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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Monday, August 25, 2014

August 18th through August 24th:

August 18th through August 24th:  We ended this week with a fun Sunday evening of talking by Skype with all of our kids and some of our friends and siblings.  We talked with Pres. Crayk and Connie and they said that we might be scaring people away from coming on a mission, because we have made it sound like we are working really hard.  We are working hard and we love it.  We doubt anyone who comes to serve here will be working 10 or 11 hour days.  You would probably have an afternoon or morning shift of about five hours.  You would be a regular temple worker officiating in all the ordinances and doing laundry on the side.  We are in the office, Chris all the time, and me most of the time, except when I am outside the temple organizing the big groups for entry into the temple and when they need me to be a sealer.  So anyone that is thinking about coming or is feeling the promptings of the Spirit, come, you will love it, there is a wonderful Spirit in this temple.  The saints are warm and gracious and you will grow to love the culture and the people.  Last Monday, we went grocery shopping to Walmart and then Pres. Atkinson let me tag along with them to Sam’s club so we could get some good meat and some items that we can’t get at other stores.  I made a Mexican macaroni salad and we then had a barbeque.  I have wanted a good hamburger for some time and we had the Penas and the Atkinsons over for hamburgers and my salad. 

Can you say hamburgers Yum.
They were delicious.
Sister Pena made an Aztec pastel, a casserole with tortillas and peppers and cheese.  It was delicious.  Both Chris and I said this is a dish we would like to learn how to cook.  We then had one of the secretaries over to learn how to make cookies.  It was a fun day of good food and good friends. 

Terri Garcia learning how to make Snikerdoodles.
Tuesday, I started at 8:00am getting the agenda, calendar, and the lists of workers for each shift up to date and the copies printed for everyone.  Presidency meeting lasted from 10:00am till almost 2:00pm.  We went home and had lunch and then went back to the temple to work.  Mom was working on inventory and some other details in the office. I started calling all the stake presidents that have not returned my emails about their visits to the temple for Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.  I also send out emails for the visits for the next two weeks.  I am getting a handle on which stakes come with 3 buses and which come with only one.  So I am working on a way to assure that we have 3 buses in the morning and 3 buses in the afternoon.  This will take me several weeks, but I think I can book smaller groups together and get to the point where the temple is being utilized closer to capacity.  Wednesday, we started at 8:00am and worked till 1:00pm.  I worked on a spread sheet of all the groups that have assignments for the rest of the year and when I am done I should have a picture of where we have holes and need to schedule more groups.  Mom worked on getting all the people who will be arriving tomorrow for personal ordinances registered in the TIS, Temple Information System, and the ORS, Ordinance Recording System.  After lunch we took the car downtown to try and find a place that could fix the sewing machine that is here.  We found the place but it was closed.  We did a little shopping.   We went back to the temple and tried to greet all the members from the Amapolas stake where we are assigned.  After the session started, we worked in the office for a couple of hours.  Thursday, I arrived at a little before 6 and met the bus.  I had my meeting with the group leader and left him with his assignment to select people for the different groups: baptistery, sealings, initiatory, endowments, and personal ordinances. We had everyone in the building by 8:00am and we started right on time.  Two couples had come to be sealed and President Pena asked me to perform the sealings.  Each had 3 children.  What an honor and privilege to seal these families together.  They were from the same ward, so the room was completely full of all the ward members who had come to share this special day with them.  We ran out of tissues again.  I think we need 2 boxes.  There are 40 seats in the sealing room and we had about 10 people standing. It was a very beautiful experience.  I slipped outside and had pictures taken with them. 

