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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Friday, January 25, 2013

Jan. 24th and the Group from Pando

 Thursday, Jan. 24th:  While we were out walking early this morning we saw a bus pull into the parking lot above the patron housing building.  We could see that ½ of the windshield was missing and had been replaced with some plastic and some boards to hold it in place. 

The bus has seen better days.

We asked at the gate where the bus was from and they said Pando.  Pando is like a state, the one furthest north in Bolivia.  Mom said, “Why don’t you go and get the camera and get a picture of the bus.”  So dutifully I did.  I began to talk to the members getting off the bus and I came to find out that they had started their trip Sunday night and had been on the bus for 3 ½ days.  The road between Cobija and Trinidad is unpaved and it is now the rainy season.  They said that all the men had to push the bus through the mud for more than 5 hours.  Many of them still had on pants that were caked with mud almost to their knees.  As they got off the bus, many looked like their legs didn’t know how to work. 

The Group From Pando 47 in all.

As I talked to the District President, I came to find out that they had 17 youth with them.  I explained that they needed to provide 3 endowed men to help in the baptistery.  He also explained that they had many adults that had come to receive their own endowment and that they had 5 marriages in the group.  I knew at that point we were going to be really busy this morning.  I was really touched by the sacrifice they had all made to come to the temple, spending 3 ½ days on a bus, losing their windshield after only 1 day and having to help push the bus for more than 5 hours.  They looked exhausted.  My spiritual thought in preparation meeting was to tell all the workers about the sacrifices these saints had made to come to the temple today.  They will only be here for 2 days.  They will get back on the same bus tomorrow night.  I quoted Pres. Monson talk from General Conference a few years ago.  
“Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.”    April Conference 2011
I had a hard time holding back the tears as I made the connection between this quote and what these saints had just been through. 
As the day, started the youth and their leaders arrived early and we got the baptistery going.  None of adults made it to the 9:30am session.  I guess they were getting showered and were trying to find some breakfast for their small children.  They finally started showing up for the 10:30 session.  We had 2 new missionaries and a new sister who was going to be married on the 10:30 am session, but none of them were from the group from Pando.  Then I found out that the 5 couples that were going to be sealed from Pando all wanted to be together in the 11:30am session.  In fact, 3 of the women were sisters.  So we had 10 new endowees, 5 men and 5 women, who were all couples with children, 15 in total, who wanted to not only be on the same session, but also wanted to witness each other’s sealing.  We really had to be on our toes to get all of these people ready and have enough time for mom and me to give them their explanation and answer their questions.  We did have to start the session almost 10 minutes late, but we got everyone that needed to be on the session on the session.  The nursery was chaos.  The couple which was on the 10:30am session, had 2 children in the nursery and then the 15 children from the 5 couples from Pando made for a record as far as I can remember.  Brother Ugarte, the assigned sealer, wanted some help with the sealings, so I sealed the 3 sisters and their husbands.

The family of one of the 3 sisters I sealed.
The family of one of the 3 sisters I sealed.
The family of one of the 3 sisters I sealed.

One by one I sealed the husband and wife and then their children came in and I sealed their children to their parents.  Then Brother Ugarte did the same for the last 2 couples.  After each sealing, the parents and children had a group hug and most were in tears.  Mom said that the last couple had 5 children and the 3 oldest left the sealing room with tears still flowing.  The mother of the 3 sisters was with us and she didn’t stop crying for the whole time. 

The 3 sisters and their mom.

We ran out of tissues.  The final morning session is usually done at 1:15pm and we are home by 1:30pm.  Today we got home at 3:30pm.  We got done with the sealings at 3:00pm and then I hurried home and got our camera so we could get a couple of pictures of these 5 couples. 

The Family with 5 kids.
The 5th family that were sealed.
Most of us that were together for the 5 sealings.

