Guatemala City Temple

Guatemala City Temple
Here is where we will be working until Nov. 2018

Welcome

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 25, 2016

January 28th through January 24th



January 28th through January 24th: Monday I worked on the blog in the morning and then we went to the temple.  The MTC asked us to open the temple a day early and let them have 4 sessions for the missionaries that have come since the closure started on the 4th.  We had lined up 10 missionary couple and a few temple workers to assist us with these 4 sessions.  There were 7 missionaries that had arrived at the MTC that had not received their endowments and they were leaving on Tuesday.  So we happily opened the temple and had a wonderful afternoon serving these precious young men and women.  What an honor to help them.  We finished up about 6:00pm and decided to all go to dinner to celebrate the birthdays of Dawn and Eldon Hurst.  Both have birthdays this week.  We went to Tacotento, a Mexican restaurant that is really close to our apartments.  It was fun to all be together and share a meal, we never do that kind of thing (NOT).

Dinner at Tacotento, notice that everyone has on a sweater.  It is chilly here.

Tuesday was the official opening of the temple after the maintenance closing.  I first had to go to the dentist and have a cavity fixed.  Thanks area dental office!  Then it was to the lab to have blood drawn to check my blood thinner.  Finally, we got home and had some lunch and then went over to the temple to see how the afternoon shift was going with the new schedule of adding sessions at 2:00pm and 3:00pm.  We need to get more of the workers to come on time.  We are asking them to come an hour earlier.  We only stayed a few hours and everything worked out well.  I have been working on family names and John B. said his ward needed names for the youth to be able to go to the temple, so I shared with him the names of 50 men and 50 women.  I also printed the cards for about 200 people and we will do the ordinances in this temple.  I can’t believe how many names I am finding and how fast we can get the work done.  We do have a little advantage.  We just put our names ahead of the temple names and sometimes an entire session will be our names.  I end up spending a few hours every day attaching records and hints and in the process find more names.  I get so excited when I find a census record that adds 4 or 5 children or a marriage record that adds a spouse and parents.  I think I am becoming a genealogy addict.  But I figure it is a good use of down time.  Wednesday we switched with the Rosales and they took the morning shift for us so that we could attend the world wide satellite broadcast to all the missionaries around the world.  They said that it had been over a decade since they first did this.  It was a wonderful and powerful meeting.  We heard from many of the twelve and some of the seventy that serve on the missionary council.  Then it was straight to the temple for the afternoon shift.  That made for a pretty long day, but it was filled with the Spirit.  Thursday we had presidency meeting and we just stayed for the afternoon shift.  That made for 11 straight hours at the temple.  Mom brought over some granola bars to keep us going.  We had good attendance for the 2 new sessions.  The sealer didn’t come in the evening so I got to be the sealer and did a 1 ½ hour session with my own family names.  It was the most powerful experience I have had in years.  There were 6 couples and every one of them needed tissues, even the men were wiping tears from their eyes.  There really are many more blessings when we do family names as Elder Scott has taught us.  Of course I needed an entire box of tissues.  At times I could hardly talk.  It is hard to describe what I felt.  At the end of the session I told the group thanks for helping me do my family names and one of the men said “We didn’t know they were your family, but we could feel that they were.”  Sometimes you wonder if you are making a difference, but I know I made a difference in the lives of at least 12 people that evening.  It was a very rewarding experience.  Friday we did some shopping, since on Monday we did not get a chance to go grocery shopping.  We also had the opportunity to go and do a session in the temple.  We spent some time working on talks.  We have another stake conference this week end and a fire side for all of the north institute students.  Saturday we got up at 3:00am.  I set the alarm, but did not need it.  I woke up 15 minutes before it went off.  We got to the temple at 4:00am and had a great morning.  We had sessions about every 30 minutes and every one of them was full and there were youth groups and sealings.  It is so wonderful when the temple is full.  We came home and had lunch and did a couple of hours of family search and then left for our stake conference assignment.  We had printed a map to get to the stake center, but when we arrived, 10 minutes before the meeting was to start, we realized that we were at the wrong chapel.  We called the stake president and of course we could not tell him where we were, we had no idea.  I rolled down the window and asked a man on the street if he would tell the person on the phone where we were.  I then handed him my I-phone.  I had the thought, “Should I have just handed this guy my phone?”  Well, he explained where we were and the stake president explained where we needed to go and we were off.  The stake president left the meeting and went out and waited for us on the side of the road and then escorted us into a gated neighborhood.  We arrived as they were announcing the program.  Our talks went fine, but during the area seventies talk my phone went off.  I had left it on when talking to the stake president and forgot to put it on vibrate.  I got mine turned off and then Chris’ rang.  The temple was trying to get a hold of us.  The missionaries did not know we were at a stake conference and wanted to go to dinner.  We were so embarrassed.  Talk about making a bad first impression.  Sunday we made sure we were early and we spoke right before the area seventy.  The other speakers had taken a lot of time so I sent a note to the stake president asking what time he wanted us to end.  We had to cut our talks short so that the visiting authority had his time.  That was ok with us and we still felt like we did a good job.  I ended right at the time they asked me to, so I hope that left a better impression. 

Alameda Stake Conference
The stake choir.  The two boys sat right behind us and both had very nice voices.
Mom and her two new friends.
A proud papa and his 3 month old son.  Made us think of Campbell.
Outside after conference.

We then went home and made linner, which is lunch and dinner.  We asked the Hurst’s if they wanted to go with us to the Fireside for the Institute.  They said they would like to join us, so we 4 headed out to another chapel that we have never been to before.  This time a “Lola”, our GPS Waze navigator, got us to the right place on time.  Mom and I were the only speakers and they wanted us to take an hour.  I think we hit a home run.  Mom did a great job and had them laughing and crying.  I then also made a few jokes which made them laugh.  Mom said I hit them a bit hard about getting married, but I felt the Spirit and think that they got the message.  My talk was on how to obtain eternal life.  We left and I felt excited and uplifted.  I was grateful for the Holy Ghost and the help I received.  I had not prepared all that much and I made some changes during my presentation.  I know when I have done something beyond my abilities and that talk was one of those times when divine help was evident. 

Institute Fireside--it was packed.
Mom's helper at the institute fireside.  Sister Garcia one of our temple workers.

I have had tears a number of times writing this blog.  It was one of the best weeks we have had so far and I feel so blessed to be able to be here and participate in these meetings and in the temple.  “How did this all happen?”, is still a question that is bouncing around in my mind.  The Lord is in charge and is bountiful in His blessings to us.  We give thanks everyday for our many blessings.  We can’t imagine how we deserve this assignment.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Friday, Salama, Rabinal, and the trip home and Saturday and Sunday



January 15th  through January 17th:  Friday we got up and had breakfast in a little restaurant right across the street from where we stayed.  We loaded up and were on our way, thinking that we would be home between 1:00pm and 2:00pm. 

The market in Coban on our way out of town.

Mom wanted to drive through Salama and Rabinal, so we headed that way.  This route turned out to be not the quickest way home. 

The market in San Miguel Chicaj.
Inside the Market.

We stopped in Rabinal and the next town on the map was Chol. 

The church in Rabinal.
Making tortillas in Rabinal.

We found the road and it was a dirt road and not a very good one at that.  So we turned around and found a policeman and told him we wanted to go to Guatemala.  He took us and pointed us back to Salama.  When we explained that we wanted to go the shortest way and we wanted to go to Chol.  He took us back to the dirt road and said that in about 10 kilometers the road would change to pavement.  We headed out on the dirt road. 

Dirt roads.

It was slow going; the road had a lot of ruts and pot holes.  It took us about an hour to get to pavement and then the pavement would appear and disappear.  In every town we passed through, they were having some kind of political celebration and in one town they made us take back streets to get through town.  We rubbed our mirrors a few times and were on streets with at least a 45% incline, but we made it.  The “back way” that might have been shorter in kilometers was definitely the long way.  We arrived home about 5:30pm.  I was exhausted from driving all day long.  The winding roads and the dirt roads were a lot of work.  We won’t ever come home that way again. 

Some of the bridges were kind of narrow.

But it was a great trip and we saw a lot of Guatemala and feel very blessed to have had this opportunity.

Our poor car when we got home.

