A 100-year-old Puerto Rico woman has had her house repaired thanks to the efforts of 20 members of McFarland Lutheran Church.

The congregation members recently returned from a mission trip to Puerto Rico where they assisted in the ongoing disaster cleanup from Hurricane Maria. The 2017 storm did terrible damage across the island, and the MLC team joined with others from Lutheran Disaster Response to help individuals still devastated by the storm’s impact. The trip was planned through the congregation’s Global Mission Committee.

The 20 traveling members of the congregation included six high school youths. McFarland Lutheran has been making regular mission trips to Puerto Rico since 2003, and 113 members of the congregation have been on the various trips. The MLC Global Mission Committee plans for the next trip are already underway.

This trip’s work was mostly painting, cleaning and fix-up, including the house of the elderly woman known to her friends as Ja-Ja. The 100-year-old woman still lives in her own home.

“The Lord has called us to go some place that has a different culture and has quite a different poverty level than we have here,” said Mike Catterall of McFarland.

Catterall and his wife, Judy, have been leaders on numerous trips to Puerto Rico.

“I think it’s the Lord saying, ‘I need your help. I need you to go to these areas to work, to share with other brothers and sisters in the Lord, to understand how they live,’” he said. “It becomes more of a sharing thing. The work is the glue that holds it together.

“We go there to work but, at the same time, the motivation is loving other people from a different area. All of our trips we have youths with us and mostly unskilled people. Maybe we don’t know the trades as well as the professionals, but we’re able to offer our hands and our energy to help to brighten someone’s day.

“We always take the youths along. The adults always think the kids won’t work, but we soon find out that they are very motivated to help others. They work hard. It’s amazing how the communication lines (between youths and adults) blend together throughout the trip.”

Members of the MLC congregation worked in three villages this year.

Catterall expects the mission trips to continue and hopes the MLC youths making the trip during these years will be the adults leading the trips in the future.

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