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, June 26, 2017

June 19th through June 25th

June 19th through June 25th:  Monday after a quick run to the grocery store we headed to Antigua.  Sister Price had a few more things she needed to buy before they return home in two weeks.  On the way home, we stopped at the dental office and mom got a crown put back on—for the second time (thank you Dr/Elder Harris) and Sister Price got a tooth pulled (thank you Dr/Elder Hogge).  Then we found the chemical company where Brother Price could buy resin for casting.  He has made some molds of Mayan figures and wasn’t happy with the plaster he had to cast with.  

These girls did not want their picture taken.
I made mom buy a new skirt.  Part of the market in Antigua.
Wednesday we had another private art class and then did our afternoon shift.  
I worked on his eyes, the background and his sweater and shirt. 
Mom started a new painting of a woman spinning yarn.
Friday after our morning shift we packed up and headed to Chulac, in the Polochic.  We had a reservation to stay by Coban.  We left at 2:30 pm and what should have taken us about 4 hours to drive, took us 8 hours.  We got stuck in construction traffic for more than 4 hours.  
One of the many times we turned off the car and just sat in line.
The hotel we stayed in near Coban Friday night.
Saturday morning we got on the road after breakfast and arrived at Sikaabe, the place where we stay.  Sikaabe is a school built by Choice Humanitarian.  They have built 2 cabanas with 3 bedrooms and a bath in each.  They have balconies off the bedroom that have incredible views.  You look out over the mountains and cannot see any civilization.  It is so peaceful and I will never get tired of sitting on that balcony and watching the sun rise.  They had lunch ready for us and then we had an hour before the adult session of the district conference.  
We again waited for about 20 minutes while they got this truck loaded on the flatbed. 
Turkeys and chickens are let loose during the day to eat bugs.
This is the view from our balcony. You can't see a road or any hint of civilization.
This is the school building.
This is our second time to stay at this school and participate in the Chulac District conference.  We both spoke in the adult session and then mom drove Sister Faundez back to the school.  It is about a 30 minute drive on a very bumpy and windy dirt road.  President Faundez and I stayed at the chapel for the Priesthood session.  I never prepare a talk and it always feels good when you get inspiration as to what to talk about.  
Saint and missionaries headed home after the Priesthood session Saturday night.
Sunday morning we packed the car because we decided to drive home after the general session.  We felt really good about our talks and the Spirit was powerful.  Mom told a story about a family that joined the church in Hawaii in the early 1900’s and how they were ostracized when one of their daughters became ill and was put in the hospital.   The father decided that they would not be offended and that they would continue active because they belonged to the true church and they needed to go to a temple and be sealed in order to live together as a family after this life.  I shared with the saints what Elder Renlund spoke about to the members in Senahu when he was here to organize the first stake in the Polochic three weeks ago.  I shared with them his apostolic blessing and told them that I believed that it was a blessing for all the members in the Polochic.  I was profoundly touched by the Spirit as I shared his blessing.  I then testified that he is one of the living apostles of Jesus Christ.  During one of the other talks, one of the branch presidents thanked me for sharing not only Elder Renlund’s talk, but his blessing upon the saints. We love the spirit of the saints here in the Polochic.  
This was our view Sunday morning.  I sat on our balcony and watched the sun rise.  It had rained most of the night and the far off mountains were peaking through the clouds.
Every few minutes the clouds would move and I would have to take another picture.
This is a members house.  We are waiting to give her a ride to the church.
Every turn in the road has a breath taking view.
This is where we pulled off to wait for the Sister we were giving a ride to church.  This in not representative of how bumpy the road is.  This is like pavement compared to the bad parts and there are more bad parts than good parts.
Sunday session of conference.
Youth choir.  Listen to the song in Kekchi.

