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, October 31, 2016

October 24th through October 30th

 October 24th through October 30th:  A week ago Sunday, President Rosales and his wife flew to Europe to visit their two sons, one who lives in Germany and the other that is studying in Austria.  They will be gone for a month.  So this last week we covered half of their shifts and President Funes and his wife covered the other half.  They haven’t seen their boys for a number of years and we hope they have a great time.  
Pinatas, hanging in front of Walmart.
Saturday we had the morning shift and as we were walking to the temple at a few minutes before 4:00am, Chris mentioned that her coordinator, Sister Lemus was probably already at the temple and that she rides on the back of a motorcycle for more than a half an hour to get to the temple.  Her son gives her a ride.  Sure enough we walked in and there was Sister Lemus sitting in the foyer waiting for us to open the temple and let her and the other workers in.  
Sister Lemus and mom.  This dedicated woman is 68 years old and comes to the temple at 4am on the back of a motorcycle.  You can see she barely comes to Mom's shoulder.
We have some of the best and most dedicated workers that make great sacrifices for this important work.  We were short-handed on the men’s side, so I called the Hurst’s and Winkfield’s at 5:30am and woke them up and asked them to come and help.  They, of course, were happy to hurry and get ready and come and help.  
This little girl from Patzicia waited patiently for her mother who wanted to do  a session in the temple.
After our shift, we all went to Applebee’s for lunch.  I celebrated the loss of another 5 pounds (47 in total) with a great big hamburger, but I had a salad instead of fries. 
Renewing our energy at lunch on Saturday.
In the afternoon, Mom went to the ward and watched the Relief Society sisters make Fiambre.  From Wikipedia:  Fiambre is a traditional Guatemalan dish that is prepared and eaten yearly to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) and the All Saints Day (Día de Todos los Santos). It is a salad, served chilled, and may be made up from over 50 ingredients.  Fiambre started out from the tradition in Guatemala of taking dead family members their favorite dishes to the cemeteries for the Day of the Dead. As all different families brought food to the celebrations, they became mixed, eventually mixing them together to this all-encompassing salad. Ingredients usually include numerous sausages and cold cuts, pickled baby corn and onionbeetspacaya flower, different cheesesoliveschicken, and sometimes even brussels sprouts.  This dish varies from family to family, recipes traditionally passed on to younger generations. Because of this, on the Day of The Dead, it is customary to share your fiambre with other families and relatives.  Since everyone has a different family recipe, Mom said it was hysterical to listen to everyone discuss how real fiambre should be made.  
Sunday I went to another Coordinating Council Meeting.  This one started at 7:30am with a sacrament meeting in the ward that meets at the stake center of the El Molino stake.  It was so nice to be able to partake of the sacrament. It has been over a month since I was able to attend a sacrament meeting and the next sacrament meeting I will be attending is Dec. 19th.  I have 6 stake or district conferences scheduled in the next 6 weeks.  Today is Monday October 31st.  We arrived here in Guatemala one year ago today.  I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by.  It seems like only yesterday we arrived.  There are still many stakes and districts that we have not yet visited and many things we want to do.  Yesterday afternoon we listened to Elder Oaks speak at a meeting in Panama and he mentioned that he had heard a story from a temple president and that it must be true because temple presidents are holy men.  That took me aback.  I don’t feel holy.  I am so humbled by this calling.  As tears run down my face right now, I know the Lord loves me and that He will help me as I try my best to direct His work in His holy house here in Guatemala.  We are blessed beyond words and we feel our Savior’s love.  We are so blessed to be able to be in His house each day.  I invite all who read this blog to find a way to come unto Christ.  Eighty-five times in the scriptures, the Savior said, “Come unto me”.  Today he is saying, “Come to My house.  There I will comfort you, there I will heal you, there I will manifest myself to you.”  I know that He lives and loves us and wants us to repent and become more like Him.  I pray for all of you, my friends and family, that the Spirit of temple work will enter your hearts and begin to change your focus and your efforts to use the temple to become more like Jesus Christ.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 17th through October 23rd

 October 17th through October 23rdThursday, October 20th, is a public holiday in Guatemala, celebrating Revolution Day, when the harsh dictator, Jorge Ubico, was overthrown by peaceful demonstrations 1n 1944.   The temple was only open in the morning, but we were very busy and had a session every 30 minutes and many baptisms and sealings.  When we finished, we took all the missionaries to the zoo.  It was our first time to visit the zoo, because it is closed on Mondays, our P-Day.  We were pleasantly surprised with the size and how nice everything was.  We walked around for about 3 hours.  

Zoo trip, L to R, Elder and Sister May, Brother and Sister Reyna, Elder and Sister Price, Elder and Sister Winkfield, Sister and Elder Frampton, Area Medical Advisor, Sister and Elder Hurst, and President and Sister Funes.

Don't try and find the animal--this is just a picture of some interesting flowers.

I still need a selfie stick. 

Friday morning we took the missionaries to the Area Office for a Zone Conference with Elder and Sister Duncan.  We also heard from the missionaries that will be leaving before the next zone conference in January.  We traded with President Funes and worked their evening shift so that we could leave Saturday morning for another conference in Coban.  Saturday morning we loaded up the car and with Elder and Sister May we headed to Coban.  We stopped just outside of Tactic at a cute little restaurant called La Granja, the farm.  We enjoyed the interesting décor and a nice meal.  Arriving in Coban about an hour and a half before we needed to be at our first meeting, we checked into La Posada, our hotel.  I wanted to be early so I started to change my clothes only to find out I had no suit pants.  When we were loading up, Chris came out of the bedroom holding all our clothes that needed to be hung up in the car.  She had packed up my things and covered them in a plastic bag.  I could see my suit coat and two white shirts.  I did not check to see if my pants were on the hanger under my suit coat.  You might remember that in June we went to Coban to meet up with President Curtis to go with them into the Polochic and Chris had forgotten to pack her Sunday clothes.  There must be something about Coban that affects her memory or she just wanted to go to Megapaca again.  When Chris forgot her clothes, she went to Megapaca in Coban and bought 2 skirts and 2 tops for about ten dollars.  Megapaca is like a enormous Deseret Industries/Good Will store.  A paca is a huge bale of used clothing.  So we hurried and went to Megapaca to try and find a blue pair of slacks that would kind of match my suit coat.  Amazingly, I quickly found a pair that would work and they cost four dollars and fifty cents.  We hurried back to the hotel to get ready.  We arrived at the conference on time and since I would be behind the podium while speaking, no one would notice the mismatched suit coat and pants.  I spoke in the first meeting and then we had the adult session and mom and I both had the opportunity to speak.  They were both very good meetings and we enjoyed the spirit of the conference.  Since we had been to the stake conference last March, we knew many of the leaders and felt very comfortable and welcome.  Elder Camay, an area seventy, presided and he was very generous with the time he assigned to us to speak. Before the first meeting started, he asked me to speak about the two sides of temple work, work for the living and work for the dead.  So I only had to figure out 2 other talks, one for the other meeting on Saturday and one for Sunday.  After the meeting ended we went to the grocery store to buy some snacks so we would not have to stop on the way home. We got back to the hotel about 9:30pm. 
Sister May and Mom at the restaurant, La Granja.

Lunch was great. We all had cream of carrot soup as a starter.
Sunday morning we went to the stake conference and felt the Spirit so strong and we were uplifted and energized. Both of our talks went well and we felt blessed to have been able to teach and testify to the saints in Coban.   After the conference, the stake president invited us to his office and they served us a potato salad with apples and a hoggie sandwich.  It was not on my diet, but I did not want to offend them and we had a four hour drive ahead of us. We arrived home about 4:30pm and went over to the temple where a training session for Saturday workers was still underway.  We then called all our children and enjoyed seeing and speaking with them.   Everyone is doing well.  Kate moved into a new home over the weekend, James is getting accustomed to his new job as General Manager of Ken Garff Nissan in Orem and announced that they are going to build a new home in American Fork. We are so blessed and thankful for our many blessings.  This calling is blessing and enriches our lives in ways beyond what we could have imagined.  We invite all who read this blog to make the temple a more important part of your life.  
Our hotel, La Pasada.

