LDS missionaries teaching in the fields of Guatemala

Patzicía, Guatemala

Patzicía is a beautiful town in the central mountains of Guatemala. I served in this town a total of 11.5 months on three assignments:

  1. February 4–October 10, 1975: With missionary companions David Frischknecht (2-4-75 to 5-29-75), Samuel Schmutz (5-29-75 to 9-3-75), and James Aaron Nelson (9-3-75 to 10-22-75). 
  2. February 4–March 31, 1976: After the earthquake, many LDS missionaries were assigned to live and work in a tent camp set up in Patzicía to help the people clear out the rubble and build temporary shelters. See pictures and stories about Camp Patzicía.
  3. July 7–August 3, 1976: The last month of my mission, I was assigned to help finalize an official translation of the missionary discussions in Cakchiquel, along with Elder David Frischknecht and Julio Salazar (who had already completed his mission).

When I served in Patzicía in 1975 and 1976, there was one branch. Today there is a stake (the Patzicía Guatemala Stake, organized November 10, 1966) and 4 wards (the Patzicía Ward, El Calvario Ward, Reforma Ward, and Zarahemla Ward).

Cakchiquel Class

In February 1975, I was one of a dozen missionaries assigned to work in the highlands of Guatemala among the Cakchiquel Indians, who spoke very little Spanish. Dr. Robert Blair, a professor of linguistics at BYU, went to Guatemala and taught us a few weeks of Cakchiquel. He not only taught us the language, but also taught us techniques to learn a language, so that after he left, we could continue learning among the people. Read more on the page "A History of Cakchiquel (Kaqchikel) Translation in the LDS Church."

Cakchiquel class in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975 for LDS missionaries

Cakchiquel class in Patzicía, Guatemala, in 1975 for LDS missionaries. Front row (left to right): Milo Garcia, Jenette Blair, Margaret Blair, Greg Martin, Elder Hansen, Lisa Blair, Taz Evans, Hermán Tum. Back row (left to right): Larry Richman, Rosa, Bobby Blair, Deborah Humphries, David Piggot, Robert Blair, Elder Handison, David Frischknecht, Julio Salazar, D Warnock, Garth Howard, Jon Call

Robert Blair, David Frischknecht, Spencer Palmer

Robert Blair, David Frischknecht, and Spencer Palmer in front of Hortencia's store in Patzicía where the missionaries rented a room.

We continued to study and teach in Cakchiquel daily. It took about a year until I felt comfortable teaching in Cakchiquel. (In contrast, I felt comfortable with Spanish about five months into the mission.) Toward the end of my mission, sometimes when David Frischknecht and I would have conversations about the people, we would slip into Cakchiquel because it felt more natural than English.

Speaking Cakchiquel daily for most of my mission, I wasn't able to progress in Spanish as much as I would have liked. By the end of my mission, I was more proficient in Cakchiquel than in Spanish. When I returned to BYU, I majored in Spanish and by the time I got my bachelor's degree, I felt equally comfortable in Spanish and Cakchiquel.

Scenes of Patzicía

Patzicia town square

Patzicía town square

Patzicia city hall

Patzicía city hall

Patzicia Post Office and postmaster and telegrapher Jorge Blas

Jorge Blas at the Patzicía Post Office. He was the postmaster and telegrapher and was a good friend to the missionaries. Jorge Blas, el jefe de correos y el telégrofo de Patzicía. Fue un buen amigo de los misioneros.

Patzicia Post Office with the only phone in town

Patzicía Post Office with the only phone in town

Elder David Frischknecht vaccinating chickens in the Patzicia market on February 19, 1975

Elder David Frischknecht vaccinating chickens in the marketplace in Patzicía, Guatemala, on Wednesday, February 19, 1975

Elder Frischknecht at the market

Elder Frischknecht at the market

Patzicia woman weaving

Patzicía woman weaving

Carlos Choc selling chickens in the market to support Daniel Choc's mission

Carlos Choc selling chickens in the market to support Daniel Choc's mission

Marketplace in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Marketplace in Patzicía, Guatemala, in 1975

Marketplace in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Marketplace in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Marketplace in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Marketplace in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Patzicia, Guatemala

Patzicia girls with umbrella

Patzicía girls with umbrella

Patzicia farmer walking in the rain with his "nylon"

Patzicía farmer walking in the rain with his "nylon"