The Cardons had made us some lunch because we needed to take them to show a company how to get to the school for Down-Syndrome kids.  The Cardon’s stake in the USA had donated money to purchase a new swing set for the school from said company.   After this outing we got home at 6:00pm and after a bowl of popcorn I was asleep in my chair by 8:30pm.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan. 15th 2013

Tuesday, Jan. 15th through Friday, Jan. 18th:  The temple has been busy this week with a large group, mostly youth, from Bermejo, way south by the border with Argentina.  On Wednesday, we were on shift in the morning and I was giving the welcome to the youth and I was told by their leader that one young man, 12 years old was an orphan and wanted to do the work for his parents, who were not members of the church, because he wanted to be sealed to them.  After the welcome I explained to him that he could be baptized and confirmed for his father, but he would have to ask one of the girls in his group to be proxy for his mother.  He had spent Tuesday in the family history center getting the names of his parents ready.  He was a little disappointed that he could not be baptized for them both but agreed.  I then explained that someone else would have to do the other ordinances for his parents and after those were complete, he could be sealed to his parents.  Friday comes along and we are supposed to be off.  We get a call at 6:00am from Pres. Crayk.  He explains that he had received a call from one of the missionaries at 12:30am the night before, who thought he was having a heart attack.  Pres. Crayk spent the night at the hospital with this Elder and his wife.  Everything turned out ok and the missionary probably had a problem with the muscles in his back.  But Pres. Crayk asked us to go up to the temple and get things going and he and his wife would be up later.  I have never seen the temple so busy.  We had to set up chairs for the first session.  We had 5 new brothers and 5 new sisters and 5 marriages.  Some of these couples had come from a small district up by Lake Titicaca, the men understood Spanish, but the some of the wives only spoke Amayra. The baptistery was overflowing and the assigned sealer did not show up.  When Pres. Crayk arrived it was evident that they needed us to stay.  I ended up being the sealer for the last 2 hours.  Pres. Crayk also had his share of sealings to do.  One of which was the 12 year old from Vermejo.  Pres. Crayk said that everyone in the sealing was crying and that the Spirit was powerful.  I sealed a young couple and then sealed 2 of their 3 boys, a 5 year old with sever handicaps and a 2 year old.  It was sweet, but they also had their 8 year old son with them.  But he had not been baptized yet and so according to the rules he could not be sealed.  Sometimes we cry for joy and sometimes because we are sad.  Many of the Bishops and Branch Presidents just don’t understand the rules.  We also had a family come and one of their kids was twelve but had not been ordained a deacon and so he could not be sealed.  It might be years till they can afford to come back to the temple.  I sealed one 17 year old boy to his parents.  He had been left home 2 years earlier when the family had come to be sealed to take care of the animals on their farm.  But now everyone in the family is sealed.  We win some we lose some, but there is order in the kingdom.  We got a call in the evening from Pres. Crayk asking us to go and speak to a Youth Conference in the morning at 10:00am for the wards Cala Cala and Temporal and that we would need to speak for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, Jan. 19th: We went up for the early session and things had slowed down a bit, so we were able to leave and we came home and worked on what we were going to say to the youth conference.  We got to take President’s car and we arrived about 9:50am.  President Garcia, one of the counselors in the Mission Presidency was speaking.  He finished and we asked Bishop Delgado how much time he wanted us to speak, he said you have 1 hour and then we want you to answer questions from the youth.  Mom spoke for 15 to 20 minutes and then I spoke for 40 minutes on the need to have the Holy Ghost in our lives.  The questions were fun and one of them was why do sister missionaries serve for only 18 months, when the boys have to serve for 2 years.  We were only 2 of a panel of 6 that were answering the questions, so after a couple of answers I said, “I have the real answer.  The reason that sisters only serve 18 months is that they can accomplish in 18 months what it takes an Elder 24 months to do.”   I got a pretty good laugh and we had a lot of fun answering their questions.  At noon they stopped and we were invited to stay for lunch, but we declined saying we had to go back to the temple, which was true, we did have the afternoon shift.  We had switched with Pres. Crayk because he had to fly to La Paz for another stake conference after the morning shift.  After our shift we went to the Cardon’s apartment to watch the first episode in the third season of Downtown Abby.  Chris’s brother, Scott, sent her the DVD’s for the first two seasons for her birthday and we have passed them around to all the other missionary couples.  We were anxious to see what happens in season three.  It is great fun that Cardons can download the new episodes and we are meeting Monday night for the second one.

