October 8, 2021

 

 
Granddaughter with Johnathan and Mary

Good afternoon. Not too much to write about this month.  Perhaps, maybe, we can keep it short 😊. Starting down a different direction than I usually take, I want to share a line or two about the "daily grind". Everyone's days have been frustrating and nights as well.  We have had serious issues with stable electricity since Hurricane Maria in 2017. Let me amplify this by sharing a couple of quotes from news sources. "More than $11 billion in federal funds have been approved by Congress to upgrade Puerto Rico's power system, yet no money has been disbursed pending further approval of specific projects that would help accomplish such goal." Meanwhile, "Puerto Ricans saw a fourth increase in their electric bill this year, even though they already pay twice as much as per unit of electricity as mainland U.S. power customers."  As you can imagine, this effects business productivity, education (more and more is done via computers and internet), and appliances and machines, and of course, sleep. Days/and nights have been unusually hot. I read the other day the average ocean temperature on the southside of the island is the highest every recorded...90.3 degrees. Moving on...

Mary has been substitute teaching this week. She is teaching Bible at the school where she was principal many years ago. She came home complaining about...guess what? The heat and no electricity. It was blazing hot in the concrete/block school. Most teachers let the kids stay outdoors. Teaching with electronic books and no internet service (some study virtually) made the day a "bust".

How about the church? If I may be transparent, I get frustrated, perhaps like most preachers/missionaries everywhere. I find it so hard to hold the church in place and not let it slide too much. I must admit attendance has dropped. Some don't like the idea of congregating due to the virus. Others struggle with anxiety and depression related to the pandemic and other issues and hardly go anywhere. Programs and events designed to plug people in to service opportunities are so hard to do.  Others have got used to not meeting and become complacent in their church attendance. It seems they are convinced that one can be an adhering Christian and disconnect from the local church even though the Scriptures clearly teach the contrary. As I contemplate this I remember reading that in 1918 the US faced the Spanish flu that killed 675,000 Americans. The visible church suffered then the same effects as we do now as we approach the two-year mark. Of course, the Spanish flu came to an end, and so will Covid 19. And, by God's grace, the church will spring back as it has on so many occasions. We are called to be faithful and share the Word, and God will give the increase.

One example of this is the following: One of our church members invited a lady to our service last Sunday. I spoke on the purpose of the church which includes evangelism and making disciples. After the service she spoke with our church member who set up a Bible study to consider baptism, at her request. After that study she declared her faith in Christ. This Sunday I will immerse her after the service. I had no idea that she would come to church and that her heart would be touched by the Spirit. God reminded me that my job is to preach, be persistent and not allow discouragement to prevail in my life. "We are more than conquers" (Romans 8:37) and if we preach He will give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6-7). So my friends, let us all do our part. I speak to all who read this blog. 

Well I promised to keep this short. I will pause for now. Blessings!



Johnathan and Mary  

Click the photos to expand them.


A "Yola" (fishing vessel) at Crashboat Beach in Aguadilla.
Photographer unlisted


La Parguera, coastal town on southwest side of island:
Photographer unlisted 

 

September 21, 2021

After Hurricane Maria 2017
September 21 (Click to expand)
 Hi everyone. We are at the height of the hurricane season and yet, so far, everything is quiet. To the east storms are forming but moving to the northeast before reaching the Caribbean...thank goodness. This time four years ago we were reeling from Hurricane Maria, the worst storm to come ashore in seventy years. Just today in the local newspapers I read where there are many residents still using blue tarpaulins to shield their homes from rain. Many have no money to make the repairs. Some roads are STILL being repaired.

Since our last blog in August we have had several opportunities to care for our "neighbors." That included a church attender that had to have surgery but did not have the money to pay deductibles on her health plan. The church stepped in and covered the cost of several hundred dollars. 

Also, as you may recall, recently another earthquake devastated Haiti. The church was eager to help. We considered sending clothing but the logistics were complicated so we opted to send a gift of $1,000.00 through International Disaster Emergency Service. That fine organization has contacts in Haiti and we were sure the money would be properly used and reach where the need was real.

Then, this past Sunday, we brought in food and took up a special offering to help two women facing health and financial crisis. Once again, the church was generous and helped the ladies, even though they are unknown to the congregation. 

I suppose two-thirds of the church offerings were given away this month. From time to time I notice churches get a bad rap because of the actions of some questionable pastors and church leaders. It always bothers me. We know those cases are sensationalized by the media and in reality, are the exception. The truth is, most churches are generous, at times to a fault. Ours is.

I got a call about a week ago. An organization called "Lazos de Amor" said they wanted to channel fifty "compras" (one-hundred bags) of food through our church to be given out to church members and people in need. All was dispersed between Tuesday and last Sunday. As I looked over the records, I realized most had been given to people on fixed incomes. Often we start with our church family, but certainly do not limit the gifts to just church members. We help out wherever there is a need.

Coming up October 2 the church will be serving with an organization called Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) by passing out prepared food to the community. Sunday we had ten sign up to help out. It was a satisfying moment to see the church respond. I love it when we commit to helping others. It is an evidence that we walk with the Lord. (I Juan 3:17-20).

Finally, I had the privilege of baptizing a young woman a couple of weeks ago.  I stopped by her family's home to simply make contact with them when she met me at the gate and exclaimed she was just in the process of texting me about being baptized. The Lord at times moves hearts in mysterious ways. 

That wraps it up. Blessing to each and all who read the blog.


Johnathan and Mary

Click to expand

Old San Juan: photographer imprecise

Arecibo: Indian Caves. Photographer unlisted

Aguadilla: Crashboat beach.
Photographer unlisted


Cabo Rojo: Buye Beach.
Photographer GHAPR