Monday, November 30, 2009

First Week in Puerto Rico

Hey everyone,

Well I am officially a missionary now. Well I was before in the MTC but it didn't really feel like it. Now it's the real thing. I got into to San Juan about 11:45 after a really long day of traveling. President and Sister Martineau picked me up from the airport and I spent the night in the mission home. There were 3 other sisters, a senior couple and one elder also there. So we had breakfast, I met with President Martineau for a little interview and then we did practice lessons and recording us teaching. My trainer is named Hermana Venegas. She is from Toronto, Canada but her parents are both from Chile so she is bilingual. She's been out 15 months. She is awesome! We were assigned to open up a new area in Bayamon which is a suburb of San Juan. Bayamon had two elders there before but the area is huge and there was just too much to do. So we now have the bottom half of Bayamon and a town called Naranjito which has tons of hills and trees and winding roads, it is so beautiful. We live in a little apartment in Rexville. All the towns are divided into neighborhoods ours is called Rexville. We live in an apartment upstairs from our landlords and it has its own entrance with steps on the side. Its actually pretty cool, our landlord is named Jesus and he had a dream a little while back. They had this empty apartment upstairs that his father used to live in and he was about to put it up for rent. He had a dream that there would be religious teaching going on in that apartment. So he woke up the next morning and went to the Mission Office and asked if they needed an apartment to rent. So that's where we are living. We are hoping to be able to teach him and his wife. We mentioned it to his wife the other day and she said she wasn't interested but we're going to keep trying to get to know them and maybe they'll let us one day.

The apartment is actually quite large. It has a pretty decent kitchen and a big area with a kitchen table and a table where we study. There are two rooms and a bathroom. One of the rooms has air conditioning so that is where we sleep and the other is where we have our chest of drawers, ironing board and a bookshelf. There is only electricity on the one side of the house but it's not too bad. I fall asleep to the cherping of Frogs everynight. Yes, Frogs. I thought they were crickets or birds at first but then Hermana Venegas told me they are frogs native to Puerto Rico. If its not Frogs it's dogs barking or Regatone (a type of music) blarring from cars or neighbors houses.

We were told that this area is doing really well, that's why they brought in us sisters. The ward is great, one of the largest on the island. The elders had 3 investigators with a baptism date that are now in our area. One of them is named Feni and we went to see her the other day. She loves the Book of Mormon and loves coming to church. She is so excited to get baptized. There are just two problems: 1. She's not married. She lives with a man and they have two kids but he is very proud and doesn't want to get married and doesn't like her taking the discussions. 2. Some Jehovist Witness missionaries came over the other day and told her all things about Joseph Smith and our Church that are making her really confused. She is just confused by what all these people are telling her and doesn't know what to think. We just told her to keep reading and praying like she has been and she can find out for herself and tonight we are going to go visit her and talk to her about eternal families and watch a movie with her and hopefully her boyfriend will be there to watch it too.

The other two women have been really hard to track down. We are going to have to move their baptism dates back because we haven't even talked to them in person yet. One of them was out of town for thanksgiving and she is still missing quite a few important lessons. The other one works on the other side of the island and is never home. So hopefully we'll be able to track them down and continue teaching them.

Other than those three we have no investigators so we have had to start from scratch. We spend a least two or three hours knocking doors each day or doing what we call unplanned contacts which is talking to people on the street, outside grocery stores etc. Well when I say knocking doors that isn't exactly true. In Puerto Rico not many people have doors that are accesible. Most people have windows that are like slats that open up (like Grandma and Grandpa's house in Hawaii) they have porches that are surrounded by gates or bars and they usually keep those locked and then go in through the garage. So we usually stand in their driveway or by the porch and yell "Buenas Tardes" or "Buenas Noches" until they peer out their window and ask what we want. This makes it sort of hard because people aren't really close. You have to talk to them through the bars while they stand in the back of their garage or inside through the window. The whole time you are yelling because there are so many dogs in Puerto Rico. Everyone has a dog some people have like two or three! They are all little tiny dogs like Chihuahuas but they bark so loud. I have never heard dogs bark so loud. So the whole time you are yelling and they can't really hear you. But we have had a few people let us teach them the first lesson on their porch but this weekend was hard because it was Thanksgiving and everyone had family there. We have a lot of appointments to teach for this week though.

It is so ridiculously hot and humid here! Most days it is in the high 80s or low 90s. Bayamon is particularly hot apparently. So we walk around I know people are like what is this tall, blonde haired girl doing walking around in the heat wearing a dress, sweating to death and smelling very strongly of bugspray and sunscreen. Sometimes people say things to me in English, just a few words like I can't understand spanish. Which of course I can't. Everyone here talks so fast and they cut off all their Ss and say the Rs and Ls super weird. About 90% of the time anyone talks I have to ask Hermana Venegas what they are saying. I really love it here though. And people are generally nice enough to let you finish telling them a little about the gospel before they tell you they aren't interested.

On Thanksgiving we went to a Recent Converts house for Thanksgiving. There were 5 other elders there and some ward members. It was definately different than our normal thanksgiving it was fun though. We had turkey, rice, macaroni salad, rolls. It wasn't too bad.

Thanks for the emails. I still don't have Rachel's real email. At least I don't think I do. Will you forward this to her and then send me hers. I'm glad that Thanksgiving was fun for you all and that Spring City was good. I want to hear about what Abby did on her birthday. I'm sorry Erin that school's been so busy but you're almost done right? Rach how's school going? Anyway you can mail stuff at the 500 Marginal Norte Address. That is the mission office and I will get mail from the district leaders every week at district meeting. Love you all so much. Keep sending me emails or letters. By the way you can take off the DR off my blog if you haven't already. I'll write next week.

Love you all tons,
Sister Barker

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