Patzicia street scene

Patzicía man carrying corn stalks home

Patzicia street scene

Patzicía street scene

Patzicia street scene

Patzicía street scene, Elder David Frischknecht

Patzicia street scene with Elder David Frischknecht

Patzicía street scene with Elder David Frischknecht

Elder Richman in Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Elder Richman in Patzicía, Guatemala in 1975

A house in Patcizia, Guatemala

The humble home of one of our investigators in Patzicía

Patzicia, Guatemala in 1975

Patzicía, Guatemala in 1975

Missionary House

Patzicia street in front of the LDS missionaries' house

The green house on the right is where the missionaries rented a room from Don Chomo and Hortencia Ruiz in Patzicía.

Hortencia Ruiz in her store with Elder Howard

Hortencia Ruiz ran the bakery and store "La Espiga de Oro." (Pictured here with Elder Howard .)

Elder Howard in Hortencia' s store

Elder Howard in Hortencia' s store

Pig head in Hortencia's fridge

Pig head in Hortencia's fridge

Hortencia's maid Carmela. The blouse she is wearing cost 3 month's wages.

Hortencia's maid Carmela. The blouse she is wearing cost 3 month's wages.

Hortencia's mom Rosario

Hortencia's mom Rosario covered in flour from the bakery in the back of the house

Outhouse where the missionaries lived in Patzicia

Outhouse where the missionaries lived in Patzicía

Patzicía LDS Church

LDS Church in Patzicia, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicia, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicia, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicia, Guatemala

LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala

View of the volcano Agua from the LDS Church in Patzicia, Guatemala

View of the volcano Agua from the LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala

Patzicia co-op behind the LDS church

Behind the Patzicía church was a small co-op with animals that was set up by Elder Noorlander several years earlier as a welfare project.

Patzicia co-op behind the LDS church

Elder Frischknecht with the goats at the Patzicía co-op behind the church

Patzicia co-op behind the LDS church

Shearing sheep at the Patzicía co-op behind the church

Road in front of the Patzicia LDS church

Road in front of the Patzicía church

LDS missionaries make map of Patzicia, Guatemala

Making a map of Patzicía to help missionary work and to donate to the Mayor. We traced an old aereal photo onto onion skin paper to get the right dimensions. We then walked every street and updated it to the current status, measuring new buildings and streets. Here is a photo of the map we made (15 hours drawing time). We made 2 more copies by hand (8 hours) and presented a copy to the mayor. Letter to the mayor. Image of the map. Invitations we handed out in town.

People of Patzicía

The Cakchiquel people are special. They live a humble life close to the earth and know that God blesses them. They know that it is through God's power that seeds sprout and grow into food. They see and appreciate the miracles around them. They don't have much chance for a good education because they have to work hard to survive. But God blesses them to learn and accept the gospel in ways other than studying to gain an intellectual knowledge. Many of the members have had dreams that have forshadowed their future teaching by missionaries.

For example, Daniel Mich was an early convert to the Church in Patzicía. Daniel had a dream wherein he saw President David O. McKay, but did not know who he was until later when the missionaries showed him a picture of President McKay. (Read "Indians of Guatemala" in the Relief Society magazine in September 1969, beginning on page 650.)

Another member, Fidel Cujcuj heard the song "Come, Come Ye Saints" in a dream and learned to play it on his marimba. The first Sunday he was invited to an LDS meeting, they sang the song "Come, Come Ye Saints."

Luis and Michaela Alonzo were the first Cakchiquels to be baptized in Patzicía, on June 2, 1958. On June 26, 1958, Daniel Mich, Sister Cruz de Mich, and their youngest son, Clemente, were baptized. These accounts are documented in the book Pioneer in Guatemala: The Personal History of John Forres O'Donnal, Shumway Family History Services, Yorba Linda, CA., pp. 169-177.

See a list of members in Patzicía. I believe this is a list that Pablo Choc created (in his handwriting) in 1975. However, it is possible that this was the list he used to track down members after the earthquake in February 1976, but I can't vouch for that.

Pablo Choc Family

See the earthquake page for more photos and information about the Pablo Choc family. Read an article about Pablo Choc.

Pablo Choc tells about saving for years for Daniel to go an a full-time mission. He had saved 100 quetzals, which was a large sum of money in those days. One day, the military was in town to round up young men as potential recruits for the military. (The way they "recruit" is to grab potential young men from the street and take them to the jail where they sort through those they want. Pablo had to give the guards the 100 quetzals to get Daniel freed, which left nothing for the mission. Other members and the mission came up with the needed money so Daniel could serve, and missionaries donated clothing for Daniel to use.

