Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Missionary Hop!

On Saturday we attended the Seminary Graduation celebration.  Youth from the whole country of Belize gathered in the Belize City chapel to honor the seminary graduates, enjoy lunch, dance, and have fun.  
Hmm... it had been some time since we'd done the Bunny Hop... but it came back pretty fast: hop, hop, hop!

But then, not all missionary work is so glamorous...
As we depart Belize City on the water taxi for church in San Pedro, fishermen in the harbor throw their nets for shrimp.  We're reminded of the Lord seeing "Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him." (Matt. 4:18-20)  We all can follow Him.
Children in this video were asked to tell  the story of Jesus calling his Apostles to be “fishers of men”.
You can also see the video by clicking here
At San Pedro Branch, Morgan and Wyatt Ross contribute in their Sunday School lesson with their friend who is now attending church. Their mother and teacher, Natalie Ross, looks on.
With Henry Williams, the branch president, on our walk back to the water taxi following church.
As we have our weekly district meetings, the makeup of the missionaries in attendance changes.  On Wednesday we met with Elders Reyes, Richardson, and Phelps at the service center.  Elder Phelps is from the Cayo District and was on exchanges with Elder Eves.  The other missionaries in our district joined our meeting over Skype from San Pedro and Corozal.  
The beautiful Belizean sky on our way to an appointment in Corozal.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Happy (Mission) Anniversary!

Happy one year anniversary to us!  A year ago on July 3rd we entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  A week later we arrived in Belize.  Today, we took a picture to celebrate our one-year mission anniversary.
Having completed a year in the country, we needed to go to Belmopan, the capital of Belize, to renew residence documents at police headquarters. The main parliamentary building in the foreground is flanked by other government offices. 
 I'm holding my yellow umbrella in front of police headquarters. Elder Magnusson is standing under a....ahh, not sure what it is...

The sister missionaries requested a visit to the Altun Ha ruins on their preparation day. While we've posted photos on several previous visits here, we hadn't noticed this particular carved face before that the sisters are sitting next to.   It is located behind one of the tall ruins.  

Sister Arteaga was brave and got the courage to hold this baby crocodile.  

On our way to visit members on Caye Caulker on Tuesday, the water taxi stopped to drop off a passenger at this house on this in-the-middle-of-the-Carribbean Sea-dot of land. The land is no bigger than what is shown here. At least they don't have any problems with the neighbors.... 
Automobiles are not allowed on Caye Caulker island, just golf carts and bicycles.  The bikes got us around just fine.  
I couldn't resist taking a picture of  these sea grapes that were growing along the Caye Caulker shore. 
We had our district meeting on Wednesday which happened to be July 4th.  As we picked up Elders Tupou and Wright from the water taxi , we were greeted with a cheerful, "Happy 4th of July."  What's interesting about these elders is that they are citizens of New Zealand and Canada, respectively.  It was thoughtful of them to wish us, citizens from the United States, a happy 4th of July!  
The Belize City district elders, with sisters tuning in via Skype, are a hardworking, motivated, enthusiastic group.

Several weeks ago we showed the beginning of the septic tank and bathroom the elders quorum is adding to this church member's house. George Perteau, an elder in Belize City Branch and a seasoned mason, donates time on this project. He graciously allowed Elder Magnusson to help him, with tutoring of course!
The youth camp steering committee practices with Elder Adams some of the events they will lead at their camps in August.
After our planning meeting, we enjoyed typical chicken, rice and beans, potato salad, and fried plantain for lunch. Branch President Lemus was very happy that I offered him my chicken foot to eat!

After a two-hour drive, the Corozal chapel was our destination for church today. We park on the basketball court in the back. 
During Relief Society I enjoyed studying the General Conference talk by Elder Larry Y. Wilson titled "Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide".    Elder Wilson talked about getting answers to prayers by telling a story that took place during the Korean War.   
Ensign Frank Blair served on a troop transport ship stationed in Japan.  The ship wasn’t large enough to have a formal chaplain, so the captain asked Brother Blair to be the ship’s informal chaplain, having observed that the young man was a person of faith and principle, highly respected by the whole crew.

Ensign Blair wrote: “Our ship was caught in a huge typhoon. The waves were about 45 feet  high. I was on watch … during which time one of our three engines stopped working and a crack in the centerline of the ship was reported. We had two remaining engines, one of which was only functioning at half power. We were in serious trouble.".....

...The captain knocked on Ensign Blair's door. He asked, “Would you please pray for this ship?” Of course, Ensign Blair agreed to do so.

At that point, Ensign Blair could have simply prayed, “Heavenly Father, please bless our ship and keep us safe,” and then gone to bed. Instead, he prayed to know if there was something he could do to help ensure the safety of the ship. In response to Brother Blair’s prayer, the Holy Ghost prompted him to go to the bridge, speak with the captain, and learn more. He found that the captain was trying to determine how fast to run the ship’s remaining engines. Ensign Blair returned to his cabin to pray again.

Elder Blair's prayer taught me that as we pray,  we ought to be seeking more proactive ways of receiving the Lord’s help and committing to act according to the Spirit’s guidance.  He prayed, “What can I do to help address the problem with the engines?”

In response, the Holy Ghost whispered that he needed to walk around the ship and observe to gather more information. He again returned to the captain and asked for permission to walk around the deck. Then, with a lifeline tied around his waist, he went out into the storm.....

You can read the rest of the story about how Ensign Blair's prayers were answered, by clicking here.   
*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Some friends of ours who live outside the city dug a well on their land that, in addition to rain water, supplies all their needs. When asked if it ever goes dry, they answered, "Never; the water is endless. The well always has water." 
Their words are reminiscent of Jesus' message to the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well: "The water that I shall give shall be...a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Corozal, Conference, and Camp

Corozal is the most northern town in Belize, along the Mexico border and the coast. We were there for a day and night to conduct mission business, and stayed in a cabaña at the Tilt-Ta-Dock Resort. It was a breezy day.
All the missionaries in the country enjoy meeting together every six weeks for Zone Conference.  Right now we have 19 missionaries and three senior couples serving in Belize.  President and Sister Adams (front row, red tie) came from mission headquarters in El Salvador to interview the missionaries and to train us.
The two zone leaders, Elder Magnusson, and Elder Flake, and President and Sister Adams taught us, and later districts met in groups to practice their teaching.   President and Sister Adams were presented with a card signed by all their missionaries recognizing their two years of service.
I was in charge of the meals for zone conference this time. Everyone was excited over the tacos for lunch.  They were especially happy that there was enough so they could go back for seconds...and thirds!
Sisters Arteaga and Kruyer in our district are dedicated, strong teachers of the gospel.  They also enjoy a home cooked meal every once in a while, complete with watermelon, my favorite!  
As we travel to the different branches each Sunday, it's wonderful to see the youth leaders signing up their peers for youth camp that will be held in August.
The picture on the left popped up on my Facebook wall stating that it was a memory from June 30, 2016.  The caption read:  "It's someone's last day of work.  #retirementherewecome".  Today I say, "What a difference two years makes."  
Prophets spoke for God anciently. Teaching the people of Belize that God has a prophet on Earth today is one of our principal reasons for being on our mission.
You can also see the video by clicking here
You have heard of prophets in the Bible, and you may have heard of modern-day prophets too. Who are they? What is their purpose? 

God told Noah to build an ark before the flood came. He did, and the family of Noah was saved. God gave Moses 10 commandments to teach to the people. Those who follow the commandments were blessed. Noah, Moses, and other prophets found in the Bible were called by God to speak for Him. When they did, it was as if God was speaking.

Mormons believe God still speaks to us, His children, through prophets. Just like prophets found in the Bible and The Book of Mormon, additional scripture, today’s prophet is a witness of Jesus Christ. He testifies of the Savior’s divinity and teaches His gospel. He receives direction from God and often offers warnings in order to prepare us for what is to come.

So who are these modern prophets?  Watch the video to learn more.....

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Friends and Watermelon!

The Santoya's invited us to the new house Moses is building in Carmelita, a village outside of Orange Walk. Moses is a returned missionary who served in England. He and Clara are establishing a celestial home.
Harold and Elena Smith are pioneers of the church in leadership in Belize, and have lived a most amazing life in fishing, entrepreneurship, and industry, both in Belize and the U.S.
We were honored to be invited to the retirement celebration of Rodrick Cardinez, principal of renowned Edward P. Yorke High School in Belize City. Rodrick is retiring after 37 years in education, just as Elder Magnusson did two years ago.
Publics supermarket has been our preferred spot for grocery shopping. We met store manager Rajesh Verma (lower left) several months ago while searching for our favorite cookies. While we never found our cookies (and probably really don't need them), we did find a new friend in Rajesh.  With 11 years as manager, he puts his customers and staff (lower right) first. Publics is known for its variety of fresh produce--we get at least two watermelons and two pineapples a week!
Speaking of watermelon, we noticed a city crew working our street, clearing the sides of debris and weeds.  Returning home several hours later, their work was done, and the streets were well groomed.  My Publics watermelon was in the fridge, so I offered the crew some cold, sliced watermelon and thanked them for their hard work to beautify our neighborhood. They were very appreciative.
This song reminds us of Jesus’ many miracles during His life on earth as well as His miracles in each of our lives today through His Atonement.  This is a message that I am glad to share with my brothers and sisters here in Belize.  
You can also see the video by clicking here
“The Miracle”
by Shawna Belt Edwards
Jesus walked upon the water
He stilled the storm and calmed the angry sea,
With His hands He healed the leper,
He made the lame to walk the blind to see.
He fed a thousand people with a loaf or two of bread.
And when the ruler’s daughter died,
He raised her form the dead.

Jesus is a God of miracles,
Nothing is at all impossible to Him,
But I know this:
Of all his miracles, the most incredible must be the miracle that rescues me!

Jesus bled and died to save me,
A price that I could never pay alone,
When he rose again he gave me,
The greatest gift the world has ever known!

Yes I can be forgiven every time I repent
And someday He will lift me up to lift with him again.

