices will be closed, there will be no public transportation and EVERYONE is required to stay at home.  The temples security workers must have a permit to come to work and to drive their car.  Have you ever heard of shutting down a country to do a census???  I’m am quite dubious about their ability to interview 7-8 million people in one day—especially in the rural areas.  But they are going to give it a shot.  We had our monthly activity today, a BBQ at Elder Cabrera’s home.  I spent the morning cooking wings.  We had a great time and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Part of our group at the BBQ.

Elder and Sister Cabrera.
Mom missed half of me.
View of the temple from Elder Cabrera's house.

 The BBQ
 The party continues.
 November 20th:  We went shopping early for stuff to make dressing for our thanksgiving dinner that we are going to have tomorrow after the census.  No one can leave their houses tomorrow during the census.  We had presidency meeting and then for lunch, leftover wings.  Yum Yum.  We worked the afternoon shift.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

October 29th and Tarija

October 29th: Today was P-day.  I played racquet ball this morning, then I blogged for a few hours.  In the afternoon I drove Mom out to Tiquipaya so she could do her visiting teaching. 
October 31th: We had presidency meeting this morning and I got my reservation for this weekend’s trip to Tarija.  We had the Crayks to lunch and after lunch, Pres. Crayk drove us to BOA, the Bolivian Airline and I bought a ticket for mom so she could go with me to the stake conference in Tarija. 
November 1st: We worked the morning shift today and afterward Pres. Crayk called and asked us if we could talk to a group of people from Puno, Peru.  We said, “Sure”,  so we spent the afternoon preparing to speak  that  evening and also preparing new talks for the stake conference in Tarija.  The talks went very well and the people from Puno were very grateful that we would take the time to talk to them.

The group from Puno, Peru.

November 2nd: I spent the morning finishing my new talk on the meaning of the word sweet, as in “Sweet is the work”. The patron housing is full and the temple was very busy today.  We did more than 2200 ordinances. 
November 3rd.  I went up early to help with the early session.  Pres. Crayk is going to Oruro by car to another Stake Conference later today and we have to be to the airport by 10:30am for our flight to Tarija.  We had to leave things in the hands of the recorder, Elder Cabrera, until Pres. Diaz would get there at 1:00pm.  Our flight was only an hour and uneventful.  We were met at the airport by President Copa, the second counselor, who drove us to our hotel.
View from our hotel of Tarija.
He said someone would be back to pick us up at 3:30pm and drive us to the Priesthood Session.  We got settled and had lunch at the hotel. The hotel is kind of a resort and is very nice.  We went to the lobby at 3:00pm just in case someone showed up early.  No chance.  At 4:10pm President Copa drove up and said that  President Duran, the stake president, had problems at work and could not get away when he had wanted to and so he had called President Copa to please pick us up because he was going to be late.  We arrived at 4:25pm.  Mom found a room and we went into the chapel and waited until the person speaking finished.  While we were sitting there Pres. Duran showed up and the three of us walked up to the stand after the speaker finished.  But in the end everything worked out ok.  I gave my talk on sacrifice and I felt like the Spirit was there and that it was well received.  We then had an hour to kill between sessions.  I walked to the corner store and bought bottled water for the hotel.  The adult session began at 7:00 pm and Mom gave the best talk I have ever heard her give in Spanish.  She talked about having the light of the gospel in our faces.  I spoke about what we can do in order to have a better experience when we come to the temple.  I have given this talk now a few times and it is starting to feel very natural.  It was a nice meeting.  We got back to the hotel about 10:00pm.   We had been told that we would be speaking to the JAS group, young single adults at 7:30am in the morning and they wanted us to speak about marriage.  So we both had to figure out new talks.  They said we both had 20 min.
November 4th: Up early and we were picked up at 7:00am.  At 7:30am there were about 15 young adults, so we didn’t really get started until 7:45am when we had maybe 30.  By the end of the meeting there were more than 100.  Mom talked and did a great job and then I started talking about the importance of marriage and when I was done I had talked for 40 minutes.  They had to skip one of the talks by Pres. Copa.  I apologized for talking so long, but they were very gracious and acted like it was no big deal.  That is what I get for winging it and talking without knowing exactly want I am going to say.   We then held the general session at 10:00am and I gave my new talk on the work Dulce (Sweet) and used the letters of the word as the basis for my talk.  D was for Dedicarse a Dios, dedicate yourself to God,  U is for Unirse a los santo o ser uno con ellos y Jesucristo y Dios el Padre, unite yourself with the saints and be one with them and Jesus Christ and God the Father.  L is for Lavarse o llegarse limpio, wash yourself or become clean.  C is for Cumplir con sus convenios, keep you covenants.  E is for Expiacion, the atonement.  I felt like it was very upbeat and explained how if we do those things we can have that sweet feeling in our hearts and souls. 

Stake conference in Tarija.

 The Stake Choir in Tarija.

When we bought mom’s ticket we found out that there was no space on the plane to return on Sunday,  so we changed my ticket and we will both go back to Cochabamba on Monday.  So when the stake presidency found out that we were not going back this evening, they asked us to have a Family Home Evening with all the members of the stake presidency, their wives and children and they wanted us to provide the lesson and they would fix dinner for us.  They took us back to the hotel about 1:00pm and said that they would be back for us at 5:00pm.  We went to Pres. Sullca’s house.  It was very nice and very modern.  We had a great dinner.  They BBQed some beef and we had potatoes and salad. 

Dinner at Pres. Sullca's house.

We then had a family home evening.  We talked about how hard it is for the wives and families of leaders of the church to always have their husbands and fathers gone, but that how when we do it well, we receive many blessings in our families.  It went over very well and the Spirit was present and strong.  We got back to our hotel about 10:00pm.
Pres. Copa and his 2 children.

Pres. Sullca and his 3 children the one in the blue strip shirt is waiting for his mission call.
Pres. Duran and 2 of his children he has some that are married.   

Mom and 2 week old Ezikael Copa.

Ezikael Copa
November 5th:  We had breakfast at the hotel and arrived back to Cochabamba about 12:30pm.  We then went shopping for groceries.  We had our combined FHE.  Pres. Crayk had asked Elder Cabrera to come and teach us about the resurrection and how the rock was rolled away not so that Jesus Christ could leave the tomb but so that we could enter in and partake of the atonement.  He did a much better job than I can explain. 
November 8th:  We are off today and we are invited to go to a multi zone conference with all the missionaries here in Cochabamba and hear Elder Steve Allen teach the missionaries.  He is the executive director of the missionary department of the church.  He taught at the mission president’s conference that was held in Quito last week.  We arrived just before 9:00am and he taught for more than 5 hours.  We got home at 4:00pm.  He had some great stories and he helped write Preach my Gospel.  He really is a good teacher.
Elder Allen teaching the missionaries.
Multi zone conference with 120 missionaries.
November 9th:  As we went on our walk today, two buses arrived from La Paz and when we returned we were asked by the stake president from Mira Flores stake, President Vasquez, if we would speak to his group this afternoon at 3:00pm.  We worked the morning shift and the temple was really busy and I got to do sealings for an hour.  We came home and had a quick bite to eat and went and spoke to the group from La Paz.  Mom did a fantastic job and really brought the Spirit.  I did an ok job as well.  We are getting pretty good at last minute preparation for talks. 
Pres. Vasquez and his wife.
The group from Mira Flores stake in La Paz.
At the end of the meeting, the Relief Society went around and gave everyone a small blue badge to commemorate the last trip to the temple before the stake is divided next week. 

The blue badge to commemorate the last trip to the temple before the stake is divided.

We have been asked to go and help serve dinner to Elder Allen and all the stake presidents and their wives, President Crayk and his wife and President Dyer and his wife at Pres. Dyer’s house tonight.  We spent from 7:00pm till 10:00pm helping with the dinner.
The Temple and orange clouds on the way to the Dyer's.
The hired help at the dinner.  Elder Cardon and mom.
Dinner at the Dyer's with Elder Allen
We got to eat also and listen to Elder Allen talk about the changes in the missionary age and how it will affect the missionary work in the stakes here in Cochabamba and what the stake presidents need to do to help the missionary work move forward.