Click below to listen to the choir.            
Choir singing in Kekchi

Headed back up the mountain after conference Sunday.
This chapel seems out of place.  There are no other brick buildings.
A group of saints with mom and Sister Faundez in the back.
Mom with some more of the saints.
5 young men hanging out after conference.
The district president, President Maas, invited us, Pres. and Sister Faundez and President Poou and his family to have lunch at President Maas’ home.  He had just completed building his new home and they had not even moved in yet.  It was about 15 feet x 30 feet and had a second story.  It had a 4 foot concrete wall and then wood framing on top of the wall.  I’m sure that his new home is one of the nicest homes in the whole district.  He lives in a compound with his father and 5 other siblings.  They all have their own homes, but his is the only one that is two stories.  They served us Kakic, which is turkey soup with a big piece of turkey sticking out and corn tamales.  I think mine was turkey, but mom thinks hers was chicken.  I said in a post on Instagram and Facebook that it was delicious; mom says that is stretching it.  We got on the road at 1:30 pm and we made really good time.  What took us 11 ½ hours to get there, only took us 5 ½ hours to get home.  No construction traffic at all.  We were so glad we decided to drive all the way home on Sunday.  Last time we broke it up and stayed by the Biotopo and got home about noon on Monday morning.  
Mom and I on the balcony off the second story.
This is the view from the balcony looking down to the Polochic valley.
Hanging out on the balcony while we wait for lunch.
The second floor is one big room.  I think they will divide it later. 
Two real cuties.
L to R Sister Poou, Nefi, President Poou, mom, me, President and Sister Faundez.
President Maas on the left and his father on the right.
This was our last conference for a month as all the general authorities are off in July and so no conferences are scheduled.  We don’t like the bad dirt roads that we have to drive on to get to the Polochic, but we are happy to go and support President Faundez and show the saints there that they are loved and appreciated.  It is always a good week when you finish it off with a conference where you feel the Spirit and get energized by so many faithful saints.  We feel blessed.

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 12th through June 18th

As promised, the picture of the other Quetzal bird we saw during breakfast last Monday.
June 12th through June 18th:  Monday, at 5:30 am, I took Elder and Sister Hurst to the airport.  They have completed with honor their second temple mission and they have already submitted their papers for another mission.  We are anxious to see where they will serve next.  
And they are off to see the Wizard. Well, they are on their way home.
After shopping, I took Mom to the hospital to get her hip checked out.  It has really been bothering her.  She wanted to know if she was going to need a hip replacement down the road.  It turned out that her hips look good, but she has bursitis.  She got a cortisone shot and exercises and is doing much better.  Then we took the Winkfield’s and the Gordon’s to eat lunch at Panda Express and to see “Wonder Woman”.  It was entertaining, but not my favorite. Tuesday we had presidency meeting and then the afternoon shift.  It rained really hard most of the late afternoon and evening.  We had a number of wards and stakes scheduled.  Most had a hard time getting to the temple.  It took two groups more than 3 hours to travel what normally takes 20 to 30 minutes when there is no traffic.  One group arrived after 8:30 pm.  The last session was at 7:00 pm.  We had 3 sealers and so we did 3 sealing sessions until 10:00 pm.  They were afraid that they would get to the temple and not be able to do anything.  We think they all left happy.  That made for a very long day, but we were happy to accommodate everyone.  Wednesday we had a private paint class.  Jill Smith, our teacher, said that until they leave for vacation, she will do a private lesson for us.  We jumped at the chance to go.  Our goal is that when we finish this assignment we will be able to paint something without her help.  
The painting of Moose is coming along.
Mom finished her wet on wet painting.
For the last couple of Saturdays, I have been helping Brother Zamora practice the sealing ordinance in English.  He is going to Texas to seal one of his grandchildren next week.  He will do a great job.  Sunday we took the Reyna’s and the Price’s to the organization of a new stake.  The Guatemala Stake just celebrated its 50 year anniversary. It was the first stake in all of Central America.   It was divided and the Don Justo stake was created from 6 wards in the Guatemala stake.  Elder Duncan, the area president who presided, and Elder Chavez, an area seventy, invited mom and I to bear our testimonies.  It was a very sweet meeting with many heartfelt expressions of love and gratitude for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This meeting started at 8:00 am.  
The new Don Justo stake.
The choir was one of the best we have heard here in Guatemala.
Ex-president Gonzalez says that now he is released, he will come and take a shift at the temple.  Hurray.
We then took the missionaries home and picked up the other two couples, the Winkfield’s and the Gordon’s and drove them to the reorganization of the Guatemala stake.  They took 3 wards from the Villa Nueva stake to have enough wards in the Guatemala stake.  We were asked to bear our testimonies again in this meeting.  
The conference was held in a large metal building that sits behind the Montufur chapel. 
The seats are set up in a semi-circle around the stand.
It was a packed house.
We got home and I had time to get a bite to eat before going over to the temple to meet Bishop Causse, the presiding bishop of the church.  He was accompanied by Brother Porter from Salt Lake, Brother Reed, the DTA here in Guatemala, Brother Tenorio, the new DTA who will take Brother Reeds place at the first of July, and Elder Galvez, an area seventy, from Guatemala.  I opened up the temple for them to see and get a feel for what might need to be done to improve the temple.  The temple is 34 years old and it has not been remodeled.  We then did a tour of all the buildings, patron housing, missionary apartments, our house, the Region Operations Center, and the distribution center, that the church owns adjacent to the temple.   
Bishop Causse's visit to the temple.
I then hurried and joined the training meeting that had started for all of our shift coordinators.  We got home about 5:30 pm.  We left for our first meeting at 7:15 am.  It was a long day but filled with great faith promoting experiences.  We Facetimed with all our kids and wished our sons and son-in-laws, happy father’s day.  It was another great week and they are flying by so fast.  In another two weeks we will have our second closure of the year.  We plan to visit the temple in El Salvador.  It is only about 5 hours away.  I keep telling everyone in my talks that we have the best calling in the church.  We are so grateful for this assignment and the blessings that come into our lives because we have this calling.  My feelings of gratitude make me think of the hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”.  Here is the first verse:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!

