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Ponce, Puerto Rico, Weekly Report, Aug 12-18, 2018

August 27, 2018

This week we had one volunteer arrive — Sean Kiely from Yorktown Heights, New York – and one leave: our older son Jonathan returned home to Virginia on Monday to attend classes Blue Ridge Community College.

We finished drywalling and painting the inside of the house, and the two subcontractors have almost completed plastering the exterior of the house. We also purchased the floor tile and lighting supplies, and ordered the material for the kitchen counter.

In the midst of the regular construction work, we also held a whole series of meetings. Kevin King and Larry Stoner traveled down to Ponce on Tuesday to see the project, and we hosted them overnight in our home. John and I did some long-term planning for the Ponce MDS project with Chirito and Lery. Elizabeth Soto and I attended a meeting at FEMA headquarters in which our Volunteer Agency Liaison introduced us to Accion Social, a potential partner organization for MDS. In the afternoon, the project directors met with Elizabeth Soto in our home. That evening, Elizabeth, Rolando, Chirito and Lery, and John and I met for supper and to listen to Chirito and Lery’s vision for how MDS can continue to work in the Ponce Region.

Sunday was Jonathan’s last time at church. They presented him with a card and prayed for him. He sang a song with my younger son. He then briefly spoke, both he and Leryann, the translator, struggling to speak through their tears. An excerpt:

“…I will also remember this summer as the most rewarding summer. There’s a saying, “You only get out of life what you put into it.” And I have never worked harder in my life than I did this summer. I am proud of the house that I helped build. And what have I gotten out of it? Not money or fame. Instead, you’ve given me your trust, your laughter, and your friendship…

“From working all day with my father, my siblings, and the volunteers, to late-night pincho parties at Chiro’s house, I wouldn’t have had this summer any other way. I will miss playing guitar on Sundays with the band, lunches on the jobsite, random people showing up for dinner, pincho parties, and this church family.

“Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for feeding me. Thank you for laughing with me. Thank you for making this a summer to be remembered.”

The week went out with a bang – literally. On Saturday evening we drove up to San Juan for a going-away party for Rolando’s daughter Glorianne who will be attending school at Eastern Mennonite University this year (in a fun turn of events, when her family travels to Virginia to drop her off, Jonathan will be hosting them in our home for the week). Late that night, on our way back to Ponce, we got a flat tire. We texted Chiro, who had left the party after we did, and he, in turn, alerted other friends and family who were also returning home to Ponce. Before long, there was a small crowd of people – shining their cellphone flashlights for the tire changers and shivering in the cool evening air – gathered along Highway 52. The only thing missing was a bonfire and s’mores.

This next week we hope to finish the electrical work and tile the floors.