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, May 30, 2016

May 23rd through May 29th

May 23rd through May 29th:  What a great week we have had.  Monday we drove the Hurst’s and the May’s to Antigua, where we dropped the Hurst’s off to do some site seeing and shopping and we continued up the road to Pastores.  We visited Pastores a few weeks ago and Elder May saw a saddle that he thought might be needed back at the ranch in Idaho where they run about a thousand head of cattle.  When he talked to his son-in-law, who has 8 boys, he indicated that for sure they could use another saddle.  So Elder and Sister May ponied up (pun intended) and bought a new saddle.  We had to drive back to Antigua to get money out of an ATM because the place in Pastores did not take credit cards. 

The stirrups are tucked underneath.  He paid $400.00 if anyone is wondering.

On the way back to Guatemala, we stopped and Elder May treated us to that good rotisserie chicken, cooked with wood.  We of course had to have some of the potatoes and onions that were cooked in the drippings of the chicken. 

Rotisserie Chicken dinner with trimmings.

Monday night we had a fun Family Home Evening. One of our temple workers, Sister Guarcax, has a hobby of collecting the typical indigenous clothing from different regions of the country.  She brought the outfits and dressed all the women up and then explained what the different colors and designs represented. 

It was quite the fashion show.
Sister Guarcax explaining the different designs.
Sister Price, from Solola, Solola
Sister Funes, from Nebaj, Quiche
Sister Norman, mom, Ceremonial from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Sister Fillmore, from Solola, Solola
Sister Hurst, from Solola, Solola
Sister Madrid, from Solola, Solola
Sister May, from Zunil, Quetzeltenango
Sister Morris, from San Rafael La Cuesta, Huehuetengango
Sister Rosado, from Santa Cruz del Quiche, Quiche.
Sister Province, Santa Catalina Palopo, Solola
Sister Lowrey, from Santiago Atitlan, Solola
Sister Guarcax, the daugther, from Coban, modern.
Sister Rosales, from Tamahu, Alta Verapaz
Sister Guarcax, her dress from San Sebastian, Retahuleu
The mother of sister Guarcax, Tactic, Alta Verapaz

It was very interesting and then President Rosado told the story about a dream that a woman had that involved traditional clothing.  I have included the translated version of the story. 


The Guatemala City, Guatemala Temple was dedicated in 1984. Since that time, priesthood leaders have encouraged church members to find their ancestors and perform the temple ordinances in their behalf.

A sister from the city decided to obey her leader’s invitation and found that part of her ancestors were from a town named Coban, but there were no records of her great-grandmother in that town and nobody could give her information about her, because they didn’t know where she was from.

She became sad because she couldn’t help her great-grandmother. One night she had a dream. In that dream she was in the temple baptistery and suddenly she saw her great grandmother standing next to the banister (handrail). At that time she knew her only by photos. As she awoke, she was still sad for her great grandmother, but this time she was very impressed because she saw her wearing a yellow typical dress and she knew that wasn’t a dress from Coban.

With that impression in mind, she began to investigate about the color of the typical dresses and finally found that the yellow dress was from San Pedro Sacatepequez in the state of San Marcos, (300 miles away from Coban).  She traveled to that town and began to look for that family and to her surprise she found all her great-grandmother’s family.

They were very happy because the only thing they knew about her was that she had disappeared many years ago and they thought she was dead.

At that that time, the Guatemalan army used to kidnap young girls between 14-15 years old. Now they found out that she had been kidnapped and taken to Coban, because there was no way for her to travel a long distance (300 miles) except by horse, which was the only transportation available in those days.

This story was told by Israel Rosado MorfĂ­n

Tuesday we went shopping in the morning to make up for not going on Monday and then worked the afternoon shift.  Wednesday we went over and did some initiatory and then had presidency meeting.  Thursday we worked the morning shift.  Friday we worked the afternoon shift and got home about 9:30pm.  Saturday we were up early and left at 5:00am to drive to Coban to meet President and Sister Curtiss.  About one half hour into our road trip, Chris realized that she had packed everything we would need, except her Sunday clothes.  We did not have time to turn around and still get there on time to meet the Curtiss’ and drive to La Tinta for the interviews that President Curtiss had scheduled.  I told her she would just have to buy a new outfit.  When we got close to Coban, we called and they said that the only real place to shop is Mega Paca (It’s like a huge Deseret Industries, thrift store).  She found 2 outfits for $5.00 each.  She can shop there anytime.  We then traveled with them to La Tinta, a village in the Polochic region, a two hour drive from Coban.  The first ½ hour was on paved roads, but the last 1 ½ was on a rutted dirt and gravel road.  President Curtis has only 1 month left and has driven that road about a hundred times.  His driving made me look like an old woman.  You had to hold on and stay stiff or you would be thrown around like a rag doll.  It was grueling.  We arrived right on time at noon.  He had interviews until the adult session started at 2:00pm. 

