Puerto Rico Will Rise: A Rally Call for All of Us
Since Hurricane Maria hit land on the island of Puerto Rico on September 19th, most people are waking up each morning thinking about their basic needs: Where can we get enough water for the day? Where can we get food? Is my employer functioning enough to get me back to work? Will our food last for the day? Where can I go to the bathroom? Will my medical equipment work when I need it?
The island, still in about 60% electrical blackout, faces the most basic questions each day, still, two months after the storm. When a team of strategic leaders arrived from Costa Rica’s Shoreline District, however, they did not see a defeated people. Instead, what caught their attention were the flags and signs, ubiquitous on the island, declaring Puerto Rico se levanta, or Puerto Rico Will Rise . It is the breath and daily rally cry for those facing challenges to rebuild their homes, businesses, schools, churches and communities.
By request of Pastor Mercedes Reynoso, from San Juan, the leaders from Costa Rica were sent on a specific mission: firstly, to comfort and to listen. It was the first of the Free Methodist teams to be sent out and the first team to bring the love and affection of the Free Methodist family from around the world. They arrived to see a church family who has risen to the occasion. Pastor Mercedes’ church, along with many other Free Methodist pastors, received us with the utmost hospitality and warmth, said one of the team members, Irena Ruiz. “They are people full of love and compassion. They are hard working and empathetic towards the needs of their neighbors. We went to bless them, and it turned out that, we were the ones being blessed.”
Secondly, the team comprised of an architect, civil engineer and a child educator, was there to assess the damage that the hurricane left behind. All three members report that the island has been completely devastated. Some from our church members have lost their homes and are living with friends or family or whomever will receive them. Those that own businesses have also been affected greatly.
One of the local bi-vocational pastors, Pastor Polanco, lost some of the equipment for his catering business. Due to the lack of electricity and clean water, cooking and maintaining the food has also been complicated. Every time they cook they have to make sure there is no food left over because there is no electricity for the refrigerators.
The devastation has caused many to leave the island looking for stable work. This, in turn, has affected the churches. There have been fewer attending since many have had to leave. Since the streets are dark at night, it also makes it unsafe to attend services held at night so services are being held in the afternoon for those who are able to attend.
But this brings us back to the anthem Puerto Rico Se Levanta. Catalina Cordoba, one of the team members, says, “This anthem rings true with those that we met. Though they have lost everything, they have not lost their faith in God; that He will raise them up.” She also reports the generosity of the churches. “They do not have a lot, but what they have, they are sharing with those around them. Drinking water, for example, is hard to come by and is rationed daily. Members of the church are keeping water in the trunk of their cars to have it accessible for those who need it. They are not sitting back with their arms crossed, waiting on the government to provide.” She sees them uniting to help their communities and in prayer.
The team from Costa Rica was formed to come alongside the local Free Methodist Churches in Puerto Rico to create a plan to rebuild and repair the church buildings that are serving as a refuge for many in their communities. The plan is to help provide local jobs during the reconstruction. They ask that the anthem that is heard around the island, Puerto Rico se levanta becomes the rally cry for all of us until it truly comes to pass.
It's not too late to make a financial donation to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund. You may do so by clicking here.
written by Andrea Green