I was 14 and 15 years of age when I went on my first two mission trips to Haiti (1982, '83). My gratitude for those experiences has increased exponentially over the years; 35 years later, I can see how those servant experiences contributed to building on my empathic nature and started awakening me to my privilege. I will never forget how excited I was and then how fearful I was when we off-boarded the plane and were met by uniformed Haitian soldiers carrying machine guns. . . We were there to and worked hard to remodel and build schools in both the capitol of Port Au Prince and the mountain community of Mirebalais.
Now, I am blesses with opportunity to partner with United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries to response to an invitation extended from LA IGLESIA EVANGELICA UNIDA DE PUERTO RICO. This is in direct response to hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated the island in September 2017.
Purpose - In the midst of this wide-ranging work of working with and being with people and communities in the wake of disaster, work groups serve an integral and particular role. Volunteer groups help provide safe housing for people who have been dramatically affected by the disaster. Volunteers assist people as they begin to reclaim their lives and communities and to recover their identities. As outside groups, we do not determine how a community recovers. Volunteers do not go to “fix things,” but to accompany people in their recovery, one group and one week at a time.
In February 2019, with your support, I will deploy with a team of 12 to 15 UCC North Dakotans to the Humacao (Spanish pronunciation: [umaˈka.o]) region of Puerto Rico. This is a predominantly rural region located on the eastern coast of the island that was hit hard by hurricanes Irma and Marie last year. The team will be working with our sisters and brothers there to clean, restore and rebuild homes and infrastructure.
Your support will cover the cost of travel, the modest volunteer worker camp fee, and ground transportation. Funds need to be raised by November 30, 2018. Any additional funds raised will be utilized to fund other team members who may fall short in their fundraising efforts OR will be gifted to LA IGLESIA EVANGELICA UNIDA DE PUERTO RICO for supplies and tools.
You cannot imagine and, I could not even begin to express in words the gratitude I hold for your anticipated support. As a very young man, my career dream was to build a mission career. That was derailed on a number of fronts. I am so very blessed to have had the experience twice 35 years ago and now to have the opportunity coming full circle in my middle years. I work for a very small non-profit serving individuals with disabilities. I am grateful that I have the accrued PTO and health to add this disaster response mission to my human experience. The grace that comes through the connections made with our sisters and brothers during response and recovery are as visible as the light of the Spirit breaking through the darkness of despair.
I invite you to partner with me in this disaster response effort through your giving. You can look forward to updates through progress posts and reports along the way. Hands to God!!