One of the families I sealed.
The other family I sealed.
Everything ran smoothly during the morning and I was done about 2:00pm.  Mom said she needed to stay until the next secretary came about 4:00pm, so she sent me home to make lunch.  I made sloppy Joes and waited till almost 6 before she made it home.  So lunch became dinner.  She had taken a granola bar and a yogurt and at some point in the day took a quick break.    Friday, was an exact repeat of Thursday.  Except that in the evening we took the car and went to dinner with the Paveys.  He is a member, but she is not.  He is from Canada and she from Switzerland.  They have a daughter that is married to a man from Oaxaca and so they moved here to be close the them about 8 years ago. We had quite the evening trying to find a place to eat, but finally about 8:00pm we had a pizza at an Italian restaurant.  We didn’t get to bed till after 10:00pm. And I had to be at the temple by 5:00am. What were we thinking? 

The Paveys and mom.
Saturday was crazy, the district president from Huatulco that was supposed to come in the afternoon called earlier in the week and said that they couldn’t come in the afternoon because they have a 7 hour bus ride and nobody wanted to come in the afternoon and then leave late and get home at 2 or 3 in the morning and could we please find a way that they could come early.  So I talked to the stake president that was supposed to come in the morning at 7 and start at 8, to see if they would be willing to start at 9:00am.  He was so nice and said, ”Whatever you need, we just want to come to the temple.”  So I called the district president back and said, “Ok, if you get here at 5:00am we will have a session for you at 6:00am and 7:30am.”  He assured me they would be here at 5:00am.  Well, I got to the temple at a quarter to 5:00am and about 15 or 20 of the group had arrived in cars, but the bus had not arrived yet.  It arrived 45 minutes late and so my schedule was blown.  I started with the 3 couples that all needed to receive their endowment so they could be sealed after the session. Next, I started the baptistery and then initiatory and finally 2 groups of sealings.  We ended up putting their entire group in a session at 7:30am and then they all went to the 3 sealings afterward.  They all knew each other and wanted to be together.  It worked out great and they were all happy.  While I was getting all of this organized, the 3 buses from Tulancingo arrived right on time at 7:00am.  So I met with the stake president and organized his big group of 130.  His first session would not be till 9:00am, so I started with his youth group of about 50 kids.  I got them and their leaders in the temple in the waiting room.  Next I got the 2 couples that were going to be sealed into the office to get registered.  Then I got 2 groups of sealings and 2 groups of initiatory in the temple.  I got the group for the first endowment session organized with their tickets outside and told the sister at the door not to let them in until 8:20am and then I went and did sealings.  I did sealings with this group for almost 2 hours.  They then went to the second endowment session that started at 10:30am.  When the first session ended, I was asked to perform the sealings for the 2 couples that had come to be sealed.  They were brothers and one had a son and a daughter, and the other brother had a little girl.  What a powerful Spirit.  The oldest brother was really big and macho.  He was trying so hard to hold back the tears, but when they had a family hug after their children were sealed to them he broke down and sobbed.  His shoulders were shaking and the tears were flowing. 

The family I sealed on Saturday. The oldest brother.
The other family I sealed on Saturday. The younger brother.
I finished these sealings about 12:30pm.  President Atkinson and President Serrano had arrived and they were in charge of the afternoon.  So I got to change and go outside and get a picture with these two families. I went home, but mom stayed again till the next secretary came.  I had a quick lunch, left over sloppy Joes.  Then I went with Pres. Atkinson to the Amapolas stake conference where I am assigned.  We went to the priesthood leadership training meeting.  Pres. Atkinson taught all the high priest group leaders and elder quorum presidencies about hastening the work and how what that really means is doing things differently in order to get better results.  He taught that you can’t just do what we have been doing, because it will just get the same result and hastening the work is all about getting better results.  It was really well done, he is a master teacher.

How to invite someone to change.
Chris then arrived for the adult session.  It was a very nice meeting and Pres. Atkinson spoke again.   The people love to listen to him, he is so engaging.  We got home about 9:00pm.  Sunday, we went with President Atkinson to stake conference.  It was one of the best meetings I have been to down here.  President Atkinson talked and all the talks were excellent and there was a nice Spirit. 

The choir at stake conference.

