Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Click here for PREVIOUS POST Event #4

Monday, May 23, 2016
"Celebration to thank the Foundation & Donors"
105 photographs tells the tale!

A nice new 4x4 pickup came by to pick me up to take me to the Valparaiso School.  It belonged to Miguel Angel Ortiz (Rossi)  who I have said was "my first vocational student," but actually the 2nd, as Carlos Yat Valdez was the 1st. Miguel Angel appeared to help me at Valparaiso in 1969, and off and on was with us until 1973. After teaching him to drive, work with poultry, hogs, cattle & do accounting, he became the manager when 19 years old.  

Later we were partners for a time in the cardomon business.  For the last 20 years he has lived near Chisec, north of Coban in hot country (780 ft. elevation), on his small but successful cattle ranch, we would visit the next day in Event #8. 

He offered to drive us to Valparaiso where we would be all day, beginning with an activity at the school.


In 1981 the Guerrilla War heated up in our part of the country and I took my family back to Provo, Utah, but I continued with the business and the Foundation projects in Guatemala, spending two months there, and two months in the U.S.--traveling 500,000 miles in the next 10 years to keep everything going.  

The Center for Indian Development was closed at Valparaiso, but to provide education for the children I donated property to the government, the Foundation provided construction materials, and the people did the work...
....BUILDING A SCHOOL, we then donated to the government. 
With Army protection on the perimeter to guard against a guerrilla attack, the school was inaugurated in 1982. 

The Foundation  continued over the next 34 years helping the school grow, expand, and improve--now in 2016 with over 300 children attending.   One of the last projects in 2012 was to build a pre-school classroom in honor of my daughter, 
Julie, who we called 
"The First volunteer teacher/nurse" 
Soon thereafter, under the supervision of the Foundation's Regional Director, Federico Veliz, a JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL was initiated, using the same buildings in the afternoons, with teenage students from 7 different villages that surround the area, now with around 100 students.

 We are now driving through the very busy streets of Coban on our way out of town. There are often traffic jams, controlled somewhat by dozens and dozens of very modern street lights. 

Coban in 1958.....
......when I first worked in the area as a missionary. It was a quiet community with few cars, one general store, one pharmacy and one dentist.......
.....Mormon missionaries had labeled it "The Siberia of Central America,"  due to it's isolation, it's 13 months of rain/year, and difficult missionary work.  For me it became THE SHANGRI-LA OF CENTRAL AMERICA!  

Below is what would have greeted you as you crossed the colonial period bridge and entered Coban.  As a missionary I met here Luis Gonzales (Borja) working for free as a young boy pumping gas.  
Nine years later in 1967 when we moved to Coban to begin our work, my friend, now Don Luis "Guicho," was the owner of the gas station! 

This is the bridge today, with the gas station replaced by whatever......

...and here we are at "Guicho's," PUENTE NUEVO GAS STATION...filled up and on our way to Santa Cruz Verapaz. 

The children, teachers & parents were waiting for us. 

The program began singing the National Hymn, video made to later show on TV. 

It was followed by children  singing & dances.....

Very nice tokens of gratitude were presented to express their gratitude
to the Foundation & its donors for having performed innumerable projects of educational/community development in the area over the 50 year period. I was then given the opportunity to speak to the large group reviewing some of the key aspects of the history that led us to live & work among them in 1967.  

Many fond memories were recounted of so many things, some of which brought tears to the eyes of the parents in attendance. 

 Federico, our incredible volunteer director, with who we have collaborated for 42 years with projects in all the rural villages and schools of Santa Cruz, was asked to speak--which he did both in Spanish and in Poqomchi. 

Next, the new Manager of the Valparaiso Plantation, Miguel Angel Argueta, was asked to say a few words.  He  congratulated the GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION and its donors for what has been done over many years, and he committed the Plantation and it's new owner, to also help the school with its needs. 

He had also been with us in the activity in the Municipality, the previous Friday, and would continue with us in the next event at the Community Hall, after which he invited us to go with him and the owner  to tour the new plantation--which will be EVENT #7. 

Of course....there were more speeches from representatives of the communities of Valparaiso/Rio Frio, and teachers. 

 I was asked to convey their gratitude to the Foundation & all of its donors. 

The program was then concluded and key people in our 50 year history came up to renew friendships.  

One who had also been with us in the Municipality, and gratefully was with us at the school, was MIGUEL MAX.  I reviewed some of our history together, with photographs, in EVENT #2 Visits With Key people.  The first really important slide program produced by the Foundation, back during the 70's, was his story:  
I can't say too much, how wonderful and emotional it was for me to see Miguel again. Good friend Guillermo Enrique Rittscher, once predicted Miguel would become an important leader.
Then joined us Santiago Caal Max, who back in the beginning worked with Miguel in charge of the cattle. 
 It was these two who, in critical times when others weakened, stood firm at my side. 

Then his wife, Marta, joined us for a picture. 

Next, a wonderful man came to shake my hand and we rather hugged.  It was ANTONIO MAX, who in 1991, lost his wife giving birth to a tiny baby girl.  His other two children were very young and being alone he didn't know how he could handle the giant task, and asked me to help. 

 So our MAHANA became part of my life, who along with the other 4, I became a Mr. Mom to for more than the next 20 years.  Mahana became a great blessing in my life. NOTE:  You can see her at the end of the COMPLETE HISTORY video. 

Carmelina was actually the first to come to me with her children, to thank me and the Foundation for the help we gave her many years ago.  She, as a small child had been burned badly, but it was never treated and the healing had all of her fingers  bent back and afixed to her wrist, and to each other,  etc. as well as much damage to her face and other parts.  
We found someone in the U.S. who could help her and she was taken to the U.S. to undergo gradually years of reconstructive surgery.  Eventually, after two years,  her parents insisted she be brought back.

When she arrived she only understood and spoke English and went through quite a period of re-adaptation.  Here she is today with her three children, grateful for the life saving/enhancing aid she received. 

As we were heading for the lunch, I was stopped by two of the students who made a personal gift of appreciation to me and the Foundation. 

Other warm and appreciated hugs & smiles were shared that warmed my heart--which I will never forget as they will warm my soul continually for what remains of my life....and on into the eternities. 

Finally I made my way to the typical lunch of "sacic."  

Then ended the wonderful morning with another few pictures--first, with all the teaching staff at the schoo (above), and below with a bunch of children who had hung around. 

I thought we were through, but they wanted me to take a tour and share with the Foundation and donors, pictures of other projects we have had recently at the school, which will follow.....all self explanatory. 

Then to the home we built a few years ago for the caretaker--we had learned was necessary as repeated times the school was broken into.  The school is now safe with our caretaker, his wife.....
.....and two children--who we have become very attached to and even included in our ANDERSEN FAMILY BIRTHDAY CALENDAR.  
So, meet the boys:  CORDELL ANDERSEN Zep Xical (7),  and his  big brother, ARMANDO (10). 

As we walked out of the school compound, I was ambushed one more time--by Mr. Nuila, who interviewed me for the local cable TV system
that would be included with the video footage taken of the event. 

Mr. Nuila (I think, Amilcar), is a relative of my dear friend, Lotario Nuila, who became a close friend in Provo, before we moved to Guatemala,  when Lotario was studying at BYU, and we were even planning on becoming partners in developing a family property in the jungles along the Chixoy/Salinas River north of Coban.  A sad family tragedy ended that plan, but we gratefully continue with Lotario's son, Otto, who, as a donor,  is a partner with the Foundation. 

I thought we were on our way up the hill to the community, but others were waiting to say hello. 
First, several from the Felipe Laj family, this one being Felipe son, who a few years ago servcd an LDS mission in Ecuador.   
Felipe, father, made history at Valparaiso being the first to dig his outhouse hole and qualify for the promised floor and box seat--and others followed his example in 1970 achieving 100% of homes with sanitary facilities.  That was big, as it ended the tragic flood of death, and began a 36 month period with NO DEATH AT VALPARAISO.  Felipe father, eventually became the Dairy Supervisor, serving in the important job for many years. 

Then came, Jose Laj, husband of she who became known to us as "Mariita," seen in the July 1971 ENSIGN article.  Mariita over many years had serious health problems, and more than once we had her in intensive care at the Central House. In recent years she had a stroke, now with difficulty walking, but does talk well--just two days ago calling me long distance from Valparaiso....of course everyone has cell phones. 

Then an important encounter and hugs from Chavela and her daughter Elvira. The History Review relates intensive work with Chavela's daughters, Marta & Elvira, all of whom eventually joined us at the Central House and were with us until the Guerrilla War put an end to a lot of things.   
Chavela hasn't seemed to change a bit over the years.  Elvira, her daughter,  has had health problems that have aged her a lot.  

But, it was an event with Elvira, when a baby, who reacted negatively to a medical treatment, and died.  Yet, restored to life through prayer--which Biblical-like event, began the trend of people at Valparaiso and in surrounding areas,  beginning to realize something was going on at Valparaiso that could be trusted! 

Next, among the onlookers during the program, my zoom lens focused on Marcela, wife of Miguel Tul.  

Miguel Tul, as a young boy appears in the first picture of the Central House Family.  Our involvement with him over the years was was quite intense, usually in efforts to help him overcome dishonesty.  In the Historical Review his case is described somewhat.  But his inherent intelligence was obvious to me, and he finally filled a needed job and was trained in be in charge of Animal Health for the cattle.  He was the first and only to learn how to check cows for pregnancy, and do artificial insemination--and we began calling him DR. TUL! 

 At the very end, after I had to sell Valparaiso, some of my men were helping to empty the house of furniture and things.  Behind a filing cabinet Miguel found a roll of bills...Q.2,000! (about $250). He immediately turned it over to me.  Sad to say, he was criticized by those with him--who had been my "trusted employees," who told him he should have just kept it and told no one!
I rewarded him with Q.200 (about $25).  

Finally we headed for the Valparaiso Community Hall for another celebration & lunch!

 At that moment, two of the Junior High School students, dressed in their uniforms, arrived for their afternoon school.

From Julie's 6 little barefoot Indian children>>>>>>
For some very strange reason, donations have almost stopped!
We'd like to continue until August 19, 1967 when we crossed the border into Guatemala to begin this work...which will complete the

1 comment:

  1. Helping children and students around the globe, so, indeed a vital step that would help students in bringing around all what they actually needed to look for and possibly these would also amount to better understanding as well.