Friday, December 29, 2017

After Maria in Puerto Rico

Our family was prepared for Hurricane Irma, but minimally affected, so life went on as we scheduled some of us to head to St. Thomas for a relief trip as Julian planned to head to Haiti.  Maria changed our plans.  For months.
All around our home, this is what it looked like.
A mini landslide brought down huge trees across the road an onto our roof

Flooding on our street

tarps and reinforcements on the wooded room in our rental house saved the structure
The street before it was cleared

progress, but so much work!  Our van was totalled.

Trees everywhere

probably our greatest physical asset for some months

Our home was under there.  We were safe.

These photos are just from our home in Mayaguez.  It took about 5 days of the neighbors working together with machetes and chainsaws to be able to have one lane of the road cleared to traffic.  Julian walked out to check on a nearby senior lady with health concerns every day.  Our water was off for several weeks and our electric was off until the last week of November.  The used generator we purchased years ago, was an amazing help, but very expensive.  We ran it about 4 hours a day to keep some items in the fridge cold enough to hold us through and not need to shop as frequently. Stores were dismally understocked for weeks.

Phones were down throughout the island for a scary amount of time.  Local radio broadcast only LOCAL news and we were thrust into a crazy season of not understanding the impact around us.  Our college girls had to endure dramatized news, not knowing how we were doing.  That was probably the hardest thing for all of us.

Spurred on by generous gifts from many away and here on the ground, we began making our own adjustments while reaching out to impact the great needs around us.  We co-labored with other ministries and our own church to provide spiritual encouragement and practical help.  We were able to give solar lights, food, water and filters, assisted in serving warm meals and began using a solar cinema with the "Jesus" film.  Donations also brought 10 turkey meals to needy families.  Amazing opportunitites are opened to the Gospel at this time!

Helping serve food with the Family Church in Atalya

behind Mayaguez, Leguisamo with members of Union church

team in Rincon with Family Church and CRU
Demo of solar lights - gets dark at 6pm.  Many hours without light!

Turkey dinner with a generator.  Guests are graduate students from Haiti and Dom. Republic

Teen friends packing donations

Grocery stores without freezer stock

transformer that fell in front of our home

Where we once walked the beach in Rincon

Beachfront destruction in Rincon

Senior we found in home without electric.  Both in wheelchairs.  Alone.

Solar lights are really awesome donations!  Charging up.

Our son reading by solar light.

Sizable family we visited many times who had a bedridden grandpa.  No water (for first visits). No electric.  For months.

Donations and volunteers from Inspiration Chrisitan Academy joining with other donations.

Curious situation where it appeared as thought the roof and walls flew off, but left the furniture!

The day we rejoiced because electric was getting restored at our home!

Came home from bringing kids to music classes and we had light!

Sector Rolon/Pilones toward Las Marias--great needs even before storm.  No electric expected for many months.

Friends from Florida joined us to go up to the mountains.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Caribbean Matthew Missions

Julian leaves tonight for another trek to Haiti.

He did not travel in March, and our family, as well as our church in PR, really enjoyed having him here straight through since February’s trip (he has been taking about 10 trips a year for about 4 years now).

He’s bringing some others from PR/US and they plan to travel to the area where there is a new, growing church, way up in the mountains of Dinere.  That trip cannot be done by vehicle and requires four or more hours of foot travel.  No electric, no running water, extremely remote, but hundreds having been meeting under a tarp structure to worship Jesus Christ!

We appreciate your prayers!

We had a refreshing weekend of ministry in Puerto Rico, starting with a Holy Friday service, with several visitors.  Yesterday, for Easter, we had a surprise change in schedule because the church with whom we share the building planned a very early morning service, and it ran into our schedule, but we enjoyed the end of theirs and got to relax our own morning schedule some!  We enjoyed some fellowship time afterwards with a family and had a college student over for dinner in our home later.
Friends at music school after recitals.
The free after-school program has been a big blessing!

Prayer requests for Caribbean Matthew Missions team:

Julian’s trip to Haiti in April as well as plans for May, with Bible College graduation

Aliia, our second daughter, was offered admission to 11 colleges and will be making her final decision this week!  We are planning her high school/homeschool graduation in May!  Congratulations to Aliia!

Pray for our daughters’ summer plans and employment. Our first one got an internship at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, our second daughter is seeking summer employment in or around Baltimore, starting with Christian camp programs, and our third is seeking opportunities with Music programs in Baltimore as she pursues vocal studies.  Our fourth daughter is now the tallest, our son looks forward to being an active 12-yr-old this summer!

Our rental house in Baltimore needs much attention.  It has helped support us through steady income for 8 of the years we have been in missions, but it is in need of repairs and tender care.  It has the potential to bring us some much needed assistance as our children’s educational expenses are increasing, among other things.  In a matter of a few hundred dollars, we could potentially make up for the investment within a month of two.  We don’t regularly reach out with specific needs on our family’s behalf, but this matter has been unresolved now for nearly two years.

We have been borrowing a vehicle because our family van needs repairs.  The issue above could be considered related because we just haven’t been able to invest in some much needed repairs to our 1998 Dodge Caravan, and this has also been at a standstill now for a few months.  Additionally, this need has had an effect on travel to and from the airport for Julian’s Haiti trips as well as our ability to transport teens to Youth Group events.

We are nearing our ten-year anniversary of “Caribbean Matthew Missions” to Puerto Rico and Haiti!  We have seen God be faithful to send people who give in specifics toward the vision we have to reach people with quality Bible training in both locations.  Amazing to raise five children as we depend on provisions from the One who clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows!  Gratefulness will always be the theme as we consider the story of these years!

The Apostle Paul said to those who helped support him: “I seek the fruit which increases to your account.” Phil 4:17b He knew that he needed their support and believed that God would credit the fruit to their “account”.