San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

Sunday, February 18, 2018

An Apostle Gives Counsel to Belize

Belize was part of the Central America area conference, that was broadcast to the entire region.  Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presided.  In Belize, members gathered in 5 chapels equipped with satellite receivers.

We attended in the Orange Walk chapel, where also the Corozal saints traveled south 45 minutes to attend. Speakers were Elder Cook, Elder Kevin Duncan, Elder Adrian Ochoa, Sister Sharon Eubank, and Elder Craig Christiansen. We were truly strengthened by their messages.  
Afterwards we gathered outside for a photo of the Orange Walk and Corozal Branches.  
 With the Orange Walk Branch Presidency: President Nefi Gomez (center), 1st counselor William Stamp (left), 2nd counselor Antonio Novelo (right)
The Corozal Saints boarding the bus for their return trip.  
Last Monday for preparation day, we went with the Belize City Elders to Altun Ha to introduce them to this ancient city of the Maya.
We're in a season right now with unpredictable weather. We left our umbrellas in the car, unsuspecting...the inevitable? While visiting a friend, fierce wind with a torrential downpour erupted, almost blowing their tarp and Elder Magnusson away.  
This past week we were saddened to hear of the tragic school shooting in Florida.  This headline on LDSLiving.com caught my eye:

Family of LDS Teen Slain in Florida Shooting Releases Statement, Testifies of Eternal Families and God's Love

I was touched by what the family wrote in their statement: "...While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective. We are grateful for the knowledge that Alaina is a part of our eternal family and that we will reunite with her. This knowledge and unabiding faith in our Heavenly Father's plan gives us comfort during this difficult time."

Elder Cook gave a talk in the October 2011 General Conference titled, "The Songs they Can Not Sing".  Among other things he said:

...Sometimes tragedies are very personal. A son or daughter dies early in life or falls victim to a devastating disease. A loving parent’s life is taken because of a thoughtless act or accident. Whenever tragedy occurs, we mourn....We lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung.

Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are, Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?...

...While we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence.

His talk continues as he teaches the principle of eternal life which brought me comfort and peace.

Click here to read the whole message or watch it below.
Below is a new mormonmessage produced by the church.  The Mormon Channel says this about the movie:  

It is good to accept the fact that we simply don’t know all things. We can’t see everything, but our Heavenly Father can. We have been given the promise that if we will search for the truth, study it out in our minds, and ask with a sincere heart, it will be confirmed to us. 

Heavenly Father is pleased with us when we seek to discover truths. He loves teaching us line upon line, precept on precept. As we strive to learn and have faith in Him, He will bless us to see things as they really are.
You can also see the video by clicking here

Friday night's beautiful sunset from Belize City.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Belizean Strength

Charles Pratt is a friend who has suffered a major physical setback. Neighbors around him have rallied to help, showing the genuine love Belizeans have for each other.  As shown in the picture below, we enjoy reading and discussing the Book of Mormon with him.
As sacrament meeting ended, some children heard Sister Magnusson playing a Primary song as the postlude, and came up to stand by the piano to watch, listen, and sing along.  
Missionary leaders from Belize City (left) and Belmopan (right) gather in Belize's church administration center for training. They're examples of the unity and love companions have for one another.
It's fascinating to see that given rich soil and nutrients, coconuts actually sprout to create a new tree (left). Stuart Barton, a British soldier stationed in Belize 40 years ago, remained in Belize and put down his own roots. He found the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, has been sealed to his wife in the temple, and has sprouted to become a strength in the Belize City Branch.
Returning from home teaching visits.

When President Nelson was set apart as Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month, we became aware that he dedicated the nation of Belize for the preaching of the gospel in 1992.  When we asked some of the original members of the Belize City Branch about it, we learned that Harold Smith (pictured below) was at the dedication, as Belize district president.
This is what the February 1993 Ensign article had so say about the occasion:

On 7 December 1992, thirty-six members and leaders of the Church gathered in a secluded, grassy garden on a farm a few miles outside of Belize City, Belize. There, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the nation of Belize for the preaching of the gospel….

…In his prayer, Elder Nelson dedicated the land “for the purpose of bringing a rich harvest of choice souls unto thee, our beloved Father.” He prayed that “missionary work may abound,” and that local leaders “may be able to inculcate faith among their members, to perfect their lives to the point where they may be able to receive the sacred endowment offered in thy holy temples. We pray that thou wilt help us to raise up a generation of obedient and faithful souls who will be worthy of all the blessings that thou hast in store for thy faithful sons and daughters.”

Elder Nelson also invoked a blessing upon the country, its people, and its leaders. He prayed that the Church members would “respect their government of law and order and be good citizens of the land.” He blessed the nation’s resources—“the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the flowers, the fruits, the vegetables, the natural resources, that they may abound and provide the needs of the people of this choice land, and even have enough to share with people of the other nations of the earth.”

He also prayed that Belize may become a “haven of peace, a sanctuary of faith.”

For our last thought in this post, we'll highlight a new video that Mormon.org produced.  This is what mormon.org said about the video:  

What do Mormons believe? You likely have a lot more in common than you thought. Buckle up because you’re about to hear a lot of Mormon beliefs coming at you rapid fire.  Learn more at Mormon.org  https://www.mormon.org/beliefs

You can also see the video by clicking here.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

I was overcome with emotion as I did some preparation to teach the primary children in the Belize City Branch the song, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me".  I was brought back to the feeling of peace that I had as I sang the song as a child, 55 years ago.  My reaction reminds me of the power that music has.

My Heavenly Father Loves Me
Words and music: Clara W. McMaster
Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.
The pictures I used to teach the children the song were Illustrated by Audrey Schilaty  and you can access them by clicking here.
You can also see the video and learn the inspiration behind the song by clicking here.

This past Monday was transfer day.  Our mission is unusual because we have missionaries serving in two different countries -- El Salvador and Belize.  As the missionaries travel between the two countries, our home becomes the staging area on transfer day.  We said good-bye to Sister Proctor who returned to her home in Texas after successfully serving her mission for the past 18 months.
Elder West was happy to point the Key West sign on a painting in our home.  Elder West was transferred back to El Salvador to continue his missionary service there.

As we picked up new missionaries from El Salvador, this is a  favorite photo stop alongside the sea.
A memory of this photo shot for me was when I parked off the road to wait for the missionaries to arrive from the airport.  I sunk in a mud hole, and got stuck!  Fortunately, several kind passerbys came to the rescue and pushed the car out before Elder Magnusson arrived in the van.  The passerbys came and went so fast I wasn't able to get a picture of them.  I did manage to hand them some homemade granola bars I had brought to share with the arriving missionaries.   
My situation reminded me of a talk Elder Holland gave in General Conference in October 2008 entitled:  The Ministry of Angels

...I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods... Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind....

...My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.” Moroni 7:36 On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. .....the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us.....

In Orange Walk, it's sugar cane harvest season. Dozens of trucks line up to take their load of sugar cane to the processing plant. It's harvested by hand, or we should say, by machete.
Speaking of sugar, while in Orange Walk Elder Magnusson can't pass up going to his favorite spot to get a slushy, mixing the flavors of course. Here he introduces this important part of missionary work to the Elders.
For the past seven months, the main road through Belize City is undergoing road reconstruction. Potholes, dust, ruts, slushy mud, and slowdowns are the daily routine for this seemingly eternal venture.  The end result should be nice, and we are anxiously awaiting for the road construction to end.
Looking out from our front door to the south, and to the north is a welcome sunny day that dries us out after a week of rain.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Peace in Christ

We are approaching our 7th month in the mission, but who's counting?  I guess I am.  

I will have to say that my association with the children continues to be my favorite part of our mission.  Take yesterday, for example.  We were able to visit the Corozal Branch.  As I started to play the prelude music for the service these two boys came up and contently listened to the songs.  At the end of each song they gave their commentary on what they liked about the song.
During Sunday School class I shared with the little girl a picture book that my daughter, Lisa, made for me.  She was entertained the whole class time looking at the pictures of Jesus.  Here are four pages from the book.
Our Relief Society lesson was about the Sabbath day.  As I listened to the lesson, I thought of my own daughter, Janelle, teaching the same lesson in Idaho.  I appreciate that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly a world-wide church and that the lessons given in church each Sunday in Belize are the same lessons that are given in Idaho, or anywhere else in the world.

This short video has a great message about the Sabbath day.

On Saturday I was able to attend a Relief Society activity and learn how to cook a Garifuna dish made out of casava root.  It was fun to be with the sisters and learn more about their culture. They even tried to teach me some of their Creole phrases.   I don't know how successful they were.
The first picture is of the sisters peeling the casava root.  The last picture is the end product.  And the other pictures are of the process in-between.   The final dish tasted like a sweet, warm, nutmeg- flavored pudding.
We were able to attend the Young Women New Beginnings program on Sunday.  I enjoyed learning about the 2018 Young Men/Young Women theme:  Peace in Christ.  The scripture that goes along with the theme is found in Doctrine and Covenants 19:23:  “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.” 
Elder Magnusson spoke to the young women. I requested a photo with my "twin". The top photo is of the young women singing the theme song.  You can listen to the song below.  I especially love the words to the chorus.
“Peace in Christ" 
(2018 Mutual Theme Song)

There is peace in Christ
When we learn of him
Feel the love He felt for us
When he bore our sins
Listen to his words
Let them come alive
If we know Him as he is
There is peace in Christ

Chorus:
He gives us hope
When hope is gone
He gives us strength
When we can't go on
He gives us shelter
In the storms of life
When there's no peace on earth
There is peace in Christ

There is peace in Christ
When we walk with him
Through the streets of Galilee
To Jerusalem
Mend the broken hearts
Dry the tear-filled eyes
When we live the way He lived
There is peace in Christ

As I've said before, we love serving with our hard-working missionaries.  Elder Hoskinson has been out on his mission one year and has a hole in his shoe that was guaranteed to last the two years.
I'm standing with Elder Richardson.  His hometown is the same place where my roommate from my freshman year at college (43 years ago) lives.  He knows her and her family.  I took the picture to send to my roommate, Charlayne.

At a birthday party with the missionaries.

Monday, January 22, 2018

There is a Prophet on the Earth Today

Last Tuesday, we watched the message from the new First Presidency announcing important changes following the passing of church president, Thomas S. Monson.  We know that the Lord will always communicate to His children through His chosen servants.

The Old Testament tells why prophets of God were needed anciently: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."  (Amos 3:7)

The New Testament confirms why a prophet continues to be needed, even after Christ's coming: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets...Till we all come in the unity of the faith...That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." (Ephesians 4:11, 13, 14)

World conditions today make it even more imperative that we continue to receive God's direction through living prophets, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is God's prophet on the earth today.
We know from the New Testament that when Christ called his apostles He asked them to leave their nets and serve Him.  Likewise, when Elder Nelson was called to be an apostle in 1984 he was asked to leave his "nets" (career) as a renowned heart surgeon, and serve Him.

Matthew4:18-20  
18 ¶ And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

What better way to be introduced to President Nelson than through the eyes of a child.
You can also see the video by clicking here
There are many articles that have highlighted the life of President Nelson.  I like the one that was recently published in the Deseret News that is titled:  Who is President Russell M. Nelson? A man of heart, compassion and faith.  You can read the article by clicking here.   
Dr. Russell M. Nelson performs cardiac surgery.
Elder Russell M. Nelson shares a personal story to give encouragement for when we feel "weak in the heart."  He knows first hand about dealing with heartaches, as he has dealt with the death of his wife and a daughter.
You can also see the video by clicking here or read the script below

I was in a small airplane, and all of a sudden the engine on the wing caught fire. It exploded, and burning oil was poured all over the right side of the airplane. And we started to dive toward the earth. We were spinning down to our death.

Oh, this woman across the aisle, I just was so sorry for her. She was just absolutely, uncontrollably hysterical. And I was calm. I was totally calm even though I knew I was going down to my death. I was ready to meet my Maker.

We didn't crash. We didn't die. The spiral dive extinguished the flame. The pilot got control and started the other engine up. We made an emergency landing out in a field. But I thought, through that experience, if you've got faith, you can handle difficulties, knowing that with an eternal perspective, all will be well.

In Luke 21, the earth shall be in distress, "nations, with perplexity; the [seas] and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear." What we're seeing is a prediction that in these latter days, people will be afraid. Men's hearts are failing, and that includes women, because they forget their identity and their purpose.

The heartaches will come. I've lived through the death of a wife and the death of a daughter. I've seen the troubles that divorce brings. Children or grandchildren go astray. Disability, illness, injuries.

To the individual who is weak in the heart, fearful in the heart: Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life but in the next life. Don't demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.
I'm so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that allows me that kind of strength in these tumultuous times.

Here are some pictures of our life from the past couple of weeks.

On a walk we passed a local tortilla maker.  You can see that the corn is soaking in large black pots in preparation to be made into corn tortillas. Then they will be made on a grill above an open flame under the canopy roof.
The next two photos were taken on the same day.  One scene is from a walk in Belize and the other one is from a scene from a walk near our daughter's house in Salt Lake City.  Guess which photo is from Belize and which one is from Utah.  
In a house we visited, we noticed an unusual wall decoration. When I asked about it, the response was "Yeah, I killed and ate it before he killed and ate me."  Okay...
I want to highlight two other videos by President Oaks and President Erying to help get to know the two other members of the First Presidency.

I was touched by Elder Oak's teaching that we should  love everyone no matter our differences.  As I talk to people on the streets, I can honestly say that I love my brothers and sisters here in Belize.
You can also see the video by clicking here.

I remember when Elder Eyring gave this message about finding ways to recognize and remember God's kindness.  I have kept a journal since I was 20 years old and it has been a blessing to me to go back and see God's hand in my life.
You can also see the video by clicking here.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Never a Dull Moment...

....especially this week.  

Below are some of the news reports we were following Tuesday night after we felt the 7.8 magnitude earthquake off the Honduras coast just before 9:00 pm.  About 10:00 pm, we read of a tsunami warning for Belize.  We felt pretty safe because our house is raised about 12 feet off the ground.  I was also happy that we had several 5 gallon water jugs on hand here in our apartment.   When I saw that the water had receded at the San Pedro water taxi area (see picture below), I started to get a little nervous.  I was relieved when I read at 11:00 pm that the tsunami threat was lifted.  
When our daughter, Kristine, attended BYU Hawaii, she lived though a tsunami warning after the big Chilean earthquake in 2010. Janelle wrote about her sister's experience on our other blog, under the label of emergency preparedness.   Click here if you want to read about Kristine's tsunami experience.  

The next day, we had our zone conference here in Belize City with the 16 missionaries who are serving in the country of Belize.   It is always inspiring to be taught by our mission president, President Adams, and to also hear from Sister Adams, as well as the zone and sister training leaders.  
Elder Magnusson and I were in charge of feeding the missionaries breakfast and lunch.  For breakfast we served granola bars and bananas.  For lunch we served sloppy joes, Aztec salad, chips,  and Sister Flake made chocolate cake for dessert.

At the outdoor market picking out the tomatoes for the Aztec salad.  Bananas are plentiful, good, and inexpensive here in Belize.  (14 bananas for $1 US)
The next day we welcomed Elder Zeballos, general authority Seventy, and Elder ArbizĂș, area Seventy.  They flew in from Guatemala to meet and counsel with the Church leaders here in Belize.   Below, President and Sister Adams as they arrive from El Salvador, and Elders Zeballos and ArbizĂș coming in from Guatemala. We're blessed the world over to have the Lord's servants watching over and ministering to His children everywhere.
I'm amazed with the people who are put in our paths as we go through our days here.  Below, we met this couple Saturday on the water taxi as we traveled to Caye Caulker to meet with members on the island.  The couple was on their way to tour the island.  It turns out they are members of our church - originally from Ukraine, now living in Canada - and were the first missionary couple from their country of Ukraine. They served as temple missionaries in the Freiberg Germany Temple.

The second photo represents the Mennonite men we sat next to on the water taxi on our way home from Caye Caulker.  There is a large presence of Mennonites here in Belize.  You can recognize them because the men always wear plaid shirts, suspenders, and straw hats.  They are hard workers and produce a high percentage of the food consumed here.  Elder Magnusson enjoyed visiting with them--speaking Spanish because they preferred it over English--and learning more about their way of life.

The family in the last photo are members of our church from Alaska who were on a cruise ship that stopped in port for the day.  They had arranged to find us and donate two suitcases full of school supplies they collected for the children of Belize.
While life isn't easy on Caye Caulker for Solomon and Mary Nicholas (left), they are blessed by their testimonies of Jesus Christ. This was our second visit with them.  The Ross and Polk families (right) also reside on Caye Caulker and are a strength to the island.
Stay tuned for our next week adventures....

Sunday, January 7, 2018

We Will Miss President Monson

When I woke up on Wednesday I was surprised by the news that President Thomas S. Monson, our beloved prophet and president of the church, had passed away the night before. 
 The Mormon newsroom announcement read:

With tender feelings we announce that Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died this evening at 10:01 pm in his home in Salt Lake City. He was with family at the time of his passing. He died at age 90 from causes incident to age.  President Monson, who has served as president of the Church since February 2008, leaves behind a legacy of service and good works.

Mormonnewsroom.org produced this video which highlights President Monson's legacy of service and good works:

You can also see the video by clicking here.

One of the things we teach our brothers and sisters here in Belize is that there is a prophet on the Earth today who leads and guides us as did prophets of old.  

You can also see the video by clicking here

With the passing of President Monson, a new prophet, or spokesman, will chosen by God.  President Hinkley explained the process of how this is done.
You can see the video by clicking here, or read the transcript below:

This transition of authority, in which I have participated a number of times, is beautiful in its simplicity. It is indicative of the way the Lord does things. Under His procedure a man is selected by the prophet to become a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. He does not choose this as a career. He is called, as were the Apostles in Jesus's time, to whom the Lord said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you."

The years pass. He is schooled and disciplined in the duties of his office. He travels over the earth in fulfilling his apostolic calling. It is a long course of preparation, in which he comes to know the Latter-day Saints wherever they may be, and they come to know him. The Lord tests his heart and his substance.

In the natural course of events, vacancies occur in that council and new appointments are made. Under this process a particular man becomes the senior Apostle. Residing latent in him, and in his associate Brethren, given to each at the time of ordination, are all of the keys of the priesthood. But authority to exercise those keys is restricted to the President of the Church. At his passing, that authority becomes operative in the senior Apostle, who is then named, set apart, and ordained a prophet and President by his associates of the Council of the Twelve.

There is no electioneering. There is no campaigning. There is only the quiet and simple operation of a divine plan which provides inspired and tested leadership.

 mormonnewsroom.org also explains the process here.
                                                                 
                                                            *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

This past week marked 6 months in the mission field.  With the beginning of the new year and Christmas behind us, we continue in the routine of missionary work.  We enjoy working with the elders and sisters assigned to our area.  Here we are having a district meeting via Skype with the missionaries serving in Corozal, Orange Walk, and Belize City.
As Paul Woods handed us keys to a new car, our life has changed with how we'll be getting around Belize, as we said goodbye to our pickup truck.
...a key to a new car, and the key to change people's lives-- reading and gaining a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
We were happy to meet a wonderful prayer warrior here in Belize City.  As we met by chance and  started chatting with her on the street, she invited us to her prayer group that was meeting that night in her home.  This is what she posted about the experience:  

Our first prayer meeting for 2018, and what a blessing, we had two guests, Elder & Sister Magnusson from Los Angeles California.  I want to thank God for His presence and grace, and most of all, for His agape love, as we shared with each other.