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, September 29, 2014

September 22nd through September 28th:

 September 22nd through September 28th:  Monday, we did our grocery shopping and had a very lazy day of blogging and reading and just hanging out.  I did make some pulled pork that turned out to be incredible.  Tuesday, I cooked fish tacos for Pres. and Sister Atkinson and then after dinner he explained his new power point on “The temple is the answer”.  Since we are going out of town this weekend to a district conference and will be speaking in the meetings, he wanted to share some of his ideas.  He is a very good teacher and we enjoyed talking to him about the blessings that come from temple worship.  Wednesday, after our temple shift, we had lunch at the Pena’s with Pres. and Sister Atkinson.  They prepared a Pambazos, delicious kind of Mexican sandwich with some special bread they had brought back from Mexico City.  They had made a quick trip home over the weekend.  We then went back and worked the afternoon/ evening shift.  Thursday, after the morning shift, we had the Penas over for pulled pork sandwiches.  Pres. Atkinson had already left to speak at a Young Single Adult conference.  Friday, we worked until 11:00am and then headed south to the coast to the city of Huatulco with the mission president, Pres. and Sister Madsen.  We will be speaking with them at the District Conference there.  It was a 7 hour ride over the Sierra Madres mountains.  The road is nothing but switchbacks and the curves are so tight that buses can’t use the road.  Mom got pretty car sick and we had to stop a few times for her to empty her stomach. (Ginny-- she was wearing her wristbands, just in case, but  it wasn’t enough.) 
Cute little villages along the road.
So many beautiful vistas.
That is corn being grown on a very steep hillside.
The beautiful Sierra Madre mountains.
Hot Chocolate at San Jose de Pacifico at the top of the mountains.
Life in 4 bottles.
Rock slides are very common.  We were able to get around this one.
That is corn being grown on a hillside that is about 70 degrees of slant.
At over 9000 feet, there is fog in the valleys.
We saw a lot of waterfalls on the way to Huatulco.

We arrived about 7:30pm and after we got cleaned up, we went to dinner.  Mom only ate half of my baked potato.  She was being nice to her tummy. 

Our room
Dinner on the square Saturday night.

 Entertainment at dinner.
Saturday, we spent the morning seeing the beaches and the sites.  Everywhere, the vegetation is thick and lush and it is very clean.  This might be the next Cancun. 

Fun at the beach.
Ceiling of the Catholic Church in Hautulco.
Close up of the ceiling of the church in Huatulco.
This is a tile mosaic.
Breakfast at a beach-side restaurant. Pres. and Sister Madsen.
A US Coast Guard ship docked while we ate breakfast on the beach.
Just so we remember where we were.
Another one of the beautiful bays.
Looking down on the bay where we had breakfast.
Beautiful views.
Some pretty nice homes on the hills along the coast.
Mom was happy after she got to walk on the beach for 20 minutes.
Vicente Guerrero, one of the patriots of Mexico.

At 3:00pm we started our meetings.  I spoke in the priesthood session and then mom and I both spoke in the adult session in the evening.  Mom’s Spanish is still improving and she doesn’t need to have everything written out anymore.  Sunday, we both spoke in the general session.  There was a great spirit at the conference and it was a real treat to be part of it.  We got some good pictures of the saints and then we headed home. 

The hotel we stayed in.
The Choir.

Link to a video of the choir.

About 250 in attendance in 3 rooms.
One of the many cute families at the conference.
Mom and some of the sisters after the conference.
The missionaries in the Huatulco zone.
After District Conference, L to R the son of Pres. Pineda, Sister Pineda, Pres. Pineda, me , mom, and their daughter.

Mom had bought some Dramamine and we took a different road back.  We went through Salina Cruz and only had about 4 hours of switchbacks. 

Sharing the road with some of the locals.
Thatched roof but you have to have your satellite dish.
Salina Cruz

Mom made it without getting sick.  We got home at 8:30pm.  We went over to the Pena’s home before going to bed.  We wanted to find out how Saturday had gone.  They had 8 buses arrive, 7 before 7:00am and 1 about 11:00am.  That’s over 350 people.  He had asked 4 extra coordinators to come in and help.  Each one was in charge a one thing: one the baptistery, one sessions, one initiatory and the dressing room, and one sealings.  He also had another sealer come in.  The two sealers did 5 hours each of sealings. But they got everyone in the temple and everyone left happy and fortified.  Long day and a busy week but they are flying by.  We have competed 25% of our mission and are loving it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 15th through September 21st

September 15th through September 21st:  Monday we again went on an outing.  This time to San Bartolo Coyotepec which is famous for barro negro pottery, (black clay).  Pottery has been made in this town for over 2000 years. 