Coming to conference by bus and by truck.
Some of these pickups have more than 20 people in the back.

Chris and I both spoke.  I spoke about coming unto Christ and how coming to the temple helps us be closer to Him.  Mom spoke about faith in Jesus Christ.  We felt good about our talks. Our talks were translated into Keqchi.  It was interesting to have to say a sentence or two and then wait for the translator to finish.   President Rosales served his mission in the Polochic and he helped me with a few sentences.  So I started my talk speaking in Keqchi.  After the meeting, Sister Curtiss and mom went to a hotel about 20 minutes further up the road in Teleman.  We stayed for the Priesthood session where I spoke about goals and that our ultimate goal is to return to live with our Father in Heaven and how to achieve that goal.  President Curtiss had some more interviews after the meeting. 

Priesthood Session
The Elders and President and Sister Curtis.

His counselor gave us a ride to a gas station that had kind of a restaurant attached.  We arrived at 8:00pm.  Sister Curtiss and mom had been waiting for 3 hours.  They became very well acquainted.  We had our choice of three different meals, which are served from sun up till sun down.  All had beans and an egg.  I chose to have chicken wings in addition.  We had not eaten all day, so for $3.00 we filled our tummies.  The room was not up to Motel 6 standards.  No running water, but we had a large bucket of water in the shower that we used to take a sponge bath with. 

The shower was beautifully tiled,
but there was no running water.

The Elders catching a ride back up the mountain.
Easily 50 people in and on this truck.
The choir. The director is sitting down without traditional dress.

Sunday we went to the church for an 8:00am session and then there was also a 10:30am session.  Mom and I both spoke in both sessions of the conference.  Mom got about 15 minutes and I got 20 minutes.  It was a lot of fun and I told the story of the great-grandmother and her typical dress that was not from Coban.  Mom talked about the sacrifice involved in coming to the temple. 

General Session Saqsuha District.
Sister Curtis and Mom
One of the young families.  Husband, wife and two girls.
Don't you love her dress.

One of our new friends, she is seventeen.
Headed home after conference.
Once again, President Curtiss had more interviews after the meeting.  No rest for a Mission President at a district conference.  We again endured the road to Tactic and then on to Coban, arriving about 4:00pm.  We said farewell to President and Sister Curtiss at the chapel/mission office where we had left our car. We had not eaten all day except for some crackers in the car, so we headed to Pizza Hut and a nice dinner.  After dinner we crashed in our hotel.  The Polochic area is the strongest area in the Coban mission.  The living conditions for the Elders are primitive.  Some areas have no electricity, no running water and mosquitoes that carry away small children.  But they all love it and never want to leave.  For about a year now they have been teaching Keqchi in the Missionary Training Center, so some missionaries are now called to spend their entire mission speaking Keqchi.  It was a wonderful week and we look forward to visiting some of the other 13 districts in our temple district. 
The Polochic valley is beautiful.

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 16th through May 22nd

May 16th through May 22nd:  Monday we did our shopping run to Walmart and Price Savers with all the missionaries.  The Dibb’s were supposed to come back today, but we received word this week that the doctors have put Dale on two different medications and he will need to be monitored for 3 months to see how they are affecting his heart.  We are saddened that they won’t be able to finish their mission here.  I got to watch a NBA playoff game in the evening.  Tuesday we took the afternoon shift for the Rosado’s.  They were going to work for us on Saturday because we had a conference in Flores.  We were going to fly on Friday to Flores to speak that night to a group of JAS, (Young Single Adults) and then stay to speak at a stake conference.  Everything changed when I received an invitation to a meeting with all the temple presidents in the Central America Area.  I emailed the Executive Secretary to the Area Presidency and explained that I would have to send a counselor because I had accepted an invitation to speak in a stake conference and would be flying on Friday.  When he got back to me, he indicated that Elder Ochoa wanted me to be in the meeting.  So we changed everything and I assigned President Rosales to fly to Flores on Friday.  President Rosado and I would take the 2 shifts on Friday and Saturday.  Wednesday we worked the morning shift and had presidency meeting.  Everyone got new assignments for the weekend.  During our shift we had 9 missionaries from the MTC arrive to receive their own endowment, 7 Elders and 2 Sisters.  It was the most men coming for the first time to the temple that I have ever had for one session.  It was a real treat to be able to have them all in my office and teach them about the garment and give them the instruction that people receive for their own endowment. You get that many missionaries together and you can feel the power of their callings and the goodness of their hearts.  Thursday morning we took some of our missionaries downtown to the central market. Mom and I walked over to the Presidential Palace to see when the tours are.  We want to visit the Palace at some point. 

The main plaza.
The Palace on one side of the main plaza.
Mom and the gardens in front of the palace.
I want those doors on my house.

