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 29, 2014

May 22nd through May 28th

May 22nd through May 28th: Thursday, we worked in the office in the morning and then went back in the afternoon to help with the night shift.  Friday, we went over early to help with the buses that came from the stakes that no longer can attend the Mexico City temple.  We spent most of the day working in the office and we are still trying to get our minds around what it is that we need to know.  Saturday we were at the temple at 6:00am and I helped at the recommend desk for the first couple of hours.  We had 2 buses from Puebla and it is quite a job to organize everyone.  President Atkinson has worked out a way to organize everyone outside the temple with a ticket for a session and we only let people in as we can handle them.  It went very smoothly and we got everyone in the temple and it was not chaos.  We got done late afternoon and went downtown with the Allreds and Roseberrys to eat dinner.  On the way to dinner we heard and then saw a mini Guelaguetza in one of the plazas.  

A mini Guelaguetza.
A mini Guelaguetza.
A mini Guelaguetza.

The Guelaguetza is a festival in July where many different dancing groups from all over the region come and perform here in Oaxaca.  We look forward to going to it this year.  The temple is closed during this festival. 

One of the many beautiful churches here in Oaxaca.

Dinner was fun and we went back to the Roseberry’s apartment and played cards—“hand and foot”.  We thought of the Jackmans.  We then taught them 5 Crowns. 

Dinner downtown at a nice restaurant.

Thanks Glenn and Helen Kennedy for teaching us this game.  We bought new cards to bring-- yours were worn out from so much use in Bolivia.  The Roseberrys were serving in the Mexico City temple, but were transferred here when it closed for renovation.  They will be going home in a few weeks and then we will have no one to play cards with.  Sunday, I got up early and starting cutting up veggies so I could cook Chinese dinner for all the North Americans.  We went to church with the Allreds and attended the Sunday school class and the priesthood/relief society classes of one ward and then the sacrament meeting of the next ward.  That got us home just before 1:00pm and everyone was coming for dinner at 2:00pm. 

A primary choir for ward conference.

I was a basket case trying to get 2 dishes finished, but with the help of my favorite sous chef,  we made it just in time.  Everyone said they liked the food and of course we had plenty of leftovers.  Jan Roseberry makes a great pecan pie and Allreds brought an apple pie.  So we had pie and ice cream for dessert. 

Sunday dinner at our house. L to R mom, Clyde Allred, Lora Sue Allred, Pres. Don Atkinson, Kathy Atkinson, Jan Roseberry, and Greg Roseberry.

Monday was a really fun day; we started at 8:00am and drove out to Atzompa.  This is a ruin on the top of a hill/ mountain about 30 minutes northwest of the temple.  It really does sit right on the edge of the city.  Monte Alban, the most famous ruin close to Oaxaca is directly south of Atzompa.  We climbed to the top in about 45 minutes, stopping along the way to look at the different levels of buildings.  They had signs along the way in both Spanish and English to explain the different building and what they had been used for.  This site was recently excavated and opened to the public in 2012.  They even had a small museum. 

This is everyone who went on the field trip to Atzompa.
Atzompa with Monte Alban in the distance.
You can see Oaxaca city in the background.
The ball court.
I like my new camera especially the zoom. Thanks John and Jill.
This is a better view of Monte Alban, it sits on top of the hill in the distance.
This is a good view of Oaxaca City in the distance.
We had many friends to share the area with.
Mom in the main plaza.
The main plaza.
The pottery kiln is exactly like the one they use today in the town of Atzompa.
Housing complex.
L to R.  Jan and Greg Roseberry and me.
Our fearless leader, Pres. Don Atkinson.

We then stopped at an artisans market in the little town of Santa Maria de Atzompa and bought some pottery and ate lunch in the little restaurant that was attached to the market.  It was really good food and very inexpensive.  I had my first black mole chicken.  We got home about 2:00pm. 

Lunch after our hiking around Atzompa.

The Roseberrys came over for leftovers (Chinese).  After dinner we played a quick game of 5 Crowns and then went over to Pres. Atkinson’s home for family home evening.  We had a wonderful power-point presentation from Chris Pavey, a member and a Canadian, living with his wife here in Oaxaca.  He has done a lot of reading and followed the research about where the Book of Mormon could have taken place.  When I grew up, people thought that all of South American and Central America were Book of Mormon lands.  But so many different civilizations have been discovered and the archeological research just doesn’t back that up.  Now many scholars are focused on the area of Guatamala as the place where Nephi first landed and they then spread to Chiapas and the Yucatan and Mexico.  We are really close to Chiapas and so the dating of Monte Alban fits the Nephite era.   Brother Pavey also taught us the Mayan dating system which was interesting.  Tuesday began at 8:00 for me with a meeting with the FM (physical management) group and at 10:00 the presidency meeting.  Chris met with the sisters and then they joined us at 12:00 for the last hour.  Long meetings!!  I had made sandwiches for lunch and we then worked in the office for several hours.  I came home to work and Chris stayed for a session.  When she got out it was pouring and she hadn’t taken an umbrella.  The streets were like rivers and I was soaked up to my knees by the time I got to the temple.  We waded home.  My shoes still aren’t dry. 

