Friday, February 27, 2015

Slower Week, But Caught Up

Friday February 27, 2015

This week has been a little slower for us in the mission, so I have been able to recall some of our experiences on a daily basis.  Not having the Internet at our apartment has made it almost impossible to keep up daily. If this is a little overload . . . so sorry, but this IS my journal too.

We have met the goal that was set for us in completing interviews, but we still have more to go.  We are excited to be finishing strong and above the projected goal.  We are looking forward to the next two days in Ponce Stake gathering more histories, conversion stories and testimonies of the great saints of Puerto Rico!!

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

Friday February27, 2015

The tender mercies of the lord come to us in different ways . .  today I experienced one of those tender mercies as we did an interview. . . . We have been a little slower in getting interviews during the week this week but we are looking forward to this weekend when we will visit Ponce Stake for interviews.

Today we did an interview with a man who is a church employee here in Puerto Rico.  Just as we were talking before we turned the tape on, we learned that he had been a Mission President.  Wade usually uses different questions for an interview with a mission president and they usually go for a couple of hours . . . we were planning on one hour.  His wife came in for the interview as well.  We didn't ask many questions, we let them tell their experiences.  It was wonderful!

This was one of the most spiritual interviews we have done together.   Both the husband and his wife were baptized at age 8 into the church, so basically they were raised in the church.  

Her grandmother had taken her to church when she was 6 along with her 3 siblings while her mother was away.  Her mother had taken them to another church before this time.  She remembers how nice everyone was to them and how she loved the song "I Am a Child of God".  That began her testimony of our Savior at the age of 9.  Her mother joined the church, as did her siblings and they were baptized.  At age 16 she was called to work in the nursery.  She has had callings over the years in primary and young women.  She felt that this was in preparation for her calling to be the wife of a mission president.  She told of many experiences in that calling and told of many miracles that had happened.  One of those was when a missionary had fallen off of a 40 foot cliff.  When they talked with him later, he told of the angels who helped him to a rock so he wouldn't be washed out to sea.  Later it was discovered that those angels were family members who had passed on to the other side.  Also, in the past 10 years or so, anyone falling from that cliff has died. Another miracle.

As this brother told his story of growing up in the church and his work life, just how he had been prepared to serve the Lord.  He told us that when his parents and two older siblings were baptized.  He was 6 years old and felt bad that he could not be baptized too. He watched from the shore of the ocean and felt so bad he couldn't be baptized too.  A man put his arm around him and told him he would be baptized someday too.  He was one of the first to be baptized in a building.  The baptisms at that time were done in a swimming pool or in the ocean.  When he was 16 he was called to be the president of his seminary class.  They were studying the Book of Mormon that year and since he had not read it, he decided to read it himself and find out for himself if it was true.  He took Moroni's promise to heart and knelt in his room and asked the Lord if this book was true.  He said the answer came quickly as a warm feeling coming over him and he knew it was true. He has been a Bishop, Stake President, an Area Seventy, and Mission President.  He worked for several companies before being contacted by an area authority to get his resume ready for a position that was coming up in the CES department.  Then he served as the mission president.  He is now working in Self Reliance for the church as an area representative.  He too told us some experiences he had as a mission president.  He told us it was so nice to have time to reflect on his experiences. 

As we closed the interview both this brother and sister bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and that our Savior, Jesus Christ lives and loves each one of us.  He knows us.  I was so moved by the spirit that was with us today.  Each day we need to look for things, moment and experiences in our lives to increase our testimony.

I like this scripture that this couple referred to during the interview. . . . Ammon is glorifying the Lord:

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."  Alma 26:12

Cari Lu and Jorge Alvarado

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Spirit Has No Language Barriers

Thursday February 26, 2015

To day we interviewed a sweet 80 year old lady.  The interview was in Spanish so I wasn't getting too much out of it.  I am getting so I can sometimes recognize a word or what people are trying to say. But as we closed the interview wither testimony, a warm feeling came over me.  I was feeling her testimony.  It was a sweet experience for me.  
Genoveva Cattillo
Irma Nieves (friend) and Genoveva Carillo
Sister Carrilo had a couple of scrapbooks that she had made.  They were beautiful.  It has inspired me to work on mine when I get home!

