CLICK FOR: Toby Pingree's Passing
All updated in April/May 2021 with exciting new details, especially in
THE HISTORY IS NOW A BOOK
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT ALL ONLINEor
NOTE: To download the book click on the following link: :
Which now includes in APPENDIX 1…
The entire book, with 5 APPENDIXES, is available on a thumb drive for $25
APPENDIX 2 has the COMBAT HANDGUNS article about us.
APPENDIX 3 has the letter from the LDS Financial Dept. authorizing our Group at Valparaiso to operate a system saving lives, includes receiving financial aid from the Guatemalan Foundation
APPENDIX 4 has all the documents from my Church TRIAL
APPENDIX 5 has my letter concerning interest in returning to the Church
THIS ENTIRE HISTORICAL DOCUMENT IS FOUND IN APPENDIX 1
and Part 1 of the printable book.
WITH THE ABOVE POSSIBILITIES IN MIND, IT MIGHT BE WORTH LOOKING FURTHER TO SEE WHAT DEVELOPED
In the above explanation I use the terminology “Ammon-like” that will be used throughout this writing, and especially for non-Mormon readers I should explain. Ammon was an important young man from ancient America whose life is detailed in the Book of Mormon, that Mormons, or LDS people, believe to be the history of ancient America and a companion book with the Bible, both of which we accept as sacred history and “witnesses of Jesus Christ.” Ammon had been a rebellious son of an important leader, but who was converted much the same as had happened to Paul in the New Testament. With his conversion he believed the Lord wanted him to go as a missionary among a rebellious faction of his day the book calls, Lamanites.
Along with his brothers and companions they were criticized or “laughed to scorn” by their own people, but they nonetheless dedicated their lives to helping the Lamanites and were the first to experience success in such a dangerous God-appointed mission. The first phase of his effort was a span of 14 years, so “Ammon-like” usually refers to a 14 year period. Ammon himself actually continued among his Lamanite converts his entire life—I believe because he married one of them.
NOW BACK TO "THE STORY"
It couldn't be as bad as where gossip and rumor has taken the history causing the loss of many friends.
As explained further along, it would be…..
So, I will now begin to stick my neck out and give all a chance to understand this PART 2 of my autobiography entitled PREPARATION, but in this book, A FIFTY YEAR “IMPOSSIBLE DREAM” IN THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MAYA, will be Part 1: THE MYSTERIOUS CAUSE & PREPARATION TO ACT, followed by Part 2, The RISKY….JOURNEY, and concluded in Part 3, with the “rest of the story” in the COMPLETE FINAL REPORT that comes last.
To guide me in gradually revealing all--I had a very profound dream, that two times was interrupted by waking for various reasons, but each time as I went back to bed, the dream continued without missing a beat, convincing me it was much more than a simple dream.
I saw myself invited to speak in LDS General Conference but told not to worry about what I would say as it would be on the teleprompter. Nevertheless, I felt like I had to prepare in my mind a special message just in case.
For better understanding I’ll quote a few paragraphs of that future chapter—THE RISKY…..JOURNEY, as it mentions clearly our reasons and what would be our necessary preparation.
“Our final leaving for Guatemala was after having failed the first time, and we had to return to Provo, go back to work for Andersen Samplers & Consulting Service, and wait for authorization to go through Mexico with our huge load. I'll quote a paragraph or two for complete understanding, coming out of it with a list of our reasons for making the move.
“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 previously tried to talk me out of it in what at times almost became heated conversations. Once he shocked me saying,
"No cursed people in the history of the world have ever been able to rise above it! You will be sacrificing you and your family in vain!"
I was shocked that a true believer in the BOOK OF MORMON would say such, and decided to not debate the matter anymore, rather quietly continue our preparations. Eventually, Dad, seeing my resolve decided to support us even without full understanding.
We had left the first time without any further discussion, but having to return "with my tail between my legs," as elderly Sister Cannon had predicted, I felt strongly there was purpose in it, and believed I had to have a heart to heart talk with mom and dad.
I requested they let me talk without interruption, but to jot down any comments or questions to deal with afterwards.
So, Maria was raised by her aunt, in Tierra Blanca, and they were all early converts to Mormonism we see in an old photograph of the LDS branch members.
Maria is the little girl shading her eyes on the left, next to her brother Albert, and then Graciela, also shading her eyes. I’ll insert below the complete group picture with a special purpose as in it we see on the back row, far left, one of the young—but very tall, full time LDS missionaries, who good fortune would have it was HAROLD BROWN, who years later became one of the most key actors in our entire history.
one tough bunch of little guys registered a new team,
WOW I LOVE FOOTBALL!
We then continued to Lake Atitlan that some believe to be
“the most beautiful lake in the world.”
We continued to Chichicastenango, and then back to the city and....
........down the Atlantic Coast Highway to visit the magnificent ruins of QUIRIGUA, getting more wonderful photographs.
After a wonderful experience at Quirigua photographing the amazing ruins that interestingly had been discovered while Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet was still alive and had him speculating it could have been “Zarahemla,” that at least had him placing the BOOK OF MORMON history squarely in Guatemala.
....and on to the mountain stronghold of remote Coban—COLONIAL GUATEMALA where Maria was able to see there was one General Store, one Dental Clinic, one pharmacy, an old government Hospital and schools.
Soon after our return from that exploratory trip and just prior to the busy school year beginning, my older brother, Marlo and Wydonna got married, and at their reception I took a most beautiful picture of Maria and Julie that I have to include in this history…..you see them to the right. It was on August 20, 1965, Julie 2 months short of being 6 years old.
INTERESTING PROBLEM FROM TESTIMONY MEETING
Soon after returning from our trip to Guatemala having made a lot of headway with Maria, one of our Guatemalan members of the Branch, who along with her family had been converted by John O'Donnal in Retalhuleu, had also made a trip back to Guatemala. She stood in Testimony Meeting, and described how she had literally been tortured in Guatemala to witness all the poverty and suffering, and said it was so depressing that she had made the decision to forget all that human misery and never return to her country. I of course thought, "What a disaster! Rather than be concerned for her suffering people and wanting to do something to help, she rather put blinders on, and turned her back on her people."
Gratefully, Maria also reacted as I did. Interestingly years later when living in Guatemala I learned that said member's younger brother, Julio Cesar, an LDS University student in Guatemala City had become the leader of the main Guerrilla rebel group in the country. Somehow, as far as I know it never became public knowledge that he was a Mormon. Eventually he, and his brother, Alfonso, were both killed by Guatemalan security forces.
THE CHAT WITH MY PARENTS POINT OUT MORE KEY EVENTS
“perfect marriage” – finally.
"The devil is trying to tempt me!"
“You aren’t going with. I’m going alone!”
