Spreading my spiritual wings in Puerto Rico

Spreading my spiritual wings in Puerto Rico

by Ruth Russell, Albion, Wis.


June 15, 2013 was a very special day. It was Sabbath—which is always special—but this day contained an added blessing.

This Sabbath after worship, Pastora Judith Houts and I drove over to the town of Moca, 30 minutes from Bo. (Barrio) Hoyamala where our SDB church is located.

The time had come to celebrate a graduation party for the students who had been attending the “Primera Clase Biblica, Division Moca” (First Bible Class Moca Division) in Puerto Rico. We enjoyed cake, juice and music on the porch where we had taught the class. A generous family had let us use their porch and we set up a canopy tarp in their driveway for the graduation.

Each graduate received a beautiful certificate with their name and a gift bag containing:

Small cookies = Sweetness of God’s love

Toy animal = To remember God created everything

Scripture bookmark = To learn God’s Word

Decorative party horn = To make a joyful noise

Balloon = With Jesus, our spirit soars and our prayers rise up to God

This being the rainy season, dark clouds loomed overhead as we drove to Moca. We prayed that God would hold back the rain until after our celebration. He did.

A Bible class graduation is a common enough occurrence in many churches across America and perhaps the world. But this graduation will always be a special memory as God brought me from a tiny town in Wisconsin to this island called Puerto Rico to teach these children.

It took weeks to actually locate where these children were and how to get to that barrio. I did not know Spanish and the children did not know English; quite a challenge, but God works everything out.

Here is how the challenge began. Pastora Judith’s mother was very ill and bedridden, so the Pastora could not go with me to start the class. She told me to go in Jesus’ name, play the music and that the children would come. I did and the rest is history—Praise the Lord!

A very kind grandfather and grandmother let me use their porch to set up the flannelgraph board and play our little CD player. By using a lot of sign language, bilingual story books, coloring pages with memory verses in Spanish, and the curiosity of children, a Bible class grew.

The students’ ages were 2-1/2 years up to the grandparents. Attendance ranged from four to 15 in the class, depending on how many could get there. Attempts at getting a translator were not successful, so God provided visitors that “happened to be there” when we were having class and knew a small amount of English. They always knew the few important words that were needed.

The rainy season continued, and with no place to have class indoors it made it necessary to adjourn classes until later this year. Members of the class spoke to Pastora Judith after our graduation celebration because they were very concerned that we might forget about them. They wanted to know where they could get the music CDs to be able to sing and learn the songs in Spanish and English.

These people (of all ages) are hungry for the Lord. I thank God for bringing me to Puerto Rico, a place I knew almost nothing about and did not know the common language. I thank Him for putting it in my heart to stay here a bit longer than planned so I could plant seeds for Him in these barrios. As the students were given their certificate of graduation, the expression of joy and excitement on each face could not help but touch our hearts.

In addition to this Bible class, we also had two children’s classes that met in Bo. Hoyamala two evenings a week. We were able to combine these classes into one that met at the Ministry house. By joining these two classes it gave the children (from 7-11 years old) a chance to learn with others outside of their own families.

We utilized the same teaching supplies and media that we used at Moca. Since these classes are held at the Ministry—in a room especially prepared for children—the weather did not impede our teaching. Attendance of this class varied from two to nine children.

Those seven months were such a great experience for me. I thank God for giving me the choice to accept the challenge of leaving all that I know (my comfort zone) to go where everything was different. God called me to a task, I accepted, and He made everything work out.

In the process I have grown in understanding of God’s Word, of people and their culture. My spiritual wings were stretched and knowledge increased. As long as it is His will, I plan to continue “planting seeds” back here in the States and everywhere I go.

Many thanks to all who prayed, sent letters, made calls of support and financial gifts to help with class supplies. May God richly bless you.

My prayer for you is that you will say “Yes” to God and let Him help you grow. I especially thank Pastora Judith for being a spiritual guide, teacher, mentor and example for me while I was in Puerto Rico.

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