Friends in Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico is a beautiful tropical island with sandy beaches and mild temperatures. Located about a thousand miles southeast of Florida, it is part of the boundary between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. San Juan, the capital and largest city, is on the north coast of the island.

The Arawak Indians were the first inhabitants of Puerto Rico, but when the Spanish came, most of them were killed or died of disease.

It is believed that Christopher Columbus landed there in 1493 and so Puerto Rico became a Spanish possession. After the Spanish-American war in 1898, Puerto Rico became part of the United States. Today it is a commonwealth island voluntarily associated with the United States. Its people are citizens of the United States.

Puerto Rico’s Spanish heritage is seen in its language and customs. The main language is Spanish but many people speak English.

Each year Puerto Ricans have drama and music festivals, sports tournaments, fishing contests, and flower shows. One of the most popular events of the year is the Casals Festival in San Juan that is held in late May through early June. Pablo Casals, an internationally famous cellist who died recently, directed an orchestra made up of some of the finest musicians from all over the world. Three Kings’ Day on January 6 is also a time of happy celebration. This day marks the end of the Christmas season and each child receives a gift.

Early in 1940 two missionaries who had previously served in Argentina were sent to Puerto Rico. Later more missionaries were sent to this island, and on May 24, 1955, San Juan was organized as the first branch in Puerto Rico. Today Puerto Rico is part of the Florida South Mission.

The Primary has played an important part in helping to bring many people into the Church in Puerto Rico. In 1964 a family moved to Ponce, Puerto Rico. Because there was no organized branch in this city, the family held services in their own home, including a Home Primary for the three children. Several other children started attending this Primary. Because they did, these children and also their parents were baptized. This was the beginning of a branch in Ponce.

A branch established in Caguas was also a result of Primary. The city of San Juan now has both a Spanish and an English speaking branch, and a branch has been organized on Ramey Air Force Base.