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 26, 2016

December 19th through December 25th

December 19th through December 25th Monday we got up early and drove back to Guatemala City from Salama, arriving in time to take the missionaries shopping.  We finished up and hustled to the area dental clinic to have our teeth cleaned.  All went well and when Chris’s jaw heals from the root extraction from a month ago, she will just need a new crown.  
Hotel Tzalamha where we stayed Sunday night.
Getting my teeth cleaned at the dental clinic.  Elder and Sister Houge doing the honors.
Elder Smith cleaning mom's teeth.
We were all smiles after we got our teeth cleaned.
They have a stray dog that they feed and take care of and she had pups a few weeks ago.  They are so cute and I think I need a dog.  We worked all the shifts during the week with President and Sister Rosales so that President and Sister Funes could have the entire week off.  Then next week, President Rosales and President Funes will take all the shifts so that we can be off to take Kate and Bryce around.  We are so excited that they arrive in a few hours.  
Holding 3-week-old puppies will brighten anyone's day.
Here are 7 of her pups.
Volcano Agua on the left and Fuego, center right, under the clouds.
Saturday the temple was closed for Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve is the big day here to celebrate Christmas.  We had all the area senior missionaries over to our house for a brunch.  We fed 34.  It was fun to all be together.  
We cooked the hams and everyone else brought something to share.  
Christmas Brunch with the Senior couples.
Christmas Brunch with the Senior couples.
Christmas Brunch with the Senior couples.
Sister Curtis told a wonderful story of her visit to the Costa Rica temple.  She was visiting friends who were serving in the presidency of the temple.  After a session, he told them that the temple president wanted to talk to them in his office.  The met with him and he shared with them the story of his conversion.  He was a young boy about 12 years old when he met the missionaries.  His mother had had a dream where her parents came to her and asked her to have them baptized.  She talked to the priest and he said he couldn’t do that, but could baptize her.  The temple president was playing soccer and took the two missionaries home and they taught his mother a lesson.  As they were leaving one of the missionaries gave the mother a card with a picture of a temple on it with his name and contact information.  When his mother saw the temple she asked about it.  The missionary explained a little about the temple and that it is where we can do baptisms for our dead ancestors.  Well, the mother and the young boy (temple president) were baptized.  The temple president then told them the name of the missionary whose name was on the card.  It was Sister Curtis’ older brother.  He had made the connection because of her maiden name and where she is from is unusual.  They were both in tears.  He later contacted her brother, who is now 82 years old and not doing well, by phone, to thank him for bringing the gospel to his family.  He explained that thousands of people have joined the church because he taught his mother about vicarious work for the dead.  
Sister Curtis told a wonderful story about her visit to the temple in Costa Rica.
In the evening we went to the Victoria Suites apartments, where many of the area missionaries live for snacks  and a gift exchange.  Many were going to stay up and watch the fireworks at midnight.  
Dinner and gift exchange at Victoria Suites.
View from the top of Victoria Suites apartment building.
We excused ourselves and got home about 9:00pm.  At 11:00pm we went over the penthouse condo of Brother and Sister Rodriguez.  He is a member of the bishopric in our ward and his wife, Perla, is one of our coordinators in the temple.  They have a beautiful home on the top floor of a high-rise with full height glass panels that slide and open up both sides of their home to the outdoors.  They fed us chicken filled tamales and ponche, a traditional drink that is a little like wassail.  Then we watch from their balcony the fireworks that were incredible.  These are not public fireworks.  Everyone just buys their own fireworks and everyone sets them off at midnight.  It sounds like a war zone and you can see fireworks all over the city.  It is worth watching the videos.  They were every bit or maybe better than what we watched in China for Chinese New Year.  We got home at 1:00am.  Staying up this late is a record for me, but it was worth it.  
View of Guatemala City from the penthouse condo of Brother and Sister Rodriguez.
Brother and Sister Rodriguez with his parents.  His dad is one of our sealers in the temple and his mom is one of our coordinators.
Our midnight meal of corn tamales and ponche.
This is also part of the Rodriguez family, the brother and his family.  He is a stake president here in the city.
Our hosts for the midnight activities.
Brother and Sister Rodriguez.
We were in a war zone for about 30 minutes.

Click below to see the Fireworks

Christmas Eve Fireworks

More Fireworks

Click above to see the Fireworks
Sunday we checked in with the present unwrapping at some of our kid’s houses.  It is fun to see the joy of children unwrapping presents.  We went to church and then talked to more of our children.  We then started getting ready for our trip with Kate and Bryce that starts tomorrow.  We had a great week and learned a lot about the Christmas traditions here in Guatemala.  They open all their presents after the fireworks and they have a big family dinner of tamales and ponche.  All the family gets together for this dinner.  We are very blessed to be able to experience new cultures and share this special time with good friends.  Thanks to the Rodriguez family.
The manger scene in front of the temple.
I surprised Chris with a typical skirt to match the top she knew she was getting for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 12th through December 18th

From our trip to Antigua last week, this is a store that sells typical Guatemalan sweets.  It has been in business since 1872. 
December 12th through December 18th:  Monday we had a group of children come to family home evening to sing Christmas songs for our FHE group. They were from the Alameda stake. They were so cute and did a great job. Then the May's did the lesson for their last FHE. They leave this week. We will miss them a lot. Not only their help in the temple, but also their friendship. We will be down to 3 couples when they leave. (Hint Hint) 
Children's choir for Family Home Evening.

