From Jack W. McLaughlin: During our service as missionaries we had six branches in the City of Guatemala. Guatemala City is divided into Zones, and each set of missionaries served in one or two zones as their area. The branch where I served was in Zone 18 and and the chapel (capilla) was located behind a meat market. Our entry to the chapel was a door alongside the market. During church services on Sunday one could hear the butcher chopping meat, and the smell sometimes because quite strong. The Catholics had a full-page spread with a large picture of our door with the name of the Church above it, making fun of our Church.
I served as Assistant Secretary in the Mission Office for thirteen months, and remember I had to handle all of the finance records of the mission. This required all of the branches to send their monthly reports to the mission office and I had to balance them out. Many of the Indians had never done a spreadsheet and knew very little about balancing it. The one thing that stands out in my mind was the monthly tithing receipts. Many of these Mayan Indians were paying one cent, or maybe two cents in tithing. As I would review their reports, many a tear would be shed knowing the faith of the these wonderful brothers and sisters -- the descendants of Father Lehi.
I remember my first day on the mission. My senior companion took me to an investigator's home. People there in Central America are very poor and many have very little furniture. We entered a one-room hut and sat on the bed while the investigators either stood or sat on the table. As we were teaching them, I was all of a sudden amazed to find that a pig had been sleeping under the bed. During our presentation, he crawled out from under the bed and left the hut by the way of the front door. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue or not.
In those days our missionaries would receive approximately $110 from their parents to live on for the month. As a convert, my parents were not members, and consequently I was receiving $70 from members of my home branch, and from the Church. This proved to be quite a handicap while serving a mission. We paid our own travel expenses, even if it entailed flying from one country to another (Guatemala to Panama, or Nicaragua). When I was transferred from Guatemala to Nicaragua, I did not have enough money to buy a "round-trip" ticket. Nicaragua required all Americans to have a round-trip, and that was quite a financial handicap for many of us missionaries. I borrowed $300 from the Mission Home to be able to buy my ticket, and this amount had to be paid back before I was given my release at the end of my mission. Missionaries today are fortunate to not have those problems.