Sunday, June 29, 2014

11 Buses and we are in charge!!!

Dear Family and Friends:
    We spent our week in the temple being trained how to perform our new callings as Second Counselor in the Temple Presidency and Assistant to the Matron.  Tuesday through Friday we served closely to President Galvez and President Burk and their wives to learn our responsibilities.  We felt really good about everything and deep inside knew that we were as ready as we could be.  Friday evening President Burk came for a visit and let us know that he too felt that we were ready and that tomorrow we would be in charge of the Saturday Morning Shift and he was spending the day with his family who have come for a visit.  Suddenly we didn't feel so prepared!  After the initial shock wore off, a peace came over us and we knew, again, that we were prepared.  We know that our Father in Heaven has been preparing us for this very day for a long time.
     We opened the temple at 4:00 AM.  By 5 we had the first session started and people preparing for the 2nd and 3rd.  It was all going very well, considering we only had the temple missionaries there.  We only had 5 missionaries to handle a session every half hour and all of the other things that needed done.  The thought ran through my head that if none of the Guatemalan Obrera's came, we would run out of temple missionaries by 7 as they would all be officiating a session.  At about 6:30 the local obrera's started trickling in and boy were we thankful to see them. 
     One of our new responsibilities is to give some instruction to each person who comes to the temple for the very first time, to help them relax and understand what is going on.  President Thompson had been able to do this a couple of times during the week but I had never even read the instructions of what we were to teach.  Between 8 and 12, President Thompson had given instruction to 8 men and I had given instruction to 11 women.  For President Thompson this wasn't such a miracle, but for me, with my limited Spanish it was indeed a miracle.  Our Heavenly Father blessed us with the language when we needed it and the other workers and the participants seemed to understand anything that we needed to say. 
     We have a very little temple as far as building is concerned, but we can do a session every half hour so that helps.  By 1:00 we had completed about 496 endowments.  We have no idea about the baptistery.  All we know is that there were young people continually from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  We found out that we had 11 buses in the parking lot.  We ran out of a lot of sizes of clothing and a lot of people had to use size 7 slippers when they needed size 6, then we ran out of the 7's so they had to use 9's.  The laundry did all they could to keep up with the demand.  It was the busiest day we have ever seen since we arrived.  We were  "baptized by fire".  But we had peace in our hearts all day, knowing that this is the work of our Lord and His house, and He is in charge.  We put in an 11 hour day and came home totaled, but very happy. 
     We were set apart by President Burk and are very excited to be serving with him and Hermana Burk.  This new calling is going to be filled with challenges and miracles and blessings beyond measure.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to serve this mission here in Guatemala.  We are thankful for the support of our children and grandchildren.  Without their love and support, it would be impossible to be away from them so long.  We thank each of you for your prayers in our behalf.  Just keep them coming.  We will need them.  We love our Heavenly Father and rely on His help in all we do.  May God bless you.  You are in our prayers.  Love Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

We are leaving in the morning early for Quezaltenango to visit the Xela Temple and see the sights.  We will return to Guatemala on Thursday and leave again for El Salvador on Friday to visit for the weekend.  We will miss blogging next week but will catch up with pictures and details of our trips the following week. We love you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Callings

