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, April 24, 2017

April 17th through April 23rd

April 17th through April 23rd:  Monday we got on the road early and drove to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan.  We got on a boat and took the girls for a ride on the Lake and we went to La Casa del Mundo for lunch.  
This cutie sat on my lap for the boat ride to La Casa del Mundo.
The rest of our visitors on the way to lunch.
Lunch at La Casa del Mundo.
The boat ride back to Panajachel.
Waiting for our ice cream cones at Pollo Campero in Panajachel.
After lunch we drove to Quetzaltenango, more commonly known here in Guatemala as Xela, which is short for the Mayan name of XelajúWe wanted Xela to at least see the city she was named after.  We found our quaint hotel, which was located just a few blocks from the main plaza.  It didn’t have parking at the hotel, so one of the workers had to get in the car and drive with us to show us where we could park.  The streets are very narrow in the old part of the city and it was ok with us because I didn’t want to do anymore driving.  We walked around and found, using Waze (Lola our GPS girl), a Mexican restaurant named Tacos Tabascos.  The tacos were excellent and everyone felt better with a full stomach.  We visited the main cathedral and did some shopping and then went to bed tired from a long day of traveling.  
Inside the cathedral in Quetzaltenango.
Xela being welcomed to Xela (Quetzaltenango).
Tuesday we had breakfast at our hotel and then drove to San Andres Xecul.  Our primary reason for driving to Xecul was to see their church which is famous for the way it is painted.  I found a parking place and mom said no it is up on that hill.  We could see a small painted church almost straight up the hill.  We headed up there.  It was a “white knuckle” ride on a very narrow, windy and steep street and it took Sam’s breath away.  On the way down, he said, “Please go slow--1 mile an hour.” We made it up, only having to pass one car which had to back up for us to find a place in the road that was wide enough for us to pass.  When we arrived and looked down on the town, we realized that we had been right next to the church that we had come to visit, but we could not see the front of the church.  If we had we looked behind us as we started up the hill, we would have seen we did not need to take the hair rising ride up the hill.  It was quite the adventure.  We think that they had had a procession from the small chapel up on the hill down to the big church.  This was the Tuesday after Easter.  The church was amazing and beautiful.  Lonely Planet says the following about the church: Technicolored saints, angels, flowers and climbing vines fight for space with angels frolicking on the ledges and a pair of jaguars scratching the top column on a shocking yellow facade. The cones on the bell towers are straight from the circus big top.”  
Breakfast at Casa Mañen in Quetzaltenango.
The small chapel that we drove to above San Andres Xecul.
Interesting decorations inside the small chapel overlooking San Andres Xecul.
Notice the skirt with the guy playing the marimba.
Looking down on San Andres Xecul. You can see the church we wanted to visit in the middle with the circus top dome.
There is a lot of smoke from cooking fires.
This is the church that mom wanted to see that brought us to Xecul.
Sam, Ginny and the girls.
Looking down on Ginny, Xela and mom.
Inside the church.
We next headed for Salcaja for their market day.  This market is enormous, primarily fabric, and it was so fun to walk around.  We found aprons for the girls and I bought some fabric for a table cloth.  
In the market in Salcaja.
Beaded and embroidered huipiles.
Lots of fabric for sale.
The girls modeling their new aprons.
Willa was hungry and wanted some corn tortillas.
Willa buying tortillas in the market.
The woman was selling fabric and her puppy.
Next we drove to Fuentes Georgianas, some hot springs located on the slopes of a volcano.  The road up the mountain is very narrow and you have to find a spot to pass when you come upon cars coming in the opposite direction.  The land is very fertile on this mountain and they grow some of the best produce in the country here.  After we had been in the pool for 10 or 15 minutes it started to rain.  I said I would get out and change and go and get a table in the restaurant next to the pool.  By the time I got changed, it was a full-fledged downpour with lightning and thunder. They had to clear the pool because of the lightning.  We had lunch and waited out the storm.  
