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, January 26, 2015

January 19th through January 25th:

January 19th through January 25th:  Mom fell a few weeks after we arrived here in Oaxaca and now her knee is acting up.  So we decided to go and see a specialist on our P-day.  On Monday, we first headed downtown to get my blood checked.  After getting my blood drawn, we walked to the clinic where Chris could see a doctor about her knee.  It was only a 20 minute walk and we saw some of the city we had never been in. 

While walking to the doctors, Chris spotted this lovely courtyard.
Here is another church that we had never visited.
I wanted to ring the bell, but didn't.  This is a good picture of the green cantera stone used on most of the old buildings here in Oaxaca.
Inside of the church.  Interesting cherubim holding incense on each side of the altar.

The doctor thinks maybe mom has something floating around in her knee and every once in a while it gets in a place that makes it really hard to straighten her leg and causes her knee to click while she walks.  She is going to take a strong anti-inflammatory drug for 2 weeks and if it doesn’t help she will have a MRI to see what is going on.  Just as we got to the doctors, 2 large dump trucks blocked the main road as part of a protest and caused a huge traffic jam.  I don’t understand why they do this, nor do I understand why the government lets them do it, but it happens all the time here in Oaxaca.  Some group was protesting some grievance.

After they move dump trucks in to block the road.
All the traffic needs to turn around and head into oncoming traffic and then find a way around the blockage.

We had a nice week at the temple.  A big group of saints from Tezontepec on Friday came with 5 buses and on Saturday we had 4 buses, 3 from Tehuacan and one from Pachuca.  We made caramel popcorn and watched Draft Day with the Rays in the evening.  President Atkinson left Friday morning for meetings in Puebla and President Pena left Saturday morning for a different stake conference in Puebla.  So after church on Sunday, and then a meeting with another ward council, President Serrano and I held a meeting in the temple for the 4 high councilmen over the temple and family history.  Sorry, not very many pictures this week and not a lot of very interesting news, but still it was a good week and the time went by in a flash.  I have been working on the history of the temple for last year and I think I will be able to finish it this week. 
This is start of a new house being built in our subdivision.  I thought it would be interesting to some of you to watch the progress.  I will take a picture from the same spot each week.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 12th through January 18th

January 12th through January 18th:   Monday we went downtown on the bus with the Rays and the Roesberrys to do some shopping in the market.  We went to an artisans market and then to the big market.  Mom was successful and found the things she needed to finish off the birthday presents for the kids and grand-kids.   We all played cards in the evening and it was a very relaxing and fun day. 

One of the churches right next to the downtown market.  We had never stepped inside.  Beautiful paintings.
I found a new girlfriend at the artisan's market.
Mom and Jan with the salesman who helped mom find what she needed.
One of the old buildings made out of Cantera stone. (It's green)
She doesn't need 3 hands to carry everything she needs.

Tuesday we were back at it with our regular routine, presidency meeting for me from 8:00am till about 1:30pm, then lunch and back for the evening shift.  Wednesdays are almost always the same, work at the temple till noon, lunch and then back for the evening shift.  Thursday we had 3 buses from Cholula, Puebla come and we had a great day.  Mom took an early lunch break because she had to be the afternoon secretary.  So as I was getting home, she was getting ready to go back.  Friday the group canceled, but we still had 3 newly called missionaries come from Mexico City and we ended up having 3 sessions in the morning.  Mom again had to be the secretary for the evening shift, so I went back and did a session.  Saturday we had 3 buses again and the temple was full and busy from early morning till about 2:00pm.  President Atkinson left for Puebla for some speaking assignments. 

One of the couples that got married this week.
The bride with her two kidos.
A youth leader and two young men waiting their turn to go into the Baptistery.
These girls had finished their work in the temple and had changed and were waiting for everyone else to finish before getting back on the bus to go home.  They look pretty happy, don't you think? 

Sunday President Pena and I connected by phone to two Area Coordinating Council Meetings.  We presented a power point on the numbers from last year and what we had observed from the stakes that had the most success.  We suggested that if all the stakes would follow the best practices that we had observed, that they all could have a more enjoyable experience on their next visits.  We then went to church in the chapel right next to temple.  We enjoyed dinner at the Rays, with the Roesberrys, Penas and Sister Zarco.  Mom went back to the temple for a meeting with all the secretaries from 5pm to 7:30pm.  We then talked to all the kids.  They all seem to be doing well and we feel so blessed.  We love Skype and Face-time and don’t know what we would do without this technology.  What a blessing.  We can’t believe that January is more than half over.  The time is flying by and we are truly seeing the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives and the lives of the saints that come and worship in the temple.  The happiness in the faces of the families that come to be sealed is so uplifting and inspiring.  We know, that they know, what a blessing the temple is.

