Monday, August 25, 2014

The rich and the poor

Dear Family and Friends:
     It is hard to believe that another week has come and gone.  With our new schedule of a morning on shift, an afternoon on shift and a day off, it is really hard to keep track of the days of the week.  President Thompson is doing a better job than I am cause he knows that in three more days life gets sweeter as BSU kicks off its football season.  And we have the day off so he can get ready for the game.  I'm just hoping for no overtimes cause we have to be at the temple early on Friday morning.
     We had a wonderful week.  The temple seemed to be busier than usual.  I think that it is because the Stake Conferences have started so the people are coming to get prepared for their conferences.  On Thursday, the saints from Patzicia came.  This is a small Mayan community close to Atitlan.  They speak Ketchikel here.  However, the older generation has learned to speak Spanish as well, unlike the older generation from Senahu who only speak Quechi.  The women all wear the classic Mayan dresses.
   The women even wear the aprons at all times, not just when they cook.  The smell of open fires was so strong in the temple.  All their cooking is done outside on open fires.  They are a very humble, poor, but happy people.  They are classic Mayans and are about 4'4'' to 5' tall.  We ran out of size 5 and 6 slippers.  They stayed all day, repeating session after session.  What a fun morning.  We spent the morning with the very poor, and the afternoon surrounded by the rich.
     We spent the afternoon with the Roberts celebrating Hermana Roberts birthday.  We went to the Oakland Mall.  This Mall reminded us of the Gran Villa Mall in El Salvador.  It is 4 stories with three parking floors below the street level.  The shops here are very expensive but we came to eat at the Nais Aquarium Restaurant.
The waiting area had this fish tank under your feet. 
 The tank is huge and filled with lots of interesting fish.  The sharks were very impressive.
 It was more fun to watch the fish than to eat.  The food was good.  The restaurant specializes in barbequed foods.  It was expensive, but we are glad that we came.
      There were small aquariums all over the restaurant with unusual fish in them.

                           Aquariums hanging from the ceiling
There was a tube for the children to crawl into and feel like they were right in the aquarium.  As I can't crawl, President Thompson crawled in for me so I could get a picture.  What a sport!
 It is hard for pictures to show you the size of the Mall, but it is massive and filled with very elite shops.
We are on the third floor.  You can see the carousel on the fourth floor.
 I was trying to show the waterfall that changed colors and even had words at time, the water is just starting down in blue.  The children's play area.
 The train offers rides all the way around the fourth floor.
The carousel is a two story one.  It was hard to believe that we are in a third world country as we stood in this modern mall.  The difference between rich and poor are so distinct here.

     On Sunday, we were picked up at 8:15 to go to the Alameda Stake Conference.  It was about a half hour drive through a new part of Guatemala City.  The drive was beautiful but again, the difference between rich and poor was very apparent.
We arrived at the conference an hour early and were able to greet the saints as they arrived.  This is the church.
As we were greeting the saints, Elder Sorensen came in.  He said he was from Utah and then he asked where we were from.  When we replied Jerome, Idaho, he said that he had family from there.  So, may I introduce you to Elder Sorensen.
He is the grandson of Richard and Gudren Johnson and the son of Martha y David Sorensen.  We told him that his mother was our babysitter when our kids were young, (one of the only ones who could handle Tracy).  His grandparents are very special to us.  We have so many wonderful memories that we share with them.  He told us that Grandma Gudren was not doing well.  Elder Sorensen is Martha's youngest.  What a small world we live in. 
     We spoke in the conference and after the meeting, were able to greet some of our temple ordinance workers.
 Hermano y Hermana Paredes.  He is one of our experienced sealers.
 Hermana Paredes has to use a walker but is there every Saturday morning at 4:30 to serve on her shift.  They are a good example of dedication and service.
 Hermano Ajpop (he is really hard of hearing) but serves with a big smile.
                                    A bicycle taxi.  He can have two people in the front seat.
We are really enjoying going to the conferences and meeting with the people of Guatemala.  We have an assignment to speak for 45 minutes at a fireside this next Sunday, so we will be busy this week preparing for that.  My 5 minute talk won't work here.  We send our love to all and pray that you will have a wonderful week.  May God bless you and keep you safe.  Love Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, August 18, 2014

District Conference in Santa Lucia

Dear Family and Friends:
    It's hard to believe that another week has come and gone already.  The Belize saints came to the temple this week.  They always stay for a couple of days and it is always fun to hear the ordinances in English.  The official language in Belize is English and most of the young people don't speak Spanish.  Most of the older people speak both English and Spanish.  They have a different accent and the young people like to practice their Spanish on us. 
    We were assigned to speak in the Santa Lucia District Conference on Sunday the 17th.  This District is working very hard to become a Stake.  They are very close to that goal.  There were about 800 at the conference.  Santa Lucia is about an hour and a half away from Guatemala City and very hot and humid. 
     Let me introduce you to Valmoris Ceballos and his wife.  They are ordinance workers.  Hermano Ceballos works for the church.  He is one of the guards here at the temple and is the one that drove us to the hospital when I broke my legs.  He is a special friend. 
 Hermana Ceballos directed the music for the conference and directed a youth choir.
Hmo y Hma Ceballos with their daughter and her family 