The rainy season is upon us.

Wednesday we went for a walk on a nearby track and then had breakfast at a tiny, family run eatery.  Good pancakes and fresh orange juice.  I went to the temple and Mom puttered around the apartment.  After lunch, we both went back to the temple to work in the office until 7:00pm.  Chris developed a pain in her chest and it just got worse.  She couldn’t lie down and I was afraid she was having a heart attack.  I read her all the symptoms from the internet, but she said none of them fit.  She took 4 ibuprofen and tried to get comfortable at a 45 degree angle.  She thinks she might have torn or pulled a chest muscle.  We are very comfortable here and enjoy all that we are doing.

Mom put up some art from some of our grandkids to remind us of
home. (to help make her homesick)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 15th through May 21st

May 15th through May 21st:  Thursday morning found us trying to finish packing and cleaning our bedroom and bath.  Mom insisted on leaving things very neat and tidy.  We left for the airport about 8:00am.

"All our bags are packed we're ready to go."
"We're leavin on a jet plane don't know when will be back again."

We first flew to Houston and then had a short delay leaving Houston.  We arrived and cleared customs about 10:00pm.  President and Sister Atkinson met us at the airport and drove us to our apartment.  It is in a residential area across the street from the temple.  (Unfortunately the street is a 6 lane highway, so we cross very carefully.)  The Church build a 4-plex ten years ago when they built the temple.  The mission president for Oaxaca has a house across from us.  Our apartment is very nice. We have a king size bed, our own washer and dryer and the rooms are much bigger than the apartment we had in Bolivia.  We will be very comfortable and content here. 

The front of our apartment.  It is a 4 plex and we are on the end.
Our front room and dinning.
Our bedroom.
Our king bed. This beats the twins beds we had in Cochabamba.
Our bathroom, very roomy.
Our kitchen.

Friday morning we started at 9:00 at the apartment of Pres. Atkinson.  He had a big binder prepared for each of us with all the information that we will need to do our jobs here.  He spent 3 hours going through the binder and then we went and had a tour of the temple and then we went to lunch with Pres. Atkinson, his wife, Cathy, Pres. Allred and his wife.  Clyde Allred is the first counselor and his wife, Lora Sue, is an assistant to the matron.

This is the temple in Oaxaca.

We spent much of the afternoon shopping for groceries and things for the apartment.  In the evening we unpacked and put things away.  Saturday we had free and we went to Walmart and tried to get everything we forgot to get on Friday.  In the afternoon, we went to the temple to meet some of the missionaries and workers and Chris met one of the secretaries she will be working with.  Sunday I went to a meeting with Pres. Atkinson and Pres. Allred at the temple with one of the stake presidents from here in Oaxaca.  We then came and got Chris and went to a ward where Pres. Atkinson spoke.  He was the only speaker in Sacrament meeting and he reminds me of Pres. Crayk, the way he can get everyone involved and then teach them.  We stayed for all the meetings. 

Sacrament Meeting.  Can you find mom?

We fixed a light dinner and then went over to the temple to be set apart.  This was very special.  Pres. Atkinson set us apart and then gave us time to make notes about our impressions.  He told me I was a man without guile.  I was very moved by his blessing.  We then had a two hour meeting in the temple with all the coordinators.  I was set apart as an ordinance worker and the executive secretary to the temple presidency.  So I took the minutes and made notes of the meeting.  Monday we again met with Pres. Atkinson in his home and he finished our orientation.  We then went to the FM (Facility Management) offices.  There we found a desk we can use in our apartment.  One of the workers then took us to buy a cell phone.  Pres. Atkinson and his wife then took us to immigration to find out exactly what we need to do to get our temporary residency visas.  We then ate lunch together on the main square. 

Lunch on the main square with Pres. Atkinson and his wife, Kathy.  The older man is our waiter 82 years old.

They left us downtown and we walked through the big market there.  We took a taxi home and found that our desk had been delivered. 

My new desk.

We don’t have internet yet, but they bought us a stick that we can use until the internet is installed.  This only works for email and a little bit of web browsing.  We will still need to steal our neighbor’s internet for Skype and such.  We got together with all the North Americans at Pres. Atkinson’s home for dinner and some wonderful pecan pie that Sister Roseberry made.  They will only be here for a few more weeks. 

