Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Friends from Puerto Rico Visit

April 2, 2015

It was so good to have visitors from Puerto  Rico.  Renaldo and Magda Inesta along with her mother, Maria Olmo, were in Salt Lake to attend their son's wedding in the Salt Lake Temple.  They were also in town to attend LDS General Conference.  We invited them to dinner at our home.  It was so fun to spend the night enjoying dinner and then visiting with them.  Such dear friends!
Maria Olmo, Magda and Renaldo Inesta
Wade, Connie, Maria, Magda & Renaldo
What a great evening!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Saying Good Bye . . .

March 9, 2015

A wonderful tribute was given to my sweet sister in law, Andrea Lynn Meadows. 

Each person spoke of the generous, funny and loving person that Andrea was.  She would do anything for anyone. She loved to plan BBQs on the 4th of July and having the family Christmas Party at her house.  She was creative and crafty.  She was a tease.  She loved her family with all her heart.

She will be missed by her husband Mark and daughters Markelle and Lexi as well as all of her other family and extended family members.  Family get togethers just won't be the same!  We love you and miss you Andrea!  Until we meet again beyond the veil . . . .
Markelle, Mark and Lexi Meadows
Pallbearers at the graveside
 Family waiting for the dedication of the grave
Family: Larry& Ann Eldredge (parents) Lexi, Mark and Markelle Meadows
Andrea's parents - Larry and Ann Eldredge
Mark thanking everyone for their love and support 

Saying Goodbye To Puerto Rico

March 6-7, 2015

It was hard to say good-bye a week earlier than we had planned.  But it was time to leave.  On Friday we said our farewells to the great couples we worked with in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.  Each have touched our lives for good.  We missed Sister Heidenreich who is the mission nurse.  But so appreciated her showing us around our first week in Puerto Rico.
Elder & Sister Jewkes with President and Sister Boucher
Elder & Sister Lee from Washington.  She is the mission secretary and he is in charge of finances.
Elder and Sister Porter from Orem Utah.  They work in Self Reliance
Elder & Sister Eckle from Parker Colorado.  She is over apartments and he is over the cars.
The Assistant to the President: Elder Medina from Dominican Republic, Elder Kendell from Utah and Elder Rognon from Utah
Map of Puerto Rico
President Boucher told Elder Jewkes to take me to the beach one last time . . .I really wasn't much in the mood to put a swimsuit on, but we decided to venture out and see a couple of places we hadn't been to before we left. 
We drove to the East side of the island to Luquillo and Fajardo.  The beaches were as beautiful as everyone had told us.  The wind was blowing and the waves were high, so not many people in the water.  Fajardo is a port city and also where you can catch the ferry to go to the islands Vieques and Culebra.  We didn't have enough time but would like to come back and visit these islands someday.  Culebra is supposed to have some of the nicest beaches in the world.
Beach at Fajardo
Looking the other direction down the beach.  See the red flag . . . stay out of the water!
Windy day!
Looking towards one of the  small islands
Looking across the bay at Fajardo
We decided to drive to Humacao where some of the  members of the Metro Ward (English speaking ward) live.  Many of the members of the ward work for the FBI and DEA.  Some of the members work for medical supply companies there. It was beautiful and green. And again we saw more windmills.  We also stopped to get a couple of spices at the store that I needed for recipes I have been given. Then it was back to the apartment to finish packing and cleaning before we leave on Saturday.
Windmills among the greenery
Elder and Sister Porter were kind enough to take us to the airport on Saturday.  President and Sister Boucher were in St. Thomas for the dedication of the new chapel there.  We so appreciated the Porters help.

I love the people of Puerto Rico!  We have made so many great friends and have been invited to stay with several when we make it back to this beautiful island!

I so grateful for the opportunity we were given to do this special assignment for the Church History Library.  The opportunity to meet, hear conversion stories and testimonies and also feel the Spirit as we did these Oral Histories.  We hope that we will be given an opportunity to serve in the capacity again.

I know that this work is important and all part of the plan of our Heavenly Father.  He lives.  He knows each one of us and has a plan for us.  We need to search and pray for the opportunities to be a servant in His hands.  He loves us! I love my Savior Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the Atonement that Jesus Christ in  my behalf as well as yours.  I know Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in these latter days.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God. May each of you feel of our Saviors love for you.  If you have doubts, get on your knees and ask Him . . . then listen for His answer to you.  So many times we heard of people who had a warm feeling come over them as they prayed about what they had read in the Book of Mormon and listened to the messages the missionaries had for them.  I know it is true! This is my testimony and I am so grateful for it!

Our Last Week in Puerto Rico part two

March 1, 2015 continued

The interviews we did in Ponce were once again wonderful.  The conversion stories and testimonies born continue to help increase my testimony. 

Frankie Ruiz
Juan and Celia Cruz
Hector Nieves
Miguel and Iris Alvarado
Richardo and Millie Sanchez and their son
Luiz Sanchez
Rafael and Carmen Ortiz
Rafael and Carmen Ortiz and their 3 grand-daughters
Saul and Emma Velez
 Saul and Emma Velez and daughter Bethzuida Velez
 Most of the interviews we did in Ponce were in Spanish.  One of the interviews, Wade had a question and stopped and asked in Spanish.  He then asked the question in English. (Wade speaks good Spanish, but we have decided that Puerto Rico Spanish is a little different.)  I had been listening, not really understanding the Spanish, but with Wade's question I tried to figure out what he needed to know.  I answered them and asked if that was what they were saying.  (Most of the people in Puerto Rico can speak some English but they also understand very well)  They said I was right. I know that the Lord was helping me that day.

Another couple we interviewed gave a great story.  When we started the interview the man said he didn't have a great story but his wife did and he turned the time to her.  They had been members of the church for 36 years being baptized in 1979.  They were sealed in the Washington DC Temple in 1986. She told us this was her testimony of the Book of Mormon and that the Book of Mormon had saved her life. In 1995 she was walking to a meeting at the church.  She was walking through the park ad was attached by a man with a knife.  She had a Book of Mormon that she had wrapped as a package to give to someone along with a five dollar bill in her purse.  The man took the book and the money and raised the knife to kill her, but a bright light came over her and he ran away.  Two days after the attack she received a letter from her attacker with the money.  He apologized and said he was going to kill her but their was a bright light.  He said her God loved her.  He kept the Book of Mormon.  He was later baptized and has been to the temple.  In 1999 he came to visit her in Orlando where they had moved.  He gave her a fifty dollor bill.  He told her that he was married, active in the church and had named his little girl Celia Milagro - Milagro is miracle in Spanish.  This story was in the July 1996 Liahonia.  

March 4 2015
We had 2 interviews today.  (I was having a rough time because of the news of my Sister in Law passing away).  Both were wonderful.  One sister had been a member her since she was eight.  She dated her husband who was not a member but because of her and her family's example he joined the church and they were sealed in the temple.

The other sister is currently serving a mission in Puerto Rico.  She is from Puerto Rico so this was a little unusual.  When she joined the church her parents were not happy about it.  When she put her papers into to go on a mission, she was called to another mission in Texas.  Her mother would not let her go.  Arrangements were made for her to serve in  Puerto Rico and her parents were given special permission to visit with her when they wanted to.  When we first arrived, I was surprised when this family came in and went into one of the offices and then this sister missionary joined them in the office.  I was told it was her family.  This young lady has such a strong testimony of the Gospel.  She is a great missionary.  Hopefully her family will feel the Spirit and soften their hearts about the church.  

March 5, 2015

We did our last interview.  A young man who joined the church.  He told us that he loves to go to the Temple in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.  He goes at least once a year and tries to go a second time as well.  He has been called to be an ordinance worker when he is there.

