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

June 23, 2018

Hi everyone. Just a short blog today. Mary and I hope all is well with you. Things have finally slowed down for us. Mary is on summer break from the university, and, these past two weeks I have not been called on to help anyone with recovery from the hurricane; nine months after the storm. There are a few still needing help on our list but we are waiting for them.

Aguadilla waterfront

I took this photo the other day while downtown. As I admired the colors I thought of the incredible difference between the ocean the day after Hurricane Maria and now. Out of view behind the photo, looking at downtown, I see the city gymnasium closed, the court house closed, and the ice skating ring closed as well; all with damaged roofs. The board walk is unusable, a popular baseball park is closed with collapsed walls/bleachers and all around the town damage is still very evident. In Aguadilla, and in the surrounding towns, roads are still closed...no money to repair the massive damage to the infrastructure. The good news is, with few exceptions, the island is hooked up to water and lights although some areas have come on line in just the last three weeks. It has been quite a challenge at so many different levels.

Downtown Aguadilla

Next week we will host for a day, a missions team from TN. A church in the San Juan area had more people than was easily managed so we volunteered to take half of the group (twenty-eight) for a day. They will be tackling three projects: Touching up paint at the church building, clearing out rubble from two widows' homes and cleaning up their yards.

Attendance has been good throughout the month of June, with all Sundays but one running between ninety and one-hundred.  Fathers' Day was well done. Special music, an interpretative dance as well as gifts and a great dinner made the day special.

June 10 we baptized a woman that became acquainted with our congregation as we helped people recover from the storm. She, her two single children and her married daughter also meet with us now. Seven new families have begun to identify themselves with our church since the storm.

Mary and I will be in the States for a couple of weeks. We hope to visit the good folk at Spartanburg, SC as well as the Farragut congregation in Knoxville. In between, we will enjoy a few days off on the NC Outer Banks. We are ready for a break! It has been quite a "ride" since September 2017 till now.

Blessings to you all.

Johnathan and Mary