Jesus is a God of miracles.
Nothing is at all impossible to Him, but I know this;
Of all his miracles the most incredible must be the miracle that rescues me!

The miracle that rescues you and me!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!  Although both of our fathers have completed their earthly missions, they will continue being our fathers through eternity, which gives Elder Magnusson and I great peace. 

 I am thankful that Elder Magnusson is the father of our children AND my eternal companion.  
Enjoy this father's day video produced by our church. We are grateful for the reminder that we have a loving Heavenly Father who cares for each one of us.
You can also see the video by clicking here
We were in Spanish Lookout this week checking out the location for our church's youth camps to be held in August. The Mennonites established and maintain a lovely community park and huge pavilion where the youth will set up their tents (out of the rain!)
We are familiar with Golden Corral restaurant in Utah. Didn't know we'd see one right here in Spanish Lookout, Cayo District as we drove home from checking out the camp.  It's even a buffet like the one in Utah.
Early this week, our mission president conducted training for the missionary leaders originating from El Salvador and transmitted to us in Belize City. This technology truly is an invention to further the Lord's work in these latter days.
I came across this map on the church's lds.org youth website. It reminds us that Christ's message, missionaries, and ministry is the same worldwide.  In the Church's 2017 Statistical Report, it was reported that there are 421 mission worldwide. We are honored to be serving in the El Salvador/San Salvador West/Belize Mission in the Central American and the Caribbean region.  
I found on this Wikipedia website the following list of how many missions there are in each region of the world:

   31  in Africa
   22 in Aisa
   35 in Brazil
   7 in Canada
   26 in Central America and the Caribbean
   43 in Europe and Russia
   34 in Mexico
   18 in Oceania
   22 in the Philippines
   59 in South America
   125 in the United States

Wikipedia also mentioned:  On February 1, 2018, the LDS Church announced boundary changes that will close 19 missions and open up 5 new missions, effective July 1, 2018. This will make 407 missions of the church.

A highlight of our week was when Elder and Sister Flake and their daughter's family joined us for lunch after they flew in from the States on Friday. We were so happy to meet their family and we know their grandchildren will have a memorable time with their grandparents this week.
Our loving Father in Heaven has beautified His earth--and especially His Belize--in ways we've never seen before! 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Planes, Pioneers, and Foundations

Today we needed to arrive in San Pedro at an earlier time than the water taxi could get us there.  There were only four seats in this small plane. It's just a 20 minute flight compared to our usual hour and a half boat ride. 
(Left) Leaving Belize City on this clear Sunday morning, ... (right) arriving in San Pedro. 

The San Pedro Branch Presidency. Front left to right: Albert Lammey, 1st counselor, President Henry Williams, 2nd counselor Pablo Valerio, clerk Frank Ross
It's always fun to visit Primary. The missionaries talked about baptism and joined in the coloring activity.
Elders Lukow and Richardson (left) serve faithfully in Orange Walk. Newly called zone leader Elder Reyes (right) joins Elder Eves in strengthening the work in Belize City.
Missionaries arrived in Belize in 1980. Soon thereafter, Olegario and Irene Leiva were baptized. They found the land for the chapel in Orange Walk, and assisted in its construction. Several of their children and grandchildren have served full-time missions. These Belizean church pioneers continue to find joy in doing temple work.
Wallace Belgrave, a retired builder in Belize City, is another pioneer of the church. He is shoring up his house built in the 1930's with a cement block foundation. In like manner, the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the solid foundation for peaceable living and true happiness in our lives.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Another Week in the Mission

Special visitors from Guatemala came this week to conduct training with Belize church leaders. Elder and Sister McLemore also joined the Belize City missionaries for their weekly district meeting.
As happens each Wednesday, we counseled together in district meeting,  joined by the sisters via Skype from Corozal.  The missionaries' maturity in leadership, and understanding of teaching principles always impress us.  
Later, the McLemores, Brother Dávila also from Guatemala, and Frank and Natalie Ross from San Pedro island joined us for lunch.
The young men and young women youth leaders who are planning their respective camps this year gathered and practiced some of the activities they will lead at camp. 
I talked to two of the young men who attended the meeting.  As I asked their names, they told me George and Ivan.  I immediately thought of the wonderful men in Elder Magnusson's life: his father - George Magnusson and his grandfather - Ivan Magnusson.  I asked each of the boys how they got their names.  George (upper right) said he was named after his grandfather who died on the day he was born.  
Ivan (bottom left) said he was named after a family friend.  Elder Magnusson is pictured with this grandparents,  Ivan and Cula. (bottom right)

Speaking of names, we know that as we are baptized (like the young boy who was baptized this week below), we take upon ourselves the name of Christ.
 "I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives."  Mosiah 5:8  

On Friday night we enjoyed watching the "Be One" Celebration.  My favorite part of the evening was watching the Bonner Family sing a Medley of Primary songs.  
You can also see the video by clicking here 
Perhaps what we enjoy the most is meeting new friends. Ismael from Corozal, has been a member of the church for many years and loves to sail.
Leaving Ismael's house, we thought of how Jesus said He would separate the sheep from the goats.  We steered clear of the goat!  See Matthew 25:31-33