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The Christmas season has come and gone and 2020 has arrived. Have you made plans yet for this New Year? How about adding a Mission Trip to your Bucket List!

The Heseder Group is currently planning to return to the “Island of Enchantment,” also known as Puerto Rico, the week of April 25 to May 2. If you recall, nine of us traveled there in October of 2018, but much work is yet to be done repairing homes and living conditions for the citizens who were affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. The two powerful storms hit two weeks apart in September 2017 and devastated much of the small island, which is roughly the size of Connecticut.

Two years later, hurricane Dorian (September 2019) and a 6.4 richter-scale earthquake (January 2020) have now further torn at the people of Puerto Rico. Residents already had limited electric and water supplies; of the 30,000 still able to live in their homes, many with slowly disintegrating blue tarps still serving as their roofs, many more have now been displaced, leaving their homes and splitting up their families until their accommodations can be made livable again.

Many homeowners have been taken advantage of by “contractors” and left with partial repairs and empty bank accounts. What government funding is made available is of very little help. Proof of homeownership is difficult for those whose homes have been passed down over the generations. Paperwork is nonexistent or was destroyed in the hurricanes. It’s a desperate situation for many, but we can help!

This week long experience is a great “first-timers” trip for those new to mission work, but also great for our seasoned workers. There’s something for everybody, no matter your skill-set. You may clean up a yard, paint a house, do light repairs or construction of some sort or even help frame a whole house! We’ll know more of what the need is when we get there. Robin, our trip coordinator, told me there is a high probability we would be either in the city of Cayey, where we were before, or farther south in the coastal city of Salinas. There is another group from Middletown, New York signed up for that same week. They went last spring, and are bringing an even larger group back this spring!

If you have been an active supporter of the Heseder mission group here at Saint John’s, your $699 trip fee, which covers room and board for the trip, plus the rental car(s) and gas we will use through the week, will be covered by Heseder fundraising money. (If you are interested in going, but haven’t had an opportunity to help with funding, there will still be time during the Lenten season with Wednesday night dinners and the Easter breakfast!) The cost of airfare and any personal spending money will be your responsibility.

Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory there is no need for a passport, and your basic immunizations need to be up to date. Other than that all you need is a willingness to serve! This trip is a wonderful way to share God’s love and compassion. It will touch your heart in a way only you will comprehend.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (contact the church office for my number or email address). We hope to fill as many spots as possible by March 1! Let your light shine bright in 2020 and beyond!

“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?