When we end an interview, we always ask the person to close with their testimony.  It made me think how often have I been asked to bear my testimony on the spot so to speak.  In the Philippines we would be asked to share our testimony in church but usually had a few minutes to think about it.  These people who are interviewed are asked as we end the interview to bear their testimony.  I am making it a goal of mine to be prepared to share my testimony of the gospel at a moments notice without having to think of it . . . 

My testimony:
I know my Savior lives and I love Him.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God on the earth today.  I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove.  I know that my Heavenly Father knows me and has a plan for me. I know that if I keep the commandments that I can live with my family forever. I am grateful for all the blessings that I have been blessed with.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Another P-Day . . .

Monday February 23, 2015

Wade always tells me that we can do what ever I want on our p-day . . . . so we went to  the beach.  But first we ha to make a top at Walmart to  find a swim suit for Wade.  then it was off to Punta Salinas in Toa Baja.  Missy Burton had recommended it. It was only about 20-30 minutes from where we live.  Mileage wise much closer . . . traffic can be a real headache here.
Entrance to the road to the beach
Entrance at the beach itself

All of the beaches in Puerto Rico are public beaches.  We did pay to park here.  It would have been a bout a mile or so to walk from the street if we could have found parking.  It was beautiful as drove down the road to the beach.  Looking across the bay you could see Old San Juan.
Old San Juan across the bay
The beach was beautiful.  There are palm trees close to the parking area with picnic tables under them, a couple of bowerys and restrooms (which are a ways from the beach) and outdoor showers to get the sand and salt water off.   
Beautiful day at the beach
You can barely see a bout in the upper left part of the picture.
Wade found his place in the shade . . .you can also see the parking area behind him.
At least he has a swimsuit now!
I enjoyed meeting a couple of ladies and we "bobbed" in the water while chatting.  One is from St. Louis visiting family here.  Her cousin, who lives here, was with her.  She told me that most of the Puerto Ricans go to the beach in the months that don't have an 'R' in them . . . May, June, July and August.  She said that the rest of the time the ocean is cleaning itself, thus all the debris on the sand.  I had never heard of this before, but the water wasn't as clear as when we were at Doroda a few weeks ago.  There were rocks there that gave a barrier against the higher waves.
Looking towards Dorodo in the distance
It was a beautiful day!  We stopped and got pizza on the way home.  I worked some on the paperwork from the weekend so I could get that finished up quickly on Tuesday  . . . the stuff I could do without internet! So glad we can have some down time but keep up with the work as well!!

Interviewees . . .

I have already posted a few of the people we have interviewed here in Puerto Rico.  Each has a story of their own.  I have mentioned some . . . but I want to mention a few more so that I don't forget!
Elder Antonio & Sister Myriam Espinosa
Sister Espinosa is the one who translated the testimony meeting in Toa Baja.  This couple is serving in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Temple on a mission. Such a sweet couple!
President Jose Santos - Caguas Stake
Desiree Colon
Mario Carrero
Nancy Mena
Arcadio & Carmen Maldonado
President Tomas and Mary Ann Olmo - Toa Baja Stake
The Olmo family
Patriarch Tomas and Maria Olmo - Mayaguez Stake
Sandra Foe and Juan 'Johnny' Berrios
Adah Contreras
Bishop Alex Munoz
Abimelec and Desiree Mercado
Angel Comacho
Cesar Padilla
Bishop Ernest and Midna Robledo Mayaguez Stake
Luis Muniz
Myrta Quinones
Sonia Aviles
Hector and Daisy Landron
We have interviewed youth who have told us that they are grateful for the church in their lives. . . . to know God.  One person told us that they had lost their father and had wondered for years where they were.  The missionaries taught the Plan of Salvation lesson and they knew this was the true church.  

