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, January 30, 2017

January 23rd through January 29th

January 23rd through January 29th:  Monday, after shopping, we took the Hurst’s, Winkfield’s and the Price’s to see the ruins at Kaminaljuyu.  These ruins date from 800 BC to 900 AD and are some of the oldest in Guatemala. Kaminaljuyu was at the center of a trade network between the Pacific Coast, the highlands and the Maya lowlands.  There is evidence of enormous irrigation canals.  There is not much left because most of the ancient city has been built over by the expansion of modern-day Guatemala City.  The archaeological park has a small museum and the most interesting thing I learned was that the early ball game used a goal in the center of the playing field that was stuck in the ground, not on the side of the court like in Chichen Itza.  
Diorama of Kaminaljuyu.
Pottery from Kaminaljuyu.
Pottery from Kaminaljuyu.
Pottery from Kaminaljuyu.
Pottery from Kaminaljuyu.
Excavations at Kaminaljuyu.
Excavations at Kaminaljuyu.
Excavations at Kaminaljuyu.
Replica of the stone goal used for the ball game.
Goal at Chichen Itza.
We had a family home evening for everyone in the evening.  We switched presidency meeting to Tuesdays because Jill Smith, our art teacher, changed the class from Friday to Wednesday.  So Wednesday morning we went to our art class and then did the afternoon shift.  
My new attempt at a portrait. 
Mom's is really coming along.
Thursday, mom drove Sister Price to the area offices so they could car pool to the children’s cancer hospital, where they spent the morning helping children make bracelets and play with play dough. 
At the children's cancer hospital.
Children and their parents are waiting
 to receive treatment.
In the afternoon, we worked the night shift again because we had to switch with the Funes’ so we could have Friday to attend the senior missionary zone conference.  
Mom with Sister Chew from Patzicia.
Friday we went to the zone conference and then had a nice lunch afterwards.  Elder Ochoa and his wife spoke to us along with 3 senior couples that will be leaving before the next zone conference in April.  Sister Smith told a touching story about leaving her family at the airport and walking away from them and with tears in her eyes saying to her husband “We are doing this mission for our grandchildren.  How can we expect them to serve missions if we are not willing to serve?” We, like all senior missionaries, feel exactly like Sister Smith. Elder Smith, who is one of the dentists at the dental clinic, told a story about a Bishop who brought 8 future missionaries from 12 hours away. He said, “We know when they come from so far away that they will need a lot of work and that many of them will have never seen a dentist before.  Such was the case with this group.  We could not get all the work done in one day and they had to stay over two nights in order to be get all the work finished.  We found out that the Bishop had arrived with 800 Quetzales or about $100 dollars.   By the second day they had run out of money and so we made lunch for them at the clinic.  They said they were fine but they devoured everything in sight. Their sacrifices bore a powerful testimony to us of their desire to serve a mission.”  All three of these soon to return missionaries’ testimonies were a spiritual feast and we all came away uplifted and edified.   
Zone Conference.  I am sitting next to Elder Ochoa.
Sunday we went to the Las Victorias zone conference.  Elder Valladares was presiding.  He is from Honduras.  I spoke, mom got the day off.  It was a nice meeting and we enjoy so much being with the saints.  
These are not fake flowers.  So colorful.
Mom with one of our ordinance workers' Sister Garcia.
After stake conference.
We hurried home and got a bite to eat and then went to the temple and had a planning and goal setting meeting with the presidency and Brother Abadillo, our recorder.   We Facetimed our kids in Utah for their monthly dinner together.  Dinner was over and they were playing a game.  We laughed right along with them.  Technology is such a blessing.  We had a great week and we count our many blessings often.  We still have to pinch ourselves every now and then to see if all these wonderful things are really happening to us.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 16th through January 22nd

 January 16th through January 22nd: The temple re-opened again this week after two weeks of maintenance and we are grateful to be back at work.  We enjoyed being back in the temple with the workers and the patrons.  Wednesday after presidency meeting, I took mom to the dentist to have a cast made for the crown she needs.  Elder Smith, the missionary dentist, just happens to be a prosthodontist.  He has not done a crown since he arrived here in Guatemala over a year ago.  Elder Sanford, who has since gone home, who cut mom’s tooth in half, didn’t have a lot of experience doing crowns and Elder Smith had never done a  root amputation.  Don’t you think that is interesting?  Ok, back to the story.  Elder Smith made the cast and said that the clinic happened to have the material to do the mold--someone must have brought it down from the states as a donation.  Remember Elder Smith has been here over a year and has not done a crown in all that time, but the clinic just happened to have the material to make a mold.  Since the clinic does not do crowns for the missionaries and prospective missionaries, they do not have a relationship with a lab that can make the crown. Doctor Hales, from Las Vegas, was visiting with his wife at the clinic the day we were there. Mom and Elder Smith were discussing how they were going to get the crown made when Brother Hales said “Why don’t I take the mold back to the states and have it done there?”  Elder Smith said “Well my son is coming to visit in two weeks, if you could overnight it to him in North Carolina he could have it made and bring it with him in two weeks.”  Problem solved.  That is a lot of coincidences.  Elder Sanford being here to cut her tooth in half, Elder Smith being here to do the crown, the material being here to make the mold, Brother Hales being here to take it to the states and Elder Smith’s son just happening to be coming to visit and being a dentist himself who could get the crown made.  Or it is the Lord taking care of his servants.  We choose to believe the later.  
While mom was being worked on at the dental clinic I visited the last two of the new pups.  The other 6 had been adopted.
I have never seen such big radishes.
Friday, I drove mom, Sister Price and Sister Winkfield to Sister Duncan’s apartment.  They spent the morning getting things ready for a visit to a children’s cancer hospital where they will share games and activities with the out-patients waiting for treatment.  
Mom and the other Sisters getting things ready for a service project with the children's cancer hospital.
This is the daughter of one of our temple workers, Sister Paiz on her wedding day and Brother Zea, who is the son of one of our engineers.
Saturday I tried finger painting.  I saw a video of a woman who finger paints fine art.  It was fun and I will have to try it again.  
Finger painting.
Sunday we took the Reyna’s with us to a stake conference in Patzicia.  Elder Alonzo and Elder Galvez were there to reorganize the stake presidency.  I was asked to speak and I felt the Spirit very strongly as I spoke about President Uchtdorf’s talk about the plan of salvation and his question to all of us:  “What will I give because I have received so much.” It was a very good conference and we felt blessed to have been invited to attend and participate in our small way.  
Mom and the Reyna's with some of the sisters in the choir.
They had three of these beautiful floral arraignments. 
The choir.
The house was packed.
I think I am getting old and senile.  I got ready for church yesterday and was sitting at the computer when Chris walked in and said, “You have white socks on”.  I usually cheat and wear white socks when we are going to the temple, but not when we are going to church.  Another example is that after cleaning up the Rummikub game, I tried to put it away in the freezer.  Yes, Tad and Tove we are playing Rummikub almost every day to try and not lose our minds.  The refrigerator sits right next to the cabinet where the games are stored, but still.   I told mom that if she finds the Rummikub game in the freezer it will be time to put me down.  We feel blessed and protected and honored to serve the good people of Guatemala. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 9th through January 15th

January 9th through January 15th: Monday we left early and drove with the Winkfield’s and the Hurst’s to Santiago Atitlan.  We have always visited Lake Atitlan from the north, through Solola and then Panajachel.  We visited Santiago maybe a year ago by boat, but really did not have the time to explore and see the town.  So we decided to stay 2 nights and really get to know the town.  Chris found a charming hotel, La Posada de Santiago, right on the lake and we enjoyed our stay at this hotel.  They let us check in even though it was only 11:00am (instead of 3:00pm).  
The front of our stone cottage.
The inside of our cottage with the fireplace.
View of the Lake and Volcano Atitlan, from in front of our hotel, La Posada de Atitlan.
A trumpet tree at our hotel.
After getting settled, we took a taxi to lunch on the other side of town at a hotel, La Bambu, that mom wanted to check out.  Our taxi was a pickup truck and we all stood in the back.  They have railings on the sides and a bar in the center to hold on to.  We have seen these taxis all over rural Guatemala and I have always wanted to ride in one.  We hired the whole taxi not wanting to be squished with 20 other people in a small space.  Lunch was great and we then had a tour of the hotel.  It is certainly another option if we ever return and need a place to stay.  
We had fun taking rides in the back of pickup trucks which are the most common taxis in rural Guatemala.

Click below for a short video of our ride.
Pickup ride
Lunch and checking out Hotel Bambu.
View of Santiago from Hotel Bambu.
These girls were a little embarrassed to have their picture taken.
Another ride back into town.
We called our driver, the man with the pickup, and he came and got us and dropped us off in town.  We explored the church and walked around the market and stalls that sell the indigenous clothing. When we got tired each couple took a moto-taxi back to the hotel.  It was easier to use local transportation than to try and find a place to park the car.  
In front of the church in Santiago.
The wood carving on these alter pieces was incredible.  But I could not figure out why the saints had neckties.
There were two small alterpieces on either side of the main one.
This is the other small alterpiece.
Side door into the church in Santiago.

Part of the daily market in Santiago.  Notice the Volcano in the background.
Most people shop daily for fruits and vegetables.  They don't have refrigerators.
Would mom look good in this outfit?
Many of the streets in Santiago are only wide enough for moto-taxis to fit.  It is a real street, it even has a stop sign.
We took a moto-taxi back to the hotel.