     We went to dinner on the 21st, Saturday, to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary.  We have celebrated our anniversaries here in Guatemala twice (this year and in 2011 when we were on our Book of Mormon Tour) and in El Salvador twice.  We have spent our last 4 anniversaries here in Central America.  We finished our shift and walked to Pollo Campero for dinner.  We enjoyed ourselves and made it home before the rains came.
     The carrots here are big, sweet, and tender.  This farmer is on his way to the market with a nice harvest.
     On June 6th, 2014, while at the temple, we received word that Elder Amado, our area President here, was trying to find a time to visit with us.  At the time we were both in a session and couldn't meet with him.  On this Friday, it was raining cats and dogs so we didn't go out for our walk as usual after our morning shift.  Elder Amado called on the phone and visited with Elder Thompson for a few moments then talked to me.  He was given the assignment by the First Presidency to extend the call for Lon to be the Second Counselor in the Temple Presidency here in the Guatemala City Temple and for me to serve as an assistant to the Matron.  We had figured that the counselor had been picked long before this and that it would be a Guatemalan.  So we were completely surprised.  We assured Elder Amado that we only have one goal and that is to serve our Heavenly Father whenever and where ever we are needed.  We have had two weeks to ponder and pray about this new call as we have not been able to tell anyone about it till now.  With humility and faith we will move forward to accomplish this new responsibility.
     President Burk announced our call at Family Home Evening today.  We had a dinner of lasagna with all the fixings and birthday cake for President Galvez.
We ate in the garage of the President's house
We met all together to say goodbye to Elder and Sister Olson who are finishing their 18 month mission and will fly home to Rexburg, Idaho on the 30th.
     We also said goodbye to President and Hermana Galvez who will fly home to Tennessee on the 30th to spend a few months with their families before heading to Quezaltenango to be the Temple President and Matron of the Xela Temple.
      This week, we will be trained by the Temple Presidency each day during our morning shift.  We will greatly miss being able to perform the temple ordinances daily.  We will be set apart on the 28th of June and will then have a 2 week break for cleaning and will begin our new assignment on the 14th of July.  It has seemed like a dream up to now.
     Our lives will change and our schedules will change.  We will open the temple one morning and preside on the AM shift, then the next day we will preside on the PM shift and close the temple.  The third day we will have off and then start over again.  Our service in El Salvador was all about teaching all that we knew about temples, and this mission is all about learning.  We have learned so much already and have much more to learn.  A few things that I have learned is to let my husband take care of me, learned to call neighbors to come and help me, and learned to walk without a limp.  Elder Thompson has learned to cook, to care for me, to be a sealer. 
     The hardest part of this new call will be on the weekends.  With 27 stakes in this temple district, every weekend the Temple Presidency takes turns visiting Stake Conferences and talking at firesides.  President Burk assured us that we WILL have plenty of opportunities to talk in Stake Conferences and at firesides.
     As we have worked in the temple off and on for the last 14 years, we know more than ever that the gospel is true and that we have a Heavenly Father that truly loves each and every one of us and has given us the way to return and live with him again.  We love our family so much and without any doubt, know that through the temple ordinances that He makes it possible for all families to have their children and loved ones for all eternity.  I have felt this more than ever as I have been able to seal families and to feel without any doubt his love and desire for us to be happy.  We have learned through revelation the importance of family and the only happiness we will have is to be with them forever.  Through His atonement all children can receive eternal life and exaltation.  We love serving and as we study and learn, we have a greater desire to live better.  What a privilege it has been to serve in our Father's house, where he is the head of all learning.
     We send our love to all.  Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day

     We hope that each of you fathers had a wonderful Father's Day.  We are so thankful for our Fathers, for their examples, teachings, love, and the fun memories that they left us with. 
     This week went by so quickly for us.  We have a rain storm at least once a day, and sometimes the storm lasts all day or all night.  Everything is green and beautiful.  But we do miss the blue skies. 
     After serving in El Salvador, we thought that we knew the Spanish names but we have come across a lot of new ones here.  There are a lot of tribal languages here so the names are very different.  Here are a few examples:  Ixpancoj (pronounced ishpancoh, with a very hard 'h' at the end),Tiul, Caal, Ico', Coc, Curruchiche, Chiqua, Insausti, Recancoj, Canasuj.  The x's are pronounced with a "sh" and the "j's" are always a very hard 'ha'.  It is hard to do when it is at the end of a name.  Last Wednesday, the 11th, Elder Thompson had the opportunity to seal a family together for time and all eternity.  He really struggled with the names.  They spoke Kackchiquel but also spoke Spanish.  The father:  Ruby Leonel Ajquill Sigvinajay, the mother: Maria Francisca Ajmac Ajpuac, and the children: Oliver Alejandro Ajmac Ajpuac and Gerson Francisco Abinadi Ajquill Ajmac. 
     When women come to the temple, and need to rent a white dress, which is almost everyone, we have a ruler on the wall that we measure their height by so we get them the right length of dress.  We measure them from their shoulder to the floor.  I would take a 52" dress.  The size that we use most is 48".  We have dresses from 44" to 58".  When the Senahu saints came, they are true Mayans, they used the 44" dresses and they were long on some of the women.  We measure the men for slacks from their waist to the floor.  The size that we use most is 35".  I think that most of our grandchildren would be as tall or taller than the average person here.  Of course, we do have a few who are taller than we are,  and you know that we are tall people. Ha Ha.
     We received a new Bishopric last Sunday.  This week, the first and second Counselors spoke and it was very interesting to hear about our second Counselors call.  Our new second Counselor in the Bishopric is Levi Smylie.  He is a very accomplished pianist and singer.  He and his family came to church last week early cause we had choir practice before church to go over our song once before  performing in the meeting.  He directed the choir and his wife played for us.  Anyway, the Stake President ushered Bro. Smylie into a room and asked him if he would be the second counselor.  He had no opportunity to talk to his wife but he has great faith and knew that this was a calling from his Father in Heaven so he said yes right there and then.  He came in and practiced with us, the meeting started and before he had a chance to even whisper to her, his name was announced as the second counselor to Bishop DeLeon.  He didn't even know before this time who the bishop was.  Sister Smylie has great faith also and will be a strength to her husband in his new calling. 
     Sorry, no pictures this week.  We send our love to all.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers.  Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Time to brag!!

