In response to the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the Guam-Micronesia Mission created a grant, generously funded by the Adventist Community Services department of the North American Division. This relief fund is available to all our churches on islands affected by positive COVID-19 cases and exists to bolster food pantries for their communities. In Guam-Micronesia Mission, those islands include Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Patti Powers describes the heartfelt response of the community when their church provided for some of their basic needs.
Addy Reyes and I are the co-leaders of Community Services for the Agat-Santa Rita SDA Church on Guam. We worked together to help our friends and neighbors in the villages of Agat and Santa Rita using the $1500 grant for COVID-19 relief. We contacted a local wholesale produce company and placed an order for 21 cases of fresh produce which was delivered to our church on the morning of July 6th. With the help of four other volunteers, we sorted and boxed 30 care packages, each containing the following: two pounds of grapes, one watermelon or two cantaloupes, two green cabbages, one to two pounds of carrots, 12 garlic heads, eight onions, five pounds of potatoes, and two dozen eggs. To each of these, we added a half gallon of soy sauce, a gallon of vinegar, a pound of salt, and two to three cans of corn to make it possible for the families receiving the boxes to make corn soup, a local favorite recipe.
In coordination with the Santa Rita mayor’s office, we took 15 boxes to that community on the afternoon of July 6th. As we arrived at each residence, the mayor’s representative introduced us and we were able to encourage the family with the food box and some Glow Tract literature. Addy Reyes, a longtime resident of our community, knew many of the families and, as she climbed down from the van, cheerfully announced, “We have a gift from God for you today!”
In response, people were initially pleased and then shocked as we brought the large amount of food from the van for them to take into their homes. A man in a wheelchair tried to give a small monetary donation in exchange for the food, but we assured him that it was a gift. Many kept asking us, "Why?" as they were overwhelmed with gratitude. Our response was “Because God loves you.” Several people shared with us about the loss of their jobs due to the pandemic and said the food would really help. The mayor’s office representative who went with us was so kind and helpful. She thanked the church again and again.
On the morning of July 7th, we took the last 15 boxes to the Agat community and were again overwhelmed with how God had chosen each family to receive the blessing of fresh food. A grandma, who is raising many grandchildren in her humble tin and wood home, was one unforgettable stop. Another woman cried and told us that since her husband’s chronic illness had made it necessary for her to become his full time caregiver, they had been struggling greatly. She apologized for not being able to come to the church to visit us in payment for our kindness, but we assured her that there were no strings attached to the gift, just like there are no strings attached to God’s love.
When the last box of food was delivered, we headed back to the church with an empty van and full hearts. After the clean up of the church fellowship hall and kitchen, we prayed and praised God for the gift of service.
When it came time to total our receipts, we found that we had $207.64 remaining in our funds. We went to the store and purchased as many cans of tuna as we could. On July 17th, we delivered 145 cans of tuna to the Santa Rita mayor’s office for them to distribute to those in need of emergency food. We have built a strong, positive relationship with them and trust that we can continue to work with them going forward.
We are thankful for the chance to spread God’s love in a tangible and meaningful way to our community. It was a real blessing!