Terry Perkins had been a roommate of Juan Flores O'Donnell's daughter Patsy while at BYU and had gone to live with Patsy and her family for six months in Guatemala. She lived in both Quetzeltenango and Lake Atitlan. Patsy's family came down for the dedication and cultural program which spotlighted her father's early work of building the church in Guatemala. He was sent by our government during WWII to try to develop rubber plantations because our source of rubber had been cut off with the fall of Indonesia to the Japanese. He married a Guatemalan lady who later converted to the church and she was the very first Guatemalan convert. They spent their lives in Guatemala, building the church in every way possible.
We left for the cultural program early to get good seats, traveling with some of Patsy's family in one of their rented vans. They were all invited to sit in the upper seating with the authorities. While in line I saw the Selvin and Zobeda Velasquez family who lived in Zacapa but has since moved to Quetzeltenango. I also ran into one of the young sister missionaries who was serving while we were serving. What fun!
As we walked into the soccer stadium, there was so much energy. The youth participants were just running in to take their place on the stage to welcome the authorities when they arrived. They were in their brightly colored costumes and were a wonderful sight. Unfortunately, it was cold--probably about 45-50 with a breeze blowing. It was hard to watch them up there on the stage freezing in their light costumes. I got lots of great photos of the youth and the marimba playing and decorations which were wonderful.
When Pres. Uchtdorf came in the place went wild with waving hankies and shouts of welcome. He delivered a beautiful talk before the program began.
The evening was spectacular and very moving. People could not contain their enthusiasm as huge lighted lanterns rose in the sky while marimbas played Moon over Xela (the traditional name for Quetzeltenango) and then the model of the temple was unveiled with the actual full moon in the background. This was followed by a blaze of fireworks. The applause went on and on and on. I do not think I have ever witnessed that much emotion and enthusiasm ever. Many were crying as we sang the closing song.
As we left the crowded stadium, firework erupted again but this time they were not from the stadium. They were being set off from a store parking lot adjacent to the stadium parking. Hundreds of people were there to watch. We didn't know if it was part of the plan or not but we watched in awe as they continued for what seemed forever. Every time we thought they were done, off they went again. The next day during the dedication, Pres. Uchtdorf made an allusion to this. Apparently they were not part of the program but were probably sponsored by the community with possibly a suggestion from the Temple President, Pres. Perez.
Sunday was another day of wonder and joy. W started with a great breakfast in our beautiful hotel, El Bonifaz.
We ended up with tickets to two of the three sessions of the dedication. The first we attended at Los Arcos, the chapel where Terry attended church when she was living in Quetzeltenango. What a treat that was for her. The dedication was such a beautiful experience... Terry had purchased three white handkerchief s, beautifully embroidered with the temple on them, for the hallelujah shout. I was very emotional throughout the service--so thrilled to be there, feeling Dave close, amazed at the growth of the church in this area in only 50 years, and just basking in the sweet spirit which was present.
Speakers talked of the various dreams that different Mayans had prior to the coming of the missionaries in which they saw Anglos in white shirts and ties coming to their village and one lady dreaming of an angel flying in the heavens blowing a trumpet before the temples were built. Pres. Uchtdorf spoke in both sessions about 'light' saying that the temple is a place of personal revelation. Lights comes into our life through the temple. The temple is a place of light in contrast to the dark cathedrals throughout Europe. It is symbolic of the light of Christ and the restoration of all truth.
After lunch on the plaza, we were taken to the actual temple where we witnessed the third dedicatory session. We were fortunate enough to be in the Terrestial Room right in front of the alter facing the veil. The temple is stunningly beautiful and it was a sacred experience for me to be there. How blessed I feel for this opportunity.
Once back at the hotel, we were too excited to go to bed so we went to the plaza where many merchants were set up selling a wide variety of food, clothing, and other items. It really was a fun ending of a wonderful day.
The next morning we had some time to do a little more shopping. I bought a table running with embroidered birds on it to put on my dining room table and some necklaces for the granddaughters for Christmas. Terry needed me to take some Christmas gifts home to her kids so I didn't have much space and did very little purchasing myself. On the way back we stopped at a few places along the road and I got some photos rather than gifts.