You might say Puerto Rican mission trips began my (Sherilyn's) personal involvement with missions!
Well, actually, at that point it was only one, a short term summer missions trip. In fact, had I realized at that point these trips would become a major part of my life, I would've probably had an attack of some kind on the spot!
The Lord worked several miracles to make that first trip happen. For the details please read about my college mission trip, in the summer of 1978. But before I'd even gone, when He had provided so that everyone realized I was actually going, I had a moment of panic about the whole thing.
You see, my only previous experience with the tropics was with southern Florida (My Mom is from Miami), and I hated southern Florida! (I don't hate it anymore, by the way, but back then I did.)
I thought, "What have I gotten myself into? Here I am going to Puerto Rico on a missions trip, and with my luck, the Lord will probably call me to go there as a missionary, and I'll have to go, and..."
About that time I remembered Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to those who are the called according to His purpose..."
Then I thought, "You're just being silly, if the Lord should call you to Puerto Rico as a missionary, that would be absolutely the best thing that could happen to you, so why worry about it?" And I put it out of my head and didn't anymore.
Although I was scared to go to Puerto Rico, by the end of that trip, I had definitely changed my mind about the island, and what I wanted to do.
Puerto Rico is known as "la isla del encanto" a rough translation would be "the enchanted island". By the time I left to return to my senior year of college, I wanted, as much as I'd ever wanted anything, to return for many long term Puerto Rican mission trips.
I spent the first half of my senior year of college wrestling with whether God wanted me in Puerto Rico long term, or it was simply what I wanted to do.
For the details of that struggle, please read the page I've written about my missionary calling .
But the bottom line was, I returned to Puerto Rico the following year, in August, to begin my longest Puerto Rican mission trip of all. There were various trips involved, but in total I spent the next ten years on the island.
Since this page is an introduction to all these Puerto Rican mission trips, I won't be giving many details here. Each trip will have its own page where I'll be supplying more details.
If you'd like more details from the first five years I spent on Puerto Rican mission trips, you can visit my fund raising for mission trip page to read about how I ended up there.
Then continue with my history of Christian missions page.
It is followed by missionary stories for children, a true story about one student I had the first year I taught in Puerto Rico.
Finally, explore Missionary Stories which covers some other highlights from the first five years.
In 1984 I moved from Levittown to Fajardo on the east of the island. For some of the highlights of those years please explore My Christian Missions History.
In summary, suffice it to say that those next ten years were both interesting and rewarding.
Unfortunately, after ten years, due to health problems, I was forced to return to the States for several years.
I saw somewhere between five and ten specialists, both in Puerto Rico before going home, and in Indiana after I got there.
I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, although my symptoms were only remotely similar to those characteristic of that condition.
The doctors basically told me it wasn't serious, and that I needed to learn to live with it, but many times I felt I'd need to get better to die, so that was much easier said than done!
The first help was from a good Christian counselor. She helped me understand that I had misapplied scripture, thereby causing some of my problems.
I had used "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me", to justify sleeping only four to five hours a night for several years in a row toward the end of my previous Puerto Rican mission trip.
I came to understand that since God had created me human, that wasn't his plan for me, and it didn't glorify Him, but me, when I did it.
She believed I was in burn-out, and she worked to help me learn balance in my life.
After five years of working full time at home, I realized that if I could work a full time job there, I should be able to work full time on the mission field. So I decided...
This wasn't an easy decision for me, and I'll share more about it on pages about knowing God's leading in our lives.
One thing that made it more difficult was that all the pastors (there were three at the time) in my family, were advising that if I wanted to make any more Puerto Rican mission trips, I should go under a mission board. My first ten years on the field I had been under my home church.
So after six to nine months of prayer and consideration, I applied, and was accepted by Baptist International Missions Incorporated, BIMI, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Obviously the specifics of those years belong on another page, but I learned many valuable lessons during that time. I look forward to sharing them with you in coming pages.
During that time the Lord
further helped me by providing a natural solution to the health
challenge that had brought me home from the field. For the details of
that story, please read the page I've written about
irritable bowel syndrome
on my Effective Health Supplements site.
At the end of that time, I was fully supported and ready to take the next of my Puerto Rican mission trips. I thought it would last for the rest of my life.
