Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas y Dentist visit

Dear Family and Friends:
     As we reflect on 2014, we are thankful for the miracles that we have had in our lives.  We remember the trials and the triumphs of the year.  We are so thankful for the blessings our Heavenly Father has sent to us and to our families.  We can truly say, as the song teaches, that we are in the hollow of His hands and He is guiding our lives.  We are looking forward to 2015 and whatever adventures it will bring to our lives. 
     We celebrated Christmas with all the missionaries on the 24th with a dinner and games and songs.
Front Row:  Hna. Guzman, Hna. Tanner, Los Brubaker's, Los Allred's Second Row:
Los Thompson's, Hna. Barney, Los Eberhard's, Hna. Gardner, Hna. Wilson, Hna. Burk
Third Row:  Los Burbidge's, Hno. Barney, Los Roberts, Hno. Gardner, Hno. Wilson, Hno. Burk
 One of the fun dishes was this new way to fix a relish dish.  A fun tree of veggies.
Lon wanted to try and cook a turkey with all the trimmings, just like he remembered from his youth so we bought a turkey and he made us a wonderful meal on Christmas day.
We had a white elephant gift exchange with the missionaries and I was blessed with the last pick so I could get anything that I wanted.  I had a wonderful time putting this puzzle together, remembering all the puzzles that I have put together with my grandchildren at Thanksgiving time at Mindi and Justin's home.  I did miss Hannah's help with the hard sections.  It was a used puzzle and ended up with one piece missing.  Remember our tree puzzle that we couldn't find that last piece?  I have passed the puzzle on to another missionary who wanted it real bad at the gift exchange.
On the 26th, we Temple Missionaries were invited to the Dental Clinic for free teeth cleanings.  The Catholic Charities provide the money and a building for this clinic and the LDS church provides missionaries who are retired dentists and dental surgeons and their wives to run it. 
 Driving to the clinic.  It is in a very quiet area and on the property of an "orphanage"
              The front door.
                                                                                                 The open air waiting room.
They have three chairs and we were very well taken care of.  These dentists treat, free of charge, anyone who walks through their door.  They have several schools and orphanages that they work with to help the children.

Shayla, it was very clean and Dad and I were told that all looked good with our teeth.
     The "orphanage" here is for girls only and I was surprised to learn that not all of the girls are true orphans.  It is for any girl who needs help.  Most of the parents of these girls just can't take care of them so they live here to go to school and only go home for the summer break.  There is also a boy's orphanage run by the same group. 
 Just out the back door of the clinic.  It is summer break now so no children here.  There are about 27 girls living here right now.
 The kitchen grills
                                                The kitchen sink and work tables
      The dining room
  It is amazing just how many different missions are available for Senior Couples.  These dentists and their wives love their missions and are so happy to be able to help the poor and the young missionaries here in Guatemala. 
     Right beside this orphanage and clinic there is a baseball field.

Not too many seats.  It amazes us to see a baseball field in a country that lives for soccer.
     We had a wonderful Christmas week with lots of good food, visits with children and Mom and siblings, clean teeth, and lots and lots of people visiting the Temple on Friday and Saturday and Tuesday.  Right now it is time for the BSU Fiesta Bowl football game so I will close.  We love you all.  Thank you for your prayers in our behalf this year.  You are always in our prayers.  Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Utatlan Devotional, Iximche, Las Colinas

Dear Family and Friends:
    Well, with the holidays and our trips, the blog entries will not be weekly till we return to the temple and our normal schedule in January. So don't get worried that something is wrong.  We are just playing during our Temple closure.
     On Tuesday Dec. 16th, we had an amazing evening in the Temple.  Usually on a Tuesday evening we have 4 or 5 sessions.  But this evening, we had 7 sessions, 4 completely filled and the other 3 with the overflow.  What a wonderful way to start the Christmas holiday.  You never know if people will stop coming because of the holidays and the holiday traffic but we have had a wonderful two weeks as the temple has been filled.  What a great place to spend the Christmas season.  We were open on the 23rd and the people came.  It was great.  We are closed today the 24th and the 25th and will be back in the temple on the 26th and 27th. 
     On Sunday the 21st, the Temple Presidency was invited to a 5 year anniversary celebration in the Utatlan Stake.
                                                         President and Hermana Burk
This stake has been coming to the Temple every Tuesday evening for 5 years, never missing a week.  They are supposed to get there for the 7:00 session, our last in the evenings, but they are always late so it is a late evening for us but they bring such a wonderful spirit.  We are so thankful for their dedication.  The Temple Presidency had to speak and I was asked on Tuesday if I would sing "Abide with Me".  When we arrived, I was asked to sing another hymn and Lon volunteered to sing with me.   Thankfully it was one that we had sung before, "I Need Thee Every Hour".   It was a two hour devotional and then we were surprised with a full meal.
 We were served tamales and rolls.  We had ponche to drink, their version of hot apple cider made with a dozen fruits, and cake.
 They pulled out a table for the Stake Presidency and us but everyone else ate with their plates on their laps.  The first man here is Hermano Falabella, the high counselor over this 5 year project.
Elder Gardner was here in Guatemala City 50 years ago as a young missionary.  He and his companion were the Elders that brought the Gospel to the Falabella family.  He and his wife were invited to this celebration also and Elder Gardner also had to talk.  Hermana Gardner played the piano for us to sing.

