San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

San Salvador El Salvador Temple/ Belize Mayan Temple

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Busses, Borders, and Temples

El viernes y sábado, fue un privilegio para nosotros una vez más viajar al hermoso Templo de Mérida México.
Ooops,  I forgot, we aren't in Mexico anymore.  I'm glad to be back in Belize where English is the official language. AND I'm glad I'm married to my own personal interpreter who speaks excellent Spanish.    

Like I was saying, on Friday and Saturday we were able to once again travel to the beautiful Mérida, Mexico Temple. We boarded one bus at 5:00 pm in Belize City to take us to the border, stopping along the way to pick up members in Orange Walk and Corozal and to exchange our money to pesos. After going through Customs and Immigration of both countries and walking several blocks over the bridge to Mexico...
...we boaded the Mexican bus at 10:30 pm for the six-hour drive through the Yucatan, arriving in Mérida at 5:30 am. There was even an hour stop at a roadside diner at 2:00 am! 

You can read more details about about our first experience of traveling to the Mérida Temple in November by clicking here.  

Here is an excerpt from the post:  

We traveled 650 miles round trip which took us 24 hours of traveling time. We left our house on Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm.  We returned home Saturday night at 10:00 pm.  That is 30 hours that we were gone.  During that 30 hours we were either on a bus (trying to sleep), going through immigration, transferring buses between Belize and Mexico, eating at a roadside diner at 2:00 a.m., buying ice cream from a street vendor in Mérida and, of course, we were 6 hours in the temple.

I will say that there was one thing we did different this time.   We were able walk to a Burger King that is located close to the temple and have a Whopper and fries for lunch!  
As we walked to the Burger King, my thoughts went to my oldest brother, Craig.  From 1973-1975 he served in the México Veracruz Mission as a young missionary.  He was assigned to work in the city of Mérida for a time.  I pondered that maybe I was walking on some of the same streets that he had walked those many years ago.   
Elder Craig Harris  (far right) as a missionary in Mexico 
As we passed this etching on the sidewalk, I snapped a picture so I could send it to Craig to let him know I was thinking of him.  
Members of the Orange Walk Branch pause in the plaza in Mérida
The temple grounds are beautiful in the tropical Yucatan Peninsula.  

So why do we go to the tempe? explains what the purpose of temples is:

Holy temples are as necessary today as they were anciently when they served as sacred locations to make covenants, perform holy ordinances, and to be taught by God. Today in over 140 temples worldwide, Mormons do those same things. In these temples, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find opportunities for peaceful reflection and for learning more about God’s plan of happiness for His children. Through the power of the priesthood, members are married for time and eternity and perform proxy baptisms for their ancestors who died without enjoying the blessings of this saving ordinance.  
You can also see the above video and read more about Mormon temples by clicking here  

It was transfer week for the mission and once again we were able to help with the process of welcoming the missionaries arriving from El Salvador, and helping transport the missionaries to the airport who were departing to El Salvador after their service here. It is quite the juggling act, but things always work out.  

After a home-cooked meal at our house, Sisters Kendall and Ashby, who were waiting for their new companions, helped me cut out nativity sets that I like to give to children who I come in contact with.  
We're excited that Elders Wright and Tupou are re-opening the area of San Pedro for missionary work. They're at the wharf waiting for the water taxi for their trip over to the island.
The Belize City District gathers for district meeting...
(from left to right: Elders Eves, Jenks, Tupou, Wright, Barlow, Reyes, Magnusson)

... with Sisters Kendall and Arteaga joining the meeting via Skype, since they live two hours north.
It's not unusual to have vacationing visitors attending Sunday services at church. Today, a large extended family from Logan, UT, joined us.
Have you ever wondered how members of our church--or non-member visitors--can find the closest church building on a Sunday and know what time services begin?  You go to: in your browser.  Then, type in your address in the address box to the right.  Then click onto LOCATE.  It will work for any address in the world.  Try it with your address!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Special Visitor Comes to Belize

Since moving to Belize, I am reminded that God loves and cares about all his children wherever they live in the world.  He cares about His children in our hometown of Duarte, California, in Argentina, Oregon, and Chile where our children served their missions, in Holland where my ancestors came from, and also His children here in Belize. As a matter of fact, He cares for all His children all over the world.

As I think about God's love for all of us, I know He has a plan to reach out to everyone. We learn on  that during Christ’s mortal ministry, He called the Seventy, instructed them in a manner similar to the Twelve Apostles, and sent them out “before his face,” explaining that those who heard their voices would hear His voice (see Luke 10).

This past week, we heard His voice through his servant Elder Garrit Gong, of the Presidency of the Seventy, as he came to Belize as a part of his Central America visit.  He was accompanied by Elder Jorge Zeballos, also of the Seventy, President Eric Adams, Mission President, and their wives. They spoke to a special gathering of Belizean saints gathered in the Belize City chapel on Thursday night, and then to all the missionaries of the country on Friday.

The Belizean saints gathered from across the country, with some traveling up to 2 1/2  hours by bus to attend.
 Members enjoyed meeting Elder and Sister Gong
 Elder and Sister Gong with the Grey family from Corozal
Elder and Sister Zeballos greeting the Gomez family from Orange Walk
Meeting on the Ambergris Caye with San Pedro Branch President Williams (red shirt) and his family. 
 Missionaries gathered for breakfast before the arrival of Elder Gong and Elder Zeballos on Friday morning.
Elder Gong (second row, right) and Elder Zeballos (second row, left) with all the missionaries serving in Belize.

As missionaries, we have the opportunity to gain new friends. When we can reunite old friends who haven't seen each other in a long time, it's even better. Joel Muñoz, president of the Belize City Branch and of former professional fame in a Belizean band, teamed up with Lewis Chan, an accomplished musician on the saxophone, to play together in our house following dinner. What a treat it was for us!

Seminary Super Saturday involved 60 church members, including Seminary students, their teachers, leaders, full-time missionaries, senior missionaries and the mayor of San Ignacio. We painted concrete benches and the gazebo in one of the city parks.
One of the youth said "This is the first time I have ever done a service project.  I've never done anything like this before.  It feels good."
After our service project we all gathered at the San Ignacio chapel where we did some Seminary activities, played sport games, and sang karaoke.
We love working with the other senior missionary couples -- Elder and Sister Adams and Elder and Sister Flake.
The Adams--over Seminaries and Institute in Belize--along with the local leadership of Sister Kay and the other Seminary teachers of the Cayo district did a marvelous job coordinating everything.   Elder Adams noted, "We appreciate the great cooperation of everyone that came. It could not have happened without them."

On Sunday we attended the San Pedro Branch. It is interesting to travel there on the water taxi for the hour and a half trip, and ponder the majesty of Heavenly Father's creations.
Sister Alden of San Pedro and I were able to be with the Primary children as we taught them to follow the example of Jesus.
While in Primary, I loved teaching the children the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" by Sally DeFord.  The words of the song carry a powerful message not only for children, but to all of us.

If the Savior Stood Beside Me 
by Sally DeFord
If the Savior stood beside me,
would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments,
and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example?
Would I live more righteously
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

2. If the Savior stood beside me,
would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind
if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel?
Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

3. He is always near me,
though I do not see Him there,
And because He loves me dearly,
I am in His watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person
that I know I’d like to be
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me.
You can listen to the music by clicking here

It's always a good day when we can pick up some fresh vegetables...

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Missionary Work Continues in Belize

This weekend we were able to attend the baptismal service for Oscar (right).  He was one of the first people we met when we came to Belize. His father was honored to perform the baptism.
Brother Belgrave, a retired builder, is a 17-year member of the Church in Belize City and is the branch mission leader. He conducted the baptismal service.  
As we attended Oscar's baptism, we were reminded of Jesus' example of being baptized found in Matthew 3:13-17

13 ¶ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  

The children in this video were asked to tell the story about Jesus being baptized in their own words.  You'll be surprised by their understanding of the scripture verses found in Matthew 3:13-17.  
You can also see the video by clicking here
Waiting for district meeting to start....and the rain to end!
Corozal town is at a beautiful bay in the north, bordering Mexico. The two sisters are doing a marvelous work in Corozal. 
We continue to have people put in our path who we are privileged to share the Gospel with.  Elder Magnusson wrote about one experience we had this past week.

Yesterday as we were driving out of a town we visited, we noticed a store that caught our attention. We stopped, went in to browse, didn't see anything that we needed and were leaving.  Omar, the manager, was at the front counter and we mutually engaged each other in conversation. He commented on our missionary badges. We asked about his background, learned he was acquainted with some members of our church in the town, and actually had been taught briefly by sister missionaries 23 years ago, and even remembered one of their names. He commented on his Christian beliefs. 

We asked if we could use the pad of paper he had on the counter. We diagramed how Jesus Christ established His church, that there was a falling away of the truth, and this led to the beginning of the restoration in 1820. Sister Magnusson went to the car to retrieve a copy of the Book of Mormon. We told of how the Bible and the Book of Mormon are one in our hand to testify of Jesus Christ, as explained in Ezekiel 37: 16-20. Omar opened his electronic tablet to the Bible and we read the verses, and then from Isaiah 29:10-14, and then John 10:16. We told him that our message will add to the already strong Christian background he has.  

Omar continued to direct employees and transact business while we chatted, and seemed in no hurry to dismiss us. He then asked, "What will the Book of Mormon teach me more of Jesus Christ?"  We told him it was a deeply insightful and important question. We then read 2 Nephi 25:26 from the Book of Mormon. We told Omar that the Book of Mormon itself is the proof of our message. It is either a true and a translated record, or it is false and a fraud. It is one or the other, and that he can know for himself by reading it and asking God. We promised him he can receive an answer. We left the book with him and told him we'll look forward dropping in again.

This was the beautiful view from our drive home from Orange Walk this afternoon.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Instruction-Ancient and Modern

We had a senior mission couples' training this past week.  We were reminded that we need to take time to "sharpen the saw".  So we did just that and traveled as a group to explore the remote ruins at Caracol, close to the Guatemala border.  
Discovered in 1938, Caracol was home to an extensive Mayan community, founded in AD 330, with numerous tall temples, stone structures, and monuments with ancient writing and illustrations.
Caracol is the largest placement of Mayan ruins in Belize, with many of the structures barely visible under the soil. The ancients abandoned Caracol around AD 900.

The ancient inhabitants of the Americas were expert in carving their political history on stone, and in engraving their religious history and teachings on metal plates.
The stones we found at Caracol; the translation of the metal plates we find in The Book of Mormon.
Inside the Río Frío Cave, on the road to Caracol. Elder and Sister Adams were dwarfed by this massive geological wonder. 
Outside the cave, the Río Frío reminded us of our favorite family camping spot in Yosemite.

Not only did we enjoy the waterfalls, the sand fleas enjoyed us, as well!
Life can have it's ups and downs, especially on the two and a half hour road to Caracol. This video is just 10 seconds long, but you will get an idea of how our travels went on our way to and from Caracol. Pass the Dramamin, please!
This rainbow at the end of our drive was a beautiful reminder of our wonderful day.  
In our training as couples we were reminded that Jesus ministered one-by-one, and that we should do the same. All have individual needs, and need an individual approach. In the song below, authored by Elder David A. Bednar, the admonition is to follow the Savior, and reach out "one-by-one".  Click on the "See More" link below (in blue) to read Elder Bendnar's experience with writing the lyrics to the song, "One By One".   Click on the arrow in the middle of the picture to hear the song.   
In preparation for zone conference, the Corozal sisters came into town and spent the night with us. We always enjoy their visit when they come.  They remind me of our own sweet daughters.  
Their cute hairdos intrigued me.  They said it was easy to do - they just tucked their locks into their headband.

On Thursday we gathered once again as a zone.  The Belize zone consists of all missionaries serving in the country-- 16 elders and sisters, and four senior couples. President and Sister Adams are front row, to the left.
It was a great day of training and learning from each other.
Half way through the meeting, the Sisters sang a beautiful hymn, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee". 

Could it be a complete zone conference without missionaries' favorite foods for breakfast and lunch?-- sugar cereal and pizza!  The cereal of choice -- Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  The pizza of choice -- all meat.
Elder Jorge Luis Góngora, of Corozal, Belize, returned home this week from the Chile Osorno Mission. His father was very proud and happy at the reunion.

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 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.