Video of the Choir.
Stake Conference it was broadcast to another building also.
We had a lazy afternoon and Skyped with everyone we could think of. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 11th through August 17th

August 11th through August 17th: This week, the saying, “the days are long, but the weeks are short” is so true.  We worked our tails off this week.  Mom had a couple of days where she worked 10 or 11 hours without a break.  I had one 12 hour day with a one and a half hour lunch and a couple of 9 hour plus days without a break, but the week sure went by quickly.  I don’t have a lot of pictures because it seemed like all we did was work in the temple.  Monday, we got to go on a morning walk.  We only seem to be able to do this on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.  The rest of the week I have to be to the temple too early to get our walk in.  After our walk we went to the new Home Depot that just opened up.  It is right next to our little subdivision, about a 5 minute walk.  We walked every aisle, and mom bought a new plant for the apartment.  We must have spent more than an hour walking up and down every aisle and looking at everything.  I wanted to buy a set of screwdrivers (hey, they were a great price and you can never have too many screwdrivers), but mom shook her head, “no”.  The things they carry are a little bit different than in the states.

My new happy place.
It made me want to buy a and house and redo it.
I almost got them in the cart.

Then I got the blog posted and we had a very lazy day.  Tuesday, I went early to the temple to get the agenda, calendar and the other things ready for presidency meeting.  We got done with the meeting and we took a break for lunch and then we were back at the temple till 8:30pm. I now have the assignment to call all the stake presidents from the 44 stakes assigned to our temple from Mexico City and find out how many people are coming and who is in charge of the group and so on and so forth.  This is adding to my work load a lot.  This was the 12 hour day with only a break for lunch.  I was ready to leave, but the sealer didn’t show up so I stayed and did a sealing session.  Wednesday, I worked the morning shift and was the assigned sealer, so I spent most of the morning doing sealing sessions.  We got done at 1:00pm.  After we had lunch, we went downtown to check out the hotel that Merritt and Tom are going to be staying in when they come in December.  Mom also had an appointment to get her hair cut. 

We found a new park we had not been to, while looking for Merritt's hotel.  Notice the green stone that the fountain is made out of.

While we were trying to find the hotel, we saw the old aqueduct that the Spanish had built in 1750 to bring water to the city from up in the mountains.  Much of it is still intact.

This is part of the aqueduct that the Spanish built in the mid 18th century. Also made out of green stone.
This is for Tom and Merritt.  Your hotel.

We then went back to the temple in the evening and attended a session. It was nice to be a patron.  Thursday, I was at the temple before 6:00am and one of the buses was already there.  It was an easy day with only 2 buses in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.  I got done at 1:00pm and had planned on going back to be the sealer for the night shift, but on the way home I stopped at Pres. Atkinson’s home to give him an update of the morning and he said for me to stay home and rest because the next two days were going to be crazy busy and he would go over and do it.  So I came home and took a nap.   After my nap, I cooked dinner and then read something on Facebook about a green chili dip.  So I went and bought 2 pounds of jalapenos and roasted them. 

Roasting Jalapenos.

When mom got home, she reluctantly helped me skin them and de-seed them.  She said it doesn’t matter how good the dip is, it is not worth the time and effort.  My fingers hurt for the next two days; they felt burnt from the chilies.  While I was cooking, they were working on the new cistern they installed in the back to insure that we have enough water.  Around 6:00 pm,  they turned off the water and it still wasn’t hooked up when we went to bed.  Friday  At 5:00 am I hopped in the shower.  What came out was grey, dirty water and black silt.  My towel was black when I dried off.  Chris said she wouldn’t bother.  I headed over to the temple and President Atkinson was right, we were going to have a busy, wonderful day.  We had 3 buses in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.  I got everyone on the first 3 buses in the building by 8:00am and we had both sealing rooms full and so I did 3 ½ hours of sealings (90 family names from one sister). 

This is one of the families that were sealed this week.