Dinner at Pres. Atkinson's home.  L to R.  Mom, Jan Roseberry, Pres. Atkinson, Kathy Atkinson, LoraSue Allred, Greg Roseberry and Clyde Allred.

Tuesday, I started at 8:00am with Pres. Atkinson at a meeting of all the employees who work at the temple.  It was a 2 hour meeting where I had to take minutes of all the tasks/assignments for each employee--which ones they got done and then I will update the ones that were added.  Next was a 3 hour presidency meeting, and again I took notes and minutes.  After 5 hours of meetings, my brain hurt from all the translating from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. I was trying to keep track of so many things.  I will have to do the minutes and send them to everyone.  We took a short break for a quick bite to eat and then went back to the temple to work on learning all the procedures and computer programs before Pres. Allred and his wife leave in July.  I got home at 6:00pm but Chris stayed to help with one of the sessions and didn’t get home till 7:30pm.  We are trying not to feel overwhelmed, but we can see that we will be stretched to meet needs and expectations of this assignment. Wednesday, it is 5:00am and I just felt an earthquake.  It woke Chris up so it was a pretty good one.  We went to the temple about 8:00am and mom worked in the office all morning and I got to officiate the session.  It has been almost a year since I have done a session and I made a few mistakes.  We did a little more grocery shopping on the way home for lunch.  We made BLT sandwiches.  The bacon was pretty good and I was a little surprised by that.  We went back to the temple in the afternoon and tried to get our arms around some more of what we have to learn about how the office runs.  Each shift has a secretary and mom spends a lot of time with each one learning what they do.  I finally got my ldschurch email account set up.  It is the only one I can access while in the temple.  We had a debriefing meeting with pres. Atkinson at his house in the evening and he told us that we had better breath while we are swimming.  That means take it easy and don’t overwork ourselves.  We feel like we are trying to drink from a fire house.  The Allreds will only be here for 5 more weeks and I still have to learn everything about the recorders job.  We will set our own schedule until we have a handle on everything.  There is another missionary couple from Mexico that has spent all their time contacting stake presidents and scheduling the temple.  They contact them and find out how many they are bringing to the temple and when they will arrive and they are responsible for filling the temple.  They leave in July and guess who is going to take over their responsibilities.  They are away for the next week so I can’t even think about that until they get back.  We ended the day with a visit from Doctor Morales who gave me a prescription to get my blood checked.  So I have got to do that tomorrow.  Also we need to get pictures taken for our visa.  Pray that we learn how to swim and breathe at the same time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 7th through May 14th:

May 7th through May 14th:  This last week has been jam-packed with lots of goodbye dinners and family activities.  Wednesday we spent the day buying last minute things and packing.  In the afternoon we went to Evan’s, Charlotte’s oldest son, second grade class and talked and showed pictures about Bolivia.  They were so energetic and interested in what we had to say. 

Evan's class.

Thursday, I made the last trip to the storage unit and somehow got about 10 more boxes in.  We had boxed up a lot of the things we had been using in our bedroom.  The stake presidency came over at 6:00pm to set us apart.  We had invited our children to come and be with us.  Ginny, in California, had to attend via Skype, but was with us none the less.  President Lake asked us to bear our testimonies after we were set apart and I got to talk to most of our grandchildren about why we want to serve another mission.  I explained it was because we knew we would be taught more about how we can return and live with our Father in Heaven and that I wanted to be able to teach them the things I learned because I wanted them to be with me in heaven.  It was a very sweet experience and the setting aparts and blessings were very personalized and helped us both get ready to serve. 

R to L  Pres. Gibbons, Pres. Lake, Pres. Child, mom and me.
We got to put on our name tags after being set apart.

We then had pizza and root bear floats for dinner.  We ended with one last family prayer that I got to give.  Friday, we went to Miles’ kindergarten program at school.  They sang all about what they had learned and done all year.  It was very cute and fun to be included. 

Miles and his program.

I had one last dentist appointment to see how my implant is doing.  He is worried that it won’t take and so he made me a flapper.  This is a kind of bridge in case the implant has to come so that one of my front teeth is not missing.  We went to dinner at Wally and Martha Cooper’s house.  They are dear friends from when we lived on Capitol Hill when we were first married.  He is restoring another house on Quince Street and it was fun to walk through it and see what all he is doing.  He is a perfectionist and is sparing no expense.  We talked and talked and didn’t get home until 10:30pm.  I know it is shocking that I stayed up so late!
L to R Wally, Martha Cooper and mom.
Saturday, I got up early and went to John’s house and made Swedish pancakes for them.  I hurried back and did the same thing at Charlotte’s.  The grandkids love it when I will make pancakes for them.  We then hurried over to Woods Cross High for Ellie’s (John’s daughter) dance dress rehearsal.  She was a darling lady bug.  She was so excited and it was fun to watch her. 

