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, November 28, 2016

November 21st through November 27th

November 21st through November 27thMonday we got up and went to the market in Salama.  It was interesting in that they had a lot of turkeys for sale, some just walking around and others in baskets. 
You can see they have a cord tied to one leg so they can't get very far.
This was our hotel in Salama.  It was very nice. 
We then drove back to Guatemala City.  We arrived about 1:00pm.  
I just delivered the car to the guards at the temple and they are going to wash it and take it back to the Area office.
We made a quick trip to the grocery store and then I spent the next 5 hours doing the blog.  We did the morning shifts at the temple, Tuesday through Friday.  The Rosales got home Thursday night from their trip to Europe and it is good to have them back.  We had presidency meeting on Friday so that we could all be on the same page.  Thursday I got a call from President Faundez, mission president in Coban, asking if he and his wife and another senior missionary couple could stay with us for 2 nights.  Of course, we said yes, and it was fun to have them with us.  Instead of feeling sad that we were not with our children and grandchildren who were all together in St. George, we had people to entertain and to enjoy their company.  We took them shopping after our shift on Friday.  The three women decorated our Christmas tree Friday night.  
L to R Sister Call from Cedar City, Sister Faundez, and mom.
Elder Call, President Faundez and I (R to L) watched our wives decorate the tree.  They called us the three Grinches.
This is a new nativity that we bought in the airport on our way to Flores 2 weeks ago.
A little better close up of the painting.
This is a nativity set of barro negro from Oaxaca.
This one is from Guatemala.

Another one from Oaxaca.
Sister Faundez saw mom's collection of angles and gave her these two.
Saturday morning we went over to say goodbye to some of the members from one of the Districts in the Polochic.  President Faundez presides over 4 Districts, 3 of which are in the Polochic and all three speak primarily Kekchi.  
President and Sister Faundez and two of the sisters from the Sacsuha district.  They did not speak or understand Spanish.
More of the members from the Sacsuha district.  These three just happened to be from Tucuru.
This young man, Manuel, works as one of the temple guards and his parents came to the temple with the group from Sacsuha.  His mother spoke no Spanish.
Saturday at noon we headed to Santa LucĂ­a Cotzumalguapa for their District Conference.  It only took us about 2 hours to get there and we had a short nap and then headed to the adult session where we both had the opportunity to speak.  
Too bad we did not know that our hotel would have a pool in Santa Lucia.
It was a nice meeting with about 200 members in attendance.   We went out to dinner afterwards and had a very pleasant meal.  
Some of the members before the meeting started in Santa Lucia Saturday.
The youth choir Saturday night in Santa Lucia.  The choir director is Sister Ceballos, a coordinator in the temple.  She is devoted to these young people.

Click Below to hear the choir.                   
choir singing Saturday night.

Click above to hear the choir.
Sunday I spoke at the priesthood session and then we had a new members meeting where we both spoke and then the general session where we both spoke.  We had to be excused after we spoke so that we could get back to Guatemala for our annual devotional for all the temple workers.  
The floral arrangements are amazing.
There were actually 5.
As we were getting ready to start Sunday morning.
Sister Ceballos and the choir on Sunday morning.

Click below to hear the choir.                     
Choir singing

Click above to hear the choir.
It was a very nice meeting with about 300 in attendance.  We even had a choir of the temple missionaries.  My counselors and their wives bore their testimonies and mom and I spoke. We then had the privilege of listening to Elder and Sister Ochoa from the Area Presidency.  
After our devotional we took a picture of our coordinators, missionaries and the Ochoas
That made 5 talks in less than 24 hours for me and 4 for mom.  She continues to amaze me how well she can speak.  Her Spanish has gotten a lot better.  We were pretty tired and I fell asleep in the recliner about 7:00pm.  We feel like we are on a fast moving tread mill.  We have 3 more stake or district conferences in the next 3 weekends, two of which are between 5 and 7 hours away.  Then we will have a break in January when the temple closes for maintenance.  We enjoy being with the saints and speaking and testifying of this great work, but the travel is taking a toll on us. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 14th through November 20th

November 14th through November 20thMonday we had President and Sister Funes and their son, daughter-in-law and their 3 children to dinner to celebrate the birthdays of President and Sister Funes.  I cooked Chinese.  It was a lot of fun to have them over.  We so appreciate all of their hard work.  They are very dedicated and love the temple.  
President and Sister Funes both had birthdays this last month.

