It was our turn to drive Hermana Gardner on Tuesday the 17th. When President Thompson was trying to park the van in the hospital parking lot, which is a cracker box, he scraped the fender on a brick wall.
He felt so bad that he had put the first scratch on the President's van. The President picked up Hermana Gardner that evening and the next morning President Thompson didn't feel quite so bad when he saw that his scratches were less than President Burk's.
President Roberts only has about 7 weeks left and he is determined to go home without adding any scratches. The left side and the right side of the van is covered, we told him that he can scratch the front next.
On Friday the 20th, we left our apartment at 4:30am to head for the airport. We flew from Guatemala City to San Salvador, El Salvador, a 50 minute flight. We met President and Hermana Hintze in the airport in El Salvador.President Hintze is the mission president for the San Salvador West-Belize Mission. We are heading to Belize for their District Conference. It is interesting that Belize is in the El Salvador Mission and in the Guatemala City Temple District. There is no direct flight to Belize from Guatemala. The four of us then flew into Belize City. We have been invited to speak at the Cayo District Conference. Belize has two districts, Cayo and Belize City. Our temple paid for our flights and the San Salvador West-Belize Mission paid for our rooms and food. It was a one hour flight to Belize City. We arrived at about 10am.
This is the Belize City Airport. We were met by the young Elders who brought a van for us to use. President Hintze then drove us on to the Cayo District, about an hour and a half away.
This country is so different than either El Salvador or Guatemala. The water table is very high so the houses are built on stilts so that they won't be flooded during the rainy seasons. The houses are not built touching each other. They actually have yards and space between each. Here are a few examples that we saw as we traveled to Cayo District.
The car is parked under the house.
Some of the houses are high enough that the cars are parked under the house. There are lots of swampy areas. The Minninites and the Amish have huge communities here and have beautiful farms. Their signature art is anything made from mahogany wood. No chain stores are permitted in the country. There are no Burger Kings, no Taco Bells, no Walmarts. The national language is English. They use Belizian money which is at a ratio of 2 to 1with the American dollar.
We arrive at our hotel only to find out that our rooms are not ready and we have to spend our first night in the home of the hotel owners. It is about 10 minutes away.
It reminded us of a house that could be rented out for family reunions.
We were in the upstairs rooms. There were 4 bedrooms with baths. We could have stayed here the whole time and been very comfortable. But President Hintze wanted us to be closer to the restaurant and the church.Our bedroom
The front room downstairs. President Thompson going over thought for his talks.
We had time to relax while poor President Hintze attended an afternoon meeting. He then came and picked us up for the Friday evening fireside.
The fireside was from 6-8 and President Thompson and I were the only speakers. The chapel was full and they taped and transmitted the fireside to two other buildings so we don't know how many were in attendance. We gave these talks in English. We hadn't given a talk in English for over a year and it really seemed strange.
Saturday morning, President Hintze and President Thompson were each privileged to visit 5 different homes of members. President Thompson says that this was the highlight of the whole conference. We moved into our hotel this afternoon.
The front view
The back view
The restaurant had both outside tables as well as tables inside. The food was very good however by the time we left on Monday morning, we were real tired of eating out and looked forward to home cooking.The resort's claim to fame is that Queen Elizabeth II slept here.
pictures of the Queen
Tourists checking in.
This beautiful stairway was in the foyer. It leads to one room, the one that Queen Elizabeth II stayed in and is used mainly by couples who rent the motel for their weddings.
Our room was very nice. While President Hintze again attended another meeting, we relaxed and got our thoughts together for the next two meetings that we had to speak at.
At four, Lon attended the General Priesthood Meeting and spoke, in both Spanish and English. They didn't have a translator there so he just gave his talk in both. I attended the Stake Relief Society Presidency's meeting and gave my remarks in Spanish. Then at 6 we both spoke in the Adult Session of Conference. This was again broadcast into two other buildings and we spoke in English again. The people are so loving and kind. We felt at home. After the meeting, we went to dinner with the Hintze's and the Mendenhall's. Elder Mendenhall is the counselor to President Hintze and lives and serves in the Cayo District, taking care of things there, and his other counselor lives and serves in the Belize District.Los Thompsons, Los Hintzes, Los Mendenhalls It was really interesting to listen to the experiences of the Mendenhalls, who speak very little Spanish, but who have served with love and patience and are very sad to only have about 3 months left of their mission.
The Stake Center for the Cayo District
This is the English group leaving after their 9:00am meeting
Sunday morning the sessions are not broadcast to the other buildings so we had two sessions, the first from 9-11am in English and the second from 12-2pm in Spanish. So we used the same talk for both meetings today.The English Group
The Spanish group. We were told that there were about 255 in the English session and 265 in the Spanish session. Wow, what a wonderful day. The hard part was knowing when to speak English and when to use Spanish. You never knew if the people you talked to spoke one or the other. This district is trying to come to the temple the last week of March. We will be so excited to see them again. They really have a tough time getting to the temple. First they have to have their Visa's so they can leave their country and enter Guatemala, which costs money, and then they need to pay for the bus to get them there. It is about a 16 hour bus ride to the temple. They will stay in the temple housing for 3 nights and spend 2 days in the temple. We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to visit the Cayo District and have a deeper love and appreciation for the sacrifices that these people make to come to the temple.After the final Sunday session, President Hintze again had other interviews and meetings so we walked back to the Resort. On our way, we were surprised to see a single wide mobile home.
We figure it was about a 1967 or 68 and blocked in a very different manner than we blocked them. It was being lived in too. Our Resort had a natural reserve for iguana's in the back yard. We were eating breakfast when we spied the tail of one.
They blend in so well with the tree that it was hard to spot them. He finally turned around and we got a good front view.
We left the resort at 8:30am on Monday morning and drove to Belize City to catch our plane. We were surprised to discover that we were booked in first class going home. Wow!!! Real dishes for our meal and snacks on the two flights to Guatemala. President Burk picked us up at the airport and we arrived home about 4:30pm. What a whirlwind of a weekend. We gave 5 talks, met some wonderful people, saw a new country, and have a new perspective on the life of a mission president. President Hintze's schedule made us tired just watching him. He is a great man and the missionaries under him really love and admire he and his wife. We enjoyed being with them and being taught by them. We are also glad to be home. We opened the temple on Tuesday Morning and felt like we had jet lag. It has taken a couple of days to get rested and laundry caught up.
Well, enough for this blog. What a wonderful experience we have had. Life is great. We are trying to enjoy every moment that we have left here. We pray that you are enjoying life and that you are well. We send our love to all. Dad and Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, Lon and Nancy