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, July 25, 2016

July 18th through July 24th

July 18th through July 24thMonday after a walk, we ate a great breakfast cooked by my brother Van.  It is so nice having someone else cook.  We then went to the two museums, the Popol Vuh and the Ixchel, at the Francisco Maroquin University. Everyone loved the museums and of course, the great gift store.  We then came home and played some cards.  The Normans love to play cards.  We reminisced and laughed for hours.  
Sets and Runs is our favorite game. 
We had some lunch and went to the central market for more shopping.  Tuesday we had the morning shift in the temple.  My family came over for the 7:00am session.  There were 22 English speaking missionaries with them.  Afterwards, we did sealings for many Badger names that I had researched. We then went for a late lunch to one of the top restaurants in Trip Advisor, El Rincon del Steak.  It did not disappoint.  We had huge platters of stake and shrimp, salad and guacamole and chips.  Then it was on to the artisans market by the airport for a little more shopping. Everyone is trying to find a few last minute gifts to take home.    Even my wife decided to send home birthday gifts for all the grandkids.  
Shopping and drinking diet coke at the artisans market. Aren't the dollies cute.  The granddaughters loved them.
We came home and of course, spent the last night together playing cards.  Alice had taught us a new game, Fruit Salad, but we added another hand and renamed it Guatemalan Salad.  We laughed a lot and enjoyed the evening together.  Wednesday we had a nice breakfast together and then we loaded up for the airport.  Chris had to pack our gifts in a suitcase, so they had an extra bag to check.  
L to R Van, Tad, Tove and Alice.  They are headed to the airport.  We love you so much, thank you for coming to see us.
We then came home and went to the temple for the afternoon shift.  Thursday we had presidency meeting.  In the afternoon we went to the movies with two couples who are serving as temple missionaries in the Quetzaltenango temple.  They are staying with us for a few days while the temple in Xela is closed for maintenance.  
Recliner seats and popcorn.  Tarzan was entertaining and we enjoyed a restful afternoon.
Friday we had off, but I had been asked to officiate the sealing of the son of one of the area seventies, Elder Camay.  It was an honor and a privilege to officiate this sacred ordinance for this young couple. They seemed pleased and looked so happy.  No matter how often I officiate in sealings, I will never tire nor find it common.  I consider this sacred calling as a sealer, as one of the greatest blessings in my life.   
Our good friends, Kirt and Julie Saville, were in Cochabamba and sent us this great picture of, Willie and Ximena Escobar.  Willie is a devoted temple worker in Cochabamba.  He and Ximena were in a terrible bus accident while we were in Bolivia.  Ximena had a piece of metal go completely through her body and she has endured many surgeries. We have often wondered how they were doing. We were so grateful to receive this picture and see what a beautiful young woman she has become.  Thanks Savilles.
Saturday we had the early shift.  I woke up at 3:40am and went in on the computer and finished a spread sheet for Chris.  She had been working on it the night before and it was getting late so she said she would get up and finish it in the morning.  Well, I let her sleep a bit more and I finished it.  It was a new schedule for the Saturday morning shift.  We got to the temple by 4:00am and our shift coordinators were waiting for us.  We have such faithful workers.  At noon, the hour that our shift is done, a couple arrived to be sealed and asked if I would officiate their sealing.  I couldn’t say no, even though we were tired and my feet hurt because I was wearing new shoes.  We got home about 1:00pm and had some lunch.  I had another sealing scheduled at 4:00pm.  I sat down in the recliner and fell asleep.  Chris woke me up as she was leaving to go over and be with the bride’s family who are not members.  I arrived at 4:00pm and they told me that the couple was ready and that all their guests were in the sealing room waiting for me.  I hurried and changed and as I walked into the office, the paper work was coming off the printer.  Perfect timing, which is unusual in Guatemala.  I enjoy sealings and the Spirit that is always present.  We got home and felt like we had had a good day.  We were tired, but we were happy and felt like we had made a difference and that our service had been acceptable.  Sunday we got up and I made breakfast.  Where is my brother, Van, when I need him?  After church, we had a quick dinner of leftovers from the freezer.  We worked on an Agenda for the Coordinators’ meeting at 4:00pm.  We went to the temple at 1:30pm to get ready for the training meeting for all the Saturday workers.  We are so busy in the temple on Saturdays that we can’t find a time to do training.   64 workers showed up.  We had a great training meeting and finished 5 minutes before the start of our Coordinators’ meeting.  We trained and counseled with our coordinators and we got home a little after 6:00pm.  How can you not love spending your Sunday afternoon in the temple?  A great finish to the week.  It was so great having my siblings and Tove with us for a week.  We played hard and really connected and we loved sharing a little of Guatemala with them.  They were surprised at how green and beautiful this country is and they left happy to have had the opportunity to experience Guatemala.  Seeing all the kids together Sunday evening opening their presents was a little hard.  It pulled a bit at our heart strings.  But we still know that this is where the Lord wants us to be and the Spirit comforts and confirms this to us on a daily basis.
Emme and Abbie like their new dollies.
Charlotte and Tilda like their new shoes.

