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)|