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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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tuesday Dec. 11th

Tuesday, December 11th: We were on the morning shift today and we had 3 young men come to receive their endowments.  Each had been called to serve in Venezuela, each in different a mission there.  Each was there with both parents and in addition one had one set of grandparents.  This is very unusual for here in Bolivia.  Many times a young man will show up with no one accompanying him.  Sometimes he is the only member in his family.  To have all three, with both parents was a real surprise and shows the maturing of the church here in South America.  It was fun to talk to them about their families.  Each had been a member since childhood.  One of the fun things that falls to the presidency and matron of any temple is to explain the ordinances of the temple.

Wednesday, December 12th: We are on schedule to have attended the temple each day this month that it is open as patrons.  This morning we did initiatory.  During our shift in the afternoon, the sealer did not show up.  So I got to seal a young couple.  These experiences are very precious and sacred and they strengthen my testimony and understanding of the eternal nature of this work.
Saturday, December 15th:  We attended the early morning session today as patrons. I had a sweet experience with Sister Cortez, a missionary from Colombia. 

Sunday, December 16th:  President Crayk had to go to La Paz today.  He left me with the car so that I could go and pick up Doug Thayne from the airport.  He also left me with the assignment to go to the Rosedal and Linde wards in the Cobica Stake and pass out small polished crystal-like rocks to all the members who would make the commitment to attend the temple more frequently during the coming year. At their stake conference on the 25th of November, Pres. Crayk had promised everyone in the stake who would make this commitment, a rock to help them remember their commitment.  So I had my assignment to visit these two wards.  I took Sister Crayk and mom and we headed out at 7:30 a.m. so we could be to the first sacrament meeting at 8:00am.  I asked the bishop if I could make an announcement before the sacrament and then I explained that I had the rocks and that I needed to leave to go to the airport, but that I would be back during Sunday school to pass them out.  The 3 of us then left for the airport. 

Doug Thayne arriving in Cochabamba.
Elder Thayne and Elder Norman plus 40 years.
Doug Thayne is an old missionary companion from when mom and I and Pres. Crayk served in Ecuador from 1971-1973.  He has been building the interiors of temples for the last 15 years.  In fact, he and his crew installed the woodwork for BDL in the Ghana and Nigeria temples when I was President of BDL.  He arrived and looks exactly like he did 40 years ago, bald and with a big grin.  Really, he was bald in the mission field.  He told me that more than once, people would ask if he was his companion’s father.  We then went back to church and passed out rocks.  We then attended the Sacrament meeting for the Linde ward and passed out the rocks after Sacrament meeting.  We brought Doug back and got him settled in the patron housing and then fed him lunch. We then went and picked up Pres. Crayk from the airport.  We showed Doug the temple and the patron housing building and then Pres. Crayk had to leave for another meeting.  That evening we had a wonderful dinner prepared by Sister Crayk and we sat around the table reminiscing and laughing about our many memories in the Ecuador mission.

Monday, December 17th: With Doug here we decided to show him around a little.  We had purchased a bunch of school supplies for a school for children with Down Syndrome.  We delivered these and got a tour. 

The school for Down Syndrome kids.

The kids were on vacation, but the facility is very nice and was constructed over the past 10 years by a parent association.  We will try and help them with some other things during this next year.  We had a great steak lunch and then we attended a Christmas Party for the Deseret Club. 

Lunch with Doug and Pres. and Sister Crayk.

This is a club made up by the employees of the temple.  It is an annual party for the kids of the employees and Santa comes and all the kids get a present. 

Santa and Mrs. Claus aka Elder and Sister Perez.

One of the temple missionaries, Elder Perez from Venezuela, played Santa and made all the children sing for their presents. 

Santa handing out presents.

Sister Crayk, who is a professional story teller, told a folktale in Spanish.  The kids loved it.

Sister Crayk telling a story to all the kids at the party.

I got to hold one of the employees kids.
Look what Santa drinks!

