Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Dear Family and Friends:
     Sorry the blog is late this week but the weekend was full and I just didn't have time or energy to write.  We had a wonderful week in the temple, as usual.  Whenever you can spend time in the temple it is a wonderful day.  We went down town on one of our mornings off with the Burbidges to the Central Market.  They are so fun to be with.  She is the CCM nurse and he is so patient and is her driver.  On the way to the market, Lon stopped to have his shoes shined.  He has needed this pair of shoes shined for a long time but whenever we are walking we have on our tennis shoes.  It cost Q5 or $.66 to have them shined.  We couldn't buy the polish for that.
It took some convincing to get a smile from him.  He carries his little stool and shine box all over the neighborhood, looking for work.
     We had a fun time and even found a Christmas treasure that just jumped out at us and we had to buy it.  We had the early shift on Saturday and then it was football day.  The only problem was that BSU started at 9:30 pm and we had to be ready to go the following morning by 7:00.  A real short night.  It is a good thing that they won and made it worth the effort.
     Sunday morning we were picked up by Hermano Falabella.
    He is the man that organizes his Stake, the Utatlan Stake, for a trip to the temple every Tuesday evening.  They have not missed a Tuesday evening in 5 years.  It was fun to be able to attend their Stake Conference.  We arrived in time for the 8:00 am meeting for the adults, then a 9:30 meeting with the youth, and then a 30 minute program by the Primary.
    We were shocked when they started singing in English.  They did at least 4 songs, all verses, in English.  The three and four year olds did great.  Their Stake President is very determined that the youth of his stake learn English because they will be able to get better jobs in the future.  We only had to speak in the general session that began at 11:00.  We recognized so many in this stake because they are so faithful coming to the temple each week.
 This is the second chapel built in Guatemala.  We were surprised at how big it was.
 After 5 hours of meetings, it was good to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
 These three children were in the Primary Choir. They ran up to me to let me know that they sang with me as I gave my talk.  I always sing "I Love to See the Temple" as part of my talk to the children.
Los Thompsons with Hermano Falabella.
    As we travel to the Stake Conferences in one area to the city, we pass over a bridge and can see this huge section of houses, one on top of the other. 

 This area is so dangerous that no missionaries are allowed to enter.  In fact, if a car enters and it has windows tinted too dark to see inside of the car, the windows are broken, either by bullets or rocks.  The gang warfare is very alive here as it was in El Salvador.  It is so sad to think that all these thousands of people have no opportunity to hear the Gospel. 
This photo is for all of you gardeners who have studied to know how to trim a tree so that it will grow.  The tree doesn't seem to be stunted at all but it shades the road beautifully.
      Monday, the 24th of November, we celebrated our Thanksgiving with all the Missionaries and a few other friends.  We will be in the temple on Thursday.  We had turkey and allllllll the trimmings.
 The food was in the dining room.
 We set up tables for 34 people in the Burk's garage.  Everyone brought something to add to the meal.
 After the meal, President Burk told us about the first Thanksgiving in Utah.  We ate way too much.  President Thompson has a pumpkin pie in the frig and a turkey breast in the crook pot for us at home so we can hopefully feel hungry again tomorrow and enjoy Thanksgiving all over again. 
Front row: Young Br. Abadillo, Los Floyd, friends of Burks from Honduras, Los Burks, Hno. Cuellar
Second:  Los Abadillo, recorder in temple, Hna. Cordon, Hna. Caballero, Hna. Guzman,  Hna. Gardner holding hands with Elder Gardner.
Back group: Los Padilla, Los Roberts, Los Eberhard, Los Cox President of CCM, Los Burbidge, Los Brubaker, Los Allred, Hna. Cuellar, Los Wilson,  Los Barney, Los Thompsons
     We wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of family, friends, and food.  We have so much to be thankful for, we are glad to have two days to celebrate and remember our blessings and be able to give thanks for them.  Our Father in Heaven loves us all so much.  May His choicest blessings be with you all.  We send our love Lon and Nancy, Grandpa and Grandma, Dad and Mom
Be careful on Black Friday.  Time to get my Christmas tree up!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trip to Santa Elena

Dear Family and Friends:
     This has been a very different week than we could ever have imagined.  We have always known that once in a while a young missionary has to be sent home because he just isn't ready to be obedient and humble and do the work he is here to do.  But we never thought that a senior missionary would have to be sent home.  As a Presidency, we have been working with one of our single sister senior Temple missionaries for months, trying to help her to be able to serve without offending anyone.  But she used her agency and pride to hurt feelings and lash out at her leaders.  She was released as an ordinance worker and sent home on Saturday morning without a temple recommend.  We are so sad that we were not able to help her before it came to this, but we all have to choose what attitude will guide our actions, and pride just isn't the one that will being us happiness. Now we have to pick up the pieces and mend the hearts of both patron and obrera that her actions have hurt.  Hna. Burk, Hna. Roberts and I were sent this special poem written by one of our missionaries that really helped to bring peace to our broken hearts.

