By Marsha Egan
Our Conference is responsive when we see needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Bishop challenged the Missouri Conference in the summer of 2018 to be generous with our time and money. He challenged us to raise $150,000 to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and to send work teams to the island impacted by Hurricane Maria. Since that time, we have raised $165,471 in cash donations, an additional $30,000 given for vehicles and will be sending 58 work teams by the end of the year to support recovery. Hear these words from someone that was touched during a recent trip.
“Our pastor presented us with an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Puerto Rico to help in the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. My first Mission trip was the last week of May 2019!
The most significant moment for me was the visit to the United Methodist Church right across the street from our dorm. The service was in Spanish and yet it was moving in a way I’ve not experienced previously. I could see that my team around me was feeling it as well, as many of us had tears in our eyes from the emotion, the music and the passion expressed during the service. There were approximately 100 people in the congregation, each person greeted each of us with a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. Each said God bless you, we love you and thank you for supporting our island! I remain blessed by the honest expression of love. We were humbled to be so appreciated.
We split into two teams of five, each having two foreman that trained us on what we should do. I can say, I am now an expert in installing crank handles on 50-year-old metal shutters; If needed, I’m your girl! We painted, cleaned and removed old damp wooden cabinets from homes. At one house where we worked, there was a turtle hiding behind one of the kitchen cabinets. We asked our homeowner what’s with the turtle. She shared that he lives there, and only comes out when he’s hungry. Later as we were painting a ceiling, we rearranged furniture so that we could get to a different area; As we moved a couch, there was a turtle. I went to the homeowner yet again and asked do you think it’s the same turtle? She says, oh no but this one is probably just thirsty, put it in the bathroom sink. It was a very nice home, just a different culture, which in our short time we learned to love and respect.
I was impressed with several things while on the trip. One was the connection between UMCOR and ReHace (social holiness within the Puerto Rican United Methodist Church). We found them to be knowledgeable and very willing to share information. The second thing that impressed us was that the old cabinets were replaced by cabinets made of PVC plastic which will surely withstand water and high humidity.
Our pastor organized a Bible devotion each night after dinner, which brought us closer together as a team and as people who wanted to grow our faith.
I think it is important to share that on the first day there was a beautiful rainbow and on the last day we were greeted again with a rainbow on our way to work. It was surely God smiling on us!
Marsha Egan attends the Aurora United Methodist Church. Her passion is outreach programs followed by hospitality and communication. She is the Southwest District Lay Leader, secretary treasurer for Aurora PET/Mobility Worldwide, the Project Director of Aurora Project RISE and serves on the Conference Congregational Excellence team.