Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Temple Guards

 Dear Family and Friends:
     Another week has come and gone.  They seem to go so quickly.  Now that we know that we only have 7 weeks left, we are going to try and get pictures of all who have helped to make our mission here so enjoyable.  Today we have the pictures of our Temple Security Guards who are employed by the church.  They are stationed in the Guard House
 Anyone entering the temple grounds has to come past this guard house and enter through the glass doors that you see by the orange cones.  They have many camera screens inside where they can watch the temple grounds and make sure that all is secure.  Someone is here 24/7 and when it is the busy times usually 2 are on duty.  These men are also ordinance workers and can help where ever needed. 
Hector Miculax is one of our gardners.  Oswaldo Zamora and Herlin Granillo are two of our guards.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why we love to serve

Dear Family and Friends:
     For the last 4 years we have been away from you and have missed many special events in your lives.  We just want to share this experience with you so that perhaps you can better understand why we love to serve.  It is experiences like this that have made broken legs, cellulitis, broken hearts for missing your baptisms, your birthdays and special holidays easier to bare.  These experiences have strengthened us, sustained us, and fortified our testimonies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are so thankful that we have had the opportunity to serve these two missions.  We thank you for your support and your love and your prayers.  We could not have accomplished this without you. 

April 17, 2015

This Friday afternoon, I went to the front of the temple to greet a couple who had come to receive their own endowments.  I didn’t really notice the husband because my attention was drawn to the wife.  There sat a young woman with tattoos on her arms and around her shoulders and back.  She was very uncertain about herself; disbelief that she was in the temple, not really feeling like she should be there, and almost childlike in her actions and speech.  As we were very short handed this afternoon, I was privileged to be able to perform her Initiatory Ordinances.  As I began, she looked at me and followed every word as if she were literally “drinking in every word so that she would thirst no more.”  When I told her that her Heavenly Father loved her and that she was clean from her sins, the tears welled up in her eyes and I knew that she had led a very rough life and had turned it around to follow her Savior.

She entered my office for instructions before the session and stroked her white dress.  She told her friend who was with her, “Isn’t this beautiful.”  The friend, who must have known her during her rebellious years, took her in her arms and whispered, “You are beautiful.”

Again, as I gave her instructions, she followed every word as if she were soaking up the words.  Her tattoos had faded from my mind.

I was in the waiting room when her husband was waiting for her after the session.  He asked me if the temple sold or rented clothes for children.  They are returning to be sealed together next Saturday.  When I explained that the children would be cared for in the Guardaria and that they would be dressed in white and that there would be no charge, I saw the tears well up in his eyes.  I could tell then that the 10 Quetzales ($1.30) had been a sacrifice for them and they would have to pay that again next Saturday.  If they had to pay for the children too he was very worried about where it would come from.

Just then his wife came around the corner.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There stood a confident, smiling, radiant daughter of our Heavenly Father.  Her eyes were dancing and you could feel her sweet spirit.  Gone was the uncertainty, the doubt, the fear.  Here stood a beautiful woman who knew that she was loved and accepted by her Heavenly Father.  The temple is the house of God and she had come home to her Father and felt of His love. 

 We are coming home a little older, a little wiser and a whole lot more appreciative for what we have.  We will be ending our mission here on the 15th of June 2015.  We send our love and look forward to hugs and kisses in two short months.  Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Despedida

Dear Family and Friends:
      We have had a very busy week here.  We began on Monday evening with a despedida for the Roberts and the Eberhards.  The Roberts have served in the Temple Presidency for a year, first as the second counselor and then as the first counselor when the Galvez's left and we joined the presidency last June. 
 They are from Idaho Falls so we hope to be able to enjoy their friendship for years to come.  We will miss our weekly lunches and shopping trips.  It was just a relaxing afternoon away from responsibilities.  Hna. Roberts broke her ankle two months after I broke my legs so we have whined to each other and predicted the storms very accurately.  They served in the Dominican Republic for 2 years before serving here. 
     With their release from the Presidency, Lon was set apart on Saturday the 18th as the first counselor.  Really, his responsibilities won't be that much different and mine don't change at all.  Our new second counselor was also set apart on Saturday.
            President Manolo and Zenia Rosales
      Hna. Rosales was the assistant coordinator on the Wednesday am shift so she has a knowledge of the temple ordinances and how shifts should function.  Poor President Rosales has not served in the temple before but he is very intelligent so will learn fast.  He is now a sealer and the very first sealer in the history of this temple that can speak Ke'kchi!!  We made the history books this week when 5 young couples from the mountains near Coban, Chulac, came to the temple to receive their endowments and be sealed.  The men spoke a little Spanish but none of the women did.  We called in 3 ordinance workers from other shifts who spoke a little Ke'kchi to help us and with a lot of sign  language, we were able to take care of their needs. What a blessing for them to be able to be sealed in their native language without having it translated.
    President Manolo y Zenia Rosales in middle

