August 26, 2001 - El Salvador - San Salvador Temple is Dedicated

Friday, August 26, 2011

We had a wonderful 5 days in El Salvador this past week. We were invited to attend the San Salvador Temple dedication and the Saturday night cultural event. Our trip was an expereince of a lifetime.  Our flight from Belize on TACA took less than an hour, and it was right on time.

Elder Sandberg had previously rented a car, and we were picked up by a driver at the airport, then taken to our hotel. The first thing we encountered as we drove into the city of San Salvador were markets all along the street. 

These types of markets are very typical in Central America.

El Salvador is very beautiful with a tropical climate. The temperatures are more moderate and comfortable than in Belize. 

We left our things in our rooms and drove to a special missionary meeting that was held Friday evening at a chapel about 45 minutes away. Good thing we were following our mission president, President Cordon, or we would have become lost for sure.  El Salvador has about 19 stakes, if I remember correctly. The missionaries enjoy serving there. 

Before the meeting started, we had time to walk down a couple of blocks to get something to eat. There is a famous franchise called Pollo Campero (Country Chicken, based in Guatemala). It is supposed to be fast food, but it wasn't very fast. (We found a Wendy's on Monday evening, which we enjoyed.  There is no franchised fast food in Belize.)

 But we still made it back to the meeting before President Eyring and the others from Salt Lake City arrived.  The large chapel was packed with local missionaries. We heard inspiring missionary messages from President Eyring, Elders Christofferson, Walker, Falabella, Martino, and Amado.  Sister Sylvia Allred also spoke. 

Elder Eyring told us that not only is each missionary call inspired, but the Lord is mindful of the mission president.  Each missionary is given to the kind of mission president he/she will need.  “You were put together by revelation”, he said.  “The Lord runs His missions in detail.” 

We stayed at the Sheraton Presidente Hotel. President Obama stayed here earlier this year in March.  Of course we didn't get the presidential suit, but it was a very nice place. The hotel seemed to be crawling with Mormons, because many had come for the temple dedication.

 We liked the huge swimming pool, but only managed to swim one morning.

There were several nice walking paths, too.

The food was good.  Pupusas are one of the the favorite El Salvador foods.  They are kind of like a corn tortilla with cheese, or meat sealed inside.  It was interesting to see how this woman quickly formed and pinched the dough for each one.
Of course we never went hungry. Here we are finishing lunch and visiting with the Guatemala Temple President and his wife. They are from Idaho and their last name is Mask. Sandbergs served in the same capacity not long ago, so they had a lot in common. The new temple president and matron for the San Salvador Temple are from Idaho, too. President and Sister Peterson from Burley. 

The Cultural Night was Saturday evening.  It was fun to see the youth getting ready.

Waiting for the event to start

President Eyring, Elder Christofferson, Elder Walker, and Sister Sylvia Allred (and spouses) were our visiting dignitaries. The Central American area presidency, Presidents Falabella, Martino, and Amado were also in attendance with their wives. 

The event was held in the State Gymnasium.  Lots of folk dances were performed.

The lighting was a bit dark, so not all our photos were good.  These young men certainly look like future missionaries. 

President and Sister Lopezes' children danced in this one. (Our mission president that was recently released.) The dance was one of our favorites. It was good to see so many youth gathered together. The future of the church in El Salvador rests on their shoulders.

We had tickets for 2 dedicatory sessions. The second session we actually got to be seated in the temple.  We felt a special spirit, particularly as we walked through the baptistry.  President Eyring nodded at Elder Pattee as he walked by. 

The very next day, Monday afternoon, we were invited to attend an endowment session in the temple.  I was amazed that everything was in shipshape order, inspite of all the chairs and people inside the temple just the day before. 
Here are Elder and Sister Pattee standing next to 3 of our mission President's children. Oscar has received his call to Taiwan. He is only 18, but will enter the Provo MTC in December. He has studied Chinese for 4 years and is the first missionary called from this area to go to Taiwan. 