The members in Puerto Rico are in the Dominican Temple District.  The problem for them is the cost to go there.  They have to have a passport because it isn't a US territory like Puerto Rico and then the airfare is more expensive than going to Florida.  May members will plan a vacation to Florida, New York, New Jersey or other parts of the US and then go to the temple while visiting family.  I can see how it would be so nice for them to have a temple, but so many of the people join the church and then find a job in the states and leave Puerto Rico. Thus the membership isn't where it needs to be to have a temple.  I feel so blessed to have so six temples within 30 minutes of where we live.  It is one of those things we take for granted.  
Magda Inesta
Joralis Rivera
Magdiel Negron

Our Last Week in Puerto Rico part one

We have been home a little over a month now and I am finally getting back to my blog to finish our mission as this is my journal too. . . . .

February 28, 2015

We got up early Saturday morning and headed to Ponce.  It is on the south side of the island.  As we drove down the highway the scenery was beautiful.  It had been raining and the clouds were right on top of the mountains.  It was beautiful.

When we came out of the mountains, I thought I was driving through Wyoming or Southern Idaho or maybe Arizona.  It was much more like a desert area.  There were even cactus on the side of the road.  And there were the 'windmills' like in Wyoming. What do you think??
Looks like Wyoming to me . . .
Maybe more like Arizona with the cactus
The dryer landscape - not lush and green
Wind Mills
More windmills in the distance
 We made it to the church and began our interviews which were wonderful again.  I have been amazed at how each of these people know the exact date they were baptized!  I know the month and year, but not the exact date.  I think I need to learn this because it is an important date!  

We interview the Stake President - President Ruiz.  He related the following to us:
While on his mission in Las Vegas, he opened the phone book to find an investigator and saw the name Blake and Barbara Bellard.  This was the name of the Elder who had baptized his family.  He called the number and found that this was indeed the missionary who had baptized his family.  At the begining of his mission he went to do an inteview of a young woman who was ready for baptism.  They arrived late.  The parents were mad and told them not to come back.  Then the father called towards the end of his mission to apologize and ask for forgiveness.  He then asked if Elder Ruiz would baptize him.

After we finished the interviews we decided to see a little of Ponce . . . the beach.  (Have you figured out that I love the beach??)  We drove to this beach and saw an area where they put containers on ships. 
We went to the boardwalk where they had little stand where you could buy souvenirs.  There were a few restaurants and bars there as well. 

We found these lovely birds who would let you walk right up to them and almost touch them.  

This little bay was beautiful with sailboats docked.(Two different views)

Then we walked over to the beach.  It wasn't the beautiful sandy beach we had seen in other areas, but I loved the grassy area and the trees growing in the water.  What a beautiful site!

While I was taking pictures a man came up to me and asked what area of the island we were serving in.  We explained that we were doing oral histories for the Church History Library and we were just there for 2 months.  I asked if he was a member and he said yes.  Wade began talking to him and we found out that he was in the Caguas Stake.  They had just gotten a new Stake President the week before. Wade asked who was called to that position . . . the man replied "That would be me."  He had been a member for some years but had been inactive.  He was in the service in Europe and had married a women from there and had 3 girls - none were members.  But his one daughter and her family were visiting him and they had brought them to the beach.  Such a kind person and so willing to stop us and ask questions.  You just never know . . .

March 1, 2015

We we were up early and on our way back to Ponce to attend church and do more interviews.  We passed that same beautiful scenery as the day before.  But we did stop for just a few minutes to get some pictures of the letters that spell out Ponce as you arriving there on the freeway. 

I love the custom of gthe people of Puerto Rico.  They greet you with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  This is usually with the women but sometimes the men do this too to women.  When the men greet each other, it is with a hand shake and a hug.  At first this was strange for me and I felt funny about it.  But as timne went on, it was just a  natural thing to do.
This was the temperature at 8am

The four three letters P O N C
A little closer shot of the N C

Even closer of the C and E  (I almost got hit by a car taking this picture)
When we headed home that afternoon I took this picture - Our daughter, Patti, served in Coamo when she was on her mission in Puerto Rico 18 years ago.