2013 VIM Mission Trip to Puerto Rico
From Matushka Alexandra...
Besides Fr. John and myself, the hardworking VIM team consisted of the following members:
Kiril Gregoroff: Erie, PA - 3rd VIM trip
Gabriella Condi: Scranton, PA: 1st VIM (this woman rode the bus from Scranton to Orlando (28 hours each way) and was tireless in working from dawn to dark.)
Afanasy and Alison Bennett: Philadelphia, PA - 1st VIM trip
Natasha Mulligan: Silver Spring, MD - 1st VIM trip - longtime friend from St. John the Baptist ROC Cathedral in Washington, DC.
Each work day went like this: Every morning began with Morning Prayers in the Mission Chapel, following by breakfast, work, break for lunch, work, clean up, dinner, evening prayers, and spiritual study and questions and answers with the Fathers, then bed. The weather was consistently hot with 87% humidity. (No AC except in the chapel.) Every afternoon it poured rain for several hours. While the weather interfered with the outside patio work, thanks to the covered decks, we could continue with the massive amount of painting.
Some might ask, how is this mission work? Couldn’t you just send some money and get some locals to do the work? This was a very ambitious undertaking for a tiny mission church. Not only were there planned events to formally introduce the Orthodox Church to the San German community at large with an art show by Hieromonk Silouan Justinano, iconographer at the local art museum, university lectures, radio and newspaper interviews, but they had also invited the Metropolitan to come bless their mission work, tonsure a Reader and a Deacon.
Yes, there are just a couple of other Orthodox churches in Puerto Rico, (Greek, Antiochian, and Ecu. Patriarchal) but not only are they on the opposite side of the island, hours away, but the services ARE NOT conducted in Spanish. Our presence not only helped to meet just a few of the physical needs in preparing for such a historic event, but, perhaps more importantly, it served to spiritually encourage the San Climacos Mission in their labors, that they are not so isolated from the church at large. And while we may go on VIM trips to serve the local parish or monastic communities, we in turn reap abundant blessings.
Not sure, where, or when the next VIM trip will take place, but do consider serving on a team in the future. And, should you find yourself vacationing in Puerto Rico, do plan on visiting/attending San Climacos Mission near San German, where you will find open homes and open hearts to receive you.
Slideshow of the Trip