Hello! Hello! Hello! (...that is supposed to be in English, ASL, and Spanish for ya there.)
For the past 24 hours I have been operating on a tri-lingual basis. Holy cow...its ultra hard. I am fluent in English and ASL (American Sign Language) and can use them both at the same time and independently from each other. It comes in extremely handy around here. The third language is Spanish, which sounds *so* familiar and good to my ears to hear again, but alas, I really can't comprehend it orally. If its written down, I can get about 40% of what is trying to be communicated. Its not great, but its all I have. The official language of PR is both English and Spanish. The ASL comes into play because I am staying/working/visiting a school for the Deaf here in PR.
The school is very nice and I am staying in the girl's dorm. Right now, there is only one student who lives here (even though the whole school is technically a "residential school for the deaf"...go figure). I found this school because God wanted me to: there's no other way to explain it. Here's the story-- My grandparents have these friends named the Barnes. The Barnes love my mom and they love my whole family, actually, even though I've never meet them. Sometime around my HS graduation, they (somehow) heard I was going into deaf education. They wrote me this very nice, very long note of congratulations. In the note, they told me there was a school in PR that they used to support financially and that they knew several of the missionaries who worked there over the years. The crazy thing is that I read this letter when I graduated, but never, ever, remembered the school for the deaf. Well, about 2 years ago, at Christmas time, actually, I was deep cleaning my room and came across this letter. This was my sophomore year of college when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. When I re-read the letter, the school for the deaf jumped out at me! I searched it online and immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of their mission. I contacted them and they put me in touch with a missionary named JJ. She is from CA and I knew that I wanted to support her. So, for the past two years JJ and I have been writing letters, facebooking, and even had one skype encounter (...not very successful due to both of us having bad internets). I am SO happy to actually meet the person I have been praying for on a weekly basis and that I have been supporting. Its been great, also, to jump inside her world and see what all she has/is doing down here and how intense missionary life really can be.
In terms of a little bit of an update--
I left TN yesterday morning very early. Made it to Miami around 11am and had a layover until 1pm. [Insert awesome stories from chatting with fellow travelers/airport strangers here...there are some interesting folks in airports these days...let me tell you. you'll have to ask me in person for some of the "goods".] Trying to explain why you are a quarter of the age of all the retired folks heading from Minn. and NY for some warm weather is a little harder than you might think. HA! I slept almost the whole plane ride to PR and when I arrived I was worn out! JJ was running around San Juan and Betsy (the principal/director/linguist extrordinaire!) picked me up from the airport. There were five other people in the car with us; all missionaries at the school. San Juan is about an hour's drive from Luquillo (where the school is) so the whole team came into the city to pick me up. We went first to this really expensive Italian restaurant. Long story short, JJ and 2 others met us at the Italian restaurant and we decided that the prices were too high. Betsy was still parking the car. She called and said she was having car trouble and we all made our hasty exit (sorry to our waiter, whoever you are!) We ended up going to this awesome pizza place that was a lot of fun and had great food. After dinner, we walked around the city and looked at Christmas lights. Ok, let me explain. PR'ians really love Christmas. Like really! There are nativity scenes all over the place and the three kings are more of the focus than anyone in the nativity scene. They have Three Kings Day (another story to follow about that later...) and that is celebrated in the beginning of January. Once we finished walking around downtown San Juan, we headed "home" to the school. I got settled in, took a shower, and went to bed.
Tune in tomorrow for the update about today, Sunday!
Thanks for the prayers! I am doing well and am in great health (which is great seeing that I had been for the past 10 days with a cold...) Everything is running smoothly so far and the missionaries are taking good care of me! =)