      Just want to share pictures of a few of our grandchildren and let you know what wonderful, special grandchildren we have.  We are so proud of them all and the accomplishments that they have achieved. 
      First of all, we have a high school graduate.  Kyleigh, Justin and Shayla's oldest, has graduated from Kimberly High School. 
                                         A very proud dad, Justin, with a beautiful Kyleigh
                                                         Shayla, Kyleigh, and Justin
          Shayla and Justin also have two very adventurous mountain climbers who have just finished this year of school with honors.  Gideon and Ryanne
     Mason is busy playing baseball this summer and Riley, Aydan, and Dillon are all growing up so fast.  They will all enjoy no school for a couple of months.
     Tracy and his family just enjoyed their first campout and 4-wheel trip.  They went up Baker Creek.  Isn't it beautiful.
                 Ashton, Eisley, Chandler with Mom and Dad
  Ginger's daughter, Jaikka, just received an award for having all A's and received the Gold Presidential Award.  She not only excels in school, but is enjoying dancing with a dance competition group.
     Mindi's three have also been busy.  Nathan just returned from a Trek and is working on his Eagle Project.  He is now taller than his Grandma and close to the same size of his Grandpa.  By the time we get home, he will be taller than Grandpa, I'm sure. 
      Hannah just returned from Girl's Camp.  She plays the flute and piano, but is bashful and Grandpa has a tough time getting her to play for him.
   And last of all, Isaac has been busy not only with his running, but with his scouts.  He just received his Arrow of Light.
     We just love getting pictures of the grandchildren.  It is great to be able to Skype with most of them a few times each month.  We are sorry that we have to miss watching the kids grow, but we know that we are where we are supposed to be right now.  We pray that each of our grandchildren will continue to grow and achieve and be examples to their families and friends.  They are spread from the first grade to high school.  We are very proud of them and send our love.  May God bless them with those righteous desires of their hearts.  Grandpa and Grandma

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Apple Factory

Dear Family and Friends:
    Sorry to be late writing this week, but we played on Monday instead of writing to you.  We have tried to visit the Apple Factory since our first year in El Salvador and we finally made it there. 
It rained the whole day.  The Apple Factory makes beautiful wood products.  All the streets in Antiqua are cobble stone.  It used to be the capital of Guatemala, but was destroyed by an earthquake and the capital was moved to Guatemala City. 
This is the owner
We traveled to Antiqua with Elder and Hermana Burbidge.  She is the nurse at the CCM.  They have a car and we got to go along for the day.
     As you go through the front door, they have piles of products in all stages of production.  Everything is hand made and painted.
 The finished products are amazing.  But you have to look around cause it is all stacked up.  We found some treasures that we didn't think that we could live without.  The Burbidges are having them make a clock and we loved it so we are going to have one made for us too.
It has the Mayan calendar with a tree of life in the center.  It is not painted yet so we will have to return another day.
  Here are a couple of treasures that we couldn't live without.  We just don't know for sure how we will get them home. 

