24 April 2023 |
Left to Right: Keron Young, who has a home behind the Puerto Rican Union camp; Iraida Rodríguez; Irvin Hernández; Efrain Pérez; Aimee Delgado; and Chris Delgado stand for a group photo as part of the kitchen crew during the Pathfinder camporee.
The tent for the Puerto Rican Union ended up being the headquarters for hospitality throughout the recent Pathfinder camporee in Trelawny, Jamaica, due to the talents of one cook, Efrain Pérez. Pérez was hesitant to leave his business for a week in Puerto Rico, but felt that he was called to help with the camporee, as he had helped cook for many church events in the past.
“My wife and I prayed and felt it was important for me to be part of providing meals to the group during the camporee. God would know why it was important for me to be there,” said Pérez in the Inter-American Division article.
His talents were quickly put to good use. He and a team of five set up their kitchen and began the task of preparing three meals per day for a delegation of 157. They found that the back of their tent bordered a home, and the homeowner, Keron Young, quickly made friends with the cooking team, helping them set up their water supply, stove, and kitchen system.
Their community began to grow as the delegation from Venezuela arrived, having not eaten in two days. “I could see how hungry they were, and it touched my heart to see them happy eating with our group,” said Pérez as he paused to wipe some tears.
The delegation from Cuba arrived after midnight and was hosted by the Puerto Rican tent until they could set up their own kitchen. Some of the group even provided clothing for the Cuban delegation from their own suitcases.
Soon, word got around that the Puerto Rican tent was the place to go for cool water or a delicious hot plate of food. Their group requested round tables, hoping for a more communal feel to their dining area. The family continued to grow:
When a small delegation arrived from Guatemala, Pérez and his team adopted them. They also took care of the Costa Rica delegation from previous arrangements and fed many from El Salvador, and even some from Jamaica came by. “We fed whoever came. There was never anyone who was denied food or water from our camping area, and the food kept multiplying. There was always more to share at every meal.”
Looking back, Pérez feels happy to have been able to serve so many. “I didn’t know the experience I would have here in Jamaica. I wondered when I was little what talent God gave me, and I’ve been reminded time and time again that God has given me a gift to cook, to feed sometimes more than 2,500 persons at a time.”