October 26, 2018

Good morning. Subtle weather changes are astir across the island. Cooler winter weather is close at hand.  This year has been quiet...no bad storms, thank goodness. Puerto Rico is still struggling with a seriously compromised infrastructure. It will take years to fix everything. Although eighty-nine billion in federal funds have been assigned to rebuild the island, those funds are not forthcoming so far.

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On to other things; Mary and I, along with three others from the church, were in the mountain town of Jayuya last weekend. A Methodist church celebrating their one-hundred and fourteenth anniversary extended to me the honor of delivering the morning message. This congregation was our point of contact in the mountains after Hurricane Maria. We took them supplies, and they, knowing the area, distributed the supplies to those in need. From that original contact a friendship blossomed and from that, the invitation to speak for their anniversary.

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The two house  building projects funded by International Disaster Emergency Service are moving forward. I am so excited for these two families who lost their homes in the storm. What a gift God gave them...a new house, all expenses paid. These houses, made of concrete, steel and block should be able to withstand any storm. The first, as can be seen, is just starting to be built. It will be a one floor project with the capability to be added on to at a later date.

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The second, seen below, is half-way completed and will be a two bedroom home. In less than two months the place has gone from a pile of rubble to a home on its way to being completed. I will never forget that moment of the couple smiling while posing in front of their destroyed humble home...broke and little to smile about. Yet God opens doors we often do not see and is able to bless beyond our wildest imagination. So it was with these people. Both families serve the Lord. I suppose until the end of their days they will lift up thanks to God for unknown benefactors who chose to practice the teaching of Christ, to love their neighbors as they do themselves as they donated money to IDES.

I always like to say, missions isn't just an item on the yearly church budget. Missions is people, those who need Christ and those who need a helping hand in its many different facets.

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For years we have focused on the spiritual aspect of man...to me, like most, far more important than anything else since our choices have eternal consequences. And yet, we have always been conscious of people in need and helped out. This year the physical needs have been so great we have been compelled to focus there. Things are normalizing so back to the teaching/preaching side of ministry. I hope to baptize a young man this Sunday. Another couple asked if our church could publicly recognize their baby this Sunday and officially ask God's blessings on their family. They are not church goers but I wonder if that will provide an opportunity to follow-up on them.

The storm opened up opportunities to talk to people about spiritual matters. Some now worship with us and one has become a baptized believer. We never know where the Spirit will lead and who's heart will be nudged. May the Lord guide us to those who are receptive.

Well. I will close. Pray for us! Thanks for your interest. We are grateful!

Johnathan and Mary





 


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