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, June 26, 2014

June 19th through June 25th

June 19th through June 25th: Thursday we went to the temple for a couple of hours in the morning and then we had to go to immigration to be finger printed for our temporary resident visa.  This took a couple of hours.  Everything is now done and we just have to wait for the card and it should only take a week or so.  Not as bad as the battle to get a visa in Bolivia, but still a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy.  We were back to the temple by noon and worked till about 3, took a break for lunch and then I was the sealer for the evening shift and Mom worked in the office.  Friday I was at the temple before 6:00am to be the Entrance Coordinator--new job and title.  I met with the leader of the group that came by bus and helped him organize his people into the different groups that we needed in order to get them all into the temple in an orderly fashion.  By 7:20am, we had about 90 people in their proper places.  This is a little temple, but with the Mexico City members, we have to function like a big temple and accommodate a lot of people all at once.  This requires some unique organization.  I got the official word that I have been approved to be the assistant recorder and can now be granted access to the programs that I need to manage all the technical aspects and reports of the recorders job.  I was the backup sealer and did 2 sessions of sealings in the morning. I also registered my first new patron.  I had never done this and the secretary did not show up and so I was on my own.  I made a few mistakes, but in the end I got the right papers printed and he made the session on time.  Mom was on a different shift because she was filling in as the secretary for the afternoon shift, so she wasn’t there to help me.  She is much further along on the registering process than I am.  I also performed a marriage.  (See the picture)

One of the couples that got married this week.
One of the couples that got married this week.

It was a very busy morning and I was running from one thing to another.  Mom worked till about 5:00pm.  I spent the afternoon watching World Cup.  Mexico won their game so everyone here is happy.  Saturday I went early and was once again the Entrance Coordinator and after everyone was in the temple I went home.  Chris had not yet gone over and when I told her that the big group that was supposed to come had canceled and Pres. Allred had said that we should take the rest of the day off, she was delighted.  We went to Walmart for some groceries and she spent at least 3 hours working on her talk for Sunday.  We invited the Sorcias and the Allreds to come to Sunday dinner.  I had seen a recipe for a slow cooked pork roast on Facebook and it looked real good so I made another trip to Walmart for some things we didn’t have.  We also made a trip downtown to try and get more acquainted with where everything is so we won’t feel lost when Ginny and her family come in about 3 weeks.

Mom exploring Oaxaca.

Lots of great architecture.
This is the courtyard of the public library.
Lots of great architecture.
I did a whole blog on the doors of Sucre and Potasi. Maybe I should do one on the doors of Oaxaca.

Sunday we gave our talks in 2 different sacrament meetings.  When they were over I think we felt relieved that they were over, but also happy that they went well and the Spirit was definitely present.  It is fun to testify of Christ and His church.  It makes us feel like we are really missionaries.  We got home and the house smelt wonderful.  The sauce had honey and garlic and basil.  I didn’t have any basil so I used oregano.  It turned out ok, everyone said it was good, but I would only give it a 5 or 6.  I think I could make up a better recipe and I will next time try mine own recipe.  Mom had made a cheese cake pie and the Sorcias also brought a pie.  So we did not say anything about ours, but in the evening we had the Allreds back over for more pie. 

Sunday dinner, L to R Elder and Sister Sorcia, Sister and Pres. Allred,  and mom and me.

Monday, we made a trip to Office Depot to buy name tags for the restricted workers that come from the new stakes.  We then went downtown and visited a couple of museums.  We want to know which ones are worth taking time to see when Ginny and family are here.  We found a really good one with pre Hispanic pottery pieces and glyphs. We came home and had leftovers for lunch.

Downtown you can see the neighborhoods that are growing up the hillsides.
One of the many churches in Oaxaca.
I think there are more than 25 churches in Oaxaca.
One of the glyphs in the museum.
A serpent head.
Lots of great architecture.
Lots of great architecture.

