San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Our Heavenly Father Knows His Children

Early Sunday morning we headed out to attend church in Corozal (two hours north on the Mexican border)  Before we left, we read on the weather app that heavy rain fall was in the forecast.  Although we had storm clouds all along the way, we were happy to get only a few drizzles here and there.  As we pulled into Corozal, we were taken back at the beautiful view of the gray rain clouds against the coral green Caribbean Sea.    
As we drove home from church, we took these pictures with Sister Arteaga and Sister Kendall at the Santa Rita ruins that are located in town on a residential street.  

On Monday we had a preparation day treat as we took the Orange Walk Elders Reyes and Barlow to the Altun Ha archeological site. A feeling of reverence encompasses these ancient cities as we imagine the inhabitants here and their way of life. 
It was much drier now than when we were here last.  Elder Reyes was going to give the first discussion to the baby crocodile we came across, but the crocodile wouldn't listen.

It's always a pleasure to host guests in our home. Brother Justice from Guatemala was here on an assignment from the church. We enjoyed getting to know him.  He and his wife joined our church over 40 years ago in Puerto Rico. This came after searching for Jesus Christ's true church that taught gospel principles that have been restored to the earth.
Yep, even missionary houses have break-downs at times. Here our skilled Belizean plumbers get us going, or at least showering, once again.
The following videos are ones that I showed to friends we visited this week.  They both have powerful messages. The first one is about our Savior's love as He wants to forgive.     
You can also see the video by clicking here
 The Mormon Channel says this about the video:  A former addict and repeat convict shares his experiences with the Savior's ability and willingness to forgive him again and again, even when he felt undeserving. The mission of Jesus Christ was to atone of our sins and provide a way to repent and be forgiven.

This feature film reenacts the true events from 1820-1844 surrounding the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You can also see the video by clicking here

I snapped and sent this picture of the view out my front door to my sister-in-law, Lynn, after she sent me a video of the snow fall they received in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday morning.  I told her that yes, it is beautiful here in Belize, but the photo doesn't show the humidity! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Dangria Welcomes Missionaries Again

Dangriga just received missionaries again after 8 months. A rented house serves as the chapel in this coastal town, a two-hour drive south of Belize City.  Elders Livingston and Alcantara are excited to meet their new neighbors!
Zone conferences, held every 6 weeks, are well anticipated by the missionaries in the country. There are now 20 young missionaries serving in Belize.
 We were well taught by our zone leaders, Elder Jenks and Elder Eves, as well as by President Adams.
Role playing on how best to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ...
Sister Kendall received a birthday package, as Sister Arteaga looks on.
Elder Reyes was happy to get a new pair of shoes sent from home to replace his old ones that had  a hole through the bottom.

When we were at zone conference, I found out that one of our missionary's father was featured on the I'm a Mormon series.  It was fun to look up the video about Elder Watt's father.
 You can also see the video by clicking here
This is what mormon.org said about the video:  Mormon researcher Ryan Watt's passion for finding a cure for Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's, and Parkinson's diseases is personal. It's fueled by his family & his belief in Jesus Christ.

Helping members of the church help themselves is central to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elvis Gomez (center) and Daniel Hernandez (far right), church directors for self-reliance and the Perpetual Education Fund, visited this weekend from Guatemala City to train interested members in successful career preparation and seeking educational opportunities. Their workshops were held in Orange Walk and Belize City, setting the stage for more to come.

Happenings in our neighborhood:
The mail is delivered differently in Belize than in the U.S.  I asked if I could take a picture of our mailman.  He was happy to pose.  
A lineman on the street in front of our house climbs the pole free hand with spikes on his boots to make a repair.
Being a city girl, I couldn't resist taking a picture of this chicken as we left the yard of one of our member's house.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Resurrection, Revelation, Reflection

Yesterday morning my mind went back to another Easter morning 12 years ago.  I arrived in Utah the day before because I'd received word that my father wouldn't live past the week.  He was in the final stages of Alzheimer's.

It was good to greet my father Saturday and see his eyes light up when I walked into his hospital room.  That afternoon my mother, brothers, his grandchildren, and I gathered around my Dad.  We visited with him, shared memories, and said a prayer together.  When I went back to the hospital the next day, my Dad was non-responsive.  In Sunday worship services that Easter morning we sang the hymn, He is Risen!  When we sang, my eyes filled with tears as I realized because Jesus had risen, so would my father.  I will be with my father again.  His death will not be the end of our relationship.
My father, and our son Sam

Yesterday, my testimony of eternal life was strengthened as I listened to the First Presidency share their Easter messages at general conference.  Take a moment to listen to a few of their thoughts about Easter in the video below.  

President Russell M. Nelson
Without our Redeemer’s infinite Atonement, not one of us would have hope of ever returning to our Heavenly Father. Without His Resurrection, death would be the end. Our Savior’s Atonement made eternal life a possibility and immortality a reality for all.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor
Today we join other Christians in celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a pillar of our faith. Because we believe the accounts in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon about the literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we also believe the numerous scriptural teachings that a similar resurrection will come to all mortals who have ever lived upon this earth. That resurrection gives us what the Apostle Peter called “a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3). That lively hope is our conviction that death is not the conclusion of our identity but merely a necessary step in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan for the salvation of His children. 

President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor
I thank our Heavenly Father for the gift of His Beloved Son, who came voluntarily to earth to be our Redeemer. I am grateful to know that He atoned for our sins and rose in the Resurrection. Every day I am blessed to know that, because of His Atonement, I may someday be resurrected to live forever in a loving family.

We were witnesses of new revelation announced at conference that will bless the members of the church.  To see these changes, check out the Mormon Newsroom article found here

Speaking of general conference, it was fun to get pictures of our children and their families as they watched conference in Idaho, Utah and California.  We sent them photos of us watching from Belize.  
Renee and family in Utah
(from left) Rachel, Janelle, Lisa, Sam and families in Idaho
Below: Kristine and family in California. Elder Magnusson and I in Belize
 Above are the two branches watching conference in the Belize City chapel in English and cultural hall in Spanish.

This picture was taken in-between conference sessions with the missionaries and a couple of members.  

We learned that Belizeans take the meaning of Easter seriously.  I should have figured something was going on when we stopped by the market Thursday afternoon to pick up some watermelon.  It seemed as though all of Belize City was shopping for food at Publics Supermarket.  Their grocery baskets were filled to the brim and every check-out register had long lines. 

The next day, Friday, as we drove in town we noticed that the streets were empty and stores closed. Completely, even the gas stations. The busy boulevard below is usually teeming with pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles, and shoppers, all hours. We're told it's against the law in Belize to do business on Good Friday, out of respect for Jesus' death.

As we were telling the Flakes about our experience on Good Friday in Belize City, they described what they saw in the streets of Benque on Good Friday. Belizedestinations.com describes the sawdust covered streets and the Passion of Christ Parade the best:

The Passion of Christ parade is held on Good Friday every year, in Benque, Belize, on the border of Guatemala. From early morning, families start decorating the steps to the church and the streets with intricate designs, using colored sawdust. By afternoon, they are completed and people walk the streets to admire them, before Christ carrying the cross is reenacted on the sawdust covered streets.  To read about the whole experience, click here.
The Flakes took these pictures and sent them to us. I couldn't comprehend how the beautiful colors of sawdust were laid on the streets of Benque until they sent the second photo (right) and I saw that the colors were laid with stencils.

Teaching Yvette Young in front of her small, outdoor restaurant. Sister Young joined the church two years ago. She lives by faith, honoring the Sabbath Day by closing her business on Sundays. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Don't Miss General Conference!

We participated in another Seminary Super Saturday this past week.  This time the seminary students, their teachers, leaders, full-time missionaries, and senior missionaries from the Belize District (which covers the northeast part of the country) were involved.  The Rotary Club of Belize supplied the paint and supplies we needed to paint playground equipment at two different school playgrounds.

At St. Martins School...
...a mile away at Queens Square School.

We had over 50 youth participate.  If you take 50+ youth working for 2 hours each, that is over 100 hours of donated service time!
Our yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests identified us as volunteers serving our community. 

As we returned back to the Belize City chapel, we enjoyed lunch, complete with snow cones to refresh us after working in the hot sun.  Then, we gathered to talk about our service experience.  Fun activities, a bounce house, and karaoke completed Super Saturday!
Elders Adams and Magnusson got into the act and sang Johnny Cash's, "I Walk the Line" --karaoke style

We asked a member of the branch, Stuart Barton, to show us the location where the Belize City saints first met for Sunday services in the early 1980's, prior to the completion of their present-day chapel.  The house, located on the corner of Eve St. and Barack Rd. along the seawall, is showing its age.  
A younger Stuart, second from the left, stands next to the sign that was in front of the house then. An older Stuart, and equally old Elder Magnusson, stand in the same location.

This past week we were able to meet some new friends from Montana.  It was fun to get to know them and introduce them to Belize.  It won't be the last time we get together with the couple on the top row, right.  Our son is marrying their daughter next month!
As I complimented the lady's dress (bottom right photo) she noticed our missionary tags.  She said that she was also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visiting from Sacramento, California.  As we talked, I found out that we both grew up in the San Francisco Bay area as teenagers in the 1970's.   It's a small world, after all.

Every year during the week leading up to Easter, our church focuses on the life and Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The mormon.org youtube channel said this about the featured video clip #BECAUSEofHIM:

As you celebrate Easter this year, remember how Jesus Christ changed history that first Holy Week—from His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to His Crucifixion on Good Friday to His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. We invite you to find ways to be more like Jesus Christ this week by loving others, loving God, and following His example. #BECAUSEofHIM
You can also see the video by clicking here

Visit https://www.mormon.org/easter and learn more about Jesus during this Easter season.  The website invites us to follow the example and teachings of the Savior, and make the changes that will lead us to lasting joy and peace in our lives.  It is an honor for us to share our testimony of Jesus Christ with our brothers and sisters here in Belize.  

This coming Saturday and Easter Sunday is our worldwide church's General Conference, originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.  Thanks to modern technology we can all hear it. We eagerly anticipate hearing from President Russell M. Nelson.  You can read the post about when President Nelson was called to be God's prophet on the earth in January by clicking here.

Some fun facts about the Conference Center from mormonnewsroom.org 

The Conference Center has 21,000 seats
Millions of other people will watch and listen to the proceedings from overflow facilities on historic Temple Square, in Mormon chapels throughout the world, on television and radio, and from Internet and satellite communications into 190 countries, nations and territories.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a worldwide church and its members speak nearly 190 different languages. There are 1,500 translators that prepare each talk for the 700 interpreters who will read the talks in 94 non-English languages.
During the five conference sessions there are 350 interpreters located in the Conference Center and about 400 in their home countries reading the talks as they are given from the pulpit.

Everyone is invited to General Conference this weekend.  Click here to find out the times and options of listening/watching it via the Internet.  Another option is to go to our Belize City chapel or to any Mormon chapel in the world where it will be streamed in over the Internet or satellite, in fulfillment of prophesy:

"And it shall come to pass in the last days that...many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:3) 

"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." 
(Amos 3:7) 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Busses, Borders, and Temples

El viernes y sábado, fue un privilegio para nosotros una vez más viajar al hermoso Templo de Mérida México.
Ooops,  I forgot, we aren't in Mexico anymore.  I'm glad to be back in Belize where English is the official language. AND I'm glad I'm married to my own personal interpreter who speaks excellent Spanish.    

Like I was saying, on Friday and Saturday we were able to once again travel to the beautiful Mérida, Mexico Temple. We boarded one bus at 5:00 pm in Belize City to take us to the border, stopping along the way to pick up members in Orange Walk and Corozal and to exchange our money to pesos. After going through Customs and Immigration of both countries and walking several blocks over the bridge to Mexico...
...we boaded the Mexican bus at 10:30 pm for the six-hour drive through the Yucatan, arriving in Mérida at 5:30 am. There was even an hour stop at a roadside diner at 2:00 am! 

You can read more details about about our first experience of traveling to the Mérida Temple in November by clicking here.  

Here is an excerpt from the post:  

We traveled 650 miles round trip which took us 24 hours of traveling time. We left our house on Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm.  We returned home Saturday night at 10:00 pm.  That is 30 hours that we were gone.  During that 30 hours we were either on a bus (trying to sleep), going through immigration, transferring buses between Belize and Mexico, eating at a roadside diner at 2:00 a.m., buying ice cream from a street vendor in Mérida and, of course, we were 6 hours in the temple.

I will say that there was one thing we did different this time.   We were able walk to a Burger King that is located close to the temple and have a Whopper and fries for lunch!  
As we walked to the Burger King, my thoughts went to my oldest brother, Craig.  He served in the México Veracruz Mission as a young missionary from 1973-1975.  He was assigned to work in the city of Mérida for a time.  I pondered that maybe I was walking on some of the same streets that he had walked those many years ago.   
Elder Craig Harris  (far right) as a missionary in Mexico 

As we passed this etching on the sidewalk, I snapped a picture so I could send it to Craig to let him know I was thinking of him.  
Members of the Orange Walk Branch pause in the plaza in Mérida
The temple grounds are beautiful in the tropical Yucatan Peninsula.  


So why do we go to the tempe? Mormon.org explains what the purpose of temples is:

Holy temples are as necessary today as they were anciently when they served as sacred locations to make covenants, perform holy ordinances, and to be taught by God. Today in over 140 temples worldwide, Mormons do those same things. In these temples, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find opportunities for peaceful reflection and for learning more about God’s plan of happiness for His children. Through the power of the priesthood, members are married for time and eternity and perform proxy baptisms for their ancestors who died without enjoying the blessings of this saving ordinance.  
You can also see the above video and read more about Mormon temples by clicking here  

It was transfer week for the mission and once again we were able to help with the process of welcoming the missionaries arriving from El Salvador, and helping transport the missionaries to the airport who were departing to El Salvador after their service here. It is quite the juggling act, but things always work out.  

After a home-cooked meal at our house, Sisters Kendall and Ashby, who were waiting for their new companions, helped me cut out nativity sets that I like to give to children who I come in contact with.  

We're excited that Elders Wright and Tupou are re-opening the area of San Pedro for missionary work. They're at the wharf waiting for the water taxi for their trip over to the island.

The Belize City District gathers for district meeting...
(from left to right: Elders Eves, Jenks, Tupou, Wright, Barlow, Reyes, Magnusson)

... with Sisters Kendall and Arteaga joining the meeting via Skype, since they live two hours north.

It's not unusual to have vacationing visitors attending Sunday services at church. Today, a large extended family from Logan, UT, joined us.
Have you ever wondered how members of our church--or non-member visitors--can find the closest church building on a Sunday and know what time services begin?  You go to:  mormon.org/worship in your browser.  Then, type in your address in the address box to the right.  Then click onto LOCATE.  It will work for any address in the world.  Try it with your address!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Special Visitor Comes to Belize

Since moving to Belize, I am reminded that God loves and cares about all his children wherever they live in the world.  He cares about His children in our hometown of Duarte, California, in Argentina, Oregon, and Chile where our children served their missions, in Holland where my ancestors came from, and also His children here in Belize. As a matter of fact, He cares for all His children all over the world.

As I think about God's love for all of us, I know He has a plan to reach out to everyone. We learn on lds.org  that during Christ’s mortal ministry, He called the Seventy, instructed them in a manner similar to the Twelve Apostles, and sent them out “before his face,” explaining that those who heard their voices would hear His voice (see Luke 10).

This past week, we heard His voice through his servant Elder Gerrit Gong, of the Presidency of the Seventy, as he came to Belize as a part of his Central America visit.  He was accompanied by Elder Jorge Zeballos, also of the Seventy, President Eric Adams, Mission President, and their wives. They spoke to a special gathering of Belizean saints gathered in the Belize City chapel on Thursday night, and then to all the missionaries of the country on Friday.

The Belizean saints gathered from across the country, with some traveling up to 2 1/2  hours by bus to attend.
 Members enjoyed meeting Elder and Sister Gong
 Elder and Sister Gong with the Grey family from Corozal
Elder and Sister Zeballos greeting the Gomez family from Orange Walk
Meeting on the Ambergris Caye with San Pedro Branch President Williams (red shirt) and his family. 
 Missionaries gathered for breakfast before the arrival of Elder Gong and Elder Zeballos on Friday morning.
Elder Gong (second row, right) and Elder Zeballos (second row, left) with all the missionaries serving in Belize.

As missionaries, we have the opportunity to gain new friends. When we can reunite old friends who haven't seen each other in a long time, it's even better. Joel Muñoz, president of the Belize City Branch and of former professional fame in a Belizean band, teamed up with Lewis Chan, an accomplished musician on the saxophone, to play together in our house following dinner. What a treat it was for us!

Seminary Super Saturday involved 60 church members, including Seminary students, their teachers, leaders, full-time missionaries, senior missionaries and the mayor of San Ignacio. We painted concrete benches and the gazebo in one of the city parks.
One of the youth said "This is the first time I have ever done a service project.  I've never done anything like this before.  It feels good."
After our service project we all gathered at the San Ignacio chapel where we did some Seminary activities, played sport games, and sang karaoke.
We love working with the other senior missionary couples -- Elder and Sister Adams and Elder and Sister Flake.
The Adams--over Seminaries and Institute in Belize--along with the local leadership of Sister Kay and the other Seminary teachers of the Cayo district did a marvelous job coordinating everything.   Elder Adams noted, "We appreciate the great cooperation of everyone that came. It could not have happened without them."

On Sunday we attended the San Pedro Branch. It is interesting to travel there on the water taxi for the hour and a half trip, and ponder the majesty of Heavenly Father's creations.
Sister Alden of San Pedro and I were able to be with the Primary children as we taught them to follow the example of Jesus.
While in Primary, I loved teaching the children the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" by Sally DeFord.  The words of the song carry a powerful message not only for children, but to all of us.

If the Savior Stood Beside Me 
by Sally DeFord
If the Savior stood beside me,
would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments,
and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example?
Would I live more righteously
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

2. If the Savior stood beside me,
would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind
if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel?
Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

3. He is always near me,
though I do not see Him there,
And because He loves me dearly,
I am in His watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person
that I know I’d like to be
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me.
You can listen to the music by clicking here

It's always a good day when we can pick up some fresh vegetables...