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, December 29, 2014

December 22 through December 28th:

December 22 through December 28th:  I forgot to mention that last Thursday the Roesberrys arrived.  They were missionaries here when we arrived.  They went home in June and decided that they wanted to come back.  They had served in Mexico City and when the temple closed for renovations they were assigned here.  They served here for 6 months and liked it and so they asked to come back.  We are really happy to have them.  We went downtown Monday and visited the textile museum and then went to the Zocolo.  They were setting up for the radish festival.  They had tables set up for people to sit down and carve radishes into whatever you wanted.  This festival celebrates radishes and so there are hundreds of dioramas of everything conceivable that are carved out of radishes. 
The textile museum.

I stole this off the internet, but you get the idea of the radish festival.
I stole this off the internet but you get the idea of the radish festival.
Mom and her radish.
Radish carving at it's best.
I love the stone work on this cathedral in Oaxaca.
Tuesday we had a group come to the temple.  This was the first time we had a group come on a Tuesday.  They wanted to come before Christmas and it was the only day open.  Tuesday night, Doug Thayne arrived.  He is an old friend and was a missionary with Chris and me in Ecuador a millennia ago.  He finishes the interiors of temples and his project manager is from Oaxaca. The project manager’s daughter was getting married and he came for the wedding and to visit us.  Wednesday, December 24th ,the temple was closed so we went caroling downtown. We had recruited a pair of sister missionaries to go with us. We started out at a hospital, but after trying for 30 minutes to get permission to enter, they said, “no.”  So we went to a park that the sister missionaries said was always full of people, but it was pretty empty.  So we sang to two Jehovah Witnesses and several people on bicycles stopped. We then decided to go over to the walking street and on the way we saw another hospital/private clinic.  We asked if we could sing and they said “yes.”  We sang a few songs and many of the patients came out of their rooms and listened.  We got a big round of applause and each of us got a bottle of water for our efforts.  We then went over to the walking street and sang across the street from the big Santo Domingo church.  We attracted a crowd and a newsman.  He interviewed the sister missionaries and said the video of us would be on the internet.  I found the news article on their web site,  I have supplied the link to the website and the YouTube video. How cool is that. 
This is in Llano Park.
This is in the clinic.
Video of the caroling.

 This is the youtube video of the news clip.

This is the news article that I found on

You have to look under TV Noticias and scroll through the clips.  The sister missionaries are in the picture of the clip.

Mom loves these 7 pointed pinatas.  We were told that the seven points represent the 7 deadly sins.
Before we went to sing, mom made pumpkin pies for our Christmas Eve dinner at the President’s house.  We had a great dinner of ham, funeral potatoes and pumpkin pie.  Mom also made no knead bread that was really good.  Christmas morning we Skyped and face timed with some of our kids and then went to breakfast at the President’s home again.  Once more, great food and even better company.  In the afternoon we went to the temple and President Atkinson performed the sealing of a couple.  They had wanted to wait to be sealed on their wedding anniversary and he had joked with them that if they should decide not to wait, he would do it for them on Christmas.  They took him up on that.  How many people do you know could say they were sealed on Christmas day?

Christmas cards from our grandkids.
Christmas morning.
Breakfast Christmas morning.
President gave us a beautiful plate.
Friday morning I took President Atkinson and his wife to the airport.  They are going back to the states for some minor surgery and will be back on the 10th of January.  Doug, the Rays, the Roesberrys and mom and I went to Ocotlan to the weekly market there.  It was a lot of fun to see and we all found things to buy.  We stopped and bought more black pottery in San Bartolo Coyotepec and had lunch at our favorite restaurant, Barro Negro. 
Market day in Ocotlan.  Need a turkey?
  This is a mural in the municipal building in Ocotlan.  It was done by a famous artist, Morales. 
Lunch in San Bartolo Coyotepec.
We went and worked at the temple for the night shift.  We left a little early and went with Doug to the wedding of his project manager’s daughter.  It was in the Santo Domingo Church.  It is one of the largest churches in Oaxaca and was quite the event. 
The bride and Doug and two helpers.
The wedding.
The ceiling in the church.
The ceiling in the church.
Saturday 3 of the 4 busses that we expected, canceled, so it was a very easy morning.  In the afternoon we took the Rays and Doug to Tule to see “the tree”.  It is estimated to be over 2000 years old.  We stopped and had drinks and chips before heading home. 
Plaza in Tule.
Drinks and Chips before we head home from Tule.
 Band playing and marching to the church in Tule.

