Presbyterians Today

FEB-MAR 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 31 Hour of Sharing, PDA can mount responses that are timely, nimble and effective. In Puerto Rico, Presbyterians never doubted that PDA would respond fast, and they know that PDA will remain for the long haul, González-Castillo says. "The help PDA brings is long-term, and we are grateful that when other groups leave Puerto Rico, we will still have PDA giving us a hand." Puerto Rican Presbyterians appreciate the prayer support and encouraging words they have received from across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), González-Castillo said. When people from the mainland ask them about providing tangible help, González-Castillo says Puerto Rican Presbyterian leaders have a standard reply: "We tell everybody the best way to help us is through PDA." The hurricane response has elevated Presbyterian visibility in Puerto Rican communities, and González-Castillo expects that the denomination's name recogni- tion will continue to grow as the recovery efforts continue. "In many places here, Presbyterians are not very well known, but through things like this, when we attend to disasters and when our communities get the kind of help PDA provides, the Presbyterian name becomes familiar and people see that our church is here to help," he said. E ven before Hurricane Maria made landfall in September 2017, the Rev. Edwin González- Castillo and other Presbyterian leaders in Puerto Rico received promises of help from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). González-Castillo, the stated clerk of the Presbytery of San Juan, says PDA lived up to its word quickly. Days after the storm hit, the first wave of PDA grants arrived and community needs were being met. In the presbytery, funds were distributed among each of the 15 congregations, and the presbytery matched PDA's initial funding for community assistance. Desperately needed items such as food, water, diapers and medical supplies were swiftly in the hands of hurricane survivors. "We were able to help families who had lost almost everything," González-Castillo said. Hurricane Maria's 150 mph winds destroyed homes, infrastructure and vegeta- tion across the island and resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries. In addition, the hurricane left millions without electricity or drinkable water. One Great Hour of Sharing gifts helped PDA respond immedi- ately after three major hurricanes pounded the United States and/ or the Caribbean, a devastat- ing earthquake shook Central Mexico, and raging wildfires wreaked havoc across the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to One Great Gifts made to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering help Presbyterians share the light of Christ with those in need.

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