In June, several members of the Rebuilding Hope Missions board of directors took a test mission to Puerto Rico. They were shocked by the level of need. While portions of the island are on the road to recovery, other poorer and harder hit regions still bear the scars of Hurricane Maria.
Take the situation in a small town called Rio Abajo.
Nestled away in a region known for its "Eternal Spring," a tiny chapel plays a big role in an under-served community. Chapel Madre del Salvador is one of fifteen chapels squatting in the emerald green tropical hills around Cidra (See-dra).
Unfortunately, the roof of the chapel was unprepared to meet the demands placed on it by Hurricane Maria. In the wake of the storm, Chapel Madre del Salvador got wet. Very wet. Inside and out. The damages done to the roof and to the concrete surrounding the chapel mean that every weather event - from an afternoon shower to a tropical storm - adds another layer of moisture to the already soaked interior.
But not for long. Help is on the way.
Last month, a delegation from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marietta, Georgia accompanied the Rebuilding Hope Missions board on the inaugural test trip. With the blessing of their pastor, the delegates were sent to scout a project in need of external support.
Deeply moved by the testimony of the chapel's mostly elderly congregation, the delegation adopted the restoration of Chapel Madre del Salvador as its parish service project.
In October, a group of volunteers will journey to Rio Abajo to reseal the chapel roof, install downspouts to keep water out of the basement, and fix the collapsing concrete paths around the building.
(For more project details and updates, look out for future blog posts!)
Fundraising for the October trip has already begun! To unite people in common support for Puerto Rico, the St. Joseph group is organizing a "Taste of the Island Fundraiser Dinner" on Saturday, August 25th. The celebration will feature food, music, dancing, drinks, and a raffle with tons of great prizes.
Due to the incredible generosity and passionate interest of parishioners, tickets have already sold out!
An outpouring of support from the parish and beyond has led to calls for additional fundraising events, future service trips, and a continuing partnership with the people of Puerto Rico. The Holy Spirit is certainly moving in Marietta.
Trip Leader and Rebuilding Hope board member Lissette Perry beams when she talks about the mission. For Lissette and many others at St. Joseph, the project is more than fixing a building, it is a spiritual endeavor.
"We are building a bridge of hope between Atlanta and Puerto Rico that will bring healing to our nation," she elegantly reflects about the mission.
When directed toward the common good, simple acts of charity can transform lives. This is the goal of Rebuilding Hope. To provide the light of hope to those who have been abandoned by others.
To everyone supporting, organizing, and praying for the success of the St. Joseph Mission of Hope - thank you.