Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

7/31 2018

Trusting God in the Middle of Uncertainty

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Hurricane Maria damage

Photo credit: Roosevelt Skerrit  https://www.flickr.com/photos/rooseveltskerrit/albums/72157686922251424, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62690583


I live in San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane María struck our island as the strongest cyclone in modern history with winds up to 175 mph and rainfall measuring up to 37.9 inches. My mother is the executive director of El Guacio, Puerto Rico’s only Presbyterian camp. Here, we passed the storm.


Each of the events that occurred in the camp resulted in great stories of faith and resilience.

Power, water, and communications completely fell a few hours in. When we were able to come outside, we saw we were trapped beneath many feet of branches. With help of the community, it took two days to leave the house and around 10 days to visit our family.

The camp has its own water source, but the pipes were destroyed. The community united and we were able to bring water to the camp. People came to fill their water needs and with a generator do daily tasks like wash their clothes. Help continued, and with donations we have been able to provide laundry services, water, refrigerators, stoves, food, supplies, and clothes, among other things, to families in need.

Ice was one of the scarcest resources. and with the help of a Presbyterian church in New York the camp got an ice machine distributing up to 800 pounds of ice daily. The camp has become a hub for mission. People who come to help and rebuild stay at the camp to visit the communities.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance visited the camp this year and saw the needs and how we provided assistance. They granted funds to the camp to be able to rebuild its infrastructure and give to the community. We are currently working to make a garden to plant fruits and vegetables so that the community may have a steady food resource.

My church experience led me to know the importance of the service work that was needed and to trust God in the middle of uncertainty. Looking back, I wish I had knowledge of how to prepare and have the supplies needed. It is alarming that due to climate change a hurricane like this may strike again in the next years. Each of the events that occurred in the camp resulted in great stories of faith and resilience. Through it all we have seen how God cares for God’s people and that we are all intertwined in the mission to serve.

Natanael (Nato) Rivera Vargas participated in the Seminary’s Miller Summer Youth Institute, a program for rising high school seniors to earn college credit while exploring what God is calling them to do and who God is calling them to be.

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