San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

Monday, October 16, 2017

Third Month in Belize

Meet our crabby neighbor.  Often at night we see him and his other crabby friends on the street.  Unfortunately, sometimes they don't look when they cross the street and they will get run over by a car. Belize City was built on swampland...hence lots of crabby neighbors!  
These are our fun neighbors.  We have spent a couple of game nights together and look forward to many more.  Today we taught them how to play Yahtzee.
Tuesday we drove west to San Ignacio where Elder Magnusson needed to do some business that night.  Elder and Sister Flake live there and took us over the border to Melchor de Mencos, the town just inside Guatemala that’s part of our mission.   

This is a picture of us going through customs at the border.  Right above Sister Magnusson's head you can see the "Welcome to Guatemala"sign.
Elder Flake had arranged for a member to drive us around to see four member families. These visits were all in Spanish since we weren’t in Belize anymore. We had a taco lunch at the missionaries’ favorite spot, and went through the chapel that was dedicated a couple weeks before we arrived— a gorgeous meetinghouse the locals are proud of.

Back inside Belize, we stopped at the Xunantunich ruins, that sit atop a hill near the border, overlooking the whole area. Really an amazing thing to see these ruins and imagine what Mayan life was like here. After crossing over a river on a ferry, it was a mile walk to get there, all up hill, but worth it. 
On our hand-cranked ferry ride
Our beautiful view on the walk to Xunantunich.  
Here are a few pictures from the ruins.  The first picture is the expansive view from the top of the highest temple, named El Castillo. In the middle bottom picture you can see a little white speck, to the right of the middle.  That is Elder Magnusson standing on the very top of El Castillo.  

This past Sunday I was able to help with singing time with the children in our Spanish congregation.  The only thing is I don't speak Spanish. (I can understand a little bit of Spanish) Fortunately, the children can speak both Spanish and English.  They have learned the songs in Spanish that they are going to sing for the Sacrament meeting program in a couple of weeks and they just needed a review.  You can read about my experience by clicking onto our family blog here.  

The best news of all, it's getting cooler! It's getting to be around 79 degrees at night-- Break out the jackets! (Opps...we didn't bring any...)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Our Travels for this Past Week

On Saturday we traveled to the island of Caye Caulker via water taxi.  
Our purpose was to visit the 8 families who are members of our church that live on the island.  The mode of transportation on the island is either golf carts, bicycles, or walking.  The roads aren't paved and it is long distances between houses.
Elder Magnusson was intrigued by the golf cart fire truck for the island.  
On Sunday we visited the Sunday Service in Corozal.   We drove past the small ruin of Santa Rita that is located on the hill in town.  
We are coming to see that one of the main purposes of this mission is to visit people, one by one, as the Savior did and invite them to receive the blessing He has for them.
Elder Bendar wrote the words and Paul Cardall the music to the song, One by One, which often comes to my mind  as we do our visits.  Nathan Pacheco, Lyceum Philharmonic performs the  beautiful song in the video below.  The video portrays different ways we can reach out to others, one by one.   (note that the beginning of video has interference and will go away after the first 20 seconds)
You can also see the video and learn the backstory for the song by clicking here

I especially like the third verse:

One by one, one by one.
Christ looked around Him and saw their tears.
One by one, one by one.
In His compassion, He calmed their fears.
Jesus Christ healed each one brought forth unto Him.
Then He blessed each precious child and prayed for them.
The angels descended from heaven above,
Encircling those little ones; each felt His love.
One by one, one by one.
He intercedes for each daughter and son.
One by one, one by one.
Strength from His grace gives us pow’r to become,
One by one.

Our grandson was blessed on Sunday in Salt Lake City and we enjoyed receiving this picture after the Sunday service.  We were happy to hear of the aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-law family members who were able to be there.  

There is a pink eye epidemic going around Belize. Instead of handshakes, we're bumping elbows. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Living Prophets and Apostles Speak to the World

This past weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to view General Conference which was  broadcast from Salt Lake City to our worldwide membership. explains that "general conferences are the semiannual worldwide gatherings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church members gather to receive guidance and encouragement from Church leaders about gospel living, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ."

President Henry B. Eyring said:  "Gathered in this meeting, which stretches across the world, are millions of disciples of Jesus Christ who are under covenant to always remember Him and serve Him. By the miracle of modern technology, the separation of time and of vast distances vanishes. We meet as if we are all together in one great hall."

As we gathered with about 100 members of the Belize City branches I too, felt as if we were all together in one great hall.   We were able to watch along with millions of members in 197 countries in 95 languages through the miracle of modern technology.