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 5th through January 11th

January 5th through January 11th:  Monday we went on an outing to see a restored organ in a church in one of the small towns east of Oaxaca called Tlacochuahuaya.  Say that fast 3 times.  Mom has wanted to find this town to see this restored organ.  Well, I have to say it was an amazing church.  Many of the painted walls were original with some of them having been restored and the organ was pretty cool also. 

Three cuties in front of the church in Tlacochahuaya.
The baptistry in the church in Tlacochahuaya.
The painted ceilings were beautiful and amazing.
The choir and organ loft.
Looking straight up at the dome.
The alter.
From the choir loft.
The restored organ.  It had a big bellows to provide the air.
L to R Elder and Sister Ray, mom and I, and Sister and Elder Roesberry.
We all gave this church a 10.
The courtyard of the convent attached to the church.

Next we decided to find the small town that makes red pottery, San Marcos Tlapazola.  Merritt had wanted to see this pottery, but we weren’t sure how to get there.  It was a little harder to find because there were no road signs.  It is really out in the middle of nowhere.  We first went to Tlacolula and then went through the town and asked a number of people how to get there.  The road was being worked on and we had to go on a detour through fields and the country side between the towns.  My nose-compass served us well, I did not get lost, but many doubted that I knew where we were or where we were going.  The pottery was very simple and utilitarian, but the women that made and sold the pottery were so cute and fun to tease and talk to, that it made it a very enjoyable side trip. To read more about these women you can follow the link below.


The small church in San Marcos Tlapazola.
I don't know where Ross is.  AWOL
The ceiling in this church was also painted beautifully.
The red pottery of San Marcos Tlapazola.
These are two sisters.  The one on the right had been to Arizona to demonstrate her pottery.
We teased each other and made each other laugh.  They are such happy people.
The sign that hangs over the door to their home and workshop.

It was a fun day and we enjoy being with the Rays and the Roesberrys and exploring all the small towns and interesting things to see and do.  The rest of the week, except for Saturday, was quite slow and mom and I had to find things to keep us busy.  But on Saturday we had 4 buses come and we had a wonderful day in the temple with the saints from Pachuca.  Saturday night, President Pena and I went to the airport to pick up President Atkinson and his wife, Kathy.  When we got out there, the airport was closed and being occupied by the teachers union.  We were lucky we made it to the parking lot.  We walked around the protesters, but could not get into the airport.  We saw through the window that their flight had been canceled.  We returned home and found out that half way into the flight, the pilot had to turn the airplane around and return to Houston because of the protesters at the airport.  Interesting times.  Sunday I went back out and picked them up.  Then Chris and I spoke in the Fortin Ward.  Mom did such a nice job, she had everyone in tears.  She told stories of some of the people who have come to the temple to do work for their ancestors and how we each need to come to the temple to receive blessings.  We had a coordinator’s meeting in the temple in the afternoon.  We tried to talk to our kids in the evening.  I think we got 4 of the 5.  I crashed before mom finished.  We think of our children every day and pray for them and know that they are being watched over by our loving Father in Heaven.  This is His work and we are thankful that we can be here and be a small part of helping to bring to pass the eternal life of His children. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

December 29th through January 4, 2015

December 29th  through January 4, 2015:  Monday we drove our friends Tom and Merritt Stites and Bill and Carol Fulton  to Mitla to see the ruins.  The 16th century church  was built right in the center of the walls of the main plaza of the Zapotec Indians who were living in Mitla when the Spanish arrived.   The name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl name Mictlán, which was the place of the dead or underworld. It’s Zapotec name is Lyobaa, which means “place of rest.” The name Mictlán was Hispanicized to Mitla by the Spanish.  However, what makes Mitla unique among Mesoamerican sites is the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes and even entire walls. These mosaics are made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces which have been fitted together without the use of mortar. No other site in Mexico has this. Mitla is one of the pre-Columbian sites that represent the Mesoamerican belief that death was the most consequential part of life after birth. It was built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead.   Thanks Wikipedia for that explanation of the name, Mitla. That makes me think about our understanding of how and where we connect with those on the other side of the veil. 

