Sunday, December 28, 2014

Toa Baja Zone Christmas Party and Other Christmas Fun

This week seemed almost like a vacation. We worked Monday and Tuesday, and attended the Toa Baja Zone Christmas Party Monday night at the mission home. We only worked a half day on Wednesday, and spent Thursday, and Friday at the beach. We were back to work on Saturday delivering apartment supplies and checking out apartments. 

Elder Eakle and the APs had their own private dining area at the party. Elder Nadauld heads home this week. We will miss him.
The elders' table.
The sisters' table.

The elders who didn't fit at the other elders' table.

The beautiful sisters' table from the other side.
Sisterly Love
Some happy elders with full stomachs (not that they are usually starving--I just think they enjoyed a change from rice and beans).
Waiting for the Christmas program to start. The Boucher daughters sang. We even heard President Boucher on the guitar playing Silent Night.
Some more lovely hermanas. 
They love spending time together. 
Sisters in blue having a great time.
Sisters in pink are happy, too. I love the smiles of the sisters.
If it weren't such a great picture of everyone else, I would have trashed this. I stick out like a sad face in a group of happy ones. The two young girls are daughters of the counselor in the mission presidency. 
Present time!
Everyone celebrated when a gift was given!
The mission office has a multipurpose type room where we ate dinner Christmas Eve. The old men enjoyed having some fun. 
A bit too competitive, I think. 
Some serious competition here.
Our cute gifts from Kimball and Kelly.
The seniors got together for Christmas Eve dinner. Here we are again for leftovers Christmas day.

My cute new Saltwater Sandals from Kelsey and Tim. I love them!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in Puerto Rico

This is definitely the most unusual Christmas I've ever experienced. I'm having a difficult time believing that Christmas is less than a week away. I don't listen to the radio much so I haven't heard many carols and, of course, it's warm! The temperature is quite wonderful right now--low 80s in the day and low 70s at night, but a bit too much rain for me. Here are some pictures of Christmas decorations and other Christmas photos.

Our ward (the English speaking ward) had a Christmas breakfast. It was very simple. We signed up to bring muffins, juice, or a breakfast casserole. The primary did a nativity program after we ate. 
Our apartment building is located next to the complex dumpster. This is the back of it and it has been decorated for Christmas.
This little yard in the complex is all decked out. They even covered their air conditioner with foil and put a nativity set on it. 

Early in the month we moved the Ponce sisters. This house in the neighborhood took advantage of their flat roof to share the true meaning of Christmas.
Santa is not as popular as the three kings here, but I did see him trying to break into a building in Old San Juan.
This beautiful tree in Old San Juan is festively decorated. We went there on December 13th and the area was bustling with tourists from three different cruise ships. There were a lot of booths in the streets where merchants were selling Christmas gifts.
This street in Old San Juan looks festive.
Our neighbors downstairs decorated the front for Christmas. I don't think Frosty's request is going to happen.
A municipal city building crosses the street next to our apartment complex. Apparently, the city doesn't have a problem displaying the nativity here. The three kings are peeking over the top. The lights went out on the crown of one of them. 
There is a small plaza next to another municipal building next to our apartment. This tree is huge!  It's a big metal frame covered with greenery and these Las Vegas-like lights. I think it is really pretty. 
The bridge by our apartment has red lighted poinsettias. There are also red, green, and white lights on the flag poles that line the bridge, but they were not lit this night. 
The Porter's neighbors have their yard nicely lit. 
These decorations are in a common area of the apartment complex.
Here are some more decorations in the apartment complex. I guess it's supposed to be a display of gifts. The fire hydrant on the right is wrapped up like a green present.
There are so many decorations featuring the three kings. Three Kings Day is celebrated January 6th, and the holiday season continues until then. 
The apartment complex doesn't have a problem with displaying a nativity scene either.