We saw a demonstration of how they make the pots.
In one of the black clay pottery shops.
The 3 pieces of Black Clay Pottery mom bought.

The first church was built by the Spanish in 1532. 

The church in San Bartolo.
The church in San Bartolo.
The church in San Bartolo.
Lunch at the Barro Negro Restaurante.
The owner of the restaurant's kids.
Main Square in San Bartolo.

We then came home and had dinner at the Pena’s, with Laura and Luis Perez and their daughter.  This was a traditional posole dinner.  This is eaten in celebration of independence from the Spanish.  We played Mexican train dominos until 11:00pm and then watched the President of Mexico receive the flag and go out on the balcony of the palace in Mexico City and shout Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico.  We then went outside and shouted ourselves and waved Mexican flags. 

Posole Soup.
Dinner at the Pena's.

Tuesday we didn’t have presidency meeting because President Atkinson was still traveling back from a conference.  But other than that is was a typical week.  We did have 5 buses come on Saturday and that is always fun getting them organized and into the temple.  Saturday afternoon I went back over to the temple and spoke to some investigators about the differences between a temple and our chapels.  Sunday, we spoke in the Violetes ward and both of us felt like we did a much better job this time than last week.   I think we were a bit rusty last week.  After church we had 3 meetings at the temple for 4 hours.  We got home at 7:30pm and called most of our children.  It was a good week and they are flying by.

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 8th through September 14th

September 8th through September 14th:  This week I am going to make up for the lack of pictures in the last post, so get ready for some serious picture viewing.  Monday, we went on an outing with President Pena and his wife, Sandra, Laura Perez, one of the secretaries and her husband, Luis.  Laura picked us up at 9:30am and we headed into town to get her husband from work.  They own a school and he is the director.  Notice the name of the school, The Hinckley Institute. 

Notice the name of Laura and Luis's school.
The kids at the school. Notice the H on his jacket it is for Hinckley.
L to R Mom, Laura, Sandra and Pres. Pena at the school.  This was the school's bulletin board for independence day.

We then headed out of town to the north to see some ruins that are not in the guide book.  These are right in people’s backyard and Luis tells us that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of pyramids, all over the valley.  It was really cool to see stuff that has not been restored. 

People's backyards are just to the right of these ruins.
Nice cactus don't you think.  Oh yea, nice women alsoThe cactus are hundreds of years old, the women are not.
More of the untouched ruins.
The stairs of one of the pyramids by Etla.

Next we went into Etla to the market there.  Nacho Libre was filmed in and around Etla.  We had a bite to eat and I ate a tortilla filled with chapolines, grasshoppers.  They are quite the delicacy here in Oaxaca.  They don’t have a lot of flavor and with the tortilla I was able to eat half of them. We then walked through the market and then the church and old convent.

Entrance to market where Nacho Libre was filmed in Etla.
My grasshopper tortilla breakfast.  Sam and Ginny you would have been proud of me.
Yum Yum
The cooks that made our breakfast.
Two women selling veggies next to our table at breakfast.  Mom bought 2 bags of lemons and juiced them and froze the juice.  We can't buy lemon juice here.
This is a drink the locals enjoy.  It must be an acquired taste.

This gal was fixing a drink for Luis and Laura.
Laura in the market in Etla.
More of the market in Etla.
Local cheese from Etla is supposed to be some of the best.
L to R Luis, Laura, mom, Sandra, and Pres. Pena. The Church in Etla.
Inside the Church in Etla.
We see the date 1636 for when the church was started.
The columns in the courtyard of the convent attached to the church in Etla.