The gang in Mitla.
The Church in Mitla.
The Church in Mitla.
This is taken in front of the church and you can see how close the walls of one of the Zapotec buildings is to the church.  They actually share a common wall in the back.

Next we went to Yagul. Merritt and Carol teamed up against Tom and Bill for a ballgame.  From the title of the book Chris got for Christmas, “The Sport of Life and Death: the Mesoamerican Ballgame,” you might deduce that after the game the men were begging for mercy.  Mercy was extended and they continued with us. 

From this distance I could not tell what was happening.
But on closer inspection, the losers are begging for mercy.
Some of the ruins in Yagul.

Next was Teotitlan were Merrit was the best shopper ever and found 5 new rugs for the house they are building in Torrey, Utah.  Mom did well too, finding 2 rugs for the house we hope to have someday.  They are beautiful wool rugs that are made with natural dyes and woven on looms that haven’t changed for centuries. 

A woman demonstrating how they get the colors from the natural dyes.
We saw a funeral procession leaving the church in Teotitlan.  It was a child and the casket was white and quite small.

On the way home we stopped in Tule so they could see “The Tree”.  What fun we had with our friends from Salt Lake.  Tuesday we had a group come in the morning and then we worked in the evening so we had little time to see our friends, so we sent them to visit some museums in Oaxaca.   Wednesday was New Years Eve and normally the temple would be closed, but the Stake President from Amapolas asked for 2 sessions for his Stake.  They filled the sessions and the baptistery to capacity and did a great job of saying good-bye to 2014.  We got done about noon and went and picked up our friends and took them to San Bartolo Coyotepec to see how the black pottery is made. Then we went to Zaachila to visit some tombs and I found out that my name is 8 Dog.   People were named by their birthdates in the Mixtec and Zapotec calendar, so they can continue to figure out what your name would be by what day you were born on.  Please feel free to call me 8 Dog.  In the evening we had dinner with the other missionaries.  After dinner I didn’t feel well, so I went to bed with chills and a fever.  I have been knocking on wood for some time saying that I haven’t got sick yet.  I can’t say that anymore.  I had a bad case of either food poisoning or some other bug.  On Saturday I finally went to the doctor and he got me on some pills to kill bacteria.  I am feeling much better, but am still not 100%.  Thursday the temple was closed and I was pretty sick. But our friends came to a New Year’s Day dinner at the Ray’s home. 

New Years Day dinner.

Friday we had 4 buses scheduled so I went to temple.  Instead of 4, we got 5, and I helped get everyone organized, but by 10:00am I headed back to bed.  Mom stayed in the temple until about 3:00pm and then met up with our friends.  She left me home trying to recuperate and went and spent the evening with them to thank them for their visit and to say good-bye.  Thanks, Tom, Merritt, Bill and Carol for the fun visit.  I am sorry I could not do more with you. 

Their last night in town.  L to R Bill and Carol Fulton, and Tom and Merritt Stites.

Saturday the groups had canceled, so I felt like I could stay home.  I did however go and see Doctor Morales .  He checked me out and got me on some pills.  In the evening we all went to the Penas for Rosca de Reyes.  This is a traditional holiday where the children put out there shoes so that the Three Kings will leave them presents like they left the baby Jesus. It is usually the 5th of January, because the Kings didn’t arrive on the night of his birth. 

2 Rosca de Reyes.  That might translate, wreath of the kings.
Rosca de Reyes
Rosca de Reyes
One of the babies that are hidden in the cake. If you get a baby in your piece of cake, you have to make tamales for a party in Feb.   

Sunday I started feeling a little better and we had an appointment with the ward council of Barrio Fortin.  Our presentation went well and we stayed for their meetings. 

Ward Council with the Fortin Ward.

We had dinner with the other missionaries and the Penas again at the Ray’s home.  I hadn’t eaten real food for 3 days and I felt like I had been fasting that long.  Dinner was delicious.  Through this little set back, I lost 7 lbs.  In the evening, we got to talk to most of our children.  We love them so and hope that they are being looked after.  We have faith that they are.  This was not the best of weeks, but I am still thankful to be on this mission.  The Lord’s tender mercies are evident in our lives.  Oh, how he loves us.  Happy New Year to all of you and may you find peace and happiness this year.

I finished one of my Christmas presents.  Chris helped (1 piece)