Tuesday, December 18th: Pres. Crayk had to work this morning so we took Doug to the convent and he thought that was worth a visit. 

Doug and I at the convent.
Mom and Doug at the convent.
Wood carved alter piece at the convent.

We then went to the last session in the morning and then with the Crayks we went to lunch at Tuesdays and then for ice cream.  Pres. Crayk had to talk to a group from La Paz at 4:00pm so we all went to that meeting and Doug bore his testimony.  We then took him to the airport. Short stay, but it was great to see him and get caught up.  He was here in South America because he will be doing the interiors of the Trujillo temple in Peru.
Friday, December 21st:  First thing this morning we went to SEGIP to be photographed and finger printed for our carnets, a resident ID card.  We have to get this in order to renew our visas for another year.  There is no way to describe this process, but it has required multiple trips to multiple bureaucracies with multiple payments and standing in multiple lines.  As most of you know, this is my idea of hell.  I then spent the afternoon making a huge batch of my super-duper spicy BBQ sauce.  We are going to give all the missionaries a bottle for our Christmas gift.   We were off today, but President Crayk called and asked us to speak to another group from La Paz.  It was a ward from the stake that I had just visited for their Stake Conference.  They had 17 youth and only 4 of their parents were with them. 

The group from La Paz.

I talked about how their parents were home working and sacrificing so they could come to the temple and have a special experience.  It was a good meeting we got done about 9:00pm.
Saturday, December 22nd:  We were on turn for the morning shift today, so we were to the temple early.  The sealer didn’t show up again.  I got to seal a family, first the parents and then 3 living children and 2 deceased children.  This is the first time I think I have had a combination of living and deceased children.  It was so fun to do this sealing.  Mom represented the deceased daughter.  The children and parents afterward where so emotional, but this just made it all the more enjoyable.  Then I spent the afternoon making more BBQ sauce.  I have made 2 triple batches of BBQ sauce this week.
Sunday, December 23rd:  We attended the Temporal Ward today and I asked the Bishop if I could have 5 minutes.  He made me the last speaker and I had 20 minutes.  I didn’t have my book of talks so it was off the cuff.  But it was easy to speak about Christmas and how wise men still search for Christ and how we can find Him in the temple.  I left 5 minutes so the stake president got up and spoke.  I felt really good about my talk.  Mom said afterward that she is not sure if the Latinos know how to deal with emotion, because I was bawling during my talk. Yea, so what’s new?    But she also reminded me that Pres. Eyring is very emotional during his talks too. We came home and had leftovers and now I am blogging.  Mom has organized a caroling party for tonight.  Merry Christmas to one and to all.
Carolers in front of the temple.
Carolers in front of Pres. Caryk's house.
Carolers in front of the stable on the temple grounds.
Our mascot we found caroling.

Some of the carolers.

 Santa and Mom in front of the stable.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