Los Thompson, Los Roberts, Los Burk, Stake President Flores, Hermano Falabella, 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency, Hermano Martinez.    As we ate, President Flores told us some of the stories of the individual people who sacrifice so much to get to the temple each week.  We had a wonderful evening.
     On Monday the 22nd, the missionaries headed out on a paseo to visit two places that we had not seen. 
Roberts, Burbidges, Thompsons, Hna. Caballeros, Hna. Guzman, Gardners, Eberharts, Wilsons, Barneys, Brubakers, Allreds and the Burks.  We took the Presidents van, the CCM van and the Burbidges van in order to get us all in.   It took about two hours to get to the Ruines Iximche.
     Iximche was founded in 1478 by the Kaqchikeles, a Mayan tribe.  It was called the first capital of Guatemala.  By 1530 it was abandoned as the Spaniards conquered Guatemala.  The park is still used today by the Kaqchikeles for religious celebrations. 
 We crawled up and down the rock foundations that are all that is left of the huge city.

This park is still used today by the Kaqchikeles for their religious rites.  It is called Xukulb'al.
They burn a lot of candles and chickens and smoke a lot of cigars in the ceremonies.

The entire rock formation is used on all sides.  We were fascinated with the clean, modern bathrooms that are provided here at the ceremonial site.


It was fun to be out of the city and away from the traffic and enjoy the fresh air.  It was a beautiful day.  We left here and headed to Las Colinas.
This is the 300 acre church camp that is used for scouts, young women, Soy (EFY) and family reunions.  The Soy camps had just ended.  They bring in youth from 16-18 for a week at a time.  They had 700 one week, 900 the next, and had just ended their Soy campouts with over 700 youth.  The church provides tents, cots, sleeping bags, and blankets.
 They are taking down the tents as the season is over.  These are the boys tents, in one area
 These are the rows of the girls tents.  Each tent has a cover over them to protect them from the rains.
The church has really spared nothing here.  They have beautiful restrooms and showers.
  The camp has soccer fields, basket ball courts, and an outdoor ampa theatre.

There are 4 or 5 of these big pavilions provided for eating.  We had a family cater a dinner for us.

We had home made tortillas, chicken, rice, veg salad and orchata to drink.  The youth that come to camp have to earn 200 Quetzales ($27.00), the Stake adds in another 200 and the wards have to add another 200Q.  So it costs each youth about $80.00 to attend a week of camp.  On the last night of camp, they have a formal dance for the youth.  This camp is really beautiful.  We walked around and enjoyed another beautiful area away from the hustle and bustle, the sounds and smells of the city.
     As we drove through the little cities, we enjoyed the local people.
 We had a wonderful paseo and got to visit some of our Heavenly Father's beautiful creations here in Guatemala. 
     Let me introduce you to Hermano Hugo Anaya in full military dress with Elder Gardner.
This is the day of his daughter's sealing.  Hno. Anaya is one of our coordinators in the Temple.  He is a real military man who lost his hand in the war.  He has no regard for a woman or her opinion.  He and I don't see eye to eye very often and he hates to have to do what I suggest.  But that is just how he is and we still love and appreciate him, just not how he acts some days.  In fact, this day, his wife was stuck in traffic and was late for the wedding.  He wanted us to go ahead without her.  We made sure that everything went real slow so that she made it to her daughter's sealing.  This is a tradition that the church is trying to teach the people to change.  A husband is not the ruler in the family, he and his wife are partners and they should treat each other with respect and love.  It will come in the next generations, not in the older generation. 
     Well, I think I have bored you long enough with this blog.  We had a fun week.  We send you our love and hope that you enjoy your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We are so thankful for our Savior, His birth, His life, His teachings, and His love for us.  Love Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Despedido y Estaca Central