We are ready for the temple to be open.  Saturday I crashed.  Sunday we went and spoke at the Mariscal Stake conference.  It was a really nice conference and we felt the Spirit and came away uplifted and edified.  We love sharing our testimonies of the temple and the work of salvation.  It was a nice way to finish off the week.  We came home and the Hursts had us over for a great dinner.  It has been a wonderful week.

They had a great turn out for conference.
The choir was very good.

Thursday Ceibal, river trip, and road to Coban



January 14th:  Thursday The Hursts and I went to breakfast at 7:00am.  The rest of our group either wanted to wash their hair or sleep-in.  We met our guide and boat captain at 8:00am and walked one block to the river.  We all climbed into the aluminum boat and we headed up the river.  It took just over an hour to reach the place on the river where you had to climb up the muddy river bank. 

The water was really calm as we headed up the river for our hour ride to Ceibal.
There was a haze over the jungle.
The jungle was very dense.
The morning mist didn't burn off until we were on our way back.
The hike up the bank was muddy and slippery.

video
 Video of the river.
The climb-hike up to the ruins was on a muddy, uphill trail through dense jungle.  All the rocks and steps, when there were steps, were covered in moss.  You had to be very careful.

Welcome to National Park Ceibal


The trail to the ruins was muddy and slippery.
Sometimes the trail was covered by trees that had fallen down.
You had to be careful there were many things to trip on.  I had sprained my ankle a few days before and it was still really tender.
The trail had steps in some spots, but they were covered in moss and very slippery.
It took us over an hour to hike into the ruins.
One of the many Ceiba trees we passed.

We made it and we were a little bit disappointed.  There was not a lot to see.  But we all decided that the adventure of the hike in was what was worth the time and effort.  We didn’t spend a lot of time looking around because we wanted to leave around 1:00pm and drive to Coban.  We had told the boatman that we wanted to be back to Sayaxche between 12:00/12:30. 

This site is famous for it's stelas.

 
 
 

They were good, but not as good as the ones in Quirigua.
This was one of the two buildings that had been restored.

The hike out was even slower than the hike in.  Going downhill proved to be more difficult.  We all made it and were settled in the boat and on our way back down the river.
The jungle was dense and we could hear howler monkeys most of the time.
Lots of interesting mushrooms.
More mushrooms.
After slowing down to take pictures of a crocodile, the motor on the boat started acting up.  We were still 45 minutes from Sayaxche.  Apparently the water pump on the outboard stopped working and the engine was overheating.  I had my phone, but it only had  a 2% charge.  We tried to call the owner of the boat, but he did not answer.  Dawn (Sister Hurst) pulled out a battery and a cord and I was able to charge my phone enough to make some more calls.  We had called the temple security the night before to let them know where we would be staying.  I had given them the number of the hotel.  I called them and got the number.  We called and our guide talked to the gal there and she went and found the owner of the boat and made arrangements for them to come and get us.  We still had to sit and wait for over an hour for them to arrive.  They finally arrived with a different motor and they swapped out motors.  We were finally on our way back only to run out of gas 300 yards from the shore.  Alejandro shook the gas can and the engine started back up and we made it.
Muddy shoes and muddy pants after our hike in the jungle.
The river was calm and you could see the reflection of the trees and the sky on the water.
I couldn't get over how beautiful the reflection was.
This guy was sun bathing.  No one swims in this river.
Changing out the motor.
When the motor was working it was smooth sailing.
The selfie I took and posted on Instagram.
We arrived about 2:30pm.  We knew it was about a 3 ½ hour drive to Coban.  We didn’t want to have to drive after dark.  The roads can be dangerous and the speed bumps are hard enough to see during the day.  We decided to try and make it to Coban.  We grabbed some fried chicken and tortillas and eat in the car on our way.  We arrived just as it was getting dark.  We had called ahead and found a room, but we couldn’t find the hotel.  We called them back and had a taxi driver talk to them and then we followed him to the hotel.  It was right by the market and bus station.  But it was ok and for $28.00 per room it seemed like a deal. 
Our room in Coban.
We got settled and went for a walk to find ice cream.  The market was alive and fun to walk through.  We had a number of tender mercies today and felt very blessed to be safe and sound in Coban.