Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis volunteers offer hope 1,682 miles from home
Location is irrelevant when giving or receiving blessings. Perhaps that’s the reason that members of Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis, Carolina, Puerto Rico, found themselves doing mission 1,682 miles from their island home at the recent “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” in New Orleans.
As 15 of his 29 volunteers assisted at Love in Action food bank in the Louisiana city, the Rev. Jesus Garcia, the church’s pastor, said, “We have a food bank in Puerto Rico, but we saw how God can bring us from Puerto Rico to New Orleans.”
While some volunteers stocked the food pantry’s shelves, others helped clients to select groceries. As a “client-choice” pantry, said founding director Gail Murray, Love in Action—which serves approximately 600 individuals monthly—allows each client household to monthly choose a certain number of items, depending upon the volume of food donated at that time by local supermarkets via Second Harvest Food Bank. For example, households may be allowed six canned items, such as corn, carrots or potatoes; four dry items, such as beans, walnuts or peanut butter; two fresh produce items, such as cut watermelon, strawberries or a vegetable tray; four items of unpeeled produce, such as onions, pineapple or cantaloupe; one frozen meat item, such as a package of chicken thighs, a beef steak, or ground turkey; and one prepared dessert item, such as a cake or a dozen cupcakes.
Elsewhere in the city, Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis congregants Jonathan Peralta, 17, Luis Lozano, 36, and Orlando Lozano, 32, repaired the leaking roof at the home of Melba Gibson, 53.
While this was the church’s third time participating in “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done,” it was Peralta’s first. In fact, the trip marked his first time on an airplane. As he held a ladder steady for a workmate who climbed atop it, Peralta explained his rationale for participating in the volunteer effort.
“I want to help people who need help,” he said. “I want the personal experience and to grow in my life.”
Inside the home, Gibson shared recollections of the 2005 nightmare that was hurricanes Katrina and Rita: water reaching her home’s second floor, the 14-hour drive to Baton Rouge that should have taken 1½ hours, her son describing the drowned body he had seen. Even now—11 years later—horror remains, evident as Gibson discusses the fear of letting her three live-in grandchildren play outside because the house next door is leaning.
But, that day and the rest of the week, hope was offered in the form of Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis volunteers. In fact, Gibson expressed her happiness regarding the volunteers’ work.
“I feel wonderful,” she said.
And, on Day 3 of the seven-day “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” effort, Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis parishioners led the 185-member-strong group of volunteers from across the United States in singing “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” in both Spanish and English during morning devotions at the volunteers’ base away from home, Camp Restore, New Orleans.
To meet more of 2016’s “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” volunteers and those they’ve helped, see the following:
- ABHMS continues ‘Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done’ 11 years after hurricanes devastate New Orleans