My experience in Puerto Rico during Hurrican Maria...
Living the Mission of God
By Ariadna Iglesias
On September 19, while in Puerto Rico for nursing studies, threatening skies and howling gusts eclipsed my plans. Hurricane Maria was bearing down upon the island with winds exceeding 150 miles per hour. Quickly, the situation became desperate. With 80 other students at Sacred Heart University in San Juan, I fearfully waited out a storm unlike any in the last 89 years. That night seemed endless as the screaming fury of the winds lashed out constantly.
The next morning, I witnessed the devastation we feared, and we realized the island had lost all electrical power. As nursing students, it was time for action. The only student from the “volunteer state,” I insisted to the student manager that we wanted to serve. He nicknamed me “Miss Tennessee.” In coordination with the mayor of San Juan, the students visited a shelter to offer aid and encouragement to people who had lost everything. I remember asking an evacuee if I could pray for her. She led me into a room with other women.
I encouraged them and prayed fervently. When I finished, the women were kneeling…arms extended toward heaven. I can tell you God's grace filled that room.
Over the coming days, I continued serving in various communities. On one occasion, I visited a Haitian woman suffering greatly as a result of breast cancer. She only had one analgesic pill to alleviate her pain. I reported the situation and prayed for her. Though she only spoke English, and I am still learning it, the Lord opened my mouth and English flowed perfectly.
God also gave me the opportunity to influence the other students. In every difficult situation, they asked me to pray. I was able to demonstrate what a valuable treasure it is to be a follower of Jesus. Finally, after 20 long days in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, I was able to get a flight and return to Tennessee. I will never forget when my roommate told me, “Ari, thank you for teaching me how to pray.”
God always has a purpose in our lives. We are instruments of His grace wherever we are, in whatever situation. I had not planned a mission trip to Puerto Rico; I was simply pursuing my educational goals. But God’s mission is not about plans; it is a way of life. We are privileged to fulfill God’s mission every day, no matter where we are in the world.
About the Writer: Ariadna Iglesias and her husband Lázaro are educational specialists for Free Will Baptist International Missions: www.fwbgo.com.