November 29th and Merry Christmas from our Temple Devotional

Our Christmas Tree and Nativity.
 Merry Christmas Everyone

Thursday, November 29th:    This morning we went to the mission home to help package cookies for the Elders and Sisters.  Mom spent the time wrapping new white shirts for the Elders and I and Elder Winkfield spent the time wrapping cookies.  Each Elder and Sister will get a package of six cookies and some candy.  Some of the Elders are the only member in their family and will not be getting anything from home.  It is so nice that Pres. and Sister Dyer are trying to make sure that every missionary has something from the heart for Christmas.  It really made me fill good to be able to help.  We then worked the afternoon shift in the Temple.
Saturday, December 1st: We were at the temple just after 6:00am and we got done with our shift at 1:30pm.  A couple of times this week the scheduled sealer did not show up or needed to leave early, so I got to do a lot of sealing this week.  What a special opportunity and blessing this is for me.  I treasure these opportunities.  After lunch and a rest we went with Pres. and Sister Crayk and Elder and Sister Cardon to an open house for the daughter and son-in-law of one of our workers, the Sandoval’s.  We were told this was just to meet their daughter and new son-in-law.  Well it was a sit down dinner and kind of a belated wedding reception.  The food was late and we were told that the affair would start at 5:00pm we arrived at 7:30pm and at 8:30pm still no food.  We excused ourselves without waiting for dinner.  The picture of the temple at night was taken at the club house of an exclusive neighborhood.
The Temple from the Wedding reception.
Sunday Dec. 2nd: Today is another “Dia de Peaton”, day of walking.  No one can use their car and there is no public transportation.  So we had our own testimony meeting in the patron housing building.  It was a very nice meeting and the Spirit was powerful.  We had a pot luck dinner after. 
Sunday Pot Luck Dinner.
We made taco soup.  Everyone had a good time and went home stuffed.  Mom and I have decided that our gift to Jesus this Christmas will be to go and be a patron everyday this month.  Either doing initiatory, an endowment session or sealings. 
Monday Dec. 3rd: We had the employee session at 7:00am.  Mom and I attended the session.  Then I went and played racquetball.  I also went and had my tooth fixed.  I didn’t have to have a root canal so I am very happy.  We had a combined Family Home Evening and watched a Christmas movie.  I can’t believe that Christmas is almost here.
Wednesday, Dec. 5th:  We went up and did initiatory this morning.  Then we spent 2 ½ hours waiting in lines to get an appointment to get our carnet.  We need our carnet which is a card with our picture on it that says we are a resident.  Without a carnet we can’t get our visa extended for the second year.  We had the Winkfields and the Crayks to lunch.  They had to cancel the English session because 10 of us Americans were standing in line waiting to get our appointment.

Saturday, Dec. 8th:  We went and attended the early session.   We then drove Pres. Crayk’s car to pay for a ticket for one of our old missionary companions, Doug Thayne, who is coming to visit us in a couple of weeks.  Can’t wait to see him.  Pres. Crayk and I then took off for the airport to go to La Paz for a stake conference.  He had promised this stake president that he would be there.  Well, he has to be back in Cochabamba Sunday morning for a coordinating council meeting with Elder Cabrera and all the Stake Pres. and District Pres. in the Cochabamba Mission.  So I am going with him and he will leave me to speak in the Sunday morning session.  We both got to speak in the Priesthood Leadership meeting and the Adult session.  Right after Pres. Crayk spoke he left for the airport.  This stake is in El Alto, which means “the high one” and it is at 13,615 ft. above sea level. 
El Alto
This used to be a suburb of La Paz, but it now has over 1 million people living there.  It sits on the altiplano above La Paz.  In the picture to the right you can see buildings starting down the hills.  That is La Paz and the houses extend down the hills to the bottom of the valley and they up the other side. 
Sunday, Dec. 9th:  I woke up at 2:30am with a splitting headache from the altitude.  I had the same problem in August when we went to La Paz and Lake Titicaca.  I didn’t get much sleep after that.  But after being up for a couple of hours my headache went away.  Maybe it is something about lying down.  When I got to the stake center I found out that every Sunday there is a furniture market on the street in front of the church and I found the front of the church blocked by furniture.  We found the owner and he moved enough that the gate was not blocked.
The front of the church Sunday morning before conference.
I gave my talk in stake conference and had to leave right after to catch my plane back to Cochabamba. 
Stake Conference Sunday Morning Los Andes Stake in El Alto.
I think my talk went well.  There was a ward choir from the Alto Lima Ward.  They sang before the meeting started and I took a little video of them before the meeting. 
 Right before I spoke, they sang “I Believe in Christ”.  They did an amazing job of bringing the Spirit.  I thanked them and added my testimony of Christ.  There is not a better way to start a talk.  Of course I was sobbing and pretty much cried through my whole talk. 
The choir from the Ward Alto Lima.
When I got home at 1:30pm I didn’t feel like lunch and we only had a few hours to get ready for the Christmas Devotional and Choirs that is hosted by the temple each year.  It started to rain about 2:30pm and rained really hard for about 30 minutes.  I went up about 3:00pm and started greeting people.  There were a lot of prayers said and it had just stopped raining.  
Mom with Lillian and Christian our friends from Tiquipaya.
We had set up 2000 chairs and had 6 porta potties and expected over 3000 people to come. 
The Temple Presidency and Elder and Sister Cabrera.
The program started at 4:30pm and I can’t describe the feeling.  Tears rolled down my cheeks during many of the songs.  There were 14 different choirs, many from Santa Cruz and La Paz. 
Choir from the Santa Cruz Equipetrol Stake.
Youth Choir from the Santa Cruz Puerto Suarez District.
Choir from Santa Cruz La Pampa Stake. (my favorite)
Choir from Santa Cruz Canoto Stake.
Choir Cochabamba
Choir from the Santa Cruz Paraiso Stake.
Choir from the Santa Cruz La Merced Stake.
Choir from the La Paz, Constitucion Stake.
Choir from the Santa Cruz Piray Stake.
Choir from the Cochabamba, Jaihuayco Stake.
The live nativity from Jaihuayco Stake.
The Choir from Cochabamba, Los Alomos Stake.
The Choir from the Cochabamba Cobija Stake.
The Cumorah Choir form La Paz.
The Choir Zion from Cochabamba and La Paz.
They all sang their hearts out.  It was an amazing program and lasted for 3 hours.  It was dark when it ended and hundreds if not thousands stayed and lined up to have their picture taken sitting in front of the stable with the nativity scene in the background.  Wow what a day.  Over 4100 people came to the program.  The missionaries set up a booth and said they had received over 500 referrals.
Video of the Crowd
The Crowd.
More of the Crowd.

