Now several months into my journey here in Puerto Rico, I’ve been blessed to serve and engage the people in a variety of ways. Alongside physical service to the people, the most rewarding times occur when I’m able to hear the stories of the people. Ministry of presence, the frequency of our time spent among the people, eating and laughing with them, serving among them and hearing their stories – this is one of the the greatest aspects of service that we can offer to the people here. Showing them the value that God has placed on their lives, even if we’re only able to demonstrate that in the smallest of ways, such as hearing their stories; those are the moments that neither the people of Puerto Rico, nor our teams forget.Showing them the value that God has placed on their lives, even if we’re only able to demonstrate that in the smallest of ways..., those are the moments that neither the people of Puerto Rico, nor our teams forget. Click To Tweet
Over these months, there tends to be a recurring theme to some of the stories that we hear. These include stories of fear in the middle of the storm; how it felt like “the end of the world.” These include stories of camaraderie; how the community pulled together following the storm because everyone found themselves in the same situation. These include stories of peril immediately following the storm, because the streets were ripe with crime in a land without light. Sadly, among the most common recurring stories are those centered around the feeling of abandonment. Abandonment from people that had been trusted to help after the storm, from volunteer groups to the government, who had given their word that they would be back to help them; stories of what it feels like when those people never show up. The stories of why people don’t take it seriously when I would tell them that we’d be back. This is the reality of life post-Maria in Puerto Rico
Enter Stephen: Stephen is a gentleman that we met while working on the yards and houses of some of his neighbors. Stephen has several medical conditions that prevent him from walking for any extended periods. His wife Rosa had called us over to see if there was anything that we could do for them. They didn’t need much, Stephen simply asked that we not forget about him. Although it wasn’t much, we had other commitments that we had to finish before we were able to attend to their needs. They understood, and unfortunately we were unable to get to their house before the day was over. When I went to his house to tell him that we would be back first thing in the morning, his response was one that has stuck with me: “Bro you didn’t even need to come over here to tell me that,” he said in his thick New York accent, “we knew you guys would be back. We’ve seen you here with the neighbors; we knew you’d be back.”After so many recurring stories of empty promises and people left abandoned by those they thought that they could trust, this response that he 'knew we’d be back' further affirmed to me the reasons for our presence. Click To Tweet
After so many recurring stories of empty promises and people left abandoned by those they thought that they could trust, this response that he “knew we’d be back” further affirmed to me the reasons for our presence. The physical things that we’re able to do for people, those things will be soon forgotten as the nice things done by the gringos in Puerto Rico; but our ministry of presence in the midst of abandonment, that makes a difference. In the midst of trials and heartbreak, abandonment may appear to be waiting on our doorstep. “But you, oh Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and steadfast faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15. This is the promise that we have. This is the reason why we’re here. We know that in the midst of abandonment, He has promised never to leave us. May we strive to be so faithful that the people can see us here, and have such confidence as to say, “we knew you’d be back.” Puerto Rico se levanta.