  We look forward to serving with the Rosales and getting to know them better.
    We also are saying good-bye to the Eberhard's
This is also their second mission, having served in the Washington DC temple for a year before coming here.  Their call was only for a year so we really feel like they are leaving us way too soon.  Elder Eberhard served here with his first wife on two different missions in mission offices.  It is the first time for Hna. Eberhard to serve in Spanish.  Elder Eberhard has served as our assistant temple recorder, serving every pm shift.  We are going to miss them.  They are not afraid of work.
     We had a pot luck dinner and had each of the departing couples share their thoughts about their missions and callings. 
This is the formal dining room at the Presidents home.  Los Allreds, Los Barneys, Los Wilsons
        Los Eberhards, Los Roberts, Los Rosados
The rest of the missionaries were seated in the front room.
We had two guests from the temple department.  They are here for an inspection of the temple and grounds.  Hno. Sofiantini, Los Rosales, Hna. Caballero, Hna. Guzman, Hno. Costantino, Los Burks.
     Our numbers are dwindling and we will loose even more in June.
  Back row: Hno. Costantino, Hno. Sofiantini, Elder Rosado, Elder Wilson, Elder Allred, Elder Barney, Elder Eberhard. Los Rosales, Los Burks.
Middle row: Hna. Caballero, Hna. Rosado, Hna. Wilson, Hna. Allred, Hna Barney, Hna. Eberhard.
Front row: Hna. Guzman, Los Thompson, Los Roberts
     The temple department has one couple that may be coming to join us soon, but they are trying to find 29 couples for the 4 Latin American Temples that will be dedicated this year; Cordova Argentina, Trujillo Peru, Cuidad de Mexico, and Tijuana Mexico.  If any of you have the desire or know of anyone who would like to serve in a Spanish Temple, here is your chance.  It is a choice experience to serve with your eternal companion among these loving Lamanite children of our Heavenly Father.   
      By October, we will only have 8 missionaries left here.  We continue to search for more local workers who will dedicate one day a week to the temple.  With 27 Stakes, 13 Districts, and 2 Branches in this temple district, you would think that this would be easy.  It is an ongoing up-hill battle. 
    The temple was filled this week.  We had extra sessions and full sessions almost daily.  What fun to see the patrons come and feel of their spirits. We witness miracles daily as we began a shift with only 4 men and 6 women.  As the Stakes and Wards come through the doors, workers from other shifts ask if they can be of use and the needs of the patrons are met. 
     We had the surprise of our lives on Saturday evening.  We were serving on the PM shift and the last session of the day had started.  Lon was at the front desk when the guard house called and told him that Flora Perez from Maracay Venezuela was here and wanted to see him.  He didn't know quite what to think.  When Grandma Flora walked through the door, he didn't really recognize her because we hadn't seen her for at least 16 years.  But when she began to speak, he knew it was really her.  I too was so shocked that I didn't know what to say.  She lives in Twin Falls and we hadn't ran into her for all these years and she shows up in the temple in Guatemala City!!!!
Grandma Flora Perez with her daughter Maria
Maria has married a man from Guatemala and they are here visiting his family.  We couldn't go outside to get in the picture with them as we were still in our whites and on shift.  Flora is coming back on Wednesday to do a session with us and to visit more.  We were thrilled to see that she is again active in the gospel and it just felt RIGHT to be with them.  There has always been a special bond between Lon and this family.  They were the last family that he baptized while on his first mission in Venezuela. Time has healed wounds and hearts have been softened and we were able to embrace these two women with love in our hearts again.  What a blessing and a miracle!!  We  had to come to Guatemala City to mend fences and forgive and forget.
     Well, that is our week in a nut-shell.  We have been busy and blessed.  Life is wonderful.  We love and miss you and look forward to being together again this summer.  Have a wonderful week.  Love Lon and Nancy, Grandma and Grandpa, Dad and Mom