As we climbed the mountain to the hot springs, the vistas were grand.
Roadside vegetable stand.
This is some of the most fertile land in Guatemala.
Harvesting onions.
The road to the hot springs is not very wide and passing can be a challenge. 
Soaking in the hot springs at Fuentes Georginas. 
Mom did put her feet in the water.  When it started raining, she was very happy that she only had to put on her shoes.
It started to rain and hail.
and thunder and lightning. 
It was really a downpour.
But we were dry inside, waiting for our lunch.
This is the life.
It was about 1:00pm and we wanted to be back in Guatemala City by dark, so we headed home.  We made it safe and sound. Wednesday we took Sam and Ginny and the girls to the airport and said good-bye.  It was so nice to see them and pamper the girls and be grandparents a bit.  Our painting class was canceled which gave us time to visit the dental clinic.  Over the weekend, Mom had lost one of her crowns with the tooth still inside.  She was doubtful that they would be able to do much, but wanted to know her options.  Amazingly, Dr. Jay Harris was able to put in two posts and reset the crown.  We are really grateful for the free dental service that they offer the missionaries and the children of Guatemala. 
3 to 6 year olds waiting their turn at the dental clinic.
We spent the afternoon at the temple doing our shift.  It was good to be back in the temple and back on a routine.  Saturday we did the early shift which means we were up at 3:00am and we arrived at the temple at 4:00am.  We finished in the temple at noon, ran home and had lunch, then drove to Chimaltenango for their stake conference.  We both spoke in the adult session and then I spoke in the priesthood session.  We finished up about 8:00pm and went to find our hotel.  We found our hotel, Finca La Loma, after driving on a dirt road for about 10 minutes.  The guard at the gate said the restaurant was closed, but we needed something to eat.  So we drove back into Chimaltenango and had some chicken at Pollo Campero.  We had to hurry back because they closed the gate to the hotel at 9:00pm.  After getting past the gate we still had to find the hotel.  It was dark and not well lit and not a lot of signs.  We finally found the reception and got to our room, very tired after a very long day.  
Priesthood meeting in Chimaltenango.
Our room at Finca La Loma.
Sunday, in the light of day, the Finca (which means estate in Spanish) was delightful and interesting.  We had a very nice breakfast and walked around a bit.  This might be a place the missionaries would like to visit on a P-day.  We returned to Chimaltenango for the Sunday session and we both spoke.  I felt inspired to talk about the opening song that we had sung and how it speaks about the temple.  The song is “Bella Sion” in Spanish, “Beautiful Zion” in English.  Some of the phrases in the song are “beautiful abode of the Lord”, “beautiful temple of the Lord”, “beautiful home of the Lord”, and “beautiful place of peace and light”.  It is a beautiful song and made for a good talk about the temple.  Mom said she liked it. We came home and I got a nap and we got to talk to some of the kids.  
Looking out over the finca (estate) from in front of our room.
Our room was the first one on the left.
This room was made of firewood stacked up to make the walls.
The restaurant at the Finca.
The choir for the Sunday session.
I love the flower arrangements, especially the birds of paradise.
Sunday session at Chimaltenango.
L to R President Markam, mission presidente, President Samayoa, stake president and what's his name.
It was a wonderful week and we felt the Spirit in the stake conference meetings which always leaves us energized and uplifted.  As we sat eating breakfast in Chimaltenango, I commented to Chris that we have a great life and it does not get any better than what we are now doing and living. We truly are enjoying this assignment.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 10th through April 16th

