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

 

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I’m not a shopper, but this year I am excited about Christmas shopping! Let’s give to Puerto Rican families and churches still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria almost 2 months ago!

The Puerto Rico Electric Power’s grid is working at less than 50%, leaving much of the island in the dark with no electricity. Pastors from Puerto Rico want me to express their thanks for the generators we all sent right after the hurricane.

The generators have not only been used to provide light for some homes and church buildings, but they also make life significantly safer once the sun sets. Bad things happen in the pitch darkness, folks!

An unexpected use of the generators is that neighbors with medical needs have been showing up at the churches to use the generators for routine medical therapies that require electricity. The word has spread among the medical communities near our churches, and neighbors keep coming. Our churches have become places of respite and healing – truly holistic sanctuaries. Who would have thought that our basic generators would keep people alive?! Friends in Puerto Rico have expressed that they need a few more for specific medical purposes.

Puerto Rican people are very creative, and are making do with gas barbecue grills, daily trips to the grocery store, and wide-open windows to stay cool. But it is not fun. No electric power means no jobs. No jobs mean no money. No money means all sorts of other unpleasant things. This is an economic disaster with no end in sight.

Thankfully we can continue to help! We can continue to come alongside churches, families and children – many that have become sanctuaries both spiritually and physically. Our giving this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas can make life a little bit more bearable for our sisters and brothers on the island!

Here is my suggested gift list for Puerto Rico:

  1. Walgreens or Walmart gift cards. The gift cards you have already sent have been given to families and individuals to purchase medicine and food.
  2. Generators (Please let us know if you choose to do this, as we need just a few more.)
  3. Sawyer Water filters (The bucket kind – found at this link.)
  4. A financial gift to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund (Click here to give). This money will be used to hire local labor to help rebuild the economy, provide jobs and help families.
  5. Prayer.  Pastor Mercedes asked that we pray along these lines:  “Pray for strength and discernment as we serve people with so many needs all around us. Pray for continued good relationships in spite of frayed nerves. And pray for our health; pray that God will keep us healthy in the midst of so many things that could make us sick.”

Items 1 - 3 can be ordered and sent directly to the address below.

Pastora Mercedes Reynoso

Hacienda Real Jazmín del Mar 322

Carolina, PR 00986

(Our friends in Puerto Rico tell us that items sent via UPS are getting there, while other means of shipping are not as reliable.)

Together we can! These gifts will not only make life a bit better under awful circumstances, but also will let our friends in Puerto Rico know that we have not forgotten them.

#PuertoRicoSeLevanta #PuertoRicoYoTeVeo #IglesiaMetodistaLibrePuertoRico

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A recent Newsweek article states that ever since Hurricane Maria hit on October 4, 80% of the people in Puerto Rico still don’t have electricity. “The lack of electricity means water treatment facilities and purification systems are not fully functional, and some people turn to bacteria-contaminated water for relief in the humid, 80-degree weather.”

According to Pastor Mercedes Reynoso, the situation is very, very difficult. Probably the worst is the lack of sufficient drinking water in a very hot climate, and the instability in terms of food and safety. She, as always, has a foolproof spirit and testifies to a very strong presence of God in the midst of an indescribable crisis.

Luis sending generatorsAs of today, at least 3 donated generators been received by our members in Puerto Rico and 7 more are en route.  We give special thanks to Luis, a member of one of our churches in Tampa, FL, who has worked diligently to save almost $4,000 in shipping costs. Likewise, suitcases of water filters have been delivered and more will arrive with a team of people going from California on November 6.

That being said, this is just a drop in the bucket. The needs are great and the recovery effort in Puerto Rico will be long!   On behalf of our friends who are suffering, thanks to so many who have generously given finances, generators and water filters to help alleviate some of these needs. It is not too late for you to help provide for the basic needs of clean water or electricity to people in Puerto Rico. Please help us help Puerto Rico recover by donating here.  Puerto Rico Recovery Fund  

 

 

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 Our sources in Puerto Rico tell us it will be many months before electricity is restored.  
 
Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso says it is a priority to have a generator for each church and each pastor’s family so that they can minister to others. Our churches and pastors’ homes have become centers of respite, counseling, and aid distribution. This is a project for a family, Sunday School class, small group or church.  
 
We finally found a reliable way to send the generators when UPS started delivering in Puerto Rico again. Here are 2 good options to channel your help. (I said reliable not cheap!)
 

• You can purchase a new generator wherever you are and ship it via UPS. This will be a significant blessing as people in Puerto Rico have been without electricity for almost 4 weeks already. Shipping costs start at $140 per generator depending on the weight and where your are shipping from.  It will take a week to get there.  UPS is open until 6 PM Mo-Sat.

