Puerto Rico San Juan

On September 14, 2013 I received my call to serve as a Mission Nurse Specialist in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission for a period of 18 months. I am always up for a new adventure and look forward to sharing my journey with you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

HOME AGAIN June 19, 2015 -

This is my final mission post!  The last months of the mission were busy with missionary health, zone conferences, etc.  I didn't do much sight-seeing since I had pretty much covered the island in miles and photos.  I did have one outing with Elder and Sister Porter to the Botanical Gardens in Caguas (photos to follow) and a few more opportunities for "Wendy's Therapy" with the young missionaries.  The Mission means many things to me: an opportunity to serve My Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who have so richly blessed me, the joy in serving with dedicated Senior Missionaries and our outstanding President and Sister Boucher and above all, an opportunity to gain a powerful testimony of the Missionary Program and its effect on the growth of individuals, both new members and missionaries.  If you could literally watch grass grow, you have some idea of my experience as I watched our young missionaries grow to be comfortable in their own skins, develop commitment and testimonies of the Gospel, develop and contribute leadership - I could go on and on!  I now understand the many times I have heard: "when I was on my mission...."  Even serving as a senior missionary, my life is forever changed.  I have made a list in my journal of the 'stories' I collected as the Mission Nurse.  Believe me - truth is stranger than fiction.  Catch me offline sometime and I will share with you.  I have purposely not included many of the incidents in this blog out of respect for those who were the 'victims' of the health issues.  My heart hurts for those who are enduring the drought in Puerto Rico with many days without water.  This experience has motivated me to put in water storage and well as beef up food storage.  We never know what is ahead.....just need to heed and believe the Brethren.

While I am happy to be home again in the States with my family, I do shed a tear and my heart is full as I review the photos and remember the people who have touched my life.

After mission - I have relocated from the Dallas area to Franklin TN - a short distance south of Nashville.  What a beautiful area!!  My apartment is a quick 10 minute drive from the Chapel and Temple on adjoining property.  As I attended the Temple last evening, I truly felt that I was home.  With my home here, I am within about 3 hours drive of 14 grandchildren in TN and GA.  I look forward to keeping in touch with many new friends and, again, am so grateful for the opportunity to be a Returned Sister Missionary!  Thank you to my many new Facebook Friends who shared the mission experience.  I am so proud of you and your continuing accomplishments - marriage, school and even our very own All American!  You have taught me so much and enriched my life.  It is a joy to see the nature of your posts which assure me that you are still holding fast to the Iron Rod as we are scattered throughout the Caribbean, US, Central and South America.  Love you!

Bamboo along the road

Elder/Sister Porter at Caguas Botanical Gardens

Great pizza at Mike's with Lees and Eakles

Botanical Gardens

Signs of drought - Dry Flamboyan Trees



Roadside View with wandering chicken

Hermanas in the Mission Office

Sister Missionaries in front of their home

Lunch with Aguas Buenas Sisters
Best Food I Had in PR
Mission Home with my Chevy Cruze
Welcome Home in Dallas
New Apartment - Franklin, TN
Need to hang some pictures.....
Apartment Pool - Jade and Katrina visiting Grandma

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Way overdue AGAIN!

Well, February has flown by and we are almost midway into March already!  At this time, my date to return home is planned for Friday, June 19th.  I will be flying to Dallas - spend a week there re-grouping and then off to Illinois for (can you believe it?) my 50th Lanark High School Class of '65 reunion.  I am really looking forward to seeing some great friends - many of whom I haven't seen since graduation.  We will also miss several special folks who have passed on, but live in our memories.  It will be a busy summer!

Well, back to the mission - we have had missionaries in and out and another round of great zone conferences.  It was exciting to welcome Elder Buskirk from Allen to our mission.  I spoke to him yesterday and he is still enjoying every minute of the mission experience.  He is currently assigned to Cabo Rojo which is a southwestern coastal community.

