Sunday, June 14, 2015

Districto Tiquisate y farewells

Dear Family and Friends:
     Our last week here in Guatemala.  It is so strange to say that.  We have been in Central America now for over 3 1/2 years and it seems like the normal.  It is a little intimidating to think about returning home and starting a new life there. 
     We had a rough Monday night as we both ended up with diarrhea.  This is only the second time that this has happened.  The first was in 2011 when we were on the Book of Mormon Tour.  We spent Tuesday in the apartment laying around and felt much better on Wednesday for our morning shift.  We threw away the lettuce that we think caused our problems. 
     Wednesday morning we only had one group of young missionaries in the temple so it was a quiet morning.  We did have our last presidency meetings.  It was so strange.  As we discussed areas of improvement for our temple and figured out how to implement them, I would suddenly realize that I wouldn't be here for this or no, I won't be here to do that.  It was sad.  We will both miss these meetings and the opportunity to be with the Burks and Rosales and feel of their love and testimonies.
     The Burks invited us to go to lunch with them at the Restaurant Ni Fu Ni Fa.  We were so surprised that they would pick this restaurant as it is expensive.  President Burk tells us that "he is not frugal, he is cheap!"  As we were eating, they told us that it was their 44th Wedding Anniversary so we got to celebrate with them.

     They took us to 3 different stores to purchase bigger suitcases, one didn't have any, one was too expensive and the third was just right. 
     Thursday morning the Wilson's came with us to Ihop once again for breakfast, one last opportunity to be with them.  We had a wonderful visit and did some grocery shopping, we are out of bread and need sandwiches for Sunday.  On our way out of the shopping mall, we had to wait for the school children to cross to their buses before we could head for home.  There were at least 2 different schools here this morning as we saw two different colors of uniforms.  It would have been so much easier to dress my kids for school if they had only had uniforms!

      Thursday evening in the temple was amazing.  We had people everywhere.  It was so fun to be so busy and to know that so many ordinances were being performed for lots of our brothers and sisters on the other side of the veil.  We didn't get home till almost 11:00pm.  It was our last evening shift here and it was a great way to end.
     Friday morning Lon had the opportunity to visit a golf course.  Hno. Taylor, one of our sealers, invited him to visit the Mayan Country Club, the first golf course in Guatemala.

                         Hno. Taylor
        This is a very fancy country club for the very rich here.
             The country club has a pool

                         and tennis courts

                    The club house
       The grounds were beautiful but you had better stay on the greens.

     This course has water hazards and sand traps.  The only problem was that Hno. Taylor and Lon had no time to play a round of golf.  They left our apartment at 9:00am and because of heavy traffic arrived back at 1:30pm and we had a lunch appointment at 1:45pm. 
                       Lake Amatitlan

 Oh, how I wish that I had a club in my hands

         Hno. Taylor will take Lon golfing if we ever come for a visit
         They do have all the right equipment to maintain the course

                 Even a John Deer tractor

      Everything is so green because of all the rains we have had

         It doesn't matter what month it is here, something is always in bloom. 
   The Rosales picked us up about 1:45 to go to their home for lunch.  They live up the hill away from all the noise of the city.  It can be a tough commute to the temple because of the traffic but around their house it was completely quiet except for the birds. 
              President y Hermana Rosales
     We had a suit made by Hilton's Boss, Hilton Omar Perez.  He came and took measurements and then we didn't see him for about 4 months.  Then he shows up on Friday evening with the finished product and it fits perfect.
     The lining to the jacket is amazing.  It has the temple, the Guatemalan seal, and our name.

        Hno. Perez and his wife work this business themselves.  They make suits for many missionaries as they finish their missions.  We are thrilled with how it turned out.
    We have been working on packing and cleaning. The time is getting very short.  We have eaten all of our food except for 3 eggs, some bread, and a package of chicken soup.  It is easy to clean the kitchen because it is empty.  We have done very well.
     Saturday morning we had the early shift.  Our very last 3:00am wake up call.  We really hate this early morning but once we get to the temple at 3:50 we enjoy our service.  It is amazing to us how many people come so early.  This was a slower Saturday than usual however because it rained all night and was still raining as we arrived at the temple.  The sun finally came out about 9 and we began to fill up the temple.  Our shift ended at 11:00 and we came home for a quick nap.
  Hno. Nufio came over and brought us our blog pages that he had bound for us.  We have two books of this mission, 2014 and 2015.  Hno. Nufio did a great job with the books.