Sunday, Jan. 20th:  We had choir practice this morning at 7:00am.  Then I drove a group to the Temporal ward.  I made a quick trip back for the rest of the group.  Brother Rojas had taken a carload in the truck and a few had taken a taxi.  We were 30 in all and we sounded pretty good. 

The temple choir.

You be the judge. I have posted a video of us practicing before the meeting started.   

 Temple Choir Practicing.

This is the Kennedy’s ward and they are leaving in 2 weeks, so they spoke and then it was my turn to represent the Temple Presidency.  Mom said I did a pretty good job.  I apologized to the youth who had listened to me the day before.  We had dinner at the Johnson’s place as a goodbye dinner for the Kennedys.  See Picture.

Sunday Dinner, the Kennedys are to the left of mom then the Cardons and then the Johnsons.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan. 2nd through Jan. 14th

Wednesday, Jan. 2nd through Jan. 12th:  I have only one new picture in the cameras and we didn’t have a calendar for the first 10 days of the month.  So I am having a hard time remembering what we did for the last two weeks.  Usually I will write something on the calendar that hangs on the wall as you enter the kitchen to remind me of what I want to blog about for that day.  But after a few days, my mind has a hard time remembering details.  I know we went to the temple and worked all of our shifts and that we attended a few extra sessions. I know after one of those sessions Mom and I did the sealings for Aunt Doris and Aunt Edna to be sealed to their parents, August and Marie Norman.  I don’t know what happened, but when I was looking on New Family Search I noticed these had not been done.  One had been reserved by Gar, who died a few years ago and one by Liz Strickwerda, one of Tad’s girls.  I contacted Liz and she said she looked on her account and did not have it reserved.  Well, I had to contact Family Search and get them to re-assign it to me.  Now they are done.  Those Norman aunties loved each other and they were devoted to their parents, so it is nice to know that their work is complete.  I know I cooked a new Chinese dish of fried noodles, but I don’t know which day I did that.  Traditionally the temple is the busiest in the month of Jan.  The first week was kind of slow but last week we were packed.  The patron housing building was overflowing with groups from Tarija, Argentina, Santa Cruz and La Paz.   We had at least one session each morning where we had to set up chairs. 
Monday, Jan. 7th:  We had a Family Home Evening with all of the temple missionaries Monday evening.  The Kennedys were in charge, they are leaving Feb. 4th, and they told about a few things that they have learned on their mission and then had all of us write a few things down that we have learned.  They had some of us then share with the group what we had learned. There were so many interesting perspectives, we all decided we wanted a copy of everything that people had learned, so they will type it up and get us all a copy.  We had made a list of things we had learned last year and had shared them with our children but maybe some of you that read this blog would be interested, so here are ours:
1.  That sacrifices are rewarded with blessings.
2.  That if you want to understand a gospel principle you should study it and then write a talk.  Inspiration will help you understand it even better as you write the talk.
3.  That there is always two sides to everything and you should try and understand both sides before you pass judgment.
4.  That there are ways to bless your children and grandchildren from afar that in some cases are better than if you were near them.
5.  That the Spirit can lead and guide you to do things without you even knowing it.
6.  That technology can help you understand and study things in marvelous ways.
7.  That the days pass slowly, but the months pass quickly.
8.  That it is hard sometimes to have faith that things will work out.
9.  The importance of the Doctrine of Christ.
10.  That repentance is the key to becoming sanctified.


1.  If you repeat something enough times you will learn it.  This has proved true with memorizing things in Spanish, I am now hoping I can memorize some of the simplified hymns.
2.  People in all stations of life can take hold of gospel truth.  I am always struck by this when I look into the wizened face of a cholita from the campo and guide her through the temple.
3.  Temple worship has always been part of the gospel.  It is exciting to read the new research of Margaret Barker and others about ancient Israelite temple theology.
4.  When I am desperate, I know who I can depend on for help.   (You know who you are.)
5.  Adrenaline can be VERY helpful when you’re doing something physically hard.  Like crawling, sliding and squeezing through a dark underground cave.
6.  Having faith in the Lord and His purposes is harder to do when things aren’t working out like you want them to.
7.  John and I can usually come to the same conclusion, just not always in the same time frame.
8.  It’s easier to do hard things when you have good people around you.
9.  Good weather is REALLY easy to get used to.
10.  We are all love-starved.

