Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lions y Tigers y Bears, Oh My!! and Amatitlan

Dear Family and Friends:
   Just thought that we would let you know that the Fuller Brush Man is alive and well here in Guate.

                Isn't he cute.  He walks all around the city selling his brushes door to door.
We walked into the grocery store one morning and were thrilled to see that they were celebrating the Boise State Football Team's victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
        With the temple still closed on the 16th of January, we had one last place to visit.  The museums and the zoo are closed on Mondays so the only time we can visit them is when the temple is closed.  We headed out with the Gardner's and the Eberhard's to visit first the Archeological Museum.  When the man collecting the entrance fees told Elder Gardner that we had to pay the expensive price to enter because we were not locals, Elder Gardner told him that we were all "chapines"  (Guatemalans)  The man laughed and laughed.  He was surprised that we knew that slang word so we had to get a photo with the 4 "chapines"
                   President Thompson, Elder Eberhard, The real chapin, Elder Gardner
 The Gardner's and the Eberhard's heading up the stairs to the Museum.  This museum has a mural on one wall that shows the coming of the Catholic Church, and then the Christians and then two Mormon missionaries in their white shirts and ties with Book of Mormon's in their hands. 
   We went to lunch before heading to the Zoo.
                The Eberhard's, The Gardner's, The Thompson's
It was a new restaurant and we were thrilled that it was very clean and the food great.
   On to the Zoo.
 We had been told that it was a must to see but my photo's of the lions and tigers didn't turn out.  But the bears did---
And the Giraffe's 
                                                                   The hipo's

 And Elephants too.  The snakes were very interesting and different and the birds were amazing.

 We had never seen a white peacock before.  They were so elegant and beautiful.  This is a very nice zoo.  The animals and grounds were well cared for.  But they let in real strange creatures sometimes.
     We opened the Temple on the 19th of January for a special session for the missionaries at the CCM.  They were leaving on Tuesday morning for their assigned areas and had not been to the temple yet.  It was a wonderful way to break us in again after our two weeks of playing.  Only the Temple Missionaries came.  It was a fun day.  The temple was full all week long as the patrons kept their New Year's resolutions.  We pray that the resolutions will last for the whole year, not for just one or two months. 
   We welcomed in our new missionary couple at FHE on the 19th.

The Rosado's have been living in Utah for a few years.  They are originally from Quezaltenango, Guatemala.  They served here in the temple presidency in 2010 but had to be released because of Hermana Rosado having health problems.  They don't speak much English.  They are very happy to be back and we are enjoying getting to know them.
     Sunday, the 25th, we were picked up at 6:00am by Francisco Pena.  He is our Saturday morning shift coordinator.(4:00am shift)

                        Hermano Pena and his wife
 It took about 30 minutes to drive to the Amatitlan Stake Center.  We were ushered into a classroom that Hermana Pena had decorated in honor of the visiting authorities.  It was very humbling to realize that we were the visiting authorities.
I waited here during the Priesthood leaders meeting that Lon had to speak at.  After that meeting, we were served sandwiches, fruit, crackers, cookies and fruit drinks.  We both spoke in the general meeting from 10-12.  It was a great conference. 
              The front door of the church where 3 wards meet

                              view of the surrounding area
                                     The Volcano Agua
After the conference, Hermano Pena and his wife took us on a tour around the Amatitlan Lake.  It is a huge lake and as long as you looked at the water and the distant shore and not at the garbage under your feet where we were standing it was beautiful.  We had about a 2 hour ride back to our apartment.  We do enjoy visiting new places here and seeing them through the eyes of the natives.
It was a wonderful Sabbath.  We got home about 3.  We do enjoy being with the saints in their conferences.  This day was really special as we were treated like we were celebrities.  We send our love to all and pray that you are healthy and enjoying every moment of your life.  Time goes by so fast, try not to let it slip away.  We love you all Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, January 19, 2015


Dear Family and Friends:
    There are two places that the tourist industry here say that you just have to visit while in Guatemala.  One is Tikal, the huge Mayan ruins, and the other is Chichicastenango, a huge open market or a huge flee market.  Having visited Tikal while we were on the Book of Mormon tour we decided that it was time to experience Chichi.
     We left on Wednesday morning with President and Hermana Burk and Elder y Hermana Brubaker for our adventure.  We drove for about 2 1/2 hours and stopped in Tecpan for lunch.
 Tecpan is a tourist town surrounded by small farms where they grow huge strawberries. 
    Los Thompsons, President Burk, Los Brubakers
   Of course there were little shops all over to purchase typical souvenirs.  But we are heading to the biggest open air market in Guatemala so we didn't shop here.
     About a half hour down the road, we stopped at an overlook to view Lake Atitlan and the area around it. 
  Lake Atitlan with the Volcano in the background.
 I just wish that pictures could show all the different colors and patchwork fields that the human eye can see.  It was breathtaking.

