SWAU Mission to Lares, Puerto Rico

October 24, 2023

KEENE, TEX. – The Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) Kinesiology Department’s students, deans, faculty and staff answered a call to be missionaries in the heart of Lares, Puerto Rico. For a week, May 16-24, members of the department worked in the community to help relieve the impact of past hurricanes. SWAU volunteers cleaned affected areas, rebuilt damaged homes, worked at the local church, Tres Angeles Seventh-day Adventist Church and hosted a mini health clinic.

We split up into groups to repair three houses and the church. The houses’ ceilings were crumbling and the yards and gardens had been left unattended. The groups went to work repairing, painting and tidying the homes. The church needed some interior paint and to clean the sanctuary.
The work wasn’t easy, with challenges like working under the sun’s scorching heat, attempting jobs never done before, dealing with giant lizards and acquiring many bug bites. Despite these conditions, the group always ended the day with smiles on their faces.
One of the group’s favorite moments shared was an unexpected rainy day. After working in the heat, as heavy rainfall poured from the sky, everyone jumped out of the bus, played in the rain and even slid down a nearby hill. It may seem like something simple to experience, but to us it was a true “shower of blessing.”
As the week came to an end, students led vespers on Friday evening and Sabbath morning services at the church. Members were thrilled to have their church filled with youth. A majority of the members are elderly and had not experienced worship with energetic young people in a while.

On Sabbath afternoon we held a mini health clinic, where SWAU students gained experience and shared health advice. We closed the Sabbath with a hike up a steep hill that offered a breathtaking view at the top, making the climb worthwhile. Church members, community members and the university group gathered to worship God through testimony and song for all He had done.

The last three days of the trip were spent admiring and exploring Antillean Adventist University, a natural cave, a beautiful beach and touring the neighborhood of Old San Juan.
By the end of the trip, the group experienced many emotions. New connections had formed between them and the church members, connections built through Christ. Each member of the group was thankful for the opportunity to go on the trip. It was a blessing to bless others, and to be vessels for Christ despite being broken vessels ourselves. To learn more visit SWAU.edu.

By Paulino Santos, Ed.D.

Chair of the Department of Kinesiology