O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!

All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near; 

Sing now in glad adoration!

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 5th through June 11th

Elder Renlund addressing the saints in Senahu.  I included this because you can see mom and I sitting on the stand on the left of the picture.

Clink link below
Go to article in Spanish about the cultural celebration in Senahu. I was mentioned in the article. 

June 5th through June 11th:  Monday we got up at 5:00am to try and see a Quetzal in the wild.  The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and was prized by the Mayans for its long iridescent blue and green tail feathers.  It is difficult to see a Quetzal as they are an endangered species and they can’t survive in captivity.  We were staying at a private reserve that has planted many trees that bear a fruit that the Quetzal likes to eat.  We were successful at spotting a Quetzal high in the trees and then we had a guide tell us all about the Quetzal bird.  

This is the first Quetzal we saw.  It was just before dawn.
This is where we stayed.
Quetzal sightings. 
This was our guide and he explained a lot about the Quetzal bird.
He then took us on a hike into the forest.  I think it is more like a jungle, but they call it a cloud forest. The hike took us to some waterfalls and we were back shortly after 7:00am.  As we were sitting at breakfast, they called us out to see another Quetzal that was in the trees right next to the restaurant.  It was exciting to see him fly from tree to tree and finally he flew away.  We know it was a male by his long tail feathers.  Elder Reyna got a good picture, but forgot to send it to me by Monday for this blog.  I have sent him a reminder and you will see the picture next week.  After breakfast we packed up and got on the road by 9:00am.  
Our hiking buddies the Reyna's.
Every tree is covered with moss.
The trail was up and down.  Nothing in Guatemala is flat. 
In the jungle there were some interesting flowers.
There were a couple of small waterfalls along the trail.
A fern that fell on the trail.
The sun came up while we were hiking.
The trail was very well maintained.
This is a fern.
Mom liked this idea to keep the bridge from becoming slippery.  Bottle caps nailed to the board.
At the end of the trail was this waterfall.
It doesn't show up very well but this mushroom has a blueish color.
Tarzan has competition. 
We saw lot of mushrooms of our hike.
The forest or jungle, you choose, is beautiful.
Just coming out of the jungle.
Our orchid specialist.
This orchid is about a inch big.
Each of these orchids, you can see three at the top, are about a 1/4 of an inch.
Another one about an inch in size.
You can see this one is tiny.
This is the largest orchid found in this part of Guatemala.
This is an orchid that they have planted back into the wild.
Don't you think she looks good covered in mud?
I could not see out of the back window after our trip out of the Polochic.  Too many mud puddles.
There were two biologists from Florida staying at the reserve and they were collecting moths. 
This is the biggest moth they caught.
We got stopped in the construction on the mountain by El Rancho and we were between two semitrailer trucks.  One of the construction workers walked by and pointed out that we had a flat tire on the back of the car.  We pulled off and decided that it had enough air to try and make it to the next town to get it fixed. So I backed into line.  The truck driver behind us motioned Elder Reyna over and told him he had air, but not a hose.  Elder Reyna walked up to the truck drive in front of us and asked if he had an air hose.  Hurray, he did.  So I backed up on the side of the one of the trucks and the two truck drivers filled our flat tire.  We were stopped for about an hour.  As soon as we got the tire filled, the traffic began to move.  We stopped about 15 minutes later at a roadside repair and got the tire fixed.  
