Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bienvenida y Despedida

     On the 21st of April, we had to say despedida, or farewell, to President and Sister Harris, the first counselor and assistant to the Matron.  Their mission here is finished and they will be greatly missed.
They have served here for 18 months.  They also served here as a Mission President before this mission for 3 years so they really knew their way around and knew lots of the people.

President Harris, President Burk, President Galvez
Los Galvez's, Los Burk's, Los Harris's
     We had a BBQ in the Burk's back yard in honor of those missionaries leaving and those arriving.
      We had hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings.  Elder Thompson even made deviled eggs for the first time cause the Padilla's had never tasted them before.  Sister Murri helping the Harris's with the cooking.
    The doorway goes from their back yard into ours.  Elder and Sister Roberts.  She got a knee chair from the States to help her get around.   She broke her foot and dislocated  her ankle and can't put any weight on it for another 4 weeks.  President Burk making sure that all is ready.
Elder Murri is ready and hungry.  Let's eat!
     We also said goodbye to the Svensens.  They are from Alberta Canada.  This is their second mission.  They served in Santo Domingo in the temple there.  Elder Svensen is our assistant recorder and serves every evening shift.  Sister Svensen is an amazing seamstress and has spent her free time hemming dresses, slips, pants and making little white dresses for the children who come to be sealed to their parents.  She has arranged the clothing in the temple so it runs so much smoother than ever before.  They will be missed. 
     We also said goodbye  to the Pitchers, only in a different way.  They are no longer temple missionaries.  They have been assigned to work in the Area Office as a secretary to Elder Amado.  They have had to move from our temple housing and will no longer attend our FHE here.   Whenever they can, they will still come and serve in the temple as obreros but just not on a regular basis.
     We say bienvenida, welcome, to our new single senior missionaries.  We have such admiration for these dedicated sisters who come alone to serve.
 Sister Paniagua is from the Bountiful area and has served in that temple.  She is only in her 50's and is a divorced mother of 5.  She was born here in Quetzaltanango (Xela).  She is full of life!!
This is Sister Tanner. She is 80 years young.   She is from Orem, Utah and this is her 7th mission.  All of her missions have not been in temples.  She has served in Santo Domingo, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Taiwan and Washington DC.  She has a lot of get up and go, but does get a bit confused at times.  I only pray that when I reach that age, I can remember half of what she does.   
And then we have Sister Caballero.  She was born in Chile and has lived most of her life in the states.  She presently lives in Orem, Utah.  She served in the Provo Temple for years, but didn't know any of the Spanish until now.  She is in her mid 70's and this is her first mission.
     With President Harris leaving, we needed a new counselor so President Galvez has been moved to the position of First Counselor and President and Sister Roberts have been called to serve as the Second Counselor and assistant to the matron.
     With the broken ankle, getting around the temple will be a challenge for Sister Roberts, but she is determined and with the knee chair, she will be able to get around better.  They don't have these here and everyone is fascinated with it.  The Roberts are from Idaho Falls, Idaho.  They are wonderful people with very strong testimonies of the restored Gospel.  This is their second mission, having served in Santo Domingo as Pepetual Education Fund Missionaries.  It is going to be great serving with them.
     We have had a wonderful week with lots of people in the temple.  On Friday, a stake came from a town called Paticia where everyone is under 4 1/2 feet tall and the women all dress in the traditional dress of Guatemala.  This is one of the poorer, uneducated areas but they are all so sweet and loving.  Saturday was the biggest day we have had since we have arrived.  Starting at 5:00 AM we had FULL sessions every half hour till our shift ended at 12:30.  Elder Thompson was privileged to do some sealings and we never had a chance to breath till we got home.  And then we didn't get to sit for long as we had to move.  But I will tell you all about that next week with pictures of our new apartment.
     We are enjoying our service here.  We are sad to loose these missionaries that we have come to love but here it is normal for someone to be going home every month and new missionaries to arrive.  We have two new couples coming in two weeks.  Thank you for your prayers in our behalf.  We are safe and serving with all our hearts, mind and strength.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers.  We send our love to all; Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Monday, April 21, 2014

