May 31, 2011 - A Visit to Guatemala and Other Things

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Here in the San Salvador El SalvadorWest/Belize Mission we have unusual mission boundaries. Most of our mission is in El Salvador, but it also includes all of Belize, and a tiny bit of Guatemala, called Melchor.   These days few missions are in 3 different countries.  The reason Melchor is included is because it is just over the western border of Belize.  The Sandbergs live close to the border, so the little Melchor Branch is part of their stewardship.  We had never had the opportunity to visit Melchor until this past weekend. 
The reason Belize is included in one of the El Salvador missions is because Guatemala and Honduras airline flights, in and out of Belize, all go through El Salvador.  From Belize one cannot get a direct flight to either Guatemala or Honduras. 

President and Sister Lopez came to Belize this week to do missionary training and to attend the Cayo District conference.  Of course we attended the missionary training in Belize City, and we also were invited to go up Cayo.
During our missionary training, 11 elders and sisters found out they will be transferred to El Salvador in little over one week.  It was quite a surprise to most of them, as they had thought they would be finishing up their missions here.  Those asked to stand will be leaving.

We get a new mission president July 1.  President Lopez is trying to make everything go as smoothly as possible for him.  By making these changes now, President Cardon will not have to make Belize transfer changes until October. 

President and Sister Lopez gave a fireside in Melchor Friday evening.  Here we are at the Guatemala border.  Elder Sandberg told Sister Pattee that we would have to be fumigated before going across.  She thought he meant each one of us would have to be sprayed down and was relieved to find out that only the van had to be fumigated.  We had a good laugh over that.  (All of us except the driver got out while the van was driven through the sprayer.)
Melchor Branch meets in a rented building.  It used to be a school.  Sister Pattee is standing with the Cayo District president's wife, Sister Lopez.  (Both our mission president and the Cayo District president have the last name of "Lopez".  Sometimes it can be confusing.)

Sister Rodes played the keyboard for the fireside.  There are few people, including missionaries, that know how to play the the keyboard or piano here.  All rented buildings have only keyboards.  Chapels have pianos. 

Two of the cute children attending the fireside

This was President and Sister Lopez's last trip to this part of their missionfield.  Everyone loves the Lopezes.  They will be missed. 

Young mother and baby at fireside

Sandwiches and punch were served outside in the courtyard afterward. 

We stayed at the San Ignacio Inn while in the Cayo District.  Saturday morning Elder Pattee and Sister Pattee had time to swim in this nice pool. 

But the best part of our stay was that Elder Pattee talked with the desk clerk when she got off work on Friday.  They had a nice discussion about her life (she is from Cuba), and he ended up giving her a copy of the Book of Mormon on Saturday.  She seemed very happy to receive it, and we think she may be willing to listen to the missionaries.

Saturday morning we attended the baptism of Vanessa (in white) at the San Ignacio Chapel.  Baptisms happen often in our mission, but in Belize, church attendance does not seem to increase.

Brother Medina has a wonderful woodshop business.  He is well known for his excellent craftmanship and does finishing work and creates fine furniture of his own design.  Some of his work is sent all over the world.  Here he is standing in front of a door that he made at his home.

All the district and branch presidencies and their wives were invited to lunch on the Medina's large veranda on Saturday, just before our district conference meetings began. 

We were served the typical Belizean meal of rice and beans.  The rice and beans are cooked together in coconut milk.  We also had a delicious green salad, which is not typical.  Notice the green leaves.  They are called Chayo.  They grow on a tree (or bush) and are delicious. 

During the sisters' training session these lovely women sang a special number.  They all made sets of earrings that were very similar to wear for the occasion.   

Some of the sisters at our training meeting

Later we divided into departments for specialized training for relief society, young women, and primary.  We soon discovered that the district primary president wasn't there.  It turned out that she had a severe migraine headache and was unable to attend.  She had called the district president, but somehow the women leaders did not get the message.  Sister Pattee suddenly found herself doing the training for the primary leaders.  

Attendance was good at both the English and Spanish Sunday sessions of Cayo District conference.

Elder Pattee was one of the speakers at the English session.  During both of the Sunday morning meetings a young 12-year-old boy played a solo on a recorder (plastic flute).  He really brought the Spirit, as he played a medley of "I Am A Child of God", "Families Can Be Together Forever", and "Nearer My God to Thee". 

After the Sunday meetings were over, six of us us went to the Sandberg's for lunch and visiting.

L. to R.:  Elder and Sister Sandberg, President and Sister Lopez standing outside the Sandbergs house.

Then the Lopezes and Pattees made the 2-hour trip back to Belize City.  Just as we arrived, we were notified by the young Elders of a baptismal service that was about to begin.  We quickly drove to the church and ended our busy week attending another baptism--this time in the Cinderella Branch.

 Ilder (center), his family, Elder Palmer, Elder Perez, and President and Sister Lopez

The downside of the weekend was that Elder Don Clarke (Area President) had planned to attend the Cayo District conference.  Unfortunately, there have been several murders on the Guatemala border during the past couple of weeks.  He was advised not to attend, as he would have had to drive through part of the dangerous area.  (He lives in Guatemala City.)  We were all disappointed in his change of schedule.

May 24, 2011 - Belize City Branch Has Talent!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

We had a fun talent night activity in Belize City Branch Friday evening (the branch in which we reside).  Most everyone seemed to arrive on "Belize Standard Time", which is much later than "Mormon Standard Time".  Evenutally about 75 people showed up.  The evening was sponsered and put together by the relief society.  There were 16 or 17 talent presentations.  Here are photos of most of them:


Chelsea and Kimlee


Our crowd especially enjoyed the boxing skit by the young elders and Brother Segura. (3 photos)

Elder Palmer is about 6' 8".

Brother Segura is about 5' 2".

A skit was also performed by Elder and Sister Pattee--a spoof on how to make a favorite recipe.

The audience especially liked the surprise ending. 

We had lots of talented singers:





Keira and Lokeesha

Some of the young women


Single young men accompanied by Brother Munoz and Nikita

Mother and son--Julie and Ellsworth


This week we also attended another EFY planning meeting.  Officially the conference will now be called SOY.  In Spanish this means "I am", which is the way many Spanish speakers here will probably interpret it.  But it is really meant to stand for "The Strength of Youth".  

We have  been working with many PEF participants.  Several of them are reapplying for their second year. 

On Sunday afternoon we visited the Segura family.  They have 8 children, a few of which are married.  Some of the family names are:  Nephi, Ammon, Mosiah, Lamana, and Moroni.  The little baby in the photo is the newest grandchild.   With names like these you can probably guess which church they belong to. 

Our area of Belize seems to be in a drought.  Everything is so dry, and it is hot!  The air has been quite smokey because of  brush fires.  Fortunately, rainy season is due to begin soon.  We are looking forward to it!

May 17, 2011- Belmopan Chapel is Dedicated by President Pattee

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yesterday Elder Pattee had the unique experience of dedicating the Belmopan Chapel located in the City of Belmopan, which is an hour's drive west of here.  He did a fine job, and felt he had been inspired as he wrote the dedication prayer.  He was given this assignment by our area president, Elder Don Clarke.  

Chapel at Belmopan.  I couldn't get everyone in one shot, so I took two.  88 people were in attendance.  I will add a photo of the outside of the building as soon as I can get one.  It is a very attractive building.

The interesting thing about this chapel is that it was built 6 years ago.  It has been in use since then, but somehow it never got dedicated.  No one seemed to realize this until about a month ago, when a member mentioned that the building had never been dedicated.  Records were checked, and sure enough, he was right.   
Relief Society in Belmopan, including tablecloth and flowers

Another EFY planning meeting (We are calling it Special Youth Conference.)

These young women participated in New Beginnings last week in Belize City Branch.  Cinderella also had New Beginnings that day.  We are only a few months late.  All the young women received a tourch pendant.  Since high humidity causes gold chains to turn black, we used "value color" ribbons.  Much less expensive, too.
I caught these little gate climbers in action, when we went to the church for a practice for "Talent Night". 

Sometimes even a trip to take out the trash can be interesting.  We often see this iguana, as he lives by our front gate.