I was forty-one years old, and I'd come to the conclusion that God's plan was for me to spend the rest of my life in Puerto Rico, as a single missionary.
I gave away all my winter clothes, and happily returned for the next of my Puerto Rican mission trips in August of 1998.
He must have been laughing a good deal back then, because although I planned to be in Puerto Rico for the rest of my life, He had other plans.
In actuality, this was almost the shortest of my Puerto Rican mission trips, at less than a year long. At the end of that time, I returned to the States and married one of the deacons in my Dad's church who'd previously lost his first wife to cancer.
Dennis seemed to be willing to join me on the field, but he was within a few years, possibly as few as three, of retiring from his job as a construction electrician.
When he sought counsel from the missionaries I was working with, they thought it would be better for us to marry and stay in the States until he could retire, and then return to mission work together.
I left Puerto Rico to return to Indiana the first week of May, 1999. I had been back just about nine months. We were married May 22, 1999.
He tells us that, but we still think if we love Him and study His Word, we'll be able to figure everything out.
Anyway, instead of three years until Dennis could retire, it turned out to be six. Once more, when he did stop working, it wasn't actually retirement, but disability that put an end to his career as a construction electrician.
After the knee replacement surgeries that necessitated his disability, it was another two years before he was physically able to do mission work.
Since then we have been traveling as frequently as we've been able to help those in missions. Up to this point most of our involvement has been short term Puerto Rican mission trips.
We've made several trips to Puerto Rico, together. Each of these trips deserve one or more pages of their own, so as we have time we will be filling you in on more details of our Puerto Rican mission trips.
In addition, I made several as a single missionary before Dennis and I were married. I've written this page first because it has been key for our personal involvement in missions. As I write each page about individual Puerto Rican Mission Trips, you'll find links to them from this page, so you'll want to re-visit it from time to time to stay up to date.
I plan to share pictures with you, as well as writing, so that you can get a better idea of what these trips have been about.
To get the details on our last trip to Puerto Rico before this page was written, visit the page titled February-March 2009. We also have a slide show of the trip on that page now. We may not be able to visit all your churches, but we would like you to know what is happening on our trips. We trust the slides will be informative and a blessing to you.
Since then we've continued to make Pueto Rican Mission trips about twice a year. Although I've struggled to get a slide show up for our trip last spring, the pages are done, so I'll share the links with you.
Get the details on our fall 2009 trip here.
I finished the February-March 2010 trip page while on the last fall Puerto Rican Mission trip, and I've been able to complete the slide show shortly before Christmas as well.
2011 just started three days ago, and to celebrate, I finished and built the page covering our Fall 2010 trip. It does include a slide show, so you should be able to get the details in both words and pictures, on our fall trip to Puerto Rico.
Our latest prayer request is that the Lord will clear the way for the permanent electrical connections in the building. See our next prayer letter for all the details.
We thought it would be fall of 2011 before we returned to the island, but God has other plans. For all the details you'll want to explore Our Mission Trip Planning to understand how God over ruled our late spring plans for this year.
Five days before we left, those plans changed yet again. Read Postponed Mission Trip to find out how God made it crystal clear He didn't want us making our next Puerto Rican mission trip until late summer or fall after all.
To explore the latest chapter in our personal saga visit mission trip planning 2011 to get the details on what we're planning for our fall trip to Puerto Rico by God's grace.
Our story continues with Christian Short Term Missions - Travel and Trip Preparations, where I share the details of trip preparations for our fall 2011 trip.
If you'd like to know exactly what the men need to accomplish, during the next six weeks, you'll want to explore their missionary jobs for all the details, and how you can help.
If you'd like a peak at the details of my life while on short term trips, you'll want to check out the page I wrote about a missionary wife, that would be me of course.
If you're interested in what Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is like, you'll want to explore this page which tells about the city as well as some missionary memoirs of the lighter side of our Puerto Rican Mission trips.
Dennis has always told me, "a construction electrician is always working himself out of a job."
Well, after about six years of short term trips, we've finally come to that point with the work in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
So in February 2012, we had the privilege and joy of attending the dedication of the new building Dennis worked so hard to help them complete.
For us the trip was a closure and exploration, because after attending the dedication, we flew on for another couple of weeks to Antigua to explore further ministry possibilities there. If you'd like to see slides of the dedication services, as well as of Antigua, be sure to check out the previous link.