April 10th through April 16th: Monday we got up early and went to the airport and picked up our daughter, Genevieve,  her husband, Sam, and our two grand-daughters Xela and Willa.  Xela is named after the nickname for the city of Quetzaltenango and it is pronounced Shayla.  
They made it safe and sound, tired from taking the "red-eye".
We  made arrangements to have the week off to enjoy their visit.  Ginny and Sam lived in Chimaltenango, Guatemala for 5 months just after they both graduated from their master’s program at BYU, so they have seen and done most touristy things.  We got them settled and then we drove downtown to buy a piñata for the marimba party we planned for later in the day.  After we got the piñata, we had to stop by the central market to buy pine needles for the dance floor (our garage floor).  
Buying pinatas was a fun activity to start the day.
Before we got to the market we fed the pigeons at the central plaza and visited the cathedral.  At the market, we bought the pine needles and sandals for the girls to wear with their outfit for the marimba party. 
Central Plaza
They loved feeding the pigeons and running and making they fly.

Click below to view the pigeons.          
Feeding the pigeons

Purple is the color of Easter here in Guatemala.
The cathedral all decked out with Easter banners.

At the market buying pine needles.
We spent the afternoon decorating for the party and preparing the food.  I made a big pot of pulled pork and refried beans.  We did this last year and it was a lot of fun.  We invited all of the senior missionary couples from the area office and other assignments here in the city.  We had about 40 people come.  Mom even went over to the Catholic girl’s school and invited the nuns.  We had a great time dancing and eating and just listening to the marimba music.  We had two piñatas and the girls had fun trying to get the candy out.  
Mom made skirts for the girls and we bought them matching tops and a shirt for Sam.  You can see the sandals we bought the girls.
The pine needles make a great fashion statement.
Do I look like I know what I'm doing?

Click below to view some dancing.               
Our 6 man marimba band.

Click below to view the Marimba party.           
Marimba party

Mom and Sister Funes cutting up the pine needles.  There is no rug.

Click below to view the party.                        
More Marimba party

Willa taking a whack at the pinata.

Click below to view some dancing.           
She even got me to dance a little.

Click below to view more of the party.            
More Marimba
Mom getting her licks in.

Click below to see mom swinging.          
Tuesday we took them to the Ixchel textile museum.  This is a fabulous museum dedicated to the clothing of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.  It is one of the places we love to visit and Ginny and Sam had never been there.  We then went straight to the Zoo.  Willa, who is 4, decided that we were going to the zoo.  We were not about to disappoint her.  After entering the zoo, we at lunch at the food court and everybody got to choose what they wanted to eat.  The zoo was fun.  I took the girls on a train ride and the girls got to feed the giraffe.  We got home and were worn out.  We played some card games after the girls went to bed.  It was a great day to be with this sweet family.  
Train ride through the zoo.
Ginny, Sam and Willa enjoying the animals.
These guys did not look friendly.
Feeding the giraffe was the best part for Willa.

