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, May 30, 2013

May 19th through the 30th

Sunday, May 19th:  There have been demonstrations and road blocks in the streets the last couple of weeks.  So we waited until Saturday to try and find Fito's house so we could tell which ward he would be in.  It depended on which side of the street he lived on.  Sister Dyer said she would drive Chris by while they were shopping.  Chris got out of the car and was looking at the buildings and a doorman came out and asked if she needed help.  She explained who she was looking for and he said, “Oh, he lives on the 5th floor of this building.  Do you want to talk to him?”  Chris said, “ Sure.”  The doorman called the apartment and Chris talked to  Fito.  He said he would need to talk to his wife and could we call later that evening.  We thought, “Oh no, he is getting cold feet.”  But later that evening he called us and he said that he didn't know if his wife and son would join him, but that we could pick him up at 9:30am.  We thought we had checked the time of the ward he would be in.  Well, we picked Fito up and his wife, Vivian, came with him.  Their son stayed home.  We got to church and figured out that the Cobija ward started at 8:00am and we thought it started at 10:00am.  But we met the Elders in the hall and introduced them and then the Bishop came by and talked to them.  He is one of the guards here at the temple, great man.  Many members stopped and met them.  The Elders did their job and asked if they could come to their house and answer questions.  So they have an appointment on Thursday at 11:00am.  We went ahead and attended the other ward that started at 10:00am.  I asked the bishop if I could have a few minutes to talk.  The first 2 speakers were a husband and wife who talked about marriage and the importance of treating each other kindly and being good examples to your kids.  I then had an opportunity to talk and share the joy and happiness my marriage has brought into my life.  I got a little emotional.  I can't remember all I said, but the Spirit was powerful.  They decided they wanted to attend a class.  After Sunday school they said they needed to head home and check on Rafael.  So we walked them home.  It was no more than 10 minutes.  We got to ask them about their impressions.  They both said they felt something.  I think Vivian loved it.  She asked, “Is it like that every week, where they talk about relevant things that we need in our life.  Can we visit next week?”  They really liked the interaction of the members.  She was also impressed that during the class they would read a scripture and then everybody would talk about it.  They invited us in and we had some orange juice and talked a little more.  We met Rafael, their 11 year old son. Chris is adopting him as her Bolivian grandson.  She likes giving him hugs—and in Bolivia, 11 year old boys will still hug you back.  We felt like real missionaries.  Kory, thanks for letting us take them to church.  I think it was a great success.  We will now wait and see.  Next week is stake conference for that ward and I am assigned to speak at all 3 meetings.  Maybe I will see them next week also.  The week was pretty normal until Friday when during our morning shift a bishop from Sucre approached me and asked if I could speak to his group of about 30.  I agreed that mom and I would talk to them that evening at 6:30pm.  We had a very nice meeting with this group of saints from Sucre.  Sucre is about 8 hours south of Cochabamba.   It was fun to interact with the youth and I talked about eternal life and that eternal life should be everyone’s goal and what we need to do to obtain it.  Mom talked about the growth of the church in her lifetime.

The Group from Sucre.

Saturday, 25th:  We started the morning early, helping get the 6:30am and 7:00am sessions going.  We attended the one at 7:00am.  Then we came home and I worked on a new talk for stake conference on Elder Bednar’s thought that we need to be agents that act, not objects to be acted upon.  We went back up to the temple for our afternoon shift.  We were pleasantly surprised that the first session in the afternoon had 54 and the second had 59.  President Crayk came up and replaced me so that I could go the Cobija stake conference.  I spoke in the Priesthood session and used a white board for the first time in my life.  I used my new talk and got a lot of compliments afterward.  I then left and drove back to the temple to pick up mom and the Hurst’s who wanted to attend the adult session.  Mom and I both spoke in the adult session.  Mom is getting very comfortable and doing a great job speaking.

Sunday, 26th:  We said good bye to most of the North Americans this morning.  Twelve of them are headed to La Paz where they are going to have a fireside with the young single adults and then on Monday they are going to ride mountain bikes down the road of death.  We are praying that no one gets hurt and that they all come back alive.  We arrived at conference for the general session and to our surprise, sitting in the middle, about 6 rows back was Fito and his son Rafael.  We left the stand and went down and greeted them.  It was a good meeting and the opening song was “Sweet is the work”.  I had planned to use my talk on the word Dulce which is sweet in Spanish.  That just clinched it.  I had to give that talk.  I was very happy with how the talk went and mom did a great job also.  We were interested to learn that there are 25 missionaries from the Cobija Stake in the mission-field and another 12 have received their calls.  "Catch the wave".

