September 20, 2018

Today, September 20, is a day Puerto Rico will never forget. A year ago, Hurricane Maria, a category five storm, slammed into PR leaving in its wake devastation in all directions that is still seen today. I read today 30% of our traffic lights do not work nor can more be readily purchased due to the prior demand curried by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 60,000 homes still do not have a secure roof in place. Yet things improve each day, and strategies are being implemented to better handle a similar event.

Rubble removed

We finished up all emergency assistance the end of June, (check out the archive section of the blog for details) and have gone on to stage-two, building houses for two families that lost theirs. These two building projects are financed by a grant  from International Disaster Emergency Service. The first home is fully underway as the photos show. The other project is coming together. Local legal matters are finally being resolved so we can proceed with the blueprints, permits, and contracts. We are grateful for IDES’s generosity, patience, and confidence.

House going up

We are back in PR after an eighteen-day hiatus to IL and MO. We visited five supporting churches, attended my 50th high school class reunion, and took a week vacation in St. Louis. While there we visited museums, enjoyed a concert by the St. Louis symphonic orchestra in Forest Park, took in a couple of Cardinal games, along with our son Ben and his wife, Tiffany (we lost ). We also visited with dear friends and former colleagues, and, I suppose, we ate far too much. Like our guilty basset hound, we ignored the voice of prudence and satisfied a craving for BBQ and a few too many ice creams at DQ. We got back to PR Tuesday night weighting just a few ounces more than when we left.

Is there any other team but the Cardinals?

While gone, the church carried on very well; all doing their assigned tasks. We must admit, we are still not at the attendance level we had in May and June. Although we were over 100 one Sunday in August, the attendance is still sputtering in the upper 70’s to mid-80’s instead of 90’s to 100’s. Causes are varied.

Last Sunday there was a baptism...a lady in her late 70’s. I had talked with her on more than one occasion but to no avail. I was surprise when I was told she wanted to be baptized because of the witness of my life; (I had no idea) a reminder that people are watching, observing, and making decisions based on what they see. So, let us live out our faith and honor Christ as best as we can with God’s empowering grace!

Until next time…

Johnathan and Mary

July 31, 2018

Our Air B & B  accommodations in Manteo, NC

We are back in PR after having a great vacation the end of June and the first part of July. Mary got to see her Cape Hatteras lighthouse and the Wright brothers' memorial (childhood wishes). Those moments were nice but we both especially enjoyed being with my sister and brother and their mates. Those times are precious and rather infrequent for us.
Cape Hatteras lighthouse

While in the States we had the privilege to visit with the Northside Christian Church in Walterboro, SC as well as Farragut Christian Church in Knoxville, TN. Both congregations made us feel so welcome. We are grateful for their kindness. It was also nice to see our dear friends John and Marsha Ketchen and share a meal with them. John is president of our mission.

 Since we have come back, after dealing with mundane home-care chores, we have begun to dig into the tasks at hand. Although we have distributed practically all of the hurricane related gifts sent by people and churches from all over, there is still a grant by International Disaster Emergency Service waiting to be disbursed. We have selected two housing projects that received IDES's approval. The first is in process. Although the actual construction is yet to begin, building plans and city permits are close to being finalized. First of all, even before we began drawing up the blueprints, a will had to be written....lots of red tape. The other project is awaiting some legals matters to be resolved related to the property title. As soon as that is taken care of we will begin the second construction project.
Site for a new home to soon begin

Attendance is down after a fine month of June. But, it is summer and people are vacationing all over the place, from the USA to Italy and locally as well.  I talked with two pastors from two different denominations the other day. Both told me their attendance was down as well. Soon things will pick up when school starts in early August. The calendar is being filled with special services and events through October.

Mary and I will be coming to the States in early September. We will be visiting several churches in So. IL, that, like so many churches, have been financial backers for many many years.

On a personal note, while there, we intend to take in a couple of Cardinal baseball games, a gift from our sons and their wives. This will be a FIRST for Mary. And, we will be attending my high school 50th class reunion (Mary made me say the number 😲).

Blessings to each of you.

Johnathan and Mary Reece