One lady had gone to visit the Washington DC Temple visitors center and requested a Book of Mormon.  She was told that someone would bring her one.  The missionaries stopped by when her husband was at work and told her they couldn't come it at that time and wanted to make another appointment.  She asked again for the Book of Mormon.  She begged for it and they finally gave it to her.  She read it in one night. They came back and taught her and her husband. They gave her husband a video and he stayed up all night watching it over and over.  He knew this was true. They both were baptized shortly after that

One couple met at church.  He was a convert who had been married and divorced.  After his baptism, he was called to be the Elders Quorum president.  Her husband had died.  She was taught and joined the church and called to be the Relief Society President.  They fell in love and were married and so very strong in the church.  Now this love story reminded me so much of the single wards back home.

One of the couples were taught the gospel and wanted to earn extra money to go to the temple.  He had been in the US Army and was a cook.  He baked lots of goodies.  So they decided to bake some little cakes and sell them to the members.  They would stand at the doors of the church after the meetings were over and sell his good.  Then a member of the stake came up to him one Sunday and told him that he couldn't sell those on Sunday.  He laughed as he told the story.  He and his wife have been making pizza every Sunday for their family and those who stop by.  They told us they would make us pizza if we wanted to visit them at their house!

Another man we interviewed had worked several jobs before he met the missionaries.  He was a Black Jack dealer at one of the hotels.  He remained at that job for three years after he was baptized.  And then worked for the church here for m any years.

One sister is a professor at a local university here.  She was divorced from her first husband and found the church.  She was baptized when she was 33.  She met her present at the bank.  He was the vice president and she was the secretary.  He was going through a divorce.  While they were dating after his divorce, she told him she could not marry him unless he joined the church.  He was baptized, they were married and then sealed in the temple a year after their marriage.

Several of the interviews we have done are of members who where baptized at eight or their families had joined the church when they were young. Some raised int he Catholic church, some Protestant, Jehovah Witness, Evangelist and  more and a few didn't attend any church.  

There are many more stories like these.  Yes we are enjoying our assignment here.  It does get frustrating when appointments cancel, but I think it is the Lords way of teaching us to be more humble and patient!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A "Family" Member In Puerto Rico

February 22, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I received a message from a good friend, Pam Fyans Delahunty asking if I had met her niece Missy Burton here in Puerto Rico.  She is the Primary President in the English speaking ward here.  So when we attended the Metro Ward (English speaking ward) n the 15th, I started asking around.  But the Burton's weren't there that Sunday. I was told her husband was in the Bishopric and started putting two and two together.  The first week we attended this ward I met her in-laws who were visiting from Salt Lake. So today I started checking again to meet this lady.  Missy is the daughter of Carol Fyans and Leon Nelson. 

Now a little background . . .  when I was 2 my parents moved to Cottonwood Heights in a home that they had bought from Tom and Helen Fyans.  The Fyans family at that time consisted of 4 daughters, Carol, Kathy, Patti and Pam. (Susie was born a year or so later.)  Since I was the oldest and had no older siblings, these girls became my sisters.  Over the years they have been there for me . . . when I got married they helped plan my wedding giving me all the dos and don'ts.  I have treasured the 'sisterhood' for years now . . .  When other siblings came along, dad would ask if Carol could tend us . . . if not mom and dad didn't go out.  The year I was married, Wade and I drove to LA for New Years.  On the way we had car trouble and decided we need to have the car checked.  We called Carol because she lived in Las Vegas at the time.  We spent the night at their home and the next morning Leon took Wade to a reliable mechanic to get our car fixed.  I love this family who have loved me  in return for so many years . . . Thank you to my 'older' sisters!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More intersting experiences

Monday February 16, 2015

P-Day again.
Today we went to Old San Juan by way of the ferry from Catano.  It was overcast and kind of dreary.  But we made our way there so Wade could do a little shopping . . . he wanted more shoes!  Because mit was Presiden's Day, there was wall to wall people.  We actually found out that there was a protest going on because the Government wants to teach more equality in the schools.  The majority of the people are against it.
Here are a few of the sites today in Old San Juan . . . most are self explanatory . . .