Click below
Singing Happy Birthday to the Funes'
Click above

This last week has had it’s ups and downs.  The “downer” was that Chris fell last weekend in Flores and on Wednesday we went to the Doctor and had her foot x-rayed and she has a broken metatarsal in her left foot.  It looks like a pretty clean break and that she will only have to wear a boot splint for 6 weeks or so.  We hope she will be out of the boot by the time Kate and Bryce get here in December.  This makes it a bit hard for her to get around.  A lot of her foot went black and blue, but as long as she has the boot on she is not in much pain, but the boot is a difficult to walk in.  
Mom's broken bone--second from the right, half inch down from the knuckle. 
Mom's new footwear.
The “upper” was our trip to Chulac in the Polochic valley.  We had the afternoon shifts all week, but on Friday, President and Sister Funes were invited to speak at a Fireside 3 hours away from the city.  Elder Hurst drove them, but they were going to arrive back very late Friday night, so we said that Saturday morning we would open the temple at 4:00 AM and for them to come over to the temple at 6:00am.  That would give them a few more hours of sleep, since they were going to be at the temple all day.  We only got about 4 hours of sleep Friday night before we were at the temple and then we left about 6:15am for our 7 ½ hour drive to Chulac.  We took Elder and Sister Winkfield with us.  Elder Duncan let us take his big 4X4 Mitsubishi.  When we got to the road that led down the canyon to the Polochic valley it was raining. This is a bumpy dirt road with a few washed out places where the rain has washed rocks and debris all over the road and in some places covered the road with 1 to 2 feet of mud and rocks.  We drove on this road for about an hour and 30 minutes.  It was an interesting drive down the canyon with hundreds of tight turns and narrow paths.  I can’t explain with words how bumpy and exhausting it is to drive this road.  It takes your constant concentration and your body is always tight from being tossed from side to side and up and down.  
We got stopped for a bit, while they worked with a backhoe to remove some of the debris.  
You can see the rocks on either side of the road that have been washed down onto the road.

Click below to see the road

Video of the road to Chulac

Click above to see the road
After getting down into the valley, we drove for about 30 minutes on a good concrete road to the town of Panzos.  About 15minutes outside of Panzos, we found the turn off to Chulac.  I have decided that Chulac is not a town, but a region made up many small towns of a few families, to maybe a few hundred people.  These people are of Mayan descent and still speak in the Mayan dialect of Kekchi.  They mostly work on communal farms, planting cacao, cardamom and mandarins.  We headed back up into the mountains and drove for about 45 minutes on another bumpy, rutted and muddy road.  (Think Romancing the Stone)  We could not find anything on Waze, so we were on our own, without “Lola”, our GPS gal, to help us find the chapel.  Then all of a sudden, there were 4 Elders on the side of the road.  They told us the chapel was only a few more minutes up the road and we couldn’t miss it.  Once at the chapel, we found the secretary to the district president and he called President Faundez, the mission president.   
Sign on the front of the chapel in Kekchi.
After a brief phone call, he jumped in our car to show us where we would be staying.   So we drove up the mountain and then started down into the next valley.  Around every corner were vistas that took our breath away.  It was so beautiful and picturesque. 
The hills and valleys are very steep, but green and beautiful.
This is a typical view from the car.
We arrived at a school where Choice, a humanitarian NGO, has built a school and has started an Eco-hotel.  We were some of their first guests.  It has been used by a few groups of doctors and dentists that have come to help in these communities. It was amazing, except that we had to walk down a steep, bricked path to our cabin.  Remember, Mom’s foot is in a brace.  Oh, and it was raining.  She was a trooper and we made it to our cabin.  
View from the parking lot, looking at the school.
View from the school, looking down on the kitchen.
Looking up at the school.
Our cabin.  We shared it with President Faundez.  There are 3 rooms with a double bed and a common bathroom. 
Standing on Winkfield's balcony.