The courtyard at the convent in Etla.
The original ceilings in the courtyard of the convent in Etla.
The courtyard in Etla.
One of the small chapels of the Church in Etla.
We next went to Suchilquitongo, a small town north of Etla.  They have a community museum there with a replica of a tomb that is near the town.  Many of the names for places and towns are derived from Zapotec, Mixtec or Nahuatl.  These are 3 of the 4 most common native languages in Mexico, Mayan being the second most common.  The person who was supposed to be attending the museum didn’t show up, so we didn’t get to see the museum.  We headed out to the ruins where the tomb is.  It was locked up and we did not get to go into the tomb.  You now have to have permission from someone in Oaxaca.  We will try and get permission and come out and try to see the tomb another day.  It was still very interesting and there were beautiful views all around. 
The municipal building in Suchilquitongo.
Without taking a picture of the signs I could never have remembered the names of the places we visited.  Huijazoo is where the tomb is that was locked up and we could not enter.
On top of the highest pyramid at Huijazoo.
The entrance to the tomb that is locked.
Next we headed to the other side of Oaxaca.  We had been about 45 minutes north of Oaxaca and now we went about 30 min. south of Oaxaca to one of the oldest churches, called Cuilapan. It was started in 1555 and was a church and monastery. It was fun to walk around this wonderful old church.  Mom bought a book about local archeology. 
Outside the Church and Monastery of Cuilapan.
Some historians say it was always intended to be an open air church to service the 30,000 to 40,000 natives living in the area.  Less than 40 years later, 90% were dead from disease brought by the Europeans.
More of Cuilapan.
Beautiful arches.
Look at the top of the date stone.  It contains Mixtec-style calender dates: 10 Reed (year) 11 Serpent (day) tecuilhuitontli (month). 1555 is the year it was started.
Unfinished choir.
The courtyard of the monastery at Cuilapan.
The cloister of the monastery.
The courtyard of the monastery.
Some of the original frescoes on the walls of the dining room.
Mural of triumphant Dominican martyrs.
Sandra and Mom in front of 20th century painting.
Another kitchen patio at the monastery.
In the kitchen, you can still see the black from the smoke on the arch above where the fire would have been.  There is a smoke flue on the other side of the arch.
All the rooms to the right were the rooms for the monks.
Many of the rooms are now storing treasures found at different ruins.  These were from Monte Alban.  They were putting the pots back together.
More of the work being done here.
The beams are massive and close together in order to hold the weight of the tile roofs.
The roof over part of the monastery. Rain was on its way.
An old cart, wooden wheels and all.
One of the ceilings that is original.
Next we went to the small town of Zaachila.  We visited some more ruins and we were able to go into a couple of tombs.  We then went to what we thought was perhaps a wedding, but turned out to be a celebration of the founding of Zaachila 600 years ago.  We then had dinner at an open air food stall where we had tortilla filled with chicken and cheese in my case and mushrooms and cheese in mom’s case.  We finished of the day with ice cream in one of the stalls in the main square.  We got home about 7:30pm.   A very long but fun day of site seeing.
This is how I remember the name.
Tombs 1 and 2 at Zaachila.
Tomb 1 at Zaachila. Notice the figures in the stone work.
The bird represents a companion to the after life.
Mom and Sandra about to enter tomb 2.
The church in Zaachila.
The town square in Zaachila.
This is the feather dance, part of the town's celebration.
 The Feather Dance.
The locals at the celebration.
After I took their pictures they started to cry.
This is where we had dinner.
There we are, sitting down to dinner.
Mom's dinner, a mushrooms and cheese tortilla.
Ice cream after dinner.
The week was pretty routine in the temple, except that on Saturday we had 4 buses arrive early in the morning.  I had everyone in the temple by 8:00am.  It takes a lot of coordination to get almost 200 people in the temple and doing something productive.  It is very gratifying to be able to serve so many members and help them have a good experience in the temple.  Saturday evening we went to the Mitla stake Mexican night, a really big party to celebrate Mexico’s independence.  Oddly enough, they don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo here in Mexico—instead it is 16 de Septiembre. We had a table set up in the stake center and talked to investigators about the temple. 
Viva Mexico
Lots of fun games for the kids.
This guy was a natural.
I tried my hand at a few, but I was not very good at any of them.
The object of this was to move a metal washer over the wire without touching the sides and setting off an alarm.
The young women's room.  Each organization had a room to display what they do.
This is Elder and Sister Flores.  They are the only other temple missionaries we still have.
The Relief Society room.
We explained the purpose of the temple to some of the investigators.
Corn on the cob with mayo and cheese and chiles.  Yum Yum
President Pena enjoyed a chincharon.
Remember my two friends, Diego and Alan.
Of course, the Elders enjoyed the fun.
They had to move everything inside because it rained.
 Link to video of the Stake Party.

Sunday, we spoke in the Juarez ward.  We both felt a little rusty, but it was fun to bear testimony of the temple and the gospel.  We listened to the CES devotional by Elder Christofferson and talked on Facetime to the kids who were all at James and Kirstin’s home.  A great way to end a busy week.
This is what was in the super market this week.  Anyone for pig's head?
They make great pinatas here.