Semana Santa/Easter Week

   We have enjoyed a wonderful Easter week, or Semana Santa as it is called here.  The schools were out for the week and most businesses closed down the whole week too.  Our little corner market closed at noon on Wednesday.  The owner said that if she stayed open, she would have to pay a big tax to the government so it was better to close.  The big stores, Paiz, La Torre, and yes, even Walmart closed Friday afternoon and didn't reopen until Monday morning.  The city buses stopped running on Wednesday.  Can you even imagine one day in the US where all the stores and businesses closed? 
     Because everyone is on vacation, the temple would be full, so the missionaries in the morning shift stayed longer and the afternoon shift came early so we didn't have to close the temple in the middle of the day.  We put in longer shifts all week, between 8 - 10 hours everyday, felt like El Salvador hours.  But it was a wonderful week. 
      On Tuesday, Elder Thompson was privileged to Seal a newly wed couple, Jorje Mario Chavez del Cid and Vivian Aide Castellanos Heredia for time and all eternity.  This was his first live Sealing and it was a special experience for him.  He next had the opportunity to do some English Sealings for a couple who were visiting their children and brought family files to be done.  He had Spanish helpers so he did one in Spanish and then one in English so everyone could understand.  Our temple here has been open for 30 years, and he is the first Sealer, other than the Presidency, who can use both languages in accomplishing this work.  Quite an honor for this Idaho country boy.
     On Wednesday, Belize came to the temple and stayed for two days.  In Belize, everyone speaks both English and Spanish so the missionaries there don't have to learn Spanish.  We had two sets of Senior Missionaries and another couple who live in Belize 6 months of the year come to the temple.  We were able to do all the ordinances in English for them.  What a blessing to be able to use two languages to serve the children of our Heavenly Father.  Petan also came for two days.  Petan is a long way away from the temple so they can't come regularly.  The temple was filled each morning that we served and we loved every moment of it. 
     We asked some members what were their Easter Traditions here.  Their reply was that they, as members, really don't have any as every celebration here is done by the Catholic Church.  The one tradition that we would love to see is the "alfombras and parades."   They usually happen on Friday mornings and we are always in the temple then so we may not get this opportunity.  We never did in El Salvador.  The people spend hours and hours creating "alfombras" or carpets on the streets.  These are made of fruits, vegetables, seeds, rocks, flowers, etc. 

Don't you just love the radish flowers!  Well, these beautiful carpets are designed and then they are destroyed!  The parades come and walk over them, unless you are on a street where the parade doesn't walk.

Elder and Sister Pitcher were able to attend this parade and shared the photos with us.   It would be an event to see, oh well, maybe next year.
     Sunday we sang with our ward choir for the Easter Program.  I was able to sing two duets with Sister Jeannette Barney.  Her husband is here with the US Embassy.  We only had one week on one of the songs and it was one neither of us knew so it was a bit rough, especially when in the middle of the song I realized that I didn't have all the sheets of music with me.  I waved my hand behind me and luckily Sister Cordon understood the hand jesters and sent the music to the podium.  That was a scary moment. 
     We ended our Semana Santa by watching the rebroadcast of the Tabernacle Choir's performance of the "Messiah".  Perfect ending to a perfect week. 
     We pray that each of you had a wonderful Semana Santa and that you were able to take some time to thank your Heavenly Father for His Son, Jesus Christ, and for His example, His teachings, and especially for His atonement for each of us.  Life is wonderful.  Enjoy it and know that you are in our prayers and thoughts always.  We love you, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy   

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Easter

     Just a note to tell you that we are alive and well here in Guatemala.  It has been a routine week with nothing out of the ordinary happening.  It is our turn for the English Family Home Evening tonight so I will share with you part of our lesson., "Why Easter should be more like Christmas but better."
      President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that "there would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter.  The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection." 
       As we celebrate Easter this year, I hope that we can remember our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ and all he has done for us.  We are so thankful for his life, his love, his example, his death, and especially for his resurrection that makes it possible for all to live again.  We are thankful to be here serving Him and helping Him in his work here in this temple.  May you have a wonderful, peaceful, Christ-centered week as you prepare for Easter Sunday.  We send our love to all, Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

