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Location: Weston, Florida, United States

Obtained a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's in ancient scripture, and a doctorate in educational psychology from BYU. Served with the LDS Church Educational System in Hayward and Palo Alto, California; Athens, Georgia; and Miami, Florida. Served as bishop in Newark, California, and Athens, Georgia, and as stake president of the Sugar Hill Georgia Stake. Served as president of the Mexico City North Mission 1996-99. After retiring from CES in 2004 have served four other missions with my wife: As CES area director in Central America 2004-2006; in Panama 2007-2009; again in Guatemala 2009-2011, this time as executive secretary to the Central America Area Presidency; and finally as a counselor in the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple presidency, 2013-2014. After returning home, we served in the presidency of the Fort Lauderdale Temple from 2014-2017 and continue to serve as sealer and ordinance worker, respectively. Feel free to email us at, and please check out our new website at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Achutupu, Mamitupu, and Ustupu

We've just returned from another and for us the last trip we'll be making to the San Blas District during our mission. We had a second session of the district conference, this time in company with not only President and Sister Jamison of the temple but also with President and Sister Madrigal from the mission. The following photos will show some of the highlights.

Virginia and the Jamisons preparing to join the Madrigals in the boat piloted by President Jose Manuel Diaz, San Blas District president, to take us from the Achutupu airport to the island of Mamitupu, just ten minutes away, where we would spend the night. The conference itself would be on the island of Ustupu, 20-25 minutes further away, but where there were no satisfactory accommodations available.
Virginia and me in front of our hotel cabin at the CabaƱas Waica on the island of Mamitupu.
View of the hammocks and restaurant from the vantage point of our cabin.
Inside our cabin. It had its own shower, but we all shared the same nearby bathroom for other purposes. Note the dirt floor and mosquito netting over the bed.
Lobster preparing to receive last rites in restaurant.
Virginia on trail to downtown metropolitan Mamitupu. This is a very traditional island, where one doesn't see many of the trappings of modern civilization which mar the primitive beauty on some of the other islands. The closest thing we found to a business was a tiny little thatched roof "store" where we bought a small bottle of water for $1.50. (You don't go into such a store--you ask at the window for what you want.) People were very friendly--especially the kids.
Kids play soccer barefoot on cement playground in front of Mamitupu school. The school was the most modern looking thing on the island, but it includes only elementary grades. Those wanting to go beyond that have to travel to Ustupu.
Virginia again in Mamitupu. Note leaning hut taking a note from a larger structure in Pisa.
Once again.
Don defying coconut to fall on head.

Don beside our boat.
Lobster lunch! In addition to our group, there were a couple of Jewish guests from New York whom we enjoyed getting to know. The dad's father and mother both survived Nazi concentration camps, though ten of his father's siblings did not.
Octopus, which we ate for dinner that day!
Nearing Ustupu for Saturday afternoon training meetings.
Typical local transportation as we arrive at Ustupu.

Virginia was supposed to train Young Women leaders, but while no leaders arrived, several young women did (and a couple of young men, who sat in). Only a couple of the girls read Spanish, so communication was a bit of a challenge. It turned out that the chapel didn't have the necessary power inverter to enable us to use the projectors we brought, so we had to make do with our laptop screens.
Virginia and Sister Madrigal participate with Sister Jamison in teaching Primary songs to kids prior to the start of the training meetings.
Don on the way to the chapel in Ustupu (not yet in sight)
Ustupu chapel in backround
Friendly little kid (couldn't hae been older than two), who welcomed us.

Virginia teaching kids to lead music while waiting for the rest of the group to be finished following Sunday's conference.
Chapel roof in Ustupu
Leaving hotel in Mamitupu in owner's boat to take us back to Achutupu airport
Our hotel as seen from the sea
Locals in typical transportation

Kuna lady paddling her boat off coast of Achutupu
Kuna lady fishing in front of Achutupu airport
Don and Virginia at Achutupu airport
Madrigals, Sister Jamison, and Virginia wait for plane at Achutupu airport
Plane arriving at Achutupu airport. Note the plastic bottles on the fence posts, which serve also as runway markers
Other highlights of the trip included:
  • Seeing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans simultaneously from the air
  • Seeing dolphins playing in the water on two or three ocasions
  • Traveling back to Mamitupu in the dark Saturday evening. It took about a half hour, and I was grateful that President Diaz knew how to find his way by reference to the stars and the faint outline of the mountains on our left.


Blogger Familia Harrison said...

I knew President Diaz 31 years ago when I was a missionary there. I was the branch president of Rio Azucar. I am planning a summer trip to Panama and would like to go see him and his family. Any suggestions of how to get there and where to stay?

Easton Harrison

8:28 PM  

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