On December 15, we went caroling with the Caguas district. We met at the plaza in Caguas which was decorated with these large, lighted displays showing different positive attributes we should have at Christmas. Each one is about ten feet tall. I enjoyed caroling without a jacket. 
Ama is Love.
Alegrate is Joy.
Abraza is Hugs.
Ayuda is Helping.
Comparte is Sharing.
I may have this one wrong, but I looked up that Suena means Sounds.
Caguas has a smaller version of the tree like we have in Bayamon.
This Caguas City building is all lit up.
Here we are a caroling with the Caguas missionaries and the Wentzels. 
A nativity scene at Plaza Las Americas, the second largest shopping mall in Latin America and the largest in the Caribbean, of course. Plaza Las Americas is home to the highest grossing Macy's in the world. I think I also heard that the Sears and Penny's there are the highest grossing in the world. All three stores are huge.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving with the Kingstons

The Kingstons are members of the English-speaking Metro Ward. Sister Kingston is originally from Mexico and because of her employment they live in Puerto Rico. They graciously invited all of the senior missionaries to their home for Thanksgiving dinner. We started the day with waffles with every topping imaginable. I loved the pomegranate seeds! After breakfast, we toured their lovely community. Six rode on the golf cart, and Brother Kingston, Elder Eakle, and I rode bikes. I'm glad I brought some casual clothes for that activity. Our tour was followed by games, dinner and lots of enjoyable conversation.
Elder Porter, Sister Porter, Sister Lee (kind of hidden), Elder Lee, Sister Kingston (hidden), and Sister Allred are ready for the tour.
Sister Allred, Sister Kingston, and the Lees.
I have never seen poinsettias planted in the ground. They are a beautiful, natural Christmas decoration.
I'm not sure what's happening here. 
This is part of the neighborhood water park. Using it requires an extra HOA fee. I won't tell you how much it is. 
This is the lazy river in the water park. If you stay at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the neighborhood, you can enjoy this beautiful water park. 
After so many days of rain, Thanksgiving was beautiful. We were supposed to have a ward beach activity on Saturday and it poured all day. I
This is the beach area outside the Ritz-Carlton. All beaches in Puerto Rico are public, but that doesn't mean anyone can use the amenities like the pools or lounge chairs if they aren't guests. I suppose they would just have to let you pass through to access the beach. But how would you get in the gated community in the first place? Maybe say you want go to the beach?
Elder Eakle and Brother Kingston enjoying the beautiful bike path in the neighborhood. This was one of the most enjoyable bike rides I have been on. The weather was pleasant and the path was flat and the scenery was gorgeous.
Elder Eakle and Brother Kingston stopping for a break and to enjoy the ocean views.
Sister and Elder Lee enthusiastically pose for their Thanksgiving portrait.
And then there's boring Elder and Sister Eakle.
The water was a beautiful color that day, but pretty rough. We didn't do any swimming.
Here is another beautiful view of the ocean. I love water so I'm in the right place even though I don't get in it much.
The beach area we visited is called Dorado. It's on the north side of the island on the Atlantic west of San Juan.
The gardens outside of the spa have a beautiful lily pond.
Brother and Sister Kingston made gourmet Cornish game hens with stuffing and a tasty sauce, spices, and fruit garnishes.
Our wonderful hosts preparing a delicious meal. 
We had a vegetable tray, jello salad, green salad, seafood paella, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, Cornish game hens, stuffing, potato casserole, rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and raspberry cheesecake. We barely made a dent in the food. 
A better view from the other side.
The Kingston's neighbors already have their house lit up for Christmas.
Elder and Sister Eakle right before heading home. Where is his name tag? And that doesn't look like a white shirt and dress pants!
Thanksgiving Day at Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. Serve a senior mission and you could be here Thanksgiving 2016. We will all need replacements before then. 
Elder Porter, Sister Eakle, Sister Porter, Brother Kingston, Sister Allred, Elder Eakle, Elder Lee, and Sister Lee on their way to the beach by bike and golf cart.