I made it! I have spent a lot of time packing and traveling over the past week, but I am officially in Puerto Rico and I have left all my stress behind! I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect much, but so far I am really impressed with the areas I have seen. The views are beautiful, the people are kind, and I am so glad to get back into speaking Spanish.
This week we are staying in San Juan getting trained at the self-reliance office and participating in English classes with a missionary couple. The place where we are staying is very nice and in a gated community.
Most of the homes I have seen here have beautiful tile-work and the unique flat roofs. From what I understand, everyone has flat cement roofs to help protect the home from hurricanes.
So far, I have seen very little evidence of the devastation from Hurricane Maria. I’m sure that I am in the nicer areas right now, but all that I have seen are some run down buildings and some slanting poles on the streets. I plan on asking more people about there experiences with hurricanes in the weeks to come.
Another thing I have enjoyed is how everyone is still celebrating Christmas. Technically they are still celebrating because of Three Kings Day which is followed by another 8 days of Christmas celebration.
My favorite thing to see here so far is all of the greenery! Going on drives, the hills are all forested and main streets have trees with bright green leaves. The trees are well trimmed in case of hurricanes, but it also looks like there is just a lot of natural plant growth around homes and on the side of the roads. I am sure the growth is due to the rain and moisture in the air, but I am amazed every day at how beautiful it is.
Next week we are heading down to Ponce and we are feeling ready! We love the people and the office here, but already we are starting to feel like missionaries with the long hours, professional clothing, and being with a companion (internship partner). We have been confusing a lot of church members. Our apartment will be ready by Wednesday so things should normal out by then and we will start to talk to leaders and try to organize a number of courses. We have a lot of work cut out for us, but we are anxious to get started.
I feel very grateful to be here and to gain new experiences. There has not been a lot of time to focus on the things that would normally give me anxiety and I am very grateful for that. I feel happy and new. I am so grateful for my family and sweet husband that support and love me.