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    Author: Colleen Smith

    Category: The Pulse 2018, The Pulse - 2018.09 Issue 9

    Serving Up Love and Community

    IT’S BEEN EXCITING TO SEE so many in our church family come around those who have been relocated to CT as a result of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. One of the many ways we have been ministering to the remaining families living in hotels is by providing them with a home cooked meal on some weeknights. These folks have no access to a kitchen and feel isolated. Having lost everything, they are trying to put their lives back together.

    This is personal because my son-in-law’s mother and extended family live in Puerto Rico and were greatly impacted. Like many others they went for a few months without running water or electricity, as well as limited access to food and medicine. We felt helpless as there was little we could do.

    When Luis and my daughter, Kirsten, heard we were preparing meals at the church, they immediately announced they wanted to serve a traditional Puerto Rican dinner. So with the help of the Felgate and Wisneski Community Groups we were able to provide a meal of pork, rice and beans, salad, chips, salsa and traditional coffee (think espresso). For dessert we had flan made by a few ladies in the church that really know how to make it!

    When our guests began to arrive, I was so thankful that Sarah Melia and Iraida Knudsen were there to interact with them in Spanish. Some knew limited English, but for those who didn’t, their faces relaxed when they could talk freely. Before the meal, we shared our desire to love them as God has loved us and we prayed for them. As they walked through the buffet line, Luis, a cook by trade, proudly served people from his homeland with the help of his family (eight in all).

    Fellowship Hall was buzzing with conversation and the children began to play with each other. One couple I met are retired school teachers. They moved to Puerto Rico but were forced to return to CT and live with family in the area. The husband pulled me aside and said (somewhat paraphrased) “It does our hearts good to see the kids having fun. They have been traumatized by what they saw and experienced during the hurricanes. What you are doing gives them a sense of normalcy.”

    Our guests were constantly expressing appreciation and they loved taking home all the leftovers. One woman said the lady at the hotel who helps heat their food will be thankful she doesn’t have to smell spaghetti for a while. Let that sink in for a moment.

    Please pray the Relief Center will be able to help the remaining families find jobs and get into permanent housing before the center has to shut down in mid-March. Some of these families might move or already have moved to your hometown. Who knows? With a little investigating at town services you may be able to find a way to come alongside a family and share the love of Jesus with them.

    Click here to see more photos of the evening.