The Stake Choir.
Left to right 1st counselor Pres. Arias, President Paredes, 2nd counselor Pres. Alvaro and me.
Right after conference ended.  You can see Fito if you look close.

After the meeting Fito and Rafael said they enjoyed the meeting and that they would come back to church next week.

Fito, Rafael, mom and Sister Castellon a temple worker.

We then talked to the full-time missionaries who had met with them and told them not to mess this one up.  This is a really great family and they are looking for something more in their life.  In the afternoon, we Skyped in with our kids and viewed the blessing of Ginny and Sam’s daughter, Willa. 
Ginny and Sam's family at Willa's blessing.
Technology is such a special blessing.  It makes being so far from family tolerable.  After they had dinner, they dressed all the grandkids in tee shirts that Jill and Char had made and took family pictures. Kirstin had seen this idea and every family had their own color of tee shirts and then every child had a number designating their number in the grandkid birth order.  (Badger is #1 (almost 10 years old) and Abby is #14 (5 months.)  We were included by Skype and enjoyed watching them try and herd 14 kids (9 of them 4 years old or younger!) for a group picture.  Like herding cats!! 
14 of the cutest grand-kids in the world!
Blue are John and Jill's, yellow are Charlotte and Alex's, green are Kate and Bryce's, red are Ginny and Sam's and purple are James and Kirstin's.  Love them all.
3 little girls born within 4 months of each other while we were in Bolivia.
5 little monkeys ages 3 to 2.
On Monday we also talked to some of them while they were visiting graves for Memorial Day.  Tuesday and Wednesday was back to normal and now it is Thursday and 3 buses have arrived from Santa Cruz and so we should be busy for the rest of the week.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 12th through May 18th

Sunday, May 12th through May 18th:  Sunday morning I picked up Kory and Carolyn at 7:30am. Mom and the rest of our group took taxis to the Villa Graciela and Frutiar Wards.  Mom translated for the Katseanes’ during the 2 sacrament meetings we were assigned to speak in.  In the first one, Bob and Tammie, who came on this mission without speaking a lick of Spanish, gave two of the best talks and then Sister Monroy, who is originally from Ecuador but now lives with her daughter in Brighton, Colo. (Rex Johnson, Becky’s, my brother Van’s daughter, husband is her stake president.) spoke and did a great job.  The Spirit was strong, but then Tammie played a medley of hymns on her violin.  I sat on the stand and watch person after person wipe tears from their eyes.  I joined them. Many in the congregation felt the power of the Spirit.  There wasn’t time for mom to speak, so I used the rest of the time.  My heart was full and I added my witness of the importance of the temple in our lives as a place to help us prepare to return to our Father in Heaven.  After the meeting, I felt like I had just attended a general conference.  Wow.  We then did it all over again at the ward that started their sacrament meeting at 10:00am.  This time the Vallenas’ spoke, but they had had 3 converts confirmed at the start of the meeting and once again we were a little short of time.  But I insisted that mom as least bear her testimony.  She did a great job and then I finished out the meeting.  Sister Monroy translated for the Katseanes’ while mom and I spoke in the last meeting.  I think that this was the best thing we have ever done.  It was more powerful than when we would take all of the missionaries and sing as a choir and we had missionaries in every ward of the Sacaba stake doing what we had just done.  We had Mother’s day dinner at President Crayk’s house with the Eames’, Hurst’s, and Harrison’s.  Pres. Crayk had found a ham and it was delicious.  We spent the evening talking to our kids and grandkids on Skype.  Monday we picked up Kory and Carolyn and took them to the Carmelite convent, Santa Teresa.  They really enjoyed that.  We then walked down by the post office where there are a lot of souvenir shops so they could buy a few things to take home.  We had lunch together and said that we would meet them at the Tuesday’s for dinner around 6:00pm and then we would go with them to the music school, where Kory was going to be a guest conductor of one of the orchestras.  The Cardon’s went with us to dinner and the rehearsal. 
The orchestra.
Kory conducting the orchestra.
Kory teaching how to use the bow.
Tammie brought her violin and played with the orchestra.  Kory had the musicians eating out of his hands.  He is a great conductor.  For those of you that don’t know him, he was the assistant conductor of the Utah Symphony for years.  After the rehearsal Kory handed out BYU tee shirts to all the musicians.  The kids were really excited to get a tee shirt. 
Some of the students with their BYU tee shirts.
Some of the students with their BYU tee shirts.
Fito, the director of the music foundation.
Left to right, Bob and Tammie Cardon, Kory and Carolyn Katseanes, Mom and I after the rehearsal.
Tuesday, Kory called and asked if we had a Book of Mormon.  He had gone early to a TV station with the Director of the music foundation.  The director, Fito, had asked him why he did not smoke or drink coffee and alcohol.   He had explained to Fito that it is because a prophet had told us not to and that we believe in living prophets and we have a prophet and 12 apostles at the head of our church.  The conversation continued to the point to where he asked Fito if he would like to read the Book of Mormon and he said, “yes” and he also asked him if he would like to attend church.  He again said yes, so Kory said he would have the Norman’s come and take them to church on Sunday.  We of course said we had a BofM and they came up and got it and gave us Fito’s address.   We can’t wait for Sunday.  Thursday, we had a young man come with his parents to receive his endowment.  He is the last of 3 sons to go on a mission.  His mom and dad were so cute we just had to get a picture. 
Left to right, the new Elder, me, his dad, and his mom.
That same day a man, who is a bishop by Arequipa in Peru, in his 40’s and his sister and brother-in-law brought their parents to receive their endowments and to be sealed as a family for eternity.  His parents were from the countryside.  He had made the comment to his sister that they needed to get their mom and dad to the temple before it’s too late.  They are in their seventies and their mother was quite deaf and spoke little Spanish. 
From right to left, me, the father, his son, the wife, their daughter, her husband, from by Arequipa, Peru
It was a good day in the temple to be able to help these two families.  Friday, as we were out for our morning walk, I slipped and fell 3 times on the sidewalk (you would think after falling once I would have stopped walking).  It had just stopped raining and I had on a pair of shoes with a hard sole.  I really sprained my ankle and cut up and bruised my elbow.  After our shift Friday night, my ankle was really swollen and hurting.  I pretty much stayed off my feet Saturday.  It’s a good thing it was our day off.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 2nd through May 11th:

May 2nd through May 11th:  Other than Saturdays, the temple continues to have small sessions and this will continue for another month or two.  We can’t wait till their winter break when the kids will be out of school and we will begin to have large groups come from all over the temple district.  Last Saturday the 4th we had 2 large sessions, one at 6:30am and one at 7:00am.  Most of the patrons were from the newly formed Sacaba stake.  President Crayk had talked to the stake president about the possibility of having the temple missionaries come and participate in all of the sacrament meetings in his stake.  He was excited about the idea and they agreed on the week of May 19th.  The stake president called back the next day and said they could not wait and wanted us to come on the 12th.  So I got the assignment of dividing up all of the temple missionaries so we had 4 groups, each with a musical person, a Latin couple, a member of the Temple Presidency or our trainer Elder Perez, and then divide the rest with missionaries that can speak Spanish well and those that are working on learning Spanish.   Since I was making the assignments, I wanted the Cardon’s, so that Sister Cardon could pay her violin as our musical number.  The rest of the groups will have to sing together.  We had a meeting Sunday afternoon to explain all of this to the missionaries.  I think for the most part everyone is excited for the opportunity to try and help this stake improve their understanding of the temple and as a result their attendance.  We had decided to attend the University ward for our Sunday meetings, but Sunday morning as I was in the shower mom said she wanted to go to the Villa Moscu ward.  We rushed to get ready because it started an hour earlier than the one we had planned on attending.   We had a lovely testimony meeting and then we decided to attend the temple preparation class that the Cardon’s teach.  Bob had wanted to show a video on the temple and had brought his computer and everything, but had forgotten the DVD.  They only had one student who was planning on going the following week to the temple for his first time.  Bob and Tammie came on this mission not speaking any Spanish.  They had done a great job of learning the basics and for the most part can get by, but they struggle to understand and answer questions.  We had the opportunity to answer all the questions that this young man had about the temple and help get him a little better prepared.  On Friday we had the opportunity to attend the session with Bob and Tammie where this young man received his endowment.  We had a nice Sunday dinner at Pres. Crayk’s home with the Hurst, the Eames, and the Harrisons.  I cooked a beef roast.  The Crayk’s had been in Yacuiba the week before and had roast beef that was tender and Connie had asked how she had cooked it.  The secret was to soak the roast in grapefruit juice overnight and then cook it slowly with a lot of soy sauce.  I made a sauce with soy and rice vinegar.  It turned out very tender and now we know how to get the meat down here to not be so tough.  Monday the 6th we went to a dinner with the other members of the temple presidency and the Club Deseret, a group of temple workers, employees (gardeners, security, engineers, kitchen, laundry, and custodial).  They play soccer and have other activities.  There is a real friendship and love between all the workers at the temple. 

