San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy Independence Day, Belize

Last night the branches in Belize City held a joint Independence Day Flag Raising on the front lawn at the church. The youth directed it, gave talks on patriotism and the history of Belize with a slide show; we sang the National Anthem, and there was a guest government dignitary that spoke at the end, followed by refreshments.  A great time was held by all. About 50 were in attendance.

"This evening we will proudly raise our beloved Belizean flag...

As we think about the serious problems in our society...we know that there is still hope for us, the youth of Belize, to rise above all the problems that surround us.  Even as this flag will rise into the dark night sky, we also can raise above these destructive forces.  But we must hold onto the principles of peace and goodwill, honesty, hard work, moral cleanness, integrity of character, and respect of God and godly things.   We must hold onto our families.  We must hold onto the teachings of Jesus Christ..."

 Here the youth are raising the flag to the Belizean National Anthem
The ceremony was held on the front lawn of the church. Those in attendance were well informed.

The final speaker for the evening was Mrs. Pauline Wade, International Financial Manager, Offshore Dept., Cititrust International.  
Belize has been an independent country for just 36 years  
September 21, 1982 - September 21, 2017.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Up, Up, and Away Once Again

One of the highlights of each week is when we have our District Training Meeting with the missionaries serving in the Belize City District.  This week during our meeting the Elders serving in San Pedro  joined us in person and the sisters serving in Corozal joined us via Skype.  This is a picture of us singing the closing hymn, "We are All Enlisted".
You can watch the video below and hear the missionaries' angelic singing.
video
Elder Kaufusi has been serving with us in Belize City since we arrived here 2 1/2 months ago.  He along with his companion, Elder Merida, have been great trainers for us as we have started our mission.  Elder Kaufusi's 2 years of missionary service will be coming to an end next week.  We were happy to document his time here with this photo.
 Pictured:  Elder Magnusson, Elder Kaufusi, and Elder Contreras

We flew to San Pedro this Sunday to attend church, speak in the Sunday service, and visit with the members. This 8-passenger plane was smaller than the last one we took.  
Whew!...Glad this plane had a pilot and a co-pilot!

San Pedro is an island with narrow streets; standard automobiles just don't fit. Scooters, golf carts, bikes, and walking are what the locals and tourists use the most to get around. 
The branch president (below) and Elder Magnusson went to make a visit...Elder Magnusson walked.
Some things remind us of home as we travel around. This store reminded us of our dear friend Jerry from our hometown of Duarte, CA.
Sis. Magnusson will never get tired of the beautiful clouds over Belize.  She took this picture while we were waiting for our flight on Sunday morning.
As we have taught our lessons this week, we have shared our testimony about prophets.  We taught that there is a prophet on the earth today to guide us,  just like the prophets of old.  (Moses, Noah, Abraham, etc)

Jesus Christ explained that His Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets..."  (see Ephesians 2:19-20).  His restored Gospel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  We look forward to hearing  him and our other church leaders as they speak to us in General Conference the first weekend in October.
You can also see the video by clicking here

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Altun Ha

This week we visited Altun Ha, the ancient Maya city located about an hour north of Belize City and six miles inland from the Caribbean Sea. Excavation began in 1963. These two groups of pyramids and temples that composed the city center were built and occupied from B.C. 900 to A.D. 1000. What happened to this ancient people remains a mystery, or maybe not...
The two missionaries from Belize City and Elder and Sister Flake joined us for this adventure.
Fortunately, there's a stairway with a  handrail behind one of the pyramids, probably not built by the Maya!
This was our breathtaking view once we reached the top of the stairs. 
The scenes of Altun Ha are serene, almost sacred, as if the ancient inhabitants wish us to know who they are.
Below, is the first plaza, with a second plaza of structures in the foreground.
Kathleen and Sister Flake stand in front of a yet-to-be excavated temple, still covered with a thousand years of dirt and sod. The steps are visible behind Kathleen...
 ...while opposite--on the other side of the plaza--is the now excavated, mirror-image temple it faces.
 Note the jester face carved into the stone behind and above Kathleen.  Maybe he's laughing at our jungle hats?
Vines and multiple roots overtake this tree, just as time has overtaken the Altun Ha temple behind the tree, to the right.  Who really were these intelligent, religious, temple-building ancient inhabitants of Central America? 
Fortunately, we have the record of their forebearers, the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ.  Clues to what may have happened to this people, and why, are contained in the Book of Mormon.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Busy Week in the Mission

The first part of last week we traveled to Corozal so Elder Magnusson could set apart this missionary before he departed for his mission to Honduras.  His father was one of the first members from Belize to serve a mission.  This young elder will be serving in the same mission that his father served in many years ago.     
When we were in Corozal and Orange Walk this week, we used our pickup truck to move furniture between missionary apartments.  Thankfully we were able to have some branch members to help us move the heavy furniture.  
Elder Magnusson went back to school! Our church's Humanitarian Program donated the funds to have library bookshelves constructed by the Belizean Mennonites for the St. Matthews Government Elementary School. Here, the elated school principal Michelle Gordon meets Paul Woods (center), church temporal affairs administrator in Belize, René Gomez (right), church public affairs director and Elder Magnusson (left) first counselor in the El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission presidency.
As part of the church's donation to the school, students also received kits of school supplies.

The Mennonites are known as woodworking craftsmen in Belize; they discounted their furniture for this donation. 
These beautifully stained, hardwood bookcases will serve St. Matthews Government school for many years.
This wasn't the first collaboration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the Mennonite community. Desks on the left are what the students have had. New, church-purchased and Mennonite-built desks on the right are sturdier and contribute to a better learning environment for Belizean youngsters.
On Saturday, we had a zone conference with all the missionaries serving in Belize.  President Adams, the assistants, zone leaders, and sister training leaders taught us well.
 The missionaries practiced with each other what they learned in their training.
We were in charge of feeding the missionaries at the end of zone conference.  Sister Flake made yummy homemade frosted sugar cookies that were a big hit. The chips of preference?-- Cheetos, of course!
Tonight we attended a baptism.  One of Elder Magnusson's first teaching visits when we arrived in Belize City was with this brother.
When our children served their missions, we had a missionary board set up in our kitchen that helped us think about them and their service in their missions.  It was fun to receive an email with this picture of our missionary board Lisa made for us that is in Rachel and Lisa's home  Salt Lake City.  
We are watching and praying for all those who are affected by the natural disasters that are happening lately.  We felt the earthquake that occurred on Wednesday in Mexico 500 miles away. We are monitoring the many hurricanes that are forming in the Caribbean.  As far as we can tell, none of the new hurricanes will affect Belize.  

We are proud of our church's involvement through our humanitarian outreach and the Helping Hands program.   This video talks about how the Mormon Helping Hands lifted hearts in wind-damaged South Texas.  
You can also see the video by clicking here.

Click here to read another article about 11,000 Mormon volunteers who worked this weekend to help save Texas homes from being destroyed by mold from the hurricane flooding.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Laboring in the Mission on Labor Day

With Elder Magnusson's career in education, the fall season holds a special place in our hearts.  We have been impressed as we've watched the students walk to school as they begin their new school year.  
On Tuesday, we visited Corozal to do a branch home evening with the missionaries, members, and their guests.  We had a lesson on how to have a gospel-centered home, played a game, and of course, had delicious refreshments.   
Before our home evening activity, we met with some people with the sister missionaries.  I was impressed with this young man who was cutting his lawn with a machete when we pulled up.  (feel free to show this picture to anyone who complains about having to mow their law with a lawn mower.) 
We talked with this young man about the blessings of attending seminary.  We shared our favorite scripture that we learned in seminary.  Mine is Heleman 5:12  

