Thursday, September 5, 2019

The FINAL REPORT on "hold" to be fine tuned and reported more fairly -- In the meantime: YEAR ONE--THE 1967 RISKY, BREATHTAKING PIONEER JOURNEY TO GUATEMALA -- A BRIEF REVIEW to October 5, 2019 WITH AN AMAZING ANNOUNCEMENT

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By Cordell M Andersen, for 50 years the volunteer Field Director
The 50 year Anniversary  was celebrated with no fanfare on August 19, 2017, at which time the Guatemalan Foundation was legally retired. No "fanfare" as our effort for us was never to get any credit for what was accomplished, and publicity received was never by our family's initiative.   That date was 50 years after I and my family crossed the border into Guatemala in 1967 to begin what for nearly three years was just a family effort--not a foundation, nor LDS Church effort--although motivated by faith,  we called our effort 

Above we see us Andersen's ready to leave Provo, Utah in 1967. As I was putting this history together 
I couldn't help but remark repeatedly,
"Now, in 2019, I can’t even begin to envision again having the guts to do it. 
Whether you're in favor or not, understand or not, it was a 
JOURNEY OF SIMPLE and PROFOUND FAITH--born of the Lord speaking to me 
in Coban as a missionary in 1958, and then on the snowy slopes of the 
Henry Mountains in fall 1965--giving me the courage to do as I knew I had to do! 
Our team included Julie, David, Cristina and Richard "Dito"

This story, THE ORIGINAL MOVE TO GUATEMALA IN 1967was recently added onto the end of the FINAL REPORT, and not likely seen by hardly anyone, 
and not written well enough to be worthy--for our family, 
 of such a momentous faith motivated move.
After a word or two about the Foundation, this history will be told below in greater detail than ever before in an improved version with 53  photographs.  THE FINAL REPORT -- after its original introduction was tweaked and added to many times and, in its final version wasn't likely seen by anyone, but will be removed for the present while making necessary improvements, additions, along with what we have called "the rest of the story" -- i.e. the more controversial historical aspects of this 50+ year history which will have over 350 photographs.
 It will then be translated into Spanish for all of my Guatemalan brothers and sisters.
 When the FINAL REPORT is ready to publish in its final form it will be built around this family history guided by a very spiritual experience, which will be related in some detail in 
THE FINAL REPORT.   I was told to:  
"Speak the truth from your heart!" 

THE FOUNDATION--Where did it come from? 
The Foundation--spearheaded by my father, Dr. Ariel A. Andersen,  along with a group of friends interested in helping the effort,  applied for legal recognition in Provo, Utah and was accepted mid-1970 --
--3 years after us Andersen's launched ourselves on our own into the mysterious "Land of the Mayas."   

Dad worked tirelessly as a non-paid volunteer promoting and funding the Foundation for the last 14 years of his life--his 14 YEAR "AMMON-LIKE MISSION"

 They soon began helping in THE ALTRUISTIC ACTIVITIES OF OUR FAMILY which we were already doing on our own as the PRIVATE FAMILY PEACE CORP  supported mainly from our own agro-business profits--supporting ourselves, while using all of our surplus to help the 240 resident Poqomchi Indians on the plantation, plus accepting invitations to treat the sick and dying in nearby villages--like Najquitob.  A list of our family projects, which the Foundation began helping with,  follows:  

1. Elementary, vocational education, and adult literacy programs.
2. Support of orphan children, and needy mothers and their children.
3. A home for vocational students from other areas. 
4. A home visiting program of all families in the area to report sickness in time to save lives.
5. Medical and sanitary services-including the building of outhouses for all families. 
6. A “welfare program” including  “A cooperative welfare vegetable farm.”
7. A recreation program: Soccer, swimming, fishing, dancing, etc.
8. In my official calling as a Local Missionary—authorized by the Mission President to act “like a District President” I did so personally (and as a family), not with Foundation help: Religious services for those interested, including the 1st (unofficial) Seminary Class (Book of Mormon) in Central America.  
With the Foundation's help we were able to improve and expand our projects and eventually extended our efforts to other areas of the country--beginning with Patzicia. The help for altruistic activities from the Foundation made possible using our profits to expand our business projects and employ more needy Indians in helping them become independent and even be able to help their own people.

NOTE:  I did not believe in being paid in any way for my altruistic and religious activities--not even what some religious organizations call "a modest living allowance"  which interestingly are as much as $120,000/year or more, plus all the benefits imaginable--which would shock poor members of those flocks.

The Foundation did offer to help with our children's education, paying for Calvert School correspondence courses in English and we accepted that. To the contrary from our work and business profits we were always contributors to the Foundation using our time, property,  equipment, vehicles and more for Foundation projects, and often over the years sold old cows, pine trees, and even pieces of our property to be able to contribute the cash needed for Foundation projects. 

  How grateful we were and are for the amazing support and encouragement we received over these 50+ years. 
 Thanks to each of you from the bottom of our heart.

Initially, the foundation was called the Cordell Andersen Foundation--but soon I insisted on changing the name to reflect better what we were doing, so for the next 40 years it was the Foundation for Indian Development.  In 2010 the name was changed again so that Google searches would guide people to aid projects among the Mayans in Guatemala, rather than leading them to altruistic activities among Indians in India--the name becoming the 
On retiring the Foundation in 2017 an effort was made to do a FINAL REPORT of the 50 year-long adventure to experiment with an idea—
explained in item #3.
It was designed to help effectively needy Mayan-Indians and other poor Guatemalans--not a band-aid fix, rather a PROGRAM OF TOTAL DEVELOPMENT.  It was a method that was believed could have world-wide application to help any needy people.   The effort was made to employ and save as many needy Mayans as possible, but on a broader long-term scale, we hoped it would: 
Awaken other's interest in helping needy people-
-and contribute some guidance from our experience. 

