Saturday, November 15, 2014

50 Years in Puerto Rico

Retired Missionary Ralph and Roxanne served souls in Latin America for the majority of their ministry. Recently, they joined other missionaries who served in Puerto Rico to celebrate 50 years of ministry in Puerto Rico. They gathered together with local congregation members and pastors in Guayama, Puerto Rico to celebrate the 50th anniverary and participate in the annual Reformation retreat full of Bible studies, devotions, and fellowship.

More than once during the celebration the sentiment was expressed as in the Sunday worship text, "Not to us, oh Lord, not to us be the glory, but to your name, for your mercy and truth" - Ps.115:1.
The Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Confesional (the Puerto Rican national church) and particularly Christ Lutheran Congregation in Guayama had worked hard to put the property in optimum condition: the grass was cut, new paint everywhere, and Rafi (one of the members)  had installed a one-step concrete and tile riser for the chancel/altar area. The choir was impressively organized (burgundy colored tops for all nine members) directed by Mary. They sang for both the Saturday evening tribute to national Pastors Sergio and Manuel and for the worship service on Sunday. The music was generally praise songs sung to prerecorded sound tracks, but we did get a pretty rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" on Sunday. We were some 90-100 people on Sunday with members from the San Juan, Humacao and Guayama congregations participating in Holy Communion.
Traditional foods (rice and gandules/chick peas, roast pork and chicken, fruit, ham & cheese sandwiches on criollo bread, and more) were served both for breakfast, lunch and suppers. The ladies of the IELC had organized the Saturday tribute and awarded plaques of recognition not only to their pastors, but also to faithful laborers who had and have served over the past 50 years--people like Kelly and Miguel, Rafi and a number of young men--and gifts for the expats.

Former Missionary Paul & Carol

Retired Missionary Ralph & Roxanne

Retired Missionary Ron & Karen

 Former Missionary John & Barb

Former Missionary Tim & Lorna

Former Missionary Steve & Brenda

CELC President - Dan Koelpin

WELS WM Administrator- Larry M. Schlomer
WELS World Missions Administrator Larry M. Schlomer, Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference President Dan Koelpin and Multi-Language Publications Coordinator Paul Hartman greeted and reported to the people for WELS, CELC and MLP respectively. Pastor Roger Sprain of the original Missioner Corps who came to the island in 1964 sent his greetings by mail which were read to the assembly on Saturaday when each of the expats were given an opportunity to share an update on their life and family.
The expats were housed at Pastor Sergio's house bringing the total occupancy to some 27. Those who arrived on Thursday were greeted by a torrential downpour and the remainder of the weekend was beautiful tropical weather: clear skies, heat and humidity. 

The Lord's mercy and truth have preserved a little flock in Puerto Rico for 50 years, and we pray they will continue to preach the good news wherever they may be.

Photo Credit: Former Missionary Steve & Brenda

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