Thursday, August 6, 2015

El Fin

The end came soon.  We had to pack up the house, pack our stuff, give away a lot of things we could not bring back in the suitcases, and say goodbye to many families.
We left our house Monday July 20, 2015 - our 40th anniversary.  We traveled to the mission home to turn in our phone.  The mission president met us there and had us paint our handprints on their special blanket that has all prints of the missionaries.
Then we headed to Guatemala City, about a 5 hour drive.  After turning in the car we spent the night in a hotel.  Their bus took us to the airport at 6:00 a.m.
The flights went smoothly, with a 4 hour layover in Los Angeles.
When we arrived our whole family was waiting for us.  Since most of them live far away they printed pictures of everyone who wasn't "there".
We spent the night in Corvallis with Ben and family, then drove home on Wednesday.
Since then we have been unpacking the house, working long hours hauling stuff up from the basement.  We have the whole family coming and we need to have beds, food, etc. ready for them (21 of us).  It could be real fun! ☺☻

So this is the end of our saga.  It was full of challenges and wonders.  Would we do it again?  Yes!  We already miss the people (but not the heat).
We would encourage any couple to consider serving a mission.
We think a temple mission would almost be like a vacation, adventure.
So, . . . hasta la vista.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Julio 2015

For July 4th I thought of buying a big roll of firecrackers, but then I would not be following the rules.  So the forth was just another day here.
Today is Monday the 6th.  This week we have just 2 of every day left: 2 more Mondays, 2 more Tuesdays, etc.

 Sister Puac with her daughter and son who both served as missionaries.
We found Miriam & Omar shopping in La Torre store.  We have tried to visit them but he works crazy hours.  We hope they can go to the temple next month.

Sister Escobar and her husband work as seamstress and tailor.  They made a lot of ties and skirts for us.  Here is an old treadle sewing maching (Regina) that she has used for 14 years, with the treadle, not a motor.  You see a lot of them in the tailor shops.

She is quite adept with the treadle machine.  Her husband uses a Brother with a motor,
Our favorite S tree from the other side.

Yulisa Camila's mother was expecting her when we arrived in the mission.  Now she walks and is starting to talk.  We have seen the whole process, so I guess it is time to leave ☺☻
Below is the whole family.

Sister Wetzel reading stories during Primary in the small branch in Ocos.

Today there were 24 in attendance, about average.

Keep your fingers away from him.  He talks pretty good.  "Hola, Bonito, Bludvin (the son)" along with other words and whistles.

We saw this family get baptized last year.  They  will be going to the temple next month,
Oziris, Martin, Bludvin, Asusena, Maybelin Rodas
We went to the Temple this morning, then instead of coming home we took the road to the mission home to welcome 13 new missionaries.  This is the Volcano Santa Maria.  There is a little one on the other side of it that always has steam coming out of it,

Nice side saddles ☺☻
Omar and his grandmother

Omar and his mother.  He was baptized over a year ago.  She came to church on Sunday.

Little Wagner Otoniel Rodriguez.  We saw him grow the lasst 8 months.
Moroni and Jorge - his 8th birthday and some little presents we gave him,
Jorge, Teresa, Moroni, and Jorgito - who just turned Eight.
We taught them for several months helping them to grow stronger in the gospel.
Zuri just turned Eight, along with her brother, Javier, and sister, Dana.
Parents are Zulma Cardona and Edgar Castillo.

Velvet just went to the temple - with her3 children, Tito, Molly, and little Dieguito

The Rambutan is an exotic fruit grown here to export to U,S,  Here we can buy a dozen for cheap.  In the U.S. they cost about $1.50 each.  But they are really delicious.
The rambutan looks kind of like a big strawberry.  You cut it open and throw out the thick skin, eat the white fruit and spit out the pit,

The cocoa pods are almost ready to pick.  Go back to last year to see the cocoa cut open.  They take out the seeds inside and roast them to make cocoa powder.

Anselmo Perez is a faithful member of the church.  This is his little store, where he also lives.

Elmer and Marleni with daughter MaryJane.  2 sons not shown.

Bamboo hold up the cement as the roof is poured.

We taught this family several times.  We wish we had a few more weeks to prepare him for baptism.
Milli, Rosa, Carlos, and Luis Rodas, our next-door neighbors and owners of our house.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 June

June:  The rain has started, but not as much as last year.  It is good, the temperature drops about 10 degrees.  The places we visit to work with the small branches and teach some members do not get much rain, so it is still hot there, around 97ยบ most days.

We got permission to travel to Antigua, an old city about 5 hours drive from our house.  This is on the way.  The city we visited sits at the base of 2 volcanoes.

We are headed up the mountain - these weird land forms intrigued us.


A lady in typical dress, carrying a big load of strawberries.

It gets cloudy  in the afternoon

Nope, not in Guatemala.  David and Jonathan with their wives at a place in Provo.

Karen y Jamie

Marleni, Eric, Jamie, Karla, and Carlos Rene

Mercedes, Karen, and Amparo - 3 generations of daughters

The Cardona Family - Zulma, Danna, Javier, and Zury

Elder White with the family he baptized, the day they got sealed in the temple.
Yuri, Sergio, Lesvia, Mishel

Nice Flowers.

While waiting in the car, Vicky took a picture of this moth on our windshield - about 2 inches long,

We went up over the mountains to do temple interiviews in 3 small branches.  This is on the way back down the mountain.

 You can get a first class shoe shine for 25 -  30 cents, 2 or 3 Quetzales
 Ever wonder where palm oil comes from?  From palms, duh.  But it is this group of small grape sized fruit that grows in the palm that they harvest and take to the factory.
 This cloud has a silver lining ☺☻
 Sisters Drismy and Heidi in their Guatemalan skirts, at church.

Carlos and Gaby Gomez-Palacios took us to dinner as their way of showing thanks for helping them get to the temple last February.  It was good to relax and talk with them.

This isn't the worst one.  Sometimes you can barely see the bus, truck, or car.

This video is especially for Vaughn.  This is inside the chapel.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 Mayo

May day.  Did you hear the one about the sink-o de mayo?  If not let me know. ☺☻

On Monday about 4:00 p.m. Vicky came into the room saying unintelligible gibberish, finishing with, "Come on!"  So I ran after her, following her outside.  There we found our neighbors looking up at our roof.  As we exited the house I looked up and back to see fireworks coming out of the pipe where the electric wires enter the house from the telephone pole.  There were loud pops and flashes for about 10 minutes.  The other end of the wire at the pole popped loose and was hanging on another wire, to end the fireworks.  Our neighbors (the owners) called the fire department and the electric company.  They came quickly, looked things over and left.  We had to leave for some appointments - there wasn't anything we could do, but we now had no power to the house.
About an hour I got a call from Br. Tono Barrios, who works maintenance for the church.  Our owner had called him.  He told us he had gone to the house and would be over at 8 in the morning to fix things.
The next morning, Tues. eight o'clock comes and no Tono.  I wait till 9:30 and call him.  He is far away in another city and can't help us.  We call the electric company and they tell us there is an order for someone to come to the house, but they can't tell us when it will happen.  We have to go out anyway, so we went to the electric company in person to see if we could find out anything else.  Nope, only that there was an order to do the work (we thought).  So we go back to the apartment to wait.  About noon a young guy on a motor cycle shows up, but all he does is take out his little phone and take pictures of the damage.  I was getting frustrated, along with Luis, our owner.  He said he would be back to fix it, but needed to get the materials.  So we wait for him to return, not knowing when he would come.  Here you cannot leave your house unattended, unlocked.  You don't let anyone into your house unless you are there.  So we felt tied down.  We did a lot of reading and prep.  Finally at 6 pm he shows up with the wire and a new meter (the old one got fried - and it was actually the cause of everything).  But since it was late he was just going to drop off the material and come back in the morning.  Luis and I got upset.  I told him we had waited all day for him to show up, and now he comes without the tools he needs to get the job done.  2 days without power and you haven't done one thing, I told him.  Luis started calling people he knew.  The guy then said he would go get his things and return.  I asked how long that would be.  He gave a vague answer, and I asked specifically how many minutes till  he returned.  He said 15-20.  I told him I would give him 20.  He returned 45 minutes later.  3 hours later at 10:30 he finished (it gets dark here at 6:30).  He started at the pole, working with live wires in the dark.  Then we pulled the wires to the house and he hooked them up to the meter.  He tore out the old meter and behind it was all black and charred wiring.  That's when we knew that the drama was not over yet.  We needed to get an electrician to put in new wires from the meter to the power box in the house.
That took another day.  The electrician came and said he would have power to the house in about an hour.  It took all day.  One setback after another, but he was a good worker and kept at it.  Finally about 4:00 pm we had power.
During this last day Vicky cleaned out the fridge and tossed the things that had gone bad.  So now we have a clean fridge with power to it. ☺  And it only took 3 days.  As long as it lasts 3 months it will be okay (we will be home then).


Usually it is so overcast and cloudy that we don't see the sunset.

Pulling into Pajapita, on our way to teach 2 lessons.  This is 30 minutes from our house.  There are about 180 active people in the branch - more than any ward in the stake.

Last week Pres. Ruiz released his first counselor, Brother Maldonado, who had served well for 4 years.  His new first counselor is Brother Maldonado, his younger brother.

And the sisters.  Sister Maldonado is Stake Relief Society President.

Here is a video showing our favorite tree.  We call it the S tree.
Don't pay attention to anything you hear.  We listen to audio books as we travel from place to place,

I set apart Elder Barrios (center).  The  next day he was in the MTC in Guatemala City, headed for a mission in Nicaragua.

Vicky calls this the Gingerbread House.

Friends We Have Made Along the Way

Sister Velvet with daughter Molly

Regina is a fine young woman with a returned missionary boyfriend

Our favorite tree.  We call it the "S" tree.
It is the last one on the left.

Nice flowers
We went to a banana plantation with the zone on Monday.  Here is the entrance to about 2500 acres of bananas.  As we arrived our stake president said, "Welcome to the sauna.  We walked around inside the plantation.  Under the banana trees there is no breeze. Very hot and humid.

The very bottom part that looks like a beet is built like an onion, with lots of layers.  Inside each layer are little tiny bananas.  Each layer will open and you can see the bananas above.

This is the inside of the pod where things begin,  Roberto Valdez is one of the top managers, and our Stake President in Coatepeque.

They build these metal rail systems in the groves, then hang the cut bananas on it and pull it to the packing plant.

Even before the cut them off the plant, rubber dividers are placed between each layer to protect them from bumps and bruises.  To be shipped to the US they cannot have any defects.  If they have defects they get shipped to El Salvador, but for only 1/15th of the US price.

The bananas arrive at the packing plant.

They are cut up in bunches and put on trays.

Then they run through a water bath, then packed in boxes, then the boxes are stacked in a refrigerated trailer and hauled to the other side of Guatemala.  Then they are shipped by boat to New York.  The process is continual.

These are the rejects that will go to El Salvador.  No boxes, no refrigeration, just stacked nicely.
Here are the bananas arriving from the field.

Afterward we went to the coast, only about 5 miles away.  There was a small place with a 2nd level, open to the air and ocean breeze.  Very pleasant after being in the "sauna" of bananas trees.  They served us lunch here.

Some of the missionaries walked 500 yards to the beach.

This comes from Akatzin Lopez, from Woodburn.  He is serving a mission in North Carolina.
Nice pic ☺☻

It was Michel's 4th birthday.  She got a Pirate Dora the Explora.
Her sister is Leah.  Their parents were baptized last year.

When they invited us to the party I took my violin so they could sing Happy Birthday.

Here is the whole family.

Sister Laiche helped baptize the Rodriguez family a year ago.  She is going home to Peru next week.

Their Little Baby Wagner.

As we finished the visit the missionaries got in a "taxi" to go to their appointments.

Sister Galland (from LA) and sister Laiche.
 On Saturday we went with the youth in the Stake and their leaders to a place called Chicaval.  Here are some pics from google.  It is an old volcano whose crater has filled with water.  It is not deep, very shallow with some carp in it.  It is considered a sacred site by the local Mayans, so no fishing nor swimming,
Where we stated from was further down than the picture shows.

Here we are at the beginning.  The way up was very steep.  Took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to the top.

This was the halfway point.  The trail is ahead thru the trees.

On the way up we took the trail to the observatory deck on the ridge, then went down 600 steps to get to the lake.

The local folk bring flowers for offerings, and plant them on the shore in the water.

There were 70-80 people total.  This outting was in commemoration of the restoration of the
Aaronic Priesthood.  Here they are just getting the program ready.
We decided to leave at this point and head back.
Within 15 minutes it started to sprinkle.  Within 5 minutes it was more steady, and 5 minutes later it became a big downpour.

Question:  What do you do when it starts to rain in the middle of your hike?
You keep walking ☺☻
We walked for over an hour in the downpour.  At first it wasn't bad, but the longer it rained the more water was running down the dirt road, like a flood, so it made walking difficult.
But we made it.