Nuggets of Hope: Puerto Rican Natives Doing God’s Work
In accordance to Missions Week, here are some profiles of people who we met in Puerto Rico. They were a blessing to the NCU team and embodied what it means to serve.
Pastor Rolando is literally the most interesting man in the world. He scuba dives, is a black belt, was a radio host, is a pastor, and does all the missionary work you could think of. He was our guide throughout the week and kept us up to date on the devastation that Puerto Rico had. He does the best he can with what he has. Forward Edge is the missions organization NCU works with to get teams to Houston, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico.
Pastor Rolando only came in contact with Forward Edge through his friend, Wendell Robinson, who used to go to Rolando’s church. Wendell called Rolando the day after Maria to get an on the ground report of the devastation. Fortunately, Rolando was in Florida when it hit so he had no idea what the actual damage looked like. Wendell then pulled a few strings and got Rolando on a flight down to Ponce to find his family. From then on, Rolando relayed up to date information on the devastation in Ponce. Wendell and Forward Edge then sent down the first team to Ponce just a month later. His contact with Forward Edge was nothing less of a miracle and now they work together to build roofs throughout Ponce. We were the third trip to Puerto Rico with two others planned to come after us.
Jorge y Los Finches (left with sombrero)
Jorge owned the house where we did most of our work. He acquired the house from his parents one month before hurricane Maria hit. He lost half the house which was ripped off by the wind. He currently lives alone in the other half of the house that was not destroyed with just a mattress, fridge, sink, pictures of his son, and some finches. Pastor Rolando met him when he noticed Jorge coming in to the radio station where he worked, to take showers. After a few times of showing up at the station, Pastor Rolando asked why he didn’t have a shower and he told him his house was destroyed. Pastor Rolando kept him in mind for future projects and we were the team blessed to work on Jorge’s house.
While we worked on his house during the day, he worked for a gardening business, then went to work at Home Depot for the graveyard shift. This man was incredibly giving and hospitable even with the little that he had. When we first visited his house, he was so glad to have us and he said, “My house is your house.” We thought this was extremely kind of him to say that, considering half of it is gone. Another example of his hospitality would be when he offered us 100% grape juice when we would joke about our juice not having enough juice to water ratio.
Sonia has a huge servant’s heart. She would bring us breakfast from her church to the hotel we stayed at every morning. She lives with her daughter and husband in Ponce. She came to God 6 years ago because she felt like there was more to life than just loving and serving her family. Her daughter has been an influence to her coming to faith, and her daughter wants to be a missionary in Peru next year. She saw her daughter’s heart to serve and it was contagious. Weeks before we arrived, when asked for volunteers to make us breakfast, she didn’t feel called. Eventually, God worked on her heart and has now served many teams since. This is the third group she has helped. She prays that God can use her everyday in any way possible and is so thankful He called her to this service. One example of her servant’s heart was when she forgot plates for breakfast. We had paper towels, but she insisted she drive all the way to the nearest store just to get us plates. We tried our best to stop her, but she literally couldn’t bare to see us eat her food without plates.
Sonia lost her mom in the hurricane. Her mom needed a blood transfusion in October (2017) but the hospital didn’t have power and she passed away from lack of care. Her brother moved away for a better life and two more of her daughters live in Florida because they split after the hurricane.
Kike & Sobeida
Sobeida and Kike are fairly affluent and used their wealth for so much good. They have a big, beautiful pink house (that was Kike’s idea). The first thing she said when we met her at church was, “my home is your home” as she told us about how she will host us for dinner and insisted that we use her pool.
After the hurricane, two hundred businesses left Ponce alone. Sobeida and Kieko have been using their wealth to start small businesses in Ponce since so many left. She uses her house to bless groups like us who come in to help Ponce. Every night when we came for dinner, she would greet us, make sure we were comfortable, then go back to working with a friend on the businesses they were helping.
Pergie y Su Mama
Pergie and her mom made us dinner every night at Sobeida’s house. The first night we arrived, there was a buffet set up. So, as mainland Americans, everyone got in line to serve themselves. Pergie came out from the kitchen, appalled that we were still standing, and insisted we sit down to be served. She told us to relax as her and her mom served us, and hovered over us, asking if we wanted more. She kept telling us about how thankful she was for the work we were doing in Ponce. Their smiles were so contagious and they blessed us with their home cooking every night.
Geraldo: A man working his hotel (not pictured)
Geraldo was the man who owned the hotel where we stayed. He is extremely welcoming and has a servant’s heart. One day, he noticed we drink a lot of coffee and bought more for us (on his own budget). He did the same with the bread we ate in the morning. He also noticed we drank coffee in the afternoon, and started brewing coffee for us before we got home in the afternoon. None of this was asked of him. He just did it. He had many intentional late night talks with Tommy and Matt. He also protected us from a huge snake that was approaching the hotel before a random lady hopped out of her car, picked it up with her bare hands, and threw it back into the park. Not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed.
These are just examples of incredible people who NCU has come in contact with during the missions trips. These are the ordinary people doing God’s extraordinary work and we were so blessed to experience that first hand. I highly, highly, highly recommend students to apply for a trip. They are incredible experiences that will change your outlook on life!
Thanks for reading,