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, April 27, 2015

April 20th through April 26th

 April 20th through April 26th:  Monday after mom went to physical therapy, we went to visit the archeological site of Atzompa.  It only takes about 45 minutes to get there.  It is just north of Monte Alban, the largest ruin in Oaxaca.  We had visited Atzompa about a year ago, but the Penas and the Rays had never been there.  It was a fun morning and not too hot.  
Atop the first set of stairs at Atzompa.  L to R Roesberrys, mom, Rays and Penas.
In front of one of the pyramids. 
The four women with the ball-court in the background. 
Flowering cactus.
The flower on the cactus.
Mom is trying to show how big this one is.
You can see the city below.
As I was taking this picture a big bug flew into the flower.  Sorry it is out of focus.
We visited the museum after walking around the ruins.  It is small, but quite nice.  It has some wonderful artifacts and pottery.  
The museum had some wonderful artifacts.
More artifacts from Atzompa.
This pot was about 3 feet tall.  remember they did not have a potting wheel.
Not only did the make pots but figures and these were fired in their kilns.
Jaguar mask.
We then went to the local artisans market, where they mostly sell green pottery.  They still make pottery the same way they made it over 1000 years ago.  The kilns are exactly the same.  Atzompa has one of the few intact ancient kilns.  It could probably still be used today.  We had lunch in the restaurant next to the market.  The men sat and waited for the food and the woman shopped.  Mom bought a tree of life without Adam and Eve and the serpent and a few other pieces of the green pottery.  
Mom shopping at the artisans market. Yes she found things to buy.
Tuesday and Wednesday were ground hog days (meaning there was no difference in what we did as to what we always do on Tuesday and Wednesday).  Thursday we had no groups coming so we had invited the Relief Society from the 4 stakes to come to a special session at 10:00am.  Each stake was supposed to send 2 men.  We had about 90 people come. So we had a full session and we did 2 sessions of sealings.  I did one of them and Pres. Pena did the other.  It was a very nice morning.  
The side entrance to the Santo Domingo church. We had to make a trip downtown to get my blood checked.
Friday we had 6 buses come and were busy till closing.  We went to dinner with the Atkinsons.  They took us to a steak house and I had the best steak I have had here in Mexico.  That might not be saying much, but I really enjoyed it.  Saturday one of the local stakes wanted an early morning session.  We opened the temple at 4:00 am and filled a 5:00 am endowment session and had enough people to do a sealing session.  At 5:00 am, 3 buses arrived and we got the regular sessions going at 6:30am.  We had 3 sealings after one of the morning sessions and President Atkinson asked me to do two of the three.  What an honor and a privilege it is to perform these sacred ordinances.  I had a wonderful morning.   
This is one of the couples I sealed on Saturday,  The other couple is the brides parents.
I was worried about not waking up in time to get to the temple at 4:00am so my body clock woke me up at 2:00am.  I was exhausted and went home at 1:00pm and took a nap.  We had a movie night at our house in the evening.  We rented at Blockbuster, yes they still have them here in Mexico.  I hooked up the projector and showed it on the wall of our apartment and we watched The Book Thief.  The Rays and the Roesberrys watched it with us.  Sunday we went to church at the El Bosque ward.  In the afternoon we had a two hour training meeting for all of the sealers.  It was a very nice meeting and we had a great discussion on the power to seal.  The weeks continue to fly by.  We miss our kids and grandkids, but feel we are making a small difference in the lives of the people we come in contact with here in Oaxaca.  We are starting to think about where we would like to serve next and what we might want to do and when we might want to go.  It is exciting to think about getting to know another city and another place we will call home for a time.
They are ready to pour the floor or the roof not sure which it will be yet.
The poured the floor of another house going up across the street from us.

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 13th through April 19th

April 13th through April 19th:  Monday we had a barbeque with the Rays, Roesberrys, Atkinsons, Penas, and Pres. Madsen.  His wife was hosting a luncheon for some of the sister missionaries.  We cooked burgers, French fries, and had potato salad, and watermelon.

