February 28, 2011 A trip to Orange Walk and Young Single Adult Activity in Belize City

Monday, February 28, 2011

Among other things Elder Pattee functions as the missionary clerk.  There is young man  in our district--Moses-- that has received a mission call to Canada.  A quick trip to Orange Walk was needed, so we drove up and back the same day.  Moses is also the interim seminary teacher, so we dropped in on his class as well.  Only 2 students attended that evening.  Usually 5 or 6 attend. 

Seminary at Orange Walk

The young single adults had an activity this past weekend in Belize City.  A dinner and dance on Friday evening was attended by about 45 young people, which  included 8 non-members.  We helped serve dinner at the dance.  There were about equal amounts of males and females.  Several young adults worked hard to make it all come together. 

Two of the beautiful girls that attended the dance

Youth at the distribution center

On Sunday a special sacrament meeting was held for the single young adults at the distribution center.  About 35 young people attended.  Sister Pattee spoke about homes, and Elder Pattee spoke about choices.  Sister Sandberg talked about temples (specifically temple marriage--"Heavenly Father wants to be at your wedding".), and Elder Sandberg spoke about Especially For Youth.  We will need help from many single young adults to have a succesful EFY in December. 

Several of the young people commented on what a fun weekend it had been for them, and that the sacrament meeting had been inspiring.

The single adults would like to get together more often, but the long distances make it difficult.

After the meeting sack lunches were given out.  These were prepared by Belize City young adults.  
Elder Pattee and I drove those that came from Orange Walk to the bus station in the van.  President Alvara, at right, (President of Succotz Branch) took most of those that came from Cayo District home with him.  Sandbergs took others. 

We also had a relief society activity this week.  About 12 sisters gathered to celebrate February birthdays. 

We each shared a favorite scripture.  We had a very lively discussion about how both the Old and New Testaments indicate Christ is the creator of the world.  Genesis 1:26 "...Let us make man in our image..." and John 1:10 "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not."

The sisters enjoyed sharing life experiences that related to the scriptures we discussed.  We also talked about how important it is to attend church so that we can strengthen one another.  Sister Gordon brought a married daughter that is not a member. 

We also attended a baptism in the Cinderella Branch and a baptism for two  in the Belize City Branch  this past weekend.

Brother Rene, standing in the center, was baptized on Saturday in Cinderella Branch.

Eleven year old Stephan, and his Uncle Berrus were baptized on Sunday in Belize City Branch.

The Church is growing here in Belize, but it is a real challenge for people to remain active.  Both the culture and traditions of the people play a huge role in how they live their lives.  

Visiting Cayo District Conference - February 18-21, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We drove up to San Ignacio with President Lopez (our mission president that lives in San Salvador) and his wife for Cayo district conference.  He had been doing missionary training in Belize City earlier in the week.  We stayed at Martha's Guesthouse for the 3 nights we were there.

President and sister Lopez in front of San Igancio chapel in Cayo District

Sister Pattee at Martha's Guest House

We had been asked to present a fireside about our mission in Ukraine.  Friday evening we spent just over an hour using power point to show some of our photos.  We didn't want it to be a travel log, so we focused on the Ukrainian people (especially the members of the Church) and our experiences there.  Four of the photos we used are shown below.
Field of sunflowers in Ukraine (taken from open door of bus.)

Ukraine is now independent from Soviet rule.  Just as their fields of sunflowers lift their faces to the sun, the people can once again lift their faces to the light.  They are free to worship as they wish.  LDS missionaries have been in Ukraine since 1992.   Presently there are between 10-11 thousand members of the Church there. 

In our area of the mission there were no chapels, thus no baptismal fonts.  Most people were baptized in a river.  (Jesus was also baptized in a river.) This was a favorite spot near Golovach.  When we arrived for Natalya's baptism service, there were hundreds of little frogs making a huge noise like the quacking of ducks.  But when it was time for her baptism, all nature was silent, even the frogs.

Rooslan got baptized in March.  The water was cold, and the ground was muddy.  After his well-attended baptism, the members found that our bus was stuck in the mud.  The men pushed and shoved, put sticks and rocks under the wheels, but with no successs.  After about 20 minutes of trying, the elders quorum president, Alexsei, said, "I think it is time to pray."  

After the prayer the bus came right out of the mud.  We are never using all our strength until we ask our Heavenly Father to help us.

Kiev, Ukraine Temple

Toward the end of the fireside we showed pictures of several ornate Russian Othodox temples.  Then we showed a picture of the Kiev Temple that was dedicated in August of last year.  This temple will bless the entire country of Ukraine and all other countries in its district.  It is is the only LDS temple in Eastern Europe.  We concluded with a 6 minute video of the youth cultural event that was held the night before the dedication.  It included footage of President Monson, President Uchtdorf, and other dignitaries.  It provided the perfect ending.  The fireside seemed to be well received, and it was a nice trip down memory lane for us.  We appreciated all the technical support Elder Sandberg provided. 

