For the third year, LAUMC congregants joined a mission team in assisting Puerto Rico with the recovery from Hurricane Maria. Now chronicled as one of the worst hurricanes in history, the 2017 storm had left the island devastated. The team was pleased to see recovery progress, but with years still to go.
The team of 12 represented six churches in the California-Nevada Conference. This year’s mission was a return to the South Coast. The team served clients at six homes in the nearby towns of Guayama, Arroyo, and Maunabo while stationed at a former Methodist retreat center. Among the clients who welcomed the team into their homes were Amaryllis and her young baby; Tony, a spunky 80-year-old; Guadalupe, who has lived in her storm-ravaged house for 40 years; Sonja and her family of ten; and Nydia and Hector a Vietnam War veteran who is 100% disabled. The team did roofing, painting, stucco, and tiling work, but equally important was bringing hope and showing the care from our community to theirs. Work was done in conjunction with local construction workers, who shared the benefit of their familiarity with the tasks to be done and patient guidance. The local Methodist staff supporting the work also had a remarkable commitment.
As with all mission trips, one of the blessings is the team comradery developed by bonding around a common purpose. The team shared meals, bunk beds inches apart, dribbling showers, and meaningful reflection time each evening. The group attended worship at Iglesia Methodista Puerta Del Cielo and received a warm reception. As is this team’s tradition, each family was presented with a homemade quilt as a remembrance of the friendship. The team is determined to keep going back to Puerto Rico until the recovery is complete.