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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day to catch up...

So far, today is quiet.  The missionaries have "P" Day today (Preparation Day - write letters, email home, do laundry, shop for groceries, etc) and they usually don't call too much when they have 'free' time.  I had planned to do laundry on Saturday (my usual 'P' day), but ended up with several calls and visits.  Yesterday was a nice quiet Sunday with the usual Church meetings.  Due to my limited Spanish understanding, I find the meeting exhausting as I try to concentrate to understand at least part of the talks and lessons.  For Sunday School and Relief Society, I can usually follow along in my English lesson manuals on my Kindle.  I cooked a turkey breast roast, mashed pot/gravy, corn, cranberry sauce and apple pie (Mrs. Smith's) with rolls and ice cream which I shared with the missionaries assigned to the Mission Office.  Since they aren't actively working in a particular ward, they rarely are invited for home cooking.  The food definitely disappeared!  It is always good to have a reason to cook.  Last week I had invited the Patterson's for meatloaf/baked potatoes and the old standby in our family - Egg and lettuce salad.  I enjoyed those leftovers as well.

Catching up on laundry today....and sharing some photos of my condo (apt)...
Chalet de Bayamon Condominium Complex - Blue skies with scattered clouds - typical day in Puerto Rico :o)

Furniture and TV furnished by Owner :o)

Large Bedroom with Bath and large closet
Comforts of home, but the dishwasher doesn't work - stacked washer/dryer with laundry tub

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Map of Puerto Rico

Just thought I would add a map of the island so you can track my travels :o)

Finally back!

Well - the initial 3 weeks here have been quite an adventure!  I moved into my condo on 1 February and all was well....until the water was shut off for 5 days - turned back on for my birthday on the 11th.....then came home the following night: no electricity!  Previously, my internet had failed.  To make a long story short....the utility companies got all their wires crossed re: shut down of previous services and beginning of the new account.  I have learned that it takes 2 gallons of water to flush a toilet.  Fortunately, another missionary couple lives close enough to provide water refills and warm showers.  When the water was restored on the 11th, I was excited to get caught up on washing clothes and dishes.  With the first load of clothes, I noticed an ever-growing puddle of water in front of the washer.  AS OF THIS MINUTE, I HAVE HOME PHONE/INTERNET/TV, WATER, ELECTRICITY AS WELL AS  A REPAIRED AND FUNCTIONING WASHER/DRYER!!!  How true it is that we appreciate our blessings and the simple things in life so much more after a little adversity.

One constant is the beautiful weather!  Occasional light rain, gentle breezes and temps of mid to high 80's during the days.  I always enjoy my outings to attend meetings and/or meet with missionaries who have a variety of issues ie. tired, can't sleep, athlete's foot, ingrown toenails, ear infections, old sports injuries becoming symptomatic, depression, OCD, and stress to name a few - not uncommon, just more difficult for them to deal with since Mom isn't here.  The missionaries are really fun, though, and very dedicated.  They are all learning about living away from home as well as learning to know themselves.  One goal is for all Latin missionaries to pass an English test before going home to improve education and employment opportunities....so, initially, they teach Spanish to their US companions and then the US missionaries help the Latinos with English.

I have shopped at such stores as WalMart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears and Costco.  It is really hard to find Miracle Whip, but Hellman's Mayo is readily available.  Also, no egg noodles or stuffing mix.  Mango, papaya, pineapple, bananas and huge avocados are readily available at roadside stands as well as in stores.  

I went to get my first pedicure and thought I was going to get electrocuted!  I haven't found any Vietnamese here - most techs are either from PR or Dominican Republic.  As I had my feet in the water spa, the tech brought over two electrical appliances (one looked like a hair dryer with the end closed and the other looked like a small iron).  She proceeded to plug both of them in.  I sat there very calmly thinking that it was unlikely that they electrocuted customers on a regular basis.  The hair dryer thing was actually for sanding the heels followed by the "iron" which did further smoothing and massage.  Smoothest heels I have ever had, but think I'll opt for the more traditional approach next time.

Last week I attended Zone Conferences in Trujillo Alto, Ponce, Mayaguez, Caguas and Toa Baja.  While driving here is a bit of a challenge, the scenery is always lush and beautiful.  Remember the old song "Walk Like an Egyptian"?  Well, my theme song is now "Drive Like a Puerto Rican".

There is no shortage of Walgreens, CVS, McDonald's, Burger King, Church's Chicken with an occasional Wendy's and Panda Express.  I am looking forward to formal Spanish lessons by Skype from the Missionary Training Center in Provo - should be able to begin next week now that I have internet at home again.  The President would prefer that I be mostly home-based which is fine with me.  I now have 3 phones (home phone as well as mission and personal cell phones).  I will attach a few photos of the area around Old San Juan this time and add additional photos soon. 

I have a 3 bedroom/2 bath 2nd floor condo unit overlooking a large pool which is rarely used since the Puerto Ricans think it is too cold right now.  Pretty much all of the conveniences of home right now and the mission car (2014 Chevy Cruze) has been great - fits nicely through crowded streets where people park on both sides including on the sidewalks, if needed.
Old Cemetery in the Shadow of Castillo San Felipe Del Morro

Fortification was started in 1539

Sentry Box

Beautiful Angel seems to keep watch

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I'm still here.....

I am still in Puerto Rico and doing well.  I have limited internet access right now - moved into my apartment on Saturday (2/1) and should have internet later this week.  Just briefly,  I pretty much circled the island visiting missionaries with various issues during my first week - me and my GPS.  Most of the time, I had no idea where I was (on the map), but miraculously reached my destinations and returned 'home'.  I will update in greater detail with photos within the next week.