Angels dressed in White
It isn't hard at all
To imagine what heaven's like--
It has to look much like you,
Angels dressed in white..

You encourage, lift, and strengthen,
You set a reverent tone;
You make each feel important,
One never feels alone.

Each time I'm in the temple
And see your radiance bright,
I am grateful for the chance to learn
From angels dressed in white.

With love, appreciation, and admiration,
Hna. Carol Barney

     Now for fun news.  We were able to finally go to dinner to celebrate my birthday this week because President Burk is well and back to his normal shift.  We invited the Gardeners and the Roberts to come with us to the Tesoro for Chinese. 
                                              Los Roberts, Los Thompsons, Los Gardners

     We also went to the craft shops near the airport to see if we could find any treasures that we just had to have.  Only Hna. Roberts found one but we had a wonderful time with great people.
 These four are all ex-teachers and school administrators.  We got lost a couple of times but President Roberts just takes it in stride and we eventually find where we are going.  So glad that he isn't afraid to drive here.
     On Sunday, the Presidency decided to go to Santa Elena to attend church and visit with Jose Martinez.  He is one of our employees at the temple and works in the laundry.  His wife just had a new baby so we went to see the baby.

 The church reminded me of a double wide.  It is on a big lot so that when the branch grows into a ward and then into a stake, they can build a bigger building.  Half of the people come from a town that is an hour away.
The baptismal font is outside the front door of the chapel.  It had a black solar cover on top of the water to help keep it clean and warm.  The chapel had no piano or keyboard.  The director just sang the first line of the song so that everyone knew what song they were singing and they really sang the tunes pretty good.  The people were so thrilled to have the Temple Presidency come to visit their little branch. 

                          Relief Society Sisters
This little girl could not hear or speak but wanted to share her testimony with us through sign language that she is just now beginning to learn. 
Loading up to head for home.
From the church parking lot, we could see the Volcano Pacaya.  We had climbed the other side of this volcano on horses.  There is always a stream of smoke from the top.
      We drove to the home of the Martinez's to visit for a few minutes and see the new baby.
                                President and Hermana Burk outside of the Martinez home
Jose with his two daughters and his wife.

  Boy, right when we think that the rains are over, it just started pouring with thunder and lightning.  It's a good thing that we got our walk in earlier today.
   Well, that is all for this week.  True happiness comes from serving others with humility, love, and respect.  I pray that we can each follow the teachings of our Savior and humble ourselves as a little child and not let the pride of our hearts destroy our souls.  We send our love to all.  You are in our prayers and in our hearts Love Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Temple Review y Estaca Molino

Dear Family and Friends:
    This week the Roberts served on every AM shift and we did all the PM shifts so that President Burk could save all his energy for Thursday and Friday.  Each temple president has a Temple Review usually half way through his three year temple assignment.  This review is assigned by the First Presidency to one of the General Authorities.  Elder Adrian Ochoa, the first counselor in our Area Presidency and member of the 2nd Quorum of Elders, was assigned to conduct this review.
                                                     Elder Ochoa and his wife Nancy
 The purpose of the review is to see how the temple is doing physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The temple presidency and their wives are interviewed together and individually.  Elder Ochoa also met with the temple employees, the sealers, and the Stake Presidents.  Thursday started at 8:00am and ended at 9:00pm.  Friday was shorter, from 8:00am to 5:00pm.  The Temple Presidency had to be to all the meetings but the wives didn't meet with the sealers or the Stake Presidents.  It was a wonderful two days, being taught by a servant of our Heavenly Father about how to improve all aspects of our temple service.  We still had the responsibility of our shifts these days so we pretty much lived at the temple.  We have each had a personal Priesthood interview with a General Authority.  Who would have ever thought that two kids from Jerome, Idaho would ever have that opportunity.  We are very thankful for this calling and the opportunities that it brings.  We are truly being blessed.
    Hno Carranza, ass recorder, Hno. Abadillo, recorder, Elder Ochoa, President Burk, Elder Lopez, temple engineer and an Area Seventy, President Thompson taking a tour of all the temple properties.
                               That steeple is just too tall to get Moroni in the pictures. 
Each day we had lunch in the home of President Burk with the temple presidency, the recorders, the temple engineer and Elder Ochoa.  In this informal setting, we were able to ask questions about what it was like to be a General Authority and learned a lot about life in SLC and here. 
     We had the opportunity to attend the Molino Stake Conference on Sunday the 9th and share a few thoughts with the people in this stake.  Elder and Hermana Crapo, from Utah, drove us to the conference.  They are the mission president for the East Mission.  With no car and no desire to drive in this huge city, we are so thankful that others are willing to drive us to these conferences.
        The visiting Area Seventy for this conference was Elder Arredondo.  It is always fun to attend these conferences and try to spot any of our obrero's.
   Hermano Estrada, President y Hermana Thompson, Hermana Quevedo, she has dialysis Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and serves every Tuesday and Thursday am shift.  She has one leg that is about 4 inches shorter than the other and you can see that she is in some pain most of the time, but she always has a smile and is a wonderful obrera with a beautiful spirit.  She arrived to the conference riding in the back of a pickup.  She is one who has nothing as far as worldly treasures, but has a firm testimony and deep love of her Savior.  Elder Ochoa was her mission president and he told us a lot of her success as a missionary. 
This is Hermano Vasquez and his family. 
     We saw many familiar faces.  This Stake is very faithful in their attendance at the temple.  It was a good conference, with a good choir.  We have had a wonderful week.
     We send our love to all.  You are in our prayers and thoughts daily.  Life is a gift, enjoy every moment.  Love Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Saints Day y Patzicia

Dear Family and Friends:
     We had plans to celebrate my birthday this week with two different lunches with missionaries but President Burk got sick on Monday after Family Home Evening and President Thompson and I served all week on the AM shift at the temple while the Roberts served on the PM shift all week.   We didn't do anything but serve in the temple each morning and prepare for the next morning.  By Saturday, we were tired and ready for a rest.  We only had a half day on Saturday because of All Saints Day, but I will tell you about that later in this blog.   President Burk has a very tough urinary tract infection that normal antibiotics did not touch.  He had to start taking an antibiotic with shots for 5 days to try and get rid of it.  He was so discouraged, but today is feeling much better.  We doubt that he will be in the temple this week again, but this week we are doing the PM shifts and the Roberts have the AM shifts.  We miss both President Burk and Hermana Burk when they are not with us in the temple.  They bring such a wonderful spirit with them.  We pray for his speedy recovery.
     Saturday, Nov.1st was All Saints Day here in Guatemala.  It is very similar to our Memorial day.  It depends on where you live as to how you celebrate.  In some towns, everyone writes notes to their loved ones who have passed on, ties these notes to kites, and fly the kites to deliver the messages.
  We tried to get a picture of some of the kites on our drive Sunday Morning.

In other towns, the people cook big meals and take this food to the cemeteries and leave the food on the graves of their families.  They believe that this day the dead come back and eat.  Hermana Funes says that the dogs really love this tradition!  And yet in another town, the people decorate the graves with flowers like we do.  Most of the people fix a traditional meal of a salad called  Fiambre.  It has every vegetable you can name in it, and some that we can't name, chicken, pork, beef, and a dressing made with vinegar.  Hermana Funes told us that it does not taste good.  We were glad that we didn't have to try any of it.
     The temple opened as usual on Saturday at 4am with our first session beginning a 5am.  We were very busy and the time really went by fast.  We only had to serve until 9am because we closed after the 12:00 session for the holiday so the other half of the missionaries and the Roberts came at 9.  It felt good to have a nap.  It is not easy to get up at 3am after a week of early morning shifts but we made it.
     Sunday we had the assignment to attend the Patzicia Stake Conference and speak.  As usual, our driver showed up a half hour early because they forget that on Sundays there is not much traffic.  Patzicia is about 60 miles from the city.  It is a rural area with lots of farming.  They grow every type of vegetable you can name and export these all over Central America.  Most of the fruits and vegetables in El Salvador came from here. 
  The landscape is like a patchwork quilt with all the crops planted in squares all up and down the hills.  It is a very beautiful area but it is in the
mountains so it is much colder than in Guatemala City.  This morning it was only 50 degrees with no sun and the chapel was very cold.  We were glad that the people came to fill up the chapel because it got warmer as more came.  There are no furnaces in any of the buildings or homes here.  As usual, we turned a corner and drove up a street that was very typical and there in the middle of the poverty was a beautiful chapel.
 Looking up the street
                                                      Looking down the street
  The chapel right in the middle of the block
     The people in Patzicia  are from a Mayan group that speak Kacchiquel.  Most everyone now speaks Spanish also.  The young people don't know their native language well but the schools are now teaching Kacchiquel so that it will not be a lost language.  The women and girls dress in their traditional dress and they are just beautiful.  The choir all had on these dresses and most in the congregation also.  It was a very colorful group.
Pictures just don't do the colors justice.  They are a very small people, true Mayan descent.  Their homes have no hot water or furnaces, and they cook on open fires.  The temple really smells like a campfire when they come.  This little girl would not give us any smiles, until I showed her the picture that I took of her. 
Our driver and the Stake President's nephew who came to get us.  We were returned to our apartment by the Stake President after we delivered the Area Seventy Elder Billares to the airport to catch his flight back to Honduras.  As you can see, President Thompson is very tall here as the Mayan people are about 5'2" to 5'6" for the men and the women are about 4'6 to 5'.  I too am very tall next to them. 
    We just got home from FHE and I just have to share this photo.  After the lesson, these men couldn't resist watching some highlights from a high school football game in Utah.  Don't know what they will talk about when the football season ends.
                                        Elder Burbidge, Elder Gardner, President Thompson
     We are looking forward to a new week filled with new people and new experiences.  Every day is a blessing and we love serving here in this Temple.  We send our love to all.  You are in our prayers and we thank you for your prayers in our behalf.  Our Father in Heaven loves us and is watching over us just as He is watching over you also.  Life is a blessing.  Enjoy every minute.  Love Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma.