The bigger picture
is about life after
loss and what we
do in the midst of and following,
devastation and chaos.
Initially when I set out to do this mission trip, I would say, it is all about the children, and it is, but the bigger picture is, for me anyway, it is about Life after loss and what we do in the midst of and following, devastation and chaos.
Hurricanes tear though our communities in the same way that loss of a loved one tears through our hearts and our minds.
There is a sense of ripping away the very fabric of our lives, of what we knew our reality to be, prior to the loss. This experience changes everything, what we do or do not take for granted, how we choose to live our lives going forward and what we do with the experience and the challenges at hand. We redefine ourselves and find ways to prioritize what is truly important.
The people of Puerto Rico have proven resilient like so many other people following incredible loss. It was my honor to initiate and follow thru on a humanitarian retreat effort in Rincon Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
“You are not going to like this —
the volunteers flight was cancelled.”
Meeting obstacle upon obstacle, I kept forging on to complete the mission. There were cancelled flights and cancelled contractors and everything in between. The very volunteers who were coming down to help rebuild the playground, could not get to Puerto Rico the day of their scheduled arrival. As I was shopping in Home Depot for a cement mixer (yes I can now add Foreman to my resume) and galvanized washers for a ¼” bolt Wait what now?!? I received a reticent call from my friend and Private Chef for my LYL Retreats, she started off by saying “You are not going to like this — the volunteers flight was cancelled.” They did eventually arrive, just one day later than scheduled, sleeves rolled up and ready to pitch in. One volunteer could not get on the next flight and we missed her terribly!
Now at this point I was pretty much toast, I had been arguing with a contractor for months trying to drive home that no I wasn’t being a hysterical woman, I was trying to get the job done! I found myself being talked over being told to take a breath, and that everything was just fine it would all get done, buena buena.
Well no buena, everything didn’t get done, nothing got ordered, and apparently if you didn’t know this —YOU CAN’T SHIP PLAYGROUNDS TO PUERTO RICO FROM HERE!
I fired the contractor who clearly wanted out and wouldn’t just say so. Can I just say that there were numerous occasions where men literally told me that I was being too harsh or demanding! Too harsh because I kept insisting that the wood for the playground needed to be ordered at least a few weeks ahead of our arrival. Too demanding because I kept insisting that tasks be completed prior to our arrival so that there was in fact a hands-on project for the volunteers to complete.
Anyway, there is so much more to focus on but it is all part of this story. So many setbacks and obstacles and an incredible amount of work to put in, details on how to build the playground, shopping for supplies at home depot, finding the right people, raising enough money, on and on. At the end of the day we did it!
What was most heartwarming was the care for the children at this particular orphanage, Hogar Albergue para ninos Jesus de Nazaret in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
A shout out to the staff and board members there, who care for these children and provide for them what they need and crave the most, love and positive attention. The children there warmed our hearts, welcomed us into their home and thanked us for building their new playgrounds.
We are feeling blessed to have been a part of the children’s lives in some small way and making an impact that we hope will continue long after we are gone.
Being outside and playing is such a huge part of their day and when Hurricane Maria hit, there were no playgrounds, no toys, everything was gone. They can now go outside run around on their new playground and be happy.
Here at Love Your Life Coastal, we are feeling blessed to have been a part of the children’s lives in some small way and making an impact that we hope will continue long after we are gone.
Devastation, Loss, Resilience, Devastation, Loss Resilience, this has become the mantra of Puerto Rico
'Rise Up, Road to Recovery'
Rincon, Puerto Rico 2018