Church volunteers rebuilding in Puerto Rico - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Church volunteers rebuilding in Puerto Rico

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) - Six volunteers from First Baptist Church in Janesville are in Puerto Rico to help with hurricane relief efforts. 

This past Wednesday, Congress passed a spending plan that includes a $2 billion aid package to improve the power grid in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  This is much welcome news when nearly 40 per cent of Puerto Rico has had no power since Hurricane Maria hit in September. 

"If we had a natural disaster, like a hurricane, we'd want people to help us too," says Reverend Jerry Amstutz, a pastor at First Baptist Church in Janesville.  

Six members of a congregation of 70 headed to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, February 6, for a week-long volunteer trip. It's a small group with a big heart. 

"Well, I'm proud of all six of them," Amstutz says. Among the six are his wife, Julia, and his son, David. 

The group is volunteering in the town of Cidra, about an hour south of San Juan, to rebuild a church. Construction wasn't easy as the team dealt with significant toxic mold and termites. However, it was the emotional toll that weighed heavier. 

"There are people who are hurting who are all around that church. As they got away from San Juan and went south to Cidra, they saw a lot of devastation," explains Amstutz.  

"Many many people still do not have electricity. Because of, not just the frustration of that, but how darkness feeds into our emotions, many people are committing suicide because they've been in the dark for so long," says Julia Amstutz.   

Despite the bleakness, the group completed construction on Saturday evening, just in time for their Sunday worship.  A second trip is already being planned.  For Pastor Amstutz, he sees the dedication and efforts made by volunteers as a light of hope. 

"We can make a difference one day at a time. One person at a time, and every contribution is appreciated," he says.  

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