Day 2, Sunday, started with the sunrise. “The Campsite”, our home away from home, consists of a few brightly painted blue concrete buildings nestled between lush hills and a sky that is impossibly filled with stars as I write. Our beds are bunks wrapped in mosquito netting since the levered windows open to the outside, without screens to separate us from the proficiently pesky insects that would make us dinner while we sleep. The drive to our modest accommodations is narrow and bumpy and winds through a sparsely populated part of the island about 20 minutes from Samuel Culpepper (the church and work site where we will spend most of the rest of the week). It’s absolute paradise.
While we have one of the most beautiful places to call home for the next six days, we women were a bit worried about the water situation when we arrived…no running water in our shared bathroom/shower room! Being the resourceful campers we are, we improvised by filling gallon jugs with water to flush the toilets. I even braved a “bucket bath” this morning, which was an unbelievably refreshing start to the day. It’s hard to believe that many people on the island went weeks or months without running water – and some still live without. When we returned from a very relaxing and fruitful day out, Ralphy (our camp manager/hero extraordinaire) fixed our water situation with a simple remedy – he turned on the valve that was keeping the water from flowing to our bathroom (with the number of engineers and construction guys on our team, we all had a good-natured laugh at that oversight)!
The day itself was truly a Sabbath day. We started with a wonderful breakfast prepared by chef-genius Mirna. The Team’s favorite dish besides the hot, perfectly brewed coffee, was the oatmeal, flavored with cinnamon sticks and clove. Most of us concurred that we will not be leaving without the recipe or oatmeal will never be the same again! The rest of the meals for the day were equally delicious and we count ourselves the luckiest people on the island to have Mirna preparing our meals.
Following breakfast, Pastor Eric delivered a sermon to remain centered on the message, “We Are Not Alone”, No Estamos Solo. For the Puerto Rican people, this message hits home especially hard. Being on an island that has just been so severely battered by a devastating storm where thousands of people are still without power is isolating, and tests even the most hopefully optimistic of us. They reiterated several times what it meant to them to have us partner with them as they restore their community. They see us and know that they are not forgotten, that God loves them, sees them, and that there is hope, esperanza.
The powerful service was followed by lunch at Mirna’s, which has the most outstanding view of the Atlantic Ocean framed by majestic palm trees. It was truly a treat to spend some time talking and building relationships with our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as we broke bread and admired God’s awe-inspiring creation. After lunch, a walk on the beach searching for sea glass and flagging down the ice cream man for coconut popsicles was just what we needed to give us pause and reflection before we start our week full of work at the church and relationship-building with our island partners. We can’t wait to get started tomorrow!
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17
“Y todo lo que haceis, sea de palabra o de hecho, hacedlo todo en el nombre del Senor Jesus, dando gracias a Dios Padre por medio de el.” Colosenses 3:17
Buenas noches y hasta manana