far this has been a history, and an
interesting sociological study-- for non-LDS & the Mormon community alike,
of a devout LDS family & group of supporters in their effort to help
a very needy people--The Mayan Indians of Guatemala. In a very important
sense it was an effort to discover, develop & experiment with an effective
formula for success, and awaken the interest of individuals & institutions,
better qualified and funded, to initiate large scale effective aid
programs. The careful observer will note, especially in this segment,
recognition from an LDS leader that such very literally was happening--even on
a "World Wide" scale--with mention of how it
has incredibly grown to 2016.
Possibly a little of the credit can be given to this effort and its
supporters-- in spite of opponents calling us "novices," &
"dreamers," which I happily accept with a triumphant smile. The
next Episode 5: 1976-81 will conclude a 12 year period of officially
sanctioned missionary work by my family--the Andersen's--but you will quickly
notice that I didn't "give up, nor give in" bringing us to our Golden
Anniversary Year--in spite of the prediction we would only last six months!
So, hang on, as
eventually it became clear for us to persist and help even more
needy people the work would shift by 1981 and become more like in
the beginning --what we called"a preparatory work,"to
reach more people of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds. In the meantime, continue observing
the interesting and unique developments--and help a little with a donation or two.
A FEW LOOSE ENDS…..
A new vocational student had joined us during 1972
He was Miguel Ajpop from Patzun.....we see above obviously needing a little bit of expert help that he eventually received in 1975 from Dr. Harris Done who trained him as a dental technician.
BYU VOLUNTEER WAYNE POTTS....
We see him above helping us in our search for an abundant water source. The water dowsing, divining or witching was actually done by a friend from Lehi, Utah, George Ricks, who discovered an underground water source down low....in the area we called the Lamanite Generation amphitheater, we then followed it up the mountain to give us hopefully a gravity flow water source.
So, right on the property line we began drilling a hole, ending up just missing it after going down 50 feet or so. We eventually explored even further up the mountain finding a good flowing spring, purchased two acres of property and developed an adequate source of water which will be shown next.
WATER A DESPERATE NEED FROM THE BEGINNING
We had a difficult time from the beginning surviving with the original water system that came down from a spring in a 1/2" corroded pipe that actually came down inside the original square rock made aqueduct about 4"x4". We cleaned out the spring and conserved every drop of water but it wasn't enough--and after the lake was created most of us took our baths there--in fact we had fun with what we called "The Eskimo Club," membership requiring a daily dip in the lake no matter what the weather was....and there were always a few months of quite cold weather every year--and in 35 years I saw spotty frost 4 times!
Eventually there were so many of us that we had to get an adequate system ...... so after the water witching and drilling failed we found a spring 2 miles up the mountain, sealed the spring, and had a 3 inch pipe bring the water down to the top of the colony where we built a water cistern you can see in the following photos......
.....and from here took water all over the valley.
NITA SAVED TWO MORE TIMES FROM DROWNING!
Our little queen Nita (from "ReiNITA"), or Marcia, escaped death by drowning for the 2nd & 3rd times...during 1972....which details I'll insert below from the text version of the history:
time early that year, 2nd in her short life, when just a few months over 2
years old, she somehow went headfirst into the water deposit of a pila and was drowning, but saved by 15
year old Carmela Choc, one of our wonderful vocational
students from Patzicia, &
Central House "mothers."
time in 1972, and 3rd in her life, this time towards the end of the year when 3
years old, occurred at our lake. All the
kids from the Central House were taking their daily dip in the lake. Nita was just playing on the edge of the
lake, with nearly 10 year old David, and 9 year old Cristina out swimming in
the lake, when Cristina looked over towards where Nita had been…SHE WASN'T
THERE! She screamed for Dave and then they noticed her in the water face down,
lifeless. They swam quickly to her, pulled her out of the water and had her
sitting, bending over, manipulating her somehow, and water gushed out of her
mouth and she came to life…SAVED AGAIN FROM SURE DEATH! We concentrated our efforts teaching her quickly
how to swim!
after defying death 3 times, was able to
grow up, marry, have a wonderful family, Reid, her husband doing a great job in
the 90's as Executive Director of the Foundation, and then Nita doing the same
for a number of years in the new century as an outstanding Executive Director
of the Foundation.
In addition to what is mentioned about her near death experiences, she also became the "Infantil Queen" of the Annual Fair in Santa Cruz Verapaz in 1978, with her "gentleman" being her brother Joey, both seen above on the float in the parade.
NOW TO 1973
Success Formula Ambushed, but we found a way to......."NOT GIVE IN, NOR GIVE UP!".
January 7, 1973 Item #1-- VALPARAISO LDS GROUP STUNNED by MISSION PRESIDENT GLADE'S ORDER TO
STOP PARTNERSHIP HELPING THE NEEDY- The
main reason given, "Due to widespread misunderstanding!" Apparently there were a few key
individuals who couldn't accept the LDS Financial
Department decision authorizing the procedure, and they spread inaccurate
information that was believed. I
defended our work with the Mission President, reminding him he had given us a
sacred commission, saying, "You are our Indian mission! Find a way to make it work," I went on to review how we did find a way, that was authorized, followed by even greater success like had never happened
before in Guatemala! I concluded saying that
"......to stop a good thing that
was literally saving dozens of lives and producing so much good, at no cost to
the Church--just because of "widespread misunderstanding,"would be a tragically huge mistake and an
injustice of historic proportions."
Item #2-1973 GROUP SHOCKED! Daniel Choc led the 26 Priesthood bearers, plus Florencia, in an effort to each write a personal letter to inform the Church the truth about what was happening. For most of them it was the first letter they had ever written in this life. No replies to them ever came which increased their discouragement.
I wrote a couple of letters, quoting President's Lee and Romney about welfare & helping the needy from the October 1972 General Conference to justify what we were doing, and how successful it had been saving many lives--at that time with 31 consecutive months with no death at Valparaiso. Some Foundation trustees thought my letters were "masterpieces" and a perfect outline for what soon became the World Wide Welfare Services--today called Humanitarian Services. But, the "STOP" order for us remained!
We weren't about to give up, but dropped back,
like to punt, but it was a fake, and we kept the drive alive.
Item #5. February thru December 1973: THE VALPARAISO CREDIT COOPERATIVE'S ROLE The above photo represents the organization of the co-op (Julia Jacob on the left joined us, with her husband, Carl, in 1974). The President was Miguel Max, with voting members standing, Jose Caal and Santiago Caal Pop, and as secretary and treasurer, Florencia Rivas, and Carlos Yat Valdez. From January on the donation from the Foundation each month was received by the Co-op, and projects were funded and directed by this organization. The spiritual...religious aura and enthusiasm of the work had been taken away, and many became discouraged and participation dropped, but we did our best to keep the effort alive. For many participation in Church activities became almost meaningless, and attendance, and payments of tithing and fast offerings dropped.
BUT WE HAD TO SURVIVE...SO FOCUSED MORE ON THE WORK IN ALL OF ITS FACETS & WORKED TOWARDS OUR GOAL OF HAVING ALL READY FOR THE BIG MOVE OF THE MILKING OPERATION FROM COBAN to VALPARAISO ON FEBRUARY 2nd.
The Milking Parlor, Milk Processing Room, Cold Storage Room, Electric Generator Building, New Potable Water System, and the 5 New Homes were all ready for the move on February 1, 1973.
See Item #5-1973 for details.
February 2, 1973 -- Early in Coban, after cows were milked, they were ushered to a line of 5 diesel trucks waiting to transport them to Valparaiso and the best pastures they had ever known!
After the last cow was milked we moved in with our tools and dismantled the milker, the coolers, bottlers, and all the equipment with their pipes, tubes and wires, loaded it all on a truck and raced for Valparaiso to reinstall everything--and everything fit perfectly!
We cranked over the new
diesel generator and......
........ at the dairy flipped switches, the lights came on, the vacuum pump humming, the refrigeration compressors for the cold storage room, and the milk cooler all purring……andthere were no puffs of smoke or smells of motors burning out due to some stupid error.
The 3:00 PM milking began one hour late at 4:00, but we were thrilled to have made the move flawlessly and
the Valparaiso Plantation all of sudden had a dairy!
Item #7. February 1972 to October 1993:
THE LECHERIA LAS VICTORIAS OVER 21 YEARS
* Fertility problem was solved quickly giving
all the cows all the ground up mineral mix they wanted resulting in so many
cows in heat it was all us two inseminators, and the bul, could do to service them & the milking herd grew from around 50 in
the beginning to 100.
*Production from beginning low of 3.5
liters/day/cow steadily grew to 16.5 liters/day/cow--I was told it was the best in the country, even compared to Holsteins!
* Two cows: Maja and Milady, & a heifer, Waleska, all defeated in a Livestock Show the Grand Champion of the Jersey Breed in Central America!
* Record producing cow: Susana in 3 milkings produced 12 gallons (48 liters)of milk in 1 day!
* Beef herd production also with records!
Had tons of fun with artificial insemination experimenting with Black & red Angus, Hereford, and Charolais, and averaged 606 lbs. for weaned heifers at 6 months--something unheard of in Guatemala.
* Eventually I trained a vocational student to take charge of Animal Health & Artificial
Insemination. He became known as Dr. Tul.
See Item #7-1973 for interesting details.
Item #8 June 17, 1973-- LDS BRANCH AT VALPARAISO ORGANIZED WITH MIGUEL ANGEL ORTIZ as President, with Counselors, Miguel Max and Carlos Yat Valdez.......but unbeknowst to all of us, Mission Counselor, Jorge H. Perez gave some special instructions to Miguel Angel.....consequences would be tragic! A STRANGE NEGATIVE SPIRIT PERMEATES ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE AT VALPARAISO. Miguel Angel let all programs organized in the branch die, and opposed the efforts to keep the Projects alive through the Co-op & moral in the daily work projects went down hill! See Item #9-1973
July 1973: With a discouraged group the "Home Visitor" program ground to an almost total halt--something was confusing the pairs of "visitors" who without notice just stopped....and ALL OF A SUDDEN WE WERE ADVISED THAT A BABY DIED....WE HAD NEVER BEEN ADVISED OFF TO BE ABLE TO TREAT. This ended 36 months of no deaths of any kind in the Valley! Something mysteriously negative and even deathly was going on and I was determined to get to the bottom of it! See Item #9-1973 LONG VERSION for details.
July 2, 1973 (Item #10) .....
"Pepita" ANDERSEN WAS BORN IN THE COBAN HOSPITAL--As
she grew we soon knew we had a very real "Shirley Temple" to
enlighten our lives--a precious little girl, full of life, as none other.
Here she is in Richard "Dito's" arms, with volunteer Marsha Madsen on the right..... "Dito" comes from RicarDITO.
Marsha and my sister, Jolene, had come to be with us for a while helping as volunteers. Above you see Jolene interestingly sewing with a Bernina ELECTRIC sewing machine, by the power of a candle and a kerosene lamp!
Then washing clothes by the power of elbow grease!
Again we see Michelle this time in Marsha Madsen's arms. In two years we will learn more about the life of this precious soul.
A HUMBLE CONFRONTATION WITH MIGUEL ANGEL .....
...in a private conversation I reviewed all the deterioration of attitudes since becoming branch president, and some of the tragic results....the baby dying, and some very good members of the Church leaving Valparaiso and becoming lost, and asked Miguel, WHAT HAD HAPPENED?
I quote from the text version...
were already tears in his eyes as I talked, and
he frankly explained that when he was called as the branch president, the
Mission counselor had given him strict instructions, first to not ever ask me for advise, nor accept it if
I took imitative, and told not to worry, people would be sent to give him
training in his calling--which never happened; second, he was
told to not support me in any of the
altruistic or humanitarian projects that the Mission leaders had rejected,
and last of all told not to tell me of
these special instructions.
He understood that, if for some reason, all of
those projects were wrong, he should also persuade the others to not
participate. By the time he was through
explaining what he had been told and how hard he tried to obey, he was sobbing
uncontrollably, and begged forgiveness for not having trusted me. He shed
bitter tears of resentment towards the leaders for having destroyed for a time
the father/son relationship with me,
bringing death again to Valparaiso, and pushing some very good converts
away from the faith--also happening at that moment with Miguel Angel. All of them had been active and faithful Latter Day
Saints, but lost due to all the bad decisions, and confusion.
situation had become so bad, that even Maria was ready to give up......
had been too much for Miguel Angel to handle, and he insisted on leaving, and
disappeared for a couple of years working with
an uncle on a remote plantation.Then
returned to Coban, married Oliverio Guerrero's daughter, Miriam, and became a
dedicated member of that family's religion, The
Church of God. We have continued as friends over all these years, and even
for a time became partners in the cardomon business, but he was bitter against
Mormonism due to what the leaders had done, and more than once has tried to
Of course I have always been a bit stubborn,
so eventually being misunderstood and criticized became a great stimulus for me
to persist….yes, as mentioned a moment ago, at times dropping back 10 yards and
punting, but then working at getting the ball back, with new strategies to move
forward with plan B, or plan C, and..... never give in, nor give up .... doing
what I continued believing the Lord had sent me to Guatemala to do!
Miguel Angel, seen above as part of our family, WAS LOST! Today he is a successful plantation owner, mainly in the cattle business, and drives the status symbol for successful Ladino plantation owners, a big 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser passenger vehicle…..like a Toyota Sequoia.
In February, sensing trouble that might hurt the faith of some, I had taken all the Patzicia & Patzun students home.
See item #3-1973
September-October 1973 Item #12
Miguel Ajpop with his new wife, Carmela Cujcuj, returned and asked for full time employment as they felt this was their best chance
to achieve the Good Life.
They were moved into one of the dairy employee homes and, Miguel being quite an artist, and Carmela also having learned the importance of a home being "a stimulating environment," soon had their little home fixed up like none other! Miguel was given the job of Milk Processing Supervisor at the dairy.
Gonzalo Cujcuj..... ..... came along with them and, with the loss of Miguel Angel, he was immediately put in charge of driving the panel delivery vehicle carrying products to Coban early each morning. Eventually he would marry Florencia Rivas. They have resided in Patzicia for many years, most of the time he driving a truck hauling produce between the Central Highlands and El Salvador.
September-October 1973: I ADVISED THE NEW MISSION PRESIDENT, BOB ARNOLD, THAT MIGUEL ANGEL WAS LOST & DEMANDED A COMPLETE INVESTIGATION OF THE TRAGIC DESTRUCTION OF OUR PRIESTHOOD BROTHERHOOD! Mission counselor Jorge H Perez visited.....didn't want to discuss what he had told Miguel Angel, but just asked what had happened to the missionary work and baptisms. I didn't know until later, but word quickly got to the Regional Representative of the Central American Area, Harold Brown, who lived in Mexico City, that.... "Something was wrong at Valparaiso!" See Item #13-1973 for details Sunday, November 4, 1973:
EARLY THAT SUNDAY MORNING WE WERE SURPRISED
BY BROTHER HAROLD BROWN ARRIVING.... .....ACCOMPANIED BY MISSION COUNSELOR, JORGE H.
PEREZ Years before Harold Brown had been briefly our neighbor in Provo, and knew Maria
too, as he was one of the first missionaries in her home town, Tierra Blanca,
Veracruz, Mexico, when she was a little girl. Below is seen an old photograph of that time with the blue arrow pointing to Elder Harold Brown. Maria is the little girl shading her eyes, with brother, Alberto to her left, followed by sister, Graciela, also shading her eyes.
NOTE: This segment is so crucial in our history that I will insert almost all of the text from Item #14-1973 LONG VERSION He first
did what no other visiting leader had EVER DONE--BEFORE OR SINCE-- IN THE 50 YEAR EFFORT!He asked to be given the tour of the place
and learn what we were doing, why, and what had been accomplished.I sent people to advise everyone that we had a special visitor and to
not miss the special Sacrament Meeting.Then the tour.
It was an
exhilarating 90 minute experience to show someone around who really understood,
who really cared, and was full of questions, comments, and from time to time a
congratulations. Perez was silent, as he
had never shown any interest in what we were doing. I was careful to not
mention anything negative or conflictive.
We then returned to the Central
House and the chapel that was full of people waiting for us. Brother Brown was the lone speaker and
surprised everyone with some frank talk, but first laying the groundwork for
what he wanted to say, by telling the Ammon story from the BOOK OF MORMON,
which he described in some detail with their final success coming through some unique, and
non-traditional methods, but he then focused on how in the beginning
they had been "laughed to
scorn" by their own people for
what they were about to do. He likened that to what was happening with our efforts in Guatemala, saying history was repeating itself! He then surprised everyone, explained he had
been keeping track of what we'd been doing, sometimes receiving very positive reports, then at other times some that were negative, and
concluded what was going on…..that as Ammon
and his companions were criticized and judged unfairly, so was it happening to
He even mentioned what he had
heard: First, "Andersen was crazy to have given up a
comfortable life in the U.S. to come and live with the Indians;" Second, that I "…..was
running away from something terrible done in the U.S. and afraid to return and'face the music!'" and, Three, I was "giving a charitable
appearance to my life in Guatemala but I was rather deceiving everyone building
myself a business empire and getting rich." He then emphasized what he felt was my true
motive, being, the same as Ammon's to follow Christ and help His "little ones!" I
believe he was the first to start calling me "A Modern Ammon."
a whole congregation in tears like I had never witnessed before or since!
He basically explained what the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught members of the Church they should do, when he said:
But then added sadly, that when someone takes it seriously and makes the attempt, some members, for whatever reasons, turn on them! I recalled Apostle Spencer W. Kimball warning me to be ready for such in 1971.
AN EMOTIONAL PRIVATE INTERVIEW
Afterwards he talked privately to me and Maria, and wanted
to know what was really going on. I
briefly told him the story, that literally had him weeping, along with us. He
then said he understood as something
similar had happened to him in Mexico, but not to this extreme. He went on explaining that sometimes leaders in doing what they believe
is right, treat others cruelly, but begged us to be patient, but then
insisted "You must find a way to persist!" .....with
what he called the "crucial experiment." and then said something like,
"It should be comforting for
you to know that what you have done here in Guatemala has been of powerful
influence in the Church, stimulating the leaders to organize
Worldwide Welfare Services!"
Note: I'll admit toning down just a bit what he actually said....but the spirit of his statement is accurate.
Next: As I have just re-read the
two letters written in the first couple of months of 1973 to defend, explain
and justify what we were doing , it impresses me they were a
perfect outline for what today are LDS WORLD WIDE HUMANITARIAN SERVICES
that Harold Brown believed we helped stimulate--a montage of their development in the last 43 years seen below. None of these kinds of activities existed outside of the U.S. at that time--we were even instructed from my time as a full-time missionary to when called as a local missionary in 1967, to not mention the phrase "Welfare Plan." Leaders seemed to be afraid that if that word got out there would be a flood of converts just interested in getting free stuff.
ABOVE IS A MONTAGE OF "WORLD-WIDE WELFARE SERVICES" --NOW DIVIDED INTO SEVERAL BRANCHES AS EXTRACTED FROM RECENT CHURCH TV REPORTS: --HUMANITARIAN SERVICES-- --LDS CHARITIES--
--THE PERPETUAL EDUCATION FUND -- &
--THE BENSON FOOD INITIATIVE--
NOTE: Hearing from Brother Brown that our efforts had had something to do with stimulating this--back in 1973 in its infancy, the thought filled my mind that
one of my objectives in coming to Guatemala was to set an example, and
stimulate other individuals and institutions, more talented and better funded, to begin
working on a large scale among the Lamanites and other needy in the world.
Brother Brown promised to do all he could to establish good
relationships between us and Church
leaders. Later he informed me achieving
his purpose........at least with President
Arnold of the Mission, that finally by 1976 bore its fruit, as we will see in a
It goes without saying that we were profoundly grateful for
Harold Brown's visit, that, in a sense,
saved us from just giving up. He
continued as a friend and supporter, and later, even volunteered to be a
trustee for the Foundation which he continued doing for many years until age related conditions made it
impossible. What would we have done
without such a loyal friend as Harold Brown……as well as a few other key
brothers, and sisters in the faith, plus family members?
MIGUEL AJPOP CALLED AS BRANCH PRESIDENT
See Item #15-December 1973
December 27, 1973: In the twilight of the day, a large truck slowly drove up the lane. I went to see who, and heard, "WE'RE YOUR HOME TEACHERS!"
It was Roy Madsen (Marsha's father), and his traveling companion, Alan Thompson. They had left Utah with the truck loaded.....with things donated by several Stakes in the Salt Lake City area. But the truck was almost totally empty as their load was confiscated at the Custom House in Guatemala City. It cost us more than $1,000 and took almost a year to finally get what hadn't been taken already--apparently by personnel at Customs. But we were grateful for the effort, and the news that the day before, December 26th, President Harold B. Lee had suddenly died--reportedly a shock to the LDS community--except for me as I had sensed it would happen before the year ended. Apostle Spencer W. Kimball took his place.
From April to December 1973: LEGAL APPLICATION MADE IN GUATEMALA FOR A NON-PROFIT WE CALLED "LA FUNDACION de DESARROLLO INDIGENA" It would take another 6 months for it to be officially recognized in Guatemala.
Entire year 1974:
ALL WORK/BUSINESS PROJECTS GO FORWARD WITH GREAT SUCCESS
EMPLOYING FULL TIME 39, PLUS 30 MORE PART-TIME. ALSO A NEW GROUP OF VOCATIONAL STUDENTS
INTRODUCING DR. CARL JACOB & WIFE, JULIA
The Jacobs joined us around mid-1974, and were to take charge of the Educational Program. See Item #2-1974 Carl's main activity after joining us was to help organize the full-time employees as an officially recognized cooperative that would be given the opportunity to become owners of the entire business enterprise--thus producing greater prosperity by having a.... .... DOUBLE INCOME: 1. Their wage as employees, and 2. A dividend as owners of the business.
This was the leadership of the Cooperative, as explained in the Historical Documents. My capacity was as a "technical adviser." The plan was to turn over to them the business for three years as a test to see if they could do it. During those years I would be given a "living allowance" by the Foundation of $600/month. To give the Co-op the legitimate feeling that the business could become theirs, I even paid them rent for us to live at the Central House, and eventually paid rent to live in the first A-frame home built in what we called "the colony."
Note: All of which legally was still mine.
If all went well, the Cooperative would purchase from me the business, either with a loan from a bank, or from the Foundation, enabling me to then move immediately to a nearby area to begin a second such project and cooperative--with the hope of eventually having a whole chain of complimentary cooperative enterprises that would be
"Rural communities with a humanitarian purpose."
If capital wasn't available for complete payment, we would opt for the slower process of being paid gradually from their profits.
All of this was true capitalism with a humanitarian conscience.
For details see Item #4-1974
This is a new group of vocational students, with advisers, Hugo Galvez, on back row--a volunteer from Guatemala City, and Miguel Ishmael Chavez, on the right you should recall from previous years.
In this photograph we see on the back row two other volunteers from Guatmala City--Boris Salazar with arms around those on both sides, and Sergio Soza, on the right back row. Boris was the alcoholic brother of Mario Salazar who was on a mission, operating a school at the LDS chapel in Patzicia for member children and supported by the Foundation.
Miguel Ishmael Chavez, seen on the left again....was back with us--like for the 3rd time, along with his wife, Elena, we see below in the blue apron helping to dress chickens.
During 1974 we had with us Jan Fisher and his family, who helped us convert the old sugar refinery into a facility for making pottery. By this time Miguel Max, had built his own home in "the colony" and was living there with his wife, Delfina, making possible Jan and his family living in what was the first home new home built at Valparaiso.
July 1973: The name of the Foundation in the U.S. was changed officially to be in harmony with the name of the Foundation in Guatemala and reflect what our work was.
In Guatemala I felt we needed a better looking logo, so I did a modified version of the Mayan figure on The Tree of Life Stone (or Iztapa stella 5)......that appears to be a young Mayan writing on tablets.
......and made one for the new name of the plantation that would be located at the crossroads on the main highway, credit for which was always given to Daniel Choc, who felt we should formalize the system as the "BEST WAY TO HELP MY PEOPLE!"
-THE CENTER FOR INDIAN DEVELOPMENT- -THE CID- Note: This crossroads is still known as "El Cruce del CID"
See Item #7-1974
By mid-1974 we were living in the first A-frame home in "the Colony" area. The girl's bedroom was up a ladder on the 2nd floor. The boys were in the attic of a grass roofed structure we had built out back you can see below. By mid-summer Julie was sent to the U.S. to live with my parents and finish her last two years at Provo High School. She left soon after this picture was taken.
This was our home...actually a few years later after the Bugambilia had grown a lot.....too much!
THE FOUNDATION PROMISED TO GET US A VAN FOR TRAVEL IF .... ....WE COULD GET THE FAMILY TO THE US. I got permission from the Cooperative to sell some of my old cows and booked a flight on a PanAm 747 for the nine of us.....and as a family took our first flight on a jet airliner and made Fall trip to the U.S......our first in 7 years. Brother Jacob and his wife were left in charge as "technical advisers" for everything at Valparaiso.
It was an incredible 2 month trip for the whole family--for most of them their first experience in the U.S. We were given dozens and dozens of opportunities to speak, put on firesides......and in the midst of it all found the Foundation was on President Ernest L. Wilkenson's short list of 2 or 3 organizations to receive his millions. But.....then close friends, including Bishop Arch Bawden from the Oakhills II Ward, began telling us about rumors being circulated by an ex-Mission President and current employee of the Church.....so, some concluded it had to be true: That I had stolen tithing money, and that I had closed the Coban branch without authorization and moved it to Valparaiso! Note: Both items had been debunked during said President's time in Guatemala, so something quite sinister was going on! I was also told that the LDS Welfare Department had a negative report about our work, and, since we knew of no one in an official capacity every visiting us, many felt I had the right to see it and make any clarifications. The Religion Professors at BYU, who I had guided on a tour in Guatemala and put a fireside on for at BYU, headed by Paul Cheesman, and then President Kimball's sister-in-law, insisted I take it to President Kimball, and an appointment was made for me........but the Secretary insisted I could only see President Marion G. Romney.
I was very disappointed, and later several who thought my appointment was sure, said I had been "stonewalled." But off I went to the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City against my better judgement.
President Romney said, "Those matters are out of my jurisdiction"....and suggested I consult with my lawyer. I told him I had been advised to do that, but to do so would drag the Church into the picture--which I didn't want to do. Then he made a groundless accusation against me and my kids, which I told him could easily be clarified with a recording I had....but he wasn't interested.
The two erroneous rumors, plus the also mistaken accusation by President Romney, brings to mind something someone said once:
seriousness of the charge is much more important than
the veracity of the
That kind of thinking had me judged guilty, in spite of the truth. There didn't seem to be any way that the truth & " evidence" could win! I was so disappointed that I just wanted to get back to my simple life in Guatemala and in my own quiet and non-political way help my people as best I could.
President Wilkenson believed my explanations, but didn't want to get involved for whatever reasons. So, for the rest of his life, we had to be happy with his small $100 to $150 donations a couple of times a year, but often wondered what might have developed if we could have had millions at our disposal?
Later in conversation with Harold Brown, he said maybe it was a blessing in disguise as he knew of some small organizations that were ruined by trying to go big time.
Who knows.....maybe I all of a sudden would have wanted my "modest $100,000/year living allowance," and "every other year a nice new car," and would begin "staying at the five star hotels & eat at the nice restaurants," but I really don't think I would have been tempted with any of that.....but that's all water under the bridge now!
For details about the rumors & the simple truth, see Item #8-1974 LONG VERSION
The Foundation finally purchased a new Plymouth van, seen in the background of this terrible photograph. We traveled to Seattle to visit my brother Marlo, put on a fireside and then drove down the coast putting on firesides in a number of places, ending up in San Diego at my sister, Gayle's place for Thanksgiving, then down Lower California, crossed the gulf on a ferryboat and on to Guatemala...... ....... arriving at Valparaiso just as Brother Jacob was taking Boris and Sergio out into the street to beat the heck out of them....as they had given him tons of trouble.
Note: Carl in his youth was a Golden Gloves Champion and started boxing programs at Valparaiso, in Coban, and in Guatemala City and was confidant he could whip Boris & Sergio at the same time, even being around 60 years old.
Also on returning from the U.S. I discovered my priceless 7 year collection of Mayan artifacts had disappeared. the collection included a non-Mayan figurine with a biblical like headpiece, and a beard. Also gone from my office was a collection of several bottles of Johnny Walker Whiskey--a bottle of which I was given each Christmas by my Poultry supplier in Guatemala City, and was just saving them, like for the Family Museum. As I went to work investigating the thefts, Boris all of a sudden disappeared, apparently returning to the City and was never seen again!
October 1974 See Item #7-1974
WHILE GONE, PRESIDENT ARNOLD SENT MISSIONARIES TO COBAN AND FEELING THEY NEEDED A BRANCH TO WORK THROUGH, ABRUPTLY MOVED THE VALPARAISO BRANCH TO COBAN, FORCING THE VALPARAISO MEMBERS TO TRAVEL TO COBAN FOR CHURCH, IF THEY WANTED TO BE ACTIVE
During 1974 rumors of infidelity swirled around the Valparaiso Branch President, Miguel Ajpop, and activity had dropped--even though still better than others in the mission. Miguel had a difficult task as he just wasn't liked by the Poqomchies from Valparaiso. I had advised the Mission, but nothing was done and activity had dropped and the members began even joking about
the idea that the LDS leaders were just, inspired men.
See Item #5-1974 for details
The move to Coban had Miguel presiding over a branch in a place where he didn't live--and had no car for travel back and forth, also he became the leader of a group of Ladino's (non-Indians) with a lot of ethnic friction and lack of respect-- making it in his mind an impossible task! He just wanted to disappear, to escape.
EFFORT TO KEEP ALIVE THE FAITH OF THE MEMBERS Brother Jacob had opted to do whatever was necessary to keep alive their faith, so began using all the work vehicles to transport the members to Coban for meetings--but it was all very strange and confusing as the 30-40 hauled from Valparaiso were basically just meeting with themselves as only about 7 of the members from Coban attended! To make it more difficult....even impossible, many of them had to be up at 5:00 AM to keep the dairy functioning, then rush off to Coban without being able to shower or have breakfast, then rush back to go back to work....making it a hellish day for them!
NOTE: This picture is from Mexico, but in a humorous way represents what was being done to hopefully keep the faith of the Valparaiso people alive by Brother Jacob!
See Item #7-1974 for interesting details The work vehicles weren't authorized to carry passengers so, in addition to the business subsidizing the Church attendance, Carl was paying bribes to the police each Sunday....of course with business money!
FRUSTRATION! BUT WHAT ELSE COULD WE DO? After our return, we at least had the Plymouth van, so one of our loads didn't have to pay bribes anymore, just the one work vehicle we see above. We persisted as best we could.
In January 1975 we see another volunteer from Guatemala City, MAX, along with Sergio
January 1975 Item #1 PRESIDENT ARNOLD VISITS VALPARAISO It wasn't a friendly visit, nor to straighten out what seemed like injustices towards the beseiged members, but rather to excommunicate Sergio Soza! After our return from the Fall vacation to the U.S. I soon discovered that Sergio had attempted to seduce almost every woman at Valparaiso. As far as my interviews went, I concluded the girls and women had all resisted him, but for trying so hard, Sergio was excommunicated from the LDS Church. We sent him back to Guatemala City.
Quoting from the text version: Sergio then became a quite a bitter enemy--even
telling people, "Cordell
Andersen is a vicious person, known
during the war in Viet Nam, as 'THE BUTCHER OF VIET NAM!'"
Army service was as a Medical Specialist from 1959-65, the closest I came to
combat being with a vulgar 1st Sergeant at Fort Ord. During my service, Viet Nam hadn't happened yet.
1975: HUGO GALVEZ, the last of the volunteers from Guatemala City, who was an outstanding young man, WAS CALLED & SENT ON A MISSION TO CENTRAL AMERICA, partially supported by our family as we had done with Fernando. Hugo afterwards became a medical doctor and I believe is living in Canada.
Item #3-1975 MARIO SALAZAR'S MISSION OVER..... .. THE SCHOOL AT PATZICIA? Mario claimed that the Mission had promised to keep the school going by having his brother, Julio, called on a mission for that purpose. For some reason President Arnold refused. Mario got his brother, Julio, to keep the school going, setting it up in a rented building and had convinced the Foundation in Utah to continue to support the effort. The Mission's objection was perceived to be very strong, even though we never understood why, but I felt sure the conflict would be damaging to Julio's faith, so I convinced him to close it down and get the kids into the public government school. I heard that President Arnold was pleased with my supportive effort even though I frankly didn't think it was right to stop a very productive effort that was blessing the lives of many children, and costing the Church nothing. Thereafter, Julio was called on a full-time LDS mission. See Item 3-1975 for some details
Here we see some of the children that were involved, who I found 6 years later had not continued in the public school, prompting an effort in 1981-82 to get them back in school. Early 1975 HAROLD BROWN CONVINCED PRESIDENT ARNOLD TO BE MY
FRIEND, RESULTING IN A PRIVATE VISIT When I rang the Mission Home's doorbell, his wife opened the door and told me her husband was sick in bed, but wanted to visit with me anyway. I was shown to the 2nd floor bedroom.
He started by talking excitedly
about Daniel Choc, who, after spending two years with us as a vocational student, the Tractor Supervisor,
and a local missionary, had returned home and surprised everyone with a welcome
home speech in Sacrament Meeting. One of
the old-time members, remarking, "He left as a boy, but returned as a
man!" Talk began about him
possibly becoming the first full time Cakchiquel missionary for the Church,
that had President Arnold excited.
He then began talking frankly about what we were doing that he didn't agree with, namely, the idea of taking young people from their areas and having them be with us for a year or two learning to live and to work.I quickly pointed out, "But, President Arnold, the very thing you say isn't right, is what made Daniel into 'a man' and potentially the first Cakchiquel missionary, which system at Valparaiso Daniel himself says is 'the best way to help my people!'" He all of a sudden could see the fallacy in his opposition and we talked very positively about the program and how it did miracles with young people.I even mentioned that Daniel and me had a plan for after his mission establishing in Patzicia the Center for Indian Development No. 2with Daniel as Director.We ended the visit on a very friendly note, with prospects of a lot of cooperation in the future.
See Item #4-1975 June 1975: STAKE CONFERENCE IN GUATEMALA CITY I took with me David, Cristina, Richard and Joey. It was presided over by Elder Boyd K. Packer In the evening there was a special Fireside at the Mission Home for those of us living in the country who spoke English. Among many things he stated--but the only thing I took note of: "You
are where the Lord wants you and doing what he desires you to do. Just be
patient and everything will work out the way it should." e was
accompanied by Brother Harold Brown, and knew about us and inquired if there
were flights to Coban, which had been suspended since having a paved highway to
the area. Afterwards they held conferences in Quetzaltenango, Patzicia, and
then in El Salvador. May-June 1975 PROBLEMS PERSISTED WITH THE BRANCH IN COBAN & MIGUEL AJPOP AS PRESIDENT The mission was advised about Miguel's possible infidelity. President Arnold visited and after interviewing Miguel, chastised the members and asked them to raise their hand in his support. They complied--grudgingly, but continued to believe what they were witnessing, and lost faith in the Mission President. Soon more of the same was seen by many, and Miguel himself stopped going to Church and begged me to have the Mission President release him. I advised, but nothing was done......then one day only two people showed up to go to Church in Coban with us. We returned to find Miguel leading our soccer team destroying Tactic's team on our soccer field! All Church attendance and payments of tithes & fast offerings stopped! They were all fed up with what was going on-- HOW SAD FOR A GROUP THAT HAD BEEN "THE BEST!" See Item #5-1975 INITIATIVE TAKEN TO SAVE THE PEOPLE At Valparaiso we began having again a Family Hour inviting all at a time when all could attend if interested. Soon it grew and multiplied.
January to July 1975 DISTRICT CONFERENCES Trips were made to District Conferences in far off Zacapa...120 miles to the south, taking those interested in the Plymouth Van. Inaccurate reports were made about me refusing a call as District President. Our friend, Harold Brown, again intervened to clarify the truth. See Item #6-1975 for details
July 1, 1975
FERNANDO HAD RETURNED FROM HIS MISSION and MARRIED
He, his wife Patty and their first child showed up wanting to be with us.
July 1975: THE LAMANITE GENERATION FROM BYU Brother Jacob and Julia by that time had moved to Coban where he took charge of the publicity for the upcoming performances of the LAMANITE GENERATION from BYU on July 2nd, the first at Valparaiso, and the evening in Coban.
For background information & details, see Item #9-1975
July 2, 1975 IT WAS MICHELLE'S "Pepita" 2nd BIRTHDAY With the flurry of activity it was decided we would celebrate her special day on Saturday, July 5th
THE MIRACULOUS PERFORMANCE! We had prepared the Central House for the large group to stay overnight, and when they arrived ushered them into the dining room for a special lunch. Storm clouds were gathering and darkening the sky and drops of rain were falling.I talked to the group about our history, and that a miracle would be needed to hold back the rain.Ezekiel Sanchez offered a powerful prayer, and we opened our eyes to see a window opened up in the dark sky, with the sun shining down on Valparaiso.
The aproximately 1,200 would have been much more if the weather hadn't of been so threatening!
There followed a miraculous performance, many times with bowed heads holding back the storm, and even giving the 1,200 in
attendance time to get to their homes.
off to Coban for another great show….after which they got on their bus and
returned to Guatemala City.
The miraculous events surrounding the performances, with huge crowds, many saying nothing like that had ever been seen in the area. So for several reasons we felt that the time had arrived to
get the Church going again at Valparaiso,
but later Mission Counselor Perez,
"....it had nothing to do with
the work of the Lord."
July 3,4, 1975: DR. HARRIS DONE, FROM AYUDA, TRAINED MIGUEL AJPOP
Harris and his group had been with us for the Lamanite Generation's performance. They had come bringing with a portable dental unit (in a suitcase), and wanted to train someone to be a dental technician. In spite of some of his problems, Miguel Ajpop, was chosen and trained to pull teeth, and fill cavities....and later learned to make dentures, etc. Saturday, July 5, 1975: A DAY OF AGONY! I quote from the Long Text version:
at the same time the Central House
was being cleaned out of all the pine needles we had carpeted the floor with
for the Lamanite Generation--work done by volunteers. As I headed up the hill
to see how preparations for her birthday were going, I saw Nita and Danny,
happily coming up the drive-way arm in arm with our little Pepita in the
A few minutes later, up at the house, Fernando
came running yelling for me to come quick with the panel. Down at the Central House one of our new vocational students, "Mecanismo,"
had Michelle in his arms and he jumped in the back with her. I gave her a quick blessing and raced for
Coban. She had positioned herself in
front of the Toyota pickup and was totally out of sight of the driver who slowly
pulled out with his load, and ran right over her.
I carried her into the hospital
emergency room, and they did all they could but she was gone!
That night we were alone as a devastated family with her in a small pine coffin decorated with white satin cloth. The next day a funeral service was held for her in the Coban chapel to the largest attendance ever recorded for the Church in Coban. Many were non-member friends. Carl Jacob and myself gave the sermons honoring her to a chapel full of tearful listeners who bid farewell to her.
She was buried amidst the tall pines in front of the entrance to the Valparaiso Central House, where we had already made application for an official cemetery.
Brother Daniel Noorlander provided money for the marble plaque.
By that time the Lamanite Generation
was continuing their tour in South America, but got the word about what had
happened, and were terribly moved, and decided after finishing their tour they
would return to Guatemala City for one last performance in Pepita's honor in
the City's largest theater, where they had all of our family sitting on the front row. Prior to the performance,
backstage, I was given a special Navaho necklace, and made an honorary member
of the Navaho tribe.
A VERY PERSONAL NOTE ABOUT PEPITA I began believing she was our Guardian Angel, with many experiences in which I felt she intervened, but one was quite unforgettable in which I believe she saved me:
Early one morning while
still dark I left for Guatemala City to do business. The day began
dawning as I was speeding along up in the mountains near where the National
Quetzal Park was located. All of a sudden I dozed off and was
heading off the road in a very dangerous area…..but all of a sudden someone
SLAPPED ME WITH A DISTINCT AUDIBLE SOUND & STINGING FEELING ON MY FACE and I was
able to maneuver the pickup back onto the highway averting what might have been
a sure death. The stunning experience had me sensing it had been
Pepita who awoke me just in time! As I humbly, and now wide awake,
continued I recalled what the Lord had promised me in the Henry Mountains in
October 1965, that…..
"AS LONG AS YOU PERSIST SERVING MY LITTLE ONES, YOU
WILL BE PROTECTED!"
US ANDERSEN'S DECIDED TO GO ON AN EXTENDED
VACATION TO THE U.S.
LEAVING FERNANDO & HIS WIFE IN CHARGE OF GIVING
SUPPORT TO THE COOPERATIVE IN KEEPING EVERYTHING GOING, INCLUDING THE FAMILY
HOUR….which was the only Church related, but unauthorized activity, to
hopefully keep our people's faith alive.
See Item #12-1975
Patty is seen in charge of one of the school classes, along with their first daughter.
All the programs continued. We are seeing here the adult literacy class, with Miriam Ovalle in charge.
Miguel Max managed the work, and the Cooperative, including taking visiting groups on tours and explaining what we were doing and why. September to November 1975
THE U. S. STAY WAS A BEEHIVE OF ACTIVITY WITH MORE THAN 83 PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS, SLIDE PROGRAMS, SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, TV & RADIO APPEARANCES, DISCUSSIONS, ETC. TO PROMOTE THE FOUNDATION'S WORK IN GUATEMALA At that time some quite extreme statements were made like:
Dr. Berkley Spencer, ex-Central American Missionary from my time, and Rural Sociologist at BYU described the Foundation's work as:
"….one of the most exciting programs for Indian development in Latin America today."
Paul Felt, one time Director of the
Lamanite Development Program, Professor of Religion at BYU, and Mission
President of the Southwest Indian Mission for the LDS Church, said, in a High
Priest's fireside in Provo,
"It is not unlikely that within a few
years or decades it will be recognized that the most significant work among the
Lamanites of our century is that being undertaken by Cordell Andersen in
Some with those thoughts in mind might say,
"Andersen really failed
I myself will
admit that with goals pretty high, I fell short.
But, from the perspective of trying to put together 50 years of history,
I believe there is a way these kinds of statements might have the ring of truth
to them, by understanding how the
combined influence of the effort
stimulated other such efforts by individuals, other humanitarian
organizations, and the organization of
institutional worldwide humanitarian programs, as attested to by Harold Brown on
November 4, 1973 when visiting at Valparaiso… all of that carried on into the
Of course, due to my "maverick reputation" credit was not
expected! However, I believe it would be proper for the Foundation and all its
donors to get the credit they so richly deserve for keeping this work going for
THE RETURN TO VALPARAISO…
....A BIT OF CHAOS FOUND
& NEED OF GETTING ORGANIZED-
It had not been easy for Fernando and his wife to adapt to life on the frontier. Being educated Ladinos made it difficult to understand and work with the Poqomchi/Mayans and other ethnic groups among the students. So some conflicts occurred and on our arrival Fernando was alone, his wife having left him. The Family Hour had taken a nose dive, along with the scandle of actually surprising Miguel Ajpop in adultery. See Item #14-1975 PRESIDENT ARNOLD CAME & EXCOMMUNICATED MIGUEL AJPOP But interestingly told me "Please don't abandon him!"
For details see Item #15-1975 LONG VERSION
TO SAVE FERNANDO'S MARRIAGE I SENT HIM BACK TO THE CITY..... .....but didn't abandon him either, rather....
.............helped them set up a sort of "halfway-house" in the city, where I could stay when in the city, with Fernando running errands, making purchases and holding things in his house for me to quickly pick up or he sending things on a truck.Eventually we helped establish Fernando and his family in the Peten, where he went to work to get a dairy business going with the hope of doing something similar to what we had done at Valparaiso.
Note: The above picture is of Fernando's family years later when we helped him get established in the Peten as shown in the following photographs.
November-December 1975 DOING WHAT WE COULD TO SAVE OUR PEOPLE....
We got the Family Hour going &
invited all as though we were a branch of the Church. Soon attendance was as good as ever, and
tithing started being paid, which we sent to the Coban Branch where Carl Jacob was the branch president.
The fulltime missionaries in Coban were not having any success and were invited to come to Valparaiso where there were many interested in learning. Baptisms followed, all reported as though part of the only officially organized branch in the area--Coban.
We of course had evening firesides, with movies, some educational and relgious, but also key commercial movies which taught important life lessons. All of this added up to growing interest and enthusiasm.....and there were more baptisms.....which apparently really pleased the Mission leaders.
MISSIONARY MEETING IN GUATEMALA
CITY….PRESIDENT ARNOLD CONGRATULATED THE COBAN MISSIONARIES FOR THEIR SUCCESS.
A missionary raised his hand and said,
"But President Arnold, the
success isn't in Coban, rather at Valparaiso!"
Soon we began hearing rumors that
President Arnold was coming to Valparaiso to organize a branch….again! I wrote a letter suggesting we first had to
sit down and talk frankly about all the unfair, and unjust things that had
happened over the years, Valparaiso's Mormon community sort of being used & mistreated like a punching bag with some tragic loses!
Item #1-January 1976
BY THIS TIME
DANIEL CHOC WAS A FULLTIME LDS MISSIONARY WORKING IN SUMPANGO
Maybe it was this historic accomplishment.....but something had me thinking a lot about Patzicia and the members. During the same period, when at Valparaiso we had 36 consecutive months with no death, 8 LDS infants/children had died in Patzicia. Something had to be done.
The poverty of the Choc family made impossible them helping to support Daniel's mission. So we financed a broiler business for the family--under the supervision of the oldest son, Serapio, who we had trained at Valparaiso for 6 months, along with his wife.
BUT SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE TO HELP ALL THE MEMBERS....
...mainly the teaching of correct principles...
January 1, 1976:
SO, I WAS
OVERPOWERED BY THE FEELING I HAD TO BEGIN AGAIN MY VISITS TO PATZICIA
I ARRIVED THERE ON TUESDAY NIGHT JANUARY 6th--THE NIGHT OF THEIR MUTUAL MEETING.
It was a cold, dark night and only
around 10 people came--out of a congregation of over 300. The Brother in charge taking up the time
railing against how lazy and no-good the members were for not coming, etc. I asked them if they would accept my help to
enliven their Mutual and they agreed to promote my coming on January 20th to
give them a GOOD LIFE presentation.
We are seeing above the living conditions of the most important leader in the area--with 15 years as members of the Church with little or no progress in their daily living as described in previous episodes. Note: In our attempt to awaken the people & Mission leaders to what should have been possible in helping the Indians to "blossom" we used constantly documentaries from the Israeli Embassy showing the astonishing miracles in development in Israel during also a 15 year period. January 20, 1976:
A LARGE GROUP OF 160 WERE WAITING
Using a slide projector I gave them a Good Life lesson, focusing on what the POPUL VUH said about them centuries ago when they had a Sacred Book, but which was lost, and then a "great darkness" came upon them! The following two montages illustrate what was taught.
I then emphasized who they were descendants of--a people once prosperous and blessed by the Lord....WHO WANTED TO BLESS THEM AGAIN.....
......but in some way the OLD LIFE HAD TO BE LOST.....maybe in light of what was going to happen, "DESTROYED" would have been the more appropriate word to use! I promised them that on February 3rd I would share with them THE SECRETS THEY NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND TO BUILD A NEW LIFE! Late February 2nd, or early the 3rd IMPORTANT VISITORS ARRIVED They were Dr. Elmer "Buz" Sandberg, and Jim Penrod with some of his kids. I sent a telegram to Patzicia advising them I would be there on Thursday February 5th.
"Buz" a dentist from Salt Lake City came to share some of his knowledge with our students. Above he is being greeted by Miguel Max and Santiago Caal Pop.
Wednesday morning early at 2:45 AM February 4,
SCREAM FROM ONE OF MY KIDS AWOKE ME…got up to check....I quote: I
got up to check on who screamed, then at about 3:00 AM was sitting on my
be when….all of a sudden there were dogs
barking, and cows mooing all over, and then all of a sudden….. A ROAR LIKE A
LARGE JET PLANE WAS RACING TOWARDS US & ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERYTHING STARTED
ROCKING VIOLENTLY BACK & FORTH….THE LIGHTS WENT OUT…..THE VIOLENT ROCKING
PERSISTED AND WENT ON SEEMINGLY FOR A LONG TIME…BUT ONLY 30 SECONDS, & THEN
ONE VIOLENT JOLT FROM DEEP UNDERNEATH….Maria was climbing all over me,
reverting back to her Catholic childhood, screaming "Holy Mother of God…Mary,
save us…." I yelled for the kids to get out of the house. The girls tumbled down the ladder from the
2nd floor, the boys from their sleeping loft out back. Then it was over. THE "GREAT EARTHQUAKE" HAD HIT
GUATEMALA KILLING 25,000--10,000 IN PATZICIA….THE OLD LIFE WAS DESTROYED! Pablo Choc's
wife and daughter had died, as well as many others I had known Details at Item #4, & 5 1976 LONG VERSION
The Penrods were sleeping in their van....AND SLEPT THROUGH IT! "BUZ," not knowing in an earthquake you get outside QUICK, had just rolled over, pulled the blanket over his head and was pelted by plaster falling from the walls, but was alright. You can read about his experience in a newspaper article clicking on: THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE...A Utahn Was There: Dr. Buz Sandberg Our damage at Valparaiso was small as you see below. But the thick walls between rooms in the Central House all had serious cracks and would have to be replaced by wood partitions.
In the meantime everyone camped out in the soccer field. We were lucky it was the dry season.
At Valparaiso we had to take quickly emergency measures as it would be at least a month before fuel tankers and freight trucks could get into the area and we had to keep the business & our animals alive and producing. As soon as I could I loaded the van with donations from our people of blankets, clothes, medicines and food, and with Gonzalo accompanying me made it to the Central Highlands.
The above picture is of the main street in Patzun.
Most of the thousands who died were killed when with the first violent shocks the dry adobe walls of their homes were turned to dust and the heavy roofs, many with tile, came crashing down and killed the inhabitants.
Somewhere among my many thousands of slides I have pictures of Patzicia that was leveled leaving standing here and there a door such as you see above that kept the roof from coming down completely.
A defect in the construction of the LDS chapel caused the collapse of the heavy roof when cement beams spanning between walls weren't tied into the wall columns with construction steel and they turned violently on their sides causing them to buckle in the middle bringing down the entire roof--all of poured cement with construction steel, but not tied together--except for the near one that remained standing.
Gonzalo and me understood that medical personnel from the Church had established a camp on the chapel grounds and we headed for there first....but a block or so away ran into a large group of very angry people coming from the chapel. We stopped to ask what was happening. They explained they had gone to the chapel seeking help, but were turned down saying that the Church was only helping members of the Church. We told them there must have been some misunderstanding as we were Mormons too, and we helped anyone with need....and ended up sharing with them all the emergency load we had.
For me, it was not a coincidence that I had started visiting the chapel and preparing them to build a new life, and believed deeply that I was supposed to help in the Reconstruction of the New Life, but Mission leaders told me to "Go home and take care of your own. We have everything here under control." But we quickly visited those we knew best and found many injured, sick and with dire needs, and began treatments--making a list that we left with the people at the chapel compound, so they could do followup treatments. However, they said they weren't supposed to leave the compound. I tried to be tactful, but told them if they didn't get out of their compound and seek and treat those in need, many would die--and some did.
Eventually the Church sent teams of volunteers, like from BYU, to build homes--like seen above--supervised by a Brother Wallace, who a while later visited us and we had some interesting conversation. Best, for me to quote a paragraph or two from my journal history: Eventually
someone came up with a plan to build homes for the members, later described by
a Brother Wallace who was in charge of BYU students doing the building of what he called "the rooms," rather than homes, because each was just a one room structure
with cement floor, one small window, that couldn't be opened, and a door with
no thought for cooking & heat, nor electricity, potable water, and sanitary
facilities--each large family crammed into a small space--but at least with a
secure roof over their heads. Wallace
described it as follows, "The first
thing most members did when they moved in was to place three rocks on the floor
and light a fire, soon blackening the interior!" Wallace was the one mentioned in an earlier episode who outlined what he was being told were my THREE FAILURES.,,,that interestingly were some of our greatest successes. I continue: Wallace
was a colorful character of the earthy type, like J. Golden Kimball,who stated that he got away with mild
swearing because he could "repent
too damn fast!"A year later he
visited us at Valparaiso and said he had heard stories about us for "good
and evil,"and told me I
had a title not heard of before, it being "Chinese War Lord!" After visiting, taking the tour, and a lot of talking he concluded, "It
is quite obvious that you pretty well have this thing put together right and
are headed in the right direction!" Since the Church didn't want our help, we scrounged around and found some areas no help had got to yet, and had some of the most cherished experiences of my 50 year effort. I'll tell more of that history in the next episode, but just mention the Saquiya Village of Patzun where we found a rare teacher putting forth incredible effort to not abandon her children.....that we see in the picture below.
We went to work and organized the villagers, those of most importance from the Mercedes hamlet of the village where we all built together THE CID No. 2 Cultural Hall and..........
.....with the partnership of wonderful people, like Lucio, we see below, we ended up building, with help from the Canadian Embassy, the FIRST FUNCTIONING SCHOOL REBUILT AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY!
Above we see the Saquiya School, the first rebuilt, at it's inauguration.
Note: I forgot to mention that the earthquake was the excuse needed to send Miguel Ajpop home to Patzun and be able to bring Maria del Carmen back to Valparaiso. In Patzun we helped him establish his dental clinic and worked together for a number of years, he being the key person to find Las Mercedes and get me started there where I spent many fruitful & happy days helping a people who hadn't heard about the "give me for free" mentality, but who were true partners in working together for the good of individuals and the community. More on Las Mercedes & other communities helped after the earthquake....in Episode 5
March-April 1996: SURPRISE VOLUNTEERS CAME TO HELP
The first we see below, teaching Carlos and some of my kids how to work with leather. He had been one of my most admired football players on BYU's first WAC Championship team in 1966. He was an ALL WAC linebacker, small for linebackers, but tough as nails! I was soon to learn he was one unique human being, like few I have ever known..... He was Jesse "Sid" Frasier. We had met him in my parent's home at a fireside on one of those first Fall vacations. Soon after the earthquake he just showed up one day to help.
Soon after Jesse arrived, a small pickup came limping into the plantation and two young guys, and a girl came tumbling out of the back. Jesse was with me observing the sight, when all of a sudden Jesse took off running towards the three, who all screamed and rushed towards him! They were Moses, Joshua (I'm sure this wasn't his name, but whatever it was it was biblical & Jewish), and Hanna--Jewish youth born and raised on a kibbutz in Israel, and before they decided to remain in that communal life, or do something else with their lives, they were touring the world. You see below Moses and Joshua helping with something in our shop.
A year or so before they were hiking down in the bottom of the Grand Canyon where they met a bearded backpacker--yes, you guessed right.... it was Jesse. They became instant friends and Jesse convinced them they had to come to Provo and BYU. In another fireside at my father's home, I had met the three Israeli's, who were all teaching part-time at BYU some kind of Jewish related subjects, as they worked their way around the world. So they knew me and after the earthquake headed our way to help. They didn't know I had met Jesse, nor did Jesse know that I had met them--interestingly at my father's home in different firesides. But apparently we were all supposed to get together--thus The Great Earthquake was sent to bring us together at Valparaiso!!! In addition to helping us in various projects at Valparaiso, we all went as a team to work in the cleanup and reconstruction in Patzun after the earthquake, particularly to help Miguel Ajpop and his parents whose home had been mostly destroyed.
MY MOST CHERISHED STUDENT....LOST TRAGICALLY!
This is apparently the last photograph of Elder Daniel Choc, seen here with his father, Pablo, and with his companion in the Mission working at Sumpango when the earthquake hit. They were living in a wood frame home that withstood the quake, but it was so violent that as they tried to get outside, they repeatedly were thrown violently to the floor and literally had to crawl out side. A month or so later, in a clean-up
operation by LDS missionaries in Patzun,
Daniel Choc was killed when a wall fell the wrong way and crushed him.
For more information on the earthquake go to Item #4-5, 1976 LONG VERSION
You can also read a NEW ERA article about Daniel clicking on that link. Sadly, not in the NEW ERA article, nor at his funeral service, his REAL MISSIONARY SERVICE WAS NEVER MENTIONED--which was his 16 months as a teenage local missionary at Valparaiso with 26 converts to his credit having used the GOOD LIFE system.....which I trained all of our missionaries to use. Note: Best mention that never during my 12 years as a "local, district missionary," as a branch president, and later as a District President, were we ever given any instruction by the mission about methods--which you will see was a blessing, but in the next episode became controversial in spite of many full-time missionaries saying it was the most effective system they had ever seen. As a fulltime missionary for a short period Daniel and companion never achieved any converts as they were obligated to use a system that wasn't too effective--which was frustrating for Daniel.
25, 1976: PRESIDENT ARNOLD CAME WITNESSING A CHAPEL
FULL IN OUR "FAMILY HOUR," 81
WERE IN ATTENDANCE,
Note: I sometimes am using the same photos to represent some historical happenings, but I just don't have, or haven't found yet a photo of everything. Please understand.
FOLLOWED BY A BAPTISMAL SERVICE HELD BY THE MISSIONARIES…
PRESIDENT ARNOLD & ME THEN HAD A LONG FRANK TALK….THEN HE SAID,"The Lord wants the Alta Verapaz District of the Church to be organized, and I bear you my testimony that the Lord has revealed to me that you should be the District President! Do you accept?"Of course I did, and I was authorized to organize the Valparaiso Branch of the Church when I felt it was right--which I did a week later.
He continued, "Valparaiso is the only place
in the country where good things are happening for the Church! We are
receiving Welfare Service couples and they come without any guidance or
training, nor even instructions, and I would like you to accept having
Valparaiso as a Center to train them for the first two months of their
missions, during which time they can help you in all of your projects and be prepared
to go to their assigned areas knowing what to do and how to do it!"
Once again, I accepted, as I had
observed that the need was desperate, and I promised to begin immediately preparing
a Training Outline, and the construction of more A-frame homes for Welfare Service
couples, like the one we were living in.
He said he didn't want to wait on new homes, but would send immediately
the first couple. He understood clearly
that the Foundation would have to
promote the project to have the necessary funds to finance the effort. He saw
nothing improper, or sinister, but was excited at the prospects for the future.
He apparently could see great benefit in cooperation between the
Church and the Foundation--FINALLY!
I chose as my counselors in the
District Presidency, a Brother Jorge de Leon, who lived in San Cristobal, and
who could work well with Ladinos, and as
second counselor, Miguel Max. This began
what I since have called:
three years of missionary service of my entire life!"
WE WENT TO WORK!
June 1976: HAL POULSEN, NEVA HIS WIFE & CHILD
JEANNIE ARRIVE TO HELP US FOR 6 MONTHS, ALONG WITH THE FIRST WELFARE SERVICE
and family had driven down in a used Postal delivery van, pulling a trailer Hal
had made, full of tools for the shop, a welder, etc. All of which he would
leave with us when returning to the U.S. He was an Industrial Arts graduate
from BYU and made marvelous contributions, including an earthquake proof model
home which is seen in the 5th & 6th pictures below.
Among other things, Hal taught a handful of the employees & students to use the welder.
This is the trailer Hal had made and left with us....this picture taken after the trailer had fought several wars and was broken in! Note: Actually this picture was taken in 1977 when our team of volunteers were leaving for the isolated Pambach Village to work with the teacher, Federico Veliz Pacay, and help him and villagers to build a school....under death threats from the Ladino owner of the Pambach Plantation. You can see my son "Dito" in the rear of the trailer with my World War II rucksack on his back, which with a little reconstruction I still use for hunting! More on Pambach in Episode 5.
The earthquake proof model home built by Hal & the students. It was safe, cleanable and a healthy home, with electricity, potable water, an outhouse, and a second floor for sleeping.
THE FIRST WELFARE SERVICE MISSIONARIES IN TRAINING.....Meet the Barnetts
They were set up in a small bedroom in the portion of the Central House, built where the
sugar refinery had been--constructed under Brother Jacob's supervision. I turned them over to Hal for orientation, but
soon noticed they seemed to be in a heated debate. I went to intervene. I continue from my journal writings:
Brother Barnett was arguing that what we were doing in Guatemala and Valparaiso "wasn't thework of the Lord, as that could only be initiated by the Prophet!" Hal was trying to show him why he believed that our efforts in Guatemala could also be considered "the work of the Lord."
I suggested that they first try and understand what we were doing, why, and what was resulting, so would provide them with reading material to fill them in--like the "37 page wonder--WHY WE WERE IN GUATEMALA", etc. . I gave them the first item. A day or so later a much humbler couple came and brought it back and asked for more. Soon, days had past and their eyes were getting a bit bloodshot, but they were all of a sudden quite excited and explained, "We now recognize that what you are doing is also the work of the Lord--the UNOFFICIAL WORK OF THE LORD!"
BARNETTS THEN MENTIONED THAT PRESIDENT ARNOLD HAD FINISHED HIS MISSION AND THE
NEW PRESIDENT, JOHN ODONNAL, WAS NOW IN
CHARGE….& THEY WANTED TO TAKE A SHORT LEAVE AND GO MEET HIM, and then
return for their final month of experience and training. I agreed and took them to the Mission Home in
HAL & NEVA POULSEN EVENTUALLY COMPLETED SOME VERY FRUITFULL MONTHS HELPING and flew home with two adopted babies we see below a little later. We are deeply indebted to them for their service and extreme generosity in continuing to support the Foundation's work...now over a period of 40 years!
WITH THIS WE WILL END EPISODE 4: 1973-76 & IN MAY CONTINUE WITH
EPISODE 5: MID-JULY 1976 to 1981.
"THE DEATH THREAT"
We love & appreciate the Poulsens and all the rest who have made possible this 50 year effort!