The completed and dedicated San Salvador Temple

Monday morning we entered the real world and actually went to a shopping mall--our first in a year. It was almost like going home. Shoppes and beautiful fountains everywhere.
We were invited on Tuesday to go to lunch at the mission home with President Cordon and his family. Sister Cordon is a very gracious lady and a good cook, as well.  Elder Pattee especially enjoyed the Mexican buffet prepared in his honor. Sister Cordon had prepared a full-course meal in addition to the buffet.  Everything was delicious.
This is the front of the new mission home.  It is not the permanent home, but will do until the permanent one is built, probably about in a year.

Our mission boundries underwent some changes recently. The El Salvador San Salvador East and El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Missions were realigned. The East mission is the El Salvador San Salvador Mission, and the West mission is the El Salvador Santa Ana/Belize Mission. Thus the mission home and offices had to be moved out of San Salvador, north about an hour to Santa Ana. 

 The present home is somewhat small, but nice, and in a very good neighborhood that is gated and well guarded.

The mission offices are now located in this new chapel in Santa Ana. In some parts of the world this is a good arrangement. When we visited the temple in Kiev, Ukraine on our way home from our Ukrainian mission, the new chapel next to the temple also housed the Kiev Mission offices. 

 Our mission does not have a senior office couple, just office elders.

We were so busy, we didn't have time to get photos of the countryside, though it is very beautiful. The two photos below were taken from inside the car. You can tell we are racing by. 

There are lots of mountains and hills in El Salvador. Crops are grown on the steep hillsides and cared for by hand. Corn is the crop in this photo.

Other crops we saw were coffee, bananas, and sugar cane.

We thought the temple looked a bit etherial at this moment--a  little translucent.

“Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life and death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.  Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house.”  Elder Russell M. Nelson

We came back from our trip rejuvenated and inspired.  We know the San Salvador Temple will be a blessing for all of the country--not just the members. The temple was the highlight of our trip. We really appreciated our mission leaders making possible this time-out from Belize missionary work.

August 16, 2011 - SOY and Blue Birds

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We've had 2 more SOY (Strength of Youth) trainings this week--One in Orange Walk and one in Belmopan.  Berly, Eric, and Kerben, our SOY experts, came again from Guatemala. Actually the trainings are mostly for the SOY counselors, but we are asked to be at all the meetings.  Enthusiasm is contagious, as more people get involved with the conference. 

In small groups, the soon-to-be counselors learned teaching techniques that will really make learning fun for the youth.
These conferences have been held in the USA for 30 years, and in some other countries for several years--usually called Especially for Youth.  The name has been changed here in Central America to Strength of Youth.  Since this is the very first SOY conference in Belize, we are working hard to make sure it will be successful. 

Sister Pattee had a hard time keeping up with line dance instruction,

But the young counselors-to-be, thought it was a piece of cake.

In the next activity the counselors learned how to make a banner and a cheer to represent their group based on a scripture they were given. 

 A panel of judges was needed to decide the winning banner and cheer. Guess who the judges were?  The oldest and wisest people there, of course.  (Pattees at left, Sandbergs, right.)

We pronounced this group the winner for their "Leap of Faith" banner and leaping cheer.

Then Eric and Berly demonstrated how not to dress for a dance.

No extreme clothing or too short skirts. The youth will for sure love this little skit set to music. Hopefully it will teach them not to wear extreme-type clothing to the SOY dance (or any dance).
Sunday evening we helped Paul finish up his Perpetual Education Fund application.  Tenica, his wife, was with him.  She is also going to school with the assistance of a PEF loan. We enjoyed our visit with them.

Monday evening Herb and Melanie (nonmembers), plus Sisters Clark and Rodas joined us for dinner.  Melanie showed us how to make some delicious Belizian food--black soup. Herb and Melanie own the store where we buy our drinking water.
Buses are a very important mode of transportation here. 
Ever wonder where all those school buses go after the U.S. schools are through with them? 