Pablo Choc family

Pablo Choc family at Elder Daniel Choc's missionary farewell. See alternate photos 1, 2, and 3.

Pablo Choc's daughters Magdelena and Florinda

Pablo Choc's daughters Magdelena and Florinda

Elder Frischknechts with Pablo Choc's kids

Elder David Frischknecht with Magdelena, Florinda, and Rolando Choc

Austin Choc 1977

Austin Choc 1977

Austin and Cesar

Austin and Cesar

Austin Choc, Elder David Frischknecht, and Cesar at the Calvario in Patzicia

Austin Choc, Elder David Frischknecht, and Cesar at the Calvario in Patzicía

Pablo Choc family in 1977

Pablo Choc family in 1977

Pablo Choc in 2006

Pablo Choc in 2006. (Pablo Choc on the right. Margaret Blair Young in the center.)

Pablo Choc in 2006 with his daughter and granddaughter

Pablo Choc in 2006 with his daughter and granddaughter

swatch from a corte that has been in the Pablo Choc family for years

This is a swatch from a corte that has been in the Pablo Choc family for years. It was prepared by Margaret Blair and given to missionaries who served in Patzicía during a missionary reunion at the Robert Blair home on October 2, 2015.

Pablo Choc died July 28, 2010.

Domingo Choc Family

Domingo Choc family: Alejandro, Domingo, Roman, Ramona, Natalia, and Rigoberto

Domingo Choc family: Alejandro, Domingo, Roman, Ramona, Natalia, and Rigoberto

Domingo Choc family

Domingo Choc family

Alejandro Choc

Alejandro Choc

Alejandro Choc and his girlfriend

Alejandro Choc and his girlfriend

Roman Choc

Roman Choc

Roman Choc

Roman Choc

Roman Choc

Roman Choc

Roman Choc and Larry Richman practicing martial arts

Roman Choc and Larry Richman practicing martial arts

Other Patzicía Members

LDS members from Patzicia, Guatemala

Members in Patzicía (left to right): boy, Clemente Alonzo Mich, Mateo Miculax, Elder Jon Call, Elder Larry Richman, Leocadio Per, boy, Martin Per

Clemente Alonzo Mich, Mateo Miculax, and Leocadio Per

Clemente Alonzo Mich, Mateo Miculax, and Leocadio Per

Clemente Alonzo Mich's children in 1977 or 1978

Clemente Alonzo Mich's children in 1977 or 1978

Daniel Mich and his grandson Lazaro Cua

Daniel Mich and his grandson Lazaro Cua

Fidel Cujcuj

Fidel Cujcuj

Mateo Miculax

Mateo Miculax

Mateo Miculax

Mateo Miculax

Francisco Chico Meren family

Francisco Chico Meren family

Luis Alonzo family in 1977

Luis Alonzo family in 1977. (Photo I took for the missionary flipchart.)

Luis Alonzo and Ricardo Cua

Luis Alonzo and Ricardo Cua. Ricardo's wife Arcadia was the Relief Society president.

Elder Richman visiting with members in the chapel in Patzicia

Elder Richman visiting with members in the chapel in Patzicía

Rolando

Rolando ("Roli")

Fulgencio Choy and Daniel Choc

Fulgencio Choy and Daniel Choc. Fulgencio's nickname was "colochin."

Elder Richman teaching priesthood meeting in Patzicia

Elder Richman teaching priesthood meeting in Patzicía on September 7, 1975. Front row (left to right): Daniel Mich, Fidel Cujcuj, Pablo Choc. Second row (left to right): Clemente Alomzo Mich, Elder Nelson, Santiago, Alejandro Choc. Third row: unknown. Fourth row (left to right): unknown, Santiago Merén, unknown, Román Choc. Fifth row: Domingo Choc. Sixth row: Moises Choc, Ildefonso Simalij, unknown, Pedro Cujcuj, Domingo Choc. Seventh row: Gabino Mich. Eighth (back) row: Juventino Per Mich.

Leocadio Per family in Patzicia, Guatemala

Leocadio Per and family. Picture taken in 1978 for the Cakchiquel edition of the missionary flipcharts.

