Monday, March 31, 2014


April first.  April fool's day.

In Spanish it is called Day of the Innocents, but it is not quite the same.
If you ask someone to lend you $10 and they lend it to you, you don't have to pay them back.
The 1st was Tuesday and also the day when transfers were announced.  Transfers for the missionaries happen every 6 weeks.  A missionary will get transferred every 5 or 6 months.  Anyway, the zone leader got up and started announcing who was leaving, and every time he called a name there was surprise, and then sadness: "oh, elder so and so is leaving".  At the end he told everyone, April Fools.  When he called out the real transfers it was still sad to say goodbye to the ones who were moving somewhere else.

We were able to go to the temple in Quetzltenango last week.  It sits up on the side of the mountain that surrounds the valley.  Everyone refers to Quetzaltenango as Xela (shay-la).  I think it is an old Mayan name for this place.

Almost at the top of the mountains are field of vegetables - carrots, cabbage, onions, potatos, etc.  Some of the  fields look like 45 degrees, but nothing is terraced.  Look close and you'll see people in the field above.

 We were driving to the chapel (in the background) and saw a family carrying firewood to their house.

 It is a verv common sight.  The majority of people cook over open fires outside the house.  The rainy season is coming next month, so you seem to see more people carrying wood, in preparation for the rain.

It is hard to see, but this guy is carrying a log.

 Taken thru the windshield, these fronds are about 4 feet wide.

Typical construction.  Houses are all cement, no wood (termites).  Vicky wants to paint our house this color ☻

 Here is their stash of firewood.

A pueblo on the way to the temple.  Cabbage growing in foreground.

 Rafael, in the wheel\chair was baptized 2 months ago.  Last week his wife Mikaela was baptized (dressed in white).

 I think we should get one of these to take people to church.  We could get at least 12 people in there.  He delivers bottled water.

 This is a popular place.  They have stores all over the city.  Like Kentucky Fried chicken, but not as good.

 Last week was Semana Santa, getting ready for Easter week.  They have some strange traditions here.  I am not sure they are tied to any church, just local traditions,

 There are speed bumps everywhere, about every 200 yards.  We rarely go over 25 mph, which is why our gas mileage is so low - we are in 2nd gear most of the time.  So on Monday at the speed bumps were these people dressed in "rags" carrying pop cans in their hands, asking people for money.  They are "Judas", and I suppose the money refers to 30 pieces of silver.

Later in the week they reappeared.  This is downtown.  They look scary.  

Friday morning we drove to the Stake Center, and these were on the road all over the city.

 They are "paintings" made with colored sawdust.  Very beautiful.

 They are almost an inch thick, and looks like a carpet.

 That same day there is a procession to the church, and they walk on the "carpet".  By the end of the day they have been swept up and the road is open to traffic again.

 The name of the chapel we attend is Gardenias, because they  planted at least a dozen gardenias around it.  It is one of Vicky's favorite flowers.

 This guy went over the speed bumps very carefully, ☺☻

The entrance to a small town, just for Easter.

The wood gathering continues.  The rainy season is coming soon, so they have to get what they can before everything gets soaked.  I wonder how she got it up off the ground onto her back,

I had my first run in with a cement wall.  Rats!

We have been working in the outback with the members who live there.  We saw these little calves rambling around with the herd.  Milk cows are not like back home - no Jerseys.  Saw a Brahma Bull today.  that's what the milk cows look like.


These are plantains.  They grow kind of sideways (the leaves too), while bananas grow up (upside down).  These plants are only 7-8 months old.  On the big plantations they have them growning in different stages, so the harvest is continual.  In the end, after the bananas are harvested, the trees are pulled out and the new shoots start growing where the tree was. in 7-8 months its time to harvest again.

We visited the Martinez family and our conversation turned to yuca and malanga, both root crops.  Little Angel went into the house and came to the front door with this - a big malanga that they had dug up.
They gave us a smaller one last week, but we haven't tried it yet.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


We will start organizing this by the month.

Today is March 9th.  We have been busy getting to know the less-active members of the church here.