Most buses used here are just Blue Birds, with a new paint job. 

Often, they get new engines, too.

The buses mostly run city to city.  They make only a few intercity stops. 

These buses seem to serve the people well.

We both spent quite a bit of time training branch leaders this week.  Elder Pattee works with all 5 branch presidencies and also the Belize District presidency.  

August 10, 2011 - A Varied and Busy Week

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We are heavily involved in Strength of Youth Conference preparations presently. Lots of meetings and fundraising. SOS won't actually happen until December 19, but much remains to be accomplished. 

Another planning meeting.

Belize City Branch had a SOY fundraiser for the Young Women.  Sadly, not many young women showed up to help this time.  The fundraiser of cooking and selling turkey dinners was successful due to the leaders hard work. A similar fundraiser was held last month, and it was well supported by the young women.

But they did show up for the "Home Evening" activity we had at our place Sunday evening. 

Elder Pattee hired these 3 young men to wash the mission van.  This gave them an opportunity to earn money for SOY.  They were good workers and did a nice job.

Sister Pattee hired Deysi and Ismara to do some housekeeping tasks to help them earn SOY money.  They will return next week to finish their job.

Recently we had a Relief Society training meeting for Belize City Branch and Cinderella Branch presidencies. Sister Julie Smith called the meeting, as she is a counselor in the district Relief Society presidency.  We talked about the importance of using a conducting sheet. Sister Pattee printed some up so all could hopefully use them. She also stressed the importance of having the presidencies sit up front during their Sunday meetings. For some reason they don't like to do this.

Melanie was taught and baptized recently by Elders Holbrook and Molena.

The past few days President and Sister Cordon came from San Salvador for missionary and member training.  We picked them up at the airport and brought them to our house for dinner.  After a short visit we drove them to their hotel. 

We were able to spend quite a bit of time with them, as they were here Thursday through Monday. 

Friday was multi-zone conference. The young missionaries always look forward to these conferences with the mission president and his wife.

Especially lunch. 

This time we had Chinese take-out.

One of the favorite parts of the meeting was an activity to help us think about unity. We divided into 3 groups and pretended an astoroid had hit the earth.  The missionaries had to get their group to safety. 

Of course they were all successful.

All missionaries received an early Christmas stocking from some members from the U.S. And Sister Cordon found a good buy on shoes for all the Cayo District sisters. They walk in rough terrain, and their shoes were so worn out, they were having to put cardboard liners in them. 

While the Cordons were here, we did lots of visiting of people in their homes.  Usually we don't take photos there, because the circumstances are often very, very humble.  But I did get a couple of shots of the Nolberto family. There are 10 children in a very small space. 

We have visited them many times. Though people seem to be wall-to-wall, Nolbertos don't seem to mind. They are a very happy family. The older children help with the younger ones. 

Sister Norbeto was getting her hair done. Her daughter is putting in extensions.

We were glad to catch this photo. The man on the left is a "Rasta". He never cuts his hair.  Even though he is wearing  a ball cap, it is easy to see his hair. It kind of looks like uncarded sheep wool. We see lots of Rastas here. 
Happy Birthday, Elder Pattee!
To celebrate Elder Pattee's birthday we went to lunch at his favorite restaurant, Senor Coconut.  They specialize in Belizian food, which is rice and beans (cooked in coconut milk). They also have very nice Red Snapper fillets. 
Elder Pattee has been doing lots of temple recommend interviews lately. We are getting ready for the San Salvadro, El Salvador Temple dedication, which is August 21. 

President and Sister Cordon did a special fireside while they were here for Belize City Branch and Cinderella Branch. He bluntly told the people that if they didn't send more missionaries out and if more people didn't become temple worthy that the Church would not grow and flourish in Belize.