I must say as my TRIBUTE TO GARTH, that one of my major efforts in a life-time of serving the Lamanites in Guatemala and elsewhere, was getting for Garth the photographs he has used over more than half a century to fulfill what he believed deeply was, after his family, his main mission on earth in promoting understanding and belief in the Book of Mormon, as the sacred record of the believers in ancient America. If there ever was a Latter Day Saint who took seriously the Lords admonition in Doctrine & Covenants 84, it was Garth. I refer specifically to the following key portions of that revelation:
54. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief and because you have treated lightly the things you have received.
55. Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but TO DO according to what I have written.
58. That they might bring forth fruit …….
GARTH, along with his loving wife, Cheryl, produced fruits sweet to the taste!
Garth remained with a friend in Mexico following his interest in Izapa. I continued with an ex-missionary companion to Guatemala in what I called my First Exploratory Trip—of 4 as part of my 9 years of preparation to move to Guatemala and continue my life-long cause of helping the Mayan people.
Three years later, when I was working some as a freelance photographer with professional 4"x 5" cameras and capability of night photography, Garth contacted me and we planned an expedition in my pickup with camper I converted into a dark room to develop on site the photographs to make sure I was getting what Garth needed. This was the 3rd Exploratory Trip. There would be one more—with my entire family for 2 ½ months, prior to our leaving for good and arriving in Guatemala on August 19, 1967. It was said that "You'll come running home in 6 months with your tail between your legs!" I finally returned 35 years later in 2002, but continued as a volunteer managing the Foundation for 15 more years, celebrating our GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY on August 19, 2017, when I retired the Foundation.
The much used photograph I got at night using my Honda generator and photo flood lights coming in from the sides so the relief would pop out--which relief was not visible otherwise.
After the photo shoot in the jungles of Izapa, Garth continued with me to the isolated Coban region of Guatemala where I would eventually live with my family for 35 years. We followed a backcountry road crossing the country along what Garth and I believed was the chain of mountains that was the BOOK OF MORMON's "narrow strip of wilderness" that stretched from the "west sea" to the "east sea."
As we drop down into a hot desert area we see to the north the mountains we have to climb to get to Alta Verapaz..."The High Land of Eternal Peace."
After a a banana split we will begin our climb into the coolness of the pine covered "Mountains of the Maya"
Now we are winding our way through rain forests where is found the National Park to the Quetzal Bird, Guatemala's National Bird.
Viewing with amazement the steep mountain sides with the Mayan's corn fields, where it is said that the Indians wear out first the brim of their hats in contact with the mountain side above them as they work with their giant hoes.
We made a quick trip down into the Canyon to satisfy Garth's curiosity--all of which you can see in the YouTube video of both trips, links found at the end of this report.
Then lunch at the home of Elvira who grew up in our Central House calling me "papa." The young lady is Aura, my adopted daughter. The fellow in the blue shirt is my Foundation representative with whom I worked as brothers and partners for 42 years, and in my book is called, "THE VOLUNTEER OF ALL VOLUNTEERS." Elvira we called "the miracle baby" as after dying, she was miraculously brought back to life in a "Biblical-like miracle," story told with her pictures in my book about the 50 years of helping the Mayas.
I reminded them of the mistranslation in the Book of Mormon, of the word "trench," or "ditch" which in Spanish is translated as "foso," which means "hole," and doesn't make sense. It should be "zanja" which all of a sudden has the book becoming clearly understandable, and related to what surrounds them.
He related how I had got pictures of the Tree of Life Monument, and how it is a perfect representation of the dream of Lehi in the Book of Mormon, and is on the Pacific coast as that was likely the landing site of the migration from Palestine.
All during the two lectures, one of my first Vocational Students in 1968-69, Pablo Xona, who later for all my years there was a faithful employee and leader, can be seen below doing as I taught my students to do--TAKE NOTES.
Then, for better understanding we were told of one of the young men who is studying on the university level, knew English, and could effectively translate into Pokomchi Garth's remarks. The entire group all of a sudden came alive!
Abinadi, who was our traveling companion from Utah, saying goodbye to his new friends, including a couple of LDS missionaries. It was his father from Guatemala City who provided the transportation for us to Izapa and then to Valparaiso,
We bid farewell to the Valparaiso Community, and to some of my people I lived and worked with for 35 years.
Mariita Max de Laj,