Click below for a video of our ride.
Moto Taxi ride
We ate dinner at our hotel.  After dinner, I started a fire in the fireplace our room so we could be cozy.  It gets a little chilly on the lake.   But the wind was blowing and blew the smoke down the chimney and smoked us out.  We got the smoke going back up the chimney, but our cottage really smelled of smoke.  It just added to our experience.  Before retiring we hired a boat to come and pick us up at our hotel for the next morning.  Tuesday after breakfast, we just walked down to the lake and our boat was there and took us to San Pedro, about a 25 minute boat ride away.  The boat then waited for us to explore San Pedro and San Juan, a short 10 minute ride by moto-taxi.  Upon arriving in San Pedro we immediately took a moto- taxi to San Juan and went to a co-op of woman weavers.  They demonstrated how they spin cotton thread, how they dye it with natural plant dyes, how they prepare the thread for a particular piece and how they then weave on a back strap loom.  We have seen this in other places, like Oaxaca, but the thread they were spinning was very fine and the finished product was incredible. We just had to buy mom a scarf.  
On our way to San Pedro.

Click below for a video of our boat ride.     
Boat ride to San Pedro
Once in San Pedro we took a moto-taxi to San Juan. So we visited Pedro, Santiago and  Juan, Peter, James and John.
This is the demonstration about how they spin the cotton, dye it, and then weave the tread into beautiful shawls and fabric.
Here are some of the plants and the colors that they produce.
The cotton grows on bushes that grow to about 10 feet tall.
The also grow a brown cotton.
Dying the cotton thread with natural dyes from plants.
Setting the color with a juices from the banana tree.
Counting out the number and length of the treads.
She demonstrated how they use the back strap loom to weave different patterns. The shawl she is weaving takes 15 days working about 6 hours a day and costs about $80.00.
Mom's new scarf.
We then visited some local art galleries and bought some small pictures.  On our way back to San Pedro we went to a look out and looked down on the town and the lake.  We shopped a little in San Pedro and then headed back to Santiago.  We went into town and ate at a restaurant we had eaten at when we visited a year ago.  Then we did some serious shopping.  Mom bought some embroidered panels to make pillows. 
San Pedro from a lookout above the town.

Here are the three 4 X 4 paintings we bought to hang in our kitchen.
Volcano Atitlan with a cloud that makes it look like it is spouting off.
One of the shops selling the traditional designs from Santiago.
The embroidered panels to make pillows with.

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A huipil from Santiago Atitlan.
Someone started a fire on the volcano Atitlan.
We found this book in our hotel.  The title explains everything.
A bird of paradise bush at the restaurant in San Felipe.
We ate dinner at the hotel and played a game of 5 crowns before heading to bed.  Wednesday we got up and decided to head back by way of Antigua. Mom has been trying to find a wood carving shop for a year now and we thought we had good directions.  We stopped in Cuidad Vieja, Old City, and visited the church.  We found the wood carving shop with the help of a taxi driver in Jocotenango, a town just north of Antigua, and bought a few things.  We then went and found a restaurant I had seen in the small town of San Felipe.  We had lunch there.  I had a very good steak and we will definitely be back.  On the way out of town we saw the market and a shop that makes silver and jade jewelry.  We had a tour of the shop where they cut and polish the jade.  I bought a jade ring for mom and they sized it while we waited.  We then went into Antigua and did some shopping at the market.  I bought a shirt of the local fabric they use for woman’s skirts. We stopped at the candy store on the way out of town and arrived back home about 5:00pm.  
A sugar cane truck crossing the highway on our way to Antigua.
We stopped in Cuidad Vieja on our way to Antigua.  This was the site of the first capital of Guatemala, founded in 1527.  But the city was destroyed 14 years later when the Volcano Agua let loose water, mud and rocks penned up in its crater.  This church is probably from the 1700.s.
Our new salsa dish from the wood carving shop.
Mom's new ring.
My new shirt.
We spent the rest of the closure resting up from our travels. I visited the temple a couple of times to see how they were coming with all of the projects they were working on.  Saturday evening we had the ward bishopric and my counselors and their wives to dinner.  We had a nice dinner and evening with them.  
Dinner with the Temple Presidency and the Bishopric.  L to R, Mom, Sister and Brother Reed, counselor in the bishopric, Sister and President Funes, my second counselor, Bishop and Sister De Leon, Sister and President Rosales, my first counselor, and Brother and Sister Rodriquez, counselor in the bishopric.
Sunday we went to the Mariscal stake conference and had the opportunity to speak.  We came home and I had a quick bite to eat and headed to a Coordinating Council Meeting for one of the 3 local areas here in Guatemala City.  
The choir at the Mariscal Stake Conference.
Mariscal Stake Conference
In the evening we talked to the kids and grandkids. Campbell, who was born a week before we left, is starting to walk and is such a cutie.  We miss them all, but feel good serving here in the House of the Lord.  We are anxious to have the temple open back up this week.  Life is good, God is great and we are so blessed.