“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 our new normal. Also, pray that God will keep us healthy in spite of the unsanitary conditions all around us. And please, please pray that God will specially take care of our children,” said Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso in response to Delia Nüesch-Olver, area director of Latin America, when asked this week what the FM church could do for Puerto Rico.
Weeks after Hurricane Maria the conditions in Puerto Rico continue to remain difficult. The island has only a minimum amount of power and many roads have been destroyed. Houses built of wood have been flattened; those made of stronger materials have lost roofs, windows and doors. Although comparatively the FM churches and pastor’s houses were not as damaged by the storm, most need some repair and reconstruction.
In early October, Bishop David Roller visited the FM pastors in Puerto Rico. They gathered in a room with no lights, just flashlights and went around the room to ask, “How are you?” and to check in to see how the larger FMC could help. The pastors’ request was, “Please help us help others.”
Currently, for those living in the capital, San Juan, life is slowly returning to a new normal. Many trees are still down; electrical power has only been restored to some areas and then only for a few hours each day; cell phone reception continues to be spotty. Hurricane debris has not yet been picked up.
“[As] you go through [San Juan], you’ll see a restaurant open, a store open, not everything – but things are gradually getting back on line,” Roller said. “Schools will be opening up at the end of the month, as they are able.”
Those living in the interior of the island are still very much affected by the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Thus, the focus of the FMC is to help rebuild and provide food as there has been a general shortage throughout the island. The FM churches in Puerto Rico have been distributing boxes of love or “cajitas de amor,” to all who come through their doors.
“The church has continued to do very good ministry, but [they] are increasingly under-supplied and under-able to do that,” Roller said.
A great way to provide direct aid is to purchase Walmart or Walgreens gift cards and send them to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery, 770 N. High School Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46214. Or contributions can be made through the Bishops’ Crisis Response Fund (include “Puerto Rico” in the Comments box).
Funds are also being collected to provide generators for each of our church buildings which have become centers of counseling, respite and other assistance. The cost of a generator is about $450 – a great project for a family, Sunday School class, small group or congregation. To contribute to this need, give through the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund (include “Generator” in the comments box).
Above all, please pray for the people of Puerto Rico. Pray that bureaucratic and logistical obstacles will be resolved and that food, water and other supplies will get to those in need of it. Further, pray that our members and churches will be empowered to minister to others in amazing ways.