Click below to view the Giraffe being fed.             
Feeding the Giraffe
They had some beautiful animals.
Willa got to ride on Poppa's shoulders.
We are about done at the zoo.
But we had to stop for ice cream on the way out.
Wednesday morning we went to an art class at Jill Smith’s home, our art teacher.  She had us all paint warm and cool colors on different sides of a big piece of paper.  Then after they were dry, we cut out shapes and then made a collage of a garden.  It was a lot of fun and her three kids joined us and all of us had a great time.  
Making the collage of our garden at art class.
The final art collage of our garden.
We then went to a mall and had lunch and then went to Divercity.  Divercity is a children’s museum in the form of a mini-city.  The girls got a check upon entering and they had to go to the bank and set up an account and get a credit card.  They could then go around town and participate in being a fireman, veterinarian, rock star and other professions.  They got paid to do these jobs and then they could spend their money on treats.  They had a great time and after 3 hours, Xela still did not want to leave.  Willa on the other hand was done.  Her attention span is shorter than Xela’s. 
Divercity--learning about being a vet.
They had to slide down the fire pole.
Divercity on the way to the fire.
Thursday we drove to Chimaltenango.  Ginny and Sam wanted to find the house they lived in 10 years ago.  We also went to lunch with Luis Lopez and his family.  Luis had been their driver for weekend outings and he helped them with lots of other things.  We then went back to their house and visited and they reminisced about the good times they shared.  
We found the house Ginny and Sam lived in.  Mom and I also stayed there a few nights on a mattress on the floor.  It was like camping out in a house.
Chimaltenango main plaza and police station.
Chimaltenango government building.
Chimaltenango main plaza and Catholic church.
Inside the church.
Lunch with the Lopez family.
They have 2 sets of twin girls.  They were 7 and 9 years old when Ginny and Sam lived with them for a few weeks.
Friday we got up early and drove to Antigua.  We left at 5:30am and took the Hurst’s, Price’s and Winkfield’s with us.  We spent the morning walking around looking at the carpets that were made in the streets for the Easter procession and then watching the procession.  This is a huge procession with thousands of people dressed as Roman soldiers and priests.  Antigua is blocked off and traffic is kept out.  We went in the back way through Chimaltenango and got pretty close.  We got the temple missionaries back in time for their afternoon shift and we crashed at the house.  The girls and their parents and grandparents needed some naps and quiet time.  
The carpets take hours to build and are destroyed in minutes when the procession walks through them.
Many of them have pine needles as part of the decoration.
Some of the carpets are made out of colored sawdust.
There are literally hundreds of these carpets.  
The flowers are beautiful.
Some just have designs, others have a religious theme.
This carpet was done in memory of Andres Chajon.
This says, Father, Creator and I believe.
The sun was really bright.
This one has some vegetables--carrots, onions, and cabbage.
The crowds are hugh.  Hundreds of thousands of people descend on Antigua for Good Friday.
I hope the pictures give you an idea of just how amazing these carpets are.
This one is made with vegetables.
Many of the carpets have flowers as part of the design.
The full procession takes about 8 hours to travel the entire length of the parade route.
Panorama of the crowd.
The procession started with Roman soldiers, some of which were on horseback.
Hundreds of soldiers were in a line on both sides of the street.
Then came hundreds and hundreds of people representing the people of Jerusalem.
Everyone in the procession pays to be able to take part.
No age limit.
I think they had 22 different pictures of Christ.  This is #7 and #8.
As the big float with Jesus Christ on it approaches, there are a lot of men swinging incense burners that make a lot of smoke.

Click below to view the procession.          

Willa and Xela had the best view.
The approaching float, being carried on the shoulders of men on each side, depicts Christ dragging the cross to Calvary.

Click below to view the procession.           
Antigua Easter Procession
More soldiers.
The family enjoying the procession.
About 20 minutes latter the float with Mary on it comes by being carried by women dressed in mourning.
One of the floats with Mary on it was carried by women dressed in mourning.
At the end of the procession is the clean up crew.  Sweeping everything up and making things ready for the next procession.  They have another one in the afternoon.  The first one started at 4:00am.
After everything went past, we walked a short way and watched the big float go by one more time.
We then went to lunch.
Just enjoying these two after lunch in Antigua.
Saturday we went back to the central market to do some shopping for things to take back to friends and the classmates of the girls.  
Saturday morning at the central market.
Chasing the pigeons is great fun.
In the afternoon, Sam took care of the girls and Mom and I and Ginny went to the temple and did sealings for some of Sam’s ancestors and some of ours.  It was a nice way to get prepared for Easter.  To be in the Lord’s house and participate for and in behalf of our ancestors brought the love of God into our hearts and helped us remember how important family is.  Sunday they girls got up and had to follow clues to find their Easter baskets.  They are so cute and it is so fun to be able to share these special days with them.  We had breakfast and got ready for church.   Church was great. 
When the girls woke up they had to follow clues in order to find their Easter baskets.
We invited Sarah Lyman from the ward, along with her parents who are visiting from Richfield, Utah.  Mom talked to the sister missionaries at church and found out they did not have a dinner invitation so she invited them to lunch also.  So we had 11 for dinner.  We did the Easter story with eggs before dinner and then afterwards we had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard.  
We had the Sister Missionaries come to lunch, along with Sarah Lyman and her parents, who were visiting from Richfield.
After dinner we had an Easter egg hunt in our backyard.
We called the kids who were all together for dinner at Kate’s house.  John B is recovering from surgery on his elbow that he dislocated and broke the end of the radial bone after a mountain bike crash he had over spring break in St. George last week.  Other than that, everyone else is doing great.  We are very thankful for all of our blessings and for our children and grandchildren.  This week has been very special with Ginny and her family here.  We have a few more days and then they will have to head back to Pasadena.