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, March 26, 2014

Getting warmer.....

More photos collected, so thought it was time for an update again...I was clever enough to lock myself out of the condo a week ago!  I had garbage bags in both hands with my bag over my shoulder, turned the lock, closed the door and realized that I had left the keys inside.  Fortunately, I had my phones, spanish books and a bottle of water.  I sent a text to the landlord hoping he had an extra key - he replied that he could come at 6pm...only problem was that it was about 11:15 am at the time.  I asked if he could come sooner since I was sitting on the step and he was able to come about noon.  So - I just enjoyed the breeze, drank water and studied spanish.  I have tried to get additional keys made at Home Depot and none of them work.  In fact, the most recent key got stuck in the lock today and I had to dismantle the lock to get it out. Then, the washer leaked again all over the kitchen floor and I learned that the landlord is out of town.  Oh well - have plenty of clothes!

Last Friday, I attended the Relief Society dinner at the Metro Ward/English speaking.  It was so nice to be able to understand the entire meeting.  Several of the families are FBI.  Then, on Saturday afternoon, Kathie Allred and I caught the Catano Ferry to Old San Juan for shopping and lunch.  The cost for the 10 min ride is 25 cents for 60+ and 50 cents for the younger folks.  I was happy to treat her for the ride....grand total of $1 for both of us round trip.

Yesterday, I was at the office on transfer day to see a Sister with a minor health issue and learned that a couple of the sisters didn't have transportation to their new area, Adjuntas.  With the Pres OK, I offered to take them.  After a quick stop at McDonald's for to-go lunch and a stop in Ponce for more baggage, the girls and I headed to the small jungle city. I felt like I was taking kids to college with all the bags, etc. in the trunk and back seat along with the 2 passengers. Initially, Adjuntas looked pretty bleak, but on the way out of town, I saw a neat town square with shopping and a fairly large supermarket.  If you look at the map, Adjuntas is north of Ponce and south of Arecibo.  Another new area to explore with huge bamboo trees and very curvy two lane roads.

Today, I took a couple sister missionaries out for lunch at the Crepe Maker.  The President thought they needed a little TLC, so we enjoyed lunch on the President's nickel :o)  Also, got the car washed and oil changed.  Pep Boys has the contract for the mission fleet.  I have included a variety of photos - Enjoy!  If you are planning to visit, get your reservations in early - Kris and Eric will be here 11 April and probably Thanksgiving, Dani/daughters from my last job are planning to come on 7 July and Heidi will probably visit in October. I am really looking forward to sharing my adventure!
View of Pool from my balcony

Boombox on top of the pick-up - PR advertise colleges, etc. by driving around town broadcasting

Heading to the Catano Ferry - Old SJ/El Moro in the background

Old San Juan

Blue paving in Old SJ

Weekend Vendors in Old SJ Parque

Adjuntas Chapel
Avocado from the roadside stand down the street - soft ball size
Size perspective - guinea bananas/avocado with my computer mouse

Saturday, March 15, 2014

More fun times!

Thought I had better post again since I have some additional photos.  The only additional travel this week was to Cayey, just south of Caguas.  Another Dr. eval for one of the missionaries.  I am always happy for another opportunity to travel.  Last night, Sister Allred (Sparks, NV) and I had dinner at Macaroni Grill.  She works at the "employment office" which is located in the same building as the Mission Office.  The building is, actually, the first chapel built in Puerto Rico.  It was abandoned some time ago as a meetinghouse and now houses the office of the Facilities Manager and Institute location as well as the Mission and Employment offices.  As you can see, the Employment Center name and focus have changed in the Caribbean.  I understand that this is a pilot project and, also, encompasses the Perpetual Education Fund administration.  The center, previously open to all, now focuses on teaching self-reliance to the members, although members of the community will certainly be assisted as well.  Only members, however, can access funds from the PEF.  After Sis. Allred worked at the center this AM, we ventured out to the 2 story Walmart (I see online that Dallas has one now, too).  There are 2 shopping levels and a 4 story parking garage with ample parking and no long check-out lines.  Although elevators are available, I had to try out a 'down' ride on the escalator with my cart.  The belt on the escalator resembles that of a people-mover at the airport.  The cart attaches by magnets.  It was interesting that there were staff positioned at top and bottom to manage and monitor 'traffic'.  Also, there were security officers directing shoppers to available elevators.  Quite impressive and a very positive experience.  Definitely going back again when I need a trip to WalMart.  It is about 15-20 mins from my condo.  After a quick trip to the car with groceries, we went back in for lunch at Panda Express (that is the fast food restaurant in WM around here).  There is, also, an additional sandwich/salad area on the 2nd floor.  Now I have leftovers from Mac Grill and Panda :o)