I continued my fast, and the next day, October 24th had the Sunday of my life. In Priesthood meeting, there was some kind of discussion going on, and the Elder’s Quorum President, Roque Quiroz, turned to me and said, “President Andersen, can you help us?” I gave a simple explanation.
attended a special Priesthood session in the temple on Saturday, December 4th. I was in the Celestial Room, looking into a small sealing room with its altar—similar to the one shown, when a heavenly vision was opened up to me filling me with overwhelming love such as only can come from God and the whole experience was confirmed by the burning in the bosom, and I shouted within myself to the Lord,
From the beginning going through a period of 12 years "leaving it in the hands of the Lord," and then quite incredibly renewed with a period of 8 years of struggle—attempting to understand and do what the Lord wanted all three of us to do—and we should have made it then, yet again it would "be left in the hands of the Lord" and unbelievably 30 years would go by without neither Nora nor me having any knowledge of the other—but always loving, never forgetting and always believing. During those years the plot would thicken somewhat and I would actually be given the opportunity to fulfill the covenant of Celestial Marriage, and in a tragic sense “loose Maria,” not as anticipated, but nonetheless sadly lost!
THE WISDOM OF REPORTING NEGATIVE CONTACTS WITH LEADERS?
In the above summary of experience with a General Authority, along with others that will be mentioned, especially in the COMPLETE FINAL REPORT, we are dealing with leaders believing lies, using lies, and pressuring lesser leaders to lie about reported events. General Authority Scott once reportedly said the followsing regarding allegations against another General Authority accused of sexual abuse of children, saying simply: “Don’t take action, just forgive, forget and most importantly, BE QUIET!” Elder Packer himself is well known for giving the sane advise. What has the Lord said?
“Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.” Doctrine & Covenants 121:16
Yet, the Lord said further along in the same revelation:
“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? – Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled, nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. – That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” D&C 121:34-37
In another revelation the Lord even said: “For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion. – And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.” D&C 64:38, 39
So, for leaders to lie, believe lies, and use lies for whatever purpose, they are, could we say, “disqualified” as being apostles and prophets, and cease to be “the Lord’s anointed.”
Throughout this historical writing, let’s keep in mind all of the above spoken by the Lord, because as you will see time after time good faithful Latter Day Saints, even supposed outspoken and courageous ones, ALL WENT SILENT when confronted with this kind of “unrighteousness!”
I remember now the Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who said, “WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD IS SILENT, EVEN ONE VOICE BECOMES POWERFUL!”
That would be my hope in this historical writing doing as the Lord instructed me to, “SPEAK THE TRUTH FROM YOUR HEART!” Hoping my sort of lone “voice in the wilderness” will be a blessing in helping to fulfill prophecy that in the last days “THE HOUSE OF GOD WILL BE SET IN ORDER!” D&C85:3-8
We see to the right Garth examining one of the negatives in my camper/darkroom, with containers of all the chemicals I had to use to process daily the film—to make sure what I was getting was professional quality for Garth’s purposes.
actually Garth and me together as he was interested in seeing the mountainous area from Coban to Huehuetenango as he believed it important in the geography of the BOOK OF MORMON. Note: That will be explained in Part 2. Then, after a few days in Coban he took the bus to the city, and from there flew home.
Later I came down with malaria resultant from my night photography,and drove home alone—unable to eat, treating my malaria, and spending more on soda pop than on gasoline! Gasoline was then very cheap in Mexico, like .15 cents/gallon.
They needed help, and…
That 2-1/2 month trip—from mid-November to the end of January 1967, is mentioned in the RISKY….JOURNEY report, but so important in our long history that I will now insert a description of the highlights of that crucial exploration:
Our 75 day exploratory/investigative trip prior to actually making the big move, was eye opening in many ways with a couple of memorable, scary and dangerous experiences that helped prepare us for many years of residency—as one friend described it “living from crisis to crisis!” among the Maya. It was also a vacation for the family which was likely to be our last—as it worked out, our last in seven years before we were able to make a trip back to Utah in 1974. I’ll just recount here one series of learning experiences on our way down, and one scary one on our way home, along with mention of investigations, and experimentation with projects that could support us. The first I’ll begin calling it……..
……DAVID & THE WHITE HORSE
As we were accustomed to for our first years, we headed due south from Utah to cross the Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona. NOTE: Eventually we changed our route to and from the U.S. avoiding Mexico City, driving less in Mexico, and more in the U.S. on nice highways with safe Rest Areas. From Nogales to Guaymas and then slowly enjoying the many wonderful spots along the Gulf of California or Sea of Cortez, and then inland through Guadalajara—to there all those areas a few years later became famous for the drug cartels’ production and trafficking of the narcotic drug trade.
From Guadalajara, we are inland beginning to climb into the mountains working our way towards high altitude, 7,350 foot high Mexico City. But, first we approached very large Lake Chapala—with its murky/muddy waters.
NOTE: This brings to mind a few years later when I was invited to make my every two month trip to the U.S. with some friends in their private plane. After spending the night at Tikal, we proceeded to Veracruz, Mexico where we found the mountains towards Mexico City all socked in fog which had them going up and down the coast, testing canyons hoping to find one open and low enough as our small plan couldn’t cope with altitudes over 15,000 feet. I went to sleep when they had found one, and woke up a while later seeing the pilot and his supposed navigator in deep conversation pouring over maps. Then the pilot turned around and asked me and my seat partner,
“Do either of you know where we are?”
Shocked I finished waking up and looked out the window, and luckily down below us a bit ahead and to the south was a very large lake with murky/muddy waters—I immediately recognized it as Lake Chapala and told them. Note: Directly above we see the Lake, and north of it Guadalajara. Veracruz is on the far right, the Pacific on the left. With that they found us on the map and made it safely to Guadalajara, let out a passenger, and finally we made it to the U.S. In northern Arizona we came to Flagstaff. The pilot was apparently navigating by following the highways below us, and from there was to head north following the highway to Page, and Flaming Gorge Dam, then to Kanab and then north to the west of the Wasatch Mountains to avoid bad weather.
At that point I went to sleep, awakening a while later and sensing we were heading east rather than north I looked down to notice the highway entering a town which wasn’t supposed to be there, and I mentioned that to the pilot, and they pulled out their maps and I showed them it was Winslow, Arizona to the east of Flagstaff. They had turned east rather than north at Flagstaff!
So we turned north and crossed Lake Powell mid-lake, flew over the Henry Mountains and Hanksville and soon were approaching Price with north Soldiers Summit locked in a storm and had to land st Price and have someone come from Utah Valley to get us home in a car!
After so many stupid errors we were lucky to have made it alive. That friend and pilot not surprisingly a few years later crashed his small plane unwisely trying to make an emergency trip in a storm from Provo to Nevada—the crashed plane was found the next day on the mountains east of Springville, with the pilot and the entire family he was taking dead!
Back to 1966 as we approached Lake Chapala 3 year old David was upfront with me. I had chewed him out quite harshly over nothing, and was making up to him with a hug. Ahead on the right were a few horses, facing away from the highway, but all of a sudden a white one wheeled abruptly jumping right in front of us and we crashed!