Click below
Click above
View from our balcony.
Sister Winkfield is taking a picture of me taking a picture of them.
The walk from the cabins to the kitchen.
There was a waterfall 100 yards down a path from our cabins. 
We couldn’t believe the view and how peaceful and relaxing it was.  They had lunch prepared for us and President Faundez said that he was not expecting me to speak in the Priesthood Session that was about to start.  So we had a relaxing lunch and a short nap which we really needed.  We arrived about 1:30pm and I was exhausted from the 7 plus hour drive, more than 3 hours of which was on dirt roads.  We headed out at 3:30pm for the 4:30pm adult session that was held at a larger chapel.  Mom and I both had the opportunity to speak.  It was a20 minute drive between the chapel and the school.  
On the way to our first meeting.  The road was a bit muddy.
I way trying to make sure no one could read my licence plate.  How did I do?
A group of girls waiting for the Saturday afternoon session.
These are the Elders in the Chulac District.
We got back a little after 7:00pm and they had dinner ready for us.  The meals were simple, but delicious.  The room was $25.00 a night and the meals were between 3 and 4 dollars.  We will definitely be going back.  Sunday, I got up early and I sat on the balcony and watched the sunrise.  It was heavenly.  
Early morning mist and haze.
We had a nice breakfast and then went to the general session.  
Sunday morning breakfast.  L to R Sister and Elder Winkfield, Me and Mom, Sister and President Faundez, Brother and Sister Lopez, Mission Executive Secretary.
Mom was the first speaker and she is never the first speaker.  This did not give her much time to decide what she was going to talk about, but she did great.  I then spoke.  Our talks were translated into Kekchi.  We had headsets to listen to a translator (in Spanish), because all the talks were in Kekchi.  It was a wonderful experience to feel the Spirit even though everything was in Kekchi, all the songs and prayers.  It is a grueling trip to get there, but so worth it to see this amazing country-side and the beautiful people.  Their spirit is strong and we felt blessed to have been with them.  
The choir had 8 men and 4 women.
Now that is a change.

Click below to listen to choir in Kekchi

 Choir singing in Kekchi

Click above to listen to choir in Kekchi
At the end of general session.
Some have already left.
Me with President Pou, Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  He was our translator and is from Chulac.  He is a great man.
Mom and Sister Winkfield with some of the women in the choir.
Mom with the Relief Society president in one the branches. Her mother and aunt are her counselors.
Ducks in the church parking lot.
Some of the boys after conference.
It was raining as conference ended and people are waiting for rides home.
This is how the members get around.  46 people in the back of this truck.
We drove back to the school and had lunch with President Maas, the district president, his wife and daughter and President and Sister Faundez.  We visited with them for a couple of hours and then we excused ourselves, because we were going to drive half-way back to Guatemala City.  When I explained to President Faundez that we wanted to split up the trip and drive to Coban for the night, he asked, “Why Coban? Why not Salama?  It is closer to Guatemala City.”  So we canceled our reservation in Coban and hoped to find a hotel in Salama.  
Chickens feeding on dried corn at the school where we stayed.
Catherina making tortillas.  She said she did not know how old she was.
Wilma working on lunch.
We are getting ready to leave this paradise.
We were getting a late start.  We left about 3:30pm and we really did not want to be driving these mountain roads in the dark, so I was trying to drive as fast as I dared.  
This is the nicest home we saw from the road.
Often you are in the clouds.
The mountains are steep and covered with thick vegetation. 
This is the good part of the road.

Click below
Video of ride home
Click above

This is a Nickle mine.  They are literally removing the mountain from the top down.
We made it almost to the end of the second section of dirt road as it was getting dark.  
We are almost out of the canyon and it is starting to get dark.
We then had another hour on a good 2 lane highway to get to Salama.  Mom got on line on my phone and found a hotel that she thought would be a good place to stay.  The only problem was one of the reviews said that it was hard to find and poorly marked.  Just as we are coming into Salama, Mom saw a sign for this hotel.  I turned around and we went down another dirt road.  I commented, “Well, at least we are used to this kind of road.”  The road seemed to end and it was looking pretty sketchy.  We decided to turn around and head back to the main road.  On the way back, we saw the entrance to the hotel.  We totally missed it on the first pass.  It was a nice place and we had been driving for 4 hours and most of that was on a bad dirt road.  I think I would have stayed anywhere, I so was tired and ready for bed.  We were reading scriptures when Kate called and I handed the phone to Mom.  Mom said I was asleep in about 15 seconds.  During our talk with President Maas, he said that I was the first Temple President that had ever visited their district.  I am so glad we made the effort to go and be with these good saints.  Their life is hard and they deserve the respect and love of their leaders.  We are so honored to share the Savior’s love and our testimonies with these humble and faithful saints.  This was a true adventure, one we will not soon forget.