        Los Thompsons with Hno. Nufio, the shift coordinator for Saturday Mid.
    The Mid shift decided to throw us a going away party.  We met in Casa 2, one of the Huespedes houses where visitors to the temple stay.  Everyone brought food, from tamales to desserts.  It was very sweet of them to do this for us.  We were able to get photos of more people this way.  It is so hard to get photos when we all work in the temple.

 Back: Hno. Ceballos, Los Zamoras, Hna. Padilla, Hno. Padula, Hno. Funes, Hno. Grajeda, Hna. Gudiel, Hna. Lara
Middle group: Hna. Rojas, Hna. Rezzio, Hna. Funes, Hna. Ceballos, Los Thompsons, Hna Grajeda
Kneelers:  Hno. Padilla, ? Hna. Cruz, Hna. Barrera, Hna. Roldan, Los Perez

 Los Zamoras. He is one of our sealers and she is the sealing coordinator

 Hno. Cebellos is one of the temple guards, the man who took us to the hospital when I broke my legs and Hna. Cebellos is the assistant shift Coordinator

           Hna. Tarin Barrera con los Thompsons
                Hno. Diaz con los Thompsons
 Los Grajedas  She made me the head bands like the one she is wearing

 Hna. Rojas, I gave her my temple shoes today as she only had slippers and they fit her.  Hna. Zamora is one of our favorites.

The cleanup committee: Hna. Grajeda, Hna. Rezzio, Hna. Funes, Hna. Lara, Hna. Pelaez, Hna. Roldan, Hna. Gudiel
    We are thankful that we don't have to have too many of these parties because we really want to come home healthy and it is always a bit scary not knowing the kitchen cleanliness of those who prepared the food. 
      Sunday morning we headed out at 7:00am with the Burks to attend a District Conference in Tiquisate.  It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive toward the coast so it is down hill and very hot and humid.  As we were driving, we saw Volcano Fuego for the last time and he was spouting off steam again.
     The volcano was a long way away but you can see the black column of smoke just starting to rise.
   The drive was beautiful with the fields of corn and sugar cane green and the trees and flowers looking so lush.  The rains are making this truly look like paradise.
   As we entered Tiquisate, we passed the goats going door to door to deliver their milk.
        Milk doesn't get any fresher than this!
          The chapel is a two story building.
 The strange thing about these two story churches is that the chapel is on the second floor.  They are not handicap friendly as there are no elevators, only stairs.

             Los Burks y Los Thompsons
      When we stepped out of the car, we felt like we were in El Salvador.  It was very hot and humid.  We were very thankful for the air conditioning in the building.

      We arrived in time for a meeting at 10:00 for new converts of the church.  We were asked to share our testimonies during the meeting so we sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"

       The conference began at 11:00 and I was privileged to be able to play for both meetings.  They actually had a piano.  When the "Stake Choir" which consisted of 4 women sang, they asked me to play for them also.  I had to really listen in order to follow their timing as they sang "The Daydawn is Breaking".  Lon got a chair and sat beside me at the piano. 
     The conference was under the direction of the Central Mission President, President Markum shown here counseling with his wife.

       President Burk and Hermana Burk and Hermana Markum

     President Markum is a very dynamic speaker.

       Los Markums, Los Thompsons, Los Burks

Two young full time missionaries asked for a photo with President Thompson

       During the talk of a member of the stake presidency, he asked all on the stand to sing with him so Lon and the Burks sang "What Was Witnessed In The Heavens".  We really felt like real missionaries today as we served in this conference.  You just have to be prepared for anything.  It was a wonderfull way to end our mission here.
     Monday the 15th of June, 2015 we will leave our apartment at 9:00am and go to breakfast with President and Hermana Burk.  They will then take us to the airport for our flight to Georgia to spend a week with Justin and Mindi and the kids. We are stunned that our mission is ending.  We were given our releases as ordinance workers in the Guatemala City Temple.  We will be released as missionaries when we return home by our Stake President there.  We are thankful that we have had the opportunity to serve here.  We love our Savior and know that the work in the temples is the work of the Lord.  We know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today.  We know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  We love each of you and look forward to spending time with you and getting to know you again.  You are ever in our prayers.  We close this blog as we end this chapter in our lives and press forward with our faith in our Heavenly Father that He will guide us to the next chapter.  With all our love, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy 

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