The following is a reflection from Jordan Rhodes, one of the volunteers working in Puerto Rico this week to aid in recovery from Hurricane Maria. Over this week and the next, more than 40 volunteers will work alongside Lutheran Disaster Response as a part of the Building Puentes initiative with the Caribbean Synod, the Metro D.C. Synod, and our Delaware-Maryland Synod. A few of them will be reflecting on their experiences, and we will share them here on our blog. You can find all of the Building Puentes posts here.

I cancelled going on this trip over and over in my head. Everything from my sometimes crippling social anxiety to being away from friends and family on my birthday. My love for this island in my heart overruled the worries in my head and here I am.

My leap of faith has been rewarded.  Worried about not being able to remember names? Two members of the group have the same names as my sisters. Concerns about spending my birthday? Met a bunk mate whose birthday is the day after mine. A work email checked was followed by smiles and “God bless you”s from neighbors as we worked on a local church fence. When I think I’m the only one who needs some introverted downtime, two bunkmates walk in to share the solitude.

A combination of heat, humor, and hard work has allowed us to skip the small talk I can find rather draining. Instead I’ve had conversations about our experiences growing up Lutheran or not, dog behaviorists, the importance of accessible design services, struggles and joys at work, tragic life moments and concern for loved ones in the Carolinas. And after three days, it turns out I’m spending my birthday with familia after all.

I encourage anyone who is reading this to do one thing outside your comfort zone today and watch how God rewards your faith.