Our radiator was pushed into the fan that chewed up a portion with water squirting everywhere. Instantly I knew what I had to do. Off to the side of the road I pulled up close to a phone pole, and turned off the motor. I jumped out, got a chain….part of my emergency equipment, attached it to the radiator and the pole, then started the motor and slowly backed off separating the radiator and the fan so all functioned normally.
Yes, we lost most of our water and gradually losing the rest. I went to our emergency water, filled the radiator and quickly drove along the lake finding a place we could campout as we weren’t near any town. Lake Chapala is not in the least scenic, so I got no photos, except a few representing our emergency camp-out!
It would take a few days, but I had to plug up as best I could the many leaks using more of my emergency equipment—a large tube of liquid aluminum.
I quickly marked the leaks with chalk, then drained the radiator, ran the motor just a little so the warmth would dry the radiator, and plugged the leaks, then waited for the liquid aluminum to dry.
Then filled the radiator, warmed the motor, and marked additional leaks, and repeated the procedure a number of times taking several days while we had a great family camp-out.
Luckily this was one trip when I bought at the border insurance that would cover a repair, but we had to make it to Mexico City. My repair job was far from perfect so we had to have extra water to fill the radiator a number of times before making it to the City. The repair took several days, so we finally got to do a little site seeing in the giant City, with a few pictures to remind us of visits to museums and tourist spots. We finally continued
We finally made it southeast to Veracruz and on to Tierra Blanca, Maria’s hometown, visited relatives and then on to Guatemala where our investigations got serious making our way to Coban.
We camped out at the soccer stadium—one of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen. Too bad I can’t locate the left portion of the panorama shot showing the grandstands, and the whole bowl surrounded by pines that fill up with spectators.
We spent at least a month in the Coban area, made many new friends, including the governmental leaders, business and plantation owners and learned all we could. But we could have never guessed while camping out on the edge of the stadium, and even attending a soccer game won by Coban’s team, COBAN IMPERIAL, that one day our VALPARAISO-CENTER FOR INDIAN DEVELOPMENT students would actually be parading around the stadium for the Annual Fair presided over by Guatemala’s President Lucas who would award our CID’s participation—
1980 THE BEST OF THE FAIR!
We visited often the one General Store in Coban—EL GALLO, seen to the right, viewing here the textile/clothing/.footgear side, with the grocery section in the middle, then the hardware & agricultural sections on the other side. I met the owner, Carlos Daetz, one of a unique group of residents of the area of German descent from the two German migrations to Guatemala—in 1875 and 1925.. The Germans adapted well to the area and freely mixed with the native population, and contributed to the development of coffee and cardomon plantations, along with processing plants and exporting businesses.
By the time of the World War II, there was a well established German culture in the area even with a German language newspaper, and it was common to see sympathy manifested with them greeting each other with a Heil Hitler salute, and there was fear by the government of sabatoge—as Guatemala was one of the first, along with the U.S. to declare war on Germany. This resulted in plantations and properties being confiscated by the government and the Germans being sent back to Germany, or to concentration camps in the U.S.
Carlos Daetz was one of them spending the war in the U.S. and spoke perfect English, as well as Spanish, Kekchi and of course German. He was one who was able to recover his properties and businesses after the war. I learned a lot from him, and other acquaintances we established during that important period.
Later I met an LDS convert sister who was pure Q’eqchi, but who had married Wellman, and along with her husband and family spent the war in Germany, returning to Guatemala speaking perfect German. So it was common to see pure Q’eqchi speaking natives in the market who obviously had some European blood as seen below.Many of our associations during that period of investigation was with those few who were LDS, and the pictures I have used showing the early pictures of the LDS branch were taken during that period, as seen below:
One thing that was missing in Coban at that time was entertainment. There had been a movie theater, but twice it had burned down. We put on a number of slide and 16 mm. movie shows using the chapel, but inviting our many friends who weren’t Mormons. Several shows were to give people a tour of Utah, along with some of the trips we would we take as a family every Christmas, celebrating that sacred day in non-commercial ways, inviting for tiny Christmas celebrations the poor, nomad-like fishermen along the Sea of Cortez, and teaching our children to share simple little gifts and food with needy people. I also showed them the slide show I had shown to the ex-missionary groupo in Salt Lake—showing the beauty of Guatemala, but also the many serious problems that we were planning on doing our best to solve. For Christmas Eve we invited all to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Program I had as a 16mm. movie, and a color movie about the Savior’s birth and life, I rented from an agency in Guatemala city I had established a formal relationship with for the future. All of them were smashing successes.
The basic idea would be to locate and rent a large house or building where a wall or two could be knocked down creating a large hall, such as the Church does to establish a chapel in the beginning. I’d rent 16 mm movies from the agency in the city, as well as always include educational movies from embassies, and hope it could be a business 5 or 6 days a week.
Christmas was celebrated in our camper, just as a family with a few simple gifts you can see below.We see in these two pictures, Cristina who would have been 3 years old, David, 4 years old, Julie 7, and Rich 3 months. We also went on picnics and fishing trips to the lake at San Cristobal.
Nothing was off-limits for me in my explorations and investigations of every aspect of life in the area, as you can observe in the following set of photographs from that trip—from getting to know better some of the most well-off families of the area, like “The Sisters de Leon.”
An important contact was with said Sisters and I was invited to visit, have lunch a couple of times. They were four sisters who had never married, each of them in charge of different family businesses. Dona Matilde had a private school, where Julie studied for one year when we finally moved to Guatemala. They also had properties, one of which I tried to get them to sell to me towards the end of 1967 when we were living there.
I poked my nose everywhere during these explorations like in their Churches where the wealthy mixed freely with the Indians as seen below.
Even of more importance was exploring the countryside—where we did not go as missionaries sent with a special purpose to Coban, but now it was critical as that was where 80% of the Indians lived where my projected work had to be. Now, nothing was off-limits for me as I needed to really understand the people and the cultures of the area.
Of prime importance I visited the schools, and learned that Coban was the educational center of the Alta Verapaz area. Of course that included their sporting events, like you see below.
HEADING FOR HOME
After NEW YEARS, we bid farewell to all of our new friends assuring them with a “hasta luego” that we would return to establish our residency there before the end of 1967 and be ready to go to work.
It turned out to be a most unforgettable trip home.
All went well getting out of Guatemala and into Mexico at Tapachula, and then continued up what some BOOK OF MORMON believers call “ a narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea by the sea on the west,” basically a narrow strip of flat land—light green, along the Pacific Ocean, separating it from the interior that is made up of rough, almost impenetrable mountains. Years ago, before there was a highway, there was the railroad and for cars to get to Tapachula and to Guatemala your car would be put on a railroad flatcar. I’ll insert a Google Earth view to the right (flat area along ocean from Tapachula northwest to Arriaga).
