Elder and Sister Meadows, representatives of the Lord and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are serving a mission in the Quetzaltenango Guatemala mission, Spanish speaking. They will be in Guatemala for a period of 18 months.
This is my sweet little friend, Hermana Herrera, who spends 4 days a week, every week, doing initiatory work in the temple, arriving about 9:15 and leaving about 12:30. She also happens to be in our home ward so we took this photo today.
* We spent 835.00 for groceries this week!! Every time I see that much money rung up on the store's cash register my heart goes pitter patter and I quickly have to do my math...it was actually only $107 with an exchange rate of 7.8 Quetzals to $1.
* Our Sunday meetings start at 8:00 am. With only 2 wards using the chapel I don't understand why we have to start so early...I'm sure it's because WE are here now and it's just our luck. But just to make sure I'm awake and stay awake the building is kept nice and cold. There is actually no heat source except a little bit of sunshine coming through some of the windows (these windows are situated in the premium seating!) and everyone is bundled up with coats, neck scarves, hats, and gloves which are never taken off for the entire meeting time. We have open-the-windows type AC with ceiling fans for the summer months!
* Speaking of church...oh my gosh you would not believe what these people put up with!! Ok, so our church building is very nice, fairly new, BUT... Sunday School and then Relief Society meets in the cultural hall right behind the chapel with accordion doors as dividers. Just about the time RS is having opening prayer etc. the next ward starts their meeting in the chapel. So we have on one side of us the next ward singing their opening song and on the other side of the cultural hall the Priesthood singing their opening song and outside across the street the Evangelicals start their meeting with a live band playing music through loud speakers for about 45 minutes, EVERY SUNDAY!!! It's pretty comical actually and doesn't seem to faze these people at all.
* This week we had a little hermanita come to the temple and stayed for 3 1/2 hours doing 30 initiatory names. She didn't stop until she had to at the end of our shift. I asked her later how old she was...86 years old! And she does this every week, four times a week! How's that for dedication.
* This is a Latino country but strangely no one smokes and there's very few bars, unlike Mexico. In fact you have to look hard to find a bar. It's awesome!
* These people who come to the temple are so warm and friendly. I love their customary hug and brush on the cheek. EVERYONE greets everyone with either a handshake or hug, both hello and goodbye. I love it and think we need to adopt this custom in our temples at home.
* I know I'm repeating myself, but the driving is HORRIBLE! So aggressive! But we have discovered a secret...you can do just about anything you want while driving as long as you turn on the car flashers! You can stop in the middle of an intersection with your lights flashing and it's okay...no one is bothered. You can even park your car in one lane of a two-lane main street during rush hour, blocking traffic for about a mile, leave your car unattended, and as long as your flashers are on everyone takes it in stride (except me). Traffic police are non-existent. We had to make a trip to Guatemala City last Monday for Visa issues, which is a 116 mile trip, and didn't see a single speed limit sign on the highway.
* One of our gringo friends has a motto I've tried to adopt, "If you stay flexible you won't get bent out of shape." We've discovered that a temple schedule/work assignment is only a suggestion and can and will be changed without warning!
* The speakers in Sacrament Meeting are really excellent, well prepared, and NEVER read their talks, including the youth. We were told that 60% of our ward has joined the Church in the last few years and typically have about 150 in attendance every Sunday. Church starting time must be a suggestion also since about half the attendees come after the Sacrament has been passed!
* I had my first experience with a non-public bathroom in an office we needed to visit. I asked to use the bathroom and was directed to this little room with a toilet and a big bucket of water sitting next to it for "flushing" purposes. The pipes on the sink (for washing hands after using the bucket) were not connected either...thank goodness for that bottle of hand sanitizer in our car!
For those of you who are reading some of the entries on our blog who may not be members of our Church, you may be wondering why we don't say much about our actual mission, which is working in the temple. We consider the work done within the temple to be sacred and we don't discuss it outside of the temple.
We spend five days a week, about 7 hours each of those days as temple missionaries and work with the people who come to participate in the sacred temple ordinances. Sometimes they travel for hours to be here, often at great sacrifice. The vast majority of them do not own vehicles so they have to use buses, taxis, bikes, or just walk the distance. But they consider temple work to be a blessing and are happy to be here. They are so very humble it makes me realize what a blessing it is in my life to be given the opportunity to be here to serve them. I recall one sweet little lady who I was helping...she was nearly half my height and when she looked up at me waiting for my help, she had no front teeth but was smiling and was so childlike it made me think of the Savior's teachings to be humble and teachable as our little children are and I felt an immediate love for her.
The people who come from the highlands are Mayan and have 22 different dialects. Many do not speak nor understand Spanish. Many do not have running water or electricity, cook their meals on fires, and live in very rough circumstances. We are always happy when they come to the temple because we know that it's at great sacrifice on their part and they want to be here.
On Sundays when the temple is closed, we sometimes travel with the other temple missionaries to visit the members of the Church who don't live near the temple to encourage them to be faithful and attend the temple as often as their circumstances will allow. Each Monday is our Preparation Day when we clean our apartment, shop for necessities, do laundry, or sightsee.
Ken and I consider this opportunity to be temple missionaries a great blessing. We love the work we do within the temple, we love the Savior and are blessed to be able to serve Him and to serve with wonderful faithful people, we love each other and are very happy.
NEVER, EVER complain about your state DMV. We had to change the title on the car we purchased a couple of weeks ago and what a headache! It took 4 1/2 hours just to do the paperwork, then add 2 hours for the round-trip drive to the town of Totoniocapan where it was supposedly faster. The whole process required us to hire an agent, a notary, a CPA, and an attorney, and go to the bank 3 different times to pay different fees, AND utilize a bishop who worked in the DMV to "expedite" our papers. It really wasn't that fun.
But while we were waiting for the agent to do some of the paperwork for us we walked through the Mercado, which is always just fun.
We always buy our produce from the mercados. The fruit and veggies taste as good as they look.
This guy below was truly a snake-oil salesman. He promised these people that the pills he was selling would keep their hair from falling out, cure their liver and heart problems, relieve their aching back, and strengthen weak knees. Oh, and what a deal...it was 2 for the price of 1 today. I had a hard time holding Ken back from making a purchase!
The last couple of Preparation Days we have been out of the city the entire day with no time to add to our blog so I will try to catch up today.
Two weeks ago President Perez took all of the temple missionaries to Lago de Atitlan, one of the main tourist attractions in Guatemala, which is situated halfway between Xela and Guatemala City and is believed to be the Waters of Mormon. Hundreds of feet under water ruins have been found. There are twelve tiny pueblos surrounding the lake named after Christ's twelve apostles and which are accessible by dirt roads only except for Santiago, which we visited by taking a boat across the lake and which is surrounded by volcanoes.
Our boat ride took us from this dock straight across the lake to Santiago, situated to the left of the volcano.
While on the boat ride across the lake, Ken took this photo of one of our missionary friends, the Juarez's, whose house was the one destroyed by the earthquake a year and a half ago.
Brother Juarez is also a Patriarch in his home stake besides being a temple missionary so each Sunday morning around 6:00 a.m. they walk the mile down the hill to the bus terminal and travel an hour and a half home so that he can fulfill his responsibilities in his home stake. Ken just loves this man and loves to tease him.
While in Panaache, the town where the lake is accessed, we took a ride in one of their little tututs.
Ken has found his new retirement dream spot...apparently there are some who live in or visit Guatemala who are not poor! This little paradise is located just as the boat was approaching the pueblo of Santiago.
The proprietor was upset with me for taking this photo and asked me not to take any more. These are all hand-woven fabrics, custom designed, and he thought I was trying to copy his patterns. Aren't the colors just beautiful!
Some of the merchants came aboard our boat just prior to us leaving Santiago to try to sell just one more blanket or trinket. This little girl had an easy mark with Ken...after he teased her awhile he bought the little hummingbird key chains.