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Loss of a Dear Friend

Dear Family and Friends:
It is with heavy hearts that we have to tell you that our dear friend Elder Douglas Gardner has finished his earthly mission. He passed away surrounded by family on Wednesday the 8th of April.  We are so thankful for the miracle that got him home to his family and that he was able to spend two weeks with them.  Hermana Gardner had her family around to help her with the hard decisions that had to be made and are there to sustain her now.  What a blessing in our lives that we were able to get to know them and serve with them.  Elder Gardner's passing has left a hole in our hearts but we know that one day we will be able to renew our friendship if we can live worthy to join him in our Heavenly Home.
      We had a nice surprise Thursday the 9th.  Celeste Santos came to Guatemala to visit with her parents Hno. y Hna. Diaz, who are ordinance workers on the Saturday AM shift.  Celeste is married to Hector Santos who was the Saturday AM shift coordinator in El Salvador and is now in the bishopric in their ward, and his parent also work in the temple in El Salvador, Hno. y Hna. Olympia Santos. 
    Miguel was just a baby when we first saw him in El Salvador last July when we were there visiting.  I got to hold him for about an hour without so much as a whimper.  But this time
He wasn't so sure about these gringos and wanted his mother.  He was all smiles as long as he was in her arms.  He sure looks like his dad. 
     We were thrilled to be able to get a few photos of our temple employees.  It is hard to get pictures of these friends because we can't take pictures in the temple.  We had finished our shift that morning and went back to the temple to get pictures.  We hadn't planned on being IN the pictures so we weren't dressed quite right.  As we began taking the pictures of the employees, the missionaries started arriving for their afternoon shift and we got more people in the pictures than we had planned.  It is so fun when things turn out so good.
Back row:  Los Wilson, Elder Rosado, Engineer Carlos Ibanez, Los Roberts, Engineer Asirio Zea, Laundry Jose Martinez, Los Barney, Elder Allred, President Burk
Front row:  Assistant Recorder Jaime Carranza, Hna. Rosado, Office Hna. Maggie Ruano, Hna. Guzman, Maintenance Hna. Magdalena Guerra, Office Marta Valdez, office Brenda Baltrons, office Evelyn Estrada, Laundry Irma Carcamo, Hna. Allred, Hna. Burk
sitting down: maintanence Eddie Jimenez, Los Thompsons
Men: Eddie Jimenez, maintanence; Jaime Carranze, assistant recorder; Carlos Ibanoz, engineer; Asirio Zea, engineer; Jose Martinez, laundry.
Women:  Maggie Ruano, office; Magdalena Guerra, maintenance; Marta Valdez, office; Brenda Baltrons, office;  Irma Carcamo, laundry; Evelyn Estrada, office.
President y Hna. Roberts, President y Hna. Burk, President y Hna. Thompson (like I said, we hadn't expected to be IN the pictures so we are just a little under-dressed)
 Los Thompson's with Hna. Guerra and Hna. Carcamo
Los Thompson's with the office staff: Brenda, Marta, Maggie, Evelyn
It was the middle of their shifts and they all changed from their whites to come outside for the pictures.  We appreciate these people so much.  They keep the temple running.
     We went to lunch and grocery shopping for the last time with the Roberts.  They leave next Monday.  We are going to miss them.  It has been a wonderful experience serving in the temple presidency with them.  We were told of this Argentina Steak House and decided to give it a try.
It lived up to it's reputation.  It was great food, great service, and a great price.  But it was a going away dinner with special friends so it was worth every quetzale.