I got home at 3:30pm and my feet hurt and I was really tired.  I came home and took a nap, but mom stayed until 5:00pm.  This was her 11 hour day.  She has to stay until a secretary arrives.  She is really getting good in the Temple Information System and the Ordinance Recording System.  When we have these large groups, many arrive for the first time and all of their paper work has to be prepared.  And recording and verifying 1000-1500 ordinances is no small task.  It is pretty impressive that all of the ordinance preparation and recording is done by these 8 volunteer secretaries.  They are all set apart temple workers and some of them come another day to help with the ordinances.  They are great group.   Mom is really enjoying working with them.  She is really a trooper. Saturday, was a repeat of Friday and just as busy.  I did get to seal a couple and then their 3 children.  There were over 40 people in the sealing room from their ward.  There was a very powerful spirit and a few tears were shed by many in the room, including me.  It was a great day.  I went home and finished my new dip but when it got time to add the chilies it was already hot and spicy so I have about a quart jar of roasted jalapeno puree that I don’t know what to do with.  It is really hot.  Anyone have any ideas?  At 6:00pm, after mom got home at 5:30pm (another 11 hour day) we went to a dinner at President Atkinson’s home for all the stake presidents and their wives and the temple presidency.  I was going to do the cooking for this dinner, but when we saw how many buses were going to be coming, it was decided that I would be needed in the temple, so it was catered.  It would have been fun to cook for 16.  That’s just kind of a normal meal for me. 

After dinner with 3 of the stake presidents and Pres. and Sister Atkinson.

Sunday, we had a lazy morning with a nice walk and I cooked kielbasa sausage, potatoes, onions and cheese for breakfast.  The potatoes are boiled and then fried.  I call this “heart attack special”.  But is really did taste good.  We went to a ward conference with President Atkinson. 

The young men and women's choir for the Reforma ward conference.  People took some of the flowers after church, so mom took some for a bouquet.

We got home at 3:15pm and mom went over to the temple at 4:00pm to get ready for a meeting with all the secretaries at 5:00pm.  President gave me his keys to the temple and the code for the alarm.  I set off the alarm.  I feel so stupid sometimes.  It is a good thing we can laugh at our mistakes because if we couldn’t, it would be so depressing.  Mom had a great meeting with the secretaries.  She really feels guided by the spirit in the work she is doing.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 4th through August 10th

August 4th through August 10th: Tuesday, I went over to the temple and worked on the agenda, calendar and lists of workers on each of the different shifts.  We had Presidency meeting from 10:00am till noon.  This was a short one, because we had one on Sunday, two days ago. I then worked in the office trying to get caught up.  We went home for lunch around 2:00pm and we went back to the temple at 4:00pm and worked until 7:00pm.  I called all the stake presidents who have the assignment to bring their stake to the temple at the end of next week to try and get an idea of how many people will be coming.   It looks like we will be busy.  Wednesday, I worked the morning shift, but mostly in the office.  Mom stayed home and worked on cutting off and hemming 23 temple dresses that she found in storage before the closure. Mom then worked the afternoon shift, whereas I only worked for a few hours. 

Mom the magnificent seamstress.
Thursday, I went over before 6:00am to organize the group that had come to the temple.  We have to assign them where to go before they enter the temple or it is chaos.  There were only 2 buses, about 100 people, so it was pretty easy to get everyone in the temple.  We got done about 2:00pm and then I went back for the evening shift as the sealer.  Friday, was crazy busy.  We had 6 buses arrive and we were only expecting 3.  I got most of the people into the temple by 10:00am and then I did a sealing session.  We had over 1000 ordinances done by the time we left for lunch around 1:00pm.  I was exhausted from being on my feet except for the hour of sealings.  I went home and took a nap.  Mom had worked on dresses in the morning, but she went to the temple and worked in the office till almost 6:00pm.  I had to explain to an older woman who had come to the temple with her daughter that she could not be sealed to her dead husband because he hadn’t been dead for a year.  She seemed to accept that and said she would come back in February to do the ordinance.  We then went to dinner with Pres. Atkinson and his wife.  We took them to the restaurant that the Sorcias had taken us to.  They liked the food and we had good conversation. I had a pork tlayuda.