Friday, Jan. 11th:  We had a youth group show up at the temple this morning from one of the wards in the Los Alamos stake.  We did not know they were coming.  They wanted to start their youth conference off with a meeting with the Temple Pres. and then do baptisms for the dead.  Well, Pres. Crayk was not available, so he asked me if I would meet with them and give them a talk on the temple.  This kind of an assignment would have given me pause a few months ago, but now it seems just like an everyday assignment.  The kids were great and cute and it really is a lot of fun to talk to teenagers. 
Saturday, Jan 12th:  This morning something extraordinary happened.  We had to lock the front doors of the temple and turn people away because the temple was full.  We usually have an early Saturday morning session that starts at 7:00 am, but we often wait for the stragglers and don’t start until 7:15.  But this morning the chapel was full and we filled the session and put up 3 extra chairs and started on time.  We then started another session 15 minutes later and had to put up 14 chairs.  Well that is a record 117 people in the first 2 sessions when the rooms hold 50.  We could not have gotten any more in the second session.  In fact, Mom and I were going to attend but there was no room.  After those two sessions, we had to scramble and have every missionary and extra help from the employees in order to finish the sessions.  Pres. Crayk left for Santa Cruz and another stake conference.  He asked Mom and I to meet with a group from Cobija at 8:00pm after we finished our shift and give talks. 

The group from Cobija.

This group flew to La Paz and then took a bus to Cochabamba.  If they took a bus from Cobija it would take 3 days to get here.  It is a big sacrifice financially for them to come to the temple.  They had a group of 26 with about 12 youth who mostly came alone.  That means that their parents probably couldn’t afford to send more than 1 person.  It was the first time for many of them to come to the temple.  We had a great meeting with them.  Mom talked about the growth of the church and the changes she has seen in her life-time.  I spoke about the meaning of eternal life and how to achieve it.  It is such a spiritual high to have these chances to speak and testify of Christ and his plan for us to return to our Father in Heaven.
Monday, Jan. 14th:  We had a Family Home Evening with just the North Americans last night.  The Kennedys leave in a few weeks and so we all wrote them a couplet to “Roses are Red Violates are blue”.  I woke up early and got carried away.  Mine is as follows:
Roses are red, violates are blue.
I wrote you a poem, because you’re going home.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
 It’s time for good-byes, so I’ll just say adieu.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
We are all so sad; you might say we’re blue.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
We will miss you a lot; you were part of our crew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
We can’t say enough thanks; you’ll always be due.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Don’t forget the garbage and the smells eeuuuu.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
You’re now going home; how the time flew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Service you rendered, your testimony grew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Sweaters Helen wore, in every hue.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
If you were going to Utah, you would need an igloo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Stay a good Mormon, don’t become a Jew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Your Spanish is great, the truth no one knew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Don’t forget the restrooms, when you use your loo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
The beef here’s not great, maybe their cows can’t moo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
You’ve been wearing old clothes, go home, buy something new.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
When you look at the moon, join the wolves in owhuuu.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Back in your home ward, do you have your own pew?
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Glenn you’re really smart, get behind Helen in the queue.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
If your visa isn’t good, don’t forget to renew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Another Spanish mission and Helen’s Spanish will spew.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
18 months are over and now you’re through.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Time is up you can’t undo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Your lives are a book full of much virtue.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Home for awhile and then whereto.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Many have asked for something, can I have your white xues.  (In Mayan x is pronounced sh)
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Your grandkids are yelling; here they come, yahoo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
Have fun with them all; take them to the zoo.
Roses are red, violates are blue.
This poem is now done, I hope it was fun.