Thursday, February 13, 2014


Elder y Hermana Wetzel, 

serving in the Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

The lobby at the entrance to the
Missionary Training Center.

With Sonja Tokarski, of Silverton, who was headed to Italy.

Pres. Ruiz with his wife, and newest missionaries.
Do we look hot?  Well, you should put on a suit in 90 degree weather!

The chapel in Coatepeque where we will be for 18 months.

 This is as big as I could make it.  If you click on any picture it gets bigger.  We landed in Guatemala City, about 2 inches off the map.  The trip to Retalhuleu Mission home is usally about 4 hours, but it took us 5.  The narrow highway was packed with huge double truck-trailers hauling sugar cane to the factory.
We live in Coatepeque.  Been traveling by foot, mini bus, and taxi for 2 weeks.  We will get a car in 3 weeks.

 These are things we see as we walk to church.  Bananas and Plantains (the bigger ones you have to cook).
 Tangerines, oranges, limes.
 Star fruit.  I think they call them "carambola".
Marisol is a member of our ward.  She makes chuchos (tamales) once a week.  She saved some for us.

Some tidbits:
An interesting thing here are the names.  Nobody uses their last name:  Brother Alex, or Sister Mari.  There are a lot of English names.  On the high council and bishops \there is Walter, Babington, Jimy, Angel.  In our ward we have Alex, Daniel, William, Nancy, Susi, Bryan, Byron, and others.  I am curious why.

They sell things by the pound here.  I have yet to see a kilo sign.

The use small mini vans for taxis.  They are like a Toyota Previa.  Behind the driver there are 4 bench seats.  And they pack them in.  I try to avoid the back seat cause my knees go thru the seat in front of me.

The Catholic Church is not very strong, but there are tons of little Evangelical churches - like 2 on every block.
Our Zone.  There were 5 missionaries that finished their mission the next day and went home.  3 others were transfered to other areas.  Some are from Guatemala, others from El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, & USA

Sister Pineda and Sister Ostler are a great companionship.
This is Colomba, about 40 minutes away, up in the mountains.  It was at least 10 degrees cooler.  To get here we walked down a set of stairs just like these, and had to climb up again to leave.  There is a small stream at the bottom that overflows when it rains (torrents).
On the way home from Colomba we saw a nice sunset. The sun was red because of the smoke, burning the sugar cane fields.
Bouganvilia grows all over, different colors similar to azeleas.

Avacado trees are all over.  These are about 30 feet up.

This is the way we get to church.  The shortcut is about 1 mile from our house to the church.  You come down a long hill and cross the dam.  It is water control for when it rains.

The dam is plenty wide for one person.

Then it goes uphill again.  The dam is about 15 feet high on the downside.  This is the path where the starfruit is.

Today we went to the other side of the city with some sister missionaries.  This house is in front of the chapel there.  By far the best house we have seen.  All the other houses around it are typical small, bare cement.

All of the streets here are made with pavers.  Not cement or asphalt.  It would be easy to make repairs this way.

This is a mini bus.  We got 20 people in one the other day. 4 were hanging out the door.

Like this ☺ There are probably 15 more people inside.

I really like these trees.  They are called "Palo Blanco" - white stick.  They grown very tall, above most other trees.

 Saturday we went to the Temple in Quetzaltenango with the Spjuts.  It is an hour and a half drive, uphill all the way.  The city sets in a valley at the top of the mountain.

They have dark red poinsettas planted around the temple.

Looking the opposite direction over Quetaltenango.

Here are 2 Elders getting in a TukTuk.  Our grandson sent us a "Flat Stanley" for us to take around with us.  It would be nice to have a TukTuk to get around in.  

We went with the mission president (black suit) to a school where they were instituting a new reading program.  Their textbook will be the Book of Mormon.  This day they each received their own book - they are holding it up for the picture.  Their were over 600 books given away.

Yesterday, Feb. 25th, was a long one.
We took a bus to Reu to the mission offices, and attended a Zone Leaders meeting from 9-2 . About an hour later the mission president took us with him for the rest of the day.
The first stop was about ½ hour west of Coatepeque in a town called Pajapita. We didn't really understand what we were doing there – we just knew that we had a meeting in Malacatan that evening. So at Pajapita we stopped at a school where the president invited us to follow him. There was a big courtyard with plastic patio chairs – over 600. Not many people, just some of the school administrators. We recogized some of them as people we had met in our stake over the last few weeks. What we didn't know till later was that this was a private school set up and run by LDS people. Most of the teachers are LDS. The principal is LDS, counselor in the Stake Presy.
The mission is really pushing the sharing of the Book of Mormon thru the members. Our zone has handed out over 200. Guatemala has a new program where the school picks a book and every student reads the book at the same time, same schedule – almost like a seminary reading schedule. It could be any book. Since the principal is LDS, when he heard of the mission program he said they could use the Book of Mormon as their school book.
So when we got there it was 4:00 and the local missionaries and members had gone to each classroom and given each student their own Book of Mormon. Just as we arrived they were dismissed to join us in the courtyard for a stupendous program to initiate the reading of the book. Pres. Ruiz had been invited to speak, and he did a wonderful job. Before that the director introduced several people seated in front. When he got to us he told them that we had come from the U.S. They cheered, and then he added, “Yes, these pictures will get to the United States!” Then there was cheering and applause.
After Pres. Ruiz finished there was a choir with 2 violins that sang. Then we took our chairs and sat down with the students to take pictures.
We are hoping that there will be an article in the church news.
Speaking of Church News, last week the couple here, Ron and Gail Spjut were announced as new mission presidents for El Salvador-Santa Ana mission. They are the couple that has helped us a lot here. They leave on March 10th, then we get their car, a Rav4.
 We are in the land of bananas.  One of our grandsons sent us a Flat Stanley.  We we are with a banana plant that has bananas

 Here we are with the children of the Martinez family.  Cute kids.  They came to church on Sunday.
2 Elders walking the streets of their area.  You can see the rows of mostly flat rock for the cars and motos to drive on.  In between it is hard on my feet ☺


  1. Elder and Sister Wetzel!! My daughter is a missionary in your mission!! Thank you for posting so many wonderful pictures. I hope you don't mind that I downloaded a few and put on her blog. I have been reading about the Book of Mormons given out at the school - some other missionaries also wrote about it!! So incredible. Thank you for your service.
    Tami Minnick

    1. We have not met her yet, but they tell me she is a good missionary.