Mom and I waiting for the dinner to start.  We were on time which meant we were almost the only ones there.
Pres. Diaz and his wife, Pres. Crayk and his wife, me and my wife.  Dinner with Club Deseret.
Some of the people at the dinner of Club Deseret.
Mom and Sister Diaz at the dinner with Club Deseret.

They served Pique Mixto, beef tongue and chicken with a spicy sauce.  I was a good boy and ate all of my beef tongue, mom not so much.  It is a real favorite here.  Friday Pres. Crayk let us take the car to go and visit Willie Escobar, one of our shift coordinators, and his daughter who had been in the bus accident a few months ago.  We decided that the Hursts needed an adventure and so they went with us.  First we had to stop and buy a present for Ximena, Willie’s daughter; she has just gotten home from the hospital in La Paz.  Mom also bought a present for Dayana’s new baby daughter and her 1 ½ year old son, so he would not be so jealous of the baby’s present.  Dayana was one of the women that mom visited when we attended the Ticquipaya Ward.  I also had the opportunity to seal Dayana and her husband Rudy.  Our second stop was the Ticquipaya Ward House.  It is under renovation.

The basketball court is now where they are bending all the rebar for the footings.

The basketball court is now where they are bending all the rebar for the footings.
Me, the architect and mom.
The old chapel.
We will have our meetings in the Linde ward in the afternoon.  There will be a bus in the Tiquipaya square.  1:00 to 1:30
The field next to the Tiquipaya ward building.  They will build a larger building in this field and use the old building for offices and class rooms.

They will be constructing a larger building next to the old building to house a larger sacrament meeting room and more and larger classrooms.  It is much needed.  Next we stopped by Dayana’s home.  You can see by the pictures how humbly they live. 

Me, Casey, and Dayana in their kitchen.
Dayana's new 2 week old baby Casey.
Dayana and Rudi's kitchen.
Dayana and Rudi's kitchen.

She was so glad to see us and both mom and I got to hold her cute new baby.  Then it was on to Apote where Willie lives.  Willie was not there but we had seen him at church 2 weeks ago and we really wanted to see how Ximena was getting along.  It is a miracle she is even alive.  She seems to be in good spirits and it was her birthday.  We gave her a diary and some candy and colored pencils and pens.  Mom was so glad we were able to visit her and Dayana.  Thanks Pres. Crayk for letting us take your car.  Saturday we were on shift in the morning so we began our day at 5:45am.  We knew from last week that a lot of the Relief Society from the new Sacaba stake wanted to have an earlier session at 6:30am.  We put up 14 chairs and it started at 6:34am, not a bad start for the day.  The next session at 7:10am had 50.  We ended up our shift with 208 endowments, 17 new endowments, and 8 sealings.  I was helping in initiatory and I was looking into the face of the man and tears were rolling down his cheeks.  We had 4 sealings on the 10:30am session.  I assigned myself to do the sealings for the brother I had helped in initiatory.  It was so sweet, they had 2 small boys.  After the sealings he said to me with tears in his eyes “I will never forget you John Norman, thank you for everything.” Of course this reopened up my tear ducts as I gave him a big hug.  That makes everything good for at least a couple more months.  We got done at 2:30pm.  We were exhausted and hungry.  I had received a call earlier in the day.  In fact Pres. Crayk came in while I was giving the instructions to some new missionaries and said to me, “ you have a call from Salt Lake you have to take right now.”  The call was not from Salt Lake, it was from Kory Katseanes the director of the music department at BYU.  He is here in Cochabamba and had gotten our name from Kirt Saville who we had met in China and again here in Bolivia last year.  Kirt was the director of the music students from BYU that studied in Tianjin while we were there.  Kory is here with his wife Carolynn and BYU will be sending 5 music students here in July to teach music.  He wanted to get together and have dinner and talk.  We were more than happy to go to dinner with them.  We had a nice dinner and talk.  We were almost neighbors while we were raising our children.  They lived in the lower Aves.  Our kids probably knew each other. Small world don’t you think?  We will be taking them with us to church tomorrow.