June 8, 2022


Good afternoon. Hope all is well with everyone. Today is a quiet subdued day. I wouldn't call it melancholy...just subdued and quiet. I have been in my office planning, something that must be done regardless of the profession. Too often it is easy to let the calendar click by and do little. Years ago Robert Schuller from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA (I am dating myself) once said, "He who fails to plan plans to fail." I believe that. I have to admit some of the things I plan require extra work. And, sometimes there is a thought that tugs at me in the back of my mind, "What if it doesn't work". A couple of responses came to mind. The first was a simple statement posted by a friend on Facebook. "A head full of FEARS has no room for DREAMS." Very true. Also, earlier, as I wrestled with my "what if" concerns, a few passages quickly popped in my mind, perhaps a nudge from the Spirit. "God has not given us a Spirit of fear (timidity) but of power, love and self-control".  And, "We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus". And, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". And "I plant...but God gives the increase".  And, "It is God who works in us to will and do his good pleasure". The message was clear, "Get busy!"  

So what's cooking? From a personal perspective, Mary traveled to Chicago around mid-May for 10 days. She visited with our youngest son and his wife and then continued on to AR to visit with her sister and nieces for 4 days. We have not been off the island for 3 years. Mary commented she was getting cabin fever and needed to go to the States. I stayed behind. I am a homebody. 

Looking back over May. The church continues to meet inside. There are concerns but we go forward. Infection rates are around 32% of those tested and hundreds of islanders are hospitalized. Everywhere you go the vast majority of the people use masks. I watched a Cardinal and Tampa Bay Rays baseball game yesterday and it seemed as if no one wore a mask. Not so in PR. The vast majority do wear masks although not required by law except in a few select places.  It is recommended masks be used in enclosed gathering so we comply. 

Three events marked the month of May. First was Mother's Day, always a big event all across the
island. Our attendance was one short of 70. Gifts were given to the mothers. A carry-out dinner was served by the men and the service was as you would expect was dedicated to emphasizing our respect for the mothers in our congregation.

The following weekend an event entitled "Women with Purpose" was organized by one of the church members. I believe we had 19-20 attend the event. One of our worship leaders did the teaching.

Then the last Sunday in May we recognized the graduates and the youth/young adults in our church who made the honor roll for the school year. Gifts for the graduates and brownies for all with high grades. It was a simple event but positive.

Last Sunday I had the honor of baptizing a youth after she declared her faith in Christ and willingness to honor Him all the days of her life. The congregation was enthusiastic and very supportive of  her. We also had a guest speaker who told the odyssey of her child losing both kidneys and after a wait of years receiving a kidney. Our church had helped the family financially on several occasions and they wanted to express their thanks.

June and July are scheduled to the hilt. I will keep you informed as the events transpire.

As always, thanks for reading the blog. Below are a few photos of around here. Blessings!


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May 3, 2022

 

Good morning. We are back! The time between this blog and the last has stretched to over two months. Normally, we publish once every 4-5 weeks. Today, as I opened the blog I saw the last communique was dated the end of February. Sorry for the delay.

Even though we live in “vacation land” for a million plus tourists, we, like 3.2 million residents, have been busy working 😉. From a personal perspective, we have been busy remodeling our home, changing all the windows. After thirty years of use they were becoming dilapidated. Since our home is steel reinforced concrete and plastered blocks, changing windows was no small undertaking. For the last month at 7:00 AM two men marched into our home with hammers, chisels, and power tools and began pounding on our walls to break up the cement and remove the windows. Forms for window seals had to be fashioned on site and filled with cement. The next day the new window would be positioned and then plastered into place. And so it went for a month; noise, concrete rubble on the floor and cement dust coating everything. BUT that is past, the windows are in place and ready to take on hurricanes up to category 4…may that not happen!

Also, this past month we had some guests in our home for around two weeks. Lovely people. One family is planning to move to PR in July and begin ministering in the neighboring town of Hormigueros and, work with the camp project shared by several of the churches in PR. The other guests, a couple from NC, came for a few days of R&R. We also had a visit from our youngest son and daughter-in-law.

Church interior

So, what is going on with ministry? Busy days for sure. We finally moved back into the church building the first of April after a hiatus of twenty-one months. I believe we ALL were glad to leave the outside to the birds and iguanas and enjoy worshipping in-doors again. Attendance continues to lag behind what it was when the COVID mess began. It seems, with few exceptions, all churches are facing the same thing, inconsistency in attendance by its members. Did the virus cause this? I don’t think so. It simply revealed some underlying flaws unnoticed until the virus struck. We have all heard it said, “If we go other places but not to a church service then the problem isn’t the virus.” True. It is a spiritual malady. It is a matter of priorities, a matter of “gods” in our life. I will stop preaching 😊!

Youth/Young adults hike
In the church calendar there has been the following events for the youth: A hike, Christian movie night, then a “Destination Unknown” on a Sunday afternoon after church. Almost thirty (youth and young adults/parents) took off to a site previously unseen to all but one. And finally, they enjoyed a Friday night concert by a guest band.

For the entire congregation, we enjoyed an evangelist speak for a special Friday night service.  He did a fine job and moved some to repent and re-dedicate themselves to the Lord. Other services included Missions Sunday, and a Sunday service dedicated to the older members of the church. The day was called “Amanecer de Oro” (Golden Morning/Wakeup). Still another Sunday the focus was on our spirituality as it relates to our health. The message, delivered by a guest speaker, was well received. Two weeks ago, we had a men’s activity after church. We hiked into a state forest and briefly explored a cave. 

Men's hike
We also celebrated the church’s 36th anniversary. It was a two-day celebration. Saturday night a violinist and pianist blessed us with beautiful music and song. The service was completed with a guest speaker, a pastor who continues to preach even in his late seventies.  The next day, I spoke and after the service we shared a dinner. Thirty-six are a lot of years. We have seen many good things as the years have passed by. All glory to the Lord!
Anniversary celebration

 I should close with a word or two about Easter week. Good Friday, is the “biggie” in PR. One of our worship leaders wrote a drama and then set it to music using popular Christian songs. It was well received and spoke of the faithfulness of godly parents (momma especially) who persevere in their faith even when rejected and even ridiculed by some of the family. Some in the church certainly identified with the main character in the cantata. Easter Sunday, we had a 6:30 service followed by a shared breakfast. NICE, and well attended.

Well, I should stop. I have gone a little long with this blog,….and, one of my pet peeves, are long newsletters/blogs. Enough!  BLESSINGS!


Johnathan and Mary Reece



Scenes from around our area


Aguadilla from the air. Photographer: K. Rivera


Natural bridge in Cabo Rojo: Southwestern PR


Orchids in our flower garden


Orchids in our flower garden



                                                     Wild orchids seen on a youth outing