A highlight in February was a quick visit from Bev (Conte) Millis and her husband, David.  Rich and I were neighbors of Bev and her family at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and met them in 1974.  We had been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just under a year at that time having joined in August 1973.  The Contes joined us in the Church in Sept 1974.  We hadn't seen each other in 33 years!  I met Bev and Dave at their cruise ship which was docked in Old San Juan and then we spent a few hours driving around Puerto Rico ending with a yummy lunch near the Ferry in OSJ.  They headed off to continue their cruise and I caught the Ferry back to my car in Catano.  In the course of our conversation, we realized that another couple we knew is currently in their ward in FL.  Subsequently, Bev was able to get an email address for friends, Dick and Sandy Merrill, who I lost track of.  They are serving a Temple Mission in Finland where Dick served as a young man and will return to Gilbert, AZ in the Fall.  I look forward to a reunion with them when they return as we have reconnected via email.

A huge highlight of my mission was the visit of Elder Jeffrey Holland to Puerto Rico yesterday.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the LDS Church, he is one of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles based in Salt Lake City Utah.  My previous contact had only been watching him speak in General Conference on TV.  He met with the missionaries yesterday afternoon in an informal talk/discussion in which he used a portable microphone and walked up and down the aisles as he presented his message - a rare opportunity.  He, also, took time to meet each missionary and shake hands.  His message was basically to Look to the Future - Don't Dwell on the Past.  He told the young missionaries that he is so jealous of the wonderful experiences in the future for them.  The PR visit is part of a 13 day tour of the Caribbean Area with Elder Hugo Martinez, a 70 and counselor in the Area Presidency.  This is the first time that all of the missionaries have been assembled in one location since they usually meet by Zone (5 in PR).  It was really fun to see their excitement for the meeting and seeing each other. 

Another unexpected blessing this week has been reuniting with another wonderful friend from WPAFB .......and she is even a distant relative of one of our missionaries - such a small world.

I continue to play piano for Primary in our ward and recently had the blessing of playing again for Stake Conference and the San Juan Stake Sisters Chorus.  Last Sunday, a young father who was visiting indicated that he and his wife were visiting from Dallas.  After the meeting, I went to ask them 'which part of Dallas'.  They smiled and said "Allen" and we saw David last week when he spoke in our ward. They had told him that they would watch for me...and they took a 'selfie' of us for Dave :o)  I have so many neat experiences that just warm my heart.

We currently have only 7 Senior Missionaries in PR with 5 couples still serving on the Islands (St. Croix, St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and St. Kitts/Nevis).  The meeting yesterday was broadcast to the islands as well.  The young missionaries here are amazing and a great example to me as they are obedient and faithful.  Fortunately, we have not had serious illnesses (Chikungunya has slowed down with only 3 reported cases among our group so far in 2015).  I did have one Elder call to report that he was hit by an old F150 truck.  We have access roads that are called marginals - the driver was making a U turn and brushed the Elder - he did not get knocked down, but got hit pretty hard in the flank area - he has bounced back and keeps smiling.  Another Elder ran into a door and sustained a 1/8 inch forehead laceration.  Gotta slow them down once in a while!  Otherwise, just respiratory, allergy and GI upsets/viruses with a couple ingrown toenails thrown in for good measure. 

All-in-all, I have really been blessed to spend this time serving others in this great mission!  President and Sister Boucher are truly angels sent here to guide and inspire us.  I don't think the young missionaries can possibly imagine the prayers, time, and energy required and given willingly by them.  Their love for all is so evident and they care so much.

Bev/David's Cruise Ship - Arriving in Old San Juan (El Moro in background)

Bev/David Millis - Lunch at Tijuana's - Old SJ

Double Rainbow (You can barely see the fading image to the left)
Caguas Zone Sister Missionaries
Elder Buskirk (Allen, TX) - Arrival cook-out at the Mission Home

Missionaries waiting for Elder Holland - Sis. Partridge is enjoying her lunch!
San Juan Stake Center (Trujillo Alto, PR)

Sisters 'catching up'

Courtyard of SJ Stake Center (Quiet Sunday Afternoon)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beautiful weather in PR!

