Thursday, September 25, 2014

Senior Missionary Life

Tyler sent us a picture of him in front of a giant Messi poster in Argentina so I decided to send one back to him. This is just up the street from the office. We were on the way home from the beach so that explains my unusual missionary attire. 
Sister Heidenreich let us all come over to watch the BYU game at her apartment. I think these two snagged the best seats.
This was our largest gathering of senior missionaries at the mission home for Sunday dinner. The Bergers were heading to St. Thomas and the Larsens from St. Croix were in town. We now have senior couples on five islands not counting Puerto Rico. Here, we have the Porters doing self reliance, the Lees in the office (we were still awaiting their arrival in this picture), Sister H., the nurse, and the Wentzels doing MLS. Sister Allred who was doing self reliance has gone to the DR for two months to help out there. And then there's Elder Eakle, the car czar, and Sister Eakle, the real estate lady.
The father of our daughter in law, Kelly, was in town on his way to French Guiana. He flew overnight so that he could spend a few hours with us during the day before the rest of his team from work came in. He works for a satellite company that launches there. We enjoyed a really yummy Puerto Rican meal at a restaurant in Condado. 
Our friends from Bend, the Johnsons, were in town for a Sprint Convention. John helped Mark open a Sprint dealership in Bend. Now he owns 38 stores. 
We drove to El Yunque with the Johnsons and looked at the amazing views. I think this picture is where my blog cover picture was taken.

We had lunch in the country club of the resort where they were staying. 
This statue of the three kings is in Juana Diaz. We were there delivering some bunk beds to the sisters there. 
We drove to Fajardo to buy a ferry ticket to Vieques for next week so that we can exchange a car our there. 
This is the ferry terminal in Fajardo. I'm not too excited about riding the ferry to Vieques to just get a car. I want to go when I can stay overnight and go snorkeling. We won't be able to do that if the office elders are with us. 
Despite the daily rain, this rainbow in Fajardo is the first I've seen in Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Transfers in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

Anyone serving a mission counts their days by transfers. Transfer days are always very busy in the office. This is the typical schedule:

Tuesday morning: New missionaries are picked up at the airport and are taken to El Morro, the fort in Old San Juan, where they do a quick tour and have a devotional.

Tuesday noon: New missionaries are served a delicious barbeque at the mission home. 

Tuesday afternoon: New missionary orientation at the mission home. They learn about finances, apartments, mission culture, and receive a pep talk from President Boucher. During this time President interviews all the new missionaries to help him determine where they should serve. 

Tuesday evening: New missionaries are picked up by their companions at the mission home and take off for their new area.

Wednesday all day: Departing missionaries receive employment and education counseling from the self-reliance department. They are interviewed by President and pick up their departure packets at the office. 

Wednesday night: Departing missionaries are served a delicious steak dinner at the mission home.

Thursday morning: Departing missionaries head to the airport.

Tuesday and Wednesdays are always very busy in the office because everyone wants to stock up on supplies and order items from the little mission store.There's always plenty of excitement in the air as former companions see each other again.

Elder Helm, our mission secretary, was transferred to Dominica, one of the three small islands where young missionaries serve. The other two are Nevis which is off St. Kitts and Vieques which is off Puerto Rico. 

Elder Helm had to pack and repack to fit everything into one suitcase. He is storing some items in our apartment until he gets back. 
Elder Helm is off to the airport for his adventure in Dominica. 

This is a typical parking lot scene on transfer date as missionaries wait for their new companions. 
A new sister missionary and her new companion will be working in Guaynabo here by the office. The new missionary is from Great Falls, MT where we used to live. 
Our new office elder from Hawaii is bidding farewell to his cousin who just arrived and is also serving in the mission. 
It's getting late and some of these missionaries have a long drive ahead. The farthest area is two and a half hours away so compared to other missions that are much larger, it really isn't very far. 
The happy new missionary on the right is excited to be with her first companion. 
These three missionaries are waiting to go to the mission home for their farewell dinner and testimony meeting. I'm sure that the longer we are here, the harder it will be to say goodbye to our missionaries.  
We met Elder Frampton's parents at Bonnie's wedding reception. He was a wonderful missionary in the Bayamon Ward where we attended so we were able to get to know him pretty well. He headed home this transfer. 
After transfers, we relaxed with the office elders at a Mexican restaurant in San Juan. We are happy to have Elder Scott in the office with us. He is very good natured, spiritual, and hard working. He says he used to office work because he used to be the executive secretary in his ward for his dad who was the bishop. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Aguas Buenas Caves

Another Puerto Rican Spelunking Adventure

We really weren’t planning to take a pday, but the elders in the Caguas district and the Wentzels wanted us to go with them on a district caving activity that they had planned. They also needed us to drive. We arrived at the Wentzels about 9 and had some waffles with them before driving to the church to meet up with the missionaries. Two members who live on the same road as the cave had volunteered to be our tour guides so we picked them up and headed up a dirt road to the cave.

After driving about 5 minutes to the cave area, we had to hike up a very steep hill to the cave entrance.It was pretty much climbing on hands and knees to get up. The cave had several big areas and some narrow tunnels.Like last week, there were a lot of bats. The last large area opened up to this sink hole that had a lot of vines and roots growing down that felt very Indiana Jones-like.

Then we found out that there were two more caves, but that the walls were covered with big spiders so John, one of the sister missionaries, and I decided to wait for the rest of the group. They were gone for two hours while we just sat there on the rocks in the sinkhole with an occasional few downpours! At least we could go in the cave for cover. The Wentzels went back after the first part of the first cave so they were just sitting and waiting in the parking area the whole time, too. We thought if the first cave only took 20 minutes, the other two Another Puerto Rican Spelunking Adventure would be similar.

When the group came out, they were covered in mud and reported that the walls were definitely covered in spiders so I’m glad I didn’t go. 
Four smiling missionaries heading to an adventures P-day activity.
Sister missionaries before entering the caves.
There was an abandoned house on the dirt road leading to the cave.
The whole district before entering the cave.
Inside the cave.
Is this our way out?
Maybe this way would be easier!
The end of the cave where it opened to the outside.
I wish I had a better flash. John wanted this picture because Elder Wentzel calls him Don Juan Guillam de Bayamon.
I'm glad this lovely sister missionary decided to stay outside and wait with me rather than confront the spider covered walls.
Waiting for the rest of the group to finish caving--a two hour wait!
Looking up from where we waited. The other side opened up to the hillside so we weren't really trapped in a cavern, but it looked like it from here.
We encountered a few downpours while waiting for the other missionaries. It has rained every day the past month.