April Showers

     We have had two very nice showers this week, a month early for here.  Today, as Elder Thompson left for his walk/shopping trip, it looks like it could rain again.
     He straps on his backpack to carry home the groceries.  Before he left this morning, he has the bread dough raising so he can finish baking it when he gets back.  He is also going to make us some more of the Dodd's chile today.  That has become one of our favorite meals.  This week, Elder Thompson made Almond Chicken Casserole, 5 cup Salad, and Banana Bread.  He shared this meal with the Roberts.
     Sister Roberts tripped getting out of her shower on Thursday, the 3rd, and had surgery that day for a severe dislocated ankle and two fractures in it also.  She has a plate and screws and is not to put any weight on it for 6 weeks.  We took over all the medical equipment to her, the shower chair, kitchen spray nozzle for the shower, and the walker.  We are so sorry that she will have to go through this, but thankfully she still has "one leg to stand on".  I told her that if she had told me that she wanted to meet my doctors, I would have taken her with me to one of my appointments, she didn't have to break her foot to meet them.  We are going to do all that we can to keep her spirits up.  I was blessed to have the three weeks with the Temple closed to begin to heal, she only has the 4 days and then we all go back to the Temple and she will feel so guilty.  We are so thankful that we are 3 months down the road and are moving forward.
      I have started working on climbing stairs the correct way, with one foot and then the other.  Boy, I really do have some angry muscles!  The stairs here in our apartment building are just the right size for a few stair laps a day. 
      We really enjoyed watching General Conference Saturday and Sunday.  We were able to get it on the internet and then hooked up the computer to the TV and watched it on the big screen.  (Thank you Elder Gibbons for teaching me how to do this)  After the afternoon session, we took a walk for about a half hour.  I will be glad when I can take a walk after my shift at the Temple.  But for now, only on my days off.
      As Elder Thompson was walking this week, he took some photos of some of the construction that was just beginning when I broke my legs.  He wanted to show me the progress for the last 3 months.  As you will remember from El Salvador, he enjoys watching how things are built here compared to home.  I will post these pictures more for us than for any of you as this blog will be our journal of this mission.
                                  A new hospital under construction just across the street from our apartment
                     Drilling a well just across the street from the new hospital.  We are on city water
The new hospital
 The houses are so close that if you want to expand, you have to go up.  They took off the roof
                 and are expanding their living space by going over the garage with an addition.
                A new apartment building that is just starting, it is in the hole behind the wall now
           Here they use 6 inch cement block.  In El Salvador they used 8 inch.  All cored with rebar.

This one was in the whole when I went down.
      Just across the street from us is a Catholic School.  The traffic is bad in the mornings and afternoons as school begins and lets out. 
 This is where the Nun's live
Directly across the street from the Catholic School is the back door of the CCM.  As you walk down the street, you can hear the young Elders playing basketball and the school children running and playing in their school yard.  It's fun for these old Senior Missionaries to hear these young people.
       We would like to thank each of you who have written to us this week.  It is so fun to hear from you and learn what is going on in your lives.  We think of you often and always keep you in our prayers.
     Elder Thompson just got home with his groceries.  I tell the people here that he is my burro when they want to help us carry our groceries,(for a price).  He usually just fills up the backpack and then the next day gets whatever he couldn't carry the day before.  Today he found everything on our list so he won't have to stop at the store on his walk the rest of the week. 

      He even brought me home a watermelon and a cantaloupe. two things that he doesn't like. 
      We send our love to all.  We are happy here and are finally getting to know some of the people who come to the temple regularly by name.  It is so fun to get to know them and learn of their struggles and achievements.  We are so blessed to be able to serve here.  Thank you all for your prayers in our behalf.  May our Heavenly Father's choicest blessings be with you all this week.  With Love Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma.