Saturday, June 23, 2012

Puerto Rico Day One: Saturday

Fire throwers.



A castle.

And, to top it all off, the Caribbean ocean.

It's been a long day, and it started way too early - although if you ask Brian Hughes, he'll tell you that God gets up every day around 4AM, and so do godly people. But what does he know?

Both flights were uneventful, with some interesting new sleeping methods on display.

Cody and Daniel
We landed in San Juan and began the first of many long segments of time doing - well, nothing. Waiting. Time runs a little differently in this part of the world. It took about 90 minutes to get the rental vans - not waiting in line, but negotiating the paperwork. It was hard for us to wait, but even harder for all the people behind us in line during those 90 minutes. Eventually, everything fell into place and we managed the quick drive to the Howard Johnson. Looking out the window of our third floor room, we've got a nice view of the beach across the (very busy) street.

Not too shabby.

We had a few hours to walk around the immediate area, grab some lunch and get a little rest. The evening came, and we set out for Old San Juan; the plan was to find an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant for dinner, but everyone was tired and not too hungry after our late lunch, so mostly, we just walked around.

Old San Juan is beautiful, rich with history - the castle mentioned above dates from the 1600's. Artisans and restaurants and street vendors and a lot of people milling about made for a relaxing evening.

We were cautioned by the hotel management to be back by 9PM, before things "got crazy". Apparently a typical Saturday night in this area is filled with lots of happy intoxicated people. Parking places are hard to come by (we actually slipped a little "gift" to one of the parking lot attendants in order to have our spots reserved for our return). From our spot in the hotel, it sure sounds like things are heating up outside. Kati just said, "It's gonna be a long night..." - we'll see how well we sleep in this urban party environment!

All is well. The first-time flyers did great; nobody got lost, nobody got sick and nobody's cried. The temperature is very mild, and is actually much more comfortable than it was back in VA yesterday! It was a great first day, designed for the kids to acclimate themselves to the culture shock of being in a foreign country. There's a lot of English spoken here, but the primary language is obviously Spanish. After our evening exploring Old San Juan, I think everybody feels like we're really "here".

We'll get up and travel to Ponce tomorrow, spend some time in the water and prepare for our move to the camp on Monday. We've got another 2 or 3 hours of driving, heading straight south across the island. It should be a good day.

So we're here. And on a personal note, my Spanish is coming back quite nicely, although it's hardly necessary. It feels good to practice it, though. And on a deeper, more reflective note, we walked across the sand to the water this afternoon and I felt something long-repressed stirring in me. It is difficult to define; sort of a memory, but not really. A vague familiarity with the scenery, a resonance with the view. The deep blue-green of the ocean here is different. It feels different; warmer, calmer.

I'm not sure what I felt, exactly. It leans towards sorrow, I think, and it's probably more about the unbelievably fast track of time. I looked at the ocean that I last saw some 23 years ago, and this time, my 17-year old daughter was in my line of sight.

That's a lot of change in between trips to this ocean.

One thing I do know: this time here will build memories and resonance for the 36 of us in important ways. Time will continue to fly by.

That's the way it goes.

Leave your comments here if you have a message for your World Changer; it doesn't look like the E-couragram link for our week is up yet. Stay tuned! And enjoy these photos....very random order, but here goes!

These are three of my roommates, and we wandered around together. Good friends. Great young women.

Seriously, parrots. We watched them for 20 minutes. Go figure.

One of the waiting occasions.

More waiting. But they're smiling!

Waiting...and smiling...

Waiting...and beginning to fade...

Half of us had to wait in the median at the airport because the shuttle wasn't big enough to carry us all. The shuttle driver said he'd come back for us...but he didn't. An hour later, we got picked up. Yawn.
Random shot of the coastline from the van.

Cheery sibling waiting.

This boy can sleep anywhere. We waited; Sam slept.


Lined up against the wall, waiting.

Yup. Waiting.

Again, my roomies at the beach. Sorry for the redundancy, but it's a good photo.

Random shot of Old San Juan.

Old San Juan dog.

Our fearless leader and Josh, who I am REALLY enjoying getting to know!


We closed the place down.


Angie said...

Thanks for writing and showing photos! Egrams won't be up and running until the project starts. So good to see everybody. love the photos of my small group girls smiling...and josh fading, too:)

Susan Lloyd said...

Praying for yall

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU so much for taking the time to blog about this trip! I can't wait to see how God moves (and not have to wait until you get back to hear about it!).
Will be praying!
Angela Meadows

Bill said...

I'm with you, Dear!

Regina said...

A common theme among most mission trips: hurry up and wait. God can do amazing things during those times of lull. Thanks for blogging about the trip and keep the pictures coming. You're in my prayers!

Anna said...

Thank you so much Beth. It is so wonderful to get updated. I love the pics. SO proud of the team and praying for God's continued presence and movement.