This is Regina, the cook at the hotel restaurant. She remembered us from our visit a few weeks ago.

The surrounding hills are covered with homes and a misty, morning  cloud.


We take this picture every time we are in Coban. I have lost another 12 pounds.  That makes 42 pounds and still counting.

This one was from last March.
Sunday session of stake conference.

The choir was fantastic.
 Click below to hear the choir.

                 Hear the choir from Coban

Click above to hear the choir.

Mom and I with Elder Camay and his wife.

L to R, 1st counselor Pres. Ovalle, President Coy, me, and 2nd counselor President Corleto.

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 10th through October 16th

 October 10th through October 16th:  Monday we decided to take all the North American missionaries to Antigua for P-Day.  I had made an appointment to tour the restored colonial Popenoe house that we had visited when Martha Cooper and Elsie were here.  We got to Antigua about an hour before the appointment, so we stopped at Nim-Pot,  a huge artisan’s shop.  We don’t know if this is a cooperative store, but it has reasonable set prices and a huge inventory from all over Guatemala.  It is the kind of place that you always find something that you don’t need.  
When we arrived in Antigua there was a civic celebration going on and we enjoyed the band playing patriotic songs.

Click below to hear the band.

Band playing in the plaza.

Click above to hear the band.
This is the shop that is huge and the prices are pretty reasonable.
They have thousands of huipiles from all over Guatemala.
Here are some of the things we bought.
Chris also bought this cloth to line this box.
While everyone else toured the house, Mom and I found 5 old churches we had not visited before, 3 that are still in use and 2 in ruins.  They were destroyed in the earthquakes in the 1700’s.  
Escuela de Cristo, Christ's school.
I love the doors in these old churches.
Inside Escuela de Cristo.
Los Remedios, Our Lord of the Remedy.  The church was destroyed in the 1773 earthquake, but the facade, built in 1641 has survived.
El Calvario, The Calvary 
Inside El Calvario
Only the facade is left of the Capilla Santa Cruz.
Santa Isabel
We then had lunch and went back to the shop we had been at in the morning.  Everyone felt that an hour had not been enough time to shop.  We then hit the artisan market where there are hundreds of small shops, but you have to do some negotiating on price.  We left a little late and hit some traffic coming home, but all in all a very successful outing--everyone bought things they did not need.  
Lunch.  L. to R. Sister Hurst, Elder and Sister Price, Elder and Sister Winkfield, me and Mom, Sister and Elder May.  Elder Hurst is taking the picture.  Thanks Eldon.
I have decided to only include the days or experiences that are noteworthy.  We love being in the temple almost every day, but many of our duties are administrative.  We enjoy serving with wonderful coordinators who come faithfully to make sure that everyone coming to the temple receives attention and hopefully has a spiritual experience.  Writing each week that we worked the morning shift or the afternoon shift does not really capture our experience, but it is hard to write about some of our temple experiences.  Friday we went to our painting class.  Mom finished her painting and I have to say she really impressed me.  It is a great picture and one I would hang on any wall in my house.  She has great talent and for a first picture it is incredible.  
Jill Smith, our art teacher, Mom and her first painting.
Sunday I went to another Area Coordinating Council meeting.  The area seventy gave me 20 minutes to teach about the Doctrine of the Temple.  I came home and we had dinner and then we went to the temple and had a meeting with all of our shift coordinators.  It was a good meeting and we feel so blessed to have so many faithful workers.  We got to talk to all the kids either Saturday night or after our meetings on Sunday.  They all seem well and Kate is excited to be moving this week to a house they have purchased only a street away from Charlotte’s house.  They are close, but in different wards and stakes.  Life is good and we are still pinching ourselves and wondering how we ever got here.  We are so blessed and the Lord is so merciful to us. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 3rd through October 9th

October 3rd through October 9thMonday we started the day with fire extinguisher training.  All the temple missionaries and the temple employees had to attend.  It was fun to learn how to put out fires.  
Getting our training before we get to test our skills.
And I had great skills.
Everyone took their turn putting out the fire.  They would pour gasoline in a pan of water and then light it.  We are now better prepared for an emergency.

