It’s been less than a month since Puerto Rico received damage across the island from Hurricane Maria. While many people wonder how they may bring comfort, aside from donating money, one church group from Irmo are putting thoughts into actions as they prepare for the first round of their disaster relief trip.
Heather Crosby, student minister at River Springs of Irmo, is leading the way after witnessing what she calls devastation to a country that is like her second home. Crosby, along with many student and adult volunteers, have had a solid relationship with Iglesia Bautista Tabernaculo de Reunion (Tabernacle of the Baptist Church) in Aibonito, Puerto Rico since 2009. Nine youth groups and four adult groups have been steadily involved for about eight years with their Puerto Rican church family.
“I have been personally wrecked seeing what’s happened to Puerto Rico and yet stuck here, unable to help, until soon,” mentioned Crosby. “The items we give out year after year – food, water, hygiene supplies and of course prayer and a comforting hug – are exactly what they need right now, but we have had to wait. In God’s timing, as soon as it was determined safe to go and be assured we can also return, we will go to make our initial assessment of what has happened on Oct. 22.”
The first trip will be a quick assessment as they meet the basic needs and figure out what they for the return trip, according to Crosby. This initial trip is looking to be just a few days with two to three people. They will bring tarps, water purification tablets and solar powered flashlights along with non-perishable food.
Tarps will be used for make shift roofs for homes with no roofs. This includes Pastor Miguel Maduro’s neighbors who lost their homes. Crosby states the communities she and her church family have served have received extensive damage and flooding and to date, there is no power, no water and no cell service in Aibonito.
After the group returns from the first mission, they are looking to return later in the year with a team to work on repairs. “It’s overwhelming to look at this as one giant disaster, but to focus on the town God gave us and to serve one family at a time,” said Crosby. “Just now, we have to continue doing it for many years.”
“We’ve been serving these people as our own for the last nine (plus) years, so it is not an option to leave them to themselves. We see them the same way we see our neighbors who were affected by the floods in the Midlands in 2015. These are our neighbors, even if not by proximity,” Crosby said.
If anyone wishes to donate funds to assist with the disaster relief, they may visit www.givesendgo.com/GEUG or they can donate to River Springs Church, 1007 West Shady Grove Road, Irmo with ATTN: PR Relief.