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 11th through July 17th

July 11th through July 17thMonday we rested up.  We spent the day doing family history and working on the two blog posts of our trip to Nebaj.  Tuesday we decided we needed to go shopping for groceries, so we ventured out.  I checked on how the work in the temple is progressing and did more family history.  We are being really lazy, getting lots of rest in anticipation of the arrival of Tad and Tove, Van and Alice, my two brothers, Tad’s wife and my sister.  Wednesday I got the final blog post done and we did more grocery shopping for things we will need when we get back from our trip with my family to Lake Atitlan and Antigua.  We also got packed.  Thursday we got up early and drove to the airport.  I checked in with Brother Rodriguez, the head of security for the area, and he said that demonstrations, people blocking traffic, were expected and that we should try and get out of town asap.  So we told my family to get in the car and we were leaving town.  We had originally thought we would take them home and leave some of their stuff in the house and feed them, but that would have delayed our getting out of town by at least an hour.  
It's so great to be with my siblings.  L to R:  Van, Alice, Tad and me.  Our first stop on the way to Iximche.
We drove west and stopped at some ruins, Iximche, just outside of Tecpan.   This was the capital of the Kaqchikel Empire.  It was inhabited when the Spanish arrived.  The ruins are not as grand as Tikal, but still it was fun to see and get a feel for how truly impressive these civilizations were.  
We then drove to Panajachel and stopped at Hotel Don Rodrigo and sat overlooking the lake and had a cold drink and played 5 Crowns.  It’s the only card game we have that all 6 of us can play at once (until Alice taught us Fruit Salad).  
Pullout overlooking Lake Atitlan and the volcanos.
Cold drinks and a card game.
We then drove to Santa Catarina Polopo.  The view overlooking the town is beautiful and reminded us of Italy.  The overnight flight was taking a toll on some of our guests so we headed to our hotel.  We stayed at Hotel Atitlan.  It sits on the lake just north of Panajachel and is magical.  
Overlooking Santa Catarina.
It has beautiful gardens and the views of the lake were out of this world.  It was divine.  We met for dinner and Van ordered for all of us.  We had a variety of dishes and we just shared everything.  It was delicious food.  We then got down to some serious card playing.  The Normans love to play cards.  
You can see the volcano and Lake Atitlan in the distance.

We had a neighbor in the gardens at Hotel Atitlan.

You can just barely see the bird, but the gardens are spectacular.
Cup collection at Hotel Atitlan.
Typical street scene. 
Friday we checked out and then drove to Solola for their market day.  My family thought that was a real cultural experience and was a lot of fun.  
Market in Solola'.
Selling bread in the market in Solola.
Carrying their purchases home from the market in Solola.
They also sell beautiful flowers in the market in Solola.  
Market in Solola.
If Mom sees a woman selling vegetables, she takes a picture.
Can you say taxi?
Market day in Solola.  Loading up purchases and heading home.
More women selling vegetables. 
We were trying to squeeze in a lot in a short period of time, so we headed for Antigua.  Just north of Tecpan the traffic stopped.  We were told that the road was blocked by the teachers who were demonstrating.  We were told that it would only last an hour, so we broke out the cards and played cards while we waited for the road to open back up.  While we were there, a group of young people walked up to the car to talk to us. One young woman explained that she was here from the USA doing some kind of Christian service.  She offered to pray with us and asked what we needed. We had just received a call telling us that someone in our group had not checked out of the hotel and had taken the key with them.  I won’t mention who that was, but the hotel wanted the key back.  There also might have been some mention about my driving.  We said we would be happy to pray with her and she offered a nice prayer that that we travel safe and that we would get the key back without any cost to us.  She was a sweet girl and very thoughtful.  It left us with the feeling that there are a lot of good people in the world.  
Sunrise and Tad at our hotel.
Traffic stopped in both directions, as far as the eye can see.  
Card game as we wait for traffic to start moving again.  Mom bought a carved piece of wood and it worked for our table.