I was cooking french fries while others were cooking the hamburgers.  So I didn't get a picture of the grill full of burgers.
It was a lot of fun and then we all drove up to Brother Pavey’s home for his presentation on the lands of the book of Mormon.  He has a beautiful home in San Felipe de Aguas (Saint Felipe of Waters).  It is where the old Spanish Aqueduct started that took water to the center of Oaxaca.  Much of the old aqueduct is still intact. 
The group before we started.  Don't you love the bougainvillea bush.
Just before Brother Pavey started his presentation.  Back row, Sister and Pres. Atkinson, President and Sister Madsen, President and Sister Pena, Elder ans Sister Ray, mom, Front Row, Sister Pavey, Elder and Sister Roesberry, Standing Brother Pavey.
 We just got underway and the sky became black and the wind started blowing and then the lightning and thunder started.  We had been outside under his carport and we really had a downpour, even more rain than yesterday.  We moved inside just as the power went out. Our cars were in his gated community and the gate does not work without power.  We were stuck.  He finished his presentation by candle light and the battery in his lap top.  Pres. Atkinson finally ordered taxis about 9:00pm and we headed home, still raining cats and dogs.  I went out on the front porch and made a short video of the sound of the rain and some of the lightning.  I love rain storms.  
From their front porch.  Big rain drops.
This is a the video of the rainstorm. At 20 seconds you see some lightning.

Tuesday was the same as all Tuesdays—presidency meeting and office work.  Wednesday we started an early morning session at 7:30am.  We usually have a 9:00am session on Wednesdays, but most Wednesdays it is full, so we have added another session.  Both sessions were over half full.  I’m sure as the word gets out we will have more people coming.  After the 7:30am session, which was attended by many missionaries serving in the city, an Elder Christian from somewhere in Utah county came into the office and said he was a friend of Doug Thayne’s and Doug had said to look us up when he got here.  So we took a picture of him for Doug.  
This is for Doug Thayne,  This is Elder Christian, who is a friend of Doug's and came and found us in the office after his session,
Thursday we had 2 buses and a very nice day in the temple.  Friday 4 buses arrived and everything went swimmingly.  I love that word.  
This is the young couple I sealed last Friday.
Saturday was another story.  I had a request from a bishop in Mexico City, to come to the temple on Saturday.  I explained that he could come if he came at 11:30am.  He said that would not work.  So I offered him a special session at 6:30am and told him he would have to be here at 5:00am for this to work.  He was going to bring 2 buses.  They arrived at 5:50am and we asked them to come straight to the temple so we could start on time, because I knew we had a stake with 3 buses arriving at 6:30am for the 8:00am session.  The stake with 3 buses scheduled for 6:30am arrived with 6 (yes, 6!!) buses at 6:10am.  
4 of the 9 buses, left of the gate of the temple.
Another 4 of the 9 right of the gate to the temple.
We hurried and filled the session at 6:30am with some of their people and then I went to work to figure out how we would accommodate the 150 people we weren’t expecting.  It took us till 11:00am to get everyone in.   But everyone was so patient and happy to just be at the temple.  
              Some of the saints waiting for their turn to enter the House of the Lord.
At 1:00pm we had another bus arrive.  They were supposed to have arrived at 11:00am, but had problems with traffic.  What a blessing for us that they were late.  By the time they arrived, we had space for them in the temple and they did not have to wait. We had 16 people receive their endowment on Saturday and we had 6 sealings.  I performed one of the 6 sealings, a really cute couple from Sahagon Stake, that is near Mexico City.  
This is the couple I sealed on Saturday.  We had 6 sealings on Saturday.
Don't you love her dress.  Saturday was a great day.
We got home at 3:00pm, hungry and tired.  After lunch/dinner and a short rest we went over to the Ray’s apartment and played cards with them and the Roesberrys. It was a nice way to unwind and relax a bit.  Sunday we went to church at the Dainzu Ward and after lunch we spent 4 hours in the temple with the Coordinators and Secretaries meetings.  We spent the evening calling and checking on the kids.  The 4 families in Utah were all together (21 of them) at John’s home for dinner.  They get together once a month for dinner.  We are so happy and pleased that they will do this.  We would want them to be with us, at least once a month, if we were there.  The cousins love to play together.  
These two are the cutest and I stole this off Facebook to show you cousin fun at John's house yesterday.
Saturday the secretary called in sick, so mom and I were really busy in the office.  We had to call in people to help us print and cut hundreds of family cards to do ordinance work.  It was crazy busy, but a great day.  As we laid in bed that night, I said to mom, “I don’t know how we got so many people in the temple.” And then I remembered, we didn’t, He did. Miracles happen every day if we have eyes to see.
Work continues for the roof or the next floor.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 6th through April 12th:

April 6th through April 12th: Monday we did the usual preparation day stuff, shopping, cleaning and blogging.  Mom made a Texas sheet cake for family home evening.  We were all going up to the Pavey’s home for a presentation he does on the connection of the ruins here in Oaxaca and the Book of Mormon.  Well, there were roadblocks all over the city and we could not get anywhere, so we all sat in Pres. Madsen’s home and talked about conference and ate desserts.  We will try again next Monday to go to his home.  Tuesday we had a special session in the morning for a couple from Salina Cruz.  She needed to receive her endowment and then they were going to be sealed.  So we started presidency meeting as soon as we got the session going.  After the session, Pres. Atkinson sealed them.  
The couple that come from Salina Cruz and Pres. Atkinson.
We finished up the meeting about noon.  We went back about 3:30pm for the afternoon shift.  Wednesday was the same as it always is, session in the morning and then the afternoon shift.  We did however have a completely full session in the morning and I had 16 people in sealings, so we have decided to add a 7:30am session starting next week and see if there is enough attendance for both sessions.  Thursday we had one bus from Alcapulco.  They arrived late because of problems on the road.  They will stay overnight and spend Friday also in the temple.  Friday we had 2 buses arrive from Cuernavaca and it was a very nice day in the temple.  I got to seal a couple with 2 children.  I love sealing children to parents.  Their joy is so full.  Saturday we were expecting 5 buses in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.  Well, we got 4 in the morning and 0 in the afternoon.  So we were swamped for only the first couple of hours and then it was a very calm and delightful day.  Pres. Atkinson shared with us the following story.  As a man was leaving the temple, he stopped and wanted to talk to Pres. Atkinson and tell him about his experience in the temple that day.  He said he arrived at the door and explained to Elder Norman that he was not with one of the 3 different groups who had appointments, but that he had come alone from Veracruz and wanted to do a session.  The Veracruz temple is closed for cleaning and maintenance.  He said the Elder Norman told him that there was no room for him in the session, but that he could do sealings and then go on the next session.  He said ok and that while he was in sealings as one of the witnesses, he noticed that one of the names on the sheet was one of his ancestors from Veracruz.  This was a sheet of temple names and not family names.  He asked to represent the husband of this couple and then served as proxy for his ancestor.  By this point he was sobbing and said that he was now sure that God was aware of him and knew him.  These kinds of things happen on a daily basis and he left thinking that Elder Norman was so inspired to send him to sealings.  The truth is I didn’t have anywhere else I could send him.  The Lord can do His own work.  We had some long days and we worked hard but we felt useful and that maybe we made a difference this week.  Sunday we got up early and we dropped Pres. Atkinson off at the Atoyac stake center and we went to Sacrament meeting in the Refoma Ward.  Then we went back to the Atoyac stake center and I went to a Coordinating Council Meeting with President Atkinson and the new area seventy, Elder Miron, and all the stake presidents in the area.  I trained the stake presidents on some new on line software that allows us to eliminate the paperwork for the calling of temple workers.  It is a great addition and will save a lot of time.  I was going to do the same thing in two other CCMs but Elder Walker the area seventy said that he would prefer that all administrative issues be handled by email.  So I was off the hook to the next two meetings and just President Atkinson joined their meetings by phone.  We had Alan Meza, the new temple technician, come to dinner.  He just got transferred here and his family is still in Veracruz.  His title is technician, but he really functions more like the engineer.  The engineer is President Pena and Alan reports to him, but Alan is the “go-to-guy” whenever we need something fixed or there is a problem.  He is a great guy.  He was a stake president in Veracruz at age 30 and it was a lot of fun to get to know him better.  

Sunday it rained cats and dogs.  I had to explain that saying to the Penas.
The rain lighting and thunder storm from our back porch.

We talked to our kids and I called it a day.  Sunday was the completion of 11 months.  The time is flying by and we feel so blessed.  We are learning so much and we are having many spiritual experiences.  We might have to do this again.  
The interior walls on the second floor and going up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

March 30th through April 5th:

March 30th through April 5th: Monday we went shopping for treats for the road trip, candy for the kids at EFY, markers, and rocks (I’ll explain later).   We then loaded up and headed for Puebla.  We arrived about 5:00pm.  We checked into our hotel and had a nice dinner and worked on the class we would be giving 4 times on Tuesday.  Tuesday we got up early and layered on clothes.  We had been told that it would be really cold at the church owned camp in the mountains.  It only took us about an hour to get to “El Rancho Guarda”.  It was cold, but not horrible.  We could see our breath and there had been a little frost on the car windows that had been there overnight.  
Mom trying to stay warm before breakfast.
Early morning, the shadows are long and the sun warm.
Mom and Sarai one of our secretaries who was a counselor.
Mom and Lucero,  Laura and Luis' daughter.
We had breakfast with over 800, 14 to 17 year old youth, and about 200 support staff.  
Big groups of kids everywhere waiting for the classes to start.
We then had an orientation meeting with all the teachers.  One teacher had not showed up and so I said that if they wanted, mom could teach a class and I could teach another class.  They said that would be great.  As we got our rooms set up and it was time to start the classes, the other teacher showed up.  So I moved my stuff down to Chris’ class and we taught together like we had planned all along.  We taught 2, 50 minute classes in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.  Mom taught on the family and family history, I taught on goals and decisions and ended the lesson by offering a white rock to everyone who would make a commitment to do one of three things:  do 4 hours of family history a month for a year or 4 hours of Indexing or attend the temple 2 times a month for a year.  The rock was to help them remember their commitment and it represented purity and the temple.  This was something I learned from Pres. Crayk in Bolivia. Thanks Lee.  We had lunch with everyone between classes and at the end we had a feedback session and then they took pictures of all the teachers.  It was a fun day and so enjoyable to be with the youth of the church.  The logistics of a weeklong camp with so many kids is amazing.  We were very impressed with the organization and the beautiful camp.
Mom teaching.

One of our classes.  Each class was about 120 kids.

This is for John and Charlotte who live in Bountiful.
They have about 10 dormitories.  They can sleep about 60 kids per building. 
But the overflow is sleeping in tents inside a big tent.
The teachers.
This says EFY is the future of the church in Mexico.
We drove back to Puebla and stayed the night there.  Wednesday we got up early and drove to Cholula, the oldest city in the Americas.  We got lost and had to have a taxi show us how to get there.  Cholula is the home of the largest pyramid in the world by volumn.   
The church on top of the pyramid.
Mom on top of the pyramid.
The church on top of the pyramid.
Cortés had arrived in Cholula after the Spanish victory of the Tlaxcalans, and he was supposed to meet Moctezuma II here. Since Cholula was allied with the Aztecs, the Spanish and their new Tlaxcalan allies were suspicious of this arrangement. There are two accounts of what happened next.  Spanish accounts tell of Cortés being warned through La Malinche, his native translator, of a plot to attack the Spanish. Cortés called the leaders of the city to the central square of the city where the Spanish were with their weapons. On signal, the Spanish charged and killed as many as six thousand Chololtecs.  However, the Aztec record states that the Spanish attack was unprovoked and there was no plot against them. The event is called the Cholula Massacre, and it resulted in many deaths and the destruction of much of the city. Cortez was mad at the city and said he would build 365 churches there, one for each day of the year.  But alas, only 37 churches were built in the city.  We were able to visit the church on top of the ancient pyramid and go through some tunnels in the pyramid. 
The largest church we could see from the top of the pyramid. 

We could see most of the churches but I only took pictures of a few. 
Another church,

A pre Hispanic head.
One of the courts near the pyramid.
One of the tunnels in the pyramid.
The tunnels were not all that big.
More tunnel fun.
More tunnel fun.
Cut away of the different temples that were built on top of each other.
There was a museum that explained a lot about the pyramid. 
A woman setting up to sell her wares.
We then drove back to Oaxaca, arriving late afternoon.  Thursday we had one bus scheduled and we ended up with 4.  2 arrived with different wedding parties that we did not know were coming and the other unexpected one was from the same stake as the one we had scheduled.  It made for an interesting morning.   We had 7 people that received their endowment and 4 sealings.  I got to do two of them.  Mine were related.  A father and mother and 3 children and then one of the children was also sealed to his wife and his one son.  It is a real treat to seal multiple generations at the same time.  

The son and his wife, me and the parents of the young man. These are the two couples I sealed. 
Friday we had 4 buses scheduled and we had 5 arrive.  This is getting to be the norm.  It was a busy day and we did almost 3000 ordinances.  I made a pot of cream of cauliflower soup for lunch between sessions for Saturday.  Saturday, we had everyone come to our apartment for conference.  We projected conference onto a wall and had a great picture.  Conference is always a treat.  
New seating arraignment for conference.
Conference on the wall.
We had a delicious lunch and then between the afternoon session and the Priesthood session I made cinnamon rolls for a Sunday brunch.  Sunday, we had a sunrise service at the temple where we talked about Easter and the temple.  
Sunrise service before the sun came up.
After the sun was up.
Sunday Brunch
We then had brunch.  We went on daylight savings or standard time, I don’t know which, so conference didn’t start until 11:00am here.  We all enjoyed conference and the messages were so inspirational.  I can’t wait to start studying them.  Be good to each other.
Last weeks picture of the house going up a few doors down from our place.
This week the floor got poured  and they started on the walls for the second story.