Christian Missions History
Fajardo, Puerto Rico 1984-1989

My Christian Missions History changed in 1984, when I relocated from Levittown, a suburb of San Juan, to Fajardo, a town on the eastern coast of the island.

When I moved to Fajardo I began teaching school again. I had taught for the first two years in Levittown, but for the next three years I had done mission work without teaching. I was primarily involved in personal evangelism, one on one discipleship, and training ladies to work with the junior church programs.

Since the average service in Levittown lasted from two to three hours, there was a lot more involved in running a junior church program than there might be for an hour service, here in the States. I trained 16 to 20 ladies to work with the children so no one had to miss more than one service a month.

In Fajardo, I taught fifth and sixth grade primarily, in a combined classroom. Although the classes I taught weren't usually large, there was always plenty to do to stay busy.

Christian Missions History
Teaching was an Enjoyable Challenge

One thing that always stood out in contrast to schools here in the States, was the uniforms. Both public and private school students in Puerto Rico wear uniforms. It is actually much more economical than maintaining a school wardrobe without uniforms.

The uniforms in Fajardo were a yellow shirt or blouse with navy blue pants and skirts. In Levittown, the uniform was a red shirt, with navy pants and skirts as well.

The church and school in Fajardo, named Maranatha Baptist, were right on the beach. The building was at the top of the hill going down to the ocean, so the setting couldn't have been any more beautiful outside of heaven.

We especially enjoyed Easter sunrise services there. But every day of the year the beauty of the scenery was a blessing and relaxation. You did get used to it, but I never failed to appreciate it.

Teaching two grades in one classroom is never easy, but since I didn't have large classes, it was doable. Every year the last day before Christmas, I taught the children to make Christmas breads. (See the overcoming homesickness missionary story for the breads origins.) Then at the end of the day, they got to take the breads home to eat with their families.

It made for a hectic day, but we had a lot of fun as well. I thought I had a picture of all the classes' breads lined up in a row, but if so, it is a slide, but you can see one example in the above slide show.

The snowman was my gift to the students if I remember right. I made them out of Rice Krispie candy.

Additionally, there were times during the five years I worked in Fajardo that I taught Spanish to all the different age levels, and possibly a few other classes as well, although I must admit I've forgotten the details now.

Christian Missions History
Other Responsibilities

I worked with Pastor Gary Sprunger, and his wife Joy, in Fajardo. At the time they had five children at home, and only the oldest was over ten. They were great to work with. Many of my responsibilities were to help in the ministry with whatever Joy didn't have time to do because of family responsibilities.

Occasionally that would involve babysitting the children so she could make a visit with Pastor Gary, but more frequently I did the visitation and discipleship with the ladies of the church so she could raise her children. Emily was one of the people I was able to lead to the Lord while in Fajardo.

I had the privilege of leading several people to the Lord during the time I was there. We were located less than five miles away from Roosevelt Roads Naval base, so many of the people we worked with were Americans stationed there in the Navy.

Emily, pictured here is one example. After people accepted the Lord, I tried to meet with them for several months and disciple them in the things of the Lord.

After about three years I actually started teaching only half days so I'd have more time to dedicate to visitation and discipleship.

The attendance at the church usually fluctuated between sixty and a hundred people. Every time the attendance would get built up, several families would finish their tour of duty and be transferred back to the states, and we'd have to start over again.

Christian Missions History
Serious Health Problems Develop

After about three years in Fajardo I was home several months on furlough.

For those unfamiliar with that term, furlough is a time a missionary returns to the States, and reports to the churches and individuals who've been supporting them, as well as tries to raise further support if needed.

During that trip to the States, I began to have some rather serious health issues. I just felt awful most of the time. I never had an appetite, sometimes when I ate I felt a little better, but sometimes it made me feel worse. I felt sick to my stomach most of the time, but never actually threw up.

I knew I was struggling physically, but I figured it was due to the stress of traveling alone. I was on the road for a three month period, and as a single woman, that wasn't easy, so I thought the stress was making me sick, and I could hardly wait to get back to the field so things would settle down.

Unfortunately, within six months of arriving on the field again, I realized that getting back to the field hadn't solved the problem. I went to at least two doctors in Puerto Rico. After the appointments, they informed me that I had "Irritable Bowel Syndrome". They said it wasn't serious, and I didn't need to worry about it.

All I can say is, they didn't have to live with it, or they wouldn't have been so dismissive of the situation! I felt like I'd have to get better to die!

I had no energy level, My stomach hurt all the time, and it was all I could do to make it through the day. I desperately needed help. Finally, it was decided that I needed to return to Indiana, and see some specialists there to see if there was something more serious going on.

I left the island after the school year finished in 1989.

My Christian Missions History
Conclusions

When I left Fajardo, I was hoping to return within a year or so to continue making Christian missions history, but in actual fact, it was almost ten years before I was able to return to Puerto Rico, and many things happened in between.

However, I can assure you the Lord was just as faithful to me in Indiana as He had been to me during the years I was in Puerto Rico.

Five years later when I began to prepare to return to the island, I sang Great is Thy Faithfulness for three years on deputation. I initially thought I'd probably get tired of it, and need to sing something else after a while, but that never happened.

Truly God is always faithful to us as His children. It is a wonderful privilege to serve Him. Making Christian missions history is just a side effect of that service.

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