While people were celebrating Valentine’s Day, five members of the Palmyra United Methodist Church were in Puerto Rico, assisting with the on-going rebuilding after Hurricane Maria.
The hurricane struck the island in September 2017, destroying homes and infrastructure. For months people were without power.
It has now been over a year, power was recently restored, but the rebuilding continues.
Missouri Methodists have been sending mission teams to Vieques, a little island eight miles southeast of Puerto Rico.
This small island, four miles wide and 20 miles long, is home to about 9,000 residents.
The Palmyra team consisted of five residents of Palmyra, Pastor Eric Anderson and his wife, Jo Ann Anderson, Doug Aeilts, Connie Schmidt and Deanna Sublette.
Five other people from surrounding communities joined the team.
As the team arrived at the St Louis airport, they met with another team from Central Missouri. Together they totaled 23 people.
After a long day of planes, vans and a ferry, the teams arrived at the island of Vieques.
Sunday, the teams worshipped with the local residents and then had the afternoon off to explore the island. Then the team went to work.The two groups worked on four homes, repairing and patching concrete and painting.
The Palmyra teams worked with two families, a widow whose husband was killed in the hurricane, and an elderly couple.
They patched, painted and shared their sweat and love with these families.
As the week ended, hugs and farewells were exchanged and then the long journey home.
“I just want to thank everyone in the church for their support,” says Pastor Eric Anderso, “from the people who came up with the idea, to those who went, to those who prayed and those who gave.
“This is what Christianity is about, loving people, even people you don’t know.”