Today Is Easter? by Karen

This is a blast from the past:
In April 2012 we spent Easter dying eggs and looking for baskets
full of treats and toys.  Little did we know that a few short years later
the Lord would ask us to walk away from it all to serve the poor. 

On Holy Saturday we spent the afternoon with some friends that were here in Puerto Rico visiting and prepared 288 small plastic crosses that we would pass out altogether for Easter.

We wrote a little note to put in each cross that said, "¡Jesús resucitó y nos salvó!" which translates to "Jesus was resurrected and saved us."   We also filled each plastic cross with little chocolate covered candies.

On Easter morning, after Mass, we prepared 90 egg, ham and cheese sandwiches for the poor people that we had invited to celebrate Easter with us in Aguadilla. 

We wanted every person that received a sandwich to be reminded of the love that Jesus has for them, so we wrote "Jesus Te Ama" on the baggies, which means "Jesus Loves You". 

This is a zoomed out picture of the corner in Aguadilla where we do our ministry.  

We've chosen this corner because it's an established site for volunteers to serve those in need.

There is a covered sitting area aurrounded by some trees and cement benches.   

After inviting everyone to gather a bit closer, Chris read the gospel story of the empty tomb and refelcted on the significance of Jesus' resurrection.

Knowing that few of these folks would have otherwise heard this story on Easter day, we were really grateful to be able to share the Good News and celebrate the gift of our salvation together. 

Next, it was time to pass out the sandwiches and  juice, which everyone really appreciated.  

Our understanding is that many of them live in houses (or other abandoned structures) that do not have electricity; and since the local government forbids open fires within the stacked neighborhoods the people who live there have no way to prepare a hot meal.    

After everyone finished their lunch we passed out the plastic crosses full of candy.  We initiallly anticipated giving the crosses to children, but we quickly realized that the adults were just as excited to receive them than any kids would have been. 

The more we get to know the folks that spend their time on the streets and at this corner, the more we learn about their difficult pasts.  Many of them were born into less than ideal circumstances, had disadvantageous childhoods, and have struggled ever since.  What a blessing that a hot sandwich and a few plastic crosses full of chocolate can bring a bit of light into their darkness - especially on Easter day!  

Lorda was really excited to see Katelyn so that she could thank her again for sharing her clothes.  

A couple weeks prior, Lorda was in need of a long-sleeve shirt to help her stay warm during the chilly, rainy nights.  She asked if we might be able to buy her one, but instead we gave her one that we had with us.  She was so grateful and told me that when she wears Katelyn's shirt she feels like she's surrounded by Katelyns' love.    

When we were done at the corner we headed up into the hills where the houses are built into the sloping landscape.  

In most cases there are only foot paths that wind between the structures.  We parked our van at the top of the hill and began navigating our way through the labyrinth.    

Many of the buildings that were once occupied now stand vaccant because of the irreparable damage done by Hurricane Maria. 

This particular building is now being used to house people's livestock: chickens, goats, pigs, and such.

When we came upon an opening we'd stop and start singing Alleluia songs really loud in hopes of attracting the attention of those living nearby. 

When people came out of a house we'd wish them Happy Easter, say a bit about Jesus' resurrection, give them some plastic crosses full of candy, and ask if they wanted a bible and/or rosary. 

This man was oblivious to the fact that it was Easter before we told him.

"Today is Easter?" he asked.  "Wow, that's wonderful.  Thanks for telling me.  Thanks for visiting me on Easter."  

When he accepted the plastic crosses he told us that he couldn't eat the chocolate because he's diabetic, but he was really excited to give them to his granddaughters and told us that he'd make sure to tell them that it's Easter day.

Sometimes we'd hear people inside the house, but they wouldn't come out or even acknowledge our presence.  

Other times when it didn't seem like anyone was home we'd slip a copy of the bible onto their front porch as a surprise for when they returned. 

We walked and sang and sang and walked trying to give away all of our plastic Easter crosses.

Finally, after a few hours beneath the blazing hot son, we called it quits and headed back to the van. 

We agreed that we'd give the remaining Easter gifts to anyone we passed on the way home. 

Each time we passed people either walking along or sitting down to rest we'd jump out of the van and share what we had. 

There was one man sitting on his front porch that we often pass when we go to Aguadilla.  When he recognized our van he smiled, raised his arm and shouted "Hola".    When we stopped to talk with him and wish him a Happy Easter we learned that he has seven grandkids, all of which live nearby.  

He was super grateful for the candy, rosaries and bibles that we shared with him because now he'd have something to share with his granddaughters.  The blessings were just being multiplied, which was beautiful to see.

Although we had about 20 more crosses we agreed that we were too exhausted to stop anymore; we needed to just go home.  Just then, we came upon a really skinny man who was covered in tattoos - literally.  His shaved head was covered, as well as his eyelids, jawline, neck, arms and every other piece of exposed skin.  We slowed down and wished him a Happy Easter.  Immediately his otherwise dreary face lit up and he walked toward our van.  As he and Chris got to talking we learned that he's the proud dad of 11 children - all with the same woman who he's been married to for 25 years....shame on us for considering the possibility of anything different!!  He told us that his wife is a really good Christian who goes to church every weekend.  He admitted to being less faithful himself, but happily received all the rest of the plastic crosses, candy, rosaries and bibles that we had with us.  He gleefully promised to share them with everyone at home and assured us that he'd give his neighbors anything that was left over.  As he walked away he thanked us for making Easter such a great day for his family.  Wow - the Lord sure does work in miraculous ways!!

We are most appreciative for each and every "yes" that made our Easter celebration such a big success.  A great big "THANKS" to the very generous person who said "yes" when the Holy Spirit inspired her to send us a box of 288 plastic Easter crosses.  A great big "THANKS" to the people who said "yes" when the Holy Spirit nudged them to send us bibles and rosaries.  A great big "THANKS" to all the members of Team Carmody who continue to donate so generously - we used those contributions to buy the candy to fill the plastic crosses and also to the ingredients for the breakfast sandwiches.  It constantly amazes us to see what the Lord does with each "yes"; your "yes" combined with someone else's "yes" combined with our "yes" makes way for a whole lot of awesomeness in the name of Jesus Christ.

I pray that you had a blessed Easter and that you continue to offer prayers of thanksgiving to the One who gave it all for YOU! 

Peace, joy and love in HIM, 

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:

or call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and may God bless you and your family!

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