Puerto Rico trip report

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Monica Mullins

Eleven Wilshire members traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, last week to work with Primera Iglesia Bautista de Río Piedras as they continue to serve the people of this island as they rebuild from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The oldest Baptist church in Puerto Rico, this congregation has changed and adapted in the intervening years as their community has continued to face the hardships of tropical weather, an earthquake and Covid. They are inspiring and lead the teams that come to work alongside them with grace, kindness, faith and great skill!

Our team worked hard and played hard. In three days we successfully removed the damaged roofs of two homes and replaced them with new wood supports and tin panels. We became increasingly efficient and skilled with every hour on the job. The team quickly learned how to work together to accomplish the tasks at hand. We also dipped our feet in the Atlantic Ocean and explored historic Old San Juan. We tried new food, took cold showers, played a lot of dominoes and ate more than our fair share of ice cream.

The work and play were rewarding and fun. Our worldviews were expanded, our Spanish skills improved and our hearts were inspired by the work of this church and its former pastor, Rev. Laura Ayala, now coordinator for global missions for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

However, the greatest surprise and gift of this trip was each other. The authenticity and transparency with which each member served the community and shared their lives, joys, sorrows and experiences have changed my life for the good. We got a taste of heaven in our fellowship and have returned home with deep relationships that we will continue to nurture.

Each member of our team sacrificed something to take this trip and yet returned home richer for it. I know that not everyone can take such a trip. There are legitimate impediments that prevent some from taking a trip like this — health issues, financial concerns and family and career commitments. However, I challenge you to join Wilshire in missions and service whether here in our own community or in a place like Puerto Rico.

There is more to be done. Regardless of your skills, age, background and experience (or perhaps because of these things), there is a place for you to serve, people with whom to partner and friends to be your companions for the journey. We feel compelled to return. Won’t you join us?