  • Please note:  In Puerto Rico gasoil generators are much cheaper to run than regular gas, but they will use whatever you send.

  •  Purchase the quietest generator you can find. 3000 watts or higher.

  •  Ship them to the following address and let me know (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) so they can know what to expect:

     •  Pastora Mercedes Reynoso

     •  Hacienda Real Jazmín del Mar 322

     •  Carolina, PR 00986 

 

  •  We continue to gather money to purchase generators at about $430 each. To give money towards a generator, please click on the link below. Write GENERATOR in the comment box. We will find volunteers to buy generators in the mainland and mail them via UPS.

• Puerto Rico Recovery Fund  


Please continue to pray for strength and wisdom for our brothers and sisters living an unbelievable crisis. Pray that God will protect their minds, emotions, and health as they deal with their new normal. Also, pray for the children.
 
Thank you!  Thank you!

written by Delia Nüesch-Olver
 

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We have been touched by the outpouring of interest in helping our people in Puerto Rico who continue to live in a crisis situation nearly a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
 
Here are ways you can remain engaged:

  1. Pray.  On Monday October 16 Pastora Mercedes said: “We need God to give us strength and wisdom to respond to the crisis all around us. Pray that God will protect our minds and our emotions as we deal with this new normal. Also, pray that God will keep us all healthy in spite of the unsanitary conditions all around us. And please please pray that God will specially take care of our children." 
  2. Purchase Walmart or Walgreens gift cards and send them to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.  We are regularly sending these cards to Puerto Rico so families and individuals are able to purchase whatever they need as soon as it is available. 
  3. Help with generators.  We continue to gather money to purchase generators at $430 each. Our sources tell us it will be many months before electricity is restored.   Superintendent Reynoso says it is a priority to have a generator for each church and each pastor’s family so that they can minister to others. Our churches have become centers of respite, counseling, and aid distribution. This is a project for a family, Sunday School class, small group or church.  

To give money towards a generator, please click on the link below. Write GENERATOR in the comment box.
Puerto Rico Recovery Fund
 
On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, mil gracias!
Puerto Rican Children
written by Delia Nüesch - Olver
 
 
 

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The FM leaders in Puerto Rico are asking us to help them help others.  We can all do that by either giving financially to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund or sending Walmart Gift Cards to Free Methodist World Ministry Center, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.   For more details, please watch this video from Bishop David Roller...and share it with your friends and family!

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The local newspaper of Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Día, reported today that the island ravaged by Hurricane Maria last week is “perhaps hours away from facing a major social crisis.”  International news outlets report that the lack of communication, electricity, fuel, food and fresh water have resulted in a lack of medical attention on the island (there isn’t much a hospital can do without these valuable resources).  Therefore, they are expecting a severe outbreak of disease among the 3.4 million people who live there. 

Some damage to FM property.
Picture depicts some damage to FM Property.

According to Free Methodist Bishop David Roller, “Although communication is not yet fully restored, we are getting reports out of Puerto Rico of extensive damage to homes and Free Methodist churches. Everyone and everything got wet — some much worse than that. We thank God that we haven’t heard of any loss of life among our community.”

He continues, “the long slow path to recovery begins...This is the time for us to stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.”

I would like to suggest 4 specific ways to do this:

1.     Pray for the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need.  Pray alone, with your family, and with your church.  Pray for all of the many needs and pray for supernatural strength for the church leaders as they minister to the people around them while at the same time dealing with the trauma that affects them as well.  Also, pray for the US Government to provide more emergency support.

2.     Give to the Puerto Rico Recovery fund.   FM Leadership is working with Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso to develop a list of priorities in how to best use the money donated.  Click here to donate now.

3.     Purchase Wal-Mart or Walgreens gift cards and send them to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recover, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.  On October 9 – and then regularly after that – they will be sent to Puerto Rico so that as soon as groceries and medical supplies are available, people in our churches will be able to purchase them.

4.     Spread the word so that others can join us in this effort for recovery in Puerto Rico.

written by Beth Gómez

 

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On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds and torrential rains.  While Maria has officially passed, there are still very powerful winds and heavy rains. Flash flooding and mudslides could be more deadly than the initial winds from the storm.

Delia Nüesch-Olver, Area Director for Latin America, has been in contact with Free Methodist friends and colleagues in Puerto Rico.  She reports that our colleagues, Supintendent Mercedes Reynoso and Pastor Dan Perdomo are safe and sound.  Contact has not been made with all of the other local pastors. Please pray for the people in Puerto Rico and for our FM family in that country. 

The Free Methodist Church will mobilize and use its resources to assist where most needed in response to Hurricane Maria. If you’d like to contribute, please do click to give to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund.

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