A Story Behind A House
October 1, 2018
First Mennonite Disaster Service P.R. House Build
There are many stories behind each house MDS builds. This house was the first MDS completed cement house in Puerto Rico. This small green house, built on the corner, became a flag of hope and witness for the entire neighborhood of Punta Diamante, El Tuque Ponce, PR.
On September 20, 2017, the strong rains and winds of Hurricane Maria totally destroyed Nilda’s wooden house. MDS visited the site in early October, 2017 promising both the leadership of the Ponce Church and Nilda’s family that they would assist in building a new house. The lot where the new home is built had been empty for over six months, and today it is a hurricane and earthquake resistant house.
The green house has served as more than just a home for a family. It is a witness of God’s mercy and faithfulness to many. The house served as a source of reconciliation between two brothers that had not talked with each other for over two decades. During construction, a sign with the MDS logo and the local Mennonite church name was posted at the front of the lot. When Mr. Flores first stopped by, he noticed that this was his brother’s (Pastor Flores’) church. He kept watching the progress of the building but was not sure if it was going to be another church build or a house. One day, as volunteers were working at the Ponce site, he took the courage to ask and was informed that it was going to be a house for someone who lost their home during the hurricane.
This information touched Mr. Flores and he decided to go to visit his brother, Pastor Flores. Their relationship had been estranged because Pastor Flores went to an evangelical church and Mr. Flores stayed with the Catholic church. Mr. Flores was impressed by how his brother’s church reached out to the community and helped. They started talking again and it all began because of this small green house.
Nilda’s house was not a church, but a home built in collaboration with MDS and the local Mennonite Church pastored by Pastor Flores. On any given day, we could see Puerto Rican volunteers helping at the site together with MDS weekly volunteers. This house was built through the ministry of the church. The house owner, Nilda, shares that now when she is in front of the house, cars drive slowly to take a look at the new house, and shout “Que la disfrutes” [Enjoy your home] “Te quedo linda, [ it really came out NICE].”
This is just one of many stories behind this house and today we give thanks to God for the privilege to be God’s servants on this earth.
By Elizabeth Soto