Nine adventurous and hardworking First Presbyterian Church of Hudson members ventured on a mission trip to Puerto Rico, Dec. 27, 2018, through Jan. 2, 2019.

The "missionaries" were put in contact with a community of great need by Praying Pelicans, a group that organizes missions in several different countries as well as locations in the U.S. The very warm, misty weather added to the challenges of a daily 45-minute bus ride over sometimes barely-existent roads to Villa Esperanza, where most homes were destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Maria.

The nine Hudson missionaries were joined within a few days by church representatives from New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Iowa to complete those houses already rebuilt.

Many paint rollers and brushes were busy several hours each day and interrupted only by a lunch masterfully prepared by the former Puerto Rican governor’s chef and current mayor of the village. The FPCH members alone painted the interiors of three houses and the exterior of one house for very appreciative owners. They also purchased many painting supplies to leave for others to use.

The mission group participated in a special early Three Kings’ Day celebration organized by a local pastor for his hurricane-stricken community. Three Kings’ Day falls on Jan. 6 and is the day that the children of Puerto Rico receive their Christmas gifts. It equates to the "Feast of the Epiphany" in other cultures. The community-wide celebration was specifically an outreach to the children of the community. FPCH members helped with the playing of games and purchase and distribution of gifts to the children.

There was a misty, windy afternoon of walking around Old San Juan, and New Year’s Eve found the mission group in San Juan’s largest Baptist Church, 3,000 members, for a bilingual service and special music. Throughout their experience, the group felt a deep kinship with the people of Puerto Rico, and definitely feel that they will always carry a bit of Puerto Rico in their hearts.