Sunday I took Doug to the airport and we went to church in the Danizu ward.  In the afternoon we met up with Merrit and Tom Stites and Bill and Carol  Fulton from Salt Lake City.  Merrit and Chris are dear friends and had a practice together for many years.  We took Tom and Merrit to Cuilapan and then to see our apartment. 
Merrit and Tom Stites with mom at Cuilapan.
In the evening we had a meeting with the Amapolas stake to plan their visit to the temple on the 31st. The temple is scheduled to be closed that day, but we are going to open it up for them from 6:00am to noon.  We had a great week.  I am including my Christmas gift to my children.  Some of you, I think, will appreciate the sentiment. 
My Christmas Gift to my Kids

This Christmas, Mom and I want to give you a gift that perhaps will be a present that keeps on giving throughout the year and maybe beyond.  We want to give you the gift of our testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for He truly is “The Gift”.  There is nothing in this world that is more important, more valuable, of more eternal consequence, or more precious, than faith in and knowledge of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.  This Christmas morning as I sit here in Oaxaca, Mexico, thinking of my children and their spouses and all the work they have put in to make this morning joyful for our precious grandchildren, I can’t help but feel so blessed and thankful for all of you.  You are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers each and every day.  We are away from you serving, because of our love for and our testimonies of the babe that today we celebrate came into the world to redeem all mankind from death and hell.  I testify to each of you that He was born of Mary, that He lived, that He was crucified, and that He took up His life again by the power that he received of the Father, that He lives and that He loves each of us beyond our ability to comprehend.  I testify of the reality of the Doctrine of Christ, that if we will have faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance and be baptized by water and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and then endure to the end we will gain eternal life.  I know that as a family, we can be together forever if we will develop our faith in Jesus Christ to the point that we continually repent of our sins and transgressions.   As we work each day to live the gospel, we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost.   And as we worship in the Lord’s house, we will be taught all that we need to know, we will learn all that we need to do, and we will come to know God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. “And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”  John 17:3   We also serve because we believe the words of the prophets who have promised us that if we will serve, each of you will be blessed.  It is hard that we are not with you at this special time of year, but you are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers and we know that you will feel our love this day and always; of this I testify in the name of Him whose birth we celebrate this day, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 15th through December 21st

December 15th through December 21st: Monday we went to a wedding reception for Max and Ruth.  Ruth was a missionary here about 4 months ago.  Max has been a coordinator for some time now.  They met in the temple and after her mission Max pursued her.  Her husband had passed away.  They got married and seem to be very happy together.  They are now both coordinators on Saturday afternoons. 

This is the bride and groom.  They are both temple workers.
At the wedding.  The Flores and Sister Tovar finish their missions on Wednesday. L to R Elder Ray, Sister Ray, Sister Flores, Elder Flores, Sister Tovar, mom and me.
L to R Pres. Atkinson, Sister Atkinson, Ruth and Max.

 Mom cutting the rug.

Wednesday mom had a checkup on her surgery and everything was fine, but part of the back of one of her front teeth had fallen off.  It had been an old filling and there was a cavity under it and so she had to have that repaired.  I drove her out to the appointment and we had to wait over a half an hour for the dentist to show up.  

This is the front of the dental office.   
This is the back side of the dental office where Chris is getting all of her dental work done.  It is where we park the car.

That evening I officiated at a sealing session for the members of the Ixcotel ward council.  We had challenged them to come to the temple once a week for three months.    Thursday, Friday and Saturday were the busiest 3 days we have ever had in the temple.  We worked an average of 12 hours each day, the longest 13 ½ hours straight with only a 15 break for something to eat.  We set all kinds of records.  Friday we had 22 people to receive their endowment, 14 weddings and 15 children to be sealed.  We had 23 buses scheduled for the 3 days.  I’m not sure if all of them showed up, but it was a lot of people and by the end of each day we were exhausted.  One day, I started at 6:00am and finished at 7:30pm by sealing 2 families.  Sunday I got up early and started cooking Chinese food.  We went to church and came home and cooked until it was time for the dinner we had planned for the secretaries.  These secretaries are really the backbone of the temple.  They are all volunteers and we couldn’t function without them.  They prepare all the paper work and register and verify every ordinance.  Last week we did 9,000 ordinances, so they were very busy.  Some are married with children, but most are young single women.  We enjoy working with them and love them.   It was a lot of fun to be with them and laugh and exchange gifts. 

5 of the secretaries and mom at our dinner for them.
The other table at our dinner for the secretaries.
We did have leftovers. 
The gift exchange.

