Monday, three days after Hurricane Maria passed, the students from Universidad de Puerto Rico -Rio Piedras cleared the streets with machetes. The students also helped move the pews in the First Baptist Church or Puerto Rico to make room for over 100 volunteers who needed a home base while they worked.
In addition to the work the students were performing, American Baptist Men came with water purification systems so people would have life-giving water to drink. First Baptist Church became a relief center. The church distributed food, provided emergency and volunteer housing, and served hot meals to the community. First Baptist Church served 17,000 meals in three months, powered only by the energy created by an on-site generator.
Generosity has been the hallmark of the work, even as resources became more and more scarce. Rev. Laura Ayala, First Baptist's Pastor described their ministry in this time of crisis, “When we hold onto or store things up for a later time those specific items stopped appearing. We are in the business of not holding back, when we ran out that’s when stuff came. In giving is when you receive.”
The need for volunteers in Puerto Rico is great, and the situation on the island is beginning to settle to the point where work teams will now be a blessing to those involved in recovery efforts.
If you would like more information on volunteering in Puerto Rico, please email Victoria Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 1-800-ABC-3USA, x2449.