Hopefully, the "others"  would be: 
Individuals and institutions that would have the finances and expertise to apply 
the proven ideas on a very large scale..... which time we would happily fade away, and continue as a family--living and working among Indians in remote areas not reached by normal altruistic institutions.

 NOTE:  I will now remove the current FINAL REPORT from public view on the internet 
while working on it and, when expedient,  publish the final version--hopefully..... 
......."before it's too late!"  
 The same thing was told me repeatedly in my High Uintas Project as I would meet people on the trail beginning in my 80th year--all advising me to "get to it before it's too late," which I finally took seriously when 82 and a year later published the High Uinta Mountains book on my 83rd birthday. (see
I will now go to the story of us leaving Provo, Utah, then failing to get through Mexico on the first attempt--because I had sworn to be totally honest in everything in our Guatemalan adventure, and specifically not give in to the "bribe system."  
NOTE:  In my 4 exploratory trips to Guatemala, and research over 9 years,  I had mentioned this to a gringo who had lived many years in Guatemala, and he made fun of my intentions, indicating doing anything in Mexico and Guatemala required using "the bribe system" and 
other under-the-table business practices-which he claimed were 
"necessary to have success in Guatemala."   
By strict gospel principles, his attitude was later of dire consequences in the history, he apparently rationalizing that lying and deception were necessary to defeat our effort 
which he considered of no value.  Years later in his autobiography, he was careful 
to not mention our successes, much less mention an international scandal 
he was responsible for which, with leaders, he blamed on me and was believed. 
Regarding important successful Church history he refused to say my name......
...I was just a "local district president."

I gratefully was able to maintain my resolve to be honest in all my dealings and maintain our integrity over all those years and be blessed time after time by key individuals who trusted us completely and helped make possible us persisting over more than half a century of unceasing efforts to help our needy Lamanite brothers and sisters.

Failing to get through Mexico on the first attempt--what then?  
What did we have to go through to finally get to the "Land of the Mayas?"
Below is the story of how we made it, along with a brief summary of 
what happened during those first exciting years.
1/2 MILLION MILES OF TRAVEL & ADVENTURE:  Utah through MEXICO and on to GUATEMALA, then later--back and forth between Guatemala & Utah every two months for many years--to keep alive the family, & THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM! 

This chapter of the book of our life began with our first attempt to get through Mexico with our pickup 2,000 lbs. overloaded with generators, four 16 mm. projectors, a P.A. system, two 9' x 12' professional movie screens, aluminum boat and outboard motor, etc. Note:  I had installed overload springs & bought Michelin tires--both effective getting us to Coban, but then noted that all of the 4 rims were cracked!--but we did make it.......finally! -- 
We were not going half-cocked but only after 9 years of quite dedicated preparation--described in early Foundation historical reports (2nd page).  We were finally ready and drove to my parent's home in Provo, Utah to say goodbye. Below we zoom in on it again to remind us. 

Our Ford 150 pickup with the modified camper was this 
"modern pioneer family's covered wagon." 
 It was a tearful parting, except for an elderly neighbor, a Sister Cannon, who sarcastically smiled and said something like, "I'll give you 6 months, and you'll come running home with your tail between your legs!"
The camper on the back of our Ford pickup was loaded almost to the ceiling, just leaving enough space for us to crawl in on top to sleep on cushions that covered our precious load--everything we had left on this earth.  NOTE:  Prior to leaving I had sold all my firearms, including my first 30-06 deer rifle, my beloved Ruger Single-Six revolver, etc.  gave away all our furniture and excessive clothes, dishes and cookware, etc. to needy families, but did take my fishing equipment. 
We couldn't afford to stay at motels, as the total cash in our pockets for the life-long journey was only $4,273.  But, as mentioned we did have a load of valuable equipment in which we had invested $10,000--some of it mentioned in the initial paragraph, with which we were to begin a business venture that hopefully would support us, as well as place us in rural Guatemala where the need was critical, and where we would be able to learn and do a lot of good while preparing for even greater things. 
That relatively tiny amount of cash, plus equipment sounds pretty quixotic I will admit.... as emphasized the year before (1966) when I presented the program at the October Ex-Missionary Reunion for Central American missionaries.  I had shown them graphically with slides the beautiful Guatemalan culture, but then the desperate life and death needs of the people we had worked with and suggested something had to be done.  That provoked a discussion afterward, some of the group being supportive of doing something, but saying they were in no position to do anything, then telling me, "You be the guinea pig. If the experiment works, we'll follow!"  But the overall reaction summarized from two who would become  LDS Church leaders was:
 "You don't have the necessary capital.....nor qualified with sufficient education."
To all of them, I suggested that:
If we had the Spirit of the Lord to guide and bless our efforts, our basket would be replenished from time to time enabling us to do a lot of good among a very worthy and needy people, and added that if we didn't do something we would be somewhat responsible for additional deaths among the Indian babies and children.
With that experience, we decided to talk no more, but act.  A month later we left on one last 2-1/2 month exploratory trip to pave the way for the move.  
Here we are on that last exploratory trip--my 4th one, 
 camping out near the soccer stadium in Coban. 
During those 75 days, only once did we stay in a motel. Our 2-1/2 month old Richard, by the time we returned. had spent half of his life as a pioneer camping out. 

That experience convinced us it was time to go and we announced to the family we would leave in four months. I promised my father that during those months I would produce a 2 year supply of Andersen Samplers so he could continue the business without me.  I trained my younger  brother, Howard, to do the office work and shipping, and then worked an average of 19 hours/day six days a week, almost ruining my health, but finally put in dad's storeroom hundreds of Samplers.  
Then we prepared.   So, in mid=1967, with a lot of faith, we headed south to Nogales, Arizona/Mexico to cross the border. 

When the Mexican border officials saw our load they just shook their heads, hinted for bribes, then saying it wasn't likely possible to go through Mexico. One suggested we look for a Customs Broker to help us.  I talked to a number of them explaining everything had to be done legally with no bribes, and they all shook their heads.  I returned to the Customs House and was told that I had to keep looking and was assured there would be one willing to help us.    