This last week was the hardest we have had to work and we were tired, but boy did we see a lot of tender mercies where God directed us how to attend to his children.  My testimony has grown so much here and I truly know that God is directing this work and even when we can’t possibly see how to accommodate everyone that has arrived, He guides us and things always work out. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 8th through December 14th

December 8th through December 14th:  Monday we went on another paseo.  We went with Laura and Luis Perez, the Penas and the Rays to Coixtlahuaca and San Pedro and San Pablo de Teposcolula.  Both of these towns have old Dominican Churches and Monasteries.  Both had large restoration projects going on.  These really are magnificent buildings worthy of preservation.  I’m not sure who is paying for the work, my guess is that it is the federal government.  They were both about a half hour north of Yanhuitlan, one to the northeast the other to the northwest.  That made for a long day, Yanhuitlan being 1 ½ hours north of Oaxaca.  I think it is hard to capture in photos how large, detailed and how breathtaking these buildings are.  Both of these churches had open-air chapels and monasteries attached to the regular church.  The indigenous population at the time of their construction, mid 1500’s, was more than a hundred thousand, so they built these open-air chapels to accommodate the masses.  Now they sit in small towns of only a few thousand people. 

The front of the church San Juan Bautista in Coixtlahuaca.
The side door to the church in Coixtlahuaca.
What is left of the open air chapel at the church San Juan Bautista in Coixtlahuaca.
You can see how the open air chapel attached at one time to the church in Coixtlahuaca.
Courtyard in Coixtlahuaca.
The courtyard of the monastery in Coixtlahuaca.
The walkway around the courtyard at the monastery in Coixtlahuaca.
Stone work above the door at Coixtlahuaca.
More stone work at Coixtlahuaca.
I am always impressed by the beauty of the stone work.
The inside of the church in Coixtlahuaca.
One of the side alter pieces in Coixtlahuaca.
The ceiling in the entry at Coixtlahuaca.
Two old men waiting for their wives.
Mom and Sister Ray by the wall that surrounds the church in Coixtlahuaca.
San Pedro and San Pablo.  The open air chapel is on the left, the church in the middle and the monastery on the right.
The open air chapel.  See the man standing up by the alter.  You get a sense of how big this is.

The alter inside the church at San Pedro and San Pablo de Teposcolula.
The organ loft.
Old Confessional.
Cabinet for the alter pieces in the church in San Pedro and San Pablo de Teposcolula.
This door is 5 or 6 inches thick and over 20 feet tall.  I can't even imagine how much it must weigh.
This gives you an idea of the height of these doors. There is another 4 or 5 feet above where the sunlight stops on the door.
Door to the monastery in San Pedro and San Pablo de Teposcolula.
This is the door to the monastery.  It has a little window in the center.

Tuesday, we were back at the temple, first in the morning with presidency meeting and then in the evening for the sessions.  Wednesday mom got to go to the dentist and have a bone graft on her jaw. Such a lucky girl. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the temple was near or at capacity.  We set all kinds of new records.  There is such energy in the temple when it is full of saints, all wanting to do the work for their ancestors.  One stake president had challenged each ward to bring 100 family names to the temple.  The baptistery started early in the morning and went all day long.  All of the groups that came this last week brought family names to have their work completed.  Mom was very busy helping people get names printed and doing paper work to be able to seal living members to their parents or spouses who had died.  I kept really busy organizing the different tracks that each group would be on.  (Example:  Group A: Go to Session 1, then half to sealings and half to Session 3. Then the half that went to sealings go to Session 4. I then scheduled their lunch and when they would be back for session 6 or 7.)  There were days when we had 5 different groups, each on a different track.  It is like herding cats and everyday you have to “audible” and change the game plan.  Like when a couple show up who have an appointment to receive their endowments and then be sealed, but come with 15 family members who want to go on the session with them.  You have already planned who will be on the session and have to move some of them to sealings and redistribute the tickets to make room for the 15 people that you didn’t know would be attending with the couple.  Things always work out and you realize the Lord is really in charge.  Thursday in the evening we went to the ballet and saw the Nutcracker, performed by a Russian ballet troupe

The theater Alcala.
We are all ready for the ballet. L to R, mom, the Atkinsons, the Rays, and the Penas.
The Nutcracker
Video of ballet.

and Saturday night we went to a Christmas performance by the full time missionaries.  They had some share their talents and then they all performed Christmas songs. 

The missionary Christmas performance.
The missionary Christmas program.
Selfie, waiting in line for the Christmas program.

Sunday we went to church in the Ixcotel ward and then we went to their ward council meeting and talked about the temple with them. In the afternoon I had meetings in the temple for 3 hours.  Mom got to stay home and wrap Christmas presents and interview a Chinese therapist on Skype for the CAPA program.  We watched all our grandkids “perform” the Christmas story over Facetime.  We are so grateful that they will get together and try to keep some family traditions, even though it is pure chaos with 13 kids, all under 12 years old.  We smiled and giggled watching them, but their parents were probably glad when it was over and they could take them home to bed.  It was a really good week and we received a lot of tender mercies.

These animals are motorized and you can pay for your kids to ride them in the mall.
Mom thought some of our grand kids would like to ride these.