As the highway leads towards the Isthmus of Tehuantepec you pass through an area called La Ventosa (windy)—where the constant winds from the Pacific side have the trees growing sideways pointing east. Night was falling and the area was being buffeted by the tale end of a storm we heard on the radio had come from the north leaving snow on Mexico City. Traffic was moving slowly and carefully through the area where here and there trucks had been blown over and on their sides along the highway.
We came to the junction where we had to turn east to go up into the mountains and cross the Isthmus. It would be about 1 mile to get away from the flat and into the hills and mountains that would reduce the danger, but for that mile the wind was hitting us directly on our left side with gusts that would literally lift our left wheels off the ground. I yelled at Maria and the kids to all get on the left side of the camper adding their weight. Twice more gusts hit us and lifted our wheels off the ground, then let up and we settled back with a jolt. With panicky prayer we finally got into the safety of the hills. But, it was SCARY TO SAY THE LEAST!
From there we crossed the Isthmus, through Veracruz and then began our assent towards Mexico City, but stopped to rest for the night at a place called Fortin de las Flores, and parked for the night in a nice residential area. As you will see we had lessons to be learned still.
About an hour later we were awakened by the flashing lights of a police car. I opened the back door to talk to them. They warned us that it was dangerous for us to park in such areas as there was high danger of being assaulted and robbed. They suggested we park out along the highway where we would be in view constantly of trucks and other vehicles going by.
We did that and soon were trying to go to sleep again, but about an hour later heard voices behind the camper. A thick fog had moved in hiding us from the vehicles going by whose lights we could see dimly but we were hidden by the fog. There were 3 or 4 men behind the camper and soon they got closer and began knocking loudly. I yelled, “What do you want?” They didn’t reply, rather knocked or rather pounded on the door!
I yelled loudly in Spanish, “MARIA, PASS ME THE GUN!”.…….which we didn’t have.
With that they backed off 30 or 40 feet, still dimly visible through the fog. I told Maria to keep an eye on them, and if they moved towards us to immediately let me know. In the meantime I was silently reaching through the boot between the camper and the front seat where Julie was sleeping, and moving her over so I could get behind the steering wheel.
All of a sudden, Maria said, “HERE THEY COME!”
With that, in my underwear, I was through the boot, immediately started the motor, and we screeched out of there and up the highway, leaving our visitors trying to catch us but empty handed.In spite of it having been a long, tiring day, I was wide awake driving through the fog, up to Mexico City and skirted around the city that was covered by about 6 inches of snow, then in the daylight began the descent to the northwest, finally stopping at a Pemex Gas Station to get dressed and fill up.
I mentioned to the attendant at the gas station what had happened, and he gave us some advice for the future: “When parking for the night to sleep in your vehicle, always do as the truckers do, park gathered around a Pemex Gas Station where there is always an armed guard!”
Sort of like the pioneers did for the night circling their wagons and have some protection. With many important lessons learned we finally made it safely back to Utah—now READY FOR THE BIG DECISION
That experience convinced us it was time to go and we announced to our parents 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
SACRIFICED A LOT TO MAKE THE RISKY MOVE
In the upcoming RISKY…..JOURNEY chapter, I explain how we had to get rid of a lot of our, sort of opulent life, and I explain: 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. This for me was a big deal as I loved to that point activities like deer hunting, and even bragged about getting a big buck every year in my first 11 years of the hunt. During the years of PREPARATION, I justified getting my first four-wheel-drive vehicle—the first International Harvester 4 x 4 called a Scout, rationalizing it would be our RISKY JOURNEY 4 x 4 vehicle, and in my spare time built on the tiny vehicle a camper—I’m still proud of the beautiful camper, building it with only an electric drill, and saber saw. I’ll insert a picture of it I used on one of my last successful hunts before leaving for Guatemala.
As leaving for Guatemala was approaching as a real possibility I had to honestly conclude my beloved Scout was just too small for my entire family, and so I tearfully sold it, and invested $2,150 in a new Ford 150 pickup, bought a camper and built into it cabinets, table, etc. and used it the first time with Garth Norman on our archaeological “Tree of Life Stela” expedition in 1966, and by mid-1967 had it modified more—with a boot giving access between cab and camper, and with a handmade equipment rack on top of the cab and we were ready.
So, on July 12, 1967, with a lot of faith, we headed south the FIRST TIME to Nogales, Arizona/Mexico to cross the border. Then on August 9th, we had our heart to heart talk with my parents, then received a “Father’s blessing,” and left for THE SECOND ATTEMPT and soon we were legally driving carefully south through Mexico towards Guatemala.
It would not be easy, but we knew that the Lord would be with us as long as we heeded His promptings and did the best we could. That JOURNEY was successful the...
Part 2 the epic history
...disappear into the jungles and mountains of the Maya and with my family serve the Lord and his "little ones" in my own simple way--following the example of one of my heroes from the Book of Mormon history, Ammon, from ancient America...
...all in harmony with the inspiration, guidance and the opportunities
the Lord would give me.
On the other hand I believed in the Lord's words when He said,
"....men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.....he that doeth not anything until he is commanded......is damned." (D&C 58:26-29).
I didn't believe in "polishing apples" and cultivating the right friendships as I noticed a few doing to increase their chances of being "called," but rather thought,
"If the Lord was ever to speak to his Prophet calling me to whatever,
he more than likely would be perplexed exclaiming,
the first friend and LDS leader to begin calling me
Digging even deeper he would likely become angry seeing how the film was squelched by the unrighteous intervention of one of his leaders, leaving the way open for me to write about our history as I'm now doing.
I should mention that after what was called "a prophetic tour of Central
America" at the end of 1957 by LDS General Authority Hugh B. Brown, it was common for many missionaries to believe we had a continuing responsibility for the people, especially for the critically needy Indians of Guatemala who he explained clearly had "A PROPHETIC DESTINY" in which some of us were to play an important role.
I especially was impacted by Hugh B. Brown as in a missionary meeting in Managua he called me by name and prophesied about my future that would be among the indigenous people Mormons call Lamanites. This was another crucial link in a long chain of personal, spiritually transformative experiences that dominated my life in a serious way and influenced me to be very deliberate and dedicated about my future.
So, early on there were two efforts by ex-LDS missionaries to return to Guatemala to be of some help--Vernon Webster & Gary Cooper-- but, they hadn't lasted more than six months and have been forgotten.
family pioneering endeavor was different--first achieving a 14 year "Ammon-like" period, but then persisting and was still going strong after 50 years, and so perhaps is historically of great value to report about fully and honestly. It didn't work out being just another crazy, flash in the pan, ill-prepared undertaking as everyone but my father had predicted, but honestly
reporting the truth has strangely ruffled feathers.
having the guts to do it. Whether you're in favor or not,
understand or not, it was a
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!"
not give in to the "bribe system."
It is important to keep this in mind as I was eventually
accused falsely of being dishonest, untrustworthy and
involved in an illegal project mentioned below.
HONESTY THE BEST POLICY?
This was, as far as we knew, the beginning of what came to be called
"a spirit of competition rather than cooperation."
