Thanksgiving Blessings November 30, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Guatemala. Our dear friends, Dic and Jennifer Johnson, invited us to stay with them in Guatemala City. They have been living there for 3years or so doing legal work for the Church. They are both fluent in Spanish and and know a good deal about the country. (Dic served a mission there years ago as a young elder.)

We were able to attend the Guatemala Temple with them Tuesday afternoon. It was wonderful to be in that beautiful and peaceful place. Notice the huge hydrynga blooms behind us.

On Thanksgiving Day we returned to the temple to attend a session with 53 saints from Belize that had arrived by bus (a 12 hour ride) to attend the temple. We felt fortunate to have been able to fly.  Several members were there for the first time. It was a very special experience to be in the temple with them. 

Gautemala is noted for its many volcanoes. Some of them are active. This photo was taken from the terrance of Santa Domingo, where we stopped for a delicious gourmet lunch on our way to the city of Antigua. 

Santa Domingo has rolling acreages of beautifully kept lawns and gardens featuring all kinds of works of art.  Notice the mosaic crocodiles in this photo.

Jennifer knew just where to take us. We saw many old buildings and went shopping at the handicraft market. The city of  Antigua has been around since the days of the Spaniards.  Among other things, Antigua is famous for its parades at Easter time.

Thanksgiving Dinner was a grand experience. 84 people were in attendance--mostly members of the Church from North America. The Area First Presidency were there. You can see both the counselors in this photo.  Elder Martino is standing at the front, and Elder Amado is at the right. Sitting at the front is President Falabella. 
We had a traditional Thanksgiving feast with turkey, dressing, and all the usual trimmings, including pumpkin pie-- plus sauerkraut, and a big box of See's Chocolates. 

The next day we had the privilege of traveling to Quetzaltenango, which is 3 or 4 hours north of Guatemala City, with the Johnsons. A new temple was just completed, and we got to go to the open house.

The Quetzaltenango Temple sets on a hill overlooking the city. 

Of course we couldn't take photos of the inside of the temple, so we took photos of some of the people we saw outside on the temple grounds. The women here are wearing clothing much like they wear each day.

These children were not used to having their photos taken, so they were a bit leery of us. 

This youth group enjoyed having their photo taken.

A scarf helps this big sister carry her little sibling.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Elder Lorenzo, one of our favorite missionaries that we worked with in Belize City. He has now returned home to Guatemala and was helping out at the open house.  It was nice to visit with him.

Here Sister Pattee stands by a tuktuk. They are commonly seen and used in Guatemala, mostly for taxi service.

  At market it was fun to see the way the women carry loads on their heads---

And on their backs.

On the way home we drove to Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  It is surrounded by volcanoes.

As a change of pace, on Saturday we went shopping and to a movie at a beautiful modern mall called Oakland. It was all decorated for Christmas. Children enjoy riding the train in the background on the middle level.   

Another unusual feature of the mall is a double-decker carousel.  .

  We attended Church at this chapel on Sunday.  It is the first chapel built in Guatemala City. Now there are many chapels.There are about 40 stakes and 200 wards and branches in Guatemala.

Jennifer cooked us a wonderful Sunday meal. The Wallaces and the Arnolds joined us for dinner. They are both senior missionary couples that we had met before.  Elder and sister Wallace are auditors for the Church, and Elder and Sister Arnold work with the Perpetual Education Fund.  Most of the programs of the Church for Central America are run through Guatemala City. 

It was a great blessing for us to visit Guatemala. We enjoyed our trip immensely. What a beautiful place!  We appreciate our hosts' hospitality and all their efforts in making it such a memorable experience. Thanks, Johnsons! 

When we returned home, we had a belated Thanksgiving Dinner with our missionaries.  A man currently investigating the Church is an award-winning chef.  He catered it for us.  Sister Pattee spoke to the missionaries about the origins of Thanksgiving Day, and Elder Pattee talked about the importance of graditude.  Then each missionary wrote a "Thank You" letter to his or her parents.  The missionaries always enjoy being together.  They are a great blessing in our lives.

Of course we count our family, friends, and the gospel among our greatest blessings.  Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are!

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