Puerto Rico 2019
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria traveled through the Caribbean, devastating multiple islands including Puerto Rico. Over Spring Break, The Neighborhood College Ministry sent six people to serve the small island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Joined by ministries from Central Methodist University and Northwest University, the students spent a week investing in the structural repair of local homes and churches.
Where We Served
We spent our first three work days at the home of Claudio, an elderly man and lifelong resident of Vieques.
Claudio was born and raised on the opposite side of the island. His family was displaced when the US Navy moved in, choosing to use the island as a bombing test site. Claudio worked as a singer and wood-carver for the greater part of his life. Now unable to work due to partial blindness and a bad back, Claudio lives on less than $100 a month in disability checks. He has lived in his current home for the last 36 years.
We were blessed with the chance to sit and hear about Claudio’s life. He was quite the story-teller, reciting tales of how he avoided being drafted into the Vietnam war, or how he sang for festivals around the island. We were even fortunate enough to hear him sing us a couple ballads.
After the hurricane, Claudio was denied aid by FEMA three times. They rejected his requests for aid because they didn’t believe someone could live in his home due to it’s dire condition. Now, with help from the Methodist Church in Esperanza and the partnership with the Missouri Annual Conference, he is able to receive the aid he needs.
We were unable to complete his home due to extensive work that needed to be done on the ceiling. However, we were comforted to know that a contractor was sent out the next day to continue repairs.
Our last two days of service were spent removing a chain-link fence from one of the parsonages on the island.
Facebook: Jacob Paul
From black sand beaches to bioluminescent bays, we had a blast exploring the island. We spent some time lounging on the various beaches and touring Old San Juan.
God was at work last week. We were able to make genuine connection to members of the community, and to one another. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to every person who sponsored us on this trip. It gave our students the opportunity to make the head, heart, and hands connection while experiencing a new culture. The Neighborhood is eager to begin planning our return trip.