Sadly he was able to convince key leaders of the same and lies were believed, repeated and then repeated widely to many. I have not been liked by mentioning this, but the TRUTH MUST BE KNOWN.
-likely still believed by many today. Other critical historical inaccuracies and omissions are troubling to say the least in the autobiography, all of these raising doubts about his entire book. Some details are related in the
COMPLETE FINAL REPORT, item #20, etc.
NOW TO THE CHALLENGE!
INCUBATORS FOR SICKNESS & DEATH
Foundation historical reports (2nd page), and in Part 1 of this writing.
October LDS Ex-Missionary Reunion for Central American missionaries.
I showed them graphically with slides the beautifully colorful Guatemalan culture, but then shocked them with the other side of the coin--the desperate life and death needs of the people we had worked with and claimed to love, then suggested something had to be done. An ex-Mission President in attendance was terribly offended I had mentioned sick and dying LDS Indian babies and converts and angrily rushed at me to argue. That was the beginning of realizing that telling the truth was perplexingly dangerous, yet it had to be reported if anything positive was to eventually be done. The FINAL REPORT will describe a whole chain of such events with one very hopeful outcome, but a steep price was paid!
That visual presentation 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 paraphrased from two who would become LDS Church leaders was:
SEE THE INTERESTING, SCARY & ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCES OF THAT FOURTH EXPLORATORY TRIPin Part 1: THE MYSTERIOUS CAUSE & PREPARATION……
SO IN MID-1967, WITH A LOT OF FAITH, WE HEADED SOUTH TO NOGALES, ARIZONA/MEXICO TO CROSS THE BORDER
There’s nothing we could do but relax for a week, so we had finally a family vacation, swimming and playing in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. David and me used some of the time to experience some great fishing for Spanish mackerel, and other tropical fish, and so ate a lot of delicious freshly caught fish.
And were even lucky enough for the first time in my experience from our own small aluminum boat catching an exotic Dorado, even though small for these famous fishing treasurers.
But of most importance we experienced there 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, and went into action.
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. I climbed aboard, immediately started the motor and got us out of danger, then we had an emotional moment all of us hugging each other with grateful tears and we then knelt embracing each other and offered a humble prayer of gratitude to the Lord.
By the way, Maria, did an incredible job helping me recover the anchor, which required her to operate the boat, backing into the spot so I could jump out and start the search, and while I searched head out to sea and hold the position waiting for my signal to back in and pick me up. The print version of this story goes through all the details of her great effort.
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.
SECOND ATTEMPT & MORE MIRACLES
It was a humbling and tearful experience for all of us. On conclusion of my explanation, they were humbly quiet seemingly understanding--at least accepting. 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.
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.
As we traveled we observed as always fascinating typical scenes. One memorable one was of a pickup after a baseball game loaded even more than ours.
On that 1966 expedition we afterwards continued to Coban together following the backcountry road from Huehuetenango passing through the remote towns where a year later I would be operating a traveling movie. Garth was interested to see the area including Coban he was sure was a key part of ancient history described in the BOOK OF MORMON.
THE BOOK OF MORMON’S NARROW STRIP OF WILDERNESS
Both Garth and I believed the geography of the book’s peoples was centered on Guatemala. It’s Central Highlands was the book’s “Land of Nephi” with a primary river beginning there and flowing northward into the book’s “Land of Zarahemla.” The river was named “SIDON.”
A major river in Guatemala begins in the Highlands near Santa Cruz del Quiche, named the “Rio Negro.” When reaching the Sacapulas area the name becomes the“El Rio Sacapulas.” There the river is turned westward by a chain of mountains—believed to be “the narrow strip of wilderness” that stretch eastward all the way to the Caribbean. Then bordering on Alta Verapaz the river turns northward through the deep Chixoy Canyon, and there is named the “Rio Chicoy,” until downstream, joined by other rivers becomes the mighty Usumacinta River forming the border with Mexico and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll insert below a Google Earth view of the area.
With Garth, I drove to Huehuetenango to follow the backcountry road through my eventual traveling movie route, going through Aguacatan, then on to Sacapulas where we crossed the river, and continued eastward through Cunen, Uspantan, and Chicaman, then down into the deep canyon crossing the Chixoy River where it continued north. We climbed out of the canyon to San Cristobal Verapaz, and about 20 miles further arrived in Coban. I’ll insert a photo of the Chixoy canyon near Valparaiso.
One of those 10 became an astounding experience when fishing with top-water lures the large-mouth black bass all of a sudden erupted out of the water in a spectacular leap and came down with mouth wide open on the lure and the fight was on, becoming one of the great fishing experiences of my life!
NOTE: Years later a skin diver with speargun got a 27 lb. large mouth black bass here that a week before I almost caught on fishing equipment. If I had of been successful, it would still be a WORLD RECORD.
I headed for Guatemala City, passing through Valparaiso for the first time--of course never imagining at that time that I would eventually spend 26 years of my life there.
I bought flu medicines in Tactic and continued to the City where the next afternoon I had a date to have dinner with Berkley Spencer and his wife, Carolyn--he was considered by me to be the greatest missionary from my time, and was back in Guatemala working on his PhD. During that dinner I all of a sudden had my first attack of malaria resultant from the photo shoots in the jungle at night 15 days before. Berkley gave me medications.
The next day I headed for Mexico City where I had to go to the National Anthropological Museum to retake a couple of photographs for Garth, then continued north stopping at what we called...
Saturday, August 19, 1967.
"Then, they are used!"
"THE LAND OF ETERNAL SPRING"
I first looked for Alfredo Rodas, the LDS Branch President. I wanted to hire him as my assistant and guide. For years he had worked for the Post Office delivering mail all over town and not well paid. I offered him more and he gladly accepted. We found a home to rent, and unloaded our stuff.
In our conversations I learned that two of my new friends on the 4th exploration trip, who had attended my slide and movie shows, had grabbed my idea of a movie business. One ran the Red Cross and he was showing 16mm. movies to raise money for the Red Cross. The other one had a more formal movie theater using commercial 35mm. movies. Both were showing movies of doubtful morality to attract big crowds, and their big day was Sunday. Neither of those ideas were part of my plan, so I had to hustle and come up with something different—which worked out being the traveling movie I’ll describe in a moment, but first I had to return to Guatemala City to get the family and make the second trip.
Paradise Valley Plantation-
NOTE: Directly above is the peninsula of land circled by the road where years later the LDS Church would build a chapel, which in a scandalous move would later be destroyed by bulldozers.
HARD WORK AT THE VALPARAISO PLANTATION --
THE FAMILY IN COBAN
During the week I was separated from the family as I was working hard to manage a 600 acre property that was mostly undeveloped, but with 39 resident families--each head of household of whom I had to give employment for two weeks each month, while at the same time we needed profits to support ourselves, and begin paying off a lot of money we owed on the property.
On Sundays I would take my family to the plantation. The older kids would
go with me to visit the families in their huts, and almost immediately we had to begin treating the sick. On those Sunday evenings we began trying to awaken the Pokomchi-Mayans with the first movies they had ever seen.