Tuesday, I was at the temple at 7:00am working on agendas.  We had the FM meeting and the Presidency meeting and I got done about 1:30pm.  Mom left early and went and got a haircut.  We went back and worked from3:30pm till 7:00pm. It had been raining lightly all afternoon, but when we left the temple it started to really come down hard.  Mom got too close to the road and got drenched by a passing bus and by the time we got home we were both soaked to the skin and had to wash everything we had had on.  Wednesday we went to the temple and worked the morning shift.  I am the assigned the sealer for the shift and I did about one and a half hours of sealings.  I went back over in the afternoon and worked with Pres. Allred.  He is trying to get me up to speed on the recorders duties before he leaves next week.  Thankfully there is a help line I can call 24/7.  We went back in the evening and attended a session.  I got access to all the programs except one and they are going to call back on that one.  The weeks are flying by and we are starting to feel more comfortable with our duties and things are not so overwhelming.  Tomorrow the new mission president arrives and we can only imagine how the two of them must feel.  They will live directly across the street from us and we hope to become good friends with them.

Just outside our front door.
Just outside our front door. 4 days later.
Just outside our front door.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 12th through June 18th:

June 12th through June 18th: Thursday morning we went downtown and visited the big market there.  We bought a few vegetables and a big bowl. 

Some of the beautiful fruit in the Market.
Mom in the Market.
Mangos anyone?
Yes those are bugs, crickets I think.  Although they call them grasshoppers.
We bought a hand made plate from this woman.

It is kind of a crazy place and you wonder if you could ever find the same vender the next time you are there. We took a taxi home and went to work in the temple from 10:30am till 6:00pm.  I was the sealer for the afternoon shift.  Friday morning we walked to a big grocery store we had never been to before.  I bought some salchicha (sausage) for breakfast and mom stocked up on the everyday things we needed.  We worked in the temple from 12:30pm till 7:00pm.  We had bought a movie off the street when we were downtown and we watched it.  You could hear laughter from the audience during the movie and parts of it were kind of dark.  I guess we know where it came from, but it was only $1.  Saturday, we got to the temple at 6:30am and helped get the big group that had arrived into the temple.  They didn’t need me to stay and be a second sealer so we went home and I cooked the eggplant we had bought at the market.  We invited Pres. Atkinson and his wife for lunch. 

President and Sister Atkinson, Chinese anyone?

I had made one of my favorite Chinese dishes and I also cooked chicken wings.  It was really delicious.  I made a “Winger’s” sauce and also a honey mustard sauce for the wings.  We then went back and worked from noon till 5:00pm.  I got to do 2 sessions of sealings.  One session lasts about an hour.  We then had the Roesberrys and the Allreds over for leftover Chinese and leftover refried beans and chips.  We then played 5 crowns.  Sister Roesberry won.  She was happy because it was the first time she has won.  They leave next Tuesday.  We will sure miss them.  Sunday we went to church with the Allreds.  We went to a ward house that has 3 wards attending in the same building.  We attended the first ward at 8:00am and afterward I was introduced to the Bishop and I mentioned that we would be glad to speak in sacrament meeting sometime.  He asked, “How about next week?”  I, of course, said, “sure” and left to find the other 2 bishops.  We got to talk to both.  We were about to leave, when the bishop of the ward that starts their block at 10:00am, invited us to attend his ward’s sacrament meeting and he asked if we could speak in his ward next week also.  So we will speak in 2 sacrament meetings next week.  But at least we can use the same talk.  As missionaries it is fun to be able to bear our testimonies.  One of the counselors in the bishopric is from Cochabamba.  After talking to him for 5 minutes, he said, “All this talk about Bolivia has made me homesick.”  We had dinner at the Allred’s apartment.  Sister Allred made some really good enchiladas.  I then headed over to the temple to work on an agenda for the Coordinators meeting that started at 4:00pm and right after we had a meeting with all the secretaries.  We got home about 7:00pm.  We got to see almost all of our kids on Skype or Face Time.  It sure is nice to be able to talk and see the grandkids.  Mom has been sending emails back and forth with Badger and Moose.  Monday, President Atkinson took us to Walmart.  Then all the North Americans went to lunch out in the country, by Etla.  There is a huge buffet that is really famous.

This is the restaurant with the huge buffet.


Some of the serving lines at the buffet.
Lunch, we are so full we can't get up.

We all ate too much, but the food was really good.  We did walk around the gardens before heading home.

The gardens we walked through after lunch.


The gardens again.

We finished off with a good-bye family home evening for the Roesberrys and the Allreds.  Sister Sorcia made pasta and mom made a cake and cookies.  None of us who had gone to the buffet wanted to eat, but we all had to have some of her pasta.  So I ended up with heart burn and reflux all night.  I just can’t eat late at night.  I should have used that as an excuse not to eat. 

Dinner and the despedida (goodbye party).
The end of a great P-Day. L to R, Elder and Sister Sorcia, Pres. and Sister Allred, Pres. and Sister Atkinson, Jan and Greg Roesberry, and Pres. and Sister Serrano.

Tuesday, I was at the temple at 6:30am working on agendas for the FM Group meeting and the Presidency meeting.  I ran the FM meeting because Pres. Atkinson had to take the Roesberrys to the airport.  We finished with the presidency meeting about 1:00pm, but didn’t get home for lunch till 2:30pm and we were back at the temple at 3:30pm working on the list of action items from the morning’s meetings.  We called it a day at 5:30pm and then met up with Pres. Atkinson and Pres. Allred and their wives for a movie.  We saw Maleficent.  Wednesday, we worked in the temple in the morning.  I spent 3 hours with Pres. Atkinson rewriting the “Procedures’’ manual.  We got home at 1:30 and I cooked a new batch of refried beans.  Now I am blogging.  The weeks are flying by and I am starting to feel a little more in control of things.  I still don’t have access to the recorders programs and websites.  I should have access this week.  In addition to being the executive secretary, I am the assistant recorder. Pres. Allred leaves the 3rd of July and he still has to get me up and running with all the recorder’s duties . I will also be the IT guy.  If anything in the office doesn’t work, I have to know how to fix it.  Sam will you be on call?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 5th through June 11th

June 5th through June 11th: Thursday morning we had to go to the mission office and finish filling out papers to get a temporary resident visa.  We then went downtown to immigration to submit the paperwork for the new visas.  While in the office we asked for some reference cards and some Book of Mormons.  I gave away my first BofM and got a reference in the taxi with the office Elders on the way downtown. This took us till about noon so we took the two office elders that had accompanied us to immigration to lunch.  Subway sandwiches on the Zocolo.  Pretty much the same as the states and we could tell it was a treat for the elders.  One said that he had only eaten there one time before and that it would be considered for the missionaries an expensive lunch.  We worked in the temple the afternoon and evening.  I am assigned to be the sealer on the afternoon shift on Thursdays.  I only had one sealing session, but still what a privilege.  Friday we got to the temple about 6:00am and stayed till 3:00pm.  We took a lunch and ate in the waiting room.  They have a small kitchen for the workers and a couple of tables to eat at.  I got to do my first live sealing.  There were two couples on the same session and President Allred asked which one I wanted to do.  I said the one with the two little boys.  One was 12 and the other about 9.  It was a sweet experience and is a real highlight to my day.  Chris needs to tell you about answering the phone.   One of my assignments in the office is to answer the phone.  I always say a little prayer before I answer, hoping that I will be able to understand what they are calling for.  Usually it is to confirm the time their ward or stake has been assigned to come to the temple or to make an appointment for their own endowment or sealing.  This is a typical conversation.  “Este es president  ????? Netualli ?????? de estaca  Hultalco ????????”  “Good morning, president, what were you calling about?”    “?????? missioneros????? En Julio”   “Oh, you have two new missionaries coming to the temple (this is totally a guess on my part, but I grab hold of whatever word I’ve understood.)  Then is gets really complicated as I try to enter names, phone numbers, and emails into the computer. “Ok, Alvaro ???? Nochixtlan has been assigned to the Mexico ???? mission.  Could you say that again?”  “Your email is pepe what?  Could you repeat that?  Could you spell that?”  One of the funniest moments was this very nice bishop trying to tell me his email and he kept saying “jeem”, just like in English. For the life of me, I could not understand what he was saying.  Finally I asked a member to talk to him.  He was trying to tell me “gym”, just like in English.  The Zapotec names are really a challenge:  Ixtlan, Cacahuatepec, Juxtlahuaca, Teposcolula.  Even when they spell them I don’t know if I’ve got them right.  But little by little I am learning to recognize them.  And people are very patient with me. We worked most of the day in the temple.  I just asked mom what we did when we got home and she said we probably came home and died.  We were really tired. Saturday it was about the same, 7:00am till 4:00pm. But in the evening we went to the Roesberry’s apartment for dinner.  They had bought ribs from Sam’s Club and had invited us to help them devour the delicious ribs.  We then played 5 crowns.  It was do fun to be with them.  They leave on the 17th and we will miss them so much.  Sunday, President Atkinson invited us to attend sacrament meeting with him.  He had been invited to the Etla Ward, which is north of Oaxaca on the way to Mexico City.  It took us about 45 minutes to get there and even though we had a map we flagged down a taxi and paid him to show us where the chapel was.  It was a beautiful building and I am sorry we did not take any pictures.  It was a real ward about 250 people in attendance and most were there when the meeting started.  Pres. talked in sacrament meeting about the children of Israel who would not look at the brass serpent on the end of Moses’ staff to be cured from the bites of the flying serpents, because it was too simple a thing and they did not believe they would be cured. He likened that to us today who will not believe that we will find answers to the challenges and problems in our lives in the temple.  He then taught Sunday school and taught about how to pray and get answers and then how to use those same principles while we are in the temple.  He is master teacher and reminds me of President Crayk.  We came home and fixed dinner.  I had to be at the temple at 4:00pm.  President Atkinson arrived with Elder De Hoyos and thus started our temple review.  Every 3 years, once during each temple president’s time, the church assigns one of the general authorities to visit the temple for 3 days and then make a report to the temple department on how the temple is doing.  We don’t know exactly what they are looking for, nor do we get to see the report, but we have a pretty good idea how he felt at the end of his stay with us.  At 5:00pm we had a meeting with all of the sealers.  There were 4 local men who are sealers, all of which have been members of temple presidencies, me and the current temple presidency.  Elder De Hoyos gave us some great counsel about listening to the Spirit and making sure we are worthy to receive inspiration.  Next was a meeting with all the local church leaders and then the last meeting was for all the members who held a current temple recommend.  Monday we started the day at 8:00am with an inspection of the gardens and temple.  This lasted for 2 hours.  I took notes and made a list of things we should think about implementing.  As the executive secretary to the temple presidency I was invited to all the meetings.  We then had an administration meeting from 10:00 to noon.  Mom was in charge of lunch and we had Miguel cater lunch.  He runs a little restaurant that most Americans would consider a hole in the wall because it a store front with a roll up door and then the tables are on the side walk.  But the food was great and mom added snicker doodles for desert and they were a hit.  After lunch we worked in the office while Elder De Hoyos interviewed the entire presidency and their wives.  He then observed all the ordinances.  We had to make assignments for this because the temple is closed on Mondays.  We came home and washed the dishes from lunch and helped get ready for dinner.  We had dinner at Pres. Atkinson’s home.  It was again catered.  10 people for 100 dollars.  Tuesday we had our last meeting, finishing up at noon.  We took pictures and again Miguel catered lunch and mom made apple crisp for desert. 
L to R Pres. and Sister Serrano, Elder and Sister De Hoyos, Pres. and Sister Atkinson, Pres. and Sister Allred, and mom and me.
Elder and Sister De Hoyos with Mom and me
This was another home run for mom.  Elder De Hoyos left us with the impression that we should continue doing what we are doing and that this temple has raised the bar for what is “temple standard”.  This temple appears to be new, but it is 14 years old and the gardens are beautiful.  We had Presidency meeting after lunch and then we took the car and all the dirty dished home and washed everything.  We made a quick trip to the grocery store and mom found a couple of bathroom rugs she liked so we bought them.  We took the car back to Pres. Atkinson at the temple and we walked home.  Wednesday, we went to the temple in the morning and I was assigned as the sealer for the shift.  I got one sealing session in and then had to go to the FM Group meeting.  This is all the managers of the different groups, Cleaning, Maintenance and the Ground Keepers that keep the temple running.  We then finished the morning shift and came home for lunch.  I made Sweet and Sour Chicken and we invited Pres. and Sister Allred to join us.  We went back and worked the late shift.  President wanted me there to be a backup sealer.  We ended up having 2 sealing sessions going on in both of the sealing rooms, so I felt useful.  Mom worked in the office.  We got home about 9:00pm.  It was a long day but I felt like I had made a difference.  Sorry it was a very busy week and I did not take a lot of pictures. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

May 29th through June 4th

May 29th through June 4thThursday, I started the day with Pres. Atkinson inspecting the gardens and the temple.  We were with the gardener, the worker in charge of cleaning and the FM manager in charge of the temple.  We were looking for things that needed to be done before the temple review on the 7, 8, and 9 of June.  Elder De Hoyos will be coming to do the review.  He will be the area president come July.  While we were doing our inspection, the rest of the missionaries were helping clean the temple.  Every Thursday that we don’t have a group from outside of Oaxaca, we help clean the temple.  About 10:00a.m, a group of people showed up with a bride and groom to be sealed.  Somehow we had missed their reservation and so we were scrambling to put the temple back together in order to take care of this group.  Within this group were 2 ex-temple presidents.  There needed to be a session because the young man that was going to be sealed needed to receive his endowment first.  It was our first wedding here in Oaxaca.  They seemed so happy after their sealing. 
The wedding that showed up during the cleaning of the temple.  It was fun to help them.

We finished up about 2:00pm and went home and had lunch.  We went back to the temple and worked till 7:00pm.  By then my back was hurting from being at the computer.  We needed a good night sleep because we had to be back at the temple at 6:00am on Friday.  Friday ended up the best day ever.  We started at the temple at 6:00am and we had 2 buses arrive early.  The temple was very busy, but everything ran very smoothly.  We went home at about 11:30am to have lunch and we were back at the temple from 2:00pm till 5:30pm.  I got to officiate another session.  After the session, President Atkinson said to me, “Congratulations”.  I responded, “For what?”  He then explained that he had received that day a letter signed by Pres. Monson and only Pres. Monson that activated my sealing authority so that I can be a sealer here in Oaxaca.  He gave me the letter.  He also said that our daughter can stay in one of the empty apartments in July when they come.  Hooray.  Then to make it even better, he let us take his car to Walmart.  But the thing that toped it all off was when we got home, our fast internet had been installed.  Chris had to use it to call a few people and I am so glad that mom is really feeling a lot better and we are sure that she just had a bad pulled muscle. Saturday, we went for a long walk in the morning and then I cooked enchilada sauce and made refried beans. 

Thanks Mark and Linda for the goggles.  Me cooking re-fried beans.

I also cooked some chorizo with veggies and eggs for breakfast.  I haven’t made my salsa yet and it needed a good salsa.  We went and worked in the temple from 11:30am to 6:30pm and I got to do my first sealings.  The group also had some family names that needed to be done, so I got to do them. 

Mom got to dress these two for the sealing to their parents.

Sunday, we went to church with the Allreds again.  I bore my testimony in church and talked about the importance of worshiping in the temple and that we can find answers to our challenges as we attend the temple. We were invited to their house for dinner and it was pot luck.  So I used my refried beans and enchilada sauce to make chicken enchiladas.  I also made salsa.  We sat around and talked to them for a couple of hours.  We discovered that we had ancestors in Nauvoo that lived across the street from each other.  Then we called each one of our kids.  It was so fun to see them and to talk to all of our grandkids that would come to the computer.  Monday, We lost our internet.  Waaah,

 I went over to the temple to check on the missionaries that we had arranged to help plant flowers.  It is time to change out some of the flowers that are dying.  We got President Leyva to send over some of the young missionaries to help us Monday and Tuesday. 

