Monday, December 6, 2010

British Virgin Islands--Tortola & Virgin Gorda

We've spent the last ten days here in the British Virgin Islands helping a branch. We were trying to set up an apartment for a senior couple to live in Tortola. We went by ferry over to Virgin Gorda three days and tried to meet the members there and went with the Branch President to have sacrament both Sundays in the afternoon. The weather has been delightful. The people are very friendly. They speak English and of course drive on the "wrong" side of the street according to us. It is very hilly with steep, winding, narrow roads. It really takes the 4wheel drive to get into the apartment. Turning around is quite a chore These pictures show the view coming into Tortola Harbor. The only level space seems to be by the harbor and the short airstrip.

Virgin Gorda view.

We had lunch in Virgin Gorda and you can see Tortola in the background.

These two pictures are from our apartment. You can see a cruise ship in port.

Puerto Rico and Vieques

Chucho and his turkey.
The winner--Chucho (Jorge)

The turkey race begins. Chucho was upset to miss a day of school because he had been practicing for weeks to win the turkey race at his school. Most of the schools have turkey races the Friday before Thanksgiving and the winners get big turkeys. So we had our own turkey race and would you believe Chucho beat everyone. His small turkey was cooked along with the large one. Sister Alvarado's dad cooked the turkey and it was delicious. Our Thanksgiving dinner was a very tasty one at the Mission Home.

Our Mission President's family----Kelli, Jorge, and Cari Anne at the pool in Vieques.

The Alvarados on our porch in Vieques.

View from our porch.

We actually took a couple days off and enjoyed visiting Vieques, a nearby island to Puerto Rico. We went with the Alvarado family and two other senior couples. The first night we rented individual kayaks to go out on Mosquito Bay and see the Bioluminescent effect. Unfortunately there was too much moonlight, but we could still see the flashy effects of thousands of little microorganisms that soak up the sunlight one day and during the night give off light if they are disturbed--the paddle moving, swimming, fish. They only live for 24 hours. We toured the island the next day and had a delightful swim in the Caribbean.

When it rains, it can really come down hard in a short period of time. One afternoon at the office in less than an hour there was a river in the street. Luckily after the downpour the street was passable fairly soon.

We had a special 3 day conference for all the senior couples from the islands and from Puerto Rico. We had great training and then one day we enjoyed a tasty Puerto Rican dinner at a restaurant in Old San Juan after hiking around El Moro--an old fort.

El Moro

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puerto Rico

Dave is glad to see cows here as he misses ours back home. Had to take a picture of this one with such long horns.
This picture is of one of my favorite spots near Lares in the mountains.

The island has many beautiful purple trees, but this picture doesn't show the real color.

These are some pictures of the southern part of the island with more rocks and not quite as much rain, but it is still very green.

Here we are with President and Sister Martineau and the Puerto Rican flag.

These are very tall trees (30 to 50 feet)and some of my favorite ones. They are so colorful. Some of the trees like this have yellow blossoms but they are not so vibrant.

We are all at transfer meeting. All the missionaries gather at a stake center every 6 weeks and then the President announces the changes and they all leave and go to their new areas. This is Elder Sellers with us. We first met him in Aruba when he was a zone leader on Curacao. Here he is an Assistant to the President. We saw him every day at the office. Now he is finishing his mission in Curacao and will be part of a different mission--Dominican Republic.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Arriving in Puerto Rico

We stayed in the lovely mission home for almost 3 weeks as we tried to find an apartment. Often when the 3 assistants to the presidents would also spend the night, we would all gather both morning and evening for family prayer and for the missionaries to sing a hymn or two for us. It was an excellent way to start and finish the day. We are in the living room waiting to hear them sing.
This is a little coqui frog the Martineau's daughter caught for me at the Mission Home when we were staying there. At night these tiny frogs make more music than crickets.
There are many fruit stands set up alongside the road. Some are out of the back of trucks but you will find lots of stands out in the middle of nowhere plus lots of trucks set up with BBQ to cook and sell pinchos--beef or chicken put on wooden squewers. We haven't tried those yet here but have in Aruba.

We got lost looking for apartments to rent for the elders and came upon this house amongst all the greenery. This is not a usual home and is away from all the traffic and homes.

The north side of the island is very lush and green with all the rain they receive. Lots of palm trees, vines, and many tall beautiful green trees with lots of red flowers in the trees. I will have to get a close up of all the red flowers in the trees. This picture was too far away. I discovered that with Dave's color blindness he had never seen the red. He just sees green trees and didn't understand what I was trying to take a picture of.

This is on the southern side of the island near Ponce. It is more desert but there is still green. There are lots of hills all over Puerto Rico. Excuse the blur, but I think we were going about 70. After Aruba where you were never able to go more than 50 mph, this is a treat to get on the freeways and move a bit faster and you're away from all the congestion near San Juan.