12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

We also met with this Guatemalan sister who is being taught by the missionaries.  As we walked up, I noticed her lovely basil plant among her other garden delights.  On our way out I mentioned her lovely basil.  She brought me over to another plant that was going to seed and she gave me some seeds to plant myself.  
As we are out and about we are able to talk to many people and invite them to hear our gospel message.  Many are happy to accept our invitation.  When we ask them for their address so we can visit them,  they tell us the general area where we can find their house because they don't have house numbers and street names aren't posted.  Thank goodness they give us their phone number so that when we get to the area, we can call them and they meet us on the street!  That's what happened as we met with the family in this back house, upstairs.
The mother was happy to hear our message about Christ's apostles and prophets.  We discussed that God reveals His will to His prophets; such as Moses and Abraham.  (see Amos 3:7)  How Christ set up His ministry when He was on the earth.  (see Matt 10:1-10) And after Christ's death and the death of the apostles, there was the great apostasy.  (see Amos 8:11-12)  

True to the Faith explains the Great Apostasy:

During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches were established, but they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Parts of the holy scriptures were corrupted or lost, and no one had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or perform other priesthood ordinances.

We then explained that this apostasy lasted until Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and initiated the restoration of the fulness of the gospel as it is explained in the video below:
You can also see the video by clicking here.
This is explained on this mormon.org site.  

We invited her to pray to know if these thing that we taught were true.  She can know these things for herself.  See John 14:26  We look forward to teaching the family again.

On Sunday, following District Conference in San Ignacio, we gathered with the missionaries at Elder and Sister Flake's home for delicious lunch.
When we saw this on our walk one morning we were reminded of the Primary song with the first line that goes like this:  🎶 The wise man built his house upon a rock... 🎶
See Matt 7:24-27
24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

What's a weekly mission post without a hurricane update?  This week we are keeping our eye on Hurricane Irma.
It is good news for us that Belize was not mentioned.  We'll be praying for those areas that will be  effected by Hurricane Irma.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Remember Lot's Wife

As missionaries we have the opportunity to discuss different teachings from the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our brothers and sisters here in Belize.  One of Christ's teachings we recently discussed with a family is forgiveness.  

As our discussion progressed, we paused and viewed this video below by Elder Holland, one of the Apostles.  As we listened to the video, we were reminded to "remember Lot's wife".  

"There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist."

I invite you to listen to this 6 minute video and remember Lot's wife.  
You can see the above video by clicking here 
You can also see the whole talk given at BYU on their webpage by clicking here.

Remember Lot's Wife
by Jeffery R. Holland
Jan. 13, 2009 • Devotional, Brigham Young University

As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen the second-shortest verse in all of holy scripture. It is Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said, “look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).

With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town, but just in the nick of time. The scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak the morning following their escape:

The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;  And he overthrew those cities. [Genesis 19:24–25]

With the Lord’s counsel “look not behind thee” ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back.”

It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. It isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future.

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. We remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. She thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind.

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!

And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come.”

Thank you, Elder Holland, for the reminder to ask God to "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors".   Matthew 6:12

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Harvey and Mission Update

As you recall from our post last Monday,  tropical storm Harvey was predicted to pass through Belize on Tuesday evening with winds up to 60 mph.  We were relieved that the prediction didn't come to pass.  I was happy to take this picture of the sunset from our home Tuesday evening.  As you can see, Tuesday was peaceful in Belize City.
A couple of days later we were all alarmed to hear of predicted devastation in Texas from tropical storm Harvey.

I am grateful for our church's response to this crisis.   I got this information off of our Church's Newsroom webpage.  
  
“...We received a call from our headquarters, and they have asked us if we would put together some loads to go down and actually pre-position some of these supplies in that area,” said John Hopkins, manager of the Bishops’ Central Storehouse.  "These relief efforts are intended to help any who may need it, not just members of the LDS faith..."
You can also read more and see the above video by clicking here.  

We are praying for all those affected by this catastrophe.

At the Belize City District Conference this weekend, the choir's singing was inspiring and powerful.
We got together Sunday in our apartment for lunch with mission President and Sister Adams, Elder and Sister Flake, and Elder and Sister Adams.
Scott and Elder Flake are counselors to President Adams.
Paul Woods, here with his lovely family at church, works closely with Scott.  President and Sister Adams are on the right.
We continue to enjoy working with the missionaries, members, and our neighbors here in Belize.  We are blessed with health, strength, and safety as we work with and visit our brothers and sisters in Belize.