To clear up something, we have been asked to work with the less-active members of the church, along with the new members.   So we are not looking for people to teach and baptize, although that will happen along the way I am sure.

So we are meeting with the ward councils and teaching them about their role (most don't know).  There are 22 wards in 2 different Stakes, one here, the other  over an hour away.  We have met with 3 ward councils so far.  It could take us a few months (6?) to get to all of them.  Then we will do a followup training and meet with all of them again.

So Sundays are full of meetings.  During the week we meet with less-active members.
We are the first missionary couple in either stake - making history.

This is the Perez family.  They were baptized last fall.  The fathers's name is Wosbely.  The  mother is Miriam (she is way in the back holding a child with a green book.  Vicky invited her to help us with some housework on Monday.  The 2 hours she was here she sang and whistled the hymns of the church nonstop.  Love at home was her favorite.  She whistles quite well.

Here is a plant in a chapel - Vicky fell in love with it. 

 Most chapels have live flower arrangements on Sunday

Here is a small poinsetta.  We have seen them over 2 stories tall,

The house next to ours has a small palm tree.  They took some moss and wrapped it around the trunk, then planted orchids on the trunk.  Very pretty.

Here is the pad where we live.  Behind the grill is a place to park the car, with the house behind that.  Inside the house is painted all yellow.  They use flat paint so it is ok.

Yesterday we had to go to Guatemala city to get our visas.  We are now legal residents of the country.We also got our car - Rav4.  Driving here is a real experience.So in Guatemala City we took a walk in the zone where the area office is - they service all of Central America.  The area 70 have their office here.On our walk we saw this Rhododendron - 2 stories tall and a trunk and branches like a tree.

We stayed the night in a Crowne Plaza hotel.  This is the view out of one window.  It looks just like any city.

Looking out the window you could just barely see a volcano.  They say this is the land of volcanos, but it has been hard to see them because of the haze in the air -  from all of the sugar cane fields that they burn.  In the background you can see the purple trees.  They are Jacarandas.  Vicky's favorite color, and they have a wonderful aroma.

I zoomed in to get just the jacaranda trees.  They grow quite tall and slender.

Here is a picture of the kind of bus that gave us quite a scare.  The spare tire lays on top, but it is not tied down.  It is just the tire, not mounted on a rim. In this pic it is right where the sun is reflecting.

We left here early yesterday, headed to Guate. City with another couple.  The Spjuts were leaving the mission after 5 months to prepare to serve as mission presidents in El Salvador.  Their picture was in the Church news 2-3 weeks ago.  They were driving the mission car (Rav4) back to Guate. City, and the car was then checked out to us. On the way there, we were passing a bus (like an old school bus with a rack on top) on a bridge, when the bus hit a bump and the BIG spare tire fell off the rack and hit the road standing up, right in front of us.  Everyone in the car saw it, but nobody screamed.  I just knew the tire was going to bounce right thru our windshield.  Br. Spjut braked hard, the tire did not bounce up, just rolled in front of us and over the rail, and down (into the river maybe).  We all felt the Lord's protection.


These are the fruit stands where we stopped.  Good stuff.  Lots of fruit you never heard of before.

This is the entrance to a sugar cane refinery.  They dot the land.  Someone asked why they burn the sugar cane fields.  In the past they would cut the cane, then strip each stalk by hand before hauling them to the factory.  It took a long time.  Now they burn the field so they don't have to strip each stalk.  They lose a little product, but it saves them a  lot of time.

Here are some sugar cane trucks, pulling double trailers, loaded very high

This is just one trailer.  The trucks don't go too fast and everyone else on the highway tries to pass.  On a two lane road you will sometimes see 3 cars wide.  

 We came home for lunch a few days ago and I saw the neighbors little dashund chase something across the little street, and it ran up a tree\next to our house.  It is well camophlaged.  Look close.  I saw our neighbor and told her there was an iguana in her tree.  She looked puzzled till I pointed it out to her.  "Oh, that's a cochete."  It looks and acts like an iguana, but the head is different - it has some triangle growth on top and behind the head.

It was about 14 inches long.  It stayed up in the tree all day, escaped during the night.

On Sunday we went to La Blanca, the place where we were on Valentines Day.  It is the land of bananas, as far as the eye can see.  Each tree puts out one bunch of bananas.  They put blue bags over them to keep the insects at bay.

During lunch outside, this bug appeared.  Looks like a mini dinosaur,  Those are not wings, just an extension over the head.

Monday we went with the zone on a long hike to a waterfall.  Does this remind you of the Waters of Mormon?  The interesting thing is the water is not very cold.  The sun was hot and I got baked walking 4 miles in and 4 more out.

Next to the falls were some big bushes with red floweres about the size of your thumb.

There were some little streamlets on the way and some crabs in them.  Not very big though.

This is the laundramat.  Water is diverted from the river and you can wash your clothes by hand in the shade.  When the clothesline fills up you can lay your clothes out to dry on the grass, or bushes.

Today, March 18 marks one week that we have had a vehicle, toyota rav4.  The first day we had it we blew a tire.  Today we got locked out of the car.  It only took 2 hours for a guy to travel here, and in 10 minutes he had it opened.  We wonder what else will happen in the coming weeks.  Since car theft is a big problem, the cars are programed to lock about 30 seconds after you get out of the car.  Dumb.  I would rather have to lock it myself.   When we got the car the office guy gave a key to me and a key to Vicky with instructions to not get locked out of the car.  Today I just needed to run inside the church and grab something.  I left the keys in the ignition.  Some members came by and Vicky got out to give them a hug.  When I came back I asked her if she had her keys.  That's when we knew it was going to be a long afternoon.  It could have been worse.  2 hours wasn't too bad.  At least we didn't have to sleep with the car overnight ☺

 The Relief Society Pres. lives on this deadend street.  The city is making improvements.  Instead of a dirt road they will have a "smooth" rocky road.  The city provides the material, and one guy does the work - with about a 3 lb. hammer (like a small sledge with a foot long handle).  He digs a hole for each one, then places it and makes it "level".

Someone told me that there used to be a lot of cotton grown in this area.  This is the first cotton plant I have seen - in a neighbor's yard.  Each fluff is like a giant cotton ball, with seeds in it.

On our first trip to La Blanca we took a bus.  I talked with the man sitting next to me about the area.  He mentioned that all they grow here are bananas.  A few moments later I pointed to this field and asked what it was.  Tobacco.  These plants are about 4 feet high.

 A picture is worth 5000 words.  Inflation.

 Outside the Branch Presidents house was this tree full of strange fruit.  They don't eat it, but let it dry, make a hole in one end, clean out the insides, then use the shell to make maracas.  So I call it the maraca tree.

Elders Meyer and Walton with Sister Wetzel and the ward mission leader with his family, including his mother.

 Before the General Womens Conference on Saturday we had the sister missionaries over for dinner.  Vicky made flour tortillas (since you can't buy them here) and they had burritos, rice, refried beans, with a pineapple drink and some strawberies in the the jello, along with watermelon.  Afterward we took them to the Stake Center for conference.

 On Thursday we had 4 elders over to eat - enchiladas with all the trimmings

I have been meaning to put this in the blog for a while.
The day we moved into our little house they took us around for kind of an inspection, to see if we had any questions.  When I saw this shower head with electircal wires attached I had to ask the question, because to me electicity connected to water = disaster.
They explained the the houses here are not plumbed with hot water.  To avoid having to take cold showers they have this special shower head.  As the water flows thru it a little coil heats up the water.  The slower the flow, the hotter the water.  So it is ajustable.  I am glad we have it.

Our first baptism: Adonias, wife Heidi, daughter Heidi, and little Brittany.  Sisters Ostler and Laiche (from Peru).  The sisters asked us to help teach them.  I taught them about prayer and how to receive an answer.  He received his and asked to be baptized - by me.  Heidi called her mother to tell her about the missionaries and getting baptized - her mother replied, "You are already a member!"  She was baptized as a child.  She could remember a baptism but didn't tie it to our church.  After the baptism someone said that they needed to get him a white shirt for tomorrow (Sunday).  He replied that he had just  bought one that morning.