Monday, July 14, 2014

Housing Coordinators

One of our office responsibilities is housing. Sister Boucher has asked us to visit the 65 apartments on the island and assess their condition and see if there are any supplies that are missing. We have been working on this the past week. This is what our day was like on Friday:

We got an early start on what we knew would be a long day. After doing some office work, we left the house by 9 am with Elder Bennett and Elder Helm to do inspections on the west side of the island. We took the president’new Highlander so we could fit all of our supplies in the back and not be as crowded as we would be in a Cruze. He’s off visiting the islands so we decided we would ask forgiveness rather than permission. Like the days before, our goal was to get an overall feel for the apartments, see if the missionaries were missing any supplies, check that no major appliances were broken. As I’m writing this, a lot of the apartments are starting to blur together. I tried to write good notes on my inspection sheets for Sister Boucher, so hopefully I can piece things together when I put my report together for her.

Our first stop was Arecibo, a coastal town on the northwest side of the island. We visited both sisters and elders. The elders’ apartment was fairly neat, but the apartment itself needed painting. Their sink was leaking and they needed another fan. The sisters’ apartment was in a small complex that looked like a housing project, but the apartment was quite nice inside—one of the best we had seen. These two sisters were so fun. One was from the Sacramento area and the other was from San Diego, but had Puerto Rican heritage. They followed us to Walmart so we could buy them another fan. We also bought one for them to give to the elders and several more to have for the rest of our visits that day.

The Sisters' Apartment Complex in Arecibo

We then headed south towards Lares in the foothills of the mountains. It’s not as remote as Utuado, but was still lush and really pretty. The elders lived in a small house behind the owner’s home. The owner was an older man who must have been an avid gardener. He had beautiful plants everywhere. Most of the yards here don’t look like much effort has been put into them. The elders were frying plantains for lunch when we showed up. Someone had given them a giant bunch. Their apartment was okay, but they were just missing a smoke/Co2 Detector.

The View Across the Street from the Elders' Apt. in Lares
Some of the owner's beautiful plants.

The next place we visited was San Sebastian and the apartment of four sisters. It was in the top floor of a house that backed to a jungle. They kept the apartment really nice, but it was just old and run down. Because they lived so close to what seemed to be a rain forest, the apartment was really musty. They needed two more fans so we gave them those. 
The back porch and backyard of the San Sebastian sisters' apartment.

We went back north to the coast to Isabela. The sisters live on a very nice residential street. This was a house the mission had just started renting. It actually had a real normal sized kitchen! It was decorated red and white, but it was still more than just two or three broken cupboards like most of the rest of the apartments. The sisters needed smoke/CO2 detectors, cleaning supplies and a mixing bowl. We had a red bowl in the car so it fit in perfectly with the kitchen. We also had some cleaning supplies for them.

The Isabela sisters in front of their very nice house.

The Isabela sisters' kitchen--one of the nicest we've seen despite the strange decor.
We had a pretty long drive west to Rincon which is known as the surfing city in Puerto Rico. I was expecting something really SoCal like but it was really run down. We stopped for some milkshakes and headed to the sisters’ apartment. They lived in a little apartment complex about a hundred yards from the beach that is also used for vacationers. Strangely, the house next door was extremely dilapidated and you could smell cat from the street. The only problem these sisters had was that they are supposed to use the one washing machine for the whole complex and it is always being used by the owner because she washes all the sheets and towels for all the vacationers. We walked down to the beach and it was only about 6 feet wide and the waves were crashing right on the shore so obviously this isn’t where any surfing is done. So far, I have been pretty disappointed with the beaches.

Our next stop was Aguadilla also on the west coast. They had a leak in their roof, too, but they said they were working with the owners to get it repaired. We headed next to Cabo Rojo down in the southwest corner of the island. This apartment had some problems. The paint was peeling terribly on both the walls and the ceilings. Only one burner on their stove works and the stove belongs to the mission so we need to get that fixed. Also, their washing machine was given to the sisters so they are having to wash their clothes by hand. We will need to talk to president about how we purchase major appliances like washers. The Cabo Rojo sisters needed fans but we had run out, but we were able to give them some bowls. Their refrigerator was leaking water.

One of the Cabo Rojo bedrooms.
 We headed east to San German a little farther inland. The sisters here really lucked out. They had a really nice big apartment and the walls were actually painted a pretty turquoise and orange color. The apartment looked great and they had 3 A/Cs. The missionaries can only use A/C at night, though. The San German elders didn’t have it quite as nice. They did have one A/C unit in one very small bedroom—just big enough for two sets of bunk beds. So the four of them were squished into about an 8 by 8 room. They had another large bedroom where they hung their laundry, but it didn’t have the A/C. I have found that in most of the apartments there is usually an extra bedroom where the missionaries hang out their laundry.

The Utuado Elders who we visited the day before.

The Utuado apt with a leaking roof. They had pots all around to catch the drips. They also didn't have a washing machine. It was a beautiful town, but not much of an apartment.

One of the apartments. They all look the same it seems--white walls, plastic Lifetime tables, folding chairs, bunk beds.

The view from one of the apartments we visited. 
Our last two stops were in Yauco and Guayanilla as we headed east. These were the elders we had picked up hitchhiking a few days before. 
The elders in Guayanilla.

By now it was 10:00 at night, but we wanted to deliver the items to the Ponce and Juana Diaz sisters since we would be driving right by these towns. Unfortunately, I forgot to by the things the first time we went to Walmart. Somewhere along the way we had stopped and bought six fans at Walmart, some cleaning supplies and 11 smoke detectors at Home Depot. So at 10:30 we went into what we would think would be a somewhat less crowded than the Black Friday-like crowds we had earlier in the day. Unfortunately, it was exactly the same. It was unbelievable.  We bought an iron, ironing board, cover, utensils, knives, fans, cleaning supplies and curtain rods. We dropped these off after 11 on the doorstep of the sisters.
Walmart at 11 pm. I've never seen one so crowded.
 We got home at 1:30. What a day!

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to get a map of Puerto Rico, so I can see where you are going. This is so fun, I've so enjoyed reading about your mission. Thank you for taking the time to share!