I talked mom into buying a purse/travel bag with birds all over it.  It was made from a huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse that the indigenous women weave and wear in many parts of Guatemala.  You can tell from the design what part of the country the woman is from.  I was happy I found something she liked. 

Mom shopping in the central market.
Mom's bag with birds all over it.
Mis 15 Anos, (My 15 years).  Quincinera decorations. Disney is alive and well in Guatemala.  I'm sure they paid a royalty for these.

We went to the temple to do a session in the afternoon.  Friday I got up at 3:00am.  I was afraid I would sleep in and not get up in time to take President Rosales and his wife to the airport.  We needed to leave at 4:30am.  After dropping them off at the airport, I hurried home and got ready for my meeting at the area offices with Elder Ochoa that started at 6:30am.  It was really interesting, each temple president was connected to the meeting by video and we sat in the conference room looking at an entire wall of huge flat screens.  Each video feed from each location was shown.  The area seventies were also present in different locations.  When someone wanted to speak they would raise their hand and Elder Ochoa would tell them to un-mute their speaker and then we all could hear.  We talked about our common challenges and how we can be better united and how we can help the local leaders meet the goals of the area.  It was a good meeting and Elder Ochoa was very kind and said some nice things about how we have changed the feeling in the temple.  I then came home and changed and went to a painting class.  Jill Smith, who just moved here from Zimbabwe, has a Friday morning oil painting class and I asked if I could join.  There were 2 women and a daughter of one of the women and then me.  Everyone works on whatever they want.  I had to find a picture of something that looked interesting.  I chose a mountain reflecting in a lake.  I had to leave a little early so as to have time to get home and eat and change to make it to the afternoon shift. 

Picture of my painting after the first class.

During the shift, I had a man and his wife ask to speak to me.  I invited them into my office and he began to explain some of their challenges.  I thought of President Crayk telling me that people think that there is a sign on your door that says “Bishop”.  But this man was truly hurting and wanting counsel and hope.  I asked him if they were attending the temple.  He said that they sometimes come and walk around the temple, but that they were not endowed.  (My office is before you pass the recommend desk, so you don’t need to show a recommend to talk to the women in the office or get to my office.)  I took out the pamphlet on preparing to enter the temple and read to them some of the blessings of the temple.  He started to cry and became very emotional.  I gave them the pamphlet and promised them that they would be blessed and find a solution to their problems if they would prepare and come to the temple.  At the end of our conversation, he thanked me.  I said if he really wanted to thank me, he would prepare himself and his family and come back to the temple to receive his ordinances.  He said he would.  It was a very special meeting for me and for them.  I shouldn’t be amazed at how the Spirit guides me to know exactly what to say to bless and help someone, but I am always humbled by the experience.  Saturday morning we had all the North American missionaries over to the house for Swedish pancakes and then we also worked the afternoon shift. 

Saturday morning and Swedish pancakes.
Brother Arriaga made mom a flower box and filled it with violets.

At the end of the shift, a ward came and the Bishop had brought 4 recent converts, 4 middle-aged women, to do baptisms for the dead.  Two of them had brought the name of a deceased family member that they were going to be baptized for.  It was so fun to welcome them and talk to them for a minute or two about how they were going to become “Saviors on mount Zion” for the people they were going to represent.  They were going to help individual people receive their baptism and confirmation.  They were so happy and excited to be in the temple.  We went and bought pizza at Price Smart (Costco)  and brought it back to the house and had all the missionaries over after the shift ended.  The guys watched the end of the basketball game.  Sunday we went to the Utatlan stake conference.  During the week, I had received the invitation to this stake conference and Elder Duncan, the area president, was going to preside and had asked if I would participate.  It was a reorganization of the stake presidency.  Chris and I each got to give a brief talk.  After the meeting, Elder Duncan was so kind and said to me, “The favorite part of every conference for me is when you and your wife speak.”  We are so blessed to be able to teach and bear witness of the blessings of the temple.  Being in these stake conferences is one of the highlights of the week for me.  I come away so uplifted and feeling so blessed. 

Utatlan stake conference.
Mom with Sister Gonzalez.  She is one of our coordinators.
Some of the young women who sang in the choir.
Mom can't leave the cute kids alone.
The girl in the turquoise sweater is a new missionary and will be going to Scotland.  Her mom is in the white dress.  Looks like her sister right?

After lunch, we had the opportunity to spend 3 hours in the temple training the stake leaders from the Atlantico stake.  We had over 30 stake and ward leaders there.  I got to set each one of them apart as a temple worker.  They are excited to be temple workers, even if it is only when their units come to the temple.  It will bless their lives and the lives of the members of their wards and stake.  We finished off the day calling some of the kids and talking to grandkids.  It is so fun to see and talk to them. This was truly a wonderful week.  As I have sat here writing about some of our experiences, I have had to wipe away a few tears.  These are tears of joy and gratitude to my Father in Heaven who has blessed us far beyond our capacity to repay Him.  We try and serve Him and His children and show our love and gratitude and what does He do? He blesses us even more and we become more indebted.  His love and desire for us to be happy and return to Him is so overpowering at times. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 9th through May 15th

May 9th through May 15th:  Monday, after our shopping run, I decided to try a new recipe for Kung Pao chicken.  Sister Derby, who we spent so much time with in China, had sent me a recipe from her Chinese housekeeper for Kung Pao Chicken.  So I had to try it out.  We invited all the North American missionaries that live here at the temple housing to join us for dinner.  It was a little different than other recipes I have used, but it was great and everyone loved it. 

Chinese dinner for the North American missionaries.
There were leftovers.

Tuesday we had the morning shift.  During the shift, an Elder came who had long black hair braided down his back.  I knew immediately that he was from Otavalo, Ecuador.  We had a nice talk about Otavalo.  He told me that there are now two stakes in Otavalo and that 60% to 70% of the inhabitants are members.  When I was there in 1971 or 1972 there was only one little branch with just a handful of members.  What a miracle. I stepped outside and had to have a picture with him.  He was at the temple to be the escort for one of his converts who was receiving his endowment prior to leaving on a mission. 

Elder Munoz of Otavalo, Ecuador.  I knew the minute I saw his braided hair to the middle of his back where he was from.  I went to district meetings in Otavalo every week for 6 months.

Wednesday, we had presidency meeting and the afternoon shift.  Thursday I took the Mays and Sister Price and picked up Aimee and we went to Roosevelt Hospital and delivered baby kits.  It is always fun to see the newborns and their moms. 

Elder and Sister May, Sister Price and Aimee, from our ward,  on our hospital visit to deliver baby kits to newborns.
One of the mom's that we delivered a little gift to.

I am still spending a lot of my spare time doing family history.  When I got home Sister Duncan was here and mom was helping her learning how to combine duplicates and add sources.  She in turn taught us about an app called “Hope Chest”.  It is a Google Chrome app used in conjunction with Puzilla.  Anyway, the long and the short of it is that it does what I have been doing that takes days and does it in about 5 minutes.  It is amazing.  It finds all the available temple work for an ancestor’s descendents.  You still have to check for duplicates and add sources, but it is way faster.  Friday we had the morning shift and Saturday the afternoon shift.  I had a wonderful experience Saturday afternoon.  The sealer was busy with a session of sealings with a group of patrons.  We had a couple that had finished their session and needed to be sealed.  I took the paper work to the sealer and asked if he wanted to do the sealing for the live couple and their child and I would continue with the group of patrons he was with or did he want to continue and I would seal the couple who were waiting.  He invited me to do the live sealing.  What a wonderful experience.  When both the husband and the wife are wiping tears from their faces, you know the Spirit got through to them.  After we were done and it was just me and the couple in the sealing room, I gave them a hug and the husband with tears in his eyes looked at my name tag and said “Norman, I will never forget you.” I, of course, also had tears running down my cheeks.  We got done at 7:00pm and all the North Americans went to Applebee’s for dinner.  I had the Cowboy Hamburger and it was truly the best hamburger I have had in 6 months.  It doesn’t beat a Crown Berger, but it was really good.  I will be going back for more. 

Saturday night dinner.
Saturday night dinner after our shift at Applebees.

I want to mention that my son John did his first Triathlon this last week.  He placed 4th in his age group.  Not bad for some that only swam 3 times for training. Way to go John B.
Sunday we got up early and headed to Patzicia which is about 30 minutes north of Chimaltenango.  We invited Elder and Sister Hurst to join us.  This is an area that has a lot of early church history and the community is very strong.  The majority of the women still wear the traditional clothing and it was so fun to see all the colorful huipiles and skirts.  The conference was very nice.  Mom and I both had the opportunity to speak.  We felt good about our talks.  I haven’t prepared a talk for the last 4 or 5 stake conferences.  I just try and get there early and think about what I should talk about. 

Stake conference in Patzicia.
The choir at stake conference in Patzicia.
Most of the women in the choir were dressed in traditional clothes.  So pretty and they sounded great.
Photo by Dawn Hurst of one of her bench companions.
Dawn's photo of 3 generations.
Thanks for the photo Dawn.  This little girl came up on the stand and gave me a kiss on the cheek and then asked for a piece of paper so she could draw.
These children were adorable.
The majority of the women were dressed in traditional clothing.
More cute girls.

We got home just after 2:00pm.  Mom made dinner and I started nursing a cold.  Mom has had one for a few days and she gave it to me.  Bad Chris.  We talked to some of the kids and we went to bed early.  It was a wonderful week and I certainly had more than my share of tender mercies from the Lord.