June 11, 2018
February 28, 2018
The beautiful mountainsides of Puerto Rico are full of swaying curving roads, forcing the driver to dance with them as we move left and right, up and down, around hills. Curving roads that open up to the wonders of its interior mountain sites. I travel often thru them from Arecibo (coast) to the mountains of Utuado, to the south side of Ponce toward Aibonito. Aibonito the highest town in the island and the place the Mennonite contentious objectors (COs) started their service during World War II 70 years ago. Now, as we travel we encounter the white trucks working on installing electrical wires for families to receive electricity after longs months of waiting. One can still see the cement posts bent and wooden posts broken, with lots of wire resting on the edges of main roads. This was Hurricane Maria left behind on September 20, 2017.
I just head on the radio comments from a University professor making clearly the statement “We don’t have light.” But then she argued we have light, what we do not have is electricity and that is the issue. I understood in a spiritual way perhaps what she was alluding to. We have day light, we have flashlights, candles and even some generators. Still many in the island have not received their electricity back. Can the churches and faith organization be that hope of light that many are still in need of?
MDS is working hard to create that homes, with the right long-term volunteers that have the cultural sensitivity and some Spanish to work together with the Puerto Ricans to rebuild their damaged homes. Yet, there are curving roads that make us slow down, and bumps that will delay us. Traveling on roads that have lost their road signs and GPS maps that are of no help once you are in the zones where there are no signals. Making us go back and start again, or simply rely on our sense of location south, north, east or west.
There are many curves that we have to handle, as we travel these roads. There are unexpected pot holes, slippery, hilly roads, adding to rain that often limit our visibility. MDS P.R. works with the challenges of waiting for materials, waiting for the local engineer to approve designs for the new school roof or the truck to deliver the construction materials as agreed. We have plenty of work to do. Our list of cements houses and church related building are growing. The eagerness and disposition of volunteers are not the issue, but all the logistics we need to prepare before they arrive and the materials ready at the work site are occasionally road blocks.
In the meantime, we will continue this journey through new roads and old roads we once traveled. MDS is discovering the wonders of the hospitality of the Puerto Rican families. We are slowly identifying local church volunteer people. The leadership is building trust, building capacities and strengthening communities, one piece of plywood at a time, one cement block at a time, one metal roof at a time, and one home at a time. God will be with us as we travel unknown roads and learn the driving art of riding the coastal roads and the mountain top lines of Puerto Rico.