Serving in the Caribbean Area Presidency Office in
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

18 July 2010

The Launcha

We felt like sailers this week - making three round trips on the ferry (launcha) to Puerto Rico and back.  The first was last Sunday when we went to a conference in Trujillo Alto which is a suburb of San Juan.  Our district (Fajardo) was merged into the San Juan Stake.  We met our new mission president, Jorge Alvarado.  He and his wife are wonderful, energetic leaders.  We look forward to working with them.  On the way back we were fortunate to have the Stake President (Page) and his family with us on the launcha.  They were bringing their entire family and with another family to vacation on Vieques for a few days.  We had a nice visit with them before they got seasick.  Fortunately we didn't get sick. 

In the middle of the week we were requested to come across to pick up one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Butler, and bring him back to Vieques to work for a day.  As we drove toward the muelle (dock) we could see white caps in the ocean and knew that it would be rough.  We stopped and bought Dramamine for Elder Button.  Thank goodness! It was really rough, but the good thing is that we met a young lady named Cristina who was interested in learning more about the church.  This picture is of Elder Button speaking to her as we were arriving in Fajardo.

Friday morning we took Elder Butler back to Fajardo and then turned around and returned to Vieques.  Each way is about 65 minutes if you get the fast boat.  The slow boat takes about 90 minutes.  Because of the rainy and windy weather we've been having the seas were again pretty choppy so Dramamine saved Elder Button, but made him groggy the whole rest of the day.  Here is a picture of the Lighthouse at Vieques taken from the launcha as we were pulling back into port.  As you can see there are decorations saying Welcome to Vieques. 
That is because Wednesday through Sunday Vieques celebrated the Fiestas Patronales.  This is a community celebration originating from the Catholic tradition of honoring various saints.  This week they were celebrating the saint of the fisherman (I think it was St. Carmen).  The celebrations started in the mid-afternoon continuing into the evening.  For the first few days it was relatively well organized and somewhat family oriented, at least in the afternoons.  At night the drinking, loud music and fireworks started.  But starting Friday night through Sunday, the alcohol and partying in the streets really increased.  The climax was this afternoon where they had a big parade with people dressed up in costumes and bands.  In the middle of the parade it started to rain ferociously and continued for almost an hour.  This picture was taken from our house looking through the fence to the street where the parade was happening: 


We are happy that it is now over.  The traffic has been terrible and the people have been pretty much unavailable to be visited or taught.  We had an appointment to help the Elders teach a family this afternoon but couldn't get there in our car because of the parade.  So we decided to walk over to the Elders apartment.  Sister Button didn't want to go because of all the drinking that was going on.  She was right.  As we walked through the streets we felt uncomfortable and at risk for the first time while we have been in Puerto Rico.  People were pretty rude and very drunk.  We decided to return home by a different route.  While we did we came upon this mother hen and her little chicks.  She was trying to shelter them from the rain.  We feel like that with the people we are working with - trying to teach them and protect them from the things that the world believes will bring happiness, that really only brings sorrow and pain.  We feel the sorrow in the Savior's words in 3 Nephi 10:4 -5 "O ye people ...who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered  you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you...yea, O ye people of the house of Israel who have fallen, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not."



11 July 2010

Horses, chicks and canepas

Tonight as we left our house we saw a horse in the neighbors front yard.  Being from Lehi, that isn't something we would consider unusual.   We used to say, "only in Lehi", now we say, "only in Lehi and in Vieques.

For our grandkids we include a picture of something we see frequently in Vieques.  Our friends the Venturas a trying to save these little chicks from the mongoose that live here in Vieques.  The mongoose were brought here to eat the rats to keep them from eating the sugar cane many years ago.  The problem they discovered is that rats are mostly nocturnal and mongoose sleep at night.  So the rats and the mongoose both thrive.  The mongoose eat little birds, especially little chicks.

We have discovered a new fruit we really like called Canepas.  Here is a picture of them.   They grow on trees and come in bunches of about 20.  They are the size of large grapes but they have a thin peel like limes.

You bite them to open the peel. Inside is a large, hard pit that is surrounded by a slimey membrane.  The membrane is very sweet.  You suck out the juice and then spit out the pit and throw away the peel.




We hope to bring some Canepa pits back home and plant them.  Hopefully that way you can try them too!

04 July 2010

The ONE

In our posts to the blog we have highlighted the beauty of Vieques.  Beautiful it certainly is, but to our Heavenly Father the most important and magestic of all is not the sunsets, the seascapes or the landscapes - it is the people.  It was for them that the Savior suffered and died.  We are coming to love them intensely. 

When we received our call to serve in Puerto Rico, we had visions of doing many great things for the Lord.  We longed to bring large numbers of inactive people and converts into the church.  We hoped to be able to greatly strengthen the young missionaries and active church members.  We were thinking on the grand scale of things....All of that may indeed come to pass, but what we have come to realize is that it is the ONE that is important.  We don't who the ONE is as we begin each day in prayer, but we have learned that each day, each each hour, each minute we have opportunities to show love, to lift and to share with one individual at a time.  And the Lord has been kind to whisper to us when we see in their eyes that He has touched them.  The amazing thing is that while He is touching them, He is also touching us.  Whatever we give is returned a hundred fold.  We now know why we are here and what God wants us to do - ONE at a time.
Here are the pictures of some of the ONEs.