Friday night dinner with the Atkinsons.
Friday night dinner at Tlayudas Negro.
Saturday, was only 2 buses, we had been expecting a third, but it never showed.  I got to be a sealer in the morning and it was a very special day.  I really felt the Spirit in the sealings and had one of the best experiences I have ever had.  There were times that tears were rolling down my cheeks because the Spirit was very powerful.  Mom had met a woman and young man at the temple from Arizona and they were here with an orchestra.  They were going to be performing Saturday night, accompanying some opera singers, in the restored theater downtown. Mom asked the Pres. if they wanted to go.  He was excited and since I was going downtown to get my blood checked, I went to the theater to see how much the tickets would be.  It was going to be a free concert, but they told me we should be there early if we wanted to get in.  I then took a bus all the way to WalMart to do some shopping while mom worked at the temple.  Mom had worked on the dresses all morning so she felt like she had to go and work in the temple in the afternoon.  She came home and we all loaded up in President’s car and went downtown.  We had to wait in line for almost an hour. 

Waiting in line.
Do you like my new Guayabera shirt?
But I used the time to take some pictures of a couple of the buildings that had been built with a green stone that had been quarried near Oaxaca.  (According to Wikipedia, Cantera Stone is a uniquely quarried, volcanic rock that is mined exclusively in various regions of Mexico and Central America. Its name derives from the Spanish word for quarry. Its properties are unique, in that it offers color, texture, durability, and a softness that allows for detailed carving and cutting. It is used in hotels, shopping malls, office buildings, and custom homes throughout the world. Cantera comes in a myriad of natural colors and tones, and its texture is truly beautiful. It sports unique inclusions and color flecks, making its authenticity easy to see, and gives a natural, eternal feel. Cantera is durable, and has stood for centuries in many cathedrals, haciendas and other buildings throughout Latin America. The stone's color may vary depending on the impurities present in the stone of a particular region. The cantera notably used in many of the buildings, walls, and roads of Oaxaca, Mexico is a distinct green color,)

One of the hundreds of buildings in Oaxaca made out of Cantera stone.
This carved stone work is incredible.  The stone is really green.
Another one of the green buildings.
The Macedonia Theater.  Notice the green stone on the bottom.
The doors to the theater were exquisite.
The theater was amazing and I lasted till the intermission.  Mom and the rest stayed till the end, over 3 hours of opera.  I was asleep when mom got home about 9:30pm.

The theater has been beautifully restored.
The theater was really grand.

I stole this one off the web.
The lobby of the theater.
L to R Sister Atkinson, Pres. Atkinson, Pres. Pena, Sister Pena and Mom.
Can you say Selfie.
One of the opera singers.
The singers came from all over Mexico.
Some of the singers were really professional.
This is just a sample of the opera.
Sunday, we went back to the Dainzu ward for their ward conference. 

Two friends I made at church Moroni and his little brother Abenadi.
We left after sacrament meeting so I could be in the temple with Pres. Atkinson on a call with one of the area seventies for an area coordinating council meeting.  We only had to be on the call for our part of the meeting.  Thank goodness, because some of those meetings go for 6 hours or more.  I then made cinnamon rolls again; it is a lot of work but boy are they worth it.  Thanks again Helen for teaching us how to make your rolls.

I didn't eat that many, we gave some away.
Mom then made an apple cake that we took to dinner at President Madsen’s home.  It was a nice afternoon and fun to hear mission stories. 

Sunday dinner with Pres. and Sister Madsen.
We then got to Skype with all of our Utah children who were together for Sunday dinner at Charlotte’s home.  It was a good week.  I can tell that I will be spending a lot of time scheduling the stake visits to the temple.