Dear Family and Friends;
     It seems like we are saying good-bye to missionaries monthly.  On the 8th we had our despedido to say good-bye to 5 of our dear friends.
      Hermana Cordon, Los Cuellar's, Los Padilla's
     Hermana Cordon is from Guatemala.  She has served for two years.  She was so kind and thoughtful when I broke my legs. She came over at least every other day to visit and bring goodies.  She has every hymn in the book memorized and taught the 3 year old class in Primary while serving here.  She will be greatly missed.  Her family is trying to get her to move into Guatemala City to be closer to them and we would love it too as then she could serve in the temple as an obrera. She is a widow.
     Los Cuellar's are from Honduras.  They had gone back to Honduras for medical reasons when we arrived last December.  They missed about 2 months of their mission at that time.  They couldn't stand to not finish what they had been called to do so they came back and finished all of their two years. 
 Hermano Cuellar is a painter and wanted to paint us a picture before he left.  We decided that we needed a picture of our two temples, El Salvador and Guatemala City.  He finished it on the day before he left.  It is about 2' by 3'.
              A priceless treasure for us.
     Los Padilla's are also from Guatemala.  They are so knowledgeable and such a blessing to have in the temple.  We are excited that they are planning on returning to serve every Saturday, as long as he doesn't get called to be their Branch President. 
     It will really be different without these 5 in the temple.  They are not afraid of long hours and hard work.  We are so thankful that we were able to serve with them. 
     We were assigned to attend the Estaca Central to speak at their Stake Conference.  We called the Stake President about transportation and he said that he would get back with us.  We called twice more and still didn't hear anything from him so we figured that we would not be going there after all.  We got up Sunday morning and went to our regular ward for Sacrament meeting at 9:00.  At 9:40 a man came in and sat down beside us and said that he was here to take us to Estaca Central.  We came by the apartment to get my talk and headed down town. It takes about 15 minutes to get there and Conference started at 10:00. 
 The good thing was that at this time on a Sunday morning the streets are almost empty.  Estaca Central is called "the cave" only because the outside of the building is very plain with no windows.  This chapel is in one of the most dangerous sections of town, Zone 1. 
This is the front door of the chapel, taken from the car window.

     We really were in a different world inside the walls of the chapel.  Outside the walls the inner city was bustling by the time we got out of conference. 
     On our way back to our apartment, we saw the fruit man with his wagon filled with fruits that he cuts and bags for his customers.  They are on almost every corner of the city.
      I had been lamenting that I hadn't been able to sing with a choir this year for Christmas, so when the choir began to sing Away in a Manager as postlude, I just had to join in.

 I didn't step up on the step so that I wouldn't be so much taller than everyone else.  The girls next to me thought it was great.  The lady second to the end on the right hand side is an obrera in the temple, Hermana Molina.
    We had many temple workers in this conference.  We got a picture with Hermano Fuentes, the Wednesday morning Coordinator.
    Our driver was thrilled that he got to park in the chapel compound instead of in the parking that was about 2 blocks away.  We are so thankful for the dedicated men that are so willing to pick us up to take us to these conferences.
  Sunday was a very special day, we got to partake of the Sacrament in our ward and then attend a wonderful conference and be taught at the feet of Elder Morales, a member of the Area Seventy. 
    Today is our P-day and I am in charge of the laundry again while President Thompson makes cookies.  We are giving all of the temple employees a bag of cookies as their Christmas gift from us.  We have to have 27 bags for the employees and if we have enough, we will also give some to our missionaries.
     We are enjoying this Christmas Season, the music, the magic, the lights, and the love.  We are so thankful that our Father in Heaven sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to give us a pattern to follow.  We are thankful for his teachings and especially for the atonement in our behalf.  We are thankful to be serving in His Holy Temple here in Guatemala City.  Life is wonderful and we are enjoying every moment.  We send our love to all.  With only a week left to enjoy this magic season we hope that you are able to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some quiet times to reflect on the importance of our Savior and his birth.  May God bless each of you with those special desires of your hearts.  Love you Dad and Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, Lon and Nancy