 Feliz Navidad the Choir from La Pampa.
 Those from La Pampa sing to you today at the temple of the Lord.
 We wish you a Merry Christmas.
 Cochabamba Choir singing Carol of the Bells.
Choir from Jaihuayco, Cochabamba
Cumorah Choir from La Paz
 Choir Zion from La Paz and Cochabamba
Monday, Dec. 10th:  We went to lunch with all the employees of the temple today.  It was kind of a thank you lunch for their hard work this last year.  Each one of the presidency and their wives and Elder Cabrera and his wife were at a table and so all the employees had to sit with one of us.  It was a nice affair and well attended. 
Our table.
Pres. Crayk's table.
Sister Crayk, mom, Sister Cabrera, and Sister Diaz.
Mom cut my hair today so I’m good to go for another couple of weeks.  We went to Pres. Crayks’ house and helped put together a Christmas present for each one of the temple workers.  Connie figures we need about 250 gifts.  They have a really good chocolate bar with peanuts here called Sublime.  We had notes and a bow we stapled on the candy bar that read.  “When we work together in the temple life is Sublime.” We only were able to do about 100 so we will have another work party this week.  As we walked around the temple grounds this morning we talked to Pres. Dyer and his wife.  We have included a couple stories they have written up about their missionaries.

Elder Vinces: December 2012
Elder Vinces suffered an accident while working a few months before his left for his mission.  He was determined to serve a mission so he continued his application even though he had not fully recovered from the accident. The doctors told him that he may experience some long-term loss of sight.
Elder Vinces received his mission call to Bolivia Cochabamba.  He said that he was beginning to lose his site at the time of his final interview with the Stake President, but he did not admit his impending concern.  Shortly after arriving to the mission field, he began to lose his sight very rapidly.  Within weeks he became blind and unable to read.  He did not have time to learn brail.  He did not know how to type well. He did not know Preach My Gospel.   
Various companions were assigned to Elder Vinces.  Each supported him in extraordinary ways.  They read to him from Preach My Gospel.   They helped him learn the scriptures associated with the lessons.  They held practice sessions with him so he could master the principle, door approaches and lesson techniques.
One missionary companion, in particular, impressed me. He dedicated his efforts to make Elder Vinces successful.   They practiced the missionary lesson daily. They taught together, baptized and enjoyed the gifts of the Spirit.  This Elder found joy in serving Elder Vinces.

My heart was soften by the faith of Elder Vinces and I am filled with emotion each time I think of his companion, Elder Silva, who thought more of the growth and success of Elder Vinces then he did of his own desires.

Both Elders have returned to the native lands now but the success of those two missionaries is well remembered.  They were Christlike. 
The story of Elder Vinces did not stop there. A few months before Elder Vinces was released he came to me to ask for my recommendations.  He said he did not have a home to return to after his mission.  I promised him that he should continue to be a faithful missionary and the Lord would bless him.  He left my office fortified but not satisfied.
Elder Vinces recounted the expanded story at the time he bore his final testimony in our mission conference just a week before he left Bolivia in Noviembre 2012.  He said that he had only been a member for about three years, two of which were during this mission.  He is the presently the only member of the church in his family.  His mother and father were not happy that he was baptized into the church. They pleaded with him not to leave the family and go on a mission.
Elder Vinces was determined to serve the Lord.  When Elder Vinces left home his mother called out to him that he should never return and she added, “We want you to change your name.  You are no longer a part of our family.”
Elder Vinces added the following as he bore testimony of Jesus Christ and the blessing of serving a mission.  I have been in the mission almost two full years and I have never received a letter from my mother, not one….until this week.  I received my first letter.  It says, “I love you son. We want you to come home to us.  We have moved to a different home but we have a place for you.”  She continued to express her admiration for him.  She recognized that the church had changed him and she would like to know more about his church. 
For the last 14 months of his mission Elder Vinces called me each week to give me his weekly report because he could not type.  He served as a District Leader where he taught a weekly lesson to other missionaries on how to do the work of the Lord.  My life was changed because of him.  He was a powerful missionary who loved the Lord Jesus Christ.  As written by President Dyer.
December 9, 2012-Two Tall North Americans-a story for family home evening
This is a particularly sacred story, the kind that can be misconstrued and exaggerated when shared with others. We share it with you in that light.
Elder Herrera, an elder from Bolivia wrote Dan this week. This is his story. Dan called Elder Herrera to get the details and to make sure what he read was correct. The thing I am most humbled about it that God cares about each of His children and helps them when they desire to know the truth.
When Elder Herrera went to church an old man from the campo outside of Sucre, came up to him. The old man spoke only Quechua, and asked him where the other elders were, the two North Americans, who taught him in Quechua. Elder Herrera knew for a certainty that there are no North American elders who spoke Quechua, there are only a few South Americans who do!
Upon further investigation, the man told Elder Herrera that two “tall, North Americans” dressed just like Elder Hererra with white shirts, and name tags, came to his house and taught him about the Book of Mormon in his native tongue of Quechua. The old Quechua man wanted to know more about the church. He had in the past gone to church, but did not understand the gospel.
The old man had been out of town. It was upon his return that he said that not only had the tall North Americans taught him in Quechua and he understood them well. That morning, they had come by his house, and walked him to the home of the counselor in the bishopric who took him to church in his car. The wife of the counselor in the bishopric speaks Quechua and translated for him and others also helped to teach him, but no one ever saw the tall North Americans again. The old Bolivian man set a date for baptism and was baptized last night, December 8, 2012.
You can draw your own conclusions, but this I know: God does hear our prayers, and they are usually answered by another. Miracles happen every day in missionary work. Elder Herrera said this is not a singular incident in his life, he has had had an experience like this before in Cochabamba, where an investigator was taught by someone in Quechua, that could not be found later.
The church is true and it is truly a stone cut out of a mountain without hands and is rolling forth to fill the whole earth as Daniel saw in a vision. Miracles are taking place before our eyes. By Sister Dyer.