On Saturday in Cayo, we went in small groups to visit new or less active members.  We went with one of the branch counselors, Ephraim Medina.  We visited Brother Cerrano, the Ifield family, and the McCoy family.  We felt good  about our experiences in their homes, which were very humble.

The Infield Family.  The father was not at home, but at work.

In the afternoon we had both a priesthood leadership training and a women leadership training.   Both of us were trainers in our separate meetings.  Elder Pattee trained on home teaching and Sister Pattee trained on teaching.  "When we teach the gospel, we help provide the bread of life and the living water that Christ taught about while he was on the earth."   The Lopezes and Sandbergs also trained.

The sisters' training session

Saturday evening in the adult meeting, Sister Pattee gave a talk about "Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only.  Once again the Sandbergs and the Lopezes gave inspiring talks. 

The next morning we both spoke at the first Sunday session of conference, which was in Spanish.  We each had a translater at our side.  Elder Pattee talked about fasting.  He got the biggest laugh of the day when he started out his talk speaking in Russian.  He said (I will spell it phonetically.), "Zdrastvweetya, menya zavhoot Staraeshena Pattee.  Kak vas delah?"  Then he gestured to his translater to interpret it.  The translater had a surprised look on his face, and of course had no idea of what was just said.  

After lunch at the Sandberg's home, we returned to the chapel for an English session of conference.  Everyone gave the same talks.  Including both sessions of Sunday conference, there were about 500 in attendance, which was a record breaker. 

Visit to Cahal Pech - February 21, 2011

Moday morning we found time for some diversion and went to Cahal Pech, which is an archaelogical site.  It was very close by.  When we arrived  we found the the 14 young missionaries that serve in the area also there, as it was their preparation day.  President Lopez was a bit upset with them, because they are supposed to do their studies first thing Monday morning.  They had obviously neglected this, as it was only 9 am.  After giving them a reprimand, he allowed them to go ahead with the "treasure hunt" they had planned.   We all enjoyed the site very much.

Four sisters serve in the Cayo District.  President Lopez recently moved the sisters to the Cayo District during the last transfer.  Now only elders are serving in the Belize District.

Ancient Myan pyramids

We had fun exploring and got some much needed exercize.

The time line for these ruins fits right in with the Book of Mormon.

Elder Pattee at one of the arches

 We climbed through many of them.

All the sister missionaries serving in Belize:  L.to R. Sisters Munos, Maroquinn, Agueta, Stout, (Sister Lopez, visiting from San Salvador).  Back: Sisters Sandberg and Pattee.

Some of our Cayo District elders

President Lopez, Elder Pattee, Elder Sandberg

We ended our Cahal Pech outing with lunch at a local eatery with the missionaries.

It was a wonderful trip, but it was good to be heading home to Belize City.  After dropping President and Sister Lopez off at the airport, we arrived home about 4:00.   

February 13, 2011 Another Trip to San Pedro

Monday, February 14, 2011

We went to visit for only the second time our little branch in San Pedro.  San Pedro is the name of the biggest town on the Ambergris Caye (Key).  This caye is very long and is actually connected to lower Mexico.  You can locate the caye on the map below, east and north of Belize City.
The branch was able to move into a better building since our last visit.  There are less stairs (only 5 or 6 to get into the main room) and more classroom areas.  We attended seminary class taught by the missionaries on Saturday night.  Then took the elders to dinner.

The only drawback with the building is that it is located on the beach, and its only entrance is on the beach.  At the present time only active branch members no know where it is.  The branch's sacrament meeting attendance is usually much increased by the Mormon tourists that visit the Caye.  If the tourists can find it, they can't attend.  Since the building is not located on a street, even taxi drivers don't know where it is.  We are trying figure out a way to maybe get some signage out front on the street.

The branch now has a new relief society president, who quite remarkable.  Her name is Maria deLeon, and she has to travel  some distance, as she lives north of San Pedro.  But she has a gentle, humble way about that truly reflects the Spirit. 

Sister Maria (on the left) with other sisters at relief society.

The cost of living is 40 percent higher on Ambergris Caye than on the mainland of  Belize.  The tourists come here to go deep sea diving, parasailing, and other fun things.  But the people that live here are for the most part very poor.  Many of them live in neighborhoods like the one below.

 People must walk on the narrow bridges made of boards to get to and from their homes.  They are sometimes called "London Bridges", and are often nearly covered with water at high tide.