Elder Reyna helping get the air hose hooked up.
One of the truck drivers filling up our flat tire.  He was a very large man.
Getting the tire fixed.
The gals are taking a break while the tire gets fixed.
We had a family home evening with our temple missionaries and showed pictures of our weekend in Senahu and I shared Elder Renlund’s message to the saints there.  Then Elder and Sister Hurst shared some of the things they have learned here on their mission.  They will be going home in a week.  We will sure miss them.  Eldon has been a great trainer and Dawn has got the clothing rental in tip top shape.  Our Savior would be pleased with our clothing rental if He were to visit.  Tuesday we had presidency meeting and I crashed and soaked my feet to try and relieve the swelling and the itching from chigger bites I got on our hike in the jungle.  
This is what my foot looks like a week after getting bit by chiggers. 
I have between 40 and 50 bites on each foot.  They itch like crazy.
Wednesday we went to our last painting class for the summer.  Jill’s kids are out of school and they will be traveling.  We will try and get in a couple of private lessons when she has time, but there won’t be a formal class until school starts again in August.  We then did the afternoon shift in the temple.  
More work on flesh tones and starting the hair.

Mom's painting of lake Atitlan.
Mom's painting. Part of our class was we all had to paint the same picture.
My painting.
What we were supposed to be painting.
Sunday we went to the San Cristobal stake conference where Elder Camey was presiding.  We both spoke and I shared some of Elder Renlund’s message.  It was a very good conference and we both felt the Spirit testifying of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We had a great dinner at the Price’s to say good bye to the Hurst’s and to wish happy birthday to Elder Winkfield.  Then Elder Winkfield and Elder Hurst and mom and I went to the temple and trained 14 restricted workers from the Monte Maria ward in the Mariscal stake.  We got done just after 6:00pm.  We got to talk to a couple of our kids and go to bed early.  
The choir before conference.
Stake conference at San Cristobal stake.
Elder Camey in the middle and President Morales on the right.
Mom with two more of our workers, Sister Rodriquez on the left and sister Ibanez on the right.
Brother Agustin, one of our sealers, his wife, mom and Sister Insuasti.  They are both temple  workers.  
Sunday dinner to say good-bye to the Hurst's and happy birthday to Elder Winkfield.
Elder Winkfield, the birthday boy,  is at the end of the table.  
It was a good week and we got notice that we now have 3 couples that will be coming to serve with us.  The Jensens from Calgary, Canada and the Holmans from Sugar City, Idaho arrive in August.  Our good friends, Mike and Merlene Ellington from Mount Pleasant, Utah, who served with us in China, will be joining us in October.  So we now have missionaries that will be here when we finish.  We won’t be alone.  Truly this is the best calling in the church.  We get to go to the temple almost every day and on the weekends we get to go to stake conferences and be with wonderful, faithful saints.  How could it get any better?  Well, we get to rub shoulders with general authorities once in awhile also.  We are so blessed.  How do we deserve all of this?  We ask ourselves this all the time.