It was a shocking moment. Members of Team Puerto Rico stood in the ruins of what had been a youth baseball stadium, debris and trash strewn everywhere, and stared in disbelief at the bleachers that somehow survived the fury of Hurricane Maria when it struck Puerto Rico in 2017.
“It was mind-blowing,” said Kari Fillian, Youth Ministries coordinator at Christ Church Parish in Plymouth, who led a team of eight students and three adults to Puerto Rico over the Christmas holiday to assist with cleanup activities.
“We were standing in the middle of this destroyed stadium and he told us how he stayed in an unprotected area during the worst storm in history to strike Puerto Rico just so he could prevent looting. It was unbelievable!”
That was just one of the many eye-opening experiences encountered by Team Puerto Rico during the week-long trip. The students and adults flew to the U.S. territory in the Caribbean Dec. 29. They visited several villages in San Juan during Three King’s Week, a major celebration in Puerto Rico between Christmas and Epiphany.
The team helped local residents with cleanup and restoration activities in the villages of Maysonet, El Progreso, Cortés, Villa Esperanza and Villa Hugo II. Some of the communities were nearly destroyed. The students and adults assisted with painting homes and other chores and also helped with the many festivals taking place during Three King’s Week.