Cute little girl on the Ferry
Senor Frogs - need I say more
Motorcycle cop (for Eric)
Part of the old wall of the city
Wade waiting patiently for the food he ordered
The pigeons and another bird scavenging for food on the sidewalk
Horse drawn carriage rides
Wade finally talked me into a new purse - so many to choose from!
Wade and his 'gray suede shoes"

 Wednesday February 18, 2015

Our appointments all canceled during the day, so we interviews the administrative assistant in the CES had just happened to her this week.  This is the entry from Wade's Oberservations this week:

Sister A is indeed an extraordinary person. She told me there was a miracle going on in her life as we speak.
She submitted her DNA to a Family History organization and a German lady had done the same and they found out they were related—third cousins.  The German lady is not a member of the Church but came to Puerto Rico to meet her and see if they could determine who this relative was. The German lady had no name. She only knew that he was in the 65th regiment in Germany in 1943.

This German lady has Puerto Rican blood and this regiment was a Puerto Rican regiment because the US separated them at this time. Sister A is very skilled in using all the Church Family History tools so they looked up this time period and the ancestors of Sister A.   The lady did know his age and they were able to discover the name of this common ancestor. And Sister A found 65 additional relatives that she and this lady have in common, which she can do their work in the temple.

This discovery of relatives just happened yesterday. The lady is touring Puerto Rico and they will meet again on Friday before she leaves and has invited Sister A to come to Germany and Spain to search relatives. This is all on going as we speak.  When this lady comes back next week I have asked to meet her. 

We had another appointment in the evening in Toa Baja which is about 20-30 minutes away.  The man we were to intervbiew had a meeting and canceled as well.  Wade gets discouraged and frusterated by the lack of people keeping appointments.  We are going to Mayaguez on Saturday to do interviews.  We hope we will have 5.  The Stake President is setting them up so we will see how that goes.  It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive each way from where we live.

With the canceled appointments it has given me time to catch up!  When we got home, I looked out on the patio.  I could hear all the Coqui frogs and was hoping to get a glimpse of one.  But instead I found this guy just sitting there.

Thursday February 19, 2015 

We visited a husband and wife at their home this morning for an interview.  Their home was beautiful - the walls are painted white with the white tile floors with windows across the front of the house. It seemed so open and airy and very clean.

Today the sky is a beautiful color of blue with some wispy clouds floating and a light breeze.  A beautiful day here in Puerto Rico!

Saturday February 21, 2015

Today we drove to Aguadilla to do the interviews for the Mayaguez Stake.  Sister Eakle, one of the other senior sisters went with us.  She is in charge of the apartments and needed to take a couple of things to the elders there.  
Sister Eakle climbing the stairs to the elders' apartment
Elders apartment - kitchen
Elders apartment- living room/study room
Elders getting the bed and refrigerator out of the truck to take up the stairs
 Pretty creative flower pot don't you think
 The elders had just moved in the day before and still didn't have electricity.  But they were happy with what they did have.  I bought them all donuts from the shoppe next door and they were happy.

This was on the drive to Aguadilla (out the window of course)
 After  going to the store to pick up items, Sister Eakle and I got the elders set, we decided to go visit a local beach while Elder Jewkes was interviewing. Most of the interviews were in Spanish.  We drove to Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla.  It was overcast and because it has been raining the past couple of days, the sea was rough with some very large waves.  I loved watching them though even if it was for only about an hour! 

Church in Aguadilla
Crash Boat Beach
Crash Boat Beach
A house being built on the cliff above the beach
The rough sea
Can you see those waves way out there?
It was awesome to watch!
More waves