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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
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).
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."
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, 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
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
Patzicía town square
Patzicía city hall
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.
Patzicía Post Office with the only phone in town
Elder David Frischknecht vaccinating chickens in the marketplace in Patzicía, Guatemala, on Wednesday, February 19, 1975
Elder Frischknecht at the market
Patzicía woman weaving
Carlos Choc selling chickens in the market to support Daniel Choc's mission
Marketplace in Patzicía, Guatemala, in 1975
Patzicía girls with umbrella
Patzicía farmer walking in the rain with his "nylon"
Patzicía man carrying corn stalks
Patzicía street scene
Patzicía street scene, Elder David Frischknecht
Patzicía street scene with Elder David Frischknecht
Elder Richman in Patzicía, Guatemala in 1975
The humble home of one of our investigators in Patzicía
Patzicía, Guatemala in 1975
The green house on the right is where the missionaries rented a room from
Don Chomo and Hortencia Ruiz
ran the bakery and store "La Espiga de Oro." (Pictured here with Elder Howard
Elder Howard in Hortencia' s store
Pig head in Hortencia's fridge
Hortencia's maid Carmela. The blouse she is wearing cost 3 month's wages.
Hortencia's mom Rosario covered in flour from the bakery in the back of the house
Outhouse where the missionaries lived in Patzicía
Patzicía LDS Church
LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala
LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala
LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala
LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala
View of the volcano Agua from the LDS Church in Patzicía, Guatemala
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.
Elder Frischknecht with the goats at the Patzicía co-op behind the church
Shearing sheep at the Patzicía co-op behind the church
Road in front of the Patzicía church
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
copies by hand (8 hours) and
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
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
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
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.
Choc family at Elder Daniel Choc's missionary
farewell. See alternate photos 1,
Pablo Choc's daughters Magdelena and Florinda
Elder David Frischknecht with Magdelena, Florinda, and Rolando Choc
Austin Choc 1977
Austin and Cesar
Austin Choc, Elder David Frischknecht, and Cesar at the Calvario in Patzicía
Pablo Choc family in 1977
Pablo Choc in 2006. (Pablo Choc on the right. Margaret Blair Young in the center.)
Pablo Choc in 2006 with his daughter and granddaughter
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 Choc and his girlfriend
Roman Choc and Larry Richman practicing martial arts
Other Patzicía Members
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's children in 1977 or 1978
Daniel Mich and his grandson Lazaro Cua
Francisco Chico Meren family
Luis Alonzo family in 1977. (Photo I took for the missionary flipchart.)
Luis Alonzo and Ricardo Cua. Ricardo's wife
Arcadia was the Relief Society president.
Elder Richman visiting with members in the chapel in Patzicía
Fulgencio Choy and Daniel Choc. Fulgencio's nickname was "colochin."
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 and family. Picture taken in 1978 for the
Cakchiquel edition of the missionary flipcharts.
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. 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
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 painting the church for Elder Packer's visit
Members and missionaries scrubbing the tile floor
Elder Howard and Elder Richman buffing the tile floor
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.
Larry Richman's birthday, July 10, 1975 in Hortencia's kitchen
Missionaries at the door. (Photo I took for the missionary flipchart.)
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
Patzicía translation team, July 1976. Julio Salazar, Elder Frischknecht, and
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
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.
Julio Salazar, Fulgencio Choy, and Alejandro Choc in 1978
when I was in Guatemala for the recording project
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. 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.
Photo in 2015 of Martín Per and his wife Catalina Chex
Martin Per family: Catalina, Richard Mosiah, Martín, Deky, and Dany Martin.