Members in Guyana and California Team Up for Tree Project

Contributed By Jan Hemming, Los Angeles Public Affairs Office

  • 26 December 2014

The Demerara Branch Primary in Georgetown, Guyana, as they worked on the Los Angeles California Temple Visitors' Center Christmas tree project.  Photo by Chrissie Tsaturyan.

Article Highlights

  • Among other items, the children in Guyana sent flags, pennants, and some Guyanese money to help make the ornaments.
  • The children in California made over 250 handmade ornaments, each keeping true to the Guyanese national colors.

“When I first learned of the project from my dad, I immediately knew who would be excited about it and from whom I could easily get ideas: my Primary kids.” –Chrissie Tsaturyan, Georgetown, Guyana.


The children of the Demerara Branch in Georgetown, Guyana, have never been to Los Angeles, much less California, but this Christmas the colorful handmade ornaments they inspired adorn one of a dozen Christmas trees that greet holiday guests at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center.

Traditional symbols of this tropical South American country—colorful parrots, lotus flowers, water lilies, flags of the national cricket team, ornamental pom-poms and beads—beautify the tree along with long flowing ribbons, red bows, snowflakes and stars.

Children in the Granada Hills California Stake made the decorations based on drawings sent to them via Facebook from children in the Guyana branch. They also stayed true to the Guyanese national colors—black, yellow, red, green, and white. The branch mailed knickknacks, Guyanese money, flags, and pennants, and a few specially woven miniature bags and bookmarks that arrived in advance of the decoration party.

Craig Nelson, who coordinated the international project in Granada Hills, said this rare global collaboration gave the children in California a new appreciation for a country they knew little about.

His married daughter, Chrissie Tsaturyan, who lives in Georgetown, said the Primary children in the Demerara Branch hoped their ornaments would teach those coming to the visitors’ center more about their Caribbean nation.

“When I first learned of the project from my dad, I immediately knew who would be excited about it and from whom I could easily get ideas: my Primary kids,” said Sister Tsaturyan.

Her husband, Sevak, is manager of operations at the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana. Framed pictures of the Guyanese children also hang on the tree. Perhaps the most original and creative ornament is the origami crane made from a Guyanese $20 dollar bill (which has a street value of about 10 cents).

Five wards in the Granada Hills stake held ornament-making sessions involving Primary children and teens.

In all, about 250 handcrafted ornaments were created. The most challenging ornament was the origami birds, but Brother Nelson said the stake benefited from two members who were familiar with the art from their Asian heritage.

This year’s Christmas display at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ Center is based on the theme “Children Around the World–Christmas 2014.”

LDS Stakes and churches of other faiths decorated nearly a dozen trees to reflect the Christmas culture of countries such as Germany, Sweden, Guatemala, Turkey, Liberia, and Tonga. All the decorated trees used handcrafted ornaments made by children.

Young men and young women from the Granada Hills California Stake pose during a Christmas decorating party. Photo by Diane Salin.

A close-up of the Guyana Christmas tree with the handmade ornaments. Photo by Jan Hemming.