Ellie as the lady bug.
Ellie is the one on the right end with the very pointed toes.

We finished packing and then checked into the Radisson Hotel in Salt Lake City.  Charles and Jeanie Bennett, old friends from our ward on 17th Avenue picked us up and took us to dinner.  It was a lovely evening and so enjoyable to talk and catch up with them.  I was their home teacher for over 15 years.  Most of their children only have memories of me as their home teacher.  They are a great family and great friends.  We love them. 

L to R. Charles, Jennie, mom and me.

Sunday, we got up and went to Music and the Spoken Word at the tabernacle on Temple Square.  It was nice to be there for mother’s day and Chris thought a lot about her mother and the many years that she sang in the Choir. 

At the tabernacle.
After Music and the Spoken Word these sweet sisters from all over the world were introducing themselves to the crowds in their native tongue.

We then hurried up to LDS Hospital and attended sacrament meeting with my brother Van and his wife Maude.  They are assigned to that dependent branch.  They love those meetings--30 minutes long.  We then went out to Kate’s house and went to Relief Society Meeting with her.  She was teaching and had asked mom to help her with her lesson.  So mom talked and bore her testimony at the close of her lesson.  It was a beautiful lesson and full of the Spirit.  We then drove to Charlotte’s and worked on getting dinner ready.  We took all the food over to John’s house and cooked there.  We cooked salmon for everyone, for one last family dinner.    We enjoyed so much being with our kids, except Ginny, who is in California.  

Sunday dinner.
Sunday dinner.

We played some CEO (card game) to finish off the evening.  James then drove us back to the hotel.  He then drove our car to his house to store it for the next 18 months.  We had a very busy day but it was filled with so much joy and happiness for us.  Monday, we reported to the temple at 8:00am and spent the day being instructed by our old temple president and his wife, President and Sister Walker.  We served under them for the 3 years that they presided over the Salt Lake Temple.  She is the oldest daughter of President Hinckley and she is so fun and entertaining.  The big take away was to treat everyone with “loving kindness” and to be careful of “temple drift”.  This is a term they used to describe rules that have no purpose and inhibit the Spirit.  An example: in Bolivia they said that the sisters could not wear their name tags if they were representing a deceased person during an ordinance.  This is a made-up rule by someone, but in fact is not a rule.  There were many examples of “temple drift”.  Before dinner Charlotte’s family visited us at our hotel. 

Miles, Evan and me taking our picture in the mirror of our hotel room.

Then Tom Stites picked us up and we had dinner with him and his wife, Merritt.  Merritt is a very dear friend and colleague of Chris’.  They met in graduate school and had a clinical practice together for 17 years.  They are very fun and interesting and we loved being with them one last time.  They promised to come and visit us in Oaxaca next January. 

L to R, me, Tom, Merritt and mom.

Tuesday, we spent the day in the temple again and enjoyed the instruction and Spirit of this work.  We had had to cancel a dinner appointment with Paul and Liz Belnap because Paul is a Bishop and had a meeting with the Stake President come up.  So I convinced Chris that we should walk to Crown Burger for one last burger.  She had agreed if I would first walk through the Church History Museum.  While we were at the museum, Paul called and said that his meeting had been moved back and asked if we could leave right then for dinner.  So he picked us up and Liz got to the restaurant and ordered before we got there.  We sat down and they brought the food.  Paul had to leave right after dinner but we chatted with Liz for a time and then she drove us back to Salt Lake and our hotel.  We loved seeing these dear friends.  Paul was my best man and best friend in High School.  We traveled through Europe together after High School Graduation.  We have traveled to Mexico together with our families.  They are our oldest and dearest friends and we love them. 

L to R. me, mom, Liz and Paul Belnap.

Wednesday, our last day in temple training was wonderful.  We even got a tour of the temple.  To go up to the 5th floor and see the Solemn Assembly room and the room where James E. Talmadge wrote Jesus the Christ is not only interesting, but it is inspiring.  The workmanship and beauty of that temple is so wonderful. 

Beautiful flowers and we are ready to go.

We were done early and Charlotte came and picked us up.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening packing.  I had left my glasses at the temple so we also made a quick trip to Salt Lake to get them.  I can’t believe I forgot them.  Am I getting old or what?  It is early in the morning and we get on a plane in a few hours.  Oaxaca here we come.