Maria had moved with me to Guatemala with the agreement I wouldn't force her to "live out in the sticks," but soon all the children ganged up on her and insisted they all move to the plantation to help me 100% of the time. We first lived in the warehouse we used as our movie theater.
Other critics accused Maria and me of....
Gospel explanations about us trying our best to live Christ-like lives, “loving and helping the needy” fell on deaf ears! Gratefully there were a few who looked at it differently and began helping. By mid-1970 the Foundation began helping us with some of the expenses.
THE FASCINATING SOURCE OF THAT CRITICISM & IT'S REVERSAL
Surprisingly the accusation we "didn't love our children" mentioned above was leveled against us by Bob Arnold and his wife when they first arrived in Guatemala assigned to establish the LDS Seminary System in Central America.
That judgmental attitude towards us was a big part of the war of criticism against us in the early 70's, but with Harold Brown's (mentioned in a moment) help, at least with the Arnold's, was reversed by 1974-76 when he was the Mission President and by 1976 said,
"Valparaiso is the only place in the country where positive things are happening!"
And much more--described in the RELIGIOUS HISTORY that follows the report of this Risky...Journey.
The Vocational Education Program we called "learning with a shovel"...or a hoe, a chain saw, poultry, etc. was started immediately as I had to train those interested in how to work with poultry, hogs, cattle, carpentry, etc. None of the older workers called "colonos" would accept, so I made a juicy offer to their teenage boys and soon had a great group preparing them to manage profit producing projects.
Next came elementary education, started by Julie as mentioned in a moment, then a legally authorized school, along with adult literacy classes--and the plantation became known as:
A PROGRAM OF TOTAL DEVELOPMENT.
-- Keep reading to learn the details of the GOOD LIFE METHOD of helping Indians--(item #3 in the FINAL REPORT)
To be able to do so he sold their home in the Oakhills area of Provo, and rather lived in a less expensive rental home as well as also selling the culminating work of his life, Andersen Samplers & Consulting Service--mentioned previously. The Foundation and helping the needy in Guatemala then became his "labor of faith and love."
...misunderstanding, injustice, misjudgment, a spirit of competition rather than cooperation, faulty inspiration, and a lack of gratitude that developed among some people of influence.
NOT PLAYING THE VICTIMS
Out on the front lines, we didn’t meekly roll over as victims either, rather found ways to confront bullying and injustice, and rather multiplied our efforts to do good and save lives!
With the Foundation's help we were able to expand our efforts to many areas.
A LIST OF OUR FAMILY PROJECTS WHICH IN MID-1970 THE FOUNDATION BEGAN HELPING WITH, follows:
6. A Home Improvement Program doing our best to convert the huts into "healthy homes."
He arrived as a barefoot 16 year old, never having even brushed his teeth, nor given a speech in his LDS Chapel, but I sensed great potential in this humble Cakchiquel Indian teenager and chose him to be the first to learn to operate the tractor. He caught on quickly and eventually became the "Tractor Supervisor" teaching 26 other vocational students how to use the tractor plus much, much more explained more fully in the FINAL REPORT.
When Daniel returned to Patzicia 2-1/2years later he amazed the LDS members in Patzicia when giving a speech, one of the elderly leaders remarking, "He left here a boy, but returned a man!" He soon would become the first Mayan Indian to become a full-time missionary for the LDS Church.
The Foundation help for altruistic activities 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. The Foundation offered to help with our children's education, paying for Calvert School correspondence courses in English and we accepted that.
Maria was busy taking care of the little children, eventually after Joey, Marcia, Danny, Michelle, Cindy and Celestina.
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.
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 our effort would:
"Saving thousands, and helping tens of thousands of Indians to receive an education,"
wasn't apparently on his priority list.
...DESCENT PEOPLE APOLOGIZE WHEN THEY ARE WRONG.
More details of this visit will be described in the RELIGIOUS HISTORY, as part of the FINAL REPORT.
..BASED ON MISINFORMATION...& ITS OUTCOME!
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......
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-- go unscathed and afterward even given higher callings, had her concluding that her years in Guatemala had "been hell," and she never wanted to live there again.
Note: The international adoption scandal story is told in item #18 in the FINAL REPORT.
--and I even did an emergency hernia surgery that I had a lot of fun retelling at BYU's 1977 Education Week in item #17, that tells the story of receiving that year the
For a number of years, we also helped sponsor the.....
....NATIONAL INDIAN FOLKLORE FESTIVAL...
The FESTIVAL is held in Coban on the last Saturday in July each year.
Marta Elena Hun, above, 15 years old, in her competition for “Daughter of the King of Heaven,” in 1985, shocked all by appearing dressed in a quipil made from a flour sack, and a tattered skirt, both over 100 years old, and in her speech explained:
I have now finished the COMPLETE FINAL REPORT with the unvarnished story--
"before it's too late."
For more details my extensive files and many journals
will be be donated to a University library,
and will have to be used to unravel more of the life-long
if anyone is interested in the challenge.
And, it will be a risky challenge as demonstrated by one LDS General Authority--who had heard a scandalous version of my history and demanded I confess--so as I began a 2 hour long recounting of my history....his first response was, "The devil was deceiving you," but I continued undeterred, with him later shockingly injecting, "Satan was trying to destroy you!" But unbothered I continued with him gradually changing his attitude, eventually saying,
a spiritually perceptive spirit.
Part 3 the critical conclusions
& CORDELL M. ANDERSEN
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of the beginning will be similar to what you might have seen before, but believe me there is a lot of new, and exiting reports with many photos you’ve never seen before including emotional items of “the rest of the story!”So, read-on……
Part 1: The MYSTERIOUS CAUSE and PREPARATION TO ACT and have the Courage to Make the Risky…Journey,
Part 2: The RISKY, BREATHTAKING 1967 PIONEER JOURNEY TO THE JUNGLES & MOUNTAINS OF THE MAYA. and,
THE THEME OF THE ADMITTEDLY IDEALISTIC
"I wouldn't ever attempt what you say you came here to do!"
As explained in Part 1 I use the terminology “Ammon-like” that will be used throughout this writing, and especially for non-Mormon readers I should explain. Ammon was an important young man from ancient America whose life is detailed in the Book of Mormon, that Mormons, or LDS people, believe to be the history of ancient America and a companion book with the Bible, both of which we accept as sacred history and “witnesses of Jesus Christ.” Ammon had been a rebellious son of an important leader, but who was converted much the same as had happened to Paul in the New Testament. With his conversion he believed the Lord wanted him to go as a missionary among a rebellious faction of his day the book calls, Lamanites.
Along with his brothers and companions they were criticized or “laughed to scorn” by their own people, but they nonetheless dedicated their lives to helping the Lamanites and were the first to experience success in such a dangerous God-appointed mission. The first phase of his effort was a span of 14 years, so “Ammon-like” usually refers to a 14 year period. Ammon himself actually continued among his Lamanite converts his entire life—I believe because he married one of them.
