July 28-August 3, 2019 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In 2019 we will head to Puerto Rico for the first time during our summer C.E. Mission Weeks. The international rate is $1,800 per person. Groups can reserve spots by contacting us online or by calling our office.
Who are you working with in Puerto Rico?
While in Puerto Rico, we have partnered with Pastor Jesus Garcia of Inglesia Bautista en Metropolis. He and his congregation are eager to host another missions group, as they host church groups year round. Keep an eye on our C.E. Mission Weeks updates for fall and/or winter short-term trips coming next year!
Jesus’ home church has gone through some truly remarkable things in his time as Pastor. He said to us that 15 years ago the church would meet in what is currently their youth/children’s church center. “If you can imagine 100 people all in this space for Sunday worship, that was us!” And then they purchased a plot of land and began to meet under a large tent (very similarly to our friends in Merida, Mexico). “For 14 years, we prayed every hurricane season for God to spare our tented church, and every year He provided. Then last fall, we moved into our new church; an actual building. We were thrilled. And then a month later, the hurricane came through and tore everything apart. But our building only had very minor damage, and what remained of our tented church no longer was standing.”
Another pastor we’ve been connected with is Edwin Badillo of First Baptist Church of Arecibo, around the middle northern area of the island. Edwin’s church has undergone changes in the last year, with many members of the congregation leaving Puerto Rico for the mainland after Hurricane Maria hit. The church itself was without a pastor for a year until Edwin was able to step into the role, which has led to a journey of rebuilding for the small congregation. Edwin has dedicated his time to getting to know the members of his church and the surrounding community.
What type of work can we expect?
Jesus and Edwin are both adamant that they tailor work to be done based upon a church’s skill set. There is a lot of work to still be done in the San Juan area. Most homeowners are either elderly or impoverished and cannot afford repairs on their own. Projects include sanding, scraping, painting, drywall repairs & replacement, flooring repairs, window repairs, roofing installed, and general community work such as building a community garden, assisting in a nursing home, assisting at a care facility for those mentally challenged, and hosting a VBS style activity in the community.
One of the homes we plan to work on belongs to Lydia Gruz. She lost her husband 3 months before our visit in December from a respiratory disease. Before he passed, her husband was working on fixing their home from hurricane damage. Wind had caused the metal roof to come off, leaving the home exposed. Though they were given a tarp shortly after the storm, and awarded some assistance from FEMA, it wasn’t enough for Lydia and her husband to have someone replace the roof. For months, Lydia’s husband worked as hard as he could to fix up the home until he passed. Our aim is to help Lydia with her roof, ceiling, flooring, and painting.
Where in Puerto Rico are you going?
In 2019, we plan to be rooted in Carolina (pronounced care-oh-lean-ah) and Arecibo. Most of San Juan has, by this point, been repaired back to a working order since the hurricane in 2017. However, outside of the city we witnessed many homes in need of repairs. We are still finalizing where specifically we will be located, so keep an eye on further communications about Puerto Rico in our emails.
What is the food like?
Puerto Ricans love plantains! There are several variations of plantains, including mofongo (mashed plantains) and alcapurria (ground beef covered in plantains and then fried). Most places in Puerto Rico have a wide selection of cuisine, but you should expect seafood, chicken and burritos to be very common.
Is there still a half day of free time?
Yes! We still will have our half day on Wednesday for your church to enjoy the different activities Puerto Rico has to offer. A few of the places we visited were El Yunque national forest, (which houses the La Coca waterfall and has many hiking trails and vantage points for spectacular views), Zip line parks, Old San Juan, and the Window Caves.
Do we need to bring air mattresses, or will bedding be provided?
Each of the 3 facilities at our disposal have beds available for attendees. We would still recommend bringing towels, sleeping bags or blankets, and toiletry items.
How are meals handled?
The local church will be providing us our breakfasts and dinners, with an expected packed lunch just as with our domestic camps in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Please note: any allergies or food sensitivities MUST be sent to us as soon as possible to ensure students and leaders are properly cared for during their stay in San Juan.