This was our view from the Belize City chapel.
This was the view from Dave and Janelle's home in Rexburg, Idaho as they gathered with their family, Sam, and friends for scones before conference.   Renee, Dave, Rachel, and Lisa watched with my brother and wife, Craig and Lynn, in Sandy, Utah.  Bryce and Kristine watched from their home in Camp Pendleton, California.
This was the view of conference from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
After the Sunday morning conference session, we were able to feed the missionaries lunch here in our home.  They are always a joy to be around.  
One of the talks which touched me was in the Saturday afternoon session of Conference where Elder Rasband, one of the Twelve Apostles, talked about "divine consequences".

"Significant events unfold in the gospel and in the Church that further the kingdom of God on earth. They are not by accident but by God’s plan. …

… What may appear to be a random chance is, in fact, overseen by a loving Father in Heaven. … The Lord is in the small details of our lives, and those incidents and opportunities are to prepare us to lift our families and others as we build the kingdom of God on earth. …"

His words reminded me of many "consequences" that have happened to us here as we have had the opportunity to meet and teach some of our brothers and sisters in Belize.  We have just happened to meet people at bus stops, in our neighborhood as we go on walks, as we are doing our errands, etc.  As Elder Rasband explained, these meetings aren't by chance.

This is a short clip from Elder Rasband's message where he talks about his "chance" meeting with someone whose life he has touched.
And then there were four!  (senior missionary couples)   Last Tuesday we were blessed to pick up Elder and Sister Gotcher from the airport as they begin their mission here in Belize.  They will be serving in Belmopan.   This is their third mission as a senior couple.  Their other missions were to Indonesia and Kenya. 
Elder Magnusson welcomed home Elder Woods at a branch activity who just returned from his mission to the Dominican Republic.
Ever since I got my mission call, I wondered who I would get to cut my hair in Belize.  As I talked to several senior sisters who have served here in Belize in the past, they told me they just had their husbands cut their hair, or they let it grow out to put up in a pony tail.  I decided to go ahead and let my hair grow out.  Well, that lasted 4 months.  Because of the heat and humidity, I figured out that long hair and me were not a match.  I feel blessed that I found Laura who did a marvelous job of cutting my hair this past week.  Laura is another one that wasn't by chance that I met, and is  one of my new friends here in Belize.  
Elder Magnusson went for a jog this morning. Then it started to rain...then pour. Such is life here! You are wet from the rain or from the humidity.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Transfer Week in the Mission

This afternoon we took Elder Kaufusi and Elder Contreras to the airport.  Elder Contreras will return to Elder Salvador to continue working in that part of the mission, while Elder Kaufusi is returning home after serving honorably his two-year mission, five months in Belize City.  We serve with great, dedicated, hardworking missionaries. The young missionaries get transferred to different areas in the mission and to different companions, every twelve to eighteen weeks.  Fortunately, as senior missionaries, we get to keep our same companion...forever!
Sunday there was a  presentation of the SOY program to the youth in Belize.  SOY, which stands for Strength of Youth, is a week-long camp held in nearby Guatemala in December for youth to learn and grow spiritually.  They attend classes and devotionals, mixed with dances, music, games, service projects, good food, and all the while strengthening their relationship with Jesus Christ. Making new friends and building wonderful memories are cherished benefits of SOY.
 What is this?  A phone booth in the park-- haven't seen one of these in a long time!
Sunday night we attended the General Women's Session of Conference via satellite with the sisters from the Belize City Branches.   Since it was a world wide meeting, I was happy to think of my own daughters attending the same meeting in the different cities where they live.  That night I was pleased to receive this picture of my Utah daughters and was happy to see that my new baby grandson also enjoyed listening to the session with his Mom and Aunts.
As I listened to the talks,  I especially enjoyed Sis. Eubank's:  "Turn On Your Light".  She taught that "righteous women have a a significant part to play in building the kingdom in the latter-days." She referred to a talk given by President Kimball given back in 1979 where he taught us to be a "significant force" in the last days.  Deseret News summarized her talk:

Sister Eubank pointed out three important parts of President Kimball’s charge to be a “significant force” in the last days. First, that it will be the good relationships of women that will trigger much of the major growth coming to the Church in the years ahead.

Second, the friendships that Relief Society women, young women and primary girls build with sincere, faithful godly women and girls of other faiths and beliefs will be a significant force in how the Church grows in the last days.

Third, President Kimball called the women from other backgrounds “heroines” who will be "more concerned with being righteous than selfish," and who will show that integrity is more valuable than visibility.

From the third point, Sister Eubank gave the example of  how complete strangers banded together to form a human chain  to rescue a family caught in a Florida riptide.
You can also see the video by clicking here and going to 6:17

I was so intrigued by the story,  I looked it up on youtube and found this news report about it.  
You can also see the news report by clicking here.

It's hard to believe that we've been out on our mission for almost 3 months.  We have especially enjoyed getting to know and work with the wonderful Belizean people.

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.
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.