Christian Chronicle

A new day for Puerto Rico

As hurricane-battered U.S. territory rebuilds, a Kentucky church sends help and encouragement.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico — Punishing, back-to-back hurricanes that wrecked this U.S. territory nearly a year ago swept away homes, decimated crops, knocked out electrical systems and ravaged families.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria failed, however, to kill the spirits of those in this poor, coastal community who lived through the mayhem and work to rebuild.

Sandra Rosa Vargas is one.

On a recent weekday, the 62-year-old great-grandmother walked arm in arm along a pitted neighborhood sidewalk with a teenager who came with her Kentucky church to offer help and encouragement.

The two connected instantly, 13-year-old Ashton Brophy said, as Vargas shared stories of her life and offered to teach her new friend how to cook.

“I just really love Mrs. Sandra,” Brophy said of the widow whose oceanside home of rocks, seashells and cinder blocks had its roof peeled away by winds that registered roughly 150 mph.

“She is just very sweet. … She made lunch for us, rice and salad and chicken. She was telling me all about her grandbabies,” the teen added. “I just want to do everything I can to help her.”

Twenty-six other mission team members from the Reidland Church of Christ in Paducah, Ky, shared Brophy’s sentiment. They traveled nearly 2,000 miles to demonstrate their love and concern for their Puerto Rican brothers and sisters.

“I just heard about the destruction here and how bad things have been for them,” said Alethia “Ali” Williams, 14, who came with the Reidland group. “I felt really bad, and I knew I had the ability to help. … I knew God was calling me to go.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the August 2018 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning journalist who has reported from all 50 states and 13 countries in his 28-year professional career.

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