Puerto Rico Mission Pilgrimage – Wednesday, March 20

Lara Schopp Puerto Rico Mission Trip 2019

The second day often brings the feel of routine and professionalism at the projects at hand, that is if you’re continuing the same work which sometimes is the case. We wake up, eat breakfast, we know our teams, and we get to work with that good American mindset of let’s get work accomplished!

The real story of the day comes from after our day of work. We were invited to join Jose and David, the pastor of ICDCPR Orocovis who lives at Camp Morton, for worship service this evening. The church is beautiful, sitting right along a river, with a sanctuary building and Christian education building. The church suffered great damage during Hurricane Maria primarily to the education building where Jose told us the roof looked like a sardine can peeled back. The worship service was, for most, a brand-new experience.

We sat in the visiting worshiper section which is front and center. On this night there was a visiting preacher from Florida who as a boy was born and raised in this Disciples Church in Orocovis. We sang along the best we could in familiar contemporary worship songs, in Spanish of course. The talent of the young four women leading us in worship was incredible, there was a full band, and it all felt very familiar as if you were walking into any contemporary worship service in the United States. Pastor David gave a prayer for the community, lifting up those whom he knew by name who were sick, struggling, in needing of hope and promise of better days. Then the preaching began, and it kept going, and after one hour of passion and conviction we were ready for the ultimate “question” that comes from Mike Graves or Carla Aday, however, in Puerto Rican churches we realized many of times the sermon ends with the answer – Jesus.

The remaining time in the service was for healing, prayer, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s definitely not a part of worship that many of us are familiar with in Mainline-Protestant-American culture. The visiting Pastor, accompanied by a refrain from a worship song, invites those who are in need of deep prayer and laying on of hands to come to the front of the sanctuary. Some were weeping, others were jumping with a joy, some after an intense moment with the pastor and deacon in prayer would be gently laid down on the floor in a state of fainting from being moved by the power of the moment.

It was truly a stunning experience to worship with some of the people of Puerto Rico. Anytime we can be with our sisters and brothers of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) it is a true blessing. Words through a blog hardly do any experience justice, and so I encourage you the reader, to ask any of us to talk about it personally – chances are you’ll get many versions of how we see God working in the land.