My Spanish classes started this week - I will meet once a week with the coach and twice a week with my tutor.  Interestingly, my tutor is a young husband/father of a little girl who will graduate in April and has accepted employment with Ernst and Young in Dallas.  Will be fun to keep in contact with him.  I told Pres. Smartt today that I need more to do....just not one to sit around and do nothing when the 'kids' aren't calling.  He cautioned me to be careful what I ask for :o), but will probably find some office duties for me to work around any missionary health needs......I then added 'but I do have kids coming to visit for a week!'  His response.....we were at the office....."Get out of here and go have some fun!".......so we headed to Walmart!

"Employment Office"

Oldest LDS Chapel in PR - Wing to left of the ramp is the Mission Office

My New Favorite WalMart!!

Always a new adventure around here :o)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hola!  Another week of misc missionary ailments.  Most are usual "mom" things, but it is interesting I have had a couple of 'thank you' call backs ie.  "I tried what you suggested and it worked!"  Along with the missionaries, I am learning 'what works' as well.  

The weather continues to be beautiful.  As I was driving to Aguadilla on the NW coast yesterday, I was reflecting re: the beauty of this land.  Even more stunning than the scenery on cruises to the Western Caribbean and Alaska/NE US.  There is a more amazing surprise around every curve.  In addition to the lush greenery, flowering trees are part of the landscape....a touch of Spring.  I hadn't anticipated any sign of seasons.  

Ten Senior missionaries met at Caminito, an Argentine restaurant with a touch of Puerto Rico - wonderfully flavored steaks - need to take Dave when he comes down sometime.  I was told that one waiter is from Cordoba where Dave served his mission.

Kris and Eric will be heading south to visit in mid April.  I look forward to touring the Island with them along with an overnight visit to Vieques which we reach by Ferry.

I was humored by a sign I saw yesterday on my return from Aguadilla.  There was a 2 story building.  The Social Security Disability office (Discapacitado Seguro Social) was located on the second floor accessible by 2 flights of outside stairs.  Hm-m-m.  I had been told that many here are not willing to work and progress due to the availability of US Federal programs.  Food for thought :o)

The only inconvenience this week is my dead cellphone.  Verizon and Steph are sending the replacement phone.  The old Droid red flashing light just kept flashing until the battery ran out and I was unable to reset or even turn it off.  I realized that 1/2 of my brain is in that phone.  FYI - my mission cell phone is 787-413-3777 and home phone 939-338-7644.  Either can really be used anytime.

Just tasted a homemade soup I just made for dinner with leftover turkey and Kluski noodles sent by Heidi in a care pkg.  I discovered a great soup mix today at the Amigo grocery store (owned by Walmart) - it contains everything but the kitchen sink and no prep work!

I have my first Spanish lesson from the MTC via Skype at 6pm my time tonight followed by an hour with an MTC tutor tomorrow PM.  Hope I am ready for this!  PR does not go on Daylight time, so we are on the same time as FL for now.  Enjoy the photos!
Hatillo - behind Wendy's

Saturday, March 1, 2014

 I had a pretty quiet week - only one trip to the ER - one of the Sister Missionaries was treated for a dog bite on her arm.  I now know where the 3 hospitals are located in Arecibo.  It was a beautiful drive along the coast until I found the right place.  The people of Puerto Rico are so kind and helpful - especially the Security Officers at the hospitals.  Taught one of them what a 'guard shack' is :o)  The sister is fine and was treated very professionally.  I was starting to get cabin fever yesterday afternoon when one of the Senior Elders called to let me know that our Senior Missionary gang was planning to meet at a restaurant for dinner.  We went to a great place called Crepe Maker - the food is similar to a tortilla wrap, but they use crepes instead - yum!  Hard to eat a flour tortilla after that!

After dinner, I drove to the apartment of one of the sisters who works in the Employment Center.  She was giving a perm/haircut to one of our Senior Sisters.  It was fun to take time to visit. 

I will be playing the piano for Sacrament Meeting in my ward for the month of March - familiar tunes/unfamiliar words.  Have been studying Spanish 1-2 hours a day on my own - waiting for contact with a tutor.  There is a great interactive language learning site - Duolingo.com - no cost to register and some great review activities for you/you kids who may be studying a language.

Bye for now..........