  The church building is in a "U" shape.  Lon and I were both assigned to speak for about 5 minutes each.  I spoke to the Primary children and sang a song with them, encouraging them to prepare now to enter the temple one day.  Lon spoke to the young people, the investigators, the adults, and encouraged them to prepare now to enter the temple and attend regularly, and to prepare to become ordinance workers in the temple.  It was a wonderful conference.
As we were leaving, I was given one of the flower arrangements that decorated the pulpit.  They were cut flowers and I knew that they would die fast
The little girls started coming up and asking for a flower.  It was fun to be able to let them pick which one they wanted.  We both received many hugs and kisses.  We love these people and are thrilled for this new assignment and the opportunity to get to be with the saints in their conferences.
     Tonight at Family Home Evening, we welcomed our newest missionary couples.  Elder and Hermana Barney are here for a year.  Their son and his family are here with the Embassy for a year so they are enjoying being together. 
         The Gardner's are from Orem, Utah.  He served here in the Central American Mission 50 years ago and yes, he remembers Frank Wall!!  What a small world we live in.
We took them on a walk to show them where the grocery stores are.  We only did the 2 miler for them but today, I did the 4 mile loop.  Of course it took longer than 1 hour but it felt good to be able to walk that far. 
      Neither of the women speak Spanish and have never served in a temple before so we have lots to teach them and they are eager to learn.   This is our missionary family as of today.
    Back row:  Los Cuellars, Wilsons, Roberts, Barlows, Elder Barney, Elder Murri, Hna. Caballero,  Burks. Middle row:  Thompsons, Hna. Cordon, Eberhards, Hna. Paniagua, Hna. Barney, Hna. Murri.  Front Row: Padillas, Hna. Guzman, Hna. Tanner, Gardners.  27 temple missionaries.
      Well, that is about all for this week.  We look forward to our shifts in the temple and being with the wonderful people we are able to serve with.  Some shifts run real smooth with lots of workers and some others are a struggle with only a handful of workers.  Our Thursday evening shift really struggles.  This week we only had 2 native obrera's.  Luckily we had 5 missionaries assigned.  The only positive thing about that shift is that we get to help with all the ordinances cause there aren't enough workers.  Hope you all have a wonderful week.  You are in our prayers.  We love you Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Volcano Pacaya

Dear Family and Friends:
     Before I tell you all about our trip to the Volcano Pacaya, we need to brag once more.  We have our first new generation Eagle Scout in our family.  He joins his Grandfather and his Uncle Tracy.  We are so proud of Nathan and all the work that he did to accomplish this.
       Nathan Andrew Parker with his Dad, Justin, and his Mom, Mindi

 Daniel and Kelly Fisher came back from Atitlan on Sunday, the 3rd.  They were so tired but had enjoyed their trip there.  We headed out to visit the Volcano Pacaya on Monday morning, the 4th.  Pacaya had erupted in March of 2014.  It usually erupts about every 4 years.  It is only 19 miles southwest of Guatemala City but took us about an hour to drive there.
We again went with Andrea, the taxi driver, cause he is so knowledgeable and had everything organized for our visit.  We told him that we needed at least one horse to get us to the volcano.  But they had 3 horses ready for us and took some real steep narrow paths for the first 15 minutes of the walk, trying to convince us that none of us would make the hike.  The kids, of course were fine, and I could have made the hike easily before these broken legs.  President Thompson decided to ride because they agreed to give him the reins, my horse was led, and Lon enjoyed riding once again.
 This is Baltazar.  He is 13 and has been guiding horses up this mountain for 4 years.
Our guide is in the green.  Lydia was in her 30's and I was on her husband's horse.
Baltamar owned the horse Lon is on and after about 15 minutes, he sent the horse he is on back with the young Baltazar to pick up another tourist.  The kids, Daniel and Kelly were determined to walk.
     The scenery was beautiful.  The rains have greened everything up.
 As we looked across this valley, we could see the Volcan Agua.  It is not active right now.
You can see the top just above the clouds.  As we turned a corner, I saw the path we were to take and I wondered if these horses would fit on the trail.  But Baltamar assured me that all would be well.
 The darkest trails is the new lava this year.  It was one way traffic so we waited for others to pass.
 We made it in just over an hour.  We dismounted and had to walk for about 15 minutes to reach the Lava Store and the hot coals to roast marshmallows on.
 Walking down to the store.  We were starting to feel the heat already.
 The Lava Store sold jewelry made from lava and ash.  This store has been burned up 4 different times by different eruptions. 
Our guide provided the marshmellows.  She moved a couple of rocks and the lava was hot enough to roast the marshmellows.  Others were cooking eggs and tortillas.  If you stood still for too long, you really had hot feet. 
 I tried to get some pictures of the ride home, but the horse ride was so bumpy that the pictures didn't turn out too good.
  Daniel and Kelly were out in front the whole way.  Boy, the energy of youth!! They skipped, ran, and just enjoyed themselves.  It was a fun day.  It took us about an hour and a half to get back down.  I have a picture of Lon and I to insert here but I can't get it to download right now.   After almost 3 hours astride a horse, we were sore for a week.  But it was a fun adventure and we enjoyed sharing it with Daniel and Kelly.  They left that evening on the 10:00 PM bus to Tikal and then on to Belize. 
     The weather was beautiful all weekend and on Tuesday the rains returned.  We have had a good thunderstorm every day. 
    We enjoy these trips to visit this beautiful country, but our service in the temple continues to be the crowning jewel of our time here.  We have enjoyed getting to know so many more of the obrera's as we rotate from one shift to another. We had another crazy Saturday afternoon:  6 young women in the temple for the first time and 3 young men; two sealings; a huge baptism group; 3 sessions with more than 30 in each; and only 10 obreras and 11 obreros.  We can testify that we couldn't have gotten the work done without special help from our Heavenly Father.  It is His House and He is always there to help us. 
        I am busy getting a couple of talks ready for Stake Conferences and President Thompson continues to cook for us.  Today he made us 3 loaves of whole wheat bread and a carrot cake.  We send our love to all.  You are in our prayers always.  Life is wonderful.  Have a great week.  Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy