After serving in Juana Diaz Puerto Rico numerous times in past years, a team of 12 Grace Bible College students along with other Grace Bible College staff returned to Camp Caribe this past Thanksgiving week to assist the missionaries and community with hurricane relief work. GMI missionaries Matt and April Sykes lead the team in how to serve the community and help restore camp in the best way possible. The Island is still lacking running water in many places and the whole Island is on generators for electric power. However, the spirit of the Puerto Ricans has not been shaken. They are confident that “Puerto Rico Se Levanta”– the catchy phrase going around the Island meaning- Puerto Rico ‘rises’ or ‘will rise up’. There is still much joy and gratitude amongst the community of Juana Diaz, though they lack basic resources.
Some of the projects during the trip included indoor cleaning of mold and mud in areas of the camp and at a local church, specific projects on camp such as repairing windows, roofs and the gaga pit, and assisting neighbors and members of the community with yard work and repairs to their houses. The team was also able to help out at Club Maravilla, the after-school center for kids of the Juana Diaz Barrio, for various days of the week. There was much involvement with Iglesia Biblica de Juana Diaz, the Grace gospel fellowship church in the city. Through the church and Samaritans Purse, the team was able to offer hands in helping pass out over 500 boxes that were filled with food and supplies for people in serious need. The church knew exactly which families and homes were still in critical need and the team was able to help contribute to that need. The team was able to accomplish a great amount stemmed from the attitude of joy that was carried among every member. The team was also able to make many meaningful connections and relationships with the kids and adults in the Barrio. It was a wonderful opportunity to worship God in Spirit and truth in service amongst the Puerto Ricans as the Body of Christ. It was a very eye-opening experience for the entire team to be involved in another culture and experience a new perspective of gratitude and joy after the storm with the help of the Puerto Ricans grateful attitude.