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Spanish Club is learning and serving in Puerto Rico

Eight Red Bird Christian School students led by Mrs. Angela Crawford and their families have been working for two years to raise funds for the 2024 Spanish Club mission trip to Puerto Rico. This year's group (totaling 17 with accompanying family members) left Red Bird June 3rd for the Atlanta area where they were hosted by members of New Providence Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. They group flew out the next day for San Juan for the 10 day adventure.

Students have been coming every two to three years to immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and history of Puerto Rico since 1998. While the trip itinerary includes a trip or two to the beach, students have dedicated a few days of service to help churches and camps of the Puerto Rico Methodist Church.

The first 2024 team experience was a visit to El Yunque

National Forest, a mountainous tropical rain forest. Students scaled the Yokahu Tower for expansive vistas of mountain and sea, and took a short hike up to one of the hundreds of falls in El Yunque. Heavy rain forecasts postponed their first beach trip until the next morning, but excessive heat cut short beach time that day.

Everybody put on work clothes on Saturday to volunteer at Iglesia Metodista Elohim in Arecibo on the northwest coast of the island. Mrs. Crawford worked previously with the pastor on housing and service projects at two other churches Pastor Carmelo served.

Elohim members had begun painting the 30-year old church on the inside but the Red Bird team pushed the facelift for the 35 member congregation by painting the entire exterior except for high trim work. Some of the team focused on deep cleaning and tile grout removal in the former parsonage being converted to an educational building.

Of course everyone paused the work on Sunday to worship with the Elohim congregation. Worship leaders prepared a bilingual service so the team could take part

in the singing and receive the message from Pastor Carmelo. After lunch, the lay leader and pastor led a local tour to the Arecibo Lighthouse and Bishop's Well Beach.

The final learning experience was a day in Old San Juan. They began by visiting El Morro National Monument to explore the massive Spanish fort stepping back 500 years in time. Mrs. Crawford then

took the group to the Methodist Church that hosted all previous Red Bird groups visiting Puerto Rico until the COVID pandemic. A chance encounter with the pastor led to a bonus tour of the 100 year old church and its historical significance as being the first congregation established on the island in the late 1800's.

The last day and a half was spent souvenir shopping in Old San Juan and final trip to the beach for swimming, sunrises and sunsets.

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