The choir was accompanied by violins,
 piano and guitars.

Click below to hear the children.

Click above to hear the children
The May's last Family Home Evening.
Sister Rosales made this cake for FHE.  It had a filling kind of like mince meat.
Wednesday, after our shift we took the May’s out to eat for their last lunch in Guatemala. They leave tomorrow.  
Good-bye lunch with the May's.
We will miss them.
Thursday we got up early and I drove the May’s to the airport.  They had 7 overweight bags.  I dropped them off and headed home.  I had just started making a radish greens and cauliflower soup when I got a call from them saying that there was a moratorium on extra bags and they could only check 2 bags each and could I please come out and get 3 of their bags.  I went back out to the airport and got the bags.  The last thing that Elder May said to me was, “Maybe we will have to fly back down here and bring you some more orange sticks.”  We will have to try and get some of Sister Price’s kids and maybe Kate and Bryce to take some extra bags back to Utah when they leave after their visits.  We then took the Winkfield’s and Sister Price to the hospital with us to hand out baby kits to the new mothers.  This was the first time for the Winkfield’s and it was an eye opener for them.  
At the hospital.
Sister Winkfield and Mom handing out the baby kits.
We handed out about 80 kits.
I was honored to officiate the sealing of these two saints from Belize.  He is a branch president there.
Friday we got up real early and got 4 crock pots of soup going and got the table set to feed the 32 temple employees, in two shifts.  We then went to our oil painting class. 
This is the new painting mom is working on.
I have done most of this painting with a pallet knife.
We got home in time to change and greet the first group.  We finished up about 2:00pm and then did our afternoon shift.  
The first group of employees.  Some came late and did not get in the picture.
The second group.
Mom with some of the Sisters from Chulac.
Members from Chulac
Members from Chulac.
Mom and the District President from Chulac, Presidente Maas.
Saturday we got up early and drove with the Hurst’s to La Tinta for the Sacsuha district conference.  
On the way to La Tinta.  If you get off the road the jungle takes over.
Everything is so green and lush.
This is how people get around in the Polochic.  This is a taxi.
We met President Faundez for lunch and then went to the church for the 2:00pm adult session.  Mom then drove Sister Faundez, her granddaughter, and Sister Hurst about an hour up the mountain to our hotel in Senahu.  
A break between the adult and priesthood sessions.
The men stayed for the priesthood session.  Mom and I both spoke in the adult session and I also spoke in the priesthood session.  Our talks were translated into Kekchi.  We got to our hotel about 8:00pm.  
Getting my shoes shined in Senahu.
Sunday morning we had to leave early about 6:45am in order to make it to the first session of conference at 8:00am.  There was a second general session at 10:30am.  Half of the branches attended the first session and then the other half the second session.  Mom and I spoke in both sessions.  
President Faundez and some other old fat guy.
The choir for the conference.

Click below to hear Silent Night in Kekchi

Click above to hear Silent Night in Kekchi
The rest of the choir.

         Click below to hear choir in Kekchi
         Choir singing in Kekchi

Click above to hear choir in Kekchi

After the last session on Sunday.
The female part of the choir with mom.
Me saying good-bye to a truck load of saints.
After the last session we went to one of the other chapels and had lunch with the district presidency and the choir. 
Sunday lunch was prepared for us by the sisters of Sacsuha: a piece of chicken, some rice and potatoes.
Lunch with the choir after the conference.
None of the girls ate their chicken.  They told me they would take it home to share.
One of the family's in Sacsuha.
We then drove to Salama and checked into a hotel.  

Click below to view driving on dirt road.

Click above to view driving on dirt road.
This dirt road takes more than a hour driving time.

It was only 4:30pm and we decided to drive over the mountain, about an hour, to Rabinal and visit the Call’s.  They are new member support senior missionaries and he has been made the branch president there.  We had a nice chat with them and saw their apartment and I will just say they are troopers and good sports. We had to drive back as it was getting dark and the road is narrow, and winds back and forth with steep drop-offs and no guard rails.  It is not for the faint of heart.  This was a very busy week and we felt very blessed to have been able to get so much accomplished.  That district conference was the last one for a few weeks and we are looking forward to a few not so complicated Saturdays and Sundays.  We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and this time next week we will be on our way to Tikal with our daughter Kate and our son-in-law Bryce. 
They have planted about 100 poinsettias at the temple.
Friday morning while I was sitting at the computer we had a 5.4 magnitude earthquake.  This eruption of the volcano Fuego was on November 16th 2016.  She is always spouting off.