During the first week of October, 2018 six people from our church, and seven people from other churches in Maine went on a mission trip to Puerto Rico.
We didn’t know what to expect when we signed up. I suspect we each had different ideas about what a mission trip is and what is supposed to happen on one. The more traditional view is that a mission trip involves going to another part of the world to tell the people about Jesus. But that wasn’t really what our trip was about.
Another view of mission trips is that people go to a place where there is a lot of need, and do something to help the people there. I think that’s what most people on this trip expected. After all, we were going to Puerto Rico to help rebuild after a devastating hurricane. We knew there were tremendous needs there. We wanted to make a difference by fixing stuff up.
We did help do that, but that wasn’t what our trip was about, either!
What happened was that God sent us to a generous, vibrant, loving community of faith so we could encourage and build up one another. We partnered with our sister church, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Peniel, in Canovanas, led by Pastor Abraham Morales. It’s a rural church, located near the top of a beautiful, lush mountain. The roads are winding and very narrow. We had to trust in God’s protection!
We learned that many people in Puerto Rico feel forgotten and abandoned by the rest of the United States. The fact that a group of people from Maine flew all the way to Puerto Rico to help showed them that they were not forgotten.
As they shared their stories with us, they were blessed that someone listened. Someone cared. It honestly didn’t matter that much what we actually did. The fact that we were there, listening to them and working beside them is what was important.
The people we met in Puerto Rico gave us more than we probably were able to give them. Their warmth, kindness, and prayers for us were incredibly moving. When we worshipped together, the language barrier made it almost impossible for us to understand the words that were spoken, but love transcends language. We felt the presence of God in our midst.
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