Christmas is a gigantic festival in the Western world – celebrations and traditions are cherished by the religious and the secular alike. We say this with no judgment. With all the resources that target us with Christmas dreams and fantasies – how can one turn away from it? One Christmas virtue that no one group can claim as their sole property is generosity. In the midst of abundance (not wealth, abundance) the scarcity that shapes so many lives requires something of all of us. When we in the church respond to need at this time of year, we are responding as the Wise Men did. In giving, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God’s great gift to us and that God’s grace embodied in Him is freely given.
Our tradition in the Outreach Ministry is to select an organization to be the recipient of your generosity. We try to choose organizations that are relevant locally and globally. This year we’ve selected Hunger Corp. They are a Puerto Rican based agency which has focused on hunger and health on the island. In the recent past, they rebuilt houses, refurbished a local church and at the same time held a health clinic for the townspeople. Since the devastation of Hurricane Maria, they are focusing on replacing the temporary shelter most houses have become with a new or refurbished house which will be built to withstand violent storms. The cost of a new house is $20,000 mainly because of volunteer labor and donated supplies.
Hunger Corp.’s mission is to move people to service. To achieve this, they focus on the hunger of two groups of people:
“THOSE IN NEED: Those who do not have anything to eat or drink, who lack a sleeping shelter or clothes to keep warm. By giving permanent solutions to these problems, we can reach the deepest needs of the human being: love, community and God.
THE VOLUNTEERS: Those who are hungry to make a difference, to be part of something with meaning, to change the life of a person in Puerto Rico or a whole community in the Amazon. Facing the volunteer with the need, and letting them experience the satisfaction of helping another through hard work is our best tool to create people who continue to serve in their country and outside of it.”
After the passage of Hurricane Maria, they have served by directing the building of a Military Hospital (Manatí), preparing and distributing bags of supplies for more than 3,000 families around the island, and developing a map that catalogs the most needed cases in Puerto Rico to connect house construction projects with local and international sister entities.
Their plan is to start building houses as of February 2018. They do this through partnerships on the island and in the states. The main organization that is supplying labor and love is Experience Mission. The Outreach Ministry is planning an adult Mission Trip to Puerto Rico through Experience Mission this summer, July 2018. Hunger Corp. and Experience Mission work closely with the Puerto Rican community. Projects are identified by the local community and carried out under their direction.
Recovery efforts in Puerto Rico have been severely hampered by the extent of the devastation. Roads, electricity, water and health care have had to be the first priority. The world has been eager to help, but until housing for volunteers was available none could come in any significant numbers. Hunger Corp. has spent the last few months working on the church in Seburuquillo – repairing it, remodeling and expanding it so that it can serve as housing for mission groups. With this project complete, they will begin to accept mission groups from Experience Mission.
We are excited about the connection between Hunger Corp. and a meaningful service opportunity for the adults of the Church. Details about the trip will be available in January. In the meantime, we hope that the work and mission of Hunger Corp. moves you to contribute to them. The Christmas Offering will be received at the Christmas Eve services. You can put your donation in the enclosed envelope and bring it to one of those services; you can use one of the envelopes in the pews that evening or you can mail a donation to our church office. Their website is: www.Hungercorp.org.
Please add Hunger Corp. and the people of Puerto Rico to your prayers this Christmas. And may you find joy in small and delightful ways this season.
From the Outreach Commission:
Jody Collins Skinner, Vandy French, Lisa Loughlin, Bill McCarter, Julia Daggett, Betsy Goodell, Annmarie Galli and Judy Arnold, clergy liaison