CONCERNING HIS STUMBLE: Since all of us humans are “flawed,” as President of the Church in 1988-89, he failed to recognize what might be called "a big whopper" with tragic consequences in the Santa Cruz Verapaz/Valparaiso area as will be explained in The LDS Church History for Alta Verapaz in item #12 & #28 of this FINAL REPORT.
BEST FOR LAST—AN INCREDIBLE SUPPORTING ACTOR WITHOUT WHOM THIS REPORT WOULD NOT EXIST & MUCH MORE
My wonderful son, JESSE—when we moved back to the U.S. in 2002, was a junior in high School, but already becoming an expert with computers and the internet. He was shocked to learn that the Foundation didn’t even have a website, so he created one and forced the rest of us to fill in the blanks, opening up
He then clewed us in that the name of the Foundation for Indian Development, on a Google search took one to India, so we changed the name to the GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION. He has been my life saver, and I love him a ton and am grateful for him letting me park my Cabin-A alongside of his home in American Fork.
THE LONG-TERM POTENTIAL OF OUR EFFORTS?
One of the promotional firesides presented by my father was to his LDS Stake High Priest Quorum members and their wives. One of them, a brother Paul E. Felt, previously the Director of the BYU Lamanite Development Program, who was by then the ex-Mission President of the Church’s Southwest Indian Mission, and afterwards a Professor of Religion at BYU, after the fireside he published in a report the following describing the long-term outcome of the Foundation’s work:
“I is not unlikely that within a few decades it will be recognized that the most significant work among the Lamanites of our century is that being undertaken by the Foundation for Indian Development and the Cordell Andersen family!”
To give proper understanding to this amazing prediction we’ve got to keep in mind not only the direct work undertaken, but also the stimulus it was for statements you’ll read about by Harold Brown, referring to the work stimulating LDS Church leaders to organize what today is LDS World Wide Humanitarian Services, and work that was started in areas like Guatemala’s Polochic area, so far creating among rural Lamanites 2 LDS Stakes (Senahu & Chulac), and possibly by now a 3rd – (Sacsuha), and methods—The Good Life, and teaching techniques all described in this FINAL REPORT. In addition seeds were planted all over among the tens of thousands helped get an education that are sprouting everywhere—all with an unending potential future
READ ON TO SEE IF THERE MIGHT BE ANY TRUTH IN HIS PREDICTION.
THE 32 MEMORABLE EFFORTS, EVENTS& ACCOMPLISHMENTS
The original idea of creating a simple movie theater in Coban had been acted upon by several of my friends by the time we arrived, so the plan changed to a traveling movie visiting four of the most isolated communities in the country, but expanded after the first tour to six: Chicaman, San Miguel Uspantan, Cunen, Sacapulas, Aguacatan and Nebaj,
By the end of August I had the family into the rental house, needed furniture on order with local carpenters, and I moved fast for our first project—the traveling movie—CINE CHAPINLANDIA.
Over 5 months we
achieved showing educational and good quality commercial movies to 50,000
people, with my camper also being A MOBIL MEDICAL CLINIC
& LIBRARY as there were no effective medical services in most of an area of
200,000 people, and not one library until 1983 when we cooperated with AYUDA to
construct and inaugurate one in Cunen.
Alfredo Rodas, in the dark sweater was borrowing benches from the Catholic Church.
HOW & WHERE IT ALL DEVELOPED
Early in September, with my partner, Alfredo Rodas, I left Coban heading west scheduled to visit Chicaman, San Miguel Uspantan, Cunen and Sacapulas.
CHICAMAN: From San Cristobal it took us a bit over an hour to descend into the Chixoy Canyon, cross the river and switchback up to 4,823 foot elevation Chicaman—a small town with no electricity. After arriving we went directly to talk to the mayor, explaining our project and asked if there was a place we could use as a theater. He was excited about a movie coming to town and explained that the only place available was the abandoned Catholic Church and promised to put some workers to cleaning it up. Another of his aids took us to the school and our suggestion of educational movies was immediately accepted and soon we were entertaining the children. We used the free movie to have the children let everybody know that at 7:00 PM there would be movies costing .10 and .15 cents.
As soon as we got set up for the show we drove around town and with our public address system, a speaker you can see on top of the camper, we announced the show. It was a smashing success some bringing their own chairs, and we announced that in two weeks there would be two showings: 5:00 & 8:00 PM.
San Miguel USPANTAN: It took about another hour to get there. A much larger and more developed town than Chicaman. At nearly 6,000 ft. elevation, and with electricity. A village of Uspantan within a few years would produce a NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER, an Indian woman, Rigoberta Menchu. Uspantan today is well known for the archaeological site of Chitinamit, believed to be Jakawitz, the first capital of the K'iche' Maya.
We immediately looked for the mayor who was happy to let us use the Municipal Hall, except that there were basically no benches. Soon we were showing educational movies at the school, then had the evening show at 7:00 announcing that next time there would be two showings, and suggested they bring their own chairs.
Santa Maria CUNEN: On Wednesday we traveled west about another hour and came to Cunen, at about the same elevation as Uspantan—6,000 feet. It is a small town with no electricitry found in a valley with wheat fields, as well as corn carpeting the valley
It was here that a few years later Utah based AYUDA INC. established their project under the supervision of Jim Penrod, his wife Aurora, and kids. They spent 18 months here. Fifteeen years later when AYUDA disappeared, we took over and kept the projects alive for 10 years.
We immediately talked to the mayor who was happy to let us use the Municipal Hall, but which had no benches. We would begin to remedy that problem, as I’ll explain in a moment, and eventually supplied all our towns with benches.
We showed movies at the school, and then went around town announcing the evening movie which was again a great success.
SACAPULAS: On Thursday we left Cunen, climbed up to a low pass, and dropped down to the Sacapulas River, and the town located at about 4,000 ft. elevation. The Catholic Church and Municipal buildings had been damaged by earthquakes and so we found the mayor in temporary quarters. He was happy with our project but had no where to show a movie, but sent us to the Catholic Convent. The priests and nuns were happy with our project and invited us to use the patio when the weather was good, and their temporary chapel if there was rain. They invited us to pull into their compound and spend the night there.
We had great success there as you can see with my photo of an outdoor show.
This is Cine Chapinlandiain in Sacapulas, with a view of the spectators in the outdoor patio of the Catholic Convent which was our theater and where we spent the night with the priests and nuns.
I had a most memorable experience there with a surprisingly young and beautiful "Mother Superior," who one night surprised me in my camper reading the BIBLE. That stimulated a great conversation. It might have ended up with a great convert if they hadn’t of transferred her back to Chichicastenango—maybe to keep her away from me!
RE-EVALUATING OUR PROJECT
On Friday morning we reviewed what had happened and decided that we had to add on two more towns to make it six for the week and take advantage of the long journey to increase the income.. It would be exhausting but we would then have a week off to do any needed pickup repairs, make a quick trip to the City to get more movies, and have time to cut out wood for benches we would pile on top of the camper and assemble in each town—one at a time until all had benches.