We finally found that "one" 
who requested authorization from Mexico City to pass through Mexico, and said it would take a while--from one week to six months! 
So we unloaded all the prohibited stuff in the Broker's warehouse and drove south to San Carlos Bay for a week-long wait on the Sea of Cortez. 
We there experienced the FIRST MIRACLE when David and Julie were saved after having been set adrift alone on the open ocean in our aluminum boat when the anchor rope was cut by a surging sea!  I had been skin diving and when returning where the boat had been--found it gone, I went into action.  Seven-year-old Julie and 5-year-old David, in the meantime, tried unsuccessfully to start the cold outboard motor, then knelt in the boat and prayed.  Then after failing again to start the motor, prayed again, and as they raised their heads they saw me 200 yards distant swimming to their rescue and made it just seconds before being dashed onto a rocky shoreline by the large waves.
Then  the SECOND MIRACLE, with Maria helping me,  
was recovering  the anchor from the depths--which we see to the right today painted gold, which   became a symbol  of our "faith"  for our entire 50+ years in the Guatemalan project, which was our Savior.
We returned to Nogales but no authorization had come to travel with our load through Mexico, so we had no choice but leave our stuff in the warehouse, return to Provo and go back to work for Andersen Samplers & Consulting Service while waiting for the news of authorization from the Customs Broker.  

This meant facing my parent's neighbor, Sister Cannon, who had predicted we would only last  "6 months,"  but all of a sudden we were returning "with our tail between our legs"   in ONLY TWO WEEKS! 
When she came out to welcome us home, she wasn't able to contain her laughter and for a moment I thought her heart would fail.  She, eventually would pass on and become one of our "guardian angels,"  with eyes wide opened--easily seeing thru all the gossip and rumors mentioned further along that evolved soon,  and I believe she became an avid supporter over all these years!

I went back to work producing Andersen Samplers, earning enough in a couple of weeks to pay for all the losses due to extra travel,  enough for the Custom's Broker, and the bond he required.  

Two weeks or so later a telegram came and we packed up for the 2nd time and headed for Mexico. But this time, before leaving, had a 2-hour long heart-to-heart talk with my parents who had been understandably doubtful and scared to death about what we were to attempt.  Dad had tried to talk me out of it, but seeing my resolve decided to support us even without full understanding.
    I described emotionally the long chain of spiritual experiences had since I was a young boy, then as a missionary, and later when I was President of the Spanish American Branch in Provo--they all convincing me and finally giving us the courage, to make the move.  Additionally I explained the Good Life Method  (including the Philosophy & Principles) of helping Indians that had come to me as a missionary in the Coban area in 1958, and believed the Lord wanted me to experiment with it and perfect its application among the Indigenous people, while also experiencing the struggle of surviving in rural Guatemala--along with our Indians, all of us learning and rising up together.  And, in so doing also be available to help the local members of our Church in any way the leaders in Guatemala felt appropriate.  It was a humbling and tearful experience for all of us.  I  then asked my father for a "Father's Blessing," which he tearfully gave me--and was faithful doing his part in helping its fulfillment for the last 16 years of his life.

It still took time at the border to do all the red tape, pay off the Broker, etc. but I stuck to my covenant to be honest and not give in to "the bribe system" south of the border--and was suffering the consequences for my principles, but I had to be loyal to my faith believing the Lord would help.  We finally headed south towards Guatemala. NOTE:  To the right, Maria is playing with Dave and Julie on the Veracruz beach where began my "CANTINFLAS...comedian ordeal" 11 years later, described at the end of the FINAL REPORT.
The trip through Mexico took us a week as we had to travel slowly with our big load and did some visiting of relatives along the way.  As we traveled we observed as always fascinating typical scenes.  One memorable one was of a pickup after a soccer game loaded even more than ours.

Another in a village surrounding a Catholic Church, that was sort of a precursor for what we would fight against for all our years in Guatemala--a very high 50% infant mortality rate that would be scandalous in the U.S.

We finally made it through scary Mexico City--where we visited relatives, then down to Veracruz and Maria's home town of Tierra Blanca with more visiting.  Then across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the Pacific Coast then south to Tapachula and on to the border with some fervent prayers in our heart and actually with no nervousness about confronting border officials to leave Mexico, and then enter Guatemala.  
At the Mexican side of the border with Guatemala, I parked on the railroad bridge we had to drive across and the customs officials came out and I showed them the detailed list they had to check to make sure something hadn't remained in Mexico, and so we could get our bond back from the broker (which he never sent anyway--said money, along with our expenses for the  extra trip and time spent at San Carlos Bay,  was what I had earned during the extra two weeks of work in Provo).    They said we'd have to unload everything, and I replied that would be fine as we had all the time in the world.  
But when I opened the camper door and they saw it loaded right up to near the ceiling--which would take all day to unload and then load, and a train was behind us and had to get across--so then occurred the FOURTH MIRACLE--they just read each item on the list and asked if it was in our pickup, and with my,  "sí  señor,"  they took my word, checked each item and in 10 minutes--with no bribes, we crossed the bridge into Guatemala on Saturday, August 19, 1967.
At Guatemala's Customs, I set before the official my folder of invoices, and list of everything we had, saying "I know it will likely take some time, and we'll have to pay import duties on some items, but we have lots of time--so let's get to work!"  
It was Saturday afternoon, and apparently they didn't want to work too hard, and besides, they were blown away by my frank honesty.  The official went down the list, and with each item asked if it was new or used.  With the "new" items, like a couple of three generators, and  2 16mm. movie projectors, I said they were "new."  But the official seemed irritated by my honesty, and came back saying, "But didn't you at least turn them on, or start them up to see if they worked?"  I agreed I had done that, so--he concluded, "Then,  they are used!"  

Within 45 minutes of having arrived at the  Mexican side of the border, we were on our way towards Guatemala City without having to unload anything, no payment of duties on anything--only paying a $4.50 fee to have crossed the bridge, and NO PAYMENT OF BRIBES.  
The FOURTH MIRACLE had happened, and all the trouble caused by being honest was more than made up for.  We only had to eventually pay duties on the pickup, but considered a work vehicle, so duty was cheap.

Then on to Guatemala City aided by one of the outstanding men of my earthly experience, Enrique Rittscher.  While doing business in the city, visiting a lawyer to get the process started to get a Permanent Resident Visa, getting the duty paid on the pickup, etc.  

Enrique invited us to stay in one of his apartments and while there giving us time in the evenings to talk about what we were going to attempt.  He was sincerely interested, saying, "It's about time that some Latter Day Saints became interested in helping the needy Lamanites,"  and made the comment that he felt that "one day we will be working together." 

I couldn't attempt the trip to Coban with the entire load, so the family stayed at the Rittscher apartments, along with having in storage half of our load--which now also included a propane gas stove and two 100 lb. gas tanks and a small refrigerator.  

So off I went alone to Coban to find a place for rent, unload, and then return for the family and the rest of our things.  

The 120 mile trip was halfway on the pavement, then on rough mountain roads, fording 11 streams before getting to Coban.  

The trip to Coban took around 10 hours, and I was always amazed after such a long, slow drive to find civilization--in Utah such a trip would end in one finding great deer hunting!   

Coban at that time was a sleepy little town where you rarely saw other vehicles--

There was one General Store, one pharmacy, one dentist, and an old rundown government hospital. 

TODAY --52 years later --Oct. 5, 2019 there are stoplights and traffic jams all over the town which now includes a Shopping Mall, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Payless Shoes, and everything good &  bad you can imagine!  

I found a home to rent, unloaded our stuff and then returned to Guatemala City to get the family and make the second trip.

FOR LDS PEOPLE:  There was one tiny LDS branch with 7 active adults and no full-time missionaries.  Below you see what the branch was when we arrived:  Basically with 7 active adult members, plus a couple of teenagers, and some children. The Church began missionary work in Coban in 1956.  By 1967 there had not been full-time missionaries there for about 8 years. 
There had been a period during those 8 years when  Sister Carlota de Yalibat and a companion had been called as local missionaries--the first to preach in Kekchi and they had a little success, but it didn't last.  I describe that experience with a picture of this choice sister in the FINAL REPORT, but by the time we moved to Coban she had moved to the capital city to live with a daughter.  

Before we continued to Coban I had visited with the LDS Mission President, David Clark and explained what we were doing and our plan of action.  
He seemed dazed and said something like, "I would never  be willing to attempt what you describe."  So, I guess I was looked at as a little crazy, yet he immediately called me as a "local missionary" and authorized me to teach, interview, baptize, ordain, and organize as though I was a District President. To this day in 2019 I have never been released.....yet. 

Branch President Alfedo Rodas did the best he could on his own with Coban part of the far-off Zacapa District, leaders from which had never visited Coban.  

Above we see him blessing the sacrament.  I became his counselor and we went to work, eventually increasing attendance to 55 with many investigators.  But,  then he became ill and wasn't expected to live and I was made Branch President.  Brother Rodas eventually recovered, but then was central in a scandal the news spreading like wildfire all over Coban.   Attendance immediately dropped to 2.  All efforts to activate the members and investigators failed. 

By then a Sunday School and Relief Society had been organized at Valparaiso so we were dividing our time between the two places--one hour apart on a rough, muddy/rocky road. 
Then in 1970, the first Branch Conference was held in the area in 15 years  with Mission Counselor, Carl Jacob, and companions from the City with two sessions:  At Valparaiso in a feed warehouse 70 attended. In Coban, the attendance was 7. The next day Mission President Clark closed the Coban Branch and moved it to Valparaiso--that for a week was the Valparaiso Branch with me as Branch President.

A week later new Mission President, Harvey Glade, misunderstood what had happened, accused me of having done so without authorization and threatened me with excommunication.  Carl Jacob and the telegram from President Clark giving the order,  saved me from that fate, but President Glade reduced Valparaiso to a Group.  This was in mid-1970.
In 1973 the Valparaiso  branch was organized again, but due to administrative interference the "most active Lamanite Branch in the Church"--said to  be "the only Lamanite branch in the Church that wasn't a parasite.......that paid more tithing to the Church than some wards in the Guatemala City Stake"  was deeply affected and many good people were lost and babies started dying again for the first time in 3 years!  Total disaster was averted by the surprise visit of Regional Representative Harold Brown coming from Mexico. Story told in item #11 of the FINAL REPORT.

But,  later he admitted he failed in trying to help his superiors understand the truth about us--most of them reportedly believing I was crazy for living among the Indians, and with the ulterior motive of using the Church and the Foundation to build myself a business empire. 
In the Fall of 1974--while we were on our first trip to the U.S. in 7 years--described later, even though Valparaiso's activity was still better than any branch in the country  it was moved to Coban to assist full-time missionaries sent to the area for the first time in 15 years.  For a time an attempt was made to transport the abandoned members from Valparaiso to Coban each Sunday, but that finally failed, and I took initiative to save our people by inviting all to our FAMILY HOUR each Sunday and soon all were active again, and,  missionaries failing to have success in Coban, began visiting Valparaiso and soon many baptisms were reported to the Mission. 
In April 1976, after a bit of recovery from the deadly earthquake in February that killed 25,000 Guatemalans. Mission President Bob Arnold, who had been convinced by Harold Brown to trust me, visited and we had a frank and honest conversation about many conflicts, injustices and misunderstandings, and in our FAMILY HOUR, he organized the Alta/Baja Verapaz District with me as President.  
He said "Valparaiso is the only place in the Mission where positive things were happening" and he said he received inspiration to also organize at Valparaiso a WELFARE SERVICE MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER  and sent the first couple to be trained.  

One month later in May 1976, I organized again the Valparaiso Branch (a "branch"  for the 3rd time). The District had three branches: Coban, Valparaiso, and Salama.
Two months later the new Mission President John F. O’Donnal, who Brother Brown had not been able to convince I was worthy of trust and doing a crucial work,  believing that nothing good was happening at Valparaiso, closed the Welfare Missionary Training Center, then advised me to close down the Foundation, sell Valparaiso and go to the South Coast of Guatemala “to make some money.”  
 However, my competitive spirit clicked in I had learned as a small-statured child and teenager bullied by almost everybody.   I rather went to work for three years as District President, calling District Missionaries.  But, according to the Priesthood Manual   I could take other initiatives, so I also called  for the first time in Guatemala District Fulltime/short term Missionaries, and District Welfare Service Missionaries.  With their help   With their help  the Church work was expanded to other areas, including the Polochic Area--which you'll see, became one of the greatest, if not the greatest, success story for the LDS Church in Guatemala and Central America. 

I had never been told to use any specific teaching method and only instructed to "follow the inspiration of the Lord," so I trained my missionaries (and for a time the full-time ones too) to use the Good Life Method--including the Philosophy & Principles, revealed to me as a missionary in Coban in 1958, and soon many hundreds of BOOK OF MORMONS were being accepted by the Indians as their "original Sacred Book, lost anciently, but now found."   The native District Missionaries responded making the area one of the great chapters in the history of the Church. 

I was released in mid-1979 after organizing branches at Chulac and Senahu and laying the groundwork for great future success at Sacsuha.  There had just  been too much conflict with O'Donnal for who knows what reasons.
THE FINAL REPORT will tell all the details of this story, but a brief summary is that the Church finally built a chapel at Valparaiso on property I offered to donate to the Church, but General Authority  William Bradford insisted on buying the property and built a chapel you see below. 

The restrooms were closed to us Indians, first for not having potable water.  So I ran a water line from the Central House area to the chapel, and in the same trench, included a waterproof electric line so the chapel lights and electric outlets could be used, providing these services with no charge for the life of the chapel. I also donated our Yamaha piano to the Church, and soon Moncho, who had learned to play the piano during his 18 months with us in the U.S., began doing the best he could with the music.

The restrooms remained closed to us, so we got together and built an outhouse--maybe a first for a modern Mormon chapel that had restrooms--but closed to the members! NOTE: Carl Jacob for Christmas one year invited Indians from the Highlands (Patzicia, Patzun, and Solola) to spend Christmas at his mansion in Guatemala City, and soon learned the Indians didn't know what a toilet was, rather thought it the "well" from which they were getting water for their drinking needs.  I guess the leaders figured we were on that level and didn't want us to drink contaminated water--so they had our welfare in mind to keep them locked.  

 few years later some leaders conjured up some gossip about me--so exaggerated it had the Indians who heard it laughing their heads off.  It would have been funny, except for the consequences--all the Leaders believing it and agreeing to punish the people at Valparaiso for being my friends by destroying their own chapel with bulldozers on January 10, 1989.  It resulted in the Valparaiso Branch ceasing to exist and the members being abandoned--again.  

Twenty-five percent of the members in their sadness went back to their old ways of drinking and such.  Another 25% returned to their previous churches.  50% didn't want to abandon their faith in the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, but couldn't trust the Leaders anymore, and asked for my help.  

We kept their faith alive for 4 years--again,  with an enthusiastic FAMILY HOUR each Sunday with an average attendance of around 60.....

.......then I sold the plantation in October 1993 so the Church might return to help the members in their community I had organized.  

I advised all to be active in the Church if it returned.

Eventually in the mid-1990's, the Valparaiso Branch was organized again--for the 4th time (must be some kind of record), and the Church built a chapel on the property they purchased from 5 Indian families--to whom I had given land when organizing the community.  

By this time the Coban Stake had been organized--35+ years after opening Coban to missionary work, and 26 years or so after we moved to Guatemala in 1967,  as well as a Mission, and the branch was part of the Coban-Guatemalan Mission.  A lot of progress had been made--finally, over the approximately 50 years of history, but more was to come.
On January 22, 2017, the Valparaiso Branch became the Valparaiso Ward as part of the Coban Stake.  Moncho, who had been raised by us in the Central House--also with 18 months in the U.S. with us,  became Bishop Victor Valdez of the new Ward.  

We see above the incredibly cute Moncho when growing up.
Also in 2017 the Senahu Stake was organized in the Polochic Area where I and my native missionaries had worked so hard--38 years before.  Then in 2019 the Chulac Stake was organized on a Cooperative Plantation in the rough mountains above the Polochic Valley where I spent the 2 greatest missionary years of my life from 1977-1979, and where I returned, with Foundation help from 1990-1993, to build and organize two schools at Seococ & Sajonte on the Chulac Plantation.

The new Stake Presidency were all childhood students at those two schools. Would that have happened without education? But they were educated thanks to the Foundation and its generous donors.
Another projected Stake is expected to be soon organized in the Sacsuha area of the Polochic where I helped for 18 months preaching every two weeks in the Church of the Prince of Peace, not as an LDS representative, but rather as their brother and Director of the Foundation for Indian Development.  I used very carefully the Good Life Method until they were demanding I give to them their Sacred Book.
Over that period there was an average of 600 attending every meeting where eventually 200 copies of their Sacred Book were distributed, and later 60 more in another chapel.   

A year or so later 30 Kekchi Indian men from Sacsuha, each with a blue covered BOOK of MORMON in hand, walked to the nearby town of La Tinta and knocked on the door of the Mormon chapel. On opening the door the two missionaries were blown away with that sight, and the request that they be helped to understand their book.  That lead to another great conversion story--now the Sacsuha District with 6 branches--the Sacsuha Chapel seen below.  It likely soon will become  the Sacsuha Stake--the 3rd in this rural, remote area of Guatemala.

See the FINAL REPORT--when I finally get around to finishing it with "the rest of the story," in accordance with instructions I received from the Lord to, "Speak the truth from your heart.”  which will have complete details and photographs of all of the above.
Last of all, on Saturday night, October 5, 2019, in the Women's Session of LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City, it was announced that a TEMPLE WILL NOW BE BUILT IN COBAN. NOTE: It won't be a surprise to learn one day soon that an LDS temple will be built in this area where there are more LDS members than in the Coban area--all rural Kekchi-Mayans, that began on the Chulac Cooperative Plantation at a time when I was told that the Church couldn't work on nor have a branch on plantations like Valparaiso and Chulac.  
It was a great blessing to be part of all the above history that so far covers 63 years, my part being 61 years beginning as a fulltime missionary in Coban from January to April 1958.

Seven exciting, even breathtaking, adventurous years would go by before being able to make a trip north in 1974.  A friend visiting during those years--Kay Franz, characterized them as "living from crisis to crisis,"  but also by me as "miracle after miracle...after miracle--blessed, guided and protected by the Lord." 
During those 7 years--1967 to 1974, three more children would be born:  Joe "Joey," Marcia "Nita," and Daniel "Danny."  Maria was a beautiful mother,  incredibly courageous having each with the help of a midwife at the government hospital in Coban, most of those years living in a rental house in Coban. 
In the meantime, I worked hard to get profitable business projects functioning to support us. First the traveling movie venture--Cine Chapinlandia (item #1 in the FINAL REPORT), which was an unbelievable experience showing over nearly 6 months educational and commercial movies to 50,000 rural Guatemalas......
.......some their first movie ever, plus the camper becoming a traveling medical clinic and library--all gossiped about later as our "first failure,"  that still has me smiling at the poor duped souls who didn't know what they were talking about.
Then on December 5, 1967, it blended into Granja & Tienda La Cabana, the poultry enterprise (item #2), that became the first commercial poultry farm in Northcentral Guatemala--and later gossiped about as our "second failure," which had me laughing all the way to the bank!
That in turn on February 2, 1968, blended into the Paradise Valley Plantation-
-Finca Valparaiso (item #3)......

.........with a visit sandwiched inbetween from my paraents, and sister, Jolene, and brother, Howard.    

A portion of Valparaiso is seen below after creating a lake, then
clearing and mowing an area that revealed mounds that along with the rest of the property 
was discovered to be an ancient  fortified city--by the way mentioned in the

Until then I had continued every two weeks the traveling movie, but now with two properties to manage and develop, plus a large debt to pay off, I finally had to end the traveling movie--Cine Chapinlandia.  Then,  7 months later, realizing that everything we were doing at the Farm could be done even more effectively on the plantation, we sold the poultry farm.   For the next 26 years, I focused on Valparaiso--that became THE CID--the Center for Indian Development—El Centro Indigena de Desarollo (item #7), specializing in what we called A PROGRAM OF TOTAL DEVELOPMENT.  From here we extended out all over the country with aid projects.  
All the while applying the Philosophy & Principles of the Good Life  to awaken and help those we met on the movie tour, then our people at the farm, followed by the plantation and arousing everybody's interest not only in helping themselves improve their lives but also in saving their own. (item #3) 

Then exactly four years later on February 2, 1972 becoming the owners of the Victorias Dairy that was moved to Valparaiso and, me being in the cattle business had a BYU Animal Husbandry professor label me as a "rodeo clown"  because we didn't have alfalfa nor produce silage--rather had our livestock on pasture 12 months a year. It became the largest dairy in Northern Guatemala eventually with two of our cows and a heifer all defeat in a Livestock Show the Grand Champion of the Jersey Breed in all of Central America, our winners seen below.....
........shown by three outstanding Andersen pioneers:  Rich "Dito,"   Dave, and Julie.  See many more details in the FINAL REPORT, item #10.

For half of this period--up to 1974,  we were on our own as the Andersen Family Peace Corp (1967-1970),  then the 2nd half with the help of the Foundation for Indian Development, which was never part of our plan, nor requested--but much appreciated.  It was all an initiative of those in Provo, Utah interested in helping, spearheaded by my father, and is important regarding item #3 below about the rumors and gossip that people conjured up in their minds.

For the first 6 years, we were appreciative of a great deal of positive publicity we received from our own people--mostly from Utah, but also perplexed, and often amused by criticism of our efforts that all seemed to come from what we began calling "friendly fire."  It wasn't actually very friendly at all, but it did all come from our own people--U.S. citizens living, working, and or visiting in Guatemala--and interestingly all from people who had never visited us, but thought themselves to be experts. 
It was from them that came the gossip about my failures mentioned above and in the FINAL REPORT, items #1, #2, #3, & #10, etc. 
It seemed like certain people who admitted they would never do what we were attempting, and who never even visited to see what was going on, were obsessed with finding something wrong in what we were doing and criticism got out of hand. I'll leave the psychological analysis in your hands.
I had come knowing there would be opposition but was pretty naive about not expecting it to come from my own people.  I should have known better as one of my heroes, whose example I was attempting to follow, was Ammon from the BOOK OF MORMON, who was "laughed to scorn" by his own people for wanting to go on a self-appointed mission to help the Lamanites (as Mormons call the Indians).
By 1971 I was reminded about this when LDS Apostle, Spencer W. Kimball, on a visit to Guatemala City, requested a visit with me.  He congratulated me for what I was doing, suggested ways to promote the Foundation, and then warned, 
"Don't pay any attention to criticism as such had also happened anciently to Ammon and his companions who were 'laughed to scorn' by their own people."
I know he was referring to criticism from what we could call low level "friendly fire,"  but I'm not sure whether he also perceived it would come from his companions in Church leadership.  I soon was prepared for almost anything—although I’ll admit years later that I wasn’t a very good diplomat, and sort of had ingrained in me perhaps too much what I learned as a young, very short kid bullied by everyone, TO NOT TAKE ANY GUFF FROM ANYONE  and be HONEST calling a Spade a Spade.  
I could not accept false stories, lies, and injustices no matter who they came from nor whether their motives in some strange way had some noble objective in the perpetrator's imagination.  Strangely--telling the truth time after time got me in trouble.  Something was wrong!
In 1973 we learned from friend and LDS Regional Representative in Central America, Harold Brown who visited us and in a Church meeting explained it was being rumored that: 
 1.) I was crazy for what I was attempting (and I guess my wife, Maria, just stupid);
 2.) That so many years had gone by because I was afraid to return to the U.S. because I would have to face prosecution for something horrible I had done, and, 
3.) I was giving a charitable appearance to our life, but it was a scam as my real purpose, according to the gossipers, was to build myself a business empire using the Foundation and the LDS Church TO GET RICH. 

As explained in the FINAL REPORT, Harold Brown went on to explain in that meeting that he didn't believe any of that, and then began calling our effort "Ammon-like" and described forcefully his heartfelt belief in our effort, having the packed congregation all in tears.  He became our supporter and friend all of his life, while many others failed. (item #11)
NOTE:  The "gossipers" would never have been willing to do as we were doing, so they naturally had to criticize the effort imagining the worst, and feel justified in their opposition.  They greatly underestimated the power of being spiritually born of God and motivated to literally live the gospel with no ulterior selfish motives. 
Until all of that reached an important climax in 1973--saved by the angelic visit of Harold Brown, I was having such an incredible time realizing my dream, beyond anything I had imagined possible so quickly--my previous intense interests in BYU sports,  hunting, fishing, and the High Uintas had been pushed into the background of my life. However, the unfair ambush by people I had never dreamed would be our opposition, had me reacting as I did as a child and teenager to bullies, "to not take any guff from anyone," and was motivated to do more.  Yet, eventually, as it persisted I became somewhat disappointed and weakened, resulting in me all of a sudden wanting more contact with the world of Utah.  

So, first, I bought a roll of copper wire and installed it as a radio antenna from the Central House at Valparaiso 150 yards up to the top of the tallest pine above us.....hoping even to pick up at night KSL radio from Salt Lake City.  Later, when the Utah Jazz moved from New Orleans to Utah, with games on KSL radio in the beginning, I found that I could pick up the last quarter of night games on my pickup radio by driving way up the mountain into guerrilla territory on the edge of the Chixoy Canyon where I had a direct line on Salt Lake. In the spooky darkness, I'd listen to "Hotrod" Hundley announce excitedly the last quarter of games--and I became the
Utah Jazz fan who risked his life most to support the team
Later, at the Farm of the Holy Man, from 1994 until 2002, our dish antennae made possible us watching those great games against the Chicago Bulls for the NBA Championship as seen in the picture on the right, with John Stockton on the TV in our living room.  (see item #29)

But, back to 1973-74 and the disappointment of amazing success being ambushed by "friendly fire," and the beginning of these renewed interests--we began thinking of making our first trip to the U.S. in 7 years, take in BYU football games, do a little fishing and go deer hunting. 
 With Maria,  it became for all the rest of her years in Guatemala, wanting to go to Coban often with our delivery vehicle and associate with relatively educated, high-class Ladino women.  By 1981, when I moved her back to  Provo, Utah because of the guerrilla war, she admitted that unjust criticism and lack of gratitude from Church leaders--and especially the blaming of us for "illegal adoption work," while letting those actually responsible who had lied--blaming it all on us, and go unscathed and afterward given even higher callings, had her concluding that her years in Guatemala had "been hell,"  and eventually she never wanted to live there again.  Note:  The international adoption scandal story is told in item #20 in the FINAL REPORT.
However, in some ways, this change in reverting to previous interests maybe wasn't such a bad idea, as perhaps it helped us have a little more balance and variety in our lives--and did give us the experience we never imagined would be part of our lives dedicated to the Lamanites. 
So, by 1974 we had our business projects functioning successfully with our original Vocational Students--now employees--running the business.  We began thinking about making a Fall trip back to Utah.  But, we only had two work vehicles so had to consider flying--with the Foundation promising us a vehicle for a return trip if we could get to Utah on our own. 
So--we did as always when Foundation money was lacking for a project,  we sold a bunch of old cows for slaughter, got on a Pan American 747 jumbo jet and made our first trip--and,  rather than be put in jail for whatever, we were treated like war heroes returning from the front lines.  From then on we usually made a trip each Fall, and sometimes in between, like I did in 1978 when needing to get a delivery van for our business-- a funny story told at the end of the FINAL REPORT.
On the 1974 trip, the  Foundation provided us with a Plymouth Van for our family transportation as well as for everything else we were doing.  We see it below on the left after our return trip, which included driving all the way up to Seattle, putting a Fireside on arranged by my brother Marlo, and then down the coast, putting on several Firesides along the way and ending at my sister Gayle's home in San Diego for Thanksgiving.  Then entering Mexico and driving down Lower California and from La Paz took a ferry to Mazatlan and on to Guatemala--thus adding to our original trip and beginning to accumulate over the next 30 years many, many miles traveling through Mexico and having some very memorable, and scary experiences. 

In 1981 a "death threat" from the guerrillas led to me quickly taking Maria and the kids back to Utah--ending Maria's exceptional "Ammon-like 14 year mission"  helping to make possible a great work among the Mayans, as well as great contributions from all of my children who never faltered in being with me in the adventure. Without their 14-year contribution, laying a great foundation for success, I would likely have never been able to do very much. 

 After establishing the family in a rental home in Provo, Utah and getting them a car for transportation, I was quickly back in Guatemala as I had to keep the business going that supported us, as well as continue the Foundation projects.  

But, I had to do so clandestinely--disguised and armed as there was evidence that a rebel group of guerrillas refused to obey the main leader in our part of the country who had told his troops to leave me and the plantation alone.  But, the Central House Family ended as threats from the rebel group of the house being torched had no one wanting to live there anymore.  I had to hustle to find safe homes for everyone.

I also had to keep the family going in Utah, so I began spending two months in Guatemala, then 2 months in Utah, making 5 to 6 trips a year to keep everything going in both countries.  At that time I also became AYUDA's  (see item #23) representative in Guatemala as that aid organization's representatives from the U.S. decided it too dangerous to travel to Guatemala, and eventually, AYUDA disappeared and we kept their projects in Cunen going on our own for 10 years.  

During all those years, with traveling back and forth every two months,  I accumulated around 500,000 miles of travel. 

Below we see the family back in Utah, including for 18 months the outstanding student and member of the Central House Family, Moncho, or Victor Ramon Yat Valdez, we see to Maria's right in the background.  Today in 2019 he is Bishop Victor Valdez, of the Valparaiso LDS Ward.

  And it seemed like on every one of those trips I narrowly escaped serious accidents and likely death, as well as having many dangerous experiences.
During my months in Guatemala--over 10 years, I quite miraculously escaped from the guerrillas a few times and once at Valparaiso we were in the middle of a shoot-out between the Army and guerrillas after which my Dodge delivery van was used to carry dead and wounded to Coban--all Army and guerrillas, with nobody from Valparaiso ever injured.

Previously me and   my Indian brothers literally had to fight off invaders and put many in jail;  Then  in the 90's with my new wife, Maria Elena,  we had to deal with a well organized "mafia," called "Los Colitas,"  murderous bandits--posing as guerrillas,  who assaulted us, catching me off-guard and threatening to take my wife into the mountains unless I gave them all our money and weapons--they got a submachine gun, and a couple of pistols, but I talked them out of taking my dad's Browning .22 rifle,  but, because I reported the assault  to the police and Army, the thugs promised to kill my family and burn down the Central House!
But,  I was determined to not let that happen--re-armed quickly and night after night I was waiting in ambush--the ambusher always with a tremendous advantage, each night in a different position,  to eliminate them.  I was armed (this will sound quite Quixotic) with my father's Browning .22 rifle--but loaded with deadly "Israeli Terminator bullets" (not available to the public), plus my Para Ordinance .45 pistol and  back-up .380,  and fully intended to become a "MODERN AMMON"--who killed 7 rustlers of the King's flocks and gained the confidence of the King and people.
NOTE:  The "Colitas" were saved from me by being arrested by government security forces and I got back my submachine gun!  I  participated in the trial and have the only video VHS tape of the  "Los Colitas" trial of those who were captured. 

Well, to say the least, our family and this "RODEO CLOWN"  had the time of our lives with adventure after adventure and a bit of success along with Harold  Brown informing us that we achieved our objective of awakening the interest of helping needy people among individuals and institutions that would have the finances and expertise to apply the proven ideas on a very large scale, he explaining we had stimulated the organization of world-wide welfare services--which I realized with a smile we would never get credit for--all explained in good detail in the FINAL REPORT'S--item #11--of which, as I now look back on the 50+ years of effort, has me almost incredulous that it could all have happened--while at the same time feeling profoundly grateful for the blessing it all was in my life and that of my family. You'll get that point once you see the complete FINAL REPORT. 
For example,   In doing thousands of medical treatments every year, especially in the first 15 years,  3 times dealing with deadly rabies, then treating almost  every tropical and deadly sickness known to man-- tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria, dengue, typhoid, typhus, tetanus, amoebic dysentery, and all kinds of intestinal infections, etc. and a continuing epidemic of malnutrition, kwashiorkor (protein deficiency)--and I even did an emergency hernia surgery that I  had a lot of fun retelling at BYU's 1977 Education Week in item #19, that tells the story of receiving that year the BYU Distinguished Service Award--and,  while saving others from those serious diseases and conditions at times  found myself coming down with the same,  and then had to save myself. 
I yelled for my kids to bring me my medical bag!

For a number of years, we helped sponsor the NATIONAL INDIAN FOLKLORE FESTIVAL, but then decided our local area needed our help most, so for 14 consecutive years we sponsored, along with the Foundation,  the INDIAN FOLKLORE FESTIVAL in Santa Cruz Verapaz.  
We were privileged each year with crowning the new queen and blessed with unique opportunities to participate in their private religious ceremonies and I was even permitted to take rare video footage. 

Below we see a photograph of the country-wide Mayan candidates for the 
National Indigenous Folklore Festival, called by some
each with their distinct typical clothing, language, and customs.

The FESTIVAL is held in Coban on the last Saturday in July each year.  

For us Andersens and the Foundation it was a blessing to help in these great activities along with an unending chain of projects in every one of the 33 villages of Santa Cruz Verapaz, as well as surrounding areas, all the way down into the Polochic Valley, and across the country in the Central Highlands, mostly centered on Patzicia and Patzun having fulfilled the goal of 
which blessing we will always cherish.

If I finish the FINAL REPORT with the complete unvarnished story--
-- "before it's too late," -- you will be advised. 

If not, my extensive files and many journals--will be donated to a University library, and will have to be used to unravel the life-long "Checkered Faith & Work Journey"--if anyone is interested in the challenge, about which one leader, who for a brief moment comprehended, counseled  me,
"Don't tell anyone as no one will understand." 

On the other hand, one unique man, Harold Brown, showed that it was possible 
to understand fairly by having an
 unbiased open mind, an understanding heart, and 
a spiritually perceptive spirit.

Brother Brown is sadly gone. I hope and pray such a person 
will exist and be interested as it was a story worth living and 
of great value to understand fairly as did Brother Brown.