The Vernon family came to home evening this past week.  The mother, Kim, joined the church 3 years ago.  She brings the children and comes to meetings.  But so far, her husband, Sherlock, is not interested.  At least he came to home evening.

Guava season is here.

This is what the guava looks like inside.

The fan palm tree is one of 10 varieties of palm trees in Belize.  Here a man is trimming one with his machete.  It seems like machetes are used to trim most everything.

We have been busy this week lining up appointments for Perpetual Education Fund participants.  Many of them need to renew their school loans for fall.  We also have a few that are in the process of applying for the first time. 

May 10, 2011 - Visit to San Pedro with the Martinos, Lopezes, and Sandbergs. Also, We Got a New Van!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We had a wonderful trip to San Pedro with Elder and Sister Martino as part of our Belize District conference.  We are so glad they came to visit us for a second time.  The first time was last year in October.  Hurricane Richard decided to make an appearance, so they had to go home to Guatemala after only one day. 

Traveling to San Pedro with the Martinos and many San Pedro Branch members on the water taxi.

The life jackets are often stored on the ceiling.

Mercedes was one of the baptisms performed right after district conference.  She lives in San Pedro.

Sunday evening we had a special sacrament meeting with the San Pedro Branch members.  Even though many of them had just traveled back from the district conference, they came to the sacrament meeting, too.

San Pedro Branch meets in a rented building that is right on the beach.  Many LDS tourists visit here while they are on vacation.  This photo was taken after the meeting was over.  (Elder Pattee and I were surprised to see our doctor--Dr. Durrans--and his wife from Provo at this meeting.)  

We stayed overnight at the Sunbreeze Hotel. 

This was our breakfast view the next morning.

Since this was our preparation day, we were free to enjoy the amenities.  Senior missionaries can go swimming if they wish.

The 8 of us rented 2 golf carts and drove around the island as part of our activities.

The Church owns property on the island, which we visited.  It could use a little clean-up.

Inspecting the site.  Perhaps a prefab chapel will be built here sometime in the next couple of years.

At 12:30 we left on the water taxi for Belize City.  The Martinos and the Lopezes had a flight for home to catch.  What a great week!
 *     *     *

 We now have a new van.  We are very thankful because we were having some problems with the old one.

I like to think of that old van as the "miracle van".  It transported us and the younger missionaries many places.  Even though we had 6 flat tires in the first 4 months we came here to Belize, we were never stranded on the roadside.  This included going to Lamanai twice (with the van full of missionaries), and that is one of the roughest 30 miles of dirt road you'll ever see.  (And 30 miles back.) 

We noticed the first flat tire as we were leaving home one morning.  Even before Elder Pattee could get the jack out, a Creole man stopped to help change the tire.  The second flat conveniently happened right next door to a tire store.  (It was good to know where a good tire store was, as we ended up spending quite a bit of time there.) The third flat was at the airport, and 2 Chinese men tried to help (until it started raining cats and dogs).  The last three flat tires happened around town and were also quickly taken care of.  

One by one the old tires were replaced with new ones.  Part of the problem was that someone had put 4 ply tires on the van instead of 6 ply.  We count it a great blessing that we never had a blowout while we were traveling full speed down the highway.  

Then the old van became a bit tempermental about starting.  It stopped while the zone leaders were on the way to the airport to pick up our mission president, President Lopez.  Elder Pattee called a member, who went out and helped them get it going.  It refused to start for us a couple of times, also.  Both times the missionaries were able to help give us a push.   

When we took it to the Toyota dealership for repairs, the van started right up.  They said nothing was wrong with it.  Since the new van was expected any day, we decided to not use the van, unless we absolutely had to.

We borrowed this car for a couple of days while waiting for the new van to arrive.  It  is owned by the Church, but will soon be sold.  It is not usually available to us, anyway.   

We were happy to see the new van arrive.   It is almost like the old one, but hopefully more trouble free and dependable. 

It is mango season right now.  A nice member, Sister Munoz, gave us several kinds from her trees.  They are delicious!

The month of May has been pretty hot--supposedly the very hottest month of the year here.  As we continue to serve our mission in Belize, Sister Pattee notices  the heat and humidity much more than Elder Pattee.