We enjoy being together and hashing over all that has happened during the week.  We as a presidency hardly see each other all week as we serve on different shifts and we truly are going to miss this precious time together.
     Well, that is our weekly news from Guate.  We pray that this letter finds all of you well and happy.  We are sad to be loosing the Roberts but excited and looking forward to getting to know the Rosales but I will tell you all about them next week.  May God be with you.  We send our love Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy

Monday, April 6, 2015

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Dear Family and Friends:
    That time of year has again rolled around and we are experiencing thunder, lightning, and showers as the rainy season begins.  It is still pretty sporadic but it is time to have your umbrella with you.
      President Thompson continues to cook for us.  It fills his time and he is really getting very good at it.  It will be interesting to see if he continues to cook after the mission is over.  He made bread again and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

    Semana Santa (Easter Week) is so unpredictable at the temple.  You never know if the temple will be filled or not.  This year the attendance of the workers was very bad.  There are no buses running this week as everyone takes a vacation so transportation is difficult for all.  On the morning shifts, where we usually have 20-25 women, we had only 7-10, and most of them were from another shift but had a car so they came to help.  The men had just as tough of time.  But the temple is the House of God and He provides when the need arises and the work gets done.  These miracles happened daily and we were able to meet the needs of the patrons who came. 
   We were thrilled to see our friends arrive from Belize on Wednesday.  They brought 43 people, including 4 babies, on the 16-18 hour bus ride.  They arrived on Tuesday evening and were at the temple by 7:30am Wednesday to begin their 2 day temple experience.  They remembered us from speaking in their District Conferences and greeted us with hugs and kisses.  We, of course, didn't remember all of them but greeted them as old lost friends anyway.  President Thompson did remember the two couples that were there to be sealed to their children.  He had visited in the homes of the Sanchez and Quiroz families while in Belize. Almost all were from the Cayo District and 90% of them only spoke English.  What a treat to be able to do the ordinances in English!  We used our obrero's who could speak English to perform the ordinances.  We told them that one day the missionaries won't be here and they will need to be able to help their English brothers and sisters.  It was a wonderful two days!!
 The man in the middle front is President Lopez, District President of Cayo District
The American behind him is Hermano Woodbury.  He and his wife live in Belize six months and in the states six months.  They bought a home in Belize.  Hermana Woodbury is in the states with a new grandbaby.  The Hermana's Sanchez and Quiroz are in the very back, one in a gray blouse with a child on her lap and the other standing behind her in orange holding a child.  They each had 3 children to be sealed and they all only speak English.  We have no English missionaries in the temple in the mornings so I had to call Hermana Barney over to help in the Guarderia (nursery).  We kept the temple open all day so that these saints and anyone from the city could be in the temple all day if desired.  The Belize saints left early Friday morning and the temple was pretty much empty that day.  We are always so disappointed when the temple is not filled, but we do understand the problems that exist here with transportation. 
      We enjoyed General Conference so much.  It is always great to be taught by our General Authorities and to re-evaluate our lives and make the necessary changes to be on the right path again. 
After the Saturday am session, the Barney's had us all over for lunch.  What a treat.  We had sandwiches of chicken salad, tuna, or egg salad with chips and fruit and jello.  We were stuffed by then but out came the A&W rootbeer for floats, brownies, and angle food cake. 
 This is Rob Barney and his little girl Rachael and wife Jeannette. The two older boys were eating in the kitchen, closer to the food. They are the reason that the Barney's came to serve here in our temple.  He works for the Embassy.  Elder and Hna. Barney came last May and have enjoyed being close to their family while they serve here.  They are all scheduled to leave in June.  The ward will be lost without them.  Rob is the YM President, Jeannette is the Primary Chorister, and many Sundays the two Barney boys and their dad and grandpa pass the Sacrament. 
 It was a bright sunshiny day and we enjoyed good food and good company.  After we had arrived, we found out that it was Hermana Barney's birthday.  That is so normal for Hermana Barney, taking care of all of us on her special day. 

Dear, dear Friends,

I really hoped to make your day,
But instead you made mine
Oh, what can I do to make YOURS, I ask.
Oh, please give me more time.

Your company is inspiring,
Your service exemplary,
Your friendship is uplifting,
I'm glad it's not just temporary.

Families are eternal
I expect that friends are too.
For it would not be heaven
Without each one of you.

My gratitude and love,
Hermana Carol Jean
😊 Barney

It is a good thing that Conference was so good as we were so full it would have been real easy to sleep through the second session that afternoon. 
     We visited Dr. Amenabar this morning and the stitches are out and steri-strips in their place. 
The knee is mending and I can begin to exercise and have the green light to start walking again this coming week.  Life is wonderful!
     We send our love to all.  Cherish each day and those around you.  Life happens and you never know what tomorrow will bring.  We love serving here and love those who we serve with.  Have a wonderful week Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Lon and Nancy