The head Priest suggested we add on AGUACATAN, about another hour west, and NEBAJ, a fairyland town on the north slope of the Cuchumatanes Mountains. It was accessed from the pass between Sacapulas and Cunen, the road then climbing a 10,500 foot pass to then drop down to Nebaj at 6,200 feet, the home of the IXIL Indians.
So on our next tour, on Friday, after Sacapulas we headed west to:
AGUACATAN: It is located at 4,480 ft. elevation, and is unique with a language called Awakateko . It was a fairly large town and had electricity. Talking to the mayor we discovered that a Catholic Priest was showing movies, but the mayor encouraged us to go ahead as we promised good quality movies, plus the educational ones, including free movies at the school. The mayor interestingly was an Evangelist, so liked the competition for the Catholic Priest. We would use the Municipal Hall, that had no benches, so on our next tour we were assembling benches in the street as you see Rodas doing below.
We had great success here, mainly because we found a very enthusiastic 16 year old, Miguel Ishmael Chavez, who spoke the native language and as we plied the streets of the town he would grab the microphone and with great enthusiasm go to work promoting the movies in Spanish and in Awakateko
later join us at Valparaiso as a Vocational
Student, and got involved in everything we were doing. Then one day he disappeared to only return
later, when we sent him to work with Carl Jacob in his strawberry project. Miguel would eventually be baptized into the
LDS Church in Patzun. Later he joined us
again with his
To the left we see Miguel with Rodas after joining us. To the right we see him a few years later helping with a drunk.
In recent years I got back in contact with him from Atlanta, Georgia where he was for a while, but is back in Coban and now, 54 years after we met, are still in touch.
From there, on Saturday, we drove back to the pass above Sacapulas. There we had a unique experience related to the modern Sacred Book of the Indians—THE BOOK OF MORMON.
From there we began grinding our way up to the 10,500 foot pass, and started our descent to all of a suddewn have appear like a vision the Ixil town of NEBAJ appeaing way below surrounded by fields of wheat.
Santa Maria NEBAJ: The Municipal Hall was large and part of a town complex that occupied a rectangular building with a large patio in the middle surrounded by a corridor, and offices. The patio had become a basketball court, and had been roofed over with a high oval roof. The mayor told us that would be our theater. They had a lot of benches that could be arranged there. We somehow installed two pulleys up high and with rope would hoist our movie screen frame up so all could see the movies. The Police Station was on the far side, with jail cells opening onto the corridor, so those in jail could watch the movies for free.
We had great success here with only an evening show as it couldn’t be darkened for a daytime show. After the movie we would pack up and by 11:00 PM head for home, usually arriving by 5:00 AM, so we could rest a little and then direct the Church services.
PROBLEMS: Several times when there were heavy rains, the road to the pass was blocked by large fallen trees and we couldn’t get around the blockage, and had to backtrack to Nebaj to spend the night. We sent telegrams advising our families, and Maria and the women had to take over and hold what we called a Sunday School. Each of those two times the road was eventually cleared and we would finally make it home by Sunday afternoon.
The Traveling Movie—Cine Chapinlandia, finally had to end as the initial .10 and .15 cents charge was too much for most of the poor towns, so we reduced it to .05 and .10, concerned more for getting a large audience and serving the people, than profit. However, the need of supplying every town with benches--made during the off-week, and the rough roads that always required pickup repairs, and also in between it all, a quick trip to Guatemala City (and back then it was an 8-10 hour journey,--one way, fording quite a few streams, etc.) to get from the USIS, Canadian, Japanese, & Israeli Embassies more educational movies, and another commercial one, plus paying Alfredo Rodas his salary—all of which caused economically a loss.
Important NOTE: This approach was in harmony with what Ammon did to have great success in his missionary work. When captured and confronted by the Lamanite King he didn’t instantly call him to repentance preaching the Gospel of Christ, rather told him he wanted to live among them and was happy to become a servant helping taking care of the King’s animals. In time, by doing an exceptional job helping the King where he needed help, the way was opened up for him to preach and did so with incredible success. On the other hand his brothers tried the direct approach and ended up in jail
MANUEL HAD A SERIOUS ALCOHOLISM PROBLEM &
WANTED “the pill” TO SOLVE IT
For the first two months at the Farm we continued every other week with the traveling movie and Manuel had to be totally responsible, including daily taking the egg production on the bus to our store. Maria informed me that sometimes it was Julia who brought the eggs. Something was wrong and one Sunday I found him drunk with Julia trying hard to do all of his work. We had a serious talk and I gave him one more chance to get control of his life. He failed and according to my word he was to be fired.
He came to me still drunk and cried like a baby begging me to give him “the pill” he assumed Rodas and me took to keep us from drinking.
I told him the “pill” was found in my faith in Jesus Christ and being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said he wanted to learn, so I began giving him and Julia lessons and there was a positive response and all went well.
ANOTHER AMAZING COINCIDENCE AMONG MANY
For the litter in our chicken coops, we used the dry coffee shell, called “cascabillo” we would get for free at the coffee beneficiaries. At the one we went to on the outskirts of Coban, I would work with the workers there to fill and load bags that weighed around 150 lbs. Among the Indian workers there was a young man 17 years old who looked more European. He was Miguel Angel Ortiz Rossi, of Italian descent, called in Guatemala a “Ladino, “ but he was different working hard alongside Indian workers as friends.
We came to know him, and even invited him to Church in Coban and he came. But all of a sudden he and his mother moved to Guatemala City. I told him whenever he returned he would be welcome at Valparaiso we had during that period become owners.
He would a year or so later appear at Valparaiso when I had lost my manager, Alfredo Rodas, to serious sickness and wasn’t expected to live. I was struggling to manage everything without knowing the Pokomchi/Maya language. Miguel became my partner in training as a Vocational Student, learning from me how to work with poultry, hogs, cattle, and do accounting. We managed the plantation together as luckily again, as had been the case with Alfredo Rodas, he was originally from San Cristobal and he spoke Pokomchi. He is seen in the first “Mob” picture with our Joey in his arms.
A year later when 18 I made him the manager. He would be with us for two critical periods.
FARM SOLD TO CONSOLIDATE ALL EFFORTS AT VALPARAISO
By February we had the good fortune of acquiring the VALPARAISO PLANTATION and so for the next 6 months I would travel back and forth—The Farm 30 minutes south of Coban on one dirt road, and the Plantation one hour west on the rough road that was the “Highway” to Guatemala City, and I became too divided. Everything we were doing at the farm we could do at Valparaiso even more efficiently—and we were already preparing to do it having built during those months chicken coops at Valparaiso, so in September 1968 I sold the poultry farm for the same amount spent on it. Manuel and Julia wanted to go with us to Valparaiso which they did and there they lived in the Central House and he took charge of the poultry.