 Hermana Brubaker, Hermana Burk, Hermana Thompson, President Thompson, Elder Brubaker
     About two more hours of winding up, down, and around the mountains we arrive in Chichi.  We have reservations at the Chalet-House Hotel. 
It is owned and ran by the Branch President in Chichi, in fact he and his family live on the second floor of the hotel and his wife even has her doctor's office in the hotel.  But first, we need to get the car parked in front.
 As you can see, the cobble stone streets are very narrow and President Burk had to get the car over so that other cars could pass.  He is between the concrete step of the sidewalk and a power pole.
 The Branch President and Hotel owner and Elder Brubaker watching all sides
 Just about there.  Just had to back up and we were set.  The market is only about 4 blocks from here so we will walk everywhere we need to.
 Unloading the luggage was easy as we were right in front of the front door.  President Burk, President Toll, Los Brubakers, President Thompson.
The hotel had 4 rooms on the first floor, where the Brubakers were and 4 rooms on the top floor, where we and the Burks stayed.  It was clean.
  Twin beds, very firm mattresses, but plenty of blankets for the chilly night.

 If you were the first in the building to shower, you had a hot shower.  The Burks beat everyone up and had hot water, we had luke warm and the Brubakers had cold showers Thursday morning.
The closet.
  The hall way leading to the stairs.  Lon standing next to our room and President Burk leaning out of his room.
 The stairs leading to the roof and on the other side leading down stairs.
 The breakfast nook.  They provided a continental breakfast.  The chairs are covered by Huipils.  They are colorful blouses that the native women wear. 
   We went to the roof and took a few pictures so that you can see the area where we were staying.  We are right in the middle of the town.

 It is always laundry day
 The corn has been harvested but the stocks have not been cleared yet and the fields replanted.
 Interesting house construction.

 The back of the hotel looks into the houses below.  It was a quiet neighborhood until 5:30am when the fireworks began.  I guess they were telling us to get up and head for the market.
   After settling in to our rooms, we took off to explore Chichi. 
       Los Brubakers, Los Burks, Los Thompsons
The market is only on Thursday and Sunday so tonight the people were starting to set up their booths and prepare for tomorrow.
They haul in their wood and their tarps to set up their booth.  They have to pay for the space that they use and do this on Thursdays and on Sundays.
 There are two churches in town, one on each side of the main plaza and the market spreads out from there.  The Mayan's still do their religious ceremonies in front of the churches and then attend the catholic services.
 There are fires burning in front of the church at all times.
The work of setting up the market had to go on all night.  A lot of work for only one day and then tear it all down and rebuild it for the Sunday market day.  Anything and everything is sold here.  We are standing on the stairs of one of the churches for this shot.

I guess when you are real tired you can sleep just about anywhere.

The little "shops" not only surrounded the town square, they went on for about 4 or 5 blocks in every direction from the center of town.
  We left the city center and walked around town, coming upon this overpass.  We climbed to the top to get a good view of the city up and down the street.

 Elder Brubaker taking our picture from the bottom of the overpass.
                           The view from the left
And the view back towards city center.
It was dark by the time we walked back to the hotel so we called it an evening, getting to bed real early as there was no TV in the rooms to keep us up late.  And as I said earlier, we had a 5:30 wake up call from fireworks.
     We met in the breakfast nook for our breakfast of hot bread, hot cocoa, or herbal tea.
 Hermana Burk cutting a slice of hot bread.

 President Burk trying to fish out the flooties out of his cup.  Don't think the "dishwasher" get them real clean.  The fresh squeezed orange juice and the hot bread were wonderful though.  And we were off to visit the market.
 We were early but already there were people everywhere.  It only got more crowded as the morning wore on.  You could hardly walk between the shops by the time we left.
 They sold used shoes, new shoes, new clothes, used clothes, chickens, pigs, veggies, fruits, anything that you can name was for sale here.
 It was hard to walk between the booths on each street as they lined both sides of the street.  The colors of the fabrics were bright and vibrant.  And these are adults around us, not kids.  We are among the true Mayan people who are not very tall.
 The beans grow in every color of the rainbow here.
 Fruits and veggies.  The big green things are not watermelon, they are a squash
Juana followed us all around the market trying to get anything that we wanted.  When we told her aprons, she ran to her booth, quite a distance, and brought aprons for everyone.  When we needed a certain color, she ran back to her booth and appeared with correct color for everyone.  Needless to say, we all bought an apron from her.

                                           The town cemetery.  They are always so colorful.
 We left Chichi around 11 and headed home.  The town was so crowded by then that you could not walk together, only single file.  We stopped at the overlook to Lake Atitlan again and were the only ones to shop in the small shopping area.  It was nice to not have so many people around.  I found a new skirt and blouse and Lon got a new shirt. 

 We stopped for lunch and arrived home about 4pm.  It was a fun trip with special people.
                 Stacks of wood for sale.  Wood is used here for cooking and heating homes.
      Well, that ends our long trips during the temple closure.  We still have Friday and Saturday to tell you about, but that will come in the next blog.  Our lives will settle into the routine next week.  We are so ready for the Temple to reopen.  We love to be able to visit the country, but we miss the Temple so much.  It will be good to be of service again.
     We send our love to all.  Life is wonderful.  We pray that you can enjoy every minute, the good as well as the bad because without the bad, we would never know what the good is.  Keep smiling, it keeps the doctors away.  Love Lon and Nancy, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma.