San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

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. 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. 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.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

This past week Sam went from sunny Belize with his parents and two of his sisters to freezing Montana with Makelle and a marriage proposal.  We are very happy and excited for them.
Our thoughts went to our marriage that took place on December 28, 1977, and then to life as missionaries 40 years later. We can hardly Belize it.
We were happy to learn that two other couples that we have been meeting with here in Belize were also married the same week that we were.  One couple was married a year ago, and another couple 34 years ago.  We were honored to bear our testimonies of eternal marriage and our experience of being sealed together forever in the Oakland Temple so many years ago.

Elder William Walker explains what we know about eternal marriage in this short video clip:
You can also see the video by clicking here and going to 7:21, or reading the transcript below:

The sealing room in our temples is a very wonderful and special place. It's a wonderful and a remarkable thing to look into the eyes of a man and a woman who are about to be married. They love each other with all their hearts. When two people are getting married, they can't imagine the idea that this beautiful, loving relationship would ever end.

So it's an important part of Mormon teaching that it doesn't need to end at death. This marriage can go on into the eternities, and a loving God intended it to be that way. So He gave us this power and authority.

It's actually what Jesus was giving the Apostles in Matthew chapter 16, when Jesus put His hands on Peter and the other Apostles and conferred upon them the authority to have bound on earth and have it be bound in heaven. That's what was happening there. Jesus was giving the sealing authority to His Apostles. And that's utilized in the temple, in the house of the Lord, where a man and a woman can be sealed together for eternity.

When you've been married in the temple, you've been sealed in the temple, then your children who are born into this marriage are part of that sealing. And they are yours forever, so long as everybody lives the commandments.

Now, you might say, "Well, what about those who were married before?" They can go to the temple and receive those same blessings. The children would come with the mother and father, and they would also kneel at the altar. And it's a beautiful, sacred thing to witness, particularly with little children, to see them kneel at the altar in the temple next to their mother and father, holding hands together on the altar, and have them sealed together as a family for time and for all eternity. That's a great blessing from heaven. It's a great blessing from God. And we believe that's what God intended, that families would be together forever.

This Sunday we traveled to Orange Walk where Elder Magnusson taught about next year's focus in priesthood and Relief Society classes on the most recent messages from the living prophets and apostles.
I was able to be with the Primary children during their class time.

I always enjoy showing this video with the celebration of the New Year.
You can also see the video by clicking here

I like how Elder Holland puts this New Year's message of  "Look Not Behind Thee" in perspective in this BYU devotional address:
You can also see the video by clicking here.  

I couldn't resist taking another picture of the beautiful Belizean sky as we left the Orange Walk chapel on Sunday.  Bring on 2018!  I can hardly wait to see what this year brings.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Came Early to Belize

Christmas for the Magnussons came early to Belize with the arrival of three of our children, Rachel and Lisa from Salt Lake City, and Sam from BYU-Idaho. What joy it is to have them visiting through Christmas.

It's great to have family around our kitchen table once again.  
If you ever wondered what complete surprise looks like, this is me opening an early Christmas gift from Lisa:  homemade granola!  The last time I ate my favorite breakfast cereal was before my mission.  The ingredients are too hard to come by here in Belize for me to make it.  
As a family we were able to pass out newborn kits to six new mothers in Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  I enjoyed talking to the mothers about their newborn babies and their families.  One of the mothers asked Elder Magnusson to say a prayer over her new baby.  It was memorable because we are missing all of our new grandbabies.  And this time of year made us think that perhaps Mary would have loved receiving a newborn kit during her stay in the stable.  Poignant moment, for sure.  
We took an excursion to Lamanai, the Mayan ruins an hour north of Belize City, best reached by boat on the river. 

We had the best tour guide:  Nefi Gomez.  If you are ever in Belize and want to tour the beautiful sites of Belize,  I would highly recommend getting in touch with him.  You can check out his website by clicking here.   
Nefi taught us jungle survival skills, like how to eat termites! 
Lamanai was the site of a large Mayan city, estimated to have been occupied 1000 B.C. to 1500 A.D. Its name is believed to mean "submerged crocodile", a nod to the wildlife of the river it borders. Much of the city's stone structures remain hidden in the dense brush, and under centuries of mud and foliage. 

The Temple of the Jaguar. The worn face of the beast is still visible with earrings dangling on either side. Jaguars continue to roam the forests in the countryside.
The Temple of the Mask is an amazing testament of the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the ancients who inhabited this land.
What goes up, must come down.  
On Saturday, we traveled to the island of Caye Caulker.

We met up with some members of the local branch. Swimming in the Carribean in December...

On Christmas Eve we had Elder and Sister Adams over for dinner.  

And yet, work must go on. Other happenings this week....

Weekly district meeting in Belize City, conducted by our new district leader,  20-year old Elder Reyes from Texas.
Helping the elders re-open the town of Orange Walk for missionary work, with the branch president.
 Our neighbor children getting into the holiday spirit.
Christmas Eve in front of a church member's house, with friends, family, and missionaries joining in singing Christmas carols.
Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends in faraway California, Utah, and Idaho. May the peace that our Savior brings to our lives be with us through 2018. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

And Then There Were Six!

When we left for our mission in July, we had 3 grandchildren.  On Wednesday our 6th grandchild was born -- A baby girl to Kristine and Bryce.  The first picture we received was her footprints. Next, we were so happy to see her beautiful picture after she was all dolled up.  
It was fun to receive this video of another one of our grandchildren who is full of the Christmas spirit.  Maybe she can sing for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir someday?     
 You can also see the video here
This week was a busy one full of service and visits.  We have enjoyed participating in the #LightTheWorld initiative.  I was touched by this video that will be featured on Tuesday for Day 19.
How will you #LightTheWorld?  Here are some suggestions for day 19:

"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad."—Matthew 5:12  God loves us and wants us to be happy. We have many reasons to be happy, even if we don’t realize all of them. One way we find joy is by helping others feel joy.
     ~Who do you know who could use some joy in their life?
          Send them a personalized care package in the mail.
     ~How often do you stop to think about your blessings?
          Reach out to someone who has blessed your life, and thank the person for his or her example.
     ~When was the last time you celebrated someone else’s accomplishments?
          Find somebody who doesn’t receive thanks very often, and make the person’s day amazing.

Transfers for the missionaries this time are happening over several days.  Sometimes transfers for the missionaries are a little more complicated because this mission is split between two countries -- El Salvador and Belize.

On Saturday our home was the staging area for the elders who are being transferred to El Salvador from Belize and the two sister missionaries who are returning home after serving their mission.  Some of the missionaries had traveled up to  three hours by bus from the areas where they were serving, and we were happy to enjoy a nice lunch together.
While we ate, we played a couple of Christmas song games.  Join with the missionaries and try to figure out the Christmas songs from the clues below. 
Click on the page to view 
The answer to the first one is "O Come all Ye Faithful ".  You can view the games with all the answers  by clicking here

Saturday night we were able to go to the Christmas party for the Belize City Branch.  It was well attended and all enjoyed beautiful decorations, good food, great entertainment and the Christmas spirit.  
As missionaries, we were in charge of the activity.  We got into small groups of about 6 people, passed out copies of the paper below, and enjoyed discussing the Christmas topics in our groups.  
You can get a copy of the game here
Before the dinner we were able to view the annual Belize City Christmas parade as it passed by the church.  Being from So. California, it was fun to compare the Belize Christmas Parade to the world famous Pasadena Rose Parade and the Duarte Route 66 Parade.  
This was the first entry of the parade
You can also view the video by clicking here
This is our Christmas card for this year, 2017.  
You can view our Christmas greetings through the years by clicking here.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

This past week we were able to attend some of the branch Christmas parties in our district.  Also, last Sunday I enjoyed watching the primary children re-enacted the nativity scene.  Children bring a special spirit to Christmas.   

I've enjoyed giving out paper nativity sets to the children that we have visited this week.  It's been fun to watch them set up the characters of the nativity:  shepherds, wisemen, angels, stable animals, Joseph and Mary, and of course, baby Jesus.  #LightTheWorld Day 7
You can get the pattern to the nativity set by clicking here.  

When we visited Corozal, I loved seeing the clever decorations at the public library.  The Christmas tree is made out of Sprite bottles and the snow man is made out of library books covered in white paper and encyclopedias.     

Our travels also brought us to Orange Walk where we visited friends. This couple has been members of the church for three years, hold leadership callings in the branch, and tell of the peace, blessings and great changes the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has made in their lives.   
Visiting San Pedro on the island on a cool and windy day.   
Speaking of cold and windy, here is the latest breaking Belize news.  As you can see on this Facebook Breaking Belize News page that 1.4K reacted to the weather conditions with 43 comments and 193 shares.  
Last Monday, we had dinner with a new member of the Belize City Branch, Joe England.  As we got acquainted, we were surprised to learn that Joe produced for the Church my favorite youth mormonmessage, "Sanctify Yourself", based on the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
We got out our laptop and he answered our questions about the process of producing the movie as we watched it.
You can also see the movie by clicking here.

This is what your pants look like when you have vehicle trouble in Belize City.  (There's a lot of dust from the road construction going on here) Thankfully, we were able to get help dealing with our dead truck battery from Elder and Sister Adams.
We got news earlier this week that one of the Belize City branch members, who lives alone, had a stroke.  After he was seen in the hospital, he was sent home.  When we visited him, we were humbled to learn that he was being attended to by his "good Samaritan" neighbors.  This painting by Walter Rane immediately came to mind when I learned about all that this couple were doing for their neighbor. Their compassion was nothing short of what we read about in the Bible.
The Good Samaritan
by Walter Rane
I got this picture from here
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

You can also see the video by clicking here