January 28, 2018
Since my arrival here on December 14, 2017, I spent time with the Sisters first in Bayamón and then in Arecibo, where I call home. I celebrated the Silver Jubilee with Sister Elsa and enjoyed seeing people she knew. My days in December were filled with rides to the campo, taking water filters, food and Pampers (there are a large number of children in these areas) with Sisters Elsa and Juanita, seeing first-hand the destruction in the areas of Arecibo and Utuado. I also spent time with families of Sisters Ana Lydia, Elsa and Margarita and her twin Isabel (we watched the Steelers - Jacksonville game as Marga has cable)! Recently Sisters Veronica, Juanita and I drove through Islote, a town located on the Atlantic coast with homes very near the ocean, and Barceloneta, observing the visible damage to trees and homes. There are many homes without roofs and second floors ripped off, not to mention those in Utuado where the “hill came down” and tore off the front of little houses along the river and filled them with mud and broken trees and furniture.
Hurricane María devastated nature, bringing down huge trees, ripping off limbs of trees and leaving bare trunks. In many areas, trees have produced leaves, flowers are visible, and pumpkins are growing. It is just amazing to observe complete destruction on one side of the road and new life on the other. The Sisters in Arecibo have harvested their first banana crop! Yes, we have the most delicious little bananas that taste like apples! These are among my favorite! There are no citrus and other native fruits this year due to María. The harvest time for oranges and grapefruit is usually November and December. There are no plantains either.
The visible resiliency that I am experiencing is a sign of hope and strong faith in the people I visit. “We will make it” is an often-heard phrase.