While in San Pedro we checked out a possible site for a Church humanitarian water project.  It was at the local Anglican School. Water on the caye isn't safe to drink.  Bottled water is expensive.  Most of the students that attend this school live in nearby neighborhoods. 

On Saturday, we arrived on a golf cart with Elders Camacho and Jackson on the back.

Anglican Primary School
We were given a tour of the premises by the Browns, a young couple living there presently.  All the buildings were built with donated supplies and labor from various charitable entities.  There was a good library and a state of the art computer room.  Books and computers were also donated. 

Clearly much work had been done here for the children that live in this area.  A condominium group is building on 3 sides of the school.  They don't really want the school to be there.  We couldn't help but wonder how long the school will be able to remain in its present location in San Mateo.  (Next to San Pedro.)
Also, the only remaining land owned by the school is under water and covered by mangroves, as seen above.   In order for the water system to be installed, the water would have to be drained off, an expensive process. 

We enjoyed the lovely weather and nice scenery while in San Pedro.   

Just out from our hotel veranda.

See you next week!

February 2, 2011 We Enjoyed Our American Guests From Guatemala

Friday, February 4, 2011

On Friday, January 28 We picked up Dic and Jennifer Johnson and Daryl and Maryann Bethae at the Belize City airport.  Dic and Daryl are the legal counsel for the Church, and live and work in Guatemala City.  They had work to do in Belize, so they brought their wives along.  Later in the day, we were joined by John and Jane Rasmussen.  Jane is Dic's sister from Arizona. 

Rasmussens, Elder Pattee, Bethaes, and Johnsons

Our regular missionary work got put on hold for a few days, while we provided transportation for our guests.  We enjoyed having adult Americans to converse with, as we don't get to do this as often as we'd like.  Johnsons had visited Belize previously, but this was the first visit for the Bethaes and the Rasmussens. 

Much of the next 4-5 days was spent traveling in the van, with Elder Pattee as our capable chauffeur.

Saturday we headed to the Cayo District.  (We live in the Belize District, and districts are kind of like counties in the USA.)  Everyone commented on how much more beautiful the landscape was there than Belize City.  There are rolling green hills, lots of flowers, and big mountains in the background. 

We met up with Elder and Sister Sandberg at their home in San Ignacio.  The Sandbergs showed us around their area starting with the Succotz chapel, which is nearly done being remodled.  The branch hopes to be into the building within a month.  The legal team needed to check it out.

Since Xuanantunich archeological site is just across the river, we decided to check it out, too. 

We ferried across the river once again in the mission van.

The major temple ruin can be seen behind us.  That is pink wisteria blooming in the background.

Notice the designs on the side near the top of this temple?

For lunch we stopped at the San Ignacio Inn.  It was one of our very best meals together (and there were many).  
Elder Pattee enjoyed shrimp ceveche at most every meal.  This one was his favorite.  Of course he added hot sauce to most everything.  Not only was the food good at the San Ignacio Hotel, but we had the dining room all to ourselves. 
The toucan called "Keel Bill" looked like this. 

And just outside our window, one of our waitresses pointed out a large iguana in a tree, and also 2 toucans in another tree.  We walked out onto the deck and took photos.
Another smaller one was called a "Toucanet".

Sunday we all enjoyed church at the Belize City Branch.  Our group seemed a bit surprised by the lively Sunday School class they attended.  (Lively in that the teacher, Brother Neal, got a good discussion going about "don't be as stubborn as a mule."  They commented that they were impressed by the depth of testimony and knowledge of the scriptures shown by many of the members.

Our Belize City Branch and Cinderella building just got a new coat of paint and also a new front fence.

All our visitors went home to Sunday dinner at our house, which we had prepared the evening before.

Sunday afternoon we had a special baptism of two young sisters--Lokeesha and Addriana.  Though we had not taught them, they wanted Elder Pattee to baptize them.  (He baptized their cousin, Adilee, last month.)  We were very happy to see their mother, Shawna in attendance.  Sister Pattee led the music and gave the "Holy Ghost" talk. 

L. to R.:  Elder Lorenzo, Addriana, Elder Pattee, Lokeesha, and Elder Choc

L. to R.: Lincoln (cousin) Addriana, Charles (brother), Shawna (Mother) Lokeesha, and Adilee

Monday the lawyer group was very busy with Church legal business.  Elder Pattee enjoyed going with them.
That evening 10 of us went to a local Chinese restaurant. 

There was lots of food served "family style".  We took the extra to the young elders. 

On Tuesday the legal team finished up their work.  We took them in the van to the airport in the afternoon and bid them a fond adieu. 

Belize City airport, which is about 20 minutes from where we live.