Sister Higgs, the lady in the middle with a dark red blouse and black skirt, is finishing her mission next week. So we hosted all the senior missionaries at our new apartment for a dinner
for her.Our mission president, President Martineau, his wife and 2 of their 10 children who are here visiting this week, are on the right side of the picture. This is on the terrace outside our apartment. We actually fit 3 tables and 15 chairs in the living area . The lady with the red dress fixed all the food. They drove from Izabela, about 2 hours away. Elder and Sister Ramirez are both almost 80 and going strong.

Leaving Aruba

Elder Zenger and Elder Ellis baked us a cake for our going away party. Elder Ellis will stay on Aruba until he goes home next summer. Elder Zenger will be coming back to Puerto Rico this week for transfers and we are excited to see him. I have been corresponding with his parents and have become friends with Trish. We just found out that Trish and her husband Paul will be coming to visit Puerto Rico in a month to stay with her son-in-law's parents only about 1/2 hour from here. Their son-in-law served his mission in Puerto Rico and now their son is here. They of course can't visit with Elder Zenger so he will stay focused on his work and mission, but Elder Pietz and I are looking forward to visiting with them.

This is Sherman, a Chinese, that is part of the San Nicolas Branch but just hasn't been baptized. He comes to church every week, always helps with any service projects, will do anything to help. Sherman came to lunch every Sunday and we went out for dinner with him several times. His father, a great man, and Sherman invited us out to a Chinese restaurant a couple times. Sherman flew to visit some friends in Florida a couple times and went to Sam's Club and the post office for us and brought us back lots of things on our wish list. We are hoping he will soon be baptized and receive more blessings.

One of the highlights of our mission was getting to know Gerde. Once she knew about the gospel and was going to be baptized, she absolutely just bubbled with joy. She was so excited about the gospel. Elder Pietz had the real delight in being able to baptize her in the ocean. She will always have a special place in our hearts. No one laughs or loves like Gerde.

These first few pictures were taken the night before we left Aruba at the chapel. They had a little going away party for us. This is a picture of our branch president, President Buckley and his wife Johanna. We lived at their home and they were wonderful friends. We enjoyed having Sunday afternoon barbeques in their garden with all the missionaries and some new converts and investigators. President spent months building and adding new touches to a BBQ oven/grill. They are very generous and warm loving people. They were always thinking of others. They are talking about going on a mission themselves.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Church in San Nicolaas

The Pantophlet family have been members for a long time in Aruba. This is Pam and her mother, called "Mom" by everyone. They are fun to be around and are very lovely women.
Gladis was just sustained as our new Relief Society President. Next to her is Alsida Bernebela, just released as the past Relief Society President. I have enjoyed working with both ladies.

Here we are at the chapel (rented home) listening and watching General Conference. This is the first time the branch was able to see conference in San Nicolaas. Elder Pietz was able to get DSL approved and installed and then got permission for a new updated flat screen TV so conference could be received via internet and transferred to the TV screen. It had been very difficult for the people to get transportation to the other chapel a half hour away to view conference. Most members do not have their own transportation and to rely on the buses requires them to walk a distance and wait for the bus in the heat.

This is Dayzi Elliot and her son, Jaleel-2 yrs. old. She came over to say good bye to us and brought us a lovely card she had made. Her husband had flown to Jamaica to be with his mom and flew with her to Miami for brain surgery. The surgery was successful and he should have returned last night. Dayzi is our awesome Gospel Doctrine teacher and her husband is the Elder's Quorum President.

This is outside our chapel after church. From the left--President Buckley--our branch president and landlord and great friend with quite a sense of humor, Elder Lehr--had lots of fun with him & he is now in Puerto Rico, Brother Miguel Torrealba--once served here in San Nicolaas as a missionary from Venezuela and now living here & is going to really help out the branch by being the mission leader, Elder Zenger--has been here twice in San Nicolaas and is one of our dearest friends, Johan--a recent strong convert.

When I went to take a picture of Elder Lehr and Elder Zenger, Johanna jumped into the picture. Her dad is Johan and she will be taking the missionary discussions. She just turned 9 and is very intelligent. She is a great reader in Dutch, Spanish, English, and Papiamento. She has attended church with her dad ever since he's been coming. I really have enjoyed teaching her in Primary whenever I've substituted there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Aruba in March

After helping put in a garden for a member, all the missionaries had a barbeque at our place. Elder Pietz got too hot and put on his shorts with his cowboy boots.
Another baptism at the beach early before church on Sunday morning.

We had a Relief Society activity this morning and one of the sisters showed us how to make empenadas (cornmeal dough folded over with cheese & ham or vegetables and then deep fried). We then had a delicious luncheon.
When the missionaries had their barbeque at our place we asked them to sing some hymns. They have really great voices and harmonize so well. I actually think the Spanish hymns sound better than the English.

Ivan was baptized in September and is a very strong member. He already has the Melchezdik priesthood. He baptized his wife Santa. Elder Lehr and Elder Zanger were witnesses.
This is Daysi. She and her husband Jeff are part owners in an Italian restaurant. He is the chef and is from Jamaica and she is from Aruba. She supervises the orders in the kitchen and loves to wear the white hat. The food is delicious. She is the greatest Gospel Doctrine teacher and he is the Elder Quorum President.