President and the missionaries planting roses.

We then went shopping at Sam’s Club.  We don’t have a membership, but the Allreds do and we went with them.  Then we went downtown to explore.  We visited a number of churches and then had lunch on the Zocolo.

Mom outside the church we visited on Monday.

One of the many churches here in Oaxaca.
This is part of the main plaza, we ate lunch at the restaurant on the left.
Mom waiting for lunch.
I had the chicken with black mole.  Yum Yum
Another one of the churches on the main plaza.

We did a little shopping at the big market and bought fresh flowers.  We had a birthday party at our house for Elder Roesberry.  I have been spelling his name wrong for the past couple of weeks. His wife, Jan, had made lasagna and it was delicious.  Allreds brought pie and ice cream.

Greg's birthday dinner.  L to R Mom, Clyde Allred, Lora Sue Allred, Greg Roesberry, Jan Roesberry and President Atkinson.

We then played 5 crowns till 10:00pm.  That is really staying up late for me.  Tuesday, I went to the temple at 7:00am to get the agendas ready for the FM meeting at 8:00am and the Presidency meeting at 10:00am.  We finished up with the meetings at 1:30pm.  We came home for lunch and then went back to the temple and worked until 7:00pm.  Tuesdays are my hardest days.  My mind hurts from listening so hard to all the details in the meetings and then I have to get the changes and assignments out to everyone.  Wednesday, we got in a walk and got to the temple by 8:00am.  I was assigned as the sealer for the shift and had a nice session with about 12 people.  The endowment session was full of young missionaries so it was nice to have a good sized group for sealings.  We got home at 1:00pm for lunch.  I am now blogging.  But I have to stop because Chris wants to go over to a restaurant and talk to the owner about providing the lunches for the 2 days that Elder De Hoyos will be here next week.  We then went to the Roesberry’s apartment and decided to go downtown and see the museum at the convent of Santo Domingo.  It is the largest church and convent in Oaxaca.  It was amazing and very interesting. 

Santo Domingo Convent and Church.
As we start our tour of the museum.
The library with lots of books from the 1500 and 1600's.
They had some great gliffs.
Inside the convent.
The ceiling at the top of the stairs. It is a dome.
Lots of stuff found at Monte Alban.
Lots of stuff found at Monte Alban.
Lots of stuff found at Monte Alban.
Lots of stuff found at Monte Alban.
Lots of stuff found at Monte Alban.
The Spanish tried to destroy all the codexes but some survived.
I was really impressed with the brick work in the domed ceilings.
One of the many courtyards in the convent.
Santo Domingo Church from the convent.
Another one of the domed ceilings.
Inside the church of Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo Church.
Santo Domingo Church.
Santo Domingo Church.

We then had pizza downtown and played 5 crowns in the restaurant while we waited for the rain to stop. 

Pizza and 5 crowns.
The walking street, no cars, Santo Domingo church is behind me.

It never stopped so we got out the umbrellas and found a cab home.  We lay in bed and listened to 3 bull frogs in our back yard attempt to keep everyone awake.  Boy, were they loud.  I have had a number of very Spiritual experiences in the temple here in Oaxaca.  I love the temple and the work that goes on there.  I know that this is the work of our Father in Heaven and that he loves all his children and he wants all of us to return to Him.  The temple makes that possible.  I am not going to be shy.  I now want you all to know that we need more senior couples down here.  We are recruiting and need some of you to put your papers in and request to come to the Oaxaca Temple.  You will love it here.  Let me know if you are interested and I will have President Atkinson contact the missionary department and we will make it happen.

(Without our internet, I had so sit outside Pres Allred’s house and work off his wi-fi.  I sat outside his house in my pajamas from 5:00 to 6:00 am loading photos.  Luckily, it was dark.)