  After the Apple Factory, we went to the city center to look around town and find a place for lunch.  This is the volcano named Fuego.  It has been spitting smoke and debris for months now.  The trees are the edge of the city center.  We had visited here when we took the Book of Mormon tour in 2011.  We remembered the fountain in the center of the park.   

 We went to the Jade Factory and took a tour and had lunch there. 
 It never did stop raining.  But it couldn't dampen our spirits as we had a wonderful day with friends.  We got home in time for Family Home Evening at the Barlow's.
Hermano Jose y Ema Funas  (obreros del temple)
They work three days in the temple.  They have no car and ride a bus each day for a couple of hours to get to the temple.  They are wonderful, dedicated people.  She is the one who made me the doily for Mother's Day. 
     We had a wonderful P-day.  Our week in the temple was great also.  Friday and Saturday were very busy and Elder Thompson was able so seal two more families together forever.  This mission is wonderful.  We are so happy to be here serving in our Father's House.  We send our love to all.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers.  Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cha'bil Culonic, Bienvenidos, Welcome

    This was probably the busiest week that we have had here since our arrival.  We put in longer days than usual but loved every minute.  The stake from Senahu arrived with 2 buses on Tuesday afternoon and stayed till Thursday morning with 80 people and the second group came on Thursday afternoon and stayed till Saturday morning with another 30 people. 
Senahu is about 8 hours from Guatemala City and these are the buses that they traveled in.  It is a town were the indigenous Mayan people live.  ' These people are small, most men are about 4'8'' to 5' and the women are 3 1/2 ' to 41/2' tall.  They wear beautiful hand made skirts and blouses and are so loving.
  The only problem is that they don't speak Spanish!  They speak Q'eqchi', or Quechi' as the Guatemalans call it, or Kekchi as the internet describes it.  It is an old Mayan language that is nothing at all like Spanish.  We were blessed to have 4 women and 7 men come the week before to learn how to best help this week.  They are temple workers who speak both languages. 
     Here is a few examples of their language:
Thank you --  Gracias --  Bantiox herman  (the x is pronounced as sh)
What is your last name? --  Cual es su apellido? -- Ani 'LixVuelt la' aca'ba?
My name is -- Mi nombre es -- Lain in ca'ba
And to make it even harder, the vowels and consenents have different sounds than in Spanish. All we could do was give lots of smiles and hugs and use a lot of sign language to communicate.
     The first group had 27 children to be sealed to their parents.  These children were in the temple nursery Wednesday morning, and of course they don't speak Spanish, so one of our Quechi' speakers had to be in the nursery.
     We asked a group of them if we could take a picture and that led to the following pictures.  These are very poor, humble people.  Not one of them had a camera and none of them have internet so we will develop the pictures and send them to the mission president in that area so that he can get them to these families. 

                                                             Jacinto Rax family
                               Ignacio Che and his wife, they wanted the traffic in the picture
                             Carlos Sacul and Manuela Maquin with Ignacio Che and his wife
     By noon on Saturday, we had completed over 300 endowments and the temple was still filled to overflowing. We had sessions every half hour.   The laundry was piling up faster than the workers could get it washed and ready to be used again.  I am sure that our Father in Heaven was smiling this day.  We had English, Spanish, and Quechi' patrons in the temple all day.  We love this work, service that we are able to give.
     As we were walking one day this week, we spotted this ahead of us.  We know that this soil is rich volcanic soil and that the rains are coming daily but a tree growing out of a man hole cover right in the middle of the street?

As we got closer we found out the answer to this puzzle.

 There is new cement around the man hole cover and the tree keeps the cars from driving over it until it is cured.  It has been there now for a week and is starting to look pretty wilted.
     Today is garbage pick up day.  The garbage is put into the big white bags and hauled off in the trucks.  This is the driver taking a break.  There is usually 4 or 5 young men running from door to door to collect the garbage and bring it to the trucks. 
     It started raining last night around 6:30 and has not stopped yet.  The skies are gray and it looks like it could rain for the rest of the day.  We have been lucky all week and got a walk in either before the rain or after a storm.  Today may end our luck and we may not get to walk. 
     We are enjoying our time here in Guatemala City and love serving in the temple.  You are all in our prayers daily and we love and miss you.  May our Heavenly Father's blessings be with you this week.  We send our love to all: Dad and Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, Lon and Nancy