Click Link     Card game on the road.   Click Link

Sure enough, after about an hour, the traffic started moving and we were on our way again.  We arrived in Antigua before noon and found the condo we had rented.  We dropped off our bags and then went to the San Francisco church.  
Looking down on those that did not want to climb stairs at the  part of the convent San Francisco that was destroyed by earthquakes. 
When we got done, we needed food so we headed to Casa Santo Domingo.  This is one of the nicest hotels in the city and is housed in an old convent.  We had another meal, ordered by Van, with a variety of dishes--kind of like a sampler of the menu.  It was delicious.   
Lunch with Alice at Casa Santo Domingo.
Van, Tove, and Tad at  Casa Santo Domingo.
Lunch/dinner at Santo Domingo
Our waiter and Alice's next date.
After dinner we walked around the grounds of the hotel and then went back to the condo for more rounds of 5 Crowns.  Our card games are intermixed with reminiscing and lots of laughing.  It is such a blessing that we enjoy each other and love to be together.  When I asked what they would like to do, the answer is always something like “It doesn’t matter, as long as we are together.”  
L to R Alice, Mom  and Tove.  The two monks did not introduce themselves.
This beautiful bride was getting married at Casa Santo Domingo.
A Ceiba tree, the national tree of Guatemala.
Saturday morning we went to breakfast and then did some serious shopping.  We then headed back to Guatemala City.  
We were up early in Antigua and the streets were practically deserted. 
We learned when we took the tour of the  house that this is a courting window.  A young man would stand outside the window and the young lady would sit on a bench built in the corner of the room on the other side of the window.
Chris and I needed to be back for a “convivio”, get together, for all the temple workers at 3:00pm.  We got home and I went and bought some roasted chicken for lunch.  We arrived at the get together at 2:30pm and we realized we had to give a short welcome and message.  We had not prepared anything, so had to speak spontaneously.  After Mom and I spoke, we had a stake choir share two hymns and then 4 typical folk songs from Guatemala.  It was very enjoyable and they were delightful.  There was one young girl who was just belting out the songs and we all couldn’t keep our eyes off her.  Afterward, Van found her and had his picture taken with her.  Her name is Madison.  
The choir at our convivio.

Clink Link    Xelaju   Clink Link

Madison is in the middle.

Clink Link    I love to see the temple Spanish    Clink Link

Van and Madison
We next moved into a huge metal building with a basketball court inside.  They had cars parked in part of it.  I have never seen a building like this at a stake center.  They had tables set up and a marimba band playing.  We learned it was considered one of the top 3 bands in Guatemala.  They were very impressive.  They served ponche, a fruit drink, a tamal, and a roll.  This is a typical meal at Christmas time.  We had a great time and many of the workers thanked me for the convivio.  They said they had not had one in many years.  I could see the love they have for one another and how they enjoyed being together.  We danced and had a truly good time.  Because we had guests, we were able to leave before the clean up.  
Convivio for the temple workers.
All those helping feed the masses.  We had over 400 in attendance.
Can you say Ponche?
Dinner at the convivio.  Ponche, tamal and roll.
The Marimba band at the convivio.  They were excellent.

Click Link    Marimba Music   Click Link

Sister Juarez is a temple worker in her 90's.
Mom enjoyed dancing also.
We came home and played some more cards.  Alice taught us a new game, Fruit Salad.  We had so much fun and laughed so hard.  We all went to bed happy.  Well, maybe not the person who had over 700 points.   We got up and went to church.  What a sweet Spirit.  I was asked to give the opening prayer and I felt so much love and gratitude for my many, many blessings.  We put a ham in the oven before church and invited the Prices and their son and granddaughter who have also been staying with us to come to lunch.  We had a nice lunch and ended the day with more laughing around a game of cards.  This has been a real treat to have my family with us.  I am the baby of the family and my siblings have always been a great example to me.  I love them and so enjoy being with them.  Family is the best.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 8th, 9th and 10th:

July 8th, 9th and 10th: Friday morning we got up and had breakfast at the hotel and then headed to Santa Cruz del Quiche’ by way of Sacapulas.  The drive over the mountain is beautiful, although the road is steep and very windy.  We decided to stop in Sacapulas because we had been driving for 1 ½ hours and we needed to walk around.  We found the local market and mom bought a red sutil, with black and white stripes.  It is a square piece of cloth that they use for carrying things or keeping the sun off their heads.  We had to cross a one way bridge to get to the center of town.  
Guatemala is such a beautiful country.

We really noticed the influence of modern fabrics in Sacapulas.  The hupiles were all shiney and sparkly.  Very different.  
The church in Sacapulas.
The government building in Sacapulas.
This little cutie was playing in a box next to her parents stall in the market.  She was delighted to have her picture taken and I was delighted to take it. Her little brother is in the box with her.
The sutil mom bought in Sacapulas.
Close up of the weaving.
The bridge to and from Sacapulas.
We then drove to Santa Cruz del Quiche’ and parked.  We thought we might spend the night here, but after walking around a little bit and reading the guide book we decided that we would just keep going and that we would end up at Lake Atitlan. 
Government building at Santa Cruz del Quiche.
Church in Santa Cruz del Quiche'.
The faithful approached the altar on their knees.
And it is quite a ways to the front.
Church doors in Santa Cruz.
K'iche warrior, Tecun Uman, ready to do battle with the conquistador, Pedro Alvarado.
A parade with fire trucks filled with children. Santa Cruz del Quiche.
We stopped in Chichicastenango and mom bought a flying angle with a trumpet to add to her collection of angles with trumpets.  She now has 5.  
Iglesia de Santo Tomas in Chichicastenango.
Inside the Iglesia Santo Tomas where the rituals are distinctly more Maya than Catholic. 
Mom is collecting Guatemalan angel Moronies.
We kept going and when we got to Solola’ we stopped because it was market day and Sister Province had said that she loved the market in Solola’.  It was a really fun market with a lot of interesting things to see.  The men still wear traditional clothes.  It is one of the few places where the men still keep to the old traditions.  
Looking down the main road in Solola'.
Market in Solola'.
When we arrived in Solola we noticed a big change in the traditional clothing.  There are over 110 different outfits in Guatemala.
Lots and lots of colorful fabrics.

Most of these are cortes, skirts,  They have a Mayan cross embroidered on the fabric.
Dinner is served.
Dawn buying a shinny huipile.
The church in Solola'
Cowboy hats are part of the attire in Solala.
We were surprised to see so many of the men in Solala dressed in  their native dress.
A family headed to the market.
One more cowboy,
Catching a ride home.  There were more than 20 people in the back of this taxi.
Impressive balancing act!
We then drove to Panajachel which is on Lake Atitlan.  We tried a new hotel and it was a little more money, but was nice and had easy parking for the car.  Parking has become a priority for me.  We had a late lunch and then drove to Santa Caterina Polopo, a small town just south of Panajachel, which is known for its weavings.  We walked around and looked at more shops with things to buy.  
Lunch in Panajachel.
Looking down on Santa Catarina Polopo
Santa Catarina Polopo, a village on Lake Atitlan, almost looks like Italy.
Atitlan--the most beautiful lake in the world with 3 volcanos around it.
We went back to the hotel and sat around the pool.  
Sitting by the pool Saturday morning before breakfast.
One of the trees at our hotel in Panajachel.

Saturday we decided to go to San Antonio Polopo, which is just past Santa Caterina Polopo.  San Antonio is known for its ceramics.  Passing through Santa Caterina we came across a truck unloading wood.  He was pulled over as far as he could and we had to pull in our mirrors and pass him with about an inch on each side.  This happens multiple times a day.  We had stopped in San Antonio by boat the last time we were at the lake and mom loves the ceramics.  Coming into San Antonio there was the option of going to the lake or the center of town.  We chose the center of town.  The street just kept getting narrower and narrower.  We asked a mototaxi driver if there was parking up the street and he said no and that we would be better off turning around and parking down by the docks.  That was much easier said than done.  We found a place where I thought I could do a 15 point turn around and with luck and a prayer, I was successful.  Driving in Guatemala, especially in small towns, is a truly unique experience.  We found a number of pieces of ceramic to buy.  I wasn’t really sure if mom could find something she liked. (Not) We loaded up and headed for Antigua.  
This truck was unloading firewood which made it almost impossible for the traffic to pass.
With patience you can always get past.
I am getting very good at turning around on roads that lead nowhere. 
We had a great time with Fernando at the ceramic co-op in San Antonio Polopo.
This is not a collection they are going to be gifts.
We love the ceramics of San Antonio Polopo.
Scarf from San Antonio.
Water fall between Santa Catarina and Panajachel.
Driving around you always have to have your camera ready.
Collecting, selling or buying firewood is a common occurrence.
When we got back to Panajachel there was a parade going on.  We had to take back streets to get past it.  It took us an extra 30 minutes to get through a very small town.  We just made it onto the main road as the parade was approaching us.  
Hooray!  We ran into a parade with high school bands.
Here comes the parade we made it out of town.
So many people still cook over an open fire.  Collecting firewood and water are two very time consuming chores.
There was a demonstration on the road outside of Panajachel.
In Antigua Mom wanted to find the condo we have rented for next week when my family, Tad and Tove, Van, and Alice (my two brothers, one of their wives and my sister) will be here.  We found the condo and decided to have lunch at Santo Domingo, a beautifully restored old monastery. After lunch, we headed home, arriving back in Guatemala at 3:30pm.  
Beautiful carved doorway in Antigua.
Painting of the Last Supper in the lobby of Casa Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo part of the old convent.
It was a great trip and one we will remember for many years to come, especially when we look at this blog.  Sunday we went to church and rested and worked on the blog of the first two days of our trip.  We are so lucky and blessed to have had this opportunity to see so much of Guatemala.