Leocadio Per family in Patzicia, Guatemala

LDS District visitors

LDS District visitors. Back row (left to right): unknown, Daniel Mich, Mario Samora (1st counselor), Fulgencio Choy (2nd counselor), Miguel Angel Batz (district president), unknown, unknown, María Socorro de Mich, Feliza Choy, unknown, unknown, unknown, Carlos Ovando, Domingo Choc, Domingo Solomán, Gabino Choy. Front row: Carlos Choc, Joel Ordoñez, Alejandro Choc.

LDS youth at Iximche

LDS youth at Iximche. Maricela Can Macú, Marina Ofelia Can Macú, Lidia Choy, Lazaro Cua, unknown, Cesar Sisimit, Martín Per, Ruben Can Macú, Ezequiel Choy, Julio Cesar Solomán, Santiago Merén, Austín Choc, José Trinidad Miculax hijo.

Fulgencio Choy and a girl at Iximche

Fulgencio Choy and a girl at Iximche

Oldest LDS member in Patzicia

Oldest member of the Church in Patzicá in 1975 (not the first baptized, but the oldest).

Preparing for visit from Elder Boyd K. Packer

Elder Boyd K. Packer visited Patzicía in 1975. These are pictures of the missionaries and members cleaning up and painting the church prior to his visit.

Elder Richman and Elder Howard printing the church for Elder Packer's visit

Elder Richman and Elder Howard painting the church for Elder Packer's visit

LDS members cleaning the Patzicia, Guatemala church

Members and missionaries scrubbing the tile floor

Elder Howard and Elder Richman buffing the tile floor

Elder Howard and Elder Richman buffing the tile floor

Boyd-Packer-meets-children-Guatemala

Elder Boyd K. Packer visits with children in Guatemala. This photo was taken in 1979 in an unidentified town. I was most likely at a chapel dedication, but not in Patzicia.

Missionary Photos

Larry Richman's birthday, July 10, 1975 in Hortencia's kitchen

Larry Richman's birthday, July 10, 1975 in Hortencia's kitchen

LDS Missionaries at the door. (Photo I took for the missionary flipchart.)

Missionaries at the door. (Photo I took for the missionary flipchart.)

Elder Richman playing the piano at the Patzicia church

Elder Richman playing the piano at the Patzicía church

Cakchiquel Translation Office

The last month of my mission (July 7–August 3, 1976), I was assigned to help finalize an official translation of the missionary discussions in Cakchiquel, along with Elder David Frischknecht and Julio Salazar (who had already completed his mission). Sister Sharp helped type the translations. These missionary discussions are available online.

Patzicia translation team, July 1976

Patzicía translation team, July 1976. Julio Salazar, Elder Frischknecht, and Elder Richman.

Our schedule was as follows: 5:00-5:30am scripture study; 5:30-6:00am breakfast; 6:00am-12:30pm translate (with 1/2 hour break); 12:30-1:00pm lunch; 1:00-6:00pm translate (3/4 hour break); 6:00-6:30pm dinner; 6:30-8:30pm visits; 8:30-9:00pm misc; 9:00pm sleep.

Patzicia translation team, July 1976

Patzicía translation team, July 1976. Elder Frischknecht, Julio Salazar, and Sister Sharp.

As we completed each discussion, we would send out copies to the missionaries. See letter. The light-hearted nature of this letter shows the close relationship we had among the missionaries who learned Cakchiquel.

More Photos

Julio Salazar, Fulgencio Choy, and Alejandro Choc in 1978 during the recording project

Julio Salazar, Fulgencio Choy, and Alejandro Choc in 1978 when I was in Guatemala for the recording project

Patzicía church in 1975 and the stake center in 2015. La capilla de Patzicía en 1975 y el centro de estaca en 2015.

The Patzicía church in 1975 and the stake center in 2015.
La capilla de Patzicía en 1975 y el centro de estaca en 2015.

LDS members in Patzicia 20-Oct-2015

LDS members in Patzicia. Photo taken October 20, 2015. Front row second from left is Domingo Choc. Second row second from left is the stake president Wilian Miguel Can Macú. Back row: Elder Steven E. Snow and Richard E. Turley.

Martin Per and Catalina Chex 2015

Photo in 2015 of Martín Per and his wife Catalina Chex

Martin Per family

Martin Per family: Catalina, Richard Mosiah, Martín, Deky, and Dany Martin.