I am so grateful for the continued cooler weather - this is definitely the prime time of the year for a visit to the Islands!  It is usually low 80's during the day and 70's at night. On Jan 8-10, we had a Senior Missionary Conference that began with dinner at the Mission home on Thursday evening followed by breakfast & lunch , interactive program, sightseeing at El Moro and dinner at Raices Restaurant in Hato Rey on Friday.  The gathering continued through noon on Saturday.  This was a great socializing/fellowshipping opportunity for all of the Senior Missionaries in the PR San Juan Mission.  Those couples assigned to the Islands were able to fly in and join us:  Elder/Sister Ray - St Kitts/Nevis; Elder/Sister Wright - Tortola; Elder/Sister Starr - Antigua; Elder/Sister Berger - St. Thomas and Elder/Sister Larsen - St. Croix. Sister Boucher, wife of the Mission President, outdid herself again providing all of the food except for the Friday PM dinner. 

We welcomed more new missionaries on 1/13 and sent home more outstanding young folks on the 15th.  Included in the 'young' missionaries returning home was my good friend and occasional companion, Sister Kathie Allred of Sparks, NV.  We always joked that we were companions only when we wanted to be since we each had our own apartment.  I am grateful for the eternal friendship that we continue to enjoy.  We were, also, sorry to see Elder and Sister Wentzel leave us on the 22nd.  They have been a great strength and Sister Wentzel is "Queen of Photography"!!!  I look forward to seeing them again, as well! 

I was asked to accompany the Stake choir again for Stake Conference on 1 March, so will be spending Sunday afternoons with them for practice.  It is always interesting since the practices are in Spanish - my 'emergency Spanish' skills generally serve me pretty well.  Otherwise, I continue to serve as Primary pianist in my ward.

Nothing major on the medical scene - just the usual rashes, sprained ankles/knee pain,GI upsets, ingrown toenails, allergies, etc.  We had some missionaries with suspected food poisoning, so they were miserable for a few days.  No recent cases of Chikungunya - approximately 40 total in 2014.

I usually try to attend at least one baptism each Saturday and, generally, find some missionaries who are ready and willing for some "Wendy's Therapy".  The AP's send a weekly email to the Sr. Missionaries with a schedule for the baptisms for the weekend.  We enjoy the opportunity to show support for the local units and missionaries. 

A Caribbean Regional Conference will be broadcast for SLC on Sunday, Feb 1st at the Stake Centers.  We are looking forward to that as well as Stake and General Conferences in the near future. 

El Moro

Another View

Great Puerto Rican restaurant in Hato Rey, a San Juan Suburb
L to R: Sis/Elder Porter, Elder/Sis Starr and Elder Lee
My dinner - Mamposteo Rice and Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri sauce
Baptism in Isabela with Sisters Rivas/Shaeffer

Monday, January 5, 2015

More random photos......

Windmills in Santa Isabel - south coast

Brother Steve Kingston - Cornish Game hens for Thanksgiving

View of the Atlantic Coast from Arecibo Sisters Apartment

Lunch with Elders Denton and Paredes in Mayaguez with Kris/Family

Grandkids swimming in pool at Rincon Guesthouse (taken from 3rd floor)

Feeling guilty...Need to update :o)

Yep - I am feeling guilty....so much fun and not sharing it with you!  Time is flying and I am down to about 6 months left on my mission.  Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone with many choice experiences.  Elder/Sister Hugo Martinez of the Area Presidency were here on a Mission tour, we had a fun day on Thanksgiving and Christmas with the other Senior Missionaries, Elders/Sisters came and some went home, Kris/Family came to visit for Christmas and lots of sightseeing & beaches, and we enjoyed Puerto Rican Christmas music, lights and fireworks!  I will share the story in photos, mostly!  To add to the fun, Kristian was bitten by an Iguana at El Morro in Old San Juan.  We had the opportunity to have dinner at the mission home with the Mayaguez Zone so the kids had many opportunities to enjoy the missionaries, young and old!  Photos loaded out of order - sorry!  Have more that I will try to load - Happy, Healthy New Year to all!
Two types of Mofongo - not my favorite!

My 'Christmas Tree'

Lunch in Old SJ - Elder Scott made the whole family crowns from Palms

San Juan vs Santurce - PR Baseball

Rincon Lighthouse

View of the Caribbean from Rincon

Thanksgiving Parade at Kingston's in Dorado

Casa Febus Christmas D├ęcor Shopping

Lions in Ponce - usually scattered around the park/city square

More Lions.....

Caguas Carousel

Kristian on Christmas Day - after the movie

More Casa Febus...

Kingston home - Thanksgiving - Mission cars - many white ChevCruzes