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Puerto Rico Mission: Final Day

The sun rises once again over the mountains. Our last work day has begun. The chef who prepared our meals when we arrived has been missing for two days, but our leader, Amy, has managed to pull together a yummy breakfast of ham and eggs from a local shop. Another of the advantages of staying right in town!

After breakfast, we packed up our coolers one last time and headed out to finish our assignments to the best of our abilities.

The painting team returned to Carmen's, eager to start a second coat of paint as well as wire brush the dirt and loose paint off the roof band. We decided on a deep green to accent the roof and keep with the multi-colored look of Caribbean houses. So half the crew headed back to Walmart for paint and additional supplies. We chose the perfect green, but unfortunately the clerk mixed up the wrong color, the next color lighter on the sample swatch, and we stuck with that. Once we had the paint, we worked as quickly as possible to get it one before another shower passed through. We just made it! Yes, some of the green color was washing away as we had to leave, but we left the leftover paint with Carmen so she can do a little touch up when the weather clears.

The demolition crew returned to Luis' house to finish their clean up and to do some trim work around the doors and windows of his new home. In addition to this being a new home, for Luis this was a start to a whole new look at life. He found it overwhelming to think that people would give their time, talents and treasures to help out a total stranger thousands of miles away. Maybe one day God will give Luis the opportunity to “pay-it-forward”!

We pray that everyone would have the opportunity to experience the full hearts we have as we leave Cayey. Thank you for reading along with our adventure!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Puerto Rico Mission: Days Four and Five

After a day of rest (Wednesday), today (Thursday) we were back at it. It has rained every day we have been here. Mostly just a brief shower—or two, or three, or four—anytime after noon. So you need to plan accordingly. When it rains, the ladders get slippery, the paint dries slowly and the yards develop puddles—and mud. Quickly! All the joys of the tropics.

The group working at Carmen's house headed out with a new set of tools: weed trimmers and machetes have been exchanged for brushes and rollers. We stopped at Walmart to buy paint, a new front door mat and a couple of flowers, using some of the funds that were collected from the congregation. That was particularly fitting, for Carmen chose Saint John's blue as her house color!

The team attacked the tiny house with a gusto and had it fully transformed in about three hours. We kept an eye out for rain the whole time, but God was patient and let us complete the first coat and clean up before sending in the showers.

Don, Doug and Wyatt had a new assignment today. A family that lost most of their home in the hurricane has been slowly rebuilding their home, fixing what was recoverable, but building from scratch around the areas that could not be saved. The new structure is coming along nicely, so the team spent their day pulling down what was left of the old. Piece-by-piece the three-section building was removed. The team, working alongside willing friends and neighbors of the owners, pulled apart the boards, detached metal from the frame and recovered some of the salvageable materials. The owner was sad to see part of his past be gone forever, but he was filled with gratitude that there were so many willing volunteers to help him begin a new chapter in his life.

Tomorrow will be the last day we will have to complete our projects—or leave them until the next crew comes in November. It doesn't seem possible we are already almost at the end of our mission work!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Puerto Rico Mission: Days Two and Three

Today (Monday) we started work! We have been divided into four teams of six people each. The Fort Worth group was sent to clean up debris and cut down grass and weeds around the home of a man who is partially blind. The Orlando group will be power-washing a flat roof and applying two coats of sealant. Six from Saint John's went to clean up yard debris and clear out overgrowth from a backyard. The remainder of the group all joined up to complete a roofing project that had two small sections to finish.

Don, Doug and Wyatt were part of that last team, and headed into the mountains to finish the roof repair. The Blue FEMA tarps still top several thousand homes on the island. Many residents are frustrated at the quality of work provided to them by government sources or local contractors. They are grateful for any help we give them, as they don't have the means to fix things themselves. After working on the roof Monday and Tuesday, and just as Wyatt tightened the last screw into the last new metal sheet, the heavens opened up and christened the roof. No leaks!

Meanwhile, the team of Nelly, Sue, Jill, Cody, Eric and Cindy headed over to meet Carmen, a middle-age woman who takes care of her mentally disabled brother. Carmen has a tiny house with debris piles in several spots and a mini jungle in the back yard! She hoped that we would be able to move the debris piles to the curbside, cut down and carry out the “jungle” and apply a fresh coat of paint to the house.

While we waited for the painting to be approved by the municipality, we tackled the yard work, hauling sticks, weeds and cement debris. We really wished we had a wheelbarrow, but slowly the piles by the road increased in size until the job was done. Then we did some stucco work and powerwashing to prepare the house for the new paint … which was finally approved! We will finish that when we return Thursday, once the stucco has cured.

Cindy switched from the group working on Carmen’s house to the Fort Worth group on Tuesday, and we were joined by Trevon. It’s kind of a long story … we’ll be sure to explain at our presentation when we return!

Wednesday will be a day of rest and relaxation before we tackle our next projects.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Puerto Rico Mission: Day One

The sun arose what seemed way too early and crept up over mountains covered with fog. Pancakes, fresh bananas and tortillas filled with ham and cheese were on the menu for breakfast. After all were physically fed, it was time to feed our souls.

We had directions to the church we would be joining for Sunday morning worship. Synchronizing our cell phones with Google maps to the church address was the easy part. Following the directions was a bit more challenging! But all got there safe and sound by 10:00 AM. As we parked the car, we heard the music from inside resonating so clearly you would swear it was an open-air church! It was the sound of a praise team certainly living up to its name. A multi-piece band of instruments, singers and dancers were leading the congregation of many in worship of Christian Fellowship.

When all the singing was over, it was time to greet new friends. The rule was to greet five people who didn't come with you. Needless to say, we received many hugs and blessings. A reading from Isaiah, both in Spanish and English (one verse at a time), was the lesson for the day. The message was delivered with much conviction and everyone got something a little different, something that hadn't crossed their minds before, out of it. Prayer followed as did a call to the altar for a blessing on those who had birthdays this past week—including our own Nelly and Eric.

Before you knew it, it was 12:30 and church was over. No coffee and doughnuts here, but a stop at a local coffee shop around the corner was delightful!

We went back “home” for a quick lunch and change of clothes before heading out to stock up on supplies for us and for the week’s projects. Then we were off again for dinner at a restaurant up the mountain for a traditional Puerto Rican meal of whole spit roasted pig, rice, beans and macaroni salad. After dinner we had an exciting ride back down the mountain—in the dark, on a narrow long and winding road, with cars lining both sides of the street in places where there was a bar or restaurant. Talk about white knuckle driving!

After our daily debriefing and the first work assignments were handed out, it was time to relax and get ready for day two.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Puerto Rico Mission, Arrival

We left for DIA at 9:00 PM Mountain Time on Friday (October 12) and by 9:00 PM Eastern Time Saturday (October 13) we were all tucked into our beds in Puerto Rico! Ok, “beds” is a loose term—air mattresses on the floor of a baseball stadium VIP suite can feel a little strange.

Our group of nine (five women—Cindy, Codi, Jill, Nelly and Sue—and four men—Don, Doug, Eric and Wyatt) have been joined by eight women and six men from Ohio, Orlando, Fort Worth, New Hampshire and Massachusetts to help rebuild in the city of Cayey, Puerto Rico. All of us are travel-weary but excited to see what God has in store for us the coming week.

Our accommodations are unique. We have a great view of the mountainside from the third baseline. It has been raining due to a tropical depression passing through the area. The roof is leaking in several areas, so we’ve had to be careful where we set up our air mattresses and where we step. The buffet table had to be moved, as the roof was leaking onto the food!

Much work needs to be done in this area. We will see what God has planned for us on Sunday!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

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