Showing off my skills

Click above to see my skills
We then did our shopping trip to Wal-Mart and Price Smart.  In the afternoon we drove Elder and Sister Hurst to Mira Flores, across town, to try and buy replacement blades for his electric razor.  We ended up eating at TGIF Friday’s.  (Applebee’s still has the best hamburger, in my opinion.)  
View from the parking garage at the mall in Mira Flores.
Elder Hurst and I after lunch.
Tuesday we had the morning shift.  Wednesday we had presidency meeting and then the afternoon shift.  We switched with the Rosales and took their shift on Thursday morning so we would have Saturday off for our trip to the District Conference in Tiquisate.  President Markham, the president of the Guatemala Central mission invited us to come for both days of the conference.  
This is the volcano Fuego spouting off again.
Friday we had the morning shift again.  Saturday we left at 9:00am with the Elder and Sister May and drove south-west to Tiquisate.  It is only a 2 ½ hour drive, but a completely different climate down by the Pacific Ocean.  We found our hotel and the chapel and then went exploring.  We saw two missionaries at a bus stop and so we stopped to talk to them.  While we were talking, their bus went by and so we took them to where they needed to go.  We then drove to the beach.  It was only a 30 minute drive, but we drove for miles and miles with banana plantations on both sides of the road.  Sometimes we would have sugar cane on one side, other times we would have plantations of palm trees.  We think they were harvesting palm oil.  But we saw a lot of coconuts for sale too.  
It was hot and windy, but we saw the ocean.  The beaches have black sand.
Banana plantations as far as the eye can see.

This was a very good dirt road.

Click above to see the banana plantation.
Sugar cane on one side, bananas on the other.
And sometimes palm trees.

Driving the road back to Tiquisate

Click above to enjoy our ride.
The missionaries had told us that there was a Chinese restaurant in Tiquisate, so we went in search of lunch.  The Chinese food was quite bland, but we did not go hungry.  In fact, we had a lot of food left over so, we took it to the church for the missionaries.   
Lunch at the Chinese restaurant.
We then went to the adult session of the Tiquisate District conference where mom and I both spoke.  It was a nice meeting, but not very well attended.  We went back to the hotel and played 5 Crowns and the Mays taught us a new game called Up and Down.  It was a lot of fun.  Sunday we had breakfast at 7:00 am and Elder May and I headed over to the church for the Priesthood session of the conference.  President Markham gave me 20 minutes to speak and asked Elder May to bear his testimony.  We then had a meeting for new converts and mom and I both spoke about the temple.  We want them to understand that baptism is just the first step, but in the temple we are prepared to live with Heavenly Father once again.  We want them to get excited to come to the temple.  We then had the general session of conference where mom and I both spoke again.  The chapel was full.  We enjoyed being with the Markhams and feeling their enthusiasm for the work of the Lord.  It was a great conference and the Spirit was strong.  It was so fun to be with the saints and share with them our testimonies of our Savior and the work we do in His house.  
Sunday session of conference.
This is President Markham and President Aragon, the district president.
Some of the Elders.
Mom always is interested in new babies.  This one was 18 days old.
President Markham and me.
Mom and Sister Markham.
This gives you a good idea of the average height of people here in Guatemala.
These girls wanted a picture with us.
We drove straight home and arrived a little after 3:00pm.  We had a quick lunch and then drove to San Cristobal and spoke at a fireside with all the endowed members of the San Cristobal stake.  We got home at 8:00pm.